Paris:Roger Federer never doubted he would one day end his French Open jinx even when many people were writing off his chances of ever winning the one Grand Slam title missing from his collection.
Grand Slam finals defeats to claycourt nemesis Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros last year followed by crushing losses to him at Wimbledon and the Australian Open at the start of this year left the Swiss star open to barbs that at 27 he was on the decline.
It was perplexing he agrees, but he never lost faith that he could finally win that elusive 14th Grand Slam title to draw level with Pete Sampras.
"People talked a lot about me having lost my grip and stuff. To some degree I guess it's true, because I lost my No. 1 ranking," he said after his historic 6-1, 7-6 (7/1), 6-4 win over Sweden's Robin Soderling to complete his Grand Slam set.
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"But I didn't fall out of the top 10 or the top 100. I still played very consistent, especially at the Grand Slam level. My record shows it.
"I had issues last year. We all know what they were (back injury). People sometimes don't give you time to actually let them heal or let you figure them out.
"I was happy with my level of play. I thought I played great in Australia. It was also a good tournament in Indian Wells and Miami until I played Murray and Djokovic and all those guys where all of a sudden my game completely left me for some reason. I didn't know why.
"Maybe it was because my serve wasn't helping me out, the back was still hurting me. I don't know what the problem was. "But I always believed in my chances to win Paris or any Grand Slam. That was also one of the reasons why I took six weeks off after the Australian Open.
"Let everything heal and let everything settle, and then I came back very strong."
Still, Federer agreed that it had been far from an easy run to the title in Paris as he battled through two five-setters against Tommy Haas and Juan Martin del Potro and two four-setters against Paul-Henri Mathieu and Jose Acasuso just to get to the final.
And Soderling's dramatic felling of four-times defending champion Nadal in the fourth round had come totally out of the blue to his aid.
"The way I won the match against Acasuso and Tommy Haas gave me that feeling that this could be a good year," he said. "Then Rafa lost, and Djokovic had lost before that, so it didn't make much difference. But it allowed me to have greater hopes.
"But there were moments when I was so close to losing. I feel it's just like Agassi when he won in his days.
"It's not that we're lucky, but we need to use luck when it's there. When I look at how I practice so hard, thinking I'm doing all this for Paris, for Roland Garros, everything came in at the right time."