Let the Americanisation of Federer begin

The Americanisation of Roger Federer began yesterday, his first full day as the US Open champion.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:08 IST
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The Americanisation of Roger Federer began yesterday, his first full day as the US Open champion and the only man since 1988 to win three Grand Slam titles in a year. The globalisation of Federer - the person and the tennis player - was completed long ago, of course. With big forehands, tough-to-read serves, on-the-run lobs, can't-possibly-get drop shots, improving volleys, Federer does it all. He can outslug you from the baseline, outquick you at the net and simply outwit you. Easy victory Federer made Lleyton Hewitt look like a weekend hacker in the first and final sets of a 6-0, 7-6 (7/3), 6-0 victory at the US Open, the first time in 120 years that the tournament's final featured two sets at love. "I don't want to be cocky or anything, but I feel the same, in a way. I know I'm playing nice tennis," Federer said. "It's very simple. I know there is no extra movement in my technique that makes me look strange. Movement and technique have to fit together. I found the right balance, and that's what gives me all this praise," he added. His game is as varied and fluent as his language skills: In a span of 10 minutes yesterday, he went from speaking English with a dozen print reporters to doing a standup TV interview in Swiss German to doing a radio interview over a cell phone in French. Being in the limelight Yet as much of a star as he is around Europe, Federer is still trying to grab a place in the public consciousness in the United States. Yesterday, he walked into the Hard Rock Cafe in New York carrying a silver trophy and not one customer batted an eye, much less asked for an autograph or a picture with him. "The more places I go, the more I'm a celebrity. This will only increase by me winning the US Open," Federer said. "For me now, in the States, I don't really have a clue what's going to happen." Some have suggested that he won't match Pete Sampras' record of 14 Grand Slam titles. Beating the questions Federer is 4-for-4 in major finals, a first in the Open era - because the hunger won't last or distractions will mount. Federer is not the typical pro athlete. He travels with his girlfriend, his physical trainer and a pal. No coach. No agent. No PR manager. No entourage filled with hangers-on. And he already knows that a simple chuckle is the best way to deal with the sorts of questions that will be coming. The men's and women's games appear to be going in opposite directions. Federer's Wimbledon-US Open double ended a streak of 18 majors in which no player won back-to-back titles, the longest such drought in more than 35 years. He might very well have put an emphatic end to the parity, going 64-6 in 2004 with nine titles. May be the greatest player ever Four women divided this year's majors - Justine Henin-Hardenne, Anastasia Myskina, Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova - and a fifth, Amelie Mauresmo, is ranked No. 1 as of yesterday. The depth in women's tennis is such that Serena Williams is ranked 10th, Venus Williams is 12th, and the last two Slams were won by players seeded 13th. It wasn't long ago that Federer was the Phil Mickelson of tennis: the best player never to win a major. In his first 16 Slams, Federer had three times as many first-round exits (six) as quarterfinal appearances (two). His last opening-match major loss was in May 2003. "So many things have changed in a little bit over a year, if you look back. After the French Open - I lost in the first round - I was sitting in the press room trying to explain why and trying to tell the people to relax a little bit and not put too much pressure on myself," said Federer. "Here were are, six Grand Slams later, and I have four of them. Now suddenly I will be 'the greatest player ever.' It's quite a contrast," he added. (AP)