No need to sugar coat it, this was the emphatic message that Rafael Nadal related to Roger Federer with his shellacking of the world number in French Open final 6-1, 6-3, 6-0.
Federer could not have dreamt of a worse start, he was broken in his very first service game. Although this was the commencement, Roger’s body language reflected the opposite. It was as if the match were a mere formality and the trophy had already been handed to Rafa in the locker room. On Nadal’s serve, Federer had the opportunity to level the set at 1 all, but it was eradicated right away. Despite Roger hitting first serves, Rafa ‘s returns were deep and on the money leading to multiple break chances. Thirty-two minutes was all it took for Nadal to break three times and wrap up the first set.
Roger’s dilemma persisted in the second set. Working from the baseline was not bearing fruit, coming to net was ineffective with Nadal was passing him at will. Roger’s first service game was a duplicate of the initial set with Nadal gaining the advantage. But, Federer came back in the subsequent game and equalized things 1-1. A pivotal stage in the match might have been when Roger had a break point for 4-3, his first opportunity to lead, but went on to net the volley. Nadal won the next three games to take a two set to none lead.
In the third set, Roger encountered no means to counteract his opponent’s brilliant play. Nadal kept coming up with ridiculous angles for winners while Federer could only shake his head. In short, the set was a Nadal highlight reel 6-0. The last time Federer lost a set at love was June 1999.
It is hard to embarrass Federer on any surface, least of all in the finals. But, this was exactly what Nadal managed to do. It took Rafa only 1hour and 48 minutes and 35 unforced errors from Roger to maintain his spotless record at Roland Garros. In winning his fourth straight title, Nadal wrote himself into the history books. Lamentably, so did Federer. This represented the fewest number of games won by a competitor in the finals since 1977 when Guillermo Vilas defeated American Bob Gottfried 6-0, 6-3, 6-0.
This was Federer’s third French final in a row. Regrettably, there is an expiration date attached to his ultimate bite at this apple. With so many players improving and incredibly Nadal getting even better on the clay, Roger’s wish of holding the ‘Coupe des Mousquetaires’ may be wanting his entire career. Indeed, today may have been Roger’s last stand.