Cracking the Clay Code: Paul Annacone's Analysis of Nadal vs. Federer Paris Battle

Rafael Nadal had to work hard en route to his sixth Roland Garros title in 2011

by Jovica Ilic
Cracking the Clay Code: Paul Annacone's Analysis of Nadal vs. Federer Paris Battle

Rafael Nadal secured his sixth Roland Garros title in 2011, beating Roger Federer in the title clash and following Bjorn Borg's record. The Spaniard clinched his tenth Major title a couple of days after turning 25, but he had to work hard to earn it!

The famous coach Paul Annacone worked with Roger in those years, saying his player had the opportunity to beat Rafa that year in Paris, as the Spaniard did not fancy lite and fast balls. Nadal did not lose a set en route to his 2010 Parisian title, while it all changed in his first encounter in 2011.

Rafa needed four hours to prevail over John Isner 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 6-2, 6-4, challenged like never before in the French capital! Rafa should have won the match earlier. He played against only one break chance and created 15 on the other side, converting five to escape the defeat and remain on the title course.

The American claimed sets two and three in the tie break, losing ground after that to push a five-time champion through. Nadal spent almost three and a half hours on the court against fellow Spaniard Pablo Andujar in a 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 victory!

Andujar created 16 break opportunities, converting five but failing to take at least a set, as Nadal won the crucial points to prevail in three sets and avoid a possible five-hour marathon. After almost seven and a half hours on the court in the opening two rounds, Nadal scored a more convincing triumph over Antonio Veic, entering the last 16 and toppling another Croat, Ivan Ljubicic, in straight sets.

Robin Soderling stood no chance against Nadal in Paris for the second consecutive year, sending the Spaniard into the last four.

Rafael Nadal had to work hard to win the 2011 Roland Garros title.

Rafa prevailed over Andy Murray in a challenging semi-final in three hours and 17 minutes.

The defending champion defended 15 out of 18 break points and endured all the challenges from the other side to book a place in the title clash. Saving enough energy for the most important duel of the fortnight, Rafa took down Roger Federer 7-5, 7-6, 5-7, 6-1 in three hours and 40 minutes for a milestone Major title.

Federer defeated Novak Djokovic in the semi-final and gained a massive boost. He stayed on Nadal's trail in the opening three sets, winning the third before fading from the court to settle with the runner-up prize. The Spaniard overcame a 5-2 deficit in the first set and prevailed in the second for a massive lead against a greatest rival.

Roger claimed the third set with a late break but had nothing left in the tank. The Swiss took only one game in set number four to hand the trophy to the Spaniard, who passed all the obstacles to extend his Parisian reign. "I think Roger had a good chance of beating Rafa at Roland Garros 2011 following that victory over Novak, who had not lost a match up to that point that year.

Roger had a 5-2 lead over Rafa in the opening set, liking the conditions and taking advantage of the light and fast balls that Rafa was not happy about. Rafa being Rafa, he found a way to solve the problem and beat Roger in four sets, although Roger had some good chances," Paul Annacone said.

Paul Annacone Rafael Nadal Roland Garros