’09 French Open: Rafa’s quest for 5

May 2009:

Nadal's shadow

From 2005 to the start of Roland Garros 2009, Rafael Nadal won 150 matches for only 5 losses on clay. He has never lost a match at Roland Garros where he’s playing for a fifth consecutive title, which has never been done before.


2005: (world ranking 4)
– R1 vs Lars Burgsmuller 6-1 7-6(4) 6-1
– R2 vs Xavier Malisse 6-2 6-2 6-4
– R3 vs Richard Gasquet (n°30) 6-4 6-3 6-2
– R4 vs Sébastien Grosjean (n°23) 6-4 3-6 6-0 6-3
– QF vs David Ferrer (n°20) 7-5 6-2 6-0
– SF vs Roger Federer (n°1) 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-3
– F vs Mariano Puerta 6-7(6) 6-3 6-1 7-5

2006: (world ranking 2)
– R1 vs Robin Soderling 6-2 7-5 6-1
– R2 vs Kevin Kim (LL) 6-2 6-1 6-4
– R3 vs Paul-Henri Mathieu (n°29) 5-7 6-4 6-4 6-4
– R4 vs Lleyton Hewitt (n°14) 6-2 5-7 6-4 6-2
– QF vs Novak Djokovic 6-4 6-4 ret.
– SF vs Ivan Ljubicic (n°4) 6-4 6-2 7-6(7)
– F vs Roger Federer (n°1) 1-6 6-1 6-4 7-6(4)

2007: (world ranking 2)
– R1 vs Juan Martin del Potro 7-5 6-3 6-2
– R2 vs Flavio Cipolla (Q) 6-2 6-1 6-4
– R3 vs Albert Montanes 6-1 6-3 6-2
– R4 vs Lleyton Hewitt (n°14) 6-3 6-1 7-6(5)
– QF vs Carlos Moya (n°23) 6-4 6-3 6-0
– SF vs Novak Djokovic (n°6) 7-5 6-4 6-2
– F vs Roger Federer (n°1) 6-2 4-6 6-3 6-4

2008: (world ranking 2)
– R1 vs Thomaz Bellucci (Q) 7-5 6-3 6-1
– R2 vs Nicolas Devilder (Q) 6-4 6-0 6-1
– R3 vs Jarkko Nieminen (n°26) 6-1 6-3 6-1
– R4 vs Fernando Verdasco (n°22) 6-1 6-0 6-2
– QF vs Nicolas Almagro (n°19) 6-1 6-1 6-1
– SF vs Novak Djokovic (n°3) 6-4 6-2 7-6(3)
– F vs Roger Federer (n°1) 6-1 6-3 6-0

Nadal just won his fifth consecutive titles in Barcelona and Monte Carlo, and his fourth Rome Masters Series. He is the clear favorite but he faces the toughest draw he ever had in Paris: Nadal could face Lleyton Hewitt in third round, David Ferrer in fourth round, Andy Murray in semi finals and Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic in finals.

First round: Rafael Nadal vs Marcos Daniel
Nadal begins his quest with a record: Rafa breaks Bjorn Borg‘s of 28 consecutive wins at Roland Garros, and equals the overall tournament record, matching the 29 straight matches Chris Evert won between 74 and 75, and 79 and 81 (she didn’t play the French from 76 to 78).
But the match is tougher than expected for Nadal, who never looked comfortable againt the 30 year old qualifier. Rafa was forced to up his game before overcoming Daniel 7-5 6-4 6-3.
Nadal:

“At the beginning, I didn’t quite get the best feelings, but I won in 3 sets. That’s very positive. I should have won more easily, but it was a difficult match.”

Second round: Rafael Nadal vs Teimuraz Gabashvili
Head to head: 1-0
2009 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Miami Hard, Nadal 6-2, 6-2

Another match, another record for Nadal: 30th straight win at Roland Garros. A much more convincing match for Nadal, who cruises into third round with a 6-1 6-4 6-2 win.

Roland Garros 2009

Third round: Rafael Nadal vs Lleyton Hewitt
Head to head: 4-4
2008 Beijing Olympics, Hard Nadal 6-1, 6-2
2007 Roland Garros Clay Nadal 6-3, 6-1, 7-6(5)
2007 ATP Masters Series Hamburg Clay Nadal 2-6, 6-3, 7-5
2006 Queen’s Club Grass Hewitt 3-6, 6-3 RET
2006 Roland Garros Clay Nadal 6-2, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2
2005 Australian Open Hard Hewitt 7-5, 3-6, 1-6, 7-6(3), 6-2
2004 ATP Masters Series Toronto, Hard Hewitt 1-6, 6-4, 6-2
2004 Australian Open Hard Hewitt 7-6(2), 7-6(5), 6-2

Rafa storms past Hewitt:
Coming back that year from a career threatening hip injury, former number one Lleyton Hewitt was no match for Rafa. Hewitt had simply no answer against Rafa’s spin, clay court science and power.

Nadal:

“I improved a little bit everyday. I play better the second day than the first. Today is important improve, no? Always a win against Lleyton is a very good news.”

Hewitt:

“He’s number one in the world. He’s holding 3 of the Grand Slams out of four at the moment. He’s obviously the form player on any surface. It’s going to be hard for everyone to beat him week in and week out.”

Rafael Nadal - French Open 2009

Fourth round: Rafael Nadal vs Robin Soderling
Head to head: 3-0
2009 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Clay Nadal 6-1, 6-0
2007 Wimbledon Grass Nadal 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(7), 4-6, 7-5
2006 Roland Garros Clay Nadal 6-2, 7-5, 6-1

The unthinkable happens: Soderling causes one of the biggest upset in Roland Garros history with a four sets win over the King of Clay.

Nadal won four consecutive French Open titles, 31 consecutive matches, 32 consecutive sets. And then he lost. To GOAT Federer? No. To GS contenders Murray or Djokovic? No. To a clay court specialist player? No. Nadal lost to bad boy Robin Soderling, the same Soderling whom Nadal had dismantled 6-0 6-1 one month earlier in Rome.
This time, Nadal was not at his best, but Soderling played the game of his life, playing as if he was on hard court.“Rafa was too passive in his game the whole tournament,” said his uncle and coach, Toni Nadal.

“He was nervous and hit the ball very bad. He couldn’t move well. Everything was wrong. He wasn’t calm enough to be able to bring out his whole game. He was never calm enough to confront the situations he needed to face.”

So, what happened? What can explain this major upset? Mental fatigue? Injury? His parents’ separation? The curse of the pink shirt?
Tell me what you think, tell me why Nadal lost to Soderling?

Nadal:

“The first thing I want to say is that it was only a match yesterday no big drama. It happens and I knew it would happen one day. It had to be yesterday and well, now I just have to look at that match and see what I did wrong.”

Comments
5 Responses
  1. kari says:

    Hi! I am a fan of Rafa. I really hope he will win this year!!! i was so disappointed last year.
    Vamos Rafa!!!

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