Thursday, November 27, 2014

Nadal wins ninth French Open title

PARIS—Trying to beat Rafael Nadal at the French Open is, without a doubt, the toughest task in tennis.
Indeed, it must be among the greatest challenges in all of sports.

Doing what he does so well on the red clay of Roland Garros, a surface and site he dominates so completely, the No. 1-seeded Nadal wore down No. 2 Novak Djokovic 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 in a muggy final yesterday to win his ninth French Open title and fifth in a row—both records.
It also was his 14th Grand Slam title overall—tying the 28-year-old Spaniard with Pete Sampras for the second-most by a man, behind only Roger Federer’s 17.
That includes Nadal’s two trophies apiece at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, along with one from the Australian Open—proving he can beat the best on grass and hard courts, too.
But it’s on the clay of Paris where Nadal reigns supreme: he has won 66-of-67 career French Open matches.
Since the only loss, against Robin Soderling in the fourth round in 2009, Nadal has won 35-consecutive matches at Roland Garros.
No other man has won more than seven titles at any of tennis’ four majors.
“It’s not impossible but it’s very, very difficult to stay with Rafa in this court, throughout the whole match, on the highest level of performance,” said Djokovic, who was broken in the final game of each set, including with an anti-climactic double-fault on match point.
Nadal ensured that he, not Djokovic, will be ranked No. 1 today. And in the process, Nadal once again prevented six-time major champion Djokovic from completing a career Grand Slam.
“He deserves to win this tournament,” Nadal said. “I am sure he will do it in the future.”
Djokovic had won their four most recent matches, including on clay in the best-of-three-set final at Rome last month.
Beating Nadal in best-of-five is a whole other matter, however.
Nadal also topped Djokovic in the 2012 final and the 2013 semi-finals. In all, Nadal leads Djokovic 6-0 at the French Open, 9-3 at major tournaments, and 23-19 in total.
No other pair of men has played each other as often.
Maria Sharapova beat Simona Halep 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-4 on Saturday to win a second French Open women’s title in three years.

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