French Open 2012 Scores: Dissecting Both Final Matchups
It took three days, but we finally concluded the 2012 French Open. Both the men’s and women’s final were played in less-than-ideal conditions, as the finalists had to battle through intermittent rain and blustery winds.
On the court, the play was outstanding. The Roland Garros faithful witnessed some historical play, as Maria Sharapova became the 10th female player to secure a career Grand Slam with her straight-set victory on Saturday. Then, Rafael Nadal captured his record seventh French Open title by outlasting Novak Djokovic in an exciting four-set final.
The Finalist's Gameplan
Maria Sharapova came into the French Open final with a perfect opportunity to complete her career Grand Slam, and she wouldn’t let it slip by.
All tournament long, Sara Errani showed the ability to force her opponents into making crucial errors that allowed her to gain momentum and advance in the women’s draw.
All throughout the French Open, Sharapova showed an ability to return her opponents' serve, as this helped her to overcome 27 double faults. She couldn’t get sucked into long, drawn-out volleys, as Sharapova was confident that Errani couldn’t gain points off her serve.
Sharapova Rises from the Ashes
Maria Sharapova needed a confidence boost if she was going to compete at the French Open, and it began by winning several clay-court tuneup tournaments prior to her arrival in Paris.
Sharapova needed to learn patience when playing on clay. Also, she develop a slide technique that helped to shorten her stroke for easy points. All of these adjustments allowed Sharapova to have an undefeated year on the red clay.
The Women's Final
The women’s final appeared more one-sided on paper than how it was actually played on the court.
Errani was very nervous at the start of the match, as this was her first appearance in a Grand Slam singles final. Her game plan was pretty simple, as Errani wanted to defend the baseline tightly and use her speed as an advantage.
She had to be flawless in her play, but Errani never could adjust to the speed of Sharapova’s return volleys.
In her biggest win since capturing the 2008 Australian Open, Sharapova won in straight sets 6-3, 6-2 at Roland Garros. Her journey back to becoming No. 1 in the world again has been quite an eventful ride, as she had to endure several disappointing losses and recover from a possible career-threatening shoulder injury.
The bigger question for Sharapova now is if can she maintain that drive needed to remain one of the top players in her sport.
The Men's Final
In the opening moments of the French Open men’s final, Nadal made a statement that this final wouldn’t be a repeat performance of their six-hour marathon at the Australian Open by jumping out to an early 3-0 lead in the first set. Early on, Djokovic couldn’t make a solid return volley on any of his shots, and that is a priority if you’re going to defeat Nadal on clay.
Then came the first of two rain delays, and it was a wrong decision to stop play, as the players were well-adjusted to playing in a steady drizzle. After resuming play, Djokovic came out sluggish and was on the verge of being defeated in straight sets. Then, the five-time major champion showed why he’s the best male tennis player in the world, as Djokovic rallied to even the third set at two games apiece.
Quickly, he turned around his game with some nice pinpoint, accurate shots that broke Nadal’s service. After losing a 44-shot rally, Nadal was forced to become more creative, as this match was slowly slipping away from him. Then, the unthinkable happens—Nadal proceeds to lose eight straight games at Roland Garros. Suddenly, Djokovic is back in the match and more importantly in Nadal’s head.
Thankfully, the French Open officials decided to cease play, as the rain was hindering play on the clay court. This was the best decision for Nadal, as Djokovic was gaining momentum in the match and could’ve breezed to an easy victory. That would have been a remarkable accomplishment since Nadal is the world’s best player on clay.
When the match continued, Nadal made his move by adding some life to his return shot. His serves became overpowering at times, especially when Djokovic was making a run to even the match at two sets apiece. Nadal upped his lifetime record at Roland Garros to 52-1 with a 6-4, 6-3, 2-6 7-5 win over Djokovic for his seventh French Open title.
The Men’s Final Epilogue
Djokovic was trying to become the first male tennis player since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four Grand Slam titles. That was a tough task to ask because it meant that he would need to defeat Nadal in four consecutive Grand Slam finals.
You’re continually amazed at Nadal’s pinpoint accuracy to place the ball anywhere on the court, as he’s the best volleyer in tennis. Add his catlike movement on clay and that makes Nadal tough to defeat.