Bud Collins:Federer's loss is tennis' loss
Federer's loss is tennis' loss
World No. 1 has dream of calendar Grand Slam dashed by nemesis Nadal
Roger Federer lost a chance at making history when his bid for a calendar Grand Slam was ended by a loss to Rafael Nadal in the French Open men's singles final, and so what could have been the year's biggest story in tennis has gone away, writes Bud Collins of MSNBC.com.
By Bud Collins
Updated: 4:34 p.m. CT June 11, 2006
PARIS - The French Open men's singles final could have been a magical moment for Roger Federer and the game of tennis -– as had he beaten Rafael Nadal, he would have won all four majors in a row, and if he had done that, he would have had a very good shot at winning a calendar Grand Slam this year.
A summer dream dashed
But it was not meant to be for Federer, at least not this year. So his name will not go down in history with the likes of Andre Agassi, Don Budge, Roy Emerson, Rod Laver, and Fred Perry as the only men to win all four majors at least once in their careers.
I’m certainly not going to take anything away from Nadal and his exceptional 1-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) win over Federer. And to be sure, it was a very nice moment for Spain and for Nadal, but it wasn’t a great moment for tennis.
There was the dream of a chase for the Grand Slam, and that would have brought great attention to the game. And Federer would have finally found his feet here on the clay which would have enabled him to do all those great things that a No. 1 player in the world is supposed to do.
All full credit to Nadal, but if this summer we would have been watching whether Federer could become the first player since Laver in 1969 to win the Grand Slam, it would have made for a very interesting summer.
I believe the Federer's loss in Paris is a big loss to the game as far as public attention for the sport.
Approach, errors spell defeat
Federer was very disappointing today. I saw him play in the clay final in Rome just a few weeks ago, and he had two match points on Nadal. He played the Spaniard aggressively in that Italian Open title tilt, and he came so close to winning.
I believed that Federer could repeat that kind of play at Roland Garros, and that the bigger stage and his experience would have worked in his favor.
But he didn’t attack Nadal in the match today. And just look at the amount of errors he posted in the match -– 51. That’s nearly double the 28 errors that Nadal had in the three hour, two minute match.
The crowd was virtually praying and pleading with Federer to come through. At one point when he broke even to 5-all in the fourth set, the crowd even stood trying to urge Federer to continue his success.
Pressure tough to deal with
I think this loss is very demoralizing for Federer because I have no doubt that he had his sights set on the Grand Slam. He wasn’t shy about talking about it, Laver was talking about; everybody was talking about it.
I actually think that put too much pressure on Federer, and he was hopeless out there against Nadal -– he was shanking balls everywhere on the court.
The key game where the world No. 1 lost it all was the fourth game of the third set. Federer had Nadal down 0-40 on his serve, but couldn’t convert on that opportunity.
And to make matters worse he allowed Nadal to break his serve in the very next game. That was basically the end of Federer at this Roland Garros. But that said, Federer will certainly go into Wimbledon as the favorite, and he’ll go into the U.S. Open as the favorite.
But his presence at those two majors won’t have the tingle it could have had if Federer had in Paris.
As for Nadal, what can I say but the kid is wonderful -– what an incredible player he truly is, and what a personality.
Paths may cross in next two majors
While we won’t see a Federer-Nadal match on clay until next year, we could have other encounters between these two during the remainder of this year.
Nadal has a 6-1 record over Federer lifetime, and he’d like to keep building on that. Now I doubt that we’d see them in the final at Wimbledon although the kid says he wants to win Wimbledon one day.
And you have to admire that since most of the Spanish and Latin players only show up at Wimbledon to play the grass out of duty.
I do see a possibility that Federer and Nadal could play at the U.S. Open if the draw falls right for Nadal.
The casual sports fan sees Nadal’s record over Federer, and that he’s beaten him all four times they’ve played this year, and says, “To heck with the rankings, if this kid keeps beating Federer, he’s the No. 1 player in the world."
I actually think that has some merit -– it’s hard to argue against that theory. Coming off the French Open, Nadal is the best player in the world, even though he's ranked No. 2.
Of course, when the surface changes, things are more than likely to shift Federer's way. I believe Federer will win Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. But I also think this Spanish kid is a dynamo, and just an extraordinary player and so pleasant.
You can tell he really enjoys everything about playing the game and living his life. And not only is that great for him, it's great for tennis.
© 2006 MSNBC Interactive