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Martin Rogers

Tears of joy

Busted Racquet

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The tears came again for Roger Federer, but the emotions that sent them streaming down his face could not have been more different.

The fulfillment of a double dream for a champion who has few milestones left to conquer was how this murky Sunday afternoon in Paris will be remembered, as Federer carved himself a slice of history in emphatic fashion.

Robin Soderling had put together a spectacular tournament and was a game challenger, but there was no denying the Swiss master his ultimate destiny.

The last time Federer got dewy-eyed on court was after his collapse in the Australian Open final, when he produced a dreadful fifth set to surrender to Rafael Nadal.

After a year in which so many doubts were raised about him and his ability to complete his goals of a career Grand Slam and matching Pete Sampras' 14 Slam titles, now there are still more questions.

Now though, they revolve around his greatness, not his fallibility.

Nadal is the world No. 1 and deservedly so, yet can there now be any question that Federer is the greatest of all time?

The legend of Sampras is eternal but his career record was missing one vital cog, that of the French Open. Federer's completion of all four surely elevates him at least half a notch above his idol.

How appropriate it was that Federer's most satisfying triumph at all came in such a hard fought manner.

Soderling was disposed of in three tough sets, yet epic battles against Tommy Haas and Juan Martin Del Potro required the steeliest of inner fortitude.

So what next? Federer is now a married man with a child on the way and there have been suggestions he could walk away from the sport at the end of the current season.

Certainly at times over the past 12 months it appeared he had fallen out of love with the game. Now that passion must have been rekindled.

The chance to go past Sampras will present itself at Wimbledon, a golden opportunity, especially with defending champion Nadal suffering with injury. Then there is the U.S. Open, which he has won the past five years.

Suddenly, a career figure of close to 20 Slams does not look out of the question for the 27-year-old.

But when he finally reaches the end of what will go down as one of individual sport's all-time greatest careers, Federer may look back on this as his most meaningful accomplishment.

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