After 4 and a half hours of grueling tennis, Rafael Nadal proved that he is still the king of Roland Garros by defeating Novak Djokovic 9-7 in the fifth set. In many people mind, this was the true final, with the greatest clay court player of all time up against the number 1 player in the world. The quality of tennis was up and down, but when it mattered the two players were at their best.
The first set started with both players really timing the ball well. After six solid holds, Nadal broke Djokovic’s serve with some of his trademark forehands. He served out the first set to 6-4, and all the momentum was with him. He got up an early break in the second set, and it looked like Djokovic was having trouble taking his backhand early because of Rafa’s heavy ball. However, he started to go for it more, broke back, and won 4 games in a row to take the second set 6-3. Going into the third set, it was anybodies match.
The third was very lopsided. After getting down a break early on, Djokovic looked physically spent and basically gave away a 6-1 set to Nadal. There have still yet to be any 6-0 sets in the history of this rivalry. As the fourth began, Rafa was nearing the finish line. he go up a break at 3-2, but Djokovic broke right back with some huge forehands registering at over 100 miles per hour. It was even until 5-5, with Djokovic serving. Nadal broke by forcing Novak into error, and so he served for the match.
Dkokovic is probably the best comeback player of all time. For some reason, with his back against the wall, he relaxes and plays unbelievable tennis. He broke back with more huge forehands, capping the game off with an enormous inside in forehand. The tiebreak was all Djokovic, as he won it 7-3.
This was only the second time Nadal had gone to 5th set at the French Open, and he looked tight early on. He got down a break early, and he was starting to miss some returns. Down 2-4, he started to pump himself up as he held serve easily. The next game was a turning point in the match. Djokovic saved one break point, and got back to deuce before the most memorable point of the match. After bossing the point, Djokovic came to net on a big forehand. Nadal was simply able to put up a weak lob, but instead of letting the ball bounce, Djokovic took the ball out of the air. In the process of doing so, his body touched the net before the ball bounced twice, which means that the point was Nadal’s.
The fifth rolled on serve until Djokovic served to stay in the match at 7-8. A few loose errors later, and Rafa Nadal was back in the fina of the French Open, and Djokovic was sent home packing.
In the final he will face his countryman David Ferrer, who advanced to his first ever Grand Slam final by beating Jo Wilfried Tsonga 6-1 7-6(3) 6-2. Tsonga had the expectations of an entire country on his shoulders, and it showed in his performance. He was nervous, and could never put together more than 2 good games in a row. Ferrer exposed his movement, and broke down his backhand. He could hardly make a shot on that side for much of the match. The crowd was disappointed to say the least, and they’ll have to wait another year to have their hopes of a French man winning Roland Garros.
Nadal has owned Ferrer in the past, and the same is likely in the final, but we’ll break that down in a later article.