No Need For an Asterisk On Roger Federer's French Open Win

Donald FincherAnalyst IJune 7, 2009

PARIS - JUNE 07:  Roger Federer of Switzerland hits a forehand during the Men's Singles Final match against Robin Soderling of Sweden on day fifteen of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 7, 2009 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Everyone is celebrating right now. It would be pounced on by the tennis community if anyone were to naysay Roger Federer's win at Paris today.  

But, after a day or two of this sinking in, there will be those that say that because Roger Federer didn't have to play Nadal or even Djokovic that his French Open win is somehow tainted or hollow.

I'd like to proactively dispute any such claim here and now. This win was well-deserved, hard fought, and most of all, legitimate.

Had Rafael Nadal withdrawn from the tournament or even his last match with an injury, that would be a different story. Then there would be those that could still claim that if he played 7 matches on the red clay, that he would have won all 7.  

But, he didn't. He lost to Robin Soderling. And that brings me to the next point...

Had Robin Soderling gone on to lose the next match, it would have been said that Rafa had a really bad game or that Soderling played out of his mind. But, instead, Soderling dispatched not one, but two top 15 players after beating Nadal and made it all the way to the finals.

So Rafa's loss wasn't a fluke.

By getting the chance to play Soderling rather than Gonzalez, Fed got to beat the player that dethroned Rafa.  Had Rafa been removed from his path by someone else, and Djokovic been removed by someone else, and then the guy who beat Rafa also removed by someone else, then Roger would not have had to play any of the three.  

By Roger having to play Rafa's vanquisher, he got a chance to prove the legitimacy of his win here.

There have been many tourneys including even many French Opens where players have snuck out with a win under circumstances that might have concluded with a different result if that circumstance had happened differently.  

There are many one-slam wonders that have happened over the years and many were under auspicious situations.

But Fed has been to the semis here at least once and the finals the last 4 years.  He is the only player to have beaten Nadal on clay (before Soderling) in the last 4 years and he did it twice (Hamburg, Madrid).  

He has obviously proven his mettle on the surface. He would have already had at least 2 French Open titles (assuming a win ratio of at least 50% which is low) if he had been playing anyone other than Nadal these last 4 years.  

In fact, nobody else has ever beaten him on clay at Paris these past 5 years other than Nadal (not even Nadal's vanquisher) so it can be argued that if he wasn't playing in the same era as Nadal, he would have won 4 French Opens already.

Yes, Roger Federer's 14th Slam win is certainly the real deal. And today is a day for raising a glass and toasting they guy who can already be argued as the greatest ever but, with 2-5 more years left (barring an injury), might go on to leave no doubt.