Gred Rusedski: Nadal the best record breaker of them all

June 12, 2012

This year’s French Open was all about making history and breaking records. Roger Federer broke Jimmy Connors’ previous record of most Grand Slam match wins, which was 233 wins. Federer broke Connors’ record when he won his 2nd round match and will continue to extend this record.

Novak Djokovic was trying to be the first man in The Open era to hold all four majors at the same time and win his first French Open title; the last man to do this was the great Rod Laver in 1969.

Rafael Nadal was trying to break the record he holds with Bjorn Borg of most French Open titles won, which is held at 6. Was number 7 on the cards?

On the Ladies side, Maria Sharapova was trying to become the 10th woman in tennis history to win all 4 majors. Maria was bitterly disappointed last year when she lost in the semi-finals to Li Na after being the favourite to win the event.

The biggest shock of the French Open happened in Round 1 when Serena Williams, the bookies favourite, lost to Virginie Razzano of France. Serena has never lost in the opening round of a major before. The upsets continued in the woman’s draw with Azarenka, Li Na and Radwanska all going out early, which left little known Italian Sara Errani in the semi-finals against the world number 6 Sam Stosur. On the bottom half of the draw the top players came through; the world number 2 Maria Sharapova faced world number 4 Petra Kvitova.

Sara Errani continued her magical run and beat Sam Stosur in 3 sets. Sara showed what a champion she is, while Stosur buckled under the pressure and choked in the 3rd set. Maria Sharapova was ruthless and came through in straight sets against Petra Kvitova.

Sharapova then bossed Sara Errani all over the court to win her 4th major and became the 10th woman to win all four. Maria has shown great determination to comeback from a serious shoulder surgery which saw her out of the game for a year and a half. This makes her accomplishment even more remarkable. It’s hard to believe at Sharapova’s lowest, her ranking dropped all the way down to 126 in the world and now she is back to world number 1.

On the men’s side all the big names got to the quarterfinals. Novak Djokovic versus Jo Wilfred Tsonga was the match of the quarterfinals with Djokovic saving 4 match points in the 4 set to then go on to win in 5 sets. Tsonga played the best match of his life and still couldn’t beat the world number 1. Novak is a master of saving match points in majors and never loses belief.  He feels it is his destiny to win this tournament as he did when he saved 2 match points against Federer in the semi-finals to go onto win the US Open last year.

Roger Federer was very lucky to get through against Juan Martin Del Potro.  Federer was down 2 sets to love when Del Potro seemed to not be able to move as much as he would like because of his knee problems. Roger took full advantage to win in 5 sets. Roger hadn’t played well throughout the tournament, but still managed to set up a semi-final match up against Novak Djokovic.

Andy Murray’s match against David Ferrer didn’t really work out well for the British number one. Murray was booed onto court because the French crowd did not like his behaviour on court during his two previous matches. Murray was struggling with a back problem and looked at times like he was going to default in his matches, but managed to win. The crowd didn’t believe his injury was as serious as he was making out on the court. Ferrer fought like a champion and didn’t let anything bother him to make his first French Open semi-finals.

Rafael Nadal was ruthless as he won in straight sets again to meet David Ferrer in the semi-finals. The semi-final between Nadal and Ferrer was another 3 set win for Rafa. He looked invincible and destroyed Ferrer to reach his 7th French Open final.

The other semi-final between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer was the talk of Paris but did not live up to expectations. Federer played poorly and Novak won in straight sets. Roger has played well at the smaller events but does not look like he will threaten Nadal or Djokovic in The Slams. It doesn’t look like Federer will win another major.

History was beckoning for either Nadal or Djokovic and the final lived up to all its billing. This final had everything; rain delays, momentum swings, Djokovic breaking his chair and a racquet. After 2 days Nadal showed us why he is the King of Clay and won in 4 enthralling sets. He now holds the men’s record of most French Open titles with 7 and counting. This win was massive for Rafa because he has finally broken his losing streak to Djokovic in Grand Slam finals.

Expect a rematch in the Wimbledon finals.

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Good for Nadal. Glad to see him looking more confident against Djokovic. Last year Rafa had moments on court where he seemed not to know what to do. I don’t know that it was resignation. Rather, frustration, maybe. And …. for a personal under-dog, favorite, what about Ernests Gulbis. He wins the Farmer’s against Fish in LA last year, and now, what? No where. He wins one 250 level tourny a year, on his current pace. Come on Ernests. Want to see that forehand working for you and hear those crazy interviews.

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