Tag Archives: French Open

Long Live The King

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This past Sunday saw Rafael Nadal win the French Open. The victory marked Nadal’s tenth French Open Title which is more than any other man in the history of the tournament. And although that Nadal has been dominant at Roland-Garros as well as clay surfaces overall during his illustrious career, there appeared to be something that was sweeter about this most recent triumph.

In recent years Nadal has been plagued by wrist and back injuries which limited his effectiveness as he appeared to be mortal. 2015 would see Nadal not make it past the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam Tournament. 2016 would not be that much better for Nadal as he couldn’t get past the fourth round of a Grand Slam Tournament, while missing Wimbledon altogether. But at the age of 31, 2017 has been a different tale for Nadal.

Nadal has a new coach in fellow Spaniard Carlos Moya who himself won the French Open in 1998, and together these two have been able to make beautiful music together.

After exiting in the first round of the 2016 Australian Open, Nadal would rebound to reach the final in Melbourne this past January before losing to his longtime rival in Roger Federer. Following that Nadal would reach the final of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells where he would again fall to Federer. But in the process Nadal showed that he was regaining the form that had made him a legend. And with the clay season right around the corner, Nadal was ready to once again seize his throne.

When Nadal hit the clay, he began to play like a man possessed as he secured victories at tournaments in Monte Carlo, Barcelona, and Madrid. Nadal would make the quarterfinals of the Italian Open where he was surprisingly upset by Dominic Thiem of Austria. But even with the setback versus Thiem, Nadal showed that he was once again ready to dominate on the clay surface.

With the start of the French Open, there was the possibility that Nadal would cross paths with Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic who were the last two winners at Roland-Garros, while he could also have a potential rematch with Thiem. But what ensued from Nadal was complete and utter dominance.

En route to winning the French Open, Nadal would not even lose a set. And that dominance by Nadal would include a straight set victory over Thiem in the semis after he had entered this match flying high by knocking off Djokovic in the quarterfinals. Nadal would then have Wawrinka waiting for him in the final on Sunday which was expected to be one of the best matches of the tournament. However Nadal would turn it into a very one-sided affair as his skill set made Wawrinka who is one the top male tennis players in the world look like a novice.

And after Nadal’s straight set victory over Wawrinka, he fell to the ground to acknowledge retaking his post at the undisputed king of the clay surfaces. When Nadal would rise to his feet, the back of his shirt was covered in clay, but it didn’t matter as the sun on that afternoon in Paris was beaming down on him, while everyone in attendance emerged from their seats to acknowledge one of the greatest players in the history of tennis.

The victory by Nadal marked his tenth title at Roland-Garros, while it was his 15th Grand Slam Title which broke a tie with Pete Sampras for the second most Grand Slams in men’s tennis as he is now only looking up to the 18 of Federer. And with Wimbledon and the U.S. Open still on the docket here in 2017, there is a chance that Nadal could close the gap on his longtime rival. For the first time in a very long time Nadal is healthy, and once you factor that in along with the fact the that he has a new coach as well as the motivation to prove the naysayers wrong who spoke of his demise when he was injured, we’re seeing the rebirth of one of the greatest tennis players to have ever done it.

After Nadal’s win in Paris he is now the second-ranked tennis player in the world behind Andy Murray. And with nearly five months left in the season, Nadal could finish the year ranked number one for the first time since 2013.

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The Wind Was Taken Out Of Djokovic’s Sails

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Novak Djokovic has eight Grand Slam Titles to his credit and 2015 appeared to be the year in which he would get the one that has always seemed to elude him. Djokovic is currently ranked as the men’s top tennis player in the world, but he has never finished first at the French Open. Djokovic previously reached the French Open Final in 2012 and 2014, but there he was never able to overcome Rafael Nadal. What made Djokovic’s 2014 loss that much more difficult was that he had beaten Nadal in Monte Carlo which was the tournament that preceded the French Open.

But in 2015, Djokovic has been sharp. Djokovic won the Australian Open for the fifth time and he has been virtually unbeatable as he has gone through the likes of Andy Murray and Roger Federer. As for Nadal, he is playing, but he is still in the process of recovering from a wrist injury which has taken away from his typical dominance. And when the pairings were announced for the French Open, it would be Djokovic that earned the top seed that has generally been reserved for Nadal as he has won in Paris nine times.

Djokovic was the top seed of the 2015 French Open, but he would have his work cut out for him. Instead of meeting Nadal in the semis or in the final, Djokovic had to face the undisputed “king of clay” in the quarterfinals. And after losing to Nadal in four sets in the 2014 French Open Final, Djokovic was able to dispose of him in straight sets last week. Djokovic would then face Murray in the semis and after winning the first two sets, he appeared to be making quick work of the Brit. But the match was suspended due to inclement weather. And when it resumed the following day, Djokovic was now facing a revived Murray who took him to five sets before losing.

So now the only thing that stood between Djokovic and his first French Open Championship was Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland. Since winning the Austalian Open in 2014, Wawrinka has been a mystery man as he has been a surprising early exit at most major tournaments. But this past Sunday at Roland Garros, it was Wawrinka that dictated the pace and with his four-set victory, he denied Djokovic the one title that has eluded him.

This was the perfect time for Djokvic to win the French Open as he is in the prime of his career while Nadal is still shaking off the rust and Federer is getting older. Djokovic has claimed eight Grand Slam Championships and he is still the best tennis player going right now, but his detractors will be quick to point out he has also made eight major finals and lost.

The loss in Paris this past Sunday could bother Djokovic as he could have won all four Grand Slam events this year, but he can take solace on the fact that when Wimbledon begins next month, he will be defending his crown there. Nadal will more than likely enter Wimbledon as the top seed and if he’ll be able to win at the All-England Club, he will join an elite list as only seven men would have won more Grand Slam Titles that him. But as good as Djokovic has been, he will still hear about not being able to win the French Open.

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