PARIS, France - He’d won all the other majors by the end of 2004, but for years after that the final piece of Roger Federer’s Career Slam eluded him. His greatest rival, Rafael Nadal, kept stopping him at Roland Garros - in the semifinals in 2005, then three straight finals in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
But it all came together in Paris in 2009. Not only did Nadal go out in one of the biggest surprises in tennis history - the four-time champion was stunned by an inspired Robin Soderling in the fourth round - but Federer fought as hard as ever, coming back from two sets to love down to beat Tommy Haas in the fourth round and two sets to one down against Juan Martin del Potro in the semifinals.
Federer ended Soderling’s shock run in the final, 6-1 7-6(1) 6-4, then dropped to the terre battue.
“This could be my biggest victory, the one that takes off the most pressure,” Federer said. “Now for the rest of my career I can play relaxed and never hear again that I never won the French Open.
With the victory, Federer became the sixth man in tennis history to complete the Career Grand Slam, joining Fred Perry, Don Budge, Roy Emerson, Rod Laver and Andre Agassi. He’s since been joined on the list by Nadal (at the US Open in 2010) and Novak Djokovic (at the French Open in 2016).
It was also his 14th major - tying Pete Sampras’ record - and he won his 15th major at Wimbledon.
But June 7, 2009 will always be known as the day Federer finally won the major that had eluded him.
“It was almost unplayable for me,” Federer said about how he felt serving for the match.
“I was just hoping to serve some good serves and hoping he’d make four errors. It was that bad.”
And this was the No.1 song on the US Billboard Hot 100 on June 7, 2009:
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