by Helen W
Routed. Thrashed. Crushed. Devastated. Roughed up. Hiding of his Life. Humiliated. Demolished. Humbled. Thumped. Annihilated. Overwhelmed. Agony for Federer. Destroyed. Drubbing. Clobbered. Steamrolled. Blown Away. Smashed. Taken apart.
These are the adjectives tennis writers are using to try to describe the men’s French Open Final.
Just how true are they?
- No world No. 1 has ever had such a poor result in a Slam.
- The defeat was Roger Federer's most lopsided loss in any Grand Slam match in his career and marked the fewest games he has won in any match - best-of-three or best-of-five sets - since losing by 6-2, 6-1 to David Nalbandian in the second round in Monte-Carlo in 2002.
- It was the second-most lopsided French Open final ever after that of 1977 when Brian Gottfried won just three games off Guillermo Vilas.
- Rafael Nadal won 18 of 22 games against the player many feel will go down as the best in history. It was the fewest number of games won by a No. 1 seed in any Grand Slam final in the four decades of the Open era. Federer had 11 service games and won only three.
- At 1hr 48min this was the shortest slam final since Bjorn Borg beat Vitas Gerulaitis in 1980, which was just two minutes quicker.
- Federer is the only player in Grand Slam history to lose to the same player in three consecutive finals.
Before the match, Roger had this to say:
From Greg Garber, at ESPN
All through the clay-court season, Federer talked about the improvements in his game -- new schedule, new coach, new attitude toward drop shots, etc. But in the end, Nadal improved even more.
"Of course I believe very strongly this is my year."
"I just have to keep doing what I've been doing against Rafa," Federer said. "I feel better every year. It's no joke."
From Reuters UK
Federer, looking to complete a career grand slam, had swaggered on to court with great expectations of narrowing his lopsided 1-8 claycourt record against Nadal.
On the eve of the final, he also chose to remind everyone that: "So far I've never lost (to Rafa here) in three sets."
Those words would come back to haunt him just 24 hours later.
Meanwhile, what was Rafa doing?
From Neil Harman in the Times OnLine
It was a wonder to watch Nadal prepare for this annihilation with Carlos Costa, his agent, guarding one side of the opposite court and Toni, his uncle and coach, stationed in the other. They could hardly get a ball back across the net between them.
From Paul Newman in The Independent
Over the last two months Nadal has taken his game to a new level. We knew already about his thunderous forehand, biting topspin and wonderful athleticism, but the improvements to his serve, returns and backhand slice and a new-found aggression have added greater depth to his play.
In the past Federer has taken on Nadal at his own game here by slugging it out from the baseline. This time the world's second best clay-court player tried a different approach, going for his shots even more than usual and attacking the net when he could. With Nadal playing some points from well behind the baseline, Federer clearly thought he could catch him out with stop volleys and drop shots.
The theory sounded fine, but the reality turned out to be a very different matter. The stop volleys worked briefly in the second set, but for the most part Federer was a sitting target when he ventured forward. Approaches that were marginally short or lacking in pace were punished by thunderous passing shots and even when Nadal was stretched the Spaniard responded with beautifully judged lobs.
Under pressure, Federer's game started to fall apart. His forehand, usually his most potent weapon, started to misfire, drop shots fell short, routine volleys were netted and his approaches became reckless. One attempt to chip-and-charge a second serve was punished by a contemptuous passing shot and another lunge towards the net left Federer looking like a novice as Nadal lobbed him with ease.
Christopher Clary in the International Herald Tribune thinks that there is NO solution to Rafa on clay.
So what was Roger Federer to do with the elusive French Open trophy once again in sight and Rafael Nadal looming larger than ever across the net?
Stay back and rally? Definitely not. Nadal was too quick, too powerful and too steady, with unforced errors creeping in as rarely as sunshine during this tournament.
Why not attack the net? More sensible indeed, yet Nadal's dipping passing shots were so precise, so forceful that they kept requiring the swooping Swiss to dig balls out of the dirt or twist his neck - smoothly, of course - to watch a winner land on the sideline or the baseline.
No, the answer for the millions of Federer fans worldwide who would like nothing better than for their man to win the only Grand Slam singles title he lacks is that there was no solution available to Federer in his current state of form and Nadal's current state of grace.
Again, from Neil Harman (cite above):
Once more, as he marched out, the crowd roared the louder for Federer, their desperation for him to win this cherished title made explicit. At that moment, one recalled the conversation with him on Friday evening and the conviction with which he said that he finally believed he had Nadal's measure. Based on what? Not his displays in the previous rounds, when he had dropped sets to Gaël Monfils, Fernando González and Albert Montañés and been pushed all the way by Julien Benneteau. Was he serious, or was it, more likely, simply wishful thinking?
By its shattering close, people did not know where to look as Nadal, the behemoth from Majorca, completed a 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 victory over Roger Federer, the worst performance by a world No 1, in terms of games won, in a grand-slam tournament final.
To his everlasting credit, Roger had this to say about Rafa’s play (from Paul Newman’s article, cited above):
"He played an excellent match," Federer said. "He hardly made any unforced errors and when he's on the attack he's lethal. On the defence he played some unbelievable shots. I can only praise him for the level of play he's had for the last two weeks and today again under pressure. It's not like it's easy for him. He handles it very well. To come up with a performance like this under pressure shows what a great champion he is."
What does the future hold?
According to Barry Flatman, Times Online:
Rafael Nadal claims title of 'The Greatest'
Many expert judges, with Bjorn Borg paramount, could not have been more wrong. Plenty of others had their worst fears confirmed. The signs previously were ominous and Rafael Nadal produced probably the most emphatic performance of his tennis career to grind the morale of Roger Federer so deep into the clay of Roland Garros that it might never recover.
But what now for Federer? Never before has he been subjected to such personal torment with the whole of the tennis world watching. This was the title he craved more than any other. This was the opponent he knew he had to overcome. This was the match he had been thinking about for exactly a year since losing last year’s final. This was the tactical dilemma that he had been trying so desperately to solve. Could things have honestly turned out worse?
For Nadal this was a stunning achievement, yet it might only turn out to be a staging post in a great journey that takes him to many, many more triumphs in the game. For Federer it was his own worst nightmare and the aftermath over the next few months will be intriguing to behold.
It is difficult for me to believe that this match will not have a lasting effect on Federer’s play. To my mind, he has been prematurely concerned by his place in tennis history. This weakness of his has been amplified a thousand times by the media, and the ceaseless discussions on the GOAT. Contrast Federer to Nadal’s steadfast refusal to be drawn into comparisons with tennis legends, most recently Borg.
Nevertheless, Roger is gamely trying to take away any positives he can find.
"I still definitely feel very strong about my chances and being the big favourite going into grass," said Federer, who will start his grasscourt season at the Halle tournament which begins on Monday.
"It's so far away, grass and clay, that losing in four or five (sets) or no chance like today, I don't think it has a big effect on me mentally."
From BBC Sports
Roger Federer insists he remains a strong favourite for Wimbledon despite being thrashed by Rafael Nadal in the French Open final.Surely this match will remain with Federer a long time, despite his public posturing.
The world number one will head to London looking for a sixth straight Wimbledon title after his 6-1 6-3 6-0 defeat by Nadal at Roland Garros.
"I haven't lost on grass for five years now, six years?" said the 26-year-old.
"I still definitely feel very strong about my chances and being the big favourite going
He added: "You know, it's so far away, grass and clay, that losing in four or five or no chance like today, I don't think it has a big effect on me mentally.
"I mean, I've beaten Rafa 6-0 in a set. I've beaten him in finals before. I've beaten him also quite comfortably on previous occasions. Didn't really give me the edge on clay against him, you know."