History was on the line for whoever won today. Roger Federer was going for his 17th slam, his 2nd French Open, and surely a win that would cement his status as undeniably the greatest ever. But it was Nadal’s day. The first set was rather surprising.
Federer came out firing on all cylinders, cranking up his forehand, attacking Nadal’s backhand, and dealing with Nadal’s lefty topspin forehand to his one handed backhand very well. Federer was serving like it was 2006.
The crowd was behind him firmly and it seemed liked he would beat Nadal for the first time at Roland Garros. Federer was up 5-2 and had himself a set point on Nadal’s serve. On the changeover after Federer held for 5-2, Nadal called the trainer to cut some of the heavy strapping around Nadal’s foot/ankle area.
It appeared as if Nadal began to move a bit better after that. Federer had a set point and put a drop shot juuuuust wide and Nadal saved it. The next point, Federer put a forehand return into the net and Nadal struck a fine backhand pass to hold for 5-3.
Federer still had a chance to close it out at 5-3, 30-15, but Nadal bossed him around on that point, and Federer started missing first serves late in the first. Nadal got a nice cut on the 2nd serves and began to take control of the rallies from the second shot.
On break point in the 5-3 game, they played an epic point that ended with Nadal hitting a wicked forehand down the line pass from 10 feet behind the baseline and Federer dove for the volley and missed it into the net. Now at 4-5, Nadal has the momentum.
Federer had another chance at 15-30 when Nadal served at 4-5, but three backhand errors in a row did him in. At 5 all, Federer’s big serve kept him in it, but Roger hit too many 2nd serves at crucial points, and a Federer forehand into the net gave Nadal the break at 6-5.
Nadal held to 30 and closed the set out in fashion controlling the point with his forehand and finishing it with a sick forehand winner cross court. 7-5. In the second, it seemed like Federer’s energy went down a bit and Nadal seized a break in the first game of the second.
Federer nearly went down a double break in the second, but hit a few big serves to keep himself in it. Federer was doing all he could just to hold serve! But, at 4-3, Federer made Rafa work and Nadal committed a few backhand errors to give the break back.
Level at 4-4, Nadal hit an insane pass to get the advantage and Federer gave the break back with an error off the backhand to get the break back again and serve for the set at 5-4. At 5-4, Deuce, there was a rain delay! The players went off for about 10 minutes and came right back into the action.
Federer broke back for 5 all and then held to love. It looked like Federer was going to take the second, but Nadal rebounded to hold and force the tiebreaker. Federer played a poor tiebreak, with 3 forehand errors before Nadal closed it out with a winner off the forehand to take a two set lead.
In the third, the crowd was deflated, Roger looked a bit tired, and Nadal went up a break at 4-2. It looked surely like Nadal was going to take it in straights. But, Nadal got a bit tight, missed a few first serves and an easy forehand.
Federer lifted his game, especially the backhand to break back for 3-4 and then hold easily for 4 all. Nadal rebounded with an impressive hold to love for 5-4 and Federer did the same for 5 all. Then, Roger really lifted his game at 5 all and forced 2 errors from the Nadal forehand and struck a pair of impressive winners off the forehand to get the break for 6-5.
Nadal looked a bit slow and mentally beat after giving up the break late in the second. Federer closed it out to 15 to take the third set 7-5 and take it to 4. The first game of the 4th was crucial. Nadal served and Federer had three break points at 0-40.
A Federer error, a Nadal winner, and an ace up the middle erased that. They remained on serve until Federer served at 1-2. Nadal upped his game and hit a blinding forehand winner on the first point followed by an error off the Federer forehand and then a double fault to get himself 3 break points.
Federer again hit an error from the forehand to give Nadal the break for 3-1. After that, Nadal loosened up, served harder, and made sure he would not give up the break this time. He held and then broke Federer for 5-1, making Federer begin to really feel heavy in the legs.
Roger wasn’t moving as well at this point, and by the time Nadal had triple match point, the result was inevitable. As yet another Federer forehand landed long, Nadal collapsed onto his knees in triumph. This was the highest quality match these two have played at Roland Garros.
It was 3 hours and 40 minutes of high standard ball striking, tactical adjustments, and mental up and downs. Nadal now has 6 French Open titles and 10 slams overall, 6 shy of Federer. What will Wimbledon have in store for us?