For the second consecutive day, the French Open became a part of history as Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer 7-5,7-6,5-7,6-1 to equal Bjorn Borg with six French Open titles. Nadal also became the seventh man in the exclusive club of those with 10 or more major trophies.
The last time the two clashed in a final at a major was the 2009 Australian Open. This was the twenty-fifth meeting between Nadal and Federer, their fifth at Roland Garros and their fourth final.
In 2008, Nadal blew Federer off the court 6-1,6-3,6-0. After ending Novak Djokovic’s 2011 unbeaten run at 41 matches, Federer came in rejuvenated and relaxed, it was evident in the first set.
Subsequent to guarding serve, on a backhand error by Nadal, Federer had double break point. Despite Nadal getting to deuce, on his fourth opportunity, Federer seized the break and consolidated for 3-0.
After constructing a 5-2 advantage, as Nadal’s forehand sailed long, Federer had set point. However, with the dropshot missing its mark, Nadal was at deuce and later captured the game.
Serving for the initial set, Federer’s first serve which was instrumental in building his lead deserted him. Federer netted a backhand to hand Nadal break point. When the Swiss misfired on a volley after a passing shot, the players were back on serve.
Once Nadal leveled the set at 5 all, with a nice volley winner, he manufactured a second break point in the 11th game. With Federer dumping the forehand into the net, Nadal secured the break and closed out the set 7-5.
To open the second set, Federer dropped his serve at love and with a hold, Nadal was on a run of seven straight games. Finally, Federer toughed out a game to keep his disadvantage at one game.
Later on, Federer again dismissed double break point to stay in touch at 2-3. With Nadal pushing a forehand out of play, Federer had his third break point chance in the eighth game. With his rival’s backhand miscue, Federer squared the second set at 4 all.
Yet, as a result of a forehand landing wide, Federer stared at double break point. Despite getting to deuce, Federer produced two successive errors to surrender the break to Nadal for 5-4.
With Nadal at set point, Federer provoked him into a mistake resulting in deuce. At that instance, showers arrived causing a delay. This helped Federer to collect his thoughts. When the players resumed the contest, Federer overcame another set point and broke for 5 all.
The second set was decided ultimately by a tiebreaker. Because of a forehand miscue by Federer, Nadal had the mini-break and sprinted to 4-0 lead. Nadal dominated and took the tiebreaker 7-3.
Consequently, the result seemed no longer in doubt. Following being on serve, Federer buried a backhand dropshot into the net to hand Nadal triple break point. When the Swiss’ forehand went wide, Nadal secured a 4-2 edge in the third set.
Uncharacteristically, Nadal lost his serve at love to allow Federer back into the set. Federer capitalized and got to 4 all. With the first serve back on track, Federer kept in touch with Nadal and by forcing three errors in a row obtained triple break point.
By striking a forehand up the line winner, Federer banked the break and served out the third set to extend the match.
Going into the fourth hour of competition, Federer seemed to have momentum in his corner and started the fourth by fabricating triple break point. But, with clutch serving, Nadal managed to hold.
Then, with Federer serving at 1-2, he donated a double fault to face triple break point. Nadal capitalized and had a 4-1 advantage.
With a forehand volley winner, Nadal arrived at his second break point in the next game. When Federer sliced a backhand into the net, Nadal had absolute control of the match ahead 5-1.
On triple championship point, Federer’s forehand sailed long giving Nadal a historic sixth ‘Coupe des Mousquetaires’.
Today, Nadal improved his record to 17-8 against Federer, with a 7-2 mark in major finals. In denying Federer his 17th major, Nadal became the second youngest person behind Borg to claim ten majors and is now on par with Bill Tilden.
After the match, Federer congratulated Nadal on a “super match” and acknowledged “you are without a doubt the best on clay”. Federer stated “it’s a shame that I could not win. Nevertheless, I am very happy with the way I fought . . .and I am always grateful for the warm welcome and the support that I find” at Roland Garros.
Nadal also tipped his hat to Federer on a good two weeks and the fact that he “played a good match”. The Spaniard thanked the public and his team for their support saying “without you this would not be possible”.
With this victory, Nadal prevents Djokovic from climbing to number one. The top ranking will be on the line again at Wimbledon in two weeks time with Nadal being the defending champion.