Nadal d. Djokovic, 6-4 6-3 2-6 7-5
This is a criminal sin for a tennis fan to admit, but I wasn’t able to watch the final in its entirety. I caught the first set but was pulled away due to work-related stuff for the 2nd and 3rd sets. Luckily, the rain that trolled Paris in the last couple of days meant the final would be delayed to a Monday finish, which meant I could watch the final 4th set.
From what I saw, the match had its share of applause-worthy points—which were also drowned out by their share of errors and the rain that kept falling from the Paris skies. Novak DF-ed on championship point, which handed Rafa his 7th Roland Garros title. I would have laughed at the way Novak succumbed, only 1) it wasn’t all that surprising, given the way he’d DF-ed on crucial points earlier on in the final; 2) Rafa and Novak had played some truly admirable points in the run-up to that DF; and 3) my favorite player has recently displayed a tendency to DF on important points—ergo, I should not invite the forces of karma to hover above my head.
Getting back to the RG final—this is no ordinary celebration from Rafa in the photo above. First, you have the French Federation of Tennis President standing to Rafa’s left—the same FFT president who was positively biting his nails off when Tsonga had MP against Novak in the QF. To the right of Rafa stands Mats Wilander, whose very presence alone deserves a mention (insert your preferred slights against Mats—I have many of my own on stand-by). Still, they could not steal away from the obvious joy and triumph Rafa felt.
Roland Garros (@rolandgarros) June 11, 2012
Tio Toni felt it too.
Most of all, Rafa’s victory was worthy of the EPIC label because he’s won his 7th RG trophy. He’s now surpassed Borg’s accomplishment of 6 RG titles. Although the final played out in front of a muted crowd (on account of the rain delay), the importance of the event was not lost on anyone who follows the sport.
I’ll admit, I’d been very cool on Rafa ever since his “toys-out-of-the-pram” antics during Madrid. I still think he was rash and immature in the way he threatened to boycott a tourny, simply on account of it being played on an unfamiliar surface, when other top players handled themselves just fine.
Still, he’s managed to build up a heed-worthy list of reasons why he’s worthy of the King of Clay label, beginning with his second crucial win over Novak in Rome. He was unbeatable in his early-round matches at RG. While the lack of suspense meant I never set myself aside to watch an entire RG match of his prior to the SF (I did watch his beat-down of Ferru in its entirety), it’s really just a testament to his dominance on the surface.
To paraphrase a famous song lyric, “What a difference a [year] makes? 24 [365 x 24] little hours?” And to think Rafa was in a comparatively brittle state just a year earlier in 2011, when it seemed like he was on the cusp of a downward spiral. He’s now warded off those criticisms, successfully. Serious props for that!
Really though, the best part about Rafa winning his 7th title was his SERIOUSLY-BROMANCEY-OVER-THE-TOP-CELEBRATIONS-WITH-LA-LAKERS-POWER-FORWARD-PAU-GASOL.
You could be excused for thinking this was just an accident, an unrepresentative millisecond that a photographer just happened to catch on camera.
But this photo above would only prove how wrong you are. Pau Gasol and Rafa are totally bromancers-in-arms. Boys, you’re embarrassing yourselves!! (but I love it ;))
Anyhow, this hopefully settles the debate on whether Rafa’s Nike shirt at Roland Garros was red or [God forbid] pink. I totally thought it was pink from the start, but did not want to offend Rafa fans with my bit of sartorial honesty. Since he’s overcome the pink-shirt-demon that cursed him in 2009, I think we can all safely agree that Rafa’s shirt was pink all along? And not Scarlet Fire? Even Mama Nadal was dressed in a pink shirt! 🙂 I am open to suggestions…