Nadal Shellacks Federer at French Open

by John on June 9, 2008

If he weren’t such a personable and modest man off the tennis court, you might be inclined to call him the savage beast. But on the court, especially the terre battue at Roland Garros, that is exactly what Rafael Nadal is – la bete sauvage as the French would say. Nadal won his fourth consecutive French Open title yesterday, defeating world No. 1 Roger Federer 6-1, 6-3, 6-0. The victory was the second most lopsided final in the history of the French Open and marked the third straight year Nadal topped Federer in the championship match. The No. 2-ranked Spaniard didn’t drop a set in seven matches and lost only 41 games during the fortnight. Seldom is a No. 1-ranked player so completely dominated by an opponent. Federer, who suffered his worst loss ever at a Grand Slam event, appeared as out of sorts as Big Brown was at the Belmont Stakes on Saturday. At one point early in the second set NBC commentator and former tennis great John McEnroe said of Federer, “He’s embarrassed to be out there. He doesn’t know what to do.” Nadal’s tenacity on clay is without equal in the game. Novak Djokovic found that out Friday in his semifinal loss to Nadal. “He’s (the) best defensive player in the world,” said Djokovic, “and he plays every point like it’s match point.” Nadal broke Federer’s serve eight times, while only losing his once. The Spaniard hit 46 winners to Federer’s 31 and committed just seven unforced errors. Yes, seven. Federer had 35 unforced errors on the day, many coming from trying to do too much. “When you really cannot play your game, and he can play exactly what he wants from the baseline, you end up with scores like this sometimes,” said Federer. “He hardly made any unforced errors, and when he’s on the attack, he’s lethal.” Nadal improved to 28-0 in Paris, where he has won 83 of 90 sets. Only six-time champion Bjorn Borg has won more French Open men’s titles. Borg also won the championship four times in a row (1978-81). So thorough was the drubbing that Nadal apologized at the trophy ceremony. “Roger, I’m sorry for the final,” he said. The loss denies Federer, once again, of the only Grand Slam championship he hasn’t won. “When I was playing, I didn’t believe the match,” Nadal said. “I feel the match has to be closer. …I played almost perfect.” You won’t get any argument from the Swiss Maestro about that.

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