Monday, June 10, 2013

Nadal wins a record-setting 8th French Open title

Congratulations to Rafa Nadal for winning an unprecedented 8th French Open title! Amazing!!

In the first all-Spaniard final since 2002, Nadal defeated David Ferrer, who reached the final of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in his career. Prior to this match, Nadal had only lost to Ferrer four times out of the 23 times they played but I was still worried that Nadal wouldn't take it. Ferrer seemed to be in the best form of his life, winning all six previous matches in this tournament without dropping a set. While Nadal took almost five hours to beat #1 Novak Djokovic in a desperately-fought semifinal, Ferrer cruised through his match against Tsonga. Also, the last two times they also played were pretty close. In fact, Ferrer was two points away from beating Nadal in Madrid but a costly error allowed Rafa to claw his way back and eventually win. So while everyone seemed pretty sure Nadal would make history, I still had my concerns.

Thankfully Rafa came through. This win resonates on so many levels:

1. This is Rafa's 8th French Open title. No other man has won a Grand Slam event more times. Only two women have won a Grand Slam event more times (Margaret Court won the Australian Open 11 times and Martina Navratilova won Wimbledon 9 times).

2. In the last 9 years, Nadal has lost only once, to Robin Soderling in 2009. His French Open record is a ridiculously impossible 59 wins and 1 loss!

3. He now has 12 Grand Slam titles. Only two players - Roger Federer (17) and Pete Sampras (14) have won more. Rafa is now tied at 3rd place with Roy Emerson, moving him past tennis legends Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg who both have 11.

4. This win now means that Nadal has won at least one Grand Slam title every year for nine consecutive years. This is the longest streak among the men as he moves past Sampras, Federer, and Borg who each won at least one Grand Slam title for 8 consecutive years.

5. Rafa is clearly the best player in the world in 2013. Since he came back from his 7-month break due to injury, he has reached the final of all nine tournaments he has played and won seven of them. This is his best start to a year in this entire career. He now moves more than a thousand points ahead of Novak in this year's Race to London.

Hope Rafa can keep up this level of play throughout the year and maybe snag another Grand Slam title (Wimbledon in a few weeks, perhaps?) along the way. Congrats, Rafa!


In other news, Serena Williams moves closer towards Navratilova-Evert territory by winning the French Open title for the second time in her career. She cruised through the first four rounds before being tested by Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarters. That was probably a wake-up call for her as the completely thrashed Sara Errani in the semis. (It still boggles my mind how Serena managed to hit 40 winners in 46 minutes of tennis. That's just complete and utter dominance.) While Maria Sharapova was the defending champion, she had lost to Serena 12 times in row leading up to this final. Somehow, while she put up a decent fight, it wasn't enough as Serena eventually dismissed her 6-4 6-4 in the finals. This marks Serena's 16th Grand Slam title. Incredible.

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