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Last Updated: Sunday, 6 July, 2003, 18:10 GMT 19:10 UK
Federer finally fulfils promise
By Caroline Cheese
BBC Sport at Wimbledon

Roger Federer shows off the Wimbledon trophy
Federer dropped just one set throughout the tournament
If the fans were not quite sure what to make of Roger Federer before the Wimbledon final, the softly spoken Swiss certainly won them over with his emotional victory on Sunday.

As he considered his first Grand Slam title, Federer fought back the tears and then eventually gave in to them.

The crowd responded by giving him his second standing ovation in three days, after a stellar performance which had simply taken their breath away.

A journalist for Swiss radio soon ran out of adjectives to portray the 21-year-old's stunning display of power, precision and exquisite touch - in the end, he resorted to the repeated cry of "fantastisch" to an estimated one million listeners in Switzerland.

Federer can expect a deserved hero's welcome when he returns home on Monday in time to play a claycourt tournament in Gstaad, for the pressure on the young man's shoulders has been immense.

He first served notice of his talent as a junior, winning the boys' title at the All England Club in 1998 and reaching the final at the US Open to become junior world number one.

Turning professional later that same year, he was then the youngest player, at just over 18, to finish inside the top 100 in 1999.

Federer admits he "was getting kicked out of practice sessions non-stop when I was 16".

FEDERER FACTS
First Swiss man to win Grand Slam title
First Wimbledon winner since Krajicek (1996) to drop just one set
Is unbeaten on grass in 2003 after winning title in Halle
Won Wimbledon boys' singles and doubles titles in 1998
Leads the men's tour in titles won in 2003 with five
Girlfriend is former pro Miroslava Vavrinec
Father Robert is Swiss, mother Lynette is South African
But realising it was not getting him anywhere, Federer shed his bad-boy image and became the embodiment of cool.

Nowhere was that more evident than at Wimbledon in 2001, where he faced Pete Sampras, who had won 31 straight matches at the All England Club and viewed Centre Court as his back garden.

After a dramatic five-set match, Federer, making his debut on the fabled court, held his nerve to defeat one of the players he had idolised as a youngster.

Sampras, asked to compare his conqueror with other young talents like Lleyton Hewitt, Marat Safin and Juan Carlos Ferrero, described Federer as "a little extra special".

But it has taken the Swiss two years to finally fulfil what so many predicted.

Between that victory over Sampras, after which he lost to Tim Henman in the quarter-finals, and this year's Wimbledon, Federer's Grand Slam record was decidedly average.

He lost in the fourth round four times and suffered three first-round exits - hardly the form of a future champion.

After crashing out to journeyman Luis Horna at the French Open, critics began to wonder louder than ever if Federer was simply unable to handle the prospect of his enormous potential.

On occasion, he seemed tactically confused, as if his talent allowed him too many options at any one time: the slice, the drop shot, the topspin, the approach.

There are few shots which Federer is not able to execute from any area of the court - and those he cannot are probably not worth playing.

But it all came together in splendid harmony at Wimbledon, in particular in two near faultless displays in the semi-final and final, during which he committed a combined total of 21 unforced errors.

He became the first player since Richard Krajicek in 1996 to win the title for the loss of only one set.

And while Krajicek never came close to winning another major title, it seems inconceivable that Federer, with the monkey well and truly off his back, will suffer the same fate.



Links to more Wimbledon 2003 stories


 

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Roger Federer
"The semi and final were perhaps the best two games of my career"


WIMBLEDON 2003

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LADIES' FINAL


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