Federer won the French. It confirms his place as the finest player in history of a wonderful game that is nearly a first love for me.
Yet did anyone else think it was a strangely sloppy and not particularly gripping match that he and Soderling played out?
Of course, it was a straight-set Federer victory -- but there have been enthralling straight-set matches before. (Edberg vs McEnroe, Wimbledon semis 1989). This match had too many errors by both players. While it was closely contested in parts -- witness one 23-stroke rally -- Soderling never persuaded me that he had the fundamental self-belief to win. And while he has an outstanding forehand with which he finds some unbelievable angles, he doesn't move all that well on court. I couldn't help thinking that Nadal or Verdasco or Gonzalez would have retrieved some Federer shots that got no answer from Soderling.
Besides, Federer himself went through a few mistake-strewn patches. What was that easy forehand volley-smash that he contrived to put way beyond the baseline? Hey, I could have put that away. I did, against this 6 year-old kid I was hitting with last Friday.
But these are really just quibbles. Federer has nothing left to prove to anyone. He has the talent, but even more so, the mental fortitude to achieve what he has -- and what's talent without that mental edge? And that's why the one thing I'd like to see Federer do now, when he has nothing left to prove, is figure out a way to beat Nadal in the Slams again.