It never rains..

Jun 12, 2012

…but it pours.

That must have been how it felt for the poor organizers at Roland Garros. There they were, lying in an outer suburb of Paris at the beginning of June. Who would have thought rain would be a problem. For some reason when it happens at a tournament like the French Open, it’s not a quaint habit that adds to the whole atmosphere of the tournament, as it is in say Wimbledon. In France, it clogs up the clay, which goes on to ruin the balls, and the fact that it’s a less common occurrence just stumps match referees. To take the players off, or not?

Nadal certainly had a few things to say about the rain as Djokovic picked off no less than 8 games in a row against the King of Clay. For the first time since 1978 the French Open final was delayed by rain, but although it took its sweet time coming Rafa’s victory eventually hovered into view.

In the end, I doubt Rafa minded the rain. After all, his parade came much later, when Djokovic couldn’t pick up the fantastic run of form he was having going into the fourth set. Nadal – now without his sulky pout thanks to more decisive decisions about the rain – came out with the cleaner, more ruthless approach. He picked right up where he left off, whereas Djokovic appeared to need some more time to get back into his groove, rather like at the very beginning of the match back on Sunday.

A bit more rain trickled over Paris, but when it came down to it Rafa’s swing, nerve and dominance on clay saw him through. Not long after play resumed, he was clambering into the stands to find Uncle Toni, who has seen him through thick and thin and every single one of these French Open masterpieces.

What to say about Nadal now he has won his seventh French Open title? I’m not sure there’s much left to say that hasn’t been said. I’m not sure there are words. He is clear of Bjorn Borg’s record, which at one time made Borg a god. Whilst Rafa bit down on the cup that has been his what seems like forever, Djokovic stood on the damp clay with a sportsman like patience and congratulated his competitor. He will have to wait another year to tackle this particular beast. But he has a Wimbledon title defence to think about, and he needs to keep his chin up.

I honestly thought he would do it this year, but now I look back: what was I thinking? This is Rafael Nadal. He is the King of Clay. I thought Tom Fordyce of BBC Sports summed the situation up very well: ‘Nadal stands alone as king of Paris’. Very much alone, and very much untouchable, if his performance at this year’s French Open is any indicator.

Written by: SophieG

(1) Comment

Adunar says:
Jun 13, 2012

very nice post Sophie :)

Indeed Rafa stands alone… until another great clay court player takes him down or his body gives up.
Djokovic knows what relies ahead of him. He’s confronted to the same situation than Roger a few years ago. But Djokovic has more weapons on clay to harm Rafa than Roger had. He will need an extra preparation and motivation if he wants to lift that trophy against a Rafa in great physical shape. We needs to do some sacrifices: for example switch to clay right after the Australian Open which I doubt he will do.

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