It’s that time of the year when Rafael Nadal makes his customary run through the clay court season culminating with him conquering the French Open and sinking his teeth into the Roland Garros trophy. Nadal winning the French Open has that sort of inevitability that even Federer or Sampras at Wimbledon can’t match. Rafa is into his 8th final in 9 years and should he succeed in winning this as well, he will become the only man in the Open Era to have won a single Grand Slam 8 times! If he does, the tag #KingOfClay should be changed to #GodOfClay.
Nadal during a clay court season can be aptly described by the following analogy: Consider a larger boulder hurtling down a slope. Initially, when it starts to roll down, it starts off slowly. But when it reaches towards the end of the slope it has this unstoppable momentum that pretty much tramples anything and everything on its path. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have done so far in the tournament; just ask Federer and Djokovic.
But still we all love to ask, ‘Can he win it one more time though?’ Because it doesn’t matter what you did yesterday or last week or the year before (or for the past 8 years in Rafa’s case); what matters is if you van bring it on that particular day. Nadal hasn’t been at his best to start off the tournament but showed exceptional grit and tenacity to edge his nemesis and world number one, Novak Djokovic in the semis. His opponent will be David Ferrer, the Other Spaniard. Ferrer, often referred to as one of the hardest working players in the tour hasn’t dropped a set so far and has been a beast so far in this tournament. Contrast this with the fact that Nadal hasn’t been at his best and just came through an epic match against Djokovic so he may not be a 100% for the final. Ferrer has a small chance but he is playing Rafael Nadal, on clay, gunning for an unprecedented 8th RG title. I would love to be proven wrong by Ferrer but I am gonna bet on Nadal.
Now that the final result almost all but assured, lets rate this Grand Slam. Going into the second slam of the year, I really thought that Djokovic would be able to win the whole thing, taking out Rafa in the semis as well. But I was wrong. And when it came to wishes, I wished for Federer to win the title (ohh what a surprise coming from a long time Federer fan J ). The wish changed as the tournament went along and I have collated them below:
- Federer wins RG: This was strengthened by Fed’s excellent display in the first 3 rounds and a great fight back in the 4rth round vs Simon.
- Djokovic to win RG: After Federer was surprisingly knocked out in the Quarter finals by Tsonga, I wished for Nole to win RG because he looked to be the only guy who could beat Rafa on clay.
- Tsonga to reach the final: Nadal played the immovable object act one more time and overcame Nole to reach the final of RG for the gazillionth time. Between Ferrer and Tsonga, I like the latter’s game better and so picked him for the final.
- Ferrer to win RG (lol): Surprise, surprise, Tsonga crashed out in the semis, in straights. I really don’t have much hope for Ferrer against Rafa; I have seen way too many of their matches to be hopeful. If it goes 5 sets, I will be satisfied and will consider it a moral victory. This is nothing against Ferrer but Nadal is just too strong on clay to be denied.
Now that ALL my hopes and wishes have been crushed I am signing off with a humble request to the humble Rafa (he still declares he is not the favourite for the RG final, lol):
You may or may not win your 8th RG title today. But please, refrain yourself from winning anymore Grand Slam titles. It is causing Federer fans considerable heartache, headache, nausea, vomiting, SARS, Small Pox etc.
A Concerned Federer Fan