French Open 2013: Biggest Surprises From Roland Garros
What exactly am I getting at?
Let's take a look.
Rafael Nadal's Conditioning vs. Novak Djokovic
It's hard to believe that the semifinals could be more thrilling than the finals of the 2013 French Open, but that was the case in the match between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Five months ago, no one would have thought it possible for Nadal to last in a marathon match against the world's No. 1-ranked player. Nadal spent months rehabbing a partially torn patella tendon in his left knee, and even members of his own camp didn't think he was capable of winning his eighth career French Open.
Nadal outlasted the Djoker in a four hour and 47 minute, five-set endurance match, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7 (3-7), 9-7 (h/t USA Today's Douglas Robson).
We all know how talented Rafa is, but for him to endure such a grueling match and then come back and make quick work of David Ferrer in the final is truly something special.
No. 3-ranked Roger Federer was supposed to be in the semifinals alongside Nadal, Djokovic and Ferrer. Instead, the 2009 French Open winner was ousted in the quarterfinals by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 7-5, 6-3, 6-3.
This is in no way a slap to the face of Tsonga—the rankings say he's the eighth-best tennis player in the world—but Federer just looked old at the 2013 French Open.
If this defeat wasn't shocking enough to you, take a look at this stat from ESPN's Greg Garber that says, "this was Federer's first three-sets-to-love defeat to a player ranked outside the top five in nine years, when he fell to Gustavo Kuerten here in the 2004 third round."
It's sad to say, but Federer appears to be losing his edge. His inability to beat Nadal of late (Internazionali BNL d'Italia and Paribas Open) combined with an early exit from the Madrid Open via Kei Nishikori has signaled the decline of FedEx's career.
David Ferrer's Quick Exit vs. Rafa
I'm almost certain that Rafael Nadal will go down as one of the greatest players to ever step foot on a tennis court, but I was expecting more of an effort out of David Ferrer in the finals.
As the world's fifth-ranked player, Ferrer was completely worked by Nadal on Sunday, beating the fellow Spaniard 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 in straight sets.
Ferrer believes the weather had something to do with his play, but ultimately, he knows the type of opponent he was up against (via Greg Garber of ESPN).
"To beat Rafael in clay court, I need to play more aggressive. But when the court is slower, it's very difficult. He has more power than me with his shots, and it's very difficult for to beat him."
Ferrer has had his issues with Rafa—the 2013 French Open marks three consecutive tournaments in which he's been ousted by Nadal—but I was expecting more of a fight with the title on the line on Sunday.
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