The inevitability of another Rafa win in Paris

An aura of inevitability seems to engulf Court Philippe Chatrier whenever Nadal struts his way onto the red Parisian clay, as if it truly is impossible for the Spaniard to lose at Roland Garros.

June 5, 2011 23:39
2 minute read.
Rafa and Roger after Roland Garros final

Nadal Federer 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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PARIS – Even while trailing 5- 2 in the first set and with Roger Federer holding a set point, it never really seemed plausible that Rafael Nadal would ever lose.

An aura of inevitability seems to engulf Court Philippe Chatrier whenever Nadal struts his way onto the red Parisian clay, as if it truly is impossible for the Spaniard to lose at Roland Garros.

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True, he does have one blemish in an otherwise perfect seven-year run at the French capital, but does anyone really believe that the world No. 1 would have lost that fourth round match to Robin Soderling in 2009 had he been fully fit? Nadal went over two months without playing due to knee problems following that defeat.

Federer seemed to believe he could get the better of Nadal on Sunday for the first time in five meetings at Roland Garros, but despite his often sublime play, he could not display his genius with the seemingly impossible consistency needed to beat Rafa at Chatrier.

While Federer stuttered through peaks and valleys, the Nadal freight train stormed through the flatlands, a steady beacon of confidence.

The Swiss master proved his doubters wrong with a superb run to the final in Paris, ending Novak Djokovic’s 41-match winning streak in 2011 with an unforgettable victory in the semifinals.

But against Nadal at Roland Garros, even the player regarded by most as the greatest of all time is left with no answers.

Federer tried it all, from thumping forehands to slicing backhands, throwing in surges to the net and the occasional drop shot, but it was all to no avail.

Even when Nadal was caught off guard, he always found the solution within a few points, and just when the thought crept into your mind that Federer just might be able to slay the Spanish bull, Rafa slammed the door shut with another unbelievable shot.

By tying Bjorn Borg’s record of six French Open titles, Nadal has cemented his place as the greatest clay court player in history, just two days after celebrating his 25th birthday.

Nadal has also tied Bill Tilden in sixth place on the all-time list of Grand Slam winners with 10 titles, raising the question of whether he may be able to surpass Federer’s current record of 16.

Although with his performance in Paris, it seems almost certain that the 29-year-old Federer will still add to his trophy cabinet, while Nadal has hinted more than once that he has no plans to play into his 30s.

But there will be plenty of time to discuss and compare two of the greatest players the world has ever seen.

Now is the time to celebrate and appreciate the triumphant Nadal, a champion the likes of whom Roland Garros may never see again.

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