French Open 2011: Can Roger Federer and Li Na Overcome?

Linus Fernandes@mktimeforsportsAnalyst IIJune 4, 2011

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 03:  Roger Federer of Switzerland celebrates a point during the men's singles semi final match between Roger Federer of Switzerland and Novak Djokovic of Serbia on day thirteen of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 3, 2011 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

He did it.

Roger Federer is through to his first major final since the 2010 Australian Open.

He was written off. Yet he bounced back.

Novak Djokovic can console himself that he almost took the match into the final set. It says a lot for the progress he has made in the past six months. His confidence has skyrocketed and setbacks are to be met with unequivocal defiance.

Federer may not have captured a Slam in over a year but he was unlikely to let a 2-0 lead in a Grand Slam semifinal go to waste. The writing was on the wall. The Djoker delayed the inevitable—splendidly.

Rafael Nadal will count himself fortunate to be gifted such a wonderful birthday gift.

Before Federer fans rush off into paeans of praise, let’s remind them that a few months ago, a victory over Djokovic was par for the course.

Fedal loyalists have probably suffered nightmares in the past five months over a Serbian upstart blitzing his way to an unbeaten run, unparalleled since John McEnroe’s 42 in 1984.

Order is surely restored.

Superstitionists will point to Novak’s decision to hit balls with John McEnroe on the eve of Friday’s match. The American’s streak ended against Ivan Lendl in the French Open final.They will also wonder if the walkover from Fabio Fognini was an omen.

“A swallow does not make a summer,” and there is still work to be done.

It is more than creditable that Federer makes his first final in five Slams at the French Open. It is bloody marvelous. It advertises the consistency of the man on all surfaces. On his least successful plane, he chose to broadcast a statement of intent for the rest of the year.

Gone was the lethargy of the clay court season, gone was the hang-dog look. Federer knows that he belongs at the Slams. He is cognizant of the pressures—he’s been there before, done that.

Nadal fans are grateful that their hero faces Roger—not Novak—in yet another timeless matchup. The Mallorcan is considered Bjorn Borg’s rightful successor on the red courts. Destiny dictates that he emulate Borg’s record of six Roland Garros titles.

Li Na faces off against Francesca Schiavone in the women’s final. Much has been made of her 1.3 billion Chinese supporters. But there will only be a smattering of Chinese fans in the stadium on Saturday, June 4, 2011.

At the Australian Open, it was Li who snapped at her fans for telling her how to play. Can the Wuhan native keep her cool and become the first Asian player ever to clinch a major singles title?

Francesca Schiavone will do her best to prevent that.

Quote of the day: There is always more misery among the lower classes than there is humanity in the higher. – Victor Hugo


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