From the blog

From clay to grass - Roger's chance to go even further

  • muller.balazs
  • 08 June 2011
  • 08:06

It is now once again time in the tennis world to say good-bye to the red dirt and focus on the green lawn courts.

 

Roland Garros has just ended and the second Grand Slam of the year is of course worth a few reflections.

 

Rafa Nadal's sixth victory cannot be any surprise to anyone, even if most people expected it to be a whole lot tougher this year than it was at the end. Except for the shaky first round against Isner, Rafa played as well as he needed to in order to secure the trophy.

 

But even so, the Spaniard didn't look to be the best player during the two weeks, it was more his huge French Open experience and usual grit that got him the trophy.

 

Instead, what everyone is talking about now is not the final or Rafa's emulation of Björn Borg's record of five titles. It is the epic semi-final match between Djokovic and Federer, which ended Novak's incredible winning run of over 40 matches.

 

In many ways, this was indeed the biggest match of the tournament and maybe also the match of the year. It also clearly demonstrated that the harsh verdicts of self-made tennis critics are simply not justified sometimes.

 

Before Paris, Nole was everybody's new hero - rightly so, considering his remarkable achievement during the first part of the year. This wasn't the mistake they made - writing Rafa and Roger off was.

 

It seems that people have extremely short term memories sometimes, only looking back 2-3 months, which is a dangerous thing to do, especially when you're dealing with multiple Grand Slam champions that are arguably the two best players ever.

 

Rafa is constantly able to show that he simply will not give up his Nr. 1 ranking without a fight, and he is still anyone's nightmare opponent, including Roger and Novak. His warrior attitude is just remarkable and keeps him at the very top. Whether this attitude will also be enough to defend his titles from last year on other surfaces than clay remains to be seen.

 

Fed's case is a bit different - he seemed to be completely forgotten about in the shade of Djokovic and Nadal, which clearly benefited him by being able to prepare and execute his game without any pressure. At Roland Garros, he was back to his brilliant best, and his form culminated in the semi-final, taking an ever-so confident Novak Djokovic apart.

 

The fact that he lost the final to Nadal two days later is neither a surprise or a major setback for his part. Silencing the critics and being back in the very top echelons of the game should mean more than enough satisfaction to him at the moment.

 

Turning the attention towards Wimbledon and the rest of the season, one might ask just how good Roger will be after his recent performance on the red dust, his least favoured surface. The new, more aggressive style, worked out with coach Paul Annacone, is definitely the way to go forward - and the way it seems at the moment, it is also enough to win, except for any claycourt encounter with Nadal in Paris.

 

Roger is therefore the main favourite at SW19, bidding to win his seventh title, given that he can keep up his aggressive approach, the level of first serves and a solid backhand game.

 

Rafa and Novak will of course be his main rivals also here, and he might once again have to face them both if he wants to lift the trophy on the 3rd of July. Andy Murray gave a more positive performance in Paris than his previous Grand Slam efforts, but I just can't see him past any of the top three, especially in Wimbledon, where the pressure on him from the British media is almost unbearable.

 

The rest of the players are unfortunately not even close to the top trio at Grand Slam level, and no bigger surprises can be expected. But if any of them can contribute to anything near the Isner-Mahut record match in 2010, it will certainly make the Wimbledon fortnight even more memorable.

 

 

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