Rafael Nadal will keep the number one ranking for now, while simultaneously winning his sixth French Open championship by beating Roger Federer in four sets, and of course, retaining his King of Clay moniker. The two played great tennis throughout, with both holding significant advantages at one point or another. For a short while, it looked as though Federer might win his second title at Roland Garros, this time actually beating Nadal ... but it wasn't to be. It's true though, that Federer actually played better in this French Open final against Nadal than he has any other time.
Things started well for the third-seeded Federer, who looked to be well in command of the match at the beginning of the first set. His accuracy was on point and he looked very much like the guy who just stopped Novak Djokovic from reaching the world number one ranking and also from tying the record for best start to any given tennis season. He started off the first set with a 3-0 lead, then a 4-1 lead and then some. Every shot was masterful and it looked like Nadal was in some serious trouble.
But Nadal should never, ever be overlooked or counted out. He came back to win the first set, and took a second set tiebreak to get a stranglehold on the match. He had the lead in the third set before a rally from Federer, who ended up forcing a fourth, but ran out of gas as Nadal played like a man possessed to take it. The final scores for the match are 7-5, 7-6, 5-7, 6-1. The match took just under four hours.
Now, everyone will get ready for grass court season and Wimbledon just around the corner, where the playing field seems to be decidedly more even.
Below are the notes I made during the match, I'm including them unedited because there's no point in letting them go to waste. There may be some play-by-play bits and pieces you might want to go over. Enjoy.
Federer begins the match by holding serve, and then he gets Nadal to a double break point. . Nadal with a huge forehand makes it a single break point, and then Federer hits a forehand long and they get to deuce. Federer gets advantage, but misses long again. On his fourth chance, Federer gets the break when Nadal hits into the net. Federer has two fantastic aces to go up 40-love in his next service game, one wide and one down the line. At 40-15, he hits a monster save that Nadal can only put back into play barely, and Federer sends it the opposite direction to go up 3-0 in the set. Nadal fights back to hold serve though, and Federer serves looking for 4-1. Nadal fights some more during this game, but Federer holds. Nadal holds at 40-30 with a huge forehand that Federer doesn't even chase. Federer falls behind in his service game 0-30, but he comes back to hold with a shot in front of the net that Nadal has no chance at getting. Federer gets close to deuce and throws three shots at Nadal, all of which would put away basically anybody else, but not Nadal. Eventually, he went down and we go to deuce ... Federer took the first advantage, and almost sealed the deal with a bit of flair, but his shot barely misses the line and Nadal got himself to advantage, before sending a backhand across the court to hold his serve. Federer is serving for the set now, and Nadal is fighting hard. They get to 30-30, and then Federer misses with a backhand and Nadal has a break point opportunity. Wow ... Nadal gets the break after the wind carries the ball back in, Federer is caught by surprise, and Nadal sends a winner his way. Federer misses a backhand that he'd love to have back, and the set is tied. Federer serves well, but Nadal sends two perfect shots down the line while Federer is playing aggressively and Federer falls behind 0-30. He fights back though, and they end up at deuce. Federer misses a very, very weak forehand and Nadal takes the game and is serving for the first set. Nadal holds, after getting to deuce, and takes the first set 7-5.
Nadal breaks Federer at the beginning of the second set and looks great doing so. Federer manages a hold and they're at 2-1. Federer threatens a break, but misses a backhand at the net and Nadal holds. The play is simply back-and-forth, with Nadal being dominant more often than not. Federer gets a break of Nadal to make it 4-4, but but Nadal immediately breaks back and Federer can't get the edge. Play gets suspended temporarily, but they come back out before the crowd is even back in their seats, and Federer threatens a breakpooint down 4-5, and he gets it! Nadal fires way too deep and it's 5-all. They hold serve and it goes to a tiebreak. Nadal takes an early 3-0 lead in the tiebreak, and Federer gets to 4-2, but misses on a forehand that he would kill to have back. Federer gets Nadal chasing and goes for a smash but fans on it, and it's a weak hit that Nadal sends back behind Federer and goes up 6-2. Federer gets another and makes it 6-3, but Nadal buries him and takes the second set directly after with a monster forehand.
On serve in the third set through 2-2, Nadal serving to go up. 3-2, and he's successful, and then breaks Federer to take a 4-2 lead. Federer breaks back though, taking it at 40-love to get things back on track. He holds serve and looks dominant in doing so. Nadal comes back extremely strong though, taking his service game 40-love, capped off with his fifth ace of the match. Federer comes back and holds serve. Then, he gets the break off of Nadal and looks great doing it. He comes back for a service game and after getting to deuce, he smashes a forehand across the court and wins the set, forcing a fourth.
At the beginning of the fourth set, Federer threatens to break Nadal's serve, with a 40-love lead. Nadal fights back though, winning two points with good rallies and then grabbing an ace to take it to deuce. Nadal comes through again and he holds serve to start the fourth. Federer holds without any kind of issue to follow. Then, Nadal holds his serve again and disaster struck for Federer: Nadal gets the break point and is serving at 3-1. He holds without issue, and then he breaks Federer again and has a vicegrip on the match, serving for the championship.