French Open 2012: How Rain Delay Benefited Nadal vs. Djokovic
On Sunday afternoon, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic took the court for their fourth straight Grand Slam final. The match meant a ton to both players, as Nadal was looking for his record seventh French Open title, while Djokovic was looking for the career Slam.
In a match halted by rain delays, Rafa was able to overcome the top player in the world en route to a 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 victory.
Two rain delays occurred in the anticipated final. The balls bounced differently, and it seemed that Djokovic had all the momentum after Nadal took the first two sets.
Through two rain delays, Djokovic seemed to fare better in the tough conditions. Nadal seemed out of his rhythm, and the Serbian was able to be more aggressive.
After the first rain delay, Djokovic was able to come out in the third set and dictate play. He was clearly in Nadal's head for much of the set. After a 6-2 set, there was a slim thought of hope for Djoker and his box.
After taking an early break in the fourth to go up 2-0, Nadal seemed worried. He even threw a wet tennis ball to the chair umpire/tournament referee to show that the courts were not meant for play due to the conditions.
After a 2-1 Djokovic lead, the rain picked up, and play was postponed to Monday night. The green tarp seemed to be in the way for any sort of continuation.
It was the first time since 1973 that Roland Garros wasn't completed on a Sunday.
Did the rain delay benefit Nadal?
While Nadal threw fits about how unfair it was for them to continue, Djokovic seemed to have no problem. All of the momentum shifted to him, and he looked to make quick work of a fourth set. Nadal and the rain wouldn't let that happen, however.
This brings up the issue of an indoor court for Philippe Chatrier Stadium. While Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne and Center Court at Wimbledon have a roof, Roland Garros and Arthur Ashe Stadium at the U.S. Open do not.
The second rain delay was all in Rafa's favor. Djokovic had picked up his game, and he seemed to be troubling Nadal. But with the extra day of rest and fresh legs, Nadal was able to come out and play like he did in the first two sets.
You can make the case that if the match continued late Sunday night, Djokovic could have raised his first French Open trophy. He would have been the first player in 43 years to win four consecutive Grand Slams.
While Nadal seemed to do anything in his power to get off the court early in the fourth set, Djokovic seemed to have been the one who suffered most from the rain delay.
The court was not meant for play on Sunday night, though. On the red dirt, only a slight drizzle to moderate rain can be allowed. If the match continued last night, there would have been the factor of injury.
The match won't have a rain delay asterisk next to it, obviously. Rafa was able to go 4-0 against the top-ranked Serb at the French Open.
With the constant rain delays and shifts of momentum, Nadal was able to win his 11th Grand Slam.
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