Nadal dominance on clay continues with 11th French Open Title
Nadal won his 17th Grand Slam today by winning his 11th French Open title. He is now just 3 behind Federer's record of 20 Grand Slams. He defeated Austria's Dominic Thiem in a relatively one-sided contest beating him in straight sets.
This year has been rather tough for Nadal as compared to last year at the French Open. Simon Bolleli gave him some fight in the first round by playing great first strike tennis for few phases of the match. He was ahead 3-0 in the third set when the rain came and it helped Nadal regroup. The same can be said for his match against Diego Schwartzman where he was a set and a break down when the rain came to his rescue. The point which is highlighted by this year's tournament is the unflappable mental strength of Nadal. When his game is not working well, he just needs one small thing to go his way and he uses it to turn things around. Usually, it is difficult for anybody to start off quickly after a rain delay but Nadal has done it time and again. He has been able to turn the momentum in matches even when he was not playing that well. His serve has been the only weak link in this tournament but he still has been able to save most of the break points on his serve. This has been due to his extraordinary ability to raise his level when it matters the most. Thiem played really well in the final today but at crucial moments, he faltered and Nadal did not.
French Open is arguably the toughest Grand Slam to win in the Men's game today. The physical endurance, the all-around game, and the warrior mentality are a must to succeed. We can be sure that no one who has won this tournament has been just 'lucky' to win it.
The big serve, big shots and the slice and dice, every shot in the book is neutralized here and one has to play his best over 5 sets for 2 weeks at a stretch to come out on top. And what if a player is able to win such a demanding Grand Slam 11 times?
Yes, sounds impossible but Nadal has been able to achieve that feat today. If you look at his record in the French Open, it is 86 wins and only 2 losses over a span of 14 Years. This is unbelievable. It is hard to play at a good level for any player for 2 consecutive years but Nadal has been able to it for more than a decade. All the players at their peak: Federer or Djokovic have failed to stop Nadal on this surface. Only Soderling and Djokovic have been able to beat him and that too only once.
First is his style of play. The Lasso whip forehand, the movement and agility, the solid and much-improved backhand and the immense mental strength of a warrior. The climatic conditions also play their part as it bounces even more on a sunny day making it almost impossible for any opponent to control the ball. Then comes his mental strength which is the key to his success on all surfaces. Over the years, Federer and Djokovic have given some tough moments to Nadal in the French Open, but 99 out of the 100 times, Nadal has been able to make his way out of it and get the victory. He just never gives you a free point at an important stage of a match. And last but not the least is his experience. He has won this title 11 times now and he knows exactly what he needs to do to win here. He does the basics better than anyone else and plays the important points well. Once he gets the lead, he puts his foot on the peddle and never gives a second chance to the opponent.
Nadal has created a very special for himself in Tennis and especially on clay. His love and passion for the sport, his mental endurance and his will to win are unparalleled. He still wants to improve and that makes his even more dangerous. Well, Its hard to believe but he may win here for a few more years if his body holds up and we would certainly hope for that.