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Steady as He Goes: Roger Federer on Success, Staying Power and 20 Years at the French Open

Pete Kiehart for The New York Times

CHUR, Switzerland — Roger Federer had just finished his soup and was dubious.

“Come on!” he said. “Nobody else left?”

No, not a soul.

Of the 128 players who took part in the 1999 French Open singles tournament, Federer is the last one still playing singles on tour.

That French Open was Federer’s first Grand Slam event. He was 17 years old, wore a ball cap backward on court and still had difficulty keeping his temper in check. Even though he was Swiss, not French, and had lost in the first round of the junior event the year before, the French tournament officials had decided, after considerable debate, to give him a precious wild card into the main draw based on his clear potential.