FanDuel - WFBC

June 08, 2008

Nadal wins 4th straight French Open in a rout.: Rafael Nadal put on a clinic against World #1 Roger Federer to match Bjorn Borg's record for consecutive victories at Roland Garros. He was so dominant, he felt he had to apologize to Federer for the result.

posted by cabuki to tennis at 02:02 PM - 21 comments

Watching the match on the BBC, you would have thought Federer was beaten by the lowest qualifier in the field, not the World #2 and arguably the best clay court player of this generation. The commentators were practically calling for Federer to retire before he caused himself any further embarrassment. He's made the finals 3 years in a row (and the semi final the year before that). I don't understand why people think he's bad on clay. Maybe they know something I don't.

posted by cabuki at 02:06 PM on June 08

Nadal is to clay what Federer is to everything else. No shame in losing to him.

posted by holden at 04:25 PM on June 08

One of the greatest tournaments ever played in Tennis. Nadal absolutely dominated the field and capped it off with a flat out beatdown of the perhaps the greatest player of all time. Congratulations Rafa! Throughout the tournament he didn't drop a single set and I believe he lost the fewest total games since Borg. He held his quarterfinal opponent Nico Almagro to three breadsticks (6-1, 6-1, 6-1) and bageled the world's number one (first time Fed's lost a set 6-0 since 1999). Wow. The sickest thing about this performance (I'm talking the entire fortnight) is that it illustrates that Rafa has actually improved his clay court game over the past year. It sounds amazing but here's what's happened: Rafa has been working hard to improve on grass and hard courts over the past few seasons and he's incorporated some of those weapons into his clay game. So now, in addition to being the greatest defensive player on the circuit with amazing movement he is also a fierce attacking player. He's playing closer to the baseline, which allows him to dictate points and go for winners; he's serving harder and more consistently; he's developed a blistering cross-court backhand and has some of the best passing shots in the game. In short, he is now unbeatable on clay. Unless he's injured (a legitimate concern with Rafa), Roger will never beat him in an RG final.

posted by sic at 06:10 PM on June 08

Nadal's backhand has really improved. Opponents used to target it and that strategy used to pay off with some frequency. That's not true anymore, especially on clay.

posted by aerotive at 10:14 PM on June 08

With the way Nadal plays on clay(especially like he did on Sunday) , Roger should feel no shame in being the second best clay court player in the world.

posted by HATER 187 at 10:15 PM on June 08

Re: Nadal's backhand Andrew Castle (of all the unlikely sources in the world) put it quite well on the BBC commentary during the semi-final: "His backhand was never what you could realistically have called a weakness, but it was never much of a weapon. He's turned it into a weapon. A pretty dangerous one too." I was following the game via SMS updates and snatched internet access whilst in transit. I thought I was receiving typos. I know he's good, and I know he's better than Federer on clay, but I never thought I'd see Federer get handed a bagel, and certainly not in the final of grand slam, regardless of the surface. Tell you what - you can still get Nadal at 5/1 to win Wimbledon (third favourite behind Federer at 11/10 and Djokovic at 4/1), and that might be worth a tenner. As has been mentioned, he didn't exactly have to take too much out of himself at RG and if his technical progress has continued on grass at the pace it seems to have done on clay, he might be in with a really good shot, not least when it comes to beating Federer, who must be starting to feel like he's losing a bit of his edge to the Spaniard. All in all, tennis - and we as the fans of tennis - wins. It should make for a few more years of great viewing to see what heights these two can drive each other to!

posted by JJ at 02:03 AM on June 09

You know that in tennis, like most sports, confidence is a huge part of success. I have to believe that right now Federer would have very little confidence facing Nadal in the Wimby final, while Nadal's would be through the roof. I think Borg was right, if Rafa makes it through the early rounds he will win Wimbledon.

posted by sic at 09:19 AM on June 09

I think it's remarkable how quickly Roger Federer seems to have lost his mojo. He owned the tennis world (or at least the non-clay part of it) for a few years, and his reign seemed beyond question. He was good for two or three slams a year, and his suite in tennis valhalla was being readied with every passing day. But with his early exit at the Australian, and then this debacle, it does leave me wondering if the sweet spot of his career has passed. I hope this is just a rough patch, that something's going on somewhere else in his life that's causing him to lose focus on the task at hand. Certainly, his accomplishments stand on their own as it is, but I'd sure like to see him get his groove back, if for no other reason than that Nadal needs an equal for a rival.

posted by chicobangs at 09:41 AM on June 09

But with his early exit at the Australian, and then this debacle, it does leave me wondering if the sweet spot of his career has passed. They did mention during the match that he was diagnosed with mono right after the Australian, and instead of simply taking the time off to get better, he decided to "play through it". Maybe he hasn't fully recovered, but I'll want to see how he does at Wimbledon before I start to question his dominance.

posted by grum@work at 11:20 AM on June 09

They did mention during the match that he was diagnosed with mono right after the Australian, and instead of simply taking the time off to get better, he decided to "play through it". That's incredibly dumb, incredibly arrogant, or both.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 12:32 PM on June 09

Fed has definitely lost the aura of invincibility that he has had against the rest of the tour (except for Nadal, who was never intimidated by Roger). It seems apparent that his motivation and perhaps his skill are in decline (although he's still the best all around player, just not by much). This is normal for any player who has stayed on top of his sport for so long. It happened to Borg, McEnroe, Connors, Agassi, Sampras. Hell, even Michael Jordan had to take a two year baseball camp vacation. Staying number one for as long as Federer has is a superhuman feat. The top players get no breaks, they have to play tournament after tournament to maintain their ranking. If you make it to every final like Federer has, you end up playing an incredible amount of tennis. It takes a physical toll, of course, but I have to believe that the mental toll must be absolutely devastating over the long-term. I think Roger has lost his spark and I can't say that I blame him. There are many hungry youngsters who are ready to fill the ATP power vacuum, given the chance. Besides Nadal and Djokovic there's Monfils, Tsongas, Gulbis, Gasquet (if he can ever get it together), Berdych, Murray, Youznhy, Baghdhitis, etc, etc. All young, all potential world beaters. This is good for tennis. Federer is a virtuoso, but his five year monologue was growing tiresome. All I can say, thank God for Nadal, and also for Djokovic.

posted by sic at 01:33 PM on June 09

If you were getting tired of watching Federer's brilliance, you're a sensationalist.

posted by JJ at 02:32 PM on June 09

I was getting tired of watching Federer have no competition. Big difference.

posted by sic at 03:11 PM on June 09

That's incredibly dumb, incredibly arrogant, or both. Dumb, maybe. But he's been the world's #1 for how long? I think he's earned the ability to be a little arrogant.

posted by jmd82 at 03:28 PM on June 09

True, sic. For a while it was getting to the point where one started to wonder if he really was as good as he looked or if everyone else was just crap.

posted by JJ at 03:31 PM on June 09

Yeah, those finals against a clueless Roddick were more painful than anything else. Although I admit I was wincing my way through Sunday's match as well. Rafa has become on clay what Federer was on grass. I'm hoping for some more compelling tennis come Wimby.

posted by sic at 03:55 PM on June 09

Dumb, maybe. But he's been the world's #1 for how long? I think he's earned the ability to be a little arrogant. Yes, but you see, to become the world's #1 tennis player, he beat other tennis players. To assume that his record of beating other tennis players would extend to beating a virus suggests arrogance of the un-earned variety.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 07:26 AM on June 10

To assume that his record of beating other tennis players would extend to beating a virus suggests arrogance of the un-earned variety. If the effect of mono on his physical state is such that he can still reach the French Open final, perhaps he does also have mad virus-beating skills.

posted by bender at 07:52 AM on June 10

Or maybe he has one of that many variations of "mono" and it hasn't hit him as hard as other variants might have done.

posted by JJ at 08:50 AM on June 10

Out of curiosity, has this whole mono business been confirmed? There have been conflicting reports. I heard at some point that he had a stomach virus before the AO. The mono rumors came out quite a bit after. During his Roland Garros presser he mentioned a "disease" that he had (that was a translation from French), but he doesn't specify. Has RF actually said he had mono?

posted by sic at 02:41 PM on June 10

Maybe the virus has a killer backhand and a lethal serve-and-volley game. We don't know.

posted by chicobangs at 03:47 PM on June 10

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