The dust has settled on the significant part of the European clay court season, and at the Mecca of clay court tennis, the King still reigns. Here’s a look back on what unfolded over the past fortnight on the men’s side of things.
Still King – Rafael Nadal was expected by many to dominate the major clay court events, as he had done in 2005 and 2006. Despite the complacency and predictability, the replication of such results is nothing short of extraordinary. Nadal has looked even more dominating this year than he had the last, bringing at times a more aggressive game to his opponents than in the past. Still the best defender on tour, the young Spaniard continues to improve other aspects of his game and has at times literally looked unstoppable. The few times that Nadal has looked vulnerable, he has been mercilessly good when it comes to saving break points when it matters most. There could be no greater illustration of that than in the first set of the final. Roger Federer had engineered ten break points, but Nadal didn’t allow him to convert a single one. Although the final did not bring out the best in both players, what rarely remains in doubt on clay (and is in effect on faster surfaces at times also) is Nadal’s strength relating to the mental side of the game. Three visits to Roland Garros, and Nadal has left each time biting the trophy. Not since Bjorn Borg has a player won the French Open three successive times, you’ve heard of him, haven’t you?