British press hail Federer the master

LONDON: The disappointment of not seeing a British player in the men's final at Wimbledon was forgotten on Monday as newspapers here hailed Roger Federer as the greatest player of all time.

The Swiss won his sixth trophy at the All England Club with an epic 5-7, 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (7/5), 3-6, 16-14 win over Andy Roddick on Sunday, beating Pete Sampras' record to take an historic 15th Grand Slam title.

"What more could anyone ask for a finale?" asked The Times.

"Records galore being broken, a gathering of legends, a contest brimful of aggression, subtlety and mutual respect across the net, a glorious sunny afternoon and early evening, unlike last year uninterrupted by rain."

One commentator said Federer "must now be heralded as indisputably the greatest of all time".

But there was also widespread praise for his formidable opponent, whom he has now defeated in three Wimbledon finals as well as the 2006 US Open title match, saying it was Roddick's tenacity that made Federer's win so impressive.

"What a match! What an opponent! What a champion!" said the Sun.

The Daily Mail added: "Here was Roddick's peak this year, perhaps even in his career, and that Federer still found the wit and strength to defeat him over 30 games in the final set is what puts him apart as a champion."

A commentator in the Guardian wrote that Federer had proved in their gruelling match that as well as his athletic grace -- "someone must oil Roger Federer's skeleton every night" -- he had the mental strength to win.

"To proclaim Federer as the greatest of all tennis players is statistically straight-forward and morally necessary," he wrote.

"As Andy Roddick finally began to tire in the match that refused to end, Federer turned beyond pure natural talent to something more primeval: the refusal to yield, the compulsion to prevail that allows those with a special knack for playing sport to go on and become champions."

Roddick had cut short Andy Murray's hopes of being the first Briton to win Wimbledon for 73 years in their quarter-final face-off on Friday.