Nadal Wins Fifth French Open

09:21 Sun 06 Jun 2010
[, ]

Robin Söderling, after knocking out the defending champion, was again unable to put up much resistance in the final. This match had a different pattern from last year’s final; this year, Söderling had important chances early but could not break the Nadal serve, and once those early chances were gone they didn’t reappear.

Nadal played phenomenally well. His movement and defense were amazing, and the amount of margin he gave himself on his shots was frightening. He made very clear why he’s the best clay-court player ever. He didn’t drop a set during the tournament, which is ridiculous. He also reclaimed the number one ranking and became the first man ever to win the “clay Slam”—all three clay Masters events and the French Open. By beating Söderling, he also ended Federer’s other insane streak: from Wimbledon 2004 until this French Open, every Grand Slam had been won either by Federer or whoever defeated Federer.

On the topic of Federer, he has held the number one ranking for 285 weeks—one week short of the Sampras record. Given that Nadal is number one already and has almost no points to defend for the next two months, it seems unlikely that Federer will regain it for a while, and there’s no guarantee that he’ll ever get it back. I would really like to see him take that record too, but it’s possible that it’s not going to happen. Then again, he may simply recover again and, for example, win the next three majors…

I was somewhat disappointed in Söderling. Certainly, taking on Nadal at Roland Garros is an unbelievably daunting task, but I thought he’d be able to use his raw power effectively. His serving wasn’t that great while Nadal’s defense was superb, and that blunted his main advantage. He faded after his early chances, and the difference in mental fortitude between the two finalists was very clear.

So much for my giving Söderling a slight edge. My predictions for the French Open this year have been awful. I predicted:

  • Federer over Söderling (I don’t feel that bad about this one).
  • Söderling (barely) over Nadal—but it was a total blowout the other way, so I was a long way from right.
  • Henin or Williams to win it.
  • Henin over Stosur.
  • Williams over Stosur.
  • Stosur over Schiavone.
  • That the women’s final wouldn’t be a good one (hence I didn’t get up to watch it).

Things look interesting going into Wimbledon. I still think Federer is the favorite, but Nadal’s form is simply amazing right now. The two of them may well meet again in the final. I have trouble seeing anyone else beating them before that, but am slightly more worried about an upset derailing Federer than Nadal. Federer looks significantly less focused, something you can’t say about Nadal. Then again, Federer’s grass record is ridiculous.

This is Nadal’s seventh Grand Slam; he has one Wimbledon and one Australian title along with the five French. He’s 24, and how many more he wins is really dependent on his health, specifically his knees. If he manages to somehow stay healthy for another five years, he’s definitely a threat to the overall Grand Slam record, given that he’s so favored at the French and can’t be counted out at any of the others.

Leave a Reply