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All Show and No Go: Rafael Nadal Is Eliminated From the French Open

PARIS - MAY 31:  Rafael Nadal of Spain hits a forehand during the Men's Singles Fourth Round match against Robin Soderling of Sweden on day eight of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 31, 2009 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
anand karthikContributor IJune 3, 2009

There was huge hype created by Nadal fans, and great tennis players alike about Nadal winning his fifth clay court title and breaking Bjorn Borg's record of four, inching one closer to Fedex's thirteenth and Pistol Pete's fourteenth on the Grand Slam count.

All these hopes were dashed mostly by a six foot four Swede from Tibro, and partly by Nadal himself. Yes, it's true Nadal did play his part in making the Swedes play, by the way he did. He was constantly hitting the ball short in the same area.

This allowed Robin to maintain his energy levels and use the tactics that Djokovic used against Nadalin his previous encounters at Madrid, Rome, and Monte Carlo, hitting to Nadal's forehand when he's on the run and then to his backhand.

Nadal did look tired in that game though. He had finished his previous game against Hewitt a lot earlier than most would have expected. I guess the reason for the tired look was a sequence of clay court tournaments in the run up to the French Open '09.

Taking nothing away from Soderling, it takes a beating to beat this bull from Mallorca. His forehand in particular was a treat to watch and the angles which he created consistently were incredible. Nadal had no answers to his shots, either dropping them short and at times not reaching them.

With Nadal, Djokovic, and Murray gone and Federer looking unpredictable in every match he plays, the French Open is open for anyone, but I think Federer is the front runner to win the tournament. Given his experience playing three finals and one semifinal on the red clay against the greatest clay courter, he has the advantage.


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