Federer Wins Down Under, Looks to French Open

Roger Federer wins the men's title at the Australian Open after a comeback against Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis. On the women's side, Amelia Mauresmo first made a major final seven years ago but hadn't broken through until now.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Roger Federer and Amelia Mauresmo won Australian Open tennis titles over the weekend. That's a familiar experience for Federer and a very new one for Mauresmo.

Commentator John Feinstein joins us now to talk about this and some other sports news. Good morning John.

Mr. JOHN FEINSTEIN (Sports commentator): Good morning Steve.

INSKEEP: So seven major titles for Federer and he's only 24-years-old?

Mr. FEINSTEIN: Yeah, he's in Pete Sampras territory. Sampras has the all time record of 14 majors for a man. And he was 24-years-old when he won his seventh major title. And Federer's now won three in a row. He won Wimbledon and the U.S. Open to close last year. The only hole in his record, ironically, is the same as the hole in Sampras' record. Sampras never won the French Open, Federer hasn't won the French Open, and that's what comes up next on the major schedule in June. But he's got a chance.

John McEnroe says he's the best player he's ever seen. McEnroe's seen some pretty good players. Ironically, Rod Laver, who most people consider the greatest player of all time, presented Federer with the trophy when he won on Sunday in Melbourne.

INSKEEP: So the best player in tennis right now would be the man in the final who many people hadn't heard of before.

Mr. FEINSTEIN: Marcos Baghdatis, who is the, certainly the greatest player in the history of Cyprus, he was ranked 54th in the world coming in, and he beat four seeded players, including Andy Roddick, to get to the final. He had a great backing of Cypriotes down in Melbourne by the final and he actually won the first set against Federer.

I don't think this guy is a fluke who's just going to disappear, Steve. He was the world junior champion a couple of years ago, he has the kind of game that I think will make him a top player. Maybe he can be the rival that Federer doesn't have, because right now he doesn't have a great rival, ala Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Chris Everett.

INSKEEP: Yeah. Let's go over to the women's side here. Mauresmo has been around for a number of years and this is her first major big breakthrough.

Mr. FEINSTEIN: It is. She actually made the Australian Open finals seven years ago when she was 19, but hadn't been back to a final since then. The women's computer rankings are so messed up that she was ranked number one in the world at one point, without ever having won a major.

But she's been maturing. Unfortunately for her, her last two opponents, Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne, both defaulted during the match. Clijsters hurt her ankle and Henin-Hardenne just said her stomach hurt too much in the final when she was way behind. First time since the Open era in 1968 that a woman has defaulted during the course of a major final, really not a good scene, just walking off saying my stomach hurts.

INSKEEP: John, before you go I have to ask about this. I turned on the television yesterday and there was Tiger Woods on the golf course with a goatee.

Mr. FEINSTEIN: Well, he's been away for about a month, not playing any golf, a very long break for him. This is his first tournament of the year. I guess he forgot where his razor was, but it certainly didn't affect his game. He wins in a playoff, first tournament in the New Year, first tournament as a 30-year-old. And gets a couple of breaks, as often happens when you're the best player in the world, makes a birdie putt on 18 to get in the playoff and starts the new year off with a victory.

INSKEEP: And defeated Jose Maria Olazabal in that playoff.

Mr. FEINSTEIN: A long lost figure who's won two major championships. And Olazabal played very well but made a bogey on the second playoff hole, missed a short little putt there to let Tiger win.

INSKEEP: Okay John, thanks very much.

Mr. FEINSTEIN: Thank you, Steve.

INSKEEP: The latest comments from John Feinstein. His latest book is Next Man Up: Behind the Lines in Today's NFL.

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