Some random thoughts about the match

Sunday, June 7, 2009

(Image from here)

Because...I'm still incapable of writing something epically awesome.

The match

The match itself wasn't much to write home about. Soderling did what I thought and hoped he would do: which was crumble under the pressure of being in his first ever Grand Slam Final. Kudos to the guy for not only setting a personal best at any Grand Slam event but for also playing some superb tennis in the process. But today it was the Roger Federer's day and he came out like it from the beginning. While Roger played solid tennis in the first set, he was helped out a bit by Soderling who's dangerous serving had completely left him. I figured some semblance of the Soderling I had seen before would show up and sure enough he did. It went all the way to a tiebreak. And wow. What a tiebreaker for Roger. 4 aces?! Jeez. He didn't give Soderling any chances whatsoever.

After that, you had to figure it was only going to be a matter of time before Roger won. Well, at least that's what I hoped. I was still thinking that in a best of five sets, we could still be in for a lot of tennis. Roger immediately broke serve and pretty much didn't look back until he had to serve for the match. Ah. The moment of truth. Would he choke? He already looked in tears before he had to start serving. Not a good sign. Then he faced break point for only the second or third time in the entire match. Some good serving put him back to match point and then... Sodering put it into the net to finish off the match. Game. Set. Match. And Roger wins his first ever Roland Garros title.

(credit goes to AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

What this means

So it took a little longer than expected, but he got his 14th title.

After what had to be a fairly bad year for Federer, there were questions about whether his time was up. In all honesty, the questions were fair. No, they didn't need to be talked about to the enth degree, but they were legitimate to some degree. Federer set a very high standard for men's tennis, and when he fell sort of his standards, it had the people up in arms.

But just like he did back at the US Open last year, this year Federer silenced his critics - critics who, especially since the Australian Open, had gotten very loud. He's now tied with Pete Sampras for the most Grand Slams won. He's now in a small list of people which doesn't include Sampras and Bjorn Borg, who have won all four titles in their career. This is pretty massive. Even Roger was having trouble concentrating:

But it was very hard mentally for me to stay within the match during the match, because my mind was always wondering, what if? What if I win this tournament? What does that mean? What will I possibly say? I don't know.

You can'thelp it but to tell yourself, you know, once you win you'll get all the time tothink about all these things, but they keep on coming back.

I was verynervous at the beginning of the third set because I realized how close I was. The last game, obviously you can imagine how difficult that game was. It was almost unplayable for me because I was just hoping to serve some good serves and hoping that he was going to make four errors. It was that bad.

So, yeah,it was an emotional roller coaster for me.

Why this win still counts

For some people, this win will mean less because he didn't beat Nadal. I think there's a few things here. For me, I dont believe that it would've be the same if Rafa hadn't participated in the tournament. If Rafa had pulled out and Roger had won, then there would be a legitimate case to say "well, yes, he won, but Nadal wasn't in the tournament so can we truly rank this win up there with say, his fifth Wimbledon win?". But the thing here is, Nadal was in this tournament. He did participate. And he lost. Federer didn't poison him. Federer didn't bully him into pulling out. Nadal lost to an opponent who played a hell of a lot better than he did in that match. Federer had no control over that match. So if the defending champ is going to play badly and goes out, then that leaves the door wide open for other players to take the title. This title doesn't mean less because he didn't beat Nadal. This win wasn't handed to him. He had to work for it. And he earned it.

(Image from here)


Grrrreg said...

This is a great post. I love that interview. I love this montage of his grand slam wins pictures (this is stunning). And I fully agree with you about Nadal. Of course, you can't help thinking it would have been an even greater story if he beat Nadal himself, but that really doesn't matter. He deserves this. I mean, he was in the last 4 finals. How crazy is this?

Federer is one of the very few athletes I really really like.

Eternal Pessimist said...

For sure it would've been massive if he had beaten Nadal. It would have shut the critics up for sure. There will be that nagging doubt for some people that he didn't get the win by beating the best player on clay. Can you be considered the greatest of all time if you didn't beat the best player on that surface to win?

I think for me, when you take into account everything that he has done in his career - the consecutive wins at Wimbledon and the US Open, the consecutive semi-finals/finals appearances, the amount of time spent on the top of the pack, etc, etc - he doesn't really need to beat Nadal in this tournament to validate his status as one of the best of all time. He's done enough off of the clay courts.It's not like this is the first time he's made the finals. He's been there four years in a row now. He's been there. Rafa lost for whatever reason earlier on in the tournament.

I won't start saying that Federer will take over as the best on clay now. That title firmly belongs to Nadal.

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