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  Topic Review (Newest First)
06-13-2006 08:03 PM
Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

Yeah, they've been very nice articles, that's why I'm so happy about them, not too much hype but very nice. And I mean they're in the quality papers like The Times and Guardian so hopefully people read them.
I don't have too much time to read the Bristish press but what I've gathered they've been too hard on Gantleman Tim and putting too much pressure on Andy M which doesn't seem very nice. So I am positively surprised, the writers obviously know tennis well but I guess with compatriots emotions sometimes take over.
06-13-2006 07:45 PM
Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

Originally Posted by MariaV
The Britsh press obviously loves him and this is nice.
yeah they do, I remember last year one paper had an article on him with the headline "Finally a reason to get excited about Wimbledon" But they are not overhyping him, all the articles are pretty realistic about Rafa's chances it not like they are expecting him to win it, well not yet anyway if he wins a few matches it'll be a different story
Anyway there are definately two people who will thank Rafa for taking all the press attention.....Henman and Murray
06-13-2006 05:28 PM
Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

From The Telegraph:
Nadal remains the king of clay
By Mark Hodgkinson in Paris
(Filed: 12/06/2006)

After a Roland Garros final that was more baffling than it was enthralling, Roger Federer's attempt to create some history and become only the third man to hold all four grand slam titles at the same time ended in failure yesterday, with Rafael Nadal retaining his status as the undisputed king of clay.

Rafael Nadal
Winning feeling: Rafael Nadal

On a searing hot afternoon in south-west Paris, the contest never quite justified all the hype. Federer, arguably the greatest ever, was playing the biggest match of his life. And yet the world No 1, normally characterised as the Swiss who doesn't miss, and who had started so promisingly, was soon flunking and skewing a high number of strokes. So, instead of completing his quartet, he lost 1-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6, his first defeat in his eight grand slam finals.

It was an odd match and one that was more than a little unsatisfying, and not just for Federer.

There was to be no history for Federer on the Philippe Chatrier Court, just some extremely violent hitting from the second-ranked Nadal. The sense was that Federer, in his first Roland Garros final, would almost certainly have managed to do the 'Roger Slam' against anyone else. However, as he was not close to his best he was ultimately unable to fend off the funk and the felt-scorching forehands of Nadal, now unbeaten in a record 60 straight red-dirt matches. "He is a fighter and a grinder and he deserved to win," Federer said.

After smoking a forehand swing volley for a winner on his first match point, Nadal threw himself on to his back, the red dust smearing and splattering his white three-quarter length pirate pants and his blue muscle-vest.

And so more glory for Nadal, the 20-year-old tennis freak talent. Nadal's on-court persona and life can often seem very cartoon-like - 'Rafa's Clay-court Adventures'. But the pity for the young man was that when he pulled himself up from the crushed brick there was not quite the same applause and acclaim that he received last season. A year ago Nadal had been the crowd favourite, as he won Roland Garros on his first appearance, but this time most of the tennis world had been demanding an assault on the record books by Federer.

No matter. The celebrations continued for Nadal after winning his second slam, as he scrambled into the VIP box and up and across the stands to hug all his family. The Majorcan was then in tears. "This is a fantastic victory and an incredible moment in my career as a tennis player," he said. "Federer is the best player in history. No other player has ever had such quality.''

Only two players have completed the full set of grand slams, the American Don Budge performing the feat before the Second World War and then the Australian Rod Laver achieving it twice in the Sixties, and Federer had been obsessed with his chance to join them having won last year's Wimbledon and US Open titles and this year's Australian Open.

And Federer's defeat also stopped him from becoming only the sixth man to win all four slams and killed off his chances of doing the true grand slam with a calendar sweep this season.

Nadal is now 6-1 in the head-to-head with Federer and has won their last five meetings, including all four matches on clay. What sort of rivalry is this, some critics may suggest, when Federer cannot even win a match against the second-ranked player? Certainly, no other opponent presents such a challenge for Federer. But playing Nadal, and playing Nadal on clay, can do odd things to Federer.

What made the occasion particularly strange was that the two never played well together. Nadal had been his usual self beforehand, with kangaroo leaps in the corridor as he waited to run out into the stadium, but his early tennis was horribly nervous. Jennifer Anniston, providing some Hollywood A-list glamour from the third row of the VIP box, was only moved to clap her hand against her Chinese fan for Federer's early tennis. Nothing that Nadal did in the first set was deemed worthy of any Anniston applause.

Suddenly, the Roger Slam looked like it was on. But then, almost as quickly, the chances of the Roger Slam disappeared. While Nadal rid himself of his nerves, Federer became gradually worse and occasionally was even guilty of playing some sloppy tennis.

Having broken twice in the first four games of the match, Federer did not strike again until the 10h game of the fourth set, over two hours later, when Nadal was serving for the title at 5-4. Nadal, though, quickly countered, and won the tie-break for the loss of only four points.

Nadal, the king of clay, would not shift from his Roland Garros throne.
06-13-2006 04:25 PM
Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

From The Olympian:
No matching Nadal on clay

Federer falls short in bid for slam

PARIS -- One more tap of the racket on the bottom of his red clay-caked shoes. One more deep breath before the final serve. And then, one more point -- a perfectly struck swinging forehand volley from midcourt that slammed down with such accuracy that Roger Federer knew instantly his next move would be a handshake at the net.

Predicted by many two weeks ago, Rafael Nadal, like Justine Henin-Hardenne a day earlier, won back-to-back French Open titles, and this 1-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (4) triumph was so emphatic that it left one wondering whether he is now Federer's equal, regardless of what the rankings say.

Federer not only will remain at No. 1 this week but will increase his lead over No. 2 Nadal by about 250 points because he reached the final this year and the semifinals in 2005.

Nevertheless, with four Nadal wins over Federer this year and six out of seven overall, the question of who is the best player in the world is clearly an open question, with just about everyone except the terminally humble Spaniard.

"If you look at the list, you look a lot of points difference, no? So he is the No. 1. So I admire him. He's a very complete player. I can't say I'm better than him because that's not true," said Nadal.

Perhaps he can't, but there are going to be a growing number of people that will say it for him.

After a dreadful opening set, in which he had four winners and 17 unforced errors, Nadal recovered to win 14 consecutive service games, twice came back from 40-love and love-40 deficits to win key games and in the most important moments did a brilliant job of exploiting Federer's strangely debilitated backhand ground stroking.

It has been many years since Federer's backhand was as bad as it was in the second set, and though it improved in the third and fourth sets, it remained a liability right into the tiebreak, when he struck one backhand long to go to 1-1, hit a poor backhand chip shot into the net for 2-2 and had errors on service returns from the ad court to go down 2-4 and then 4-6.

"That I make mistakes on my backhand side with the aggression of Nadal, that's normal," said Federer, who didn't do a good job of hiding his extreme disappointment at failing to win the only Grand Slam trophy to escape him.

How disappointed was he? "I mean, I have no other choice than to accept the fact, right?" he replied. But he said he has had tougher moments.

"I am at a different stage in my career now than I used to be where every loss was another world. That's not the case anymore because I tried hard and I know I left everything out there, and maybe I missed a few opportunities. Maybe I'll hear that for years, but that's my problem."

He was supreme in the 37-minute opening set, but a lot of that had to do with Nadal's horrible play. Then, on his seventh break point of the match, Nadal shot out to a 2-0 lead in the second set and, less than a half-hour later, had pulled even.

Two games in the third set turned this match decisively in his favor. Serving at 1-2, he came back from love-40 to hold, then broke Federer to go up 3-2 with a pair of significant shots.

First, his running backhand stab lob from deep in the corner touched down 5 feet inside the baseline, and Federer blew the overhead wide. Then, at 15-40, Federer went outside the doubles alley to hit an inside-out forehand that was intercepted by the net.

In the fourth set, Federer finally broke back to 5-5, but he had nothing to sustain his game in the tiebreak. With the title tucked away, Nadal dropped the second ball from his pocket, threw off his headband and dropped on his back in the dirt in joy.

Then, to celebrate this 60th straight clay-court victory, he climbed into the stands to join his family.

"I kissed my father because he did everything for me. And my uncle gives me motivation to continue," he said.

He is not so naive as to think he's going to challenge Federer at Wimbledon in two weeks. In fact, he'd be happy getting to the quarterfinals. But he has beaten Federer twice on hardcourt as well as four times on clay, and there has been nothing fluky or aberrant in any of those matches.

It probably won't be the last time these two men play each other, and as long as they are No. 1 and No. 2 it will have to be in a final. That can only be a good thing for men's tennis.
06-13-2006 04:23 PM
Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

From The Herald News:
Nadal ends Federer's major win streak

Feat of clay: Winner captures second straight French Open
the associated press

PARIS — Unflappable and unbeatable against anyone else, Roger Federer looked helpless at times Sunday, his bid for a fourth consecutive Grand Slam title disappearing in the clouds of clay kicked up by Rafael Nadal.

Over and over, for three hours and with the temperature at 90, Nadal scampered and skidded his way to reach seemingly unreachable balls. Going long stretches without a mistake, No. 2-ranked Nadal beat No. 1 Federer 1-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (4) to win his second straight French Open title.

"I won the first set easily, and usually in a situation like that I don't let things go by. But it's a final. It's against Nadal. It's on clay," Federer said. "That makes it very difficult — more difficult maybe than other cases."

His 27-match winning streak at majors ended. Nadal's 60-match winning streak on red clay lives.

So consider this: Nadal is now 6-1 against Federer over their careers. And this: Federer is 0-4 against the Spaniard in 2006, 44-0 against everyone else.

Nadal also is the first player to beat Federer in a Grand Slam final. The Swiss entered Sunday 7-0 in that category, the best such start to a career since the 1880s.

"I can't say I'm better than him. Since I was born, I've never seen a more complete player. He's the best," Nadal said. "Maybe he was nervous, too. Roger was playing today for being on the top of history. This pressure is a lot, no?"

Federer was trying to join Don Budge (1938) and Rod Laver (1962, 1969) as the only men to win Wimbledon, U.S. Open, Australian Open and French Open championships all in a row. He also had a chance to become the sixth man with a career Grand Slam.

But it was Nadal who deposited a forehand volley to end the match, then slid onto his back on the clay and spread his arms and legs, as if to make a snow angel. After they shook hands, Federer sank in his seat, residue of the red dirt smearing his white headwrap.

"I tried. I can't do more than try," Federer said. "But having this real unique opportunity that we haven't seen in such a long time in tennis — obviously, it's a pity."

It was the first French Open final pitting men seeded 1-2 since 1984, but the play never really lived up to the hype, particularly in the surprisingly lopsided first two sets. Still, it was an intriguing contrast in styles and personalities that created a competing fugue of "Ro-ger! Ro-ger!" and "Ra-fa! Ra-fa!" chants at changeovers.

Nadal's biceps-baring sleeveless shirt and below-the-knee white shorts. Federer's more traditional collared shirt and shorts.

Nadal's "Ugh-ahhh!" grunt on nearly every shot, sounding angry at the ball. Federer's barely perceptible exhale.

Nadal's baseline excellence. Federer's volleying.

Nadal's left-handed topspin. Federer's right-handed variety.

It's actually that last one that might be most responsible for the one-sided nature of the emerging rivalry, for Nadal's high-bouncing forehands make things tough on Federer's backhand, already his weakest shot.

On Sunday, Federer made 24 unforced errors with his backhand. He finished with 51 miscues in all, 23 more than the steadier Nadal.

"I suppose this was not Federer's best game, because if it were, he would have won, no doubt," said Nadal's coach and uncle, Toni.

Federer sure looked great at the start, racing to a 5-0 lead by breaking Nadal in each of his first two service games. Remarkably, though, Federer wouldn't break again until Nadal served for the match at 5-4 in the fourth set.

In the third set, Nadal used a 114 mph kick serve for an ace to erase the last of four break points in the fourth game. Then he broke to a 3-2 lead with the help of two telling points.

Nadal slid and stretched to send a hard shot back, able to muster only a weak lob. Aware of his foe's range, Federer looked for Nadal, then shanked an overhead long. Nadal broke when Federer roamed two steps outside the doubles alley to run around his troublesome backhand and hit a forehand that wound up in the net.

"I improved in my confidence," Nadal said. "I was thinking, 'Now is my chance."'

The backs of Nadal's sneakers have yellow block letters that read "Vamos" on the left and "Rafa" on the right, and they were always moving Sunday. Nadal bounced in place, working himself into a lather, while waiting to be introduced to the crowd. He jumped on his toes right in Federer's face during the coin toss. He sprinted to the baseline for the warmup period. And that was nothing compared to what he did when the ball was in play.

"He makes it tough," Federer said, "and I guess, in the end, he deserves to win."

In the middle two sets, Nadal was downright superb, making only six unforced errors while keeping points going long enough that Federer made 29.

Nadal, who turned 20 during the tournament, is the youngest man to win a second straight French Open since Bjorn Borg was 19 in 1975.
How did he do it?

"A bit of luck, a bit of tennis, a bit of mental attitude. Federer made more mistakes than usual," Nadal said. "All these things together."

Federer, meanwhile, is left to ponder what he can do to add the only major missing from his resume. He spoke before the tournament about wanting to avoid the fate of Pete Sampras, who won a record 14 Grand Slam titles but whose best French Open run was to the 1996 semifinals. Sampras' age at the time? The same as Federer's now, 24.

"I was ready to put him at the top if he were to win this," seven-time major champion John McEnroe said during NBC's broadcast, "but he's got some work to do."

06-13-2006 04:08 PM
Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

Some more articles.
From The Globe and Mail:
Nadal ends Federer's slam streak

From Monday's Globe and Mail

PARIS — If there was doubt whom the crowd was pulling for in the French Open men's final yesterday, with Roger Federer aiming to be the first man to hold all four Grand Slam titles at once since Australian great Rod Laver in 1969, it was obvious after he took a 3-0 lead in the first set and raucous chanting of “Roger, Roger” rained down as he sat during the first change-over.

Le beau rêve (beautiful dream), as the French put it, seemed possible, especially after he closed out the set 6-1 in 37 minutes against Rafael Nadal. But once Federer lost serve in the second game of the second set after leading 40-love, Nadal, over what he later referred to as “nerves,” rolled inexorably to his record 60th victory on clay, defending his title with a 1-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (4) win.

As has happened to everyone who has played Nadal on clay since April last year, Federer seemed to have nowhere to hit the ball. The Spaniard muscles back virtually every ball with a lethal, leaden topspin and repeatedly runs down shots other mortals would not reach.

He has now beaten Federer four times during the streak and by doing so yesterday ended the world No. 1's streak of seven wins in Grand Slam finals.

It seems symptomatic of Federer's competitive queasiness against Nadal that he cited his own poor form at as early a juncture as the second set as crucial to the outcome.

“I definitely felt the second set was the turning point,” he said. “I think just giving it away like that was maybe the key.”

The women's final on Saturday had a similar turning point when Svetlana Kuznetsova, after winning the first 10 points of the second set, could not seize the momentum and was beaten 6-4, 6-4 by Justine Henin-Hardenne.
At 24, the Belgian now joins rivals Martina Hingis and Venus Willams with five career Grand Slam titles. It was Henin-Hardenne's third French Open title (2003 and 2005).

“Even if I had a lot of trouble in the last year [hamstring, shoulder and knee injuries as well as a stomach ailment at the Australian Open in January], I keep winning [at least] a major title every year [for four years],” she said. “That's not a bad average.”

Nadal, 20, has also had to battle adversity. A troublesome stress fracture in his left foot forced him off the tour between last November and February of this year.

After acknowledging Federer as “probably the best player in history and the most complete player I've seen” at the presentation ceremony, he got personal. “I'd like to thank my mother and father,” he said. “We had difficult moments at the beginning of the year [because of the foot] and there were times when we weren't sure I'd be here.”

Nadal's victory was one in an unbroken line of wins over the past 20 years on Parisian clay by baseliners over a category broadly known as attacking players. One of those was in 1988, when Mats Wilander of Sweden was too steady for the wondrous but wild skill set of Henri Leconte of France.

Yesterday, Wilander, 41, was critical of the stoic demeanour of Federer. He cited the fourth set tiebreaker and said, “Why, when he breaks to 2-1, isn't there room for a come on or something to show Nadal that I'm still here and I'm No. 1 in the world and about to win four majors in the same 12 months? He walked by him like it was a junior against the man. David versus Goliath.

“It seemed weird he didn't get more pumped up.”

Leconte, beaten 7-5, 6-2, 6-1 by Wilander in 1988, insisted an attacking player such as Federer can win, but “he has to go to the net more, take more risks.”

Of playing Nadal, Leconte, 42, said: “You have to rush him on two or three shots. Once you get involved in rallies with him, it's tough. You really have to be wired physically — and you can't be scared.”

Nadal, who, after a first-round bye, will likely meet American Mardy Fish on Wednesday at the Queen's Club event in London, said yesterday of the quick turnaround from clay to grass: “The tour is not well organized in my opinion. We have not much time between the two big tournaments of the year. I am going to try, but I don't think you change games overnight.”

That is this week. But more immediate for him was the moment after victory yesterday when he lay flat, exhausted and ecstatic, on the ochre terre battue that is indisputably his domain. Special to The Globe and Mail
06-13-2006 09:06 AM
Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

Im just angry with that Translator, I think its cos rafa spoke fast and he didnt take many breaks, he said lots at once, and its more logical to say "Im better on clay". Cos the French treat him badly enough as it is, I just see bad things for next year, like lots of anti-nadal hateration comin on ... I know its a year away but stilll, i just hope they cleared it up, not that the RG crowd would give a damn enough to even pay attention to any attempts to fix up the confusion
06-13-2006 05:39 AM
Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

Real Madrid Club de Futbol congratulates Rafa on defending his french open title!

The called him a "Champion with a white heart" because he's Madridista (Real Madrid fan)

** they also congratulated Fernando Alonso (F1) a Madridista aswell
06-13-2006 03:23 AM
Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

Originally Posted by MariaV
Yes they have written some great features on him. I really like it.
Let's hope he can show some good play on grass for them.

wow what a nice time to be a rafa fan, isn't it?

been some time since i last wrote, partly because i was afraid i would jinx him if i say wrong things (which was what probably happened to martina hingis

anyway, just wanna say hi..and yeah KEEP ON GOING RAFA!!

06-12-2006 08:19 PM
Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

Originally Posted by RogiFan88
I believe there have already been quite a few features on Rafa in the UK papers already, which will culminate at Wimby. They are heavily featuring him and probably will hype him up even more in the next couple of weeks.
Yes they have written some great features on him. I really like it.
Let's hope he can show some good play on grass for them.
06-12-2006 07:29 PM
Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

Mallorn, it makes me laugh a little to see the Brits giving Rafa so much press esp in anticipation of Wimby when all they used to do was criticise and put down the Spanish [and that extends to the Spanish in general, not just in tennis and playing on grass]. They can be such hypocrites sometimes and blatantly so but then when one is superior...

Hmm... I wonder which mansion Rafa is renting w Feli? Wimbledon is such a lovely leafy English village.
06-12-2006 07:14 PM
Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

Honestly, they should put the hype on hold until he wins three matches in a row on grass.
06-12-2006 07:12 PM
Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

I believe there have already been quite a few features on Rafa in the UK papers already, which will culminate at Wimby. They are heavily featuring him and probably will hype him up even more in the next couple of weeks.
06-12-2006 06:57 PM
Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

Thanks Ania. The Britsh press obviously loves him and this is nice.
06-12-2006 04:45 PM
Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

From Peter Bodo's blog:
Lost in Translation

Posted 6/11/2006 @ 3:11 PM
The match that nobody dared believe we could get turned out to be the kind of match nobody expected we would see: it was bizarre, ragged, baffling and unsatisfying – Hey, what was it that some comment posters said after yesterday’s woman’s final? Get this garbage out of here and bring in The Men?

It was a match that left Rafael Nadal Kool-Aid drinkers deliriously happy (doesn’t every match Rafa win do that?), Roger Federer KADs disconsolate and in contemplation of flinging themselves into the Seine, and Tennis: The Game KADS scratching their heads, wondering how it could all go so wrong. So horribly wrong. The entire face of world tennis got plastered with that look you last saw on your single, slightly overweight sister-in-law’s face when she opened up that Christmas present that you thought would be a fun, family, in-joke, and she saw that it was a Gut-Be-Gone.

Oh, well, You can lead a tennis player to clay but you can’t make him rally. Or something like that. We got a nice preview of where this was all going when Nadal, wheeling away from the coin toss and obligatory photo, bolted for his baseline and tripped over his own foot, almost doing a face plant and taking out a divot bigger than any of the craters that would be left by his forehands.

I’m still trying to make sense of all this, but I have to confess that I thought this all was fun, in a warped kind of way. Here’s a stadium full of tennis fans at a Grand Slam final, repeatedly turning toward each other after a Nadal forehand rocket to the cheap seats, or a pigeon-seeking Federer backhand, and saying, “Wow, like what's up with that?"

I shaved my chest for this?

Sometimes, though, it’s great for tennis to throw up something utterly inexplicable. It’s good for the soul. It’s a good reminder for us not to get too complacent and take those occasional works of art that the game throws up for granted (Rome final, anyone?). Look at it this way: It didn’t go 32-30 in the fifth. You still have something to live for. These two a champions turned chumps for the day are still young.

Maybe it’s all a sign from above. You should all be reading. You should all be reading Moby Dick. Actually, if you’ve never read Moby Dick, don’t bother; you just saw it, and if you did read it you know what I mean: It wasn’t good, but it sure went slow.

But, our little TennisWorld community always looks on the bright side of things, and always finds intriguing, contemplation-worthy elements in every match. They existed in this one, too, so let’s run through it.

Nadal was bad, off-the-charts bad; he was so nervous that I feared he was going to run to the north end of the court and shout up to the player's guest box, “Hey Tony, run and get me a Depends!”

But even then, there were brilliant moments, as there would be throughout this match; seven or nine-stroke rallies ending with a really deft, acutely angled inside-out forehand from The Mighty Fed, or an on-the-run, two-handed passing-shot blast – a chip shot out of the red clay, really – from Dirty Boy Rafa. Does anyone get more - and more sweetly - out of the inside-out forehand than Federer, and is there a better thread-the-needle backhand (in desperate situations) than Nadal’s?

In the second set, it was as if Rafa said, “Okay, Prada boy, here’s the shoe, now you wear it!”

In the second game (Nadal having won the first) TMF led 40-love but would find a way to lose what was the first of the two most important games of the match – and, inarguably, the first of two hugely important games in which he led, 40-0 but couldn’t close it out. (The other one occurred with Nadal serving at 1-2 early in the third.

Nadal addressed each of these junctures in his presser. Of that break early in the second, he said:

After, maybe he has the control of the game, but he give me a good chance, no, because he had 1 0 for me in the second, but 40 Love for him, and he is playing better than me, no? I feel nervous. I don't feel very good the legs for the nervous.

After, he have three consecutive mistakes no, two consecutive mistakes. I play one good point and I can do the break. When I have the break in the second set, 2 0, I improve in my confidence, no, because I was thinking, Now is my chance. I was playing very bad, but now I need to take my opportunity.

Federer’s own comment on that game were revealing, and brimming with the kind of melancholy, coulda, woulda, shoulda tristesse that you expect out of, oh, Edith Piaf, not The Mighty Federer:

I definitely felt, you know, that second set was a big turning point. If just there I can keep up with him and then, you know, put him really under big pressure, maybe lead two sets to Love, then obviously it's very different. But I think just giving away the second set like this, I think that was maybe the key.

After being broken in that second game, TMF would melt into the slough of despond, immediately and almost irretrievably. My match notes say: This match reminds me of two guys who woke up in the dark in the same room and are taking turns fumbling around, looking for the light switch. . .

Those of you who are perverse enough to have read along so far are my kind of folks, so you’ll know what I mean when I say that at this point, I thought, Cool. Each guy has played a set of anti-tennis and gotten the demons out of his system. So it’s like, okay, I’ve got an idea! Let’s pretend it’s a best-of-three final and see if we can provide these patient people with their money’s worth.

Oddly enough, I also felt at that point that Federer may have effectively (and unconsciously)set the tone of the match, and that it would work in his favor. For this was largely a match of slam-bang tennis, full of errors and some winners interspersed with explosive, ever-so-seductive moments of glory that you just won't get out of a Ljubicic in a million years.

Here’s an intriguing comment from TMF’s presser, supporting this theory:

. . .I was hoping to come in more often. But somehow, you know maybe it was the heat. I don't know. We both tried to cut down on the points, in the first two sets especially, that never we really got the good sort of rhythm going from the baseline. That only really started towards the third and fourth set.

Still, much like Federer blew a critical 40-love advantage in the two-set prelude, he blew one in to launch the last three sets. The handwriting was on the wall, and writ large, too. Nadal also thought his recovery from 1-2, 0-40 down in the third was noteworthy, saying:

Yeah, is very important moment, no? Maybe in the second set, when 2 0, is important moment with the break of 2 0. And the second is this one, no, 2 1, Love 40? I play three good points. I have little bit good luck with one forehand of Roger, go out like this.

But after this moment, I improve a lot in my game, I think, no? Is my opinion. After this moment, I play better with my serve. I play more aggressive. And he feel little bit more nervous. So after this moment, I play my best tennis, no?

The upshot, though, was that this was neither a track meet nor a marathon, both of which would have favored Nadal. And, as your own eyes saw, Nadal was the one who ended up playing the role scripted for Federer. He won big points with a serve that hit like a bullet, sending up a red puff of smoke; he took the game to TMF, forcing the action, a few times even coming forward to volley.

At the same time, Federer played against type and gave an Oscar-worthy performance as the Evil Counterpuncher, in a film that might have been entitled, Wake Me When It’s Over. By the middle of the fourth set, though, he had been forced to hit so many high backhands off Nadal’s high-bouncing forehand, both feet leaving the ground, that he looked worn out. He showed a brief flurry of life when he broke Nadal to level the match at 5-5 in the fourth, but the themes of the day returned to haunt the tiebreaker and the match ended on a note of anticlimax.

Here are the more intriguing stats: Nadal’s first serve percentage, at 76, was 16 points higher than Federer’s. Federer had only 10 more winners than Nadal (35 to 25), but he had almost twice as many unforced errors, 51 to 28. It sounds right, but then my stat sheet also says nobody hit a service returner. . .

This kind of screw-up isn’t unusual here at Roland Garros, where translations can be very loose and asking things like why all the English transcripts aren’t posted on the website have a way of morphing into immutable ones, like, What is the meaning of life? Or, How come the game always goes to 14 deuces when I’m waiting in the tunnel to get in?

In fact, you may have caught a major faux pas during the presentation ceremony, when a French official mistranslated Nadal’s comments for the the crowd – elicting a shower of boos and catcalls.

In essence, DBR said, “Roger is the toughest guy I play, the best I lose to, even on clay.” The translator tightened and brightened this up, saying, “Roger’s the toughest guy out there except on clay, where I rock the world!” Or something like that. The crowd went nuts, and after the match the translator ran down to the locker room to apologize to Nadal, while Nadal's people were looking for Federer's people to apologize and see if their boy wanted to do lunch with their boy.

It wasn’t the only thing that got lost in translation on this zany day at Roland Garros. Federer vs. Nadal in the Roland Garros final. It sounded too good to be true. That's just how it turned out.

PS - I thought it might be fun to end this tournament on a nostalgic note, so I'm linking to a story Charlie Bricker wrote on Harold Solomon, Fast Eddie Dibbs partner in crime.
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