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In honor of the French Open champions

Shyam Kamal
ANALYST
Feature
96   //    11 Jun 2018, 23:53 IST

2018 French Open - Day Fifteen
A 11th Roland Garros title for the King of Clay

In a way, the way in which Rafael Nadal and Simona Halep sealed their French Open titles was emblematic of their own selves - Nadal grueled through 5 different match-points before raising his arms in triumph while Halep fought her way back from a set and a break down before doing the same.

The similarities between the two begin to get even better - the rankings, the seemingly black arts of gaining energy as the match lasts further, the grunts that precede the shots. Even the colors of their outfits match - a breezy blue, with Rafa's white matador glistening in the warm France sun and Halep's new Nike logo adorning hers.

Then there is the style of play itself. Rafa's nonchalant running and retrieving is not something new to the average Tennis fan, but for someone who might be watching Halep for the first time, it is quite daunting.

Halep, like her opposite No.1, is not afraid of running. Halep, like Rafa, doesn't let her game in the way of her confidence. The way in which she claws her way into games from the grips of her opponents is eerily similar to how Rafa finds his way back into games he is written out of.

Unsurprisingly, the two were the home crowd favorites. The whistles of applause to which every point won by the Spaniard was cheered on Sunday was matched decibel for decibel by the chants of "Si-Mo-Na" that rang through the air on Saturday.


2018 French Open - Day Fourteen
After 2 previous failed attempts, Halep finally conquers Paris

But that is where it all stops. The present is much different from the past.

At 32, Rafael Nadal hasn't left much else to conquer. 17 Grand Slam titles, with 11 of them coming from Paris alone, is enough to ensure that the history books never forget his name long after the heat death of the universe.

Halep, on the other hand, has barely begun. 3 finals later - 3 painful finals later and 3 3-set marathons later - she finally has one of her own. No longer will she be remembered as a weak No.1, a forgettable No.1 who could not win a Grand Slam.

If Nadal is in the midst of his second wind, Halep has made her first dent in the WTA universe with promise of much more to come. If Nadal is on the verge of being the greatest ever, Halep hasn't even looked over that hill.

One does not 177 weeks as No.1 by being a "one-surface bully". One does not beget the #1 title by being weak. There will be people who still refuse to accept all these facts in front of them. And then there will be Nadal and Halep not caring.

At the end of the day, Rafael and Halep will go to sleep knowing that they won the French open - whether everyone thought they were going to or nobody expected them to.

You drop your racquet. You lift your arms up in joy. You smile at your coaching team. You pat your opponent on the back. You smile through the cramps that are creeping up because you have earned it.

Then, you lift the silverware for all the world to see. That's your way of showing them who's right and who's wrong.

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Shyam Kamal
ANALYST
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