Rafael Nadal Defeats Djokovic for French Open Title: Significance and Lessons
The wait is over, and Rafael Nadal has been crowned the 2012 French Open champion. The world No. 2 finally overcame the challenge of Serbian world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, claiming the rain-delayed match that spanned two days, 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5.
Speaking after the match, Nadal told John McEnroe:
For me it is a real honour. Borg is one of the greatest in history, one of the more charismatic players in history. The comparison with the great Bjorn is fantastic. He's always been very nice to me, so I have to say thanks.
1. Nadal eclipses Bjorn Borg's record of six French Open titles by winning a seventh, his 11th Grand Slam title overall. Also, the psychological effects of this win over Novak cannot be overstated.
2. Djokovic reached his first French Open final and by all accounts can reach a few more.
3. Rod Laver and Don Budge remain the only tennis players to have ever won four consecutive Grand Slam tournaments.
If the match had gone to a 5th set, who would have been favorite?
1. Nadal is still the King of Clay, and it seems that only a very inspired opponent (a la Robin Soderling) or poor weather conditions can stop him winning here.
2. Djokovic's biggest weapon against Nadal is his unpredictability, and his biggest strength is his opportunism.
3. Roland Garros needs a roof.
Given the cutthroat nature of tennis at the highest level, I think ultimately tennis won today.
I truly feared that despite all of Nadal's purported powers of resolve and his incredible mental strength that a fourth straight loss in the final of a Grand Slam event would have destroyed the man beneath the player. That will not be the case—not any time soon, at least.
In summary, I feel like some order has been restored to tennis' hierarchy.
Nadal fans will be excited with what lies ahead (Federer's record remains a possibility and new French Open records are still possible), Djokovic fans won't be too disillusioned (Novak is still the No. 1 in the world and he will be the favorite against Nadal on grass and hard courts) and Roger Federer will not not pop open a bottle or two.
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