French Open title awarded to Nadal after Federer defeat
French Open final: Rafael Nadal took the coveted title after beating Roger Federer in the 6th French Open.
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This was the first Grand Slam final contested by two men who already completed career Grand Slams — at least one title from each major tournament — and Nadal and Federer put on a worthy show, more than 3½ hours chock-full of lengthy exchanges, brilliant defense, sublime shotmaking, and some dizzying shifts of momentum.Skip to next paragraph
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"A big occasion," the third-seeded Federer said. "I was aware of it."
He won't acknowledge publicly that Nadal drives him crazy with those high-bouncing lefty forehands that arrive shoulder-high on Federer's backhand side, and that perpetual-motion, cover-every-spot, never-cede-a-thing scrambling that forces an opponent to produce several superb shots just to earn a single point.
"It's always pretty straightforward when we play each other ... because we know what to expect," Federer said. "I'm not in any way frustrated with his play."
Perhaps that's true, but consider this: Federer is 14-1 in the Grand Slam finals he has played against any other opponent.
Nadal, for his part, doesn't like to boast about his supremacy over Federer, whom he always refers to as the top player ever.
But Toni Nadal, Rafael's uncle and coach, spoke plainly after Sunday's match.
"The game of Rafael is not too good for Roger," Toni said, adding that Federer's "mentality against Rafael is not the best."
Federer led 5-2 at the outset, but blew a set point by missing a drop shot that landed barely wide. Nadal then won seven games in a row. When Nadal went up a break in the third and led 4-2, the match appeared over, until Federer charged back to force a fourth set.
And then Nadal once more assumed control, winning the last five games, then dropping to his knees and leaning forward with his hands covering his eyes.
"I was able to play my best when I needed my best," Nadal said. "For that reason, today I am here with the trophy."
Last week, midway through the tournament, Nadal talked down his chances, admonishing himself for not hitting the ball with enough "conviction" and questioning whether he was playing well enough to take home the title. After all, he fell behind unseeded John Isner of the United States 2-1 in sets in the first round, pushed to five sets for the only time in his seven trips to the French Open.
On the back of each of the sky-blue sneakers that kept carrying him to balls that should have been out of reach, Nadal had the number "5'' in a circle — signifying his French Open title count until Sunday.
Time to order a new pair.