The men’s semi-finals of Roland Garros 2010 was concluded today, and as far as I’m concerned we now have the best possible final other than another Fedal final. Today’s semi-final matches turned out pretty much as expected, with the Soderling/Berdych match going to a fifth set, and Nadal taking care of Melzer in straight sets. Soderling won 6-3 3-6 5-7 6-3 6-3, while Nadal won 6-2 6-3 7-6 (6). Soderling trailed by 2-1 in sets at one point, and I thought he did really well to grind the win out. He has obviously matured a lot as a player over the last year or so. Berdych was not an easy opponent for him as he plays the same type of game as Soderling. Soderling could not overpower him the way he did Roger for instance. So in the end he just had to hang tough and grind out the win. Nadal on the other hand had little problems with Melzer in the first two sets, and lead by a break in the third.
Melzer then fought back as Nadal lost concentration, but Nadal got his act together as you would expect from him in the tie break. The final match up is my second choice for a Roland Garros final, because I enjoy the Soderling/Nadal rivalry. Where Nadal has gotten into Roger’s head in the past, he can’t do the same with Soderling. Soderling does not fear Nadal in any way. You can be sure if he goes down on Sunday he will go down swinging. Either way he is not going to hold anything back. This is the attitude you have to have against Nadal on clay, and maybe a Fedal would have been just another beat down in favor of Nadal anyway. I don’t know if Roger has learned his lesson against Nadal, and I don’t know if he ever will. But I want to focus on Sunday’s final now and forget about Roger for a second.
Throughout the clay season Nadal has not had to deal with Del Potro, Davydenko, or an in form Djokovic, and having won all the Masters Series events does not convince me whether he is back quite yet. He is obviously very close, but I think if he loses to Soderling, the doubts will remain. He is now obviously in the perfect position to avenge his loss of last year to Soderling, and if he does that he will have achieved what he wanted to achieve this clay court season, which is to resurrect his career. But that also brings it’s own pressure. If he falters over the final hurdle all kinds of questions will arise again. It will also be doubtful whether he could ever be considered the clay GOAT. Borg won six French Opens while Nadal is still standing on four. So Nadal needs very much to win both for his current career and his legacy once he quits tennis.
What about Roger? Does the outcome of this match have any baring on the GOAT? Well of course it does! Or not. Personally I find myself in a position I have never been before as a Fedfanatic. If Nadal wins, Roger loses his number one ranking. Being one week short of Sampras’ all time record, this is not a good outcome. Seems pretty obvious then that from Roger’s perspective it’s better that Soderling wins, right? Actually, it’s not so obvious. I have always said that I feel Roger and Rafa’s destinies are intertwined. Roger and Rafa has ruled the grand slams for the better part of a decade now. So although they are rivals, in a sense they are very much like a team. They are also good friends. If Soderling wins on Sunday, it would mean he broke Roger’s semi-final streak AND probably Nadal’s future as a tennis player.
Already a big power hitter dethroned Roger at the US Open, and it wouldn’t be good for the Fedal dominance if Nadal is dethroned now by a similar player as well. Incidentally these kind of big power hitters have caused both Roger and Rafa the most difficulty in the last year or so. They definitely pose the biggest threat to the Fedal duopoly. So in a way Roger needs very much for Nadal to win on Sunday. He needs his partner to take revenge for him as it were, and for the first time ever I find myself very much rooting for Nadal. I never thought this would happen, because I almost always want him to lose, but this time I feel very much like I am in his corner. I feel a certain loyalty to him which is taking me by surprise. Roger won the Australian Open this year, and if Nadal wins on Sunday, the Fedal duopoly would be firmly in control once more. Otherwise, look out.
Of course Nadal would be number one and Roger number two again, which leaves us in a kind of a catch-22 situation. With Wimbledon coming up as well, which Nadal missed last year, he would have every opportunity to open the gap between him and Roger in the rankings even more. And with the confidence of a fourth French Open crown it could be very difficult indeed for Roger to take back the number one spot for a second time. So as far as I’m concerned, I’m completely conflicted as to whom I want to win on Sunday. It’s not just a question of not caring either way who wins. It’s quite the opposite, because I want both players to win for different reasons. I’ve never been in this spot when it comes to a tennis match, and I can’t say that I like it too much either. Maybe I’ll just forget about any consequences and enjoy the tennis and rivalry itself. How about you?
May the Fedforce be with you.
Please click HERE. Thank you.