On Sunday, the best clay court player since Bjorn Borg was frustrated and infuriated when the officials called a halt to proceedings. A lengthy rain delay meant the current two best players in men’s tennis had to save the finale of their power-sapping duel until the following day. For the first time in 40 years the men’s French Open final overran through to Monday due to rain delays.
Today, the two greats picked up where they left off and in little time, Rafael Nadal became the undisputed King of Clay by beating world number one Novak Djokovic to halt Serb’s own crusade in becoming only the third man ever to win the illustrious Grand Slam.
In winning the French Open, Nadal has firmly turned the limelight back towards him as he now moves up to 11 major wins, one behind Roy Emerson, three behind Pete Sampras, five behind Roger Federer. More importantly, Nadal became the first man to win seven titles at Roland Garros.
Nadal though did not have it all his own way. After quickly accelerating into a two sets to love lead, he would have been forgiven for wanting to finish off Djokovic in double time so that he could watch his countrymen taking on Italy at the football European Championships. It was not to be as Djokovic found a new lease of life winning the third set 6-2. Game on. The world number one then showed his pedigree by breaking the Spaniard’s serve early on, racing into a 2-0 game lead. Could Nadal lose a match on clay after leading 2-0? Unthinkable but doubts still crept in. Nadal held serve in the next game before the officials decided to halt the proceedings, due to rain, much to the annoyance of the defending champion.
No matter, as Nadal re-focused and showed why he is the now the best ever clay court player as he triumphed 7-5 earlier today. Surprisingly, Djokovic surrendered his quest for greatness with a whimper as he double-faulted at Championship point.
This was the fourth consecutive major final between the pair and, crucially, Nadal’s first victory since the 2010 US Open. Spare a thought for Roger Federer who has not made a Grand Slam final appearance now for four tournaments – an unwanted sequence which last occurred in 2003 when the Swiss magician was just a pup.
Moving onwards to Wimbledon, the world’s top two players are starting to drift further ahead of Federer and the rest of the chasing pack. In their current form, it would take a brave person to bet against them meeting each other at SW19.