Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Will Djokovic end Nadal’s Roland Garros reign the way Nadal ended Federer’s Wimbledon streak?

Watching the end of Monday’s continuation of the Roland Garros men’s final felt eerily similar to watching Roger Federer’s first of two consecutive finals victories over Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon, in 2006. It was the Spaniard’s first final at the All England Club, and he scratched out the third set before succumbing in the fourth. Federer had been dominant at Wimbledon – its green grass a perfect fit for his skills – and with the victory had just won his fourth consecutive title. The Swiss Master would go on to win his fifth consecutive title the following year, also over Nadal, but it would take five sets to do so.

In 2008, the third consecutive Wimbledon final between the two combatants, Nadal would finally beat Federer in a five set thriller that some have labeled the greatest tennis match of all time. Federer reached the final again the following year – the last Wimbledon final of his career? – beating Andy Roddick in yet another five set classic, but Nadal did not defend his title in 2009 because he’d withdrawn due to an injury that likely played a role in his only loss at Roland Garros (a 4-setter to Robin Soderling) a few weeks earlier that year.

At the start of next year’s French Open, Rafael Nadal will be the same age (26) that Roger Federer was when the Spaniard ended the Swiss’s dominance at Wimbledon. It will be interesting to see if Novak Djokovic, who finally made his first final at Roland Garros this past weekend, will have the opportunity to do to Nadal at Roland Garros – where the red clay is perfectly suited for his skills – what Nadal did to Federer at Wimbledon or, if like Nadal, he still needs another year (and a five set loss to the Spaniard in the final) to finally breakthrough and win his Grand Slam in Paris.

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