The Reuters global sports blog
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.
This year’s French Open was the best in years. Part of the reason was the new, quicker tennis balls which allowed players to play more aggressively. The women’s event was wide open. There were about 8 possible winners on the women’s side, while on the men’s side it was all about Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. Everybody thought they would be in the finals, but don’t write off Roger Federer just yet.
From a British perspective it was all about Andy Murray and he had a dream draw to the semi-finals. He didn’t make it easy by hurting his ankle in the 3rd round but came through to the semi-finals against Nadal.
If there was any doubt before, there is now no question that Rafa Nadal can and most probably will better Roger Federer’s record of 16 grand slam titles following the Spaniard’s French Open success over the Swiss.
Sunday’s 7-5 7-6 5-7 6-1 victory for his record-equalling sixth Roland Garros crown and his 10th grand slam title overall underlined why Nadal just will not lie down even when the crowd and his own initial form are against him.
My first visit to the French Open has so far been an eye-opener and not just because of Rafa Nadal’s first round struggles.
I’ve been to Wimbledon and all I remember is vast queues and too many people in a small area. I expected Roland Garros to be similar given it is the smallest grand slam venue but so far there have been no problems in that regard.
Novak Djokovic’s 26-match hot streak dating back to the end of last year when he helped Serbia win the Davis Cup shows no sign of cooling and even Europe’s slow red dirt will hold no fears for the 23-year-old Serb this year.
Djokovic is certainly no rookie on clay, as his 2008 Rome title underlined, but whereas Rafael Nadal usually chomps his way past rival after rival, Djokovic finds the surface takes a little of the sting out of his game.
The sun is beating down, the Rue d’Auteuil is abuzz with vocal ticket touts, children clutch their over-sized tennis balls hoping a tennis player – any tennis player or even anyone who looks like a tennis player– will grant them a precious autograph.
The French Open is officially underway at Roland Garros but for now the leafy suburb near the Bois de Boulogne has the feel of a royal gala awaiting the arrival of a monarch. This tournament doesn’t really start until Rafa Nadal returns to the courts he once made his own.
The Spanish world number three was on breathtaking form at the Monte Carlo Masters, dropping just 14 games in his five matches, and became the only player in the Open era to win a tournament for six straight years.
Received wisdom heading into the Australian Open was that the combined effects of fatherhood and a record-breaking number of grand slams would reduce Roger Federer’s hunger for success to the point where mere mortals on the tour need fear him no longer.
Instead, the message remains: Beware of the GOAT.
The possibility no one seems to have considered is that the Wimbledon title that saw him overtake Pete Sampras as the most successful player in grand slams, coupled with the certain knowledge he now possesses that there are far more important things in life than tennis, might take every ounce of pressure off his shoulders and make him a more formidable opponent still.
Roger Federer ended his French Open jinx when he swept past Swede Robin Soderling 6-1 7-6 6-4 in the final to clinch his first Roland Garros title on Sunday.
The Swiss equalled Pete Sampras’s record of 14 grand slam titles and became the sixth man to win all four major tournaments, sealing victory in just under two hours in cloudy conditions.