Thursday, June 21, 2012

French Open: The Finale

I'm about two weeks too late, but as one Grand Slam begins (Wimbledon is just a few days away with the qualifying rounds completed today and the draw announcement scheduled for tomorrow), I should probably put proper closure to the Grand Slam that just ended. The keyword was "history" as both the man and woman champions did just that by winning the French Open.

Undisputed King of Clay Rafael Nadal won his 7th French Open title one-upping Bjorn Borg's tally of six setting a new record. While Nadal seemingly swept all of his other matches during the fortnight, he faced challenges in the final both in the form of his opponent world no. 1 Novak Djokovic and the weather. On-and-off rain caused delays and suspension of plays and it clearly affected the quality of both players' games with neither player able to play at their best. Still, Nadal managed to win the first two sets and a lesser player would call it quits right then and there, but Djokovic displayed his unflinching self-belief by running away with the third set and breaking Nadal early in the fourth. Unfortunately, the weather just got worse and play was postponed the next day. The conclusion of the final on Monday proved why Djokovic is world no. 1, but also why Nadal now has 11 Grand Slams. Nadal breaks back to get even, but Djokovic makes him fight for it until the bitter end. A double fault from Djkovic during Nadal's match point, however, meant that the "Djoko Slam" is denied. Grudge match at the green grass of Wimbledon?

Now world no. 1 Maria Sharapova lifted her fourth Grand Slam trophy and her very first French Open title. With a title at each Grand Slam, she completed her career Grand Slam and it must have been even more sweet that she was able to do this after a slew of injuries and surgeries. Truth be told, however, this was Sharapova's tournament to lose with other favorites and seeds faltering early and with her relatively impressive play the weeks leading up to the tournament. And while she was reaching her first even French Open final, her opponent Sara Errani was even more inexperienced in such a huge state. Keeping her nerves and her serves in check, Sharapova was able to overpower Errani and take advantage of her experience to win in straight sets. The career Grand Slam catapults Sharapova into the list of all-time greats in the game especially with so many legendary players who couldn't accomplish the same feat. Is she the favorite for Wimbledon and the Olympics? You bet on it.

Top seed and defending champions Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor won the Men's Doubles title over second seed Bob and Mike Bryan while Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci defeated Maria Kirinlenko and Nadia Petrova for the Women's Doubles title. Sania Mirza and Mahesh Bhupathi took home the Mixed Doubles title.

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