Monday, June 01, 2009
Rafael Nadal's success at Roland Garros has been unprecedented. To say that his matches were a foregone conclusion would be a massive understatement. He'd never even played a 5-set match at the French Open. He was unbeatable, you could start etching his name on the trophy before a single ball was served on the red clay of Philippe Chatrier. Everyone knew this, especially Roger Federer.
The French Open is the one tournament standing between Federer and the throne of best player of all time. And it was Nadal his main nemesis that ruled the tournament with an iron fist. Without Nadal, Federer may have cruised to three straight Clay Court Major Championships, but alas Nadal stood in the way issuing Federer a beatdown each year more severe than the prior. Even defeating Nadal a few weeks back at a the finals of another clay court tournament would not be enough to boost the confidence of Federer. Clay is Nadal's domain, and Nadal is Federer's master.
And then Robin Soderling swooped in and became the hero of Roger. Somehow, someway, Soderling pounded Nadal into submission and issued him the first loss of his career in Paris. And given the fact that he hasn't lost to anybody other than Nadal at the French Open since 2004. The door was opened wide for Federer.
And yet today, perhaps suffering from a Nadal lost drunken celebration, Federer fell into a hangover-laced 2 to 0 set deficit to Tommy Haas. The hangover was quickly erased and Federer fought back to secure a 5 set victory going 6-4 6-0 6-2 throughout the final three sets. The path still will provide resistence, with players like Del Potro, Murray, Gonzalez lined up as potential opponents, but this is Federer's year. If he doesn't hold up Coupe des Mousquetaires this year, he never will.