Nadal handles Federer to win the French Open

Rafael Nadal of Spain returns the ball to Roger Federer of Switzerland during their men’s final at the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris June 5, 2011. REUTERS/Thierry Roge (FRANCE – Tags: SPORT TENNIS)

Rafael Nadal has defeated Roger Federer, again, to win the French Open. It’s his sixth French Open championship. Many consider Federer to be the best player of all time, but surface means everything in tennis, and Nadal has owned him on clay.

This is also Nadal’s tenth grand slam title, so who knows what people will be saying about the all-time greats in a couple of years if he keeps this up.

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Nadal wins French Open, regains world No. 1

Rafael Nadal has just captured his fifth French Open title, defeating Robin Soderling in straight sets 6-4, 6-2, 6-4. In edging Soderling, the quirky Swede who surprisingly ousted the Spaniard last year in Paris, Nadal also seizes the world No. 1 from Roger Federer.

The match ends a marvelous run for Nadal at this year’s French Open, where he didn’t drop a single set the entire tournament — the second time he’s done so at Roland Garros. Although Soderling posed a significant challenge considering their history, Nadal’s dominance on clay, particularly at this event, was on display from the start.

Next up: Wimbledon. What Roland Garros is to Nadal, the All England Lawn and Croquet Club is to Federer. Curiously, Nadal is not optimistic about his chances at the event. Today, in a post-match interview with John McEnroe, Nadal told Mac the next he would him see would be the U.S. Open. Hopefully Nadal is just being coy.


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Nadals defeats Federer in Madrid Masters, plus a misguided French Open prediction

Ahh, some tennis news. I know how you’ve all missed it, consumed by the exciting NBA Playoffs, the equally exciting but less-publicized NHL playoffs, and the full swing of the baseball season. Well, tennis exists, and though American soccer may not in your eyes, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are here to remind you of their sport.

In extending their cordial rivalry on Sunday, Nadal edged Federer 6-4, 7-6 (5) in the Madrid final to capture a record 18th Masters title, thereby making the Spaniard 15-0 on clay for the season.

From ESPN.com:

“I’m very happy with everything so far this year. I think I’ve returned to my top form and that’s the most important thing for me,” Nadal said. “Am I favorite to win at Roland Garros? I was last year and I lost.”

Nadal, hampered by nagging knee injuries last season, reversed the result of the 2009 final — the last time he and Federer faced each other — to win in Madrid for a second time and move one Masters title ahead of Andre Agassi and two in front of Federer.

“The most important thing is winning at home; winning in Madrid is a dream. After that, I think about the ranking,” said Nadal. “Against this opponent, it’s always going to be difficult.”

The next big tournament is the French Open, which begins May 23. Most think Nadal and Federer will once again meet in the final, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say Fed falters in an earlier round. (Yes, this is all a chance for you to make me eat my words). I’m calling it Nadal and, um, Fernando Verdasco in the final. See, I can throw that out there willy-nilly because most of you probably don’t know who Verdasco is.

So: Nadal beats Verdasco in straight sets at the French Open.


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What does Roger Federer’s win at the French Open really mean?

fed

Tim Joyce from Real Clear Sports feels that Roger Federer’s recent win at the French Open shouldn’t matter as much as most think. Joyce believes that, because of Rafael Nadal’s absence in the final, Federer doesn’t deserve the high praise.

When a Grand Slam tournament loses its star player and main attraction, there’s often a tendency for a sepulchral mood to cloak the on-court proceedings following such a shock to its system. This feeling usually lasts a day or two before the tournament reboots itself and seemingly gains a new destiny and sense of purpose.

But … would such a victory without having any obstacles – that is to say Nadal – detract from the accomplishment? Yes and no. It’d be patently unfair to diminish the achievement on the grounds that his draw opened up. No one seemed to complain when Agassi beat journeyman Andrei Medvedev for his only Paris crown (but then again Agassi did have to defeat defending champion Carlos Moya in the fourth round en route to the French title). There have been many Slam titles won in the Open era where the eventual champion was the beneficiary of an easy draw. And Roger has after all been to the last three finals at Roland Garros so he’s been ever so close – except in the finals when he has made nary a dent in Nadal’s clay armor. So logic would dictate that he’s due a lucky year, that he’s put in the grueling work on clay and he does have several Masters Series titles on the red dirt.

However, a Federer triumph would lack the drama that this achievement would warrant, in fact demand. Would Nadal finally winning at Wimbledon have been as dramatic and important if he had defeated Djokovic or Murray in as close a contest? No, not even close. The fact that he beat Federer on The Roger’s sacred turf is what made last year’s epic match so eternal and wondrous. It was fitting, correct and poetic that Nadal’s win last year on the sport’s biggest stage came against his chief rival.

I appreciate Joyce’s reasoning as he gives an even-handed approach to Federer’s success. If Federer had faced Nadal in the final, the match would definitely not have gone in three sets, and Federer might not have raised that trophy in the pouring rain. (Who knows, due to the lack of a retractable roof, they may have had to postpone a longer match until tomorrow.) Also, I believe that if Nadal were completely healthy during this tournament, he would have eliminated Soderling and given Federer an excellent effort in the finals.

Nevertheless, this is the best tennis I’ve seen Roger Federer play in a long time. It’s funny, because in the quarter and semifinals he didn’t seem to really come alive until the third sets, when he was behind. In the finals against Soderling he was at the top of his game. He even added a seemingly new drop shot at the front of the net which fooled Soderling all day. He displayed the type of dominance we’re used to seeing in Federer.

Joyce makes an interesting point, though: Nadal’s victory at Wimbledon on Federer’s beloved surface was truly amazing, and competition at it’s finest. Nobody expected Nadal to outmatch Federer in England that day, but he did. To this day, Federer has not beat Nadal in the finals at the Spaniard’s favorite Grand Slam. Because of this, Joyce has a valid argument. Federer was the best player at this year’s French Open, but it is a qualified win. Federer beat Soderling, who had a really tough time against Nadal. Thus, Federer making easy work of Soderling does make one think: Nadal has gotten the best of Federer over the last two years (except at the 2007 Wimbledon) and has dominated at Roland Garros. If Nadal loses to Soderling, something is terribly wrong.

Understandably, this debate can lead to a myriad of statistics that aren’t, in my opinion, practical to tennis. Federer’s older, Nadal’s younger, Federer’s healthy now, Nadal is injured, who was better in their prime, blah blah. Federer played incredibly at this year’s French Open and he is deserving of the championship.

What we should all be looking forward to is this year’s Wimbledon. With Federer’s confidence at a current high and Nadal coming back from giving his knees a break, it should be another beauty. That assumes, of course, that the two meet again. There’s always Andy Murray and one of America’s finest (sarcasm intended) standing in their way.

Federer captures French Open, ties Sampras


He finally did it!

On his fourth try at Roland Garros, Roger Federer defeated 23-seeded Robin Soderling 6-1, 7-6 (1), 6-4 on Sunday to win The French Open. It was his 14th major title, tying him with Pete Sampras. Federer became the sixth man to complete a career Grand Slam.

After hitting a service winner for championship point, Federer fell to his knees, overwhelmed by the moment. The fans gave him a standing ovation and he responded by raising his arms in victory.

Playing in a cool, windy, drizzling day, Federer raced to quick lead over Soderling by sweeping the first four games of the opening set. Federer kept Soderling off balance all match with his superb ground game, as he pinpointed shots to both corners and slipping in the occasional drop shot for points all match long.

Andre Agassi, the most recent men’s player to complete a career Grand Slam by winning the French Open 10 years ago, awarded the Swiss native with the championship trophy. Federer acknowledged that it was nice to finally be on the podium as a winner.

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