Just like Germans win penalty shootouts Rafael Nadal wins Roland Garros
Could really just have the heading as the blog post and it would say more than enough, but this forgets most of the highlights of this event didn't involve the winner of the crown, more on him later.
Looks like there is a reason that the French want to start a Slam on a Sunday, instead of thinking about installing floodlights at the venue. Now they can do this since the site has been secured for the tournament. They had "Stupid Sunday" so they didn't want the masses to see Roberto Kendrick and Yen-Hsun Lu. If they truly cared about the fans, then they'd put these fine examples of claycourt clowns on a bigger stage than the first Sunday when not many people are there. Yes, it was tragedy that the high preist of clay clowns Roddick wasn't there, but the crowd love him there.
Marin Cilic was the first upset losing to the "Doctor of Moonballing" Ruben Ramirez-Hidalgo who was almost in the back fence hitting some giant moonballs. The serve is a work of art and the sleeve roll up is unique, he fell in the next round but that was a huge win for him.
Blaž Kavčič defended his points from last season with an excellent performance over Gulbis who was allegedly ill, though with him one wouldn't know whether he was literally ill or had a case of "Idon'tgiveafuckitis". Kavčič was outclassed in the second round to del Potro in straight sets, which wasn't a surprise. Didn't serve well enough and also doesn't have the pace of shot or variation to expose del Potro's weakness. One funny incident in that match, there was a very short ball del Potro hit and Kavčič gently hits at him to win the point. Then del Pussy starts acting all indignant as if to say "who are you to do this to me" and I'm thinking he's lucky it's not Thomas Muster, Ivan Lendl or Michael Stich or there'd be some major tatoo action with no apology.
Andreas "South Tyrolean sex machine" Seppi played well against "Tsunami" Gabashvili, but he was awful against Thomasz 'the Ostrich" Bellucci for the first 2 sets especially, but was semi respectable in the last set.
Carlos "the Panther" Berlocq was too good for Aussie wildcard Bernand Tomic who really doesn't have a clue on the clay, it reflects very poorly on Rui Machado who managed to lose to him in Monte Carlo this year.
One thing that was even more noticeable than usual was the qualifiers doing well at this event. Qualifiers have the advantage of being used to the conditions at the event, given the right draw they can win a main draw or match, if in very good form win make a few rounds like Milos Raonic at the Aus Open. Nothing will beat the qualifying run in 1997 of Filip Dewulf (link article) where he made the semis losing to Guga Kuerten.
This year there was Stephane Robert who was getting smoked by Tomas Berdych in the first two sets, then closes his eyes starts swinging hoping for the best, they went in and won the match leaving Berdych bemused at what happened. The next round he got smashed up by Fabio "the Fog" Fognini who became the star of the event.
Qualifiers were running wild in the 3rd round. Stevie Darcis took down Michael Llodra and Petzschner before falling to Monfils. Lukas Rosol with the big tattoo on his leg was victorious over last years semi finalist Jürgen Melzer in 5 sets after beating Roger-Vasselin in the 1st round in 5 as well. Antonio Veic, very small Croatian player who fights very hard, didn't have much money defeating Davydenko in 5 sets before getting pummeled by Nadal. Leo "Aligator" Mayer made the third round as well defeating Dustin "Dreddy" Brown and Marcos Baghdatis before being outclassed by Robin Söderling, lets see if Mayer can build on this result after the back problems he suffered.
Alejandro Falla was the best of the qualies making the 4th round losing to Chubby Chela, taking out Starace, Flo "gigolo" Mayer and "Polish" LaLo Kubot who made the 3rd round from qualies as well coming back from 2 sets down to beat "El Cabezon" Almagro and Berlocq. It would be rare that this many qualifiers have made the 3rd round of a Slam, perhaps Wimbledon 2002 which was a hilarious tournament.
Which leads to the superstar of this mens event, yes it was Fabio "the Fog" Fognini. The Fog was involved in the epic 2nd round match last season against Gael Monfils coming back from 2 sets down and a double break in the 4th set, playing in epic darkness where they needed mining helmets to see the ball. Came back the next day and won it. He was involved in another hilarious and incident filled match, which was the thrid best match of the tournament, behind Ferrer-Monfils and Federer-Djokovic, but so far ahead in terms of entertainment and shenanigans.
The "Fog" has been in fine form this year. With his "I don't care attitude" on the court, tanking sets and matches when he can't be bothered, then making big comebacks when he can be bothered like in 2010 with the aformentioned Monfils match, also did it against Mikey Russell from 2 sets down. In Santiago he and Robredo played an ill-tempered match with so much gamesmanship that Vince McMahon would have been proud. it ended with Boredo refusing to shake hands, which is hilarious after some of the stunts he has pulled. Needless to say the Fog wasn't impressed after Boredo said some stuff to him, then he came out the classic "'Hombre de mierda", not exactly correct Spanish but the meaning is very apt. Second funny Fog moment was at Casachallenger against Kavcic down 6-2 5-1, he comes back to win the match 2-6 7-5 7-5, full report of that match here The Fog's Comeback
Entertaining match from these smaller guys, this was the real RG final. Montañes usual steady self with solid strokes and the Fog at times was more pro active, hit some fine dropshots. Montañes served for it at *5-3 in the 5th but was tight as a drum. At 15-30 *6-7 Fog gets an injury timeout for cramps. They thought he was faking an injury, getting a massage during a service game will get some people off side and the crowd gave it to him after that, though mostly they were on his side during the match Getting double footfaulted only Gaudio, Echagarry and the Fog can do this. Fog saving match points with dropshots and clean FH winners with the typical blase attitude. He wins the match, gets a mix of cheers and boos, but he was diagonised with a muscle problem and withdrew from the quarter final vs. Djokovic.
Ferrer-Monfils was a brilliant match and it's a mystery why Monfils normally plays so passively a lot of the time, when he can step into the court and attack the ball. Ferrer was his usual consistent and dogged self, but just lacks that killer blow, whereas Monfils is erratic though this time he decided to play tennis and limit the circus activities.
Which leads into the Federer-Djokovic match which was clearly the match of the tournament. Very high standard throughout the match. Federer played his best match on clay for a very long time, if not best ever. Djokovic was trying to make his first RG final and he played quite well overall, just wasn't able to create enough chances and take them. This was due partially Federer's great serving and he deserved to win. The problem with Federer winning this match was that it'd involve another final with Nadal, which it has been too many times.
For the so-called greatest rivalry ever in tennis Federer-Nadal matches overall generally stink the joint out. Their best ever match was Rome 2006 final, if anyone who hasn't seen it do yourself a favour and watch it. Federer was being aggressive and not totally paralysed by fear and Nadal was his usual relentless self. Why the matches suck in general is they don't bring the best out of each other especially on clay. Nadal hits the heavy forehand to break down Federer's backhand, then works him over as his confidence is lost in shot and then Fed's forehand isn't as effective.
Nadal winning his sixth Roland Garros wasn't really in doubt. He struggled with John Isner and didn't play anywhere near his best during the early stages very similar to the German national team before Jogi Low took over, ruthlessly efficient, effective and got the job done. Sure Federer had a set point in the 1st set, but once he failed to convert, it reverted back to the usual script we've seen before. Nadal not making mistakes, Federer making errors and groundies breaking down. It was apt that it ended on an unforced error.
All the stuff about the different conditions, the warm weather, the dry courts, the Babolat balls while it created a bit of drama beforehand. The ending of the script was exactly the same apart from 2009, as it has been from 2005. Just like the Germans don't lose penalty shootouts (last one 1976), Nadal wins at Roland Garros.