Sunday, June 06, 2010

6-4, 6-2, 6-4 - Poetic justice at Roland Garros 2010

So Nadal won the French Open. Again. Big deal some say. Yes Big Deal indeed! And anyone who saw the match would perhaps agree that it was one of Nadal's great matches. Yet personally, I would still rate Nadal's Wimbledon 2008victory over Fedex, his 2009 Australian Open semifinals match against Verdasco, and his final against Fedex, all gruelling five setters as perhaps his best performances to date. In fact, in comparison to today's match, Nadal's semi final against compatriot Almagro, was more evenly matched, with Rafa having to sweat out every point! (Pic courtesy The Hindu)

But today's match is in no way a wishwash. One, because Rafa was coming back to his favorite tournament after a disgraceful loss last year. Second, it was a rematch of last year, where Soderling literally decimated Rafa and the world thought that a clay court pretender had finally arrived. After a blinding 2008, which had the Olympic Gold for Nadal as an icing on the cake, and a blistering start to the 2009 season, all of 2009 was a bad year for Rafa, both professionally and personally. Tendinitis and his parents' divorce managed to hurt the muscled man from Majorca enough to turn his game on a downward spiral! A man who perhaps never gets ruffled by anything on court. Or else how could one explain his victory from the 'baselines' at Wimbledon 2008? And here he was, fighting all those ghosts of the past year, to put to rest thoughts about whether the pretender had arrived!

I can only imagine the emotions that gripped Nadal, while entering Philippe Chartrier. Time to avenge last year's loss? Time to reclaim what had been his for over four years? Time to get back to the world? To date, the French Open perhaps was the last place he ever had to prove a point, although not this year. The records and stats in his favor may not be staggering yet, at least not as much as those of Fedex, but an imminent No. 1 ranking, 5 victories on clay, just one short of all time great Bjorn Borg. And he just turned 24! I am sure if he were to capture his emotions on canvas, the outcome would be psychedelic to say the least. And the setting was magical. The sky was overcast, in a typical theatrical Hindi Movie style; with perhaps just lightning and thunder missing! And the symmetrical 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 victory was pure poetic justice.

No matter what happens at Wimbledon a few weeks from now, the King of the Clay Court is back and he is on top, ranked World Number 1, despite a whole year off with an injury last year. He has a rather unassailable lead going further, and as for his game, I guess it is safe to say that his legendary killer instinct is back...

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