Rafael Nadal has equaled Bjorn Borg’s record of six Roland Garros titles, claiming his tenth Grand Slam title after beating Roger Federer 7-5, 7-6, 5-7, 6-1. It was the eighth Grand Slam final between two of tennis’ greatest champions, Nadal leading 5-2, having thumped Federer in their last French final in 2008 . Rafa was coming into the match with a 44-1 win to loss record in Paris and simply refused to back down despite the fact that it was Federer who came out swinging.
It took four chances but it was Federer who drew first blood as a nervy Nadal struggled with his forehand and was broken for an early. Nadal seemed to be pushing for length on his shots, struggling to find his range and feel comfortable on his home turf.
Federer took a cut at everything, trying to prevent any sort of rally with the man clinging to the number one ranking. The Swiss former world number one stayed mostly camped out in his backhand corner dictating play with his forehand. Nadal was seen by the trainer, while trailing 2-5, to loosen his ankle tape and put some talc on some nasty looking blisters on the ball of his foot.
Scrappy Rafa kept fighting, taking his chance to get back on serve when Federer’s first serve percentage dropped slightly and a drop shot on set point drifted just wide. Seemingly inspired Nadal bullied the set away from Federer 7-5 after winning five consecutive games and defending a set point.
Keeping the momentum Nadal broke Federer easily in the first game of the second set, taking away the advantage of serving first from the Swiss world number three. With seven consecutive games under his belt and a 2-0 lead Nadal looked to have completely shaken off any early rust, deflating Federer’s game completely.
After Federer narrowly avoided a double break, the two warriors battled for two games exchanging breaks as the clouds began to gather with storms predicted as Nadal stepped up to serve for the second set at 5-4.
Rain started to drop when Nadal had his first set point. At deuce the umbrellas went up and play was suspended, the players given no warm up when they resumed play, Rafa facing a difficult situation, Federer taking advantage and leveling the match at five all..
Despite Federer settling himself in much the same way he did in the 2008 Wimbledon final Rafael Nadal had (rightfully) earnt the second set and he refused to back down in the tiebreak, quickly taking a 4-0 lead from which Federer could not recover.
The footwork of Nadal allowed him to adjust to the changed conditions and run around his backhand to pummel his forehand into Federer’s weaker wing. In the sixth game the tactic paid off and Nadal had triple break point, the Spaniard breaking easily for a 4-2 lead. Federer hustled and played another drop shot to get back on serve, also breaking to love aided by passive serving from the Spaniard.
Federer almost morphed into Andy Murray before my eyes as he played drop shot after drop shot, a shot he previously spoke out against, to level the set at four all.
The crowd were applauding Nadal’s mistakes trying to lift Roger as he tried to serve for the set at 6-5 – Nadal’s loss of concentration at 4-2 and conservative serving costing him dearly. Federer was saved from a straight sets defeat by his serve and repeated use of the drop shot.
It was another historic win for Nadal who closed it out on serve, fell to his knees and dropped his forehand to the ground in celebration and relief. Nadal has retained his number one ranking with the win.