New York:Roger Federer is at his best against the best, when it counts the most, and he was pretty much perfect in the US Open final. The Swiss became the first man since 1988 to win three majors in a year, thoroughly outclassing Lleyton Hewitt of Australia 6-0, 7-6 (7/3), 6-0. Dream start "I couldn't have hoped for more. I got the start I wanted, I was dreaming of," Federer said. "It's a very demanding sport. The season's long. There's not much time off. This is why I'm grateful every tournament, every Grand Slam I win. You never know which is your last." Federer added the American Grand Slam title to those he took at the Australian Open and Wimbledon. Sampras challenge No one is thinking this will be Federer's final major title. With his fluid, all-court game, cool demeanor and win-the-big-ones determination, Federer already is inspiring talk about whether he can challenge Pete Sampras' record of 14 major titles. Sampras got No 4 at age 22; Federer turned 23 last month. "He's always going to have a chance going into every major. You like the chances of him picking up at least one out of four every year for a few years," Hewitt said. "After Pete's left, then Roger comes in, and that helps tennis in the big picture." Here's what is particularly remarkable: The top-ranked Federer's opponent was no pushover. Federer dominated every facet against pugnacious, backward-cap-wearing, "Come on!" - yelling, fist-pumping Hewitt, a former No 1 and owner of two major titles, including the 2001 US Open. "When he plays like he did today, he's in a different league than the other players I've played the last two weeks," Hewitt said. "He's such a big-time player. He plays some of his best tennis in the big matches." Is there a player who could have defeated Federer yesterday? "I don't think anyone in the actual tournament," Hewitt said. "Maybe Pete Sampras." Stunning run Federer led the fourth-seeded Hewitt in winners (40-12), aces (11-1), and service breaks (7-1), and won the point on 31 of 35 trips to the net. He never before made it beyond the fourth round at Flushing Meadows, leading some to wonder whether the wind, wild fans and roaring airplanes overhead might provide too many distractions for the fastidious Federer. "To me, not even in my wildest dreams I would have thought, 'I'm going to win the US Open.' Now that I did it, it's still tough for me to believe," Federer said. "At the end of the year, I'll be looking back and thinking, 'How did I do this?'" Key accomplishments There are all sorts of impressive accomplishments Federer can lay claim to:
- Including Wimbledon in 2003, Federer is 4-0 in major finals, the first man in the Open era to start a career by winning his first four.
- He's won 11 straight tournament finals overall.
- He's won 17 straight matches against players ranked in the top 10, including Andre Agassi in the quarterfinals and Tim Henman in the semifinals.
- No one had won Wimbledon and the US Open back-to-back since Sampras in 1995, and Federer's run of four of the past six Slam titles is the best since Pistol Pete won four of five in 1993-94.