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Page last updated at 16:44 GMT, Sunday, 7 June 2009 17:44 UK

Federer the greatest ever - Lloyd

Roger Federer
Federer finally won the French Open at the 11th time of asking

By Piers Newbery

Roger Federer confirmed his position as the greatest tennis player of all time with his victory at the French Open, says BBC Sport commentator John Lloyd.

The Swiss, 27, beat Robin Soderling 6-1 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 to complete his set of Grand Slam titles and equal Pete Sampras's record total of 14.

"He's completed the set and in my opinion he's got to be the greatest player of all time," said Lloyd.

"He's now won on all four surfaces and I think he's going to win more."

Federer joins Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson and Andre Agassi as a winner of all four Grand Slam titles and matches the record total of Sampras, who never managed to win on the clay of Roland Garros.

World number two Federer had lost to Rafael Nadal in the last three French Open finals, as well as the 2005 semi-final, but the Spaniard suffered his first-ever defeat at Roland Garros when Soderling beat him in the fourth round.

I would put Federer as the favourite for Wimbledon now after the way he's won the French and looked so convincing

John Lloyd

Great Britain Davis Cup captain Lloyd says the fact that Federer did not have to beat Nadal does not take the shine off his achievement, and the Swiss will go on to break Sampras's record.

"He just wanted to win this title, he doesn't care who he plays in the final," said Lloyd. "In an ideal world if he played Nadal in the final and won it, great, but he just wants to win the title. He's done that now, we can put it to rest.

"He'll now feel so relieved that he could win three, four, five more before he's finished."

After coming through a titanic struggle in his five-set semi-final win over Juan Martin del Potro, Federer was never troubled by Soderling as he took his head-to-head record against the Swede to 10-0.

"The way Federer took him apart in that first set was just magnificent," said Lloyd. "He came out and played like it was the first round and not the final where he was about to make history by winning all four Grand Slams. It was quite remarkable.

"I thought he might get a little bit more nervous but the first set was the best he played in the whole tournament.

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"He knew he had a 9-0 record against Soderling and had only lost one set in those matches, and he thought 'I'm going to dominate from the first point to make sure you have no chance to get into the match', and that's what he did.

"Federer knows that Soderling is dangerous when playing his best, and these two weeks he's gone up three levels mainly because the mental side of his game has improved dramatically.

"He was a big threat. Federer would have been wary of the pace of his shots and thought he would have to play well, but he played brilliantly - job done."

And Federer now heads to Wimbledon looking to regain the title he lost to Nadal in last year's epic final, something Lloyd is backing the Swiss to achieve as the Spaniard has pulled out of next week's Queen's Club event with a knee injury.

"I would put Federer as the favourite for Wimbledon now after the way he's won the French and looked so convincing," said the former Australian Open finalist.

"Nadal didn't play well here, although there may have been an injury, but he didn't look particularly good from the first round and we don't know how bad his knee is.

"I would think that without Nadal having any grass-court play going into Wimbledon you would have to put the favourite's tag back on Federer."



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see also
Federer claims historic Paris win
07 Jun 09 |  Tennis
Federer the greatest ever - Lloyd
07 Jun 09 |  Tennis
French Open day 15 pictures
07 Jun 09 |  Tennis
Federer v Soderling as it happened
07 Jun 09 |  Tennis
Nadal stays calm after shock loss
31 May 09 |  Tennis
Champion Nadal falls to Soderling
31 May 09 |  Tennis
Men's singles draw
26 Aug 11 |  Tennis
Women's singles draw
28 Jan 10 |  Tennis
Nadal storms to fourth French win
08 Jun 08 |  Tennis
How Nadal beats Federer on clay
09 Jun 08 |  Skills


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