But these rivalries all pale in comparison to the slug-fest between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer that took place on Sunday, as Nadal won his sixth French Open.
Federer, as many of us know, has sixteen grand slam trophies under his belt (…he’s got a really big belt), but lately he has been haunted in his nightmares by the unstoppable Clay Monster, Rafael Nadal.
Though Nadal cites Federer as being the greatest to ever play the game, this might just be because Federer is the one guy who Nadal seems to wallop every time the two are on the court together.
In head-to-heads, Nadal’s record is 17-8 against Federer, a number that no doubt is spray-painted onto the wall of Federer’s psyche.
Nadal Fantastic In French Open 2011, Perfect Against Federer
When it comes to the French Open though, Nadal’s record against Federer is now 5-0. And this year’s bout was particularly grisly. Federer started off “strong like bull” and netted a 5-2 lead over Nadal.
At this point, Federer was no doubt pinching himself to make sure he wasn’t in a dream. On the other side of the court, however, Nadal was pinching his own arm to wake himself up. He quickly rallied back to win the first set 7-5.
The turning point in this set was when Federer lost his chance at a critical set point, thanks to a wide drop shot. Somewhere else in the crowd, a nickel also dropped.
The next seven games were all Nadal, featuring guest star Federer running around in the background, cursing his unlucky stars. But get this, even during this routing, Nadal was beatable.
His ground strokes weren’t consistent. And even his manager/uncle said that his playing was a bit too tentative. Nadal was up 5-4, 40-30, but Federer forced deuce. It was only with extreme effort (…ad a little luck) that Nadal took the second set.
One wonders, if the match weren’t at Roland Garros (…the French Open) and thus not on the red clay that Nadal is known to excel at, would Federer have won?
Well, this is kind of like saying that if the Titanic had more boats, then Leo and Kate would still be together, but it did in fact look like Federer was going to come back.
He came back in the second set, only to lose 7-6 (3) but in the third set he came back from 4-2 to win the set 7-5.
Federer’s Final Set, Nadal Wins 6th French Open:
In the fourth set of the French Open final, Federer was still in prime shape, as if he had shrugged off his demons and told them to expect an icy winter at St. Peters. He quickly made it love-40 and the crowd became as quiet as a mute church mouse.
Unfortunately, the salad days were about to be spoiled. Nadal regained his poise and started once again delivering his masterful high bouncing forehands, making Federer goof up his backhands to the point of no return.
After that, Nadal easily took his sixth French Open, tying him with tennis superstar Borg.
Now, could Federer have won if his mental game was a bit sharper? Rafael certainly gave him plenty of opportunities. But is it just as possible that Nadal is just better than Federer?
Is he the David Lee Roth to Federer’s Sammy Hagar? One thing is certain. The only French Open that Federer ever won was the year that Nadal couldn’t face him due to elimination.
But even that could just be mental, as you will also note that Federer is 14-1 in Grand Slam finals that aren’t played against the terrifying Spaniard.
Perhaps it is a combination of the two, but the fact of the matter is that Nadal is heading to Wimbledon with an even bigger belt than he had before.
For more on the French Open, click here.
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