The drubbing went on from there. Nadal won his fourth consecutive French Open title in a rout Sunday, again spoiling Federer’s bid to complete a career Grand Slam.
Dominating the world’s No. 1 player with astounding ease, Nadal swept six consecutive games early in the match to take control and won 6-1, 6-3, 6-0.
It was a humbling defeat for Federer, but for the No. 2-ranked Nadal, it was merely another in a series of dominating wins. He lost only 41 games in seven matches at this year’s French Open.
The Spaniard became the second man to win four consecutive French Open titles. Bjorn Borg did it in 1978-81.
Nadal improved to 28-0 at Roland Garros, where he has won 84 of 91 sets. Only six-time champion Borg won more French Open men’s titles.
It’s the fourth consecutive year Federer arrived in Paris seeking to become the sixth man to win all four major titles. Each time he has lost to Nadal—in the semifinals in 2005, and in the final each of the past three years.
Not much of a match, and a quiet crowd.
Ivanovic overcomes demons to clinch first Grand Slam title
Saturday, June 7, 2008
By Drew Lilley
For the second year in a row, Ana Ivanovic put in a nervous performance in the final but this time around, she managed to conquer her demons and emerge victorious over her equally unsteady opponent, Dinara Safina, in straight sets 6-4 6-3.
Both players racked up as many unforced errors as flashing winners, but the Serbian’s greater experience after two previous Grand Slam final defeats eventually enabled her to grind out a victory against the Russian No13 seed who will surely rue her missed chances for a long time to come.
The two finalists took very different routes to Saturday’s showdown. While Ivanovic coasted through the first five rounds averaging barely an hour a match before being made to work by fellow Serb Jelena Jankovic in the semis, Safina did things the hard way. Against No1 seed Maria Sharapova in the Round of 16 and Elena Dementieva in the quarters, she was forced to battle back from a set down and indeed saved match points in both.
Ivanovic was therefore very much the favourite coming into the final, albeit with the pressure of her imminent crowning as WTA No1 on Monday after Justine Henin’s retirement and Sharapova’s early demise this week, and her somewhat ignominious defeat here in last year’s final to Henin when she froze on the big stage. There was also the added danger of Safina’s recent run of form – 12 consecutive wins, six of them over top 10 players, and a title on clay in Berlin to boot.
As was the case in Ivanovic’s semi-final, the first set was a game of two halves. 15 minutes in and the Serb was 4-1 up and coasting, showing no signs of any weaknesses either mental or physical. She clearly had a game plan, knowing exactly where to position herself on her opponent’s second service and punishing anything that was short with her trademark smooth, powerful forehand. Dina meanwhile was alternating the good with the bad – her first six service points for example being three winners and three unforced errors.
The bad outweighed the good from the Russian, forcing her to try more superstitious measures – asking the ballkids to return certain balls to her or even sending balls back up to the other end of the court at the end of a point so that Ivanovic would potentially serve with them. Perhaps it was this that worked, as Ana’s two-break advantage evaporated as quickly as she had crafted it. Her 2007 demons came back to haunt her, with any shot above shoulder height – including her own service – suddenly becoming a trial.
Safina rode the wave of Ivanovic unsteadiness as far as 4-4, at which point she became the de facto favourite and herself began to crumble under pressure. Ana pounced on her opponent’s suddenly weakened service and then held her own despite a few incredibly nervous deuces and the first set was in the bag 6-4.
The Russian knew that she had let her opponent off the hook and despite holding to love to open and playing some incredibly attacking tennis through the second set, it was as if she realised that the chance had gone. Ivanovic meanwhile metamorphosed into a clay-court defender, scurrying across the baseline in a display more reminiscent of Rafael Nadal and waiting for Safina to make a mistake. And make mistakes the Russian certainly did, constantly haranguing herself, her entourage and anyone within earshot as shots flew long or wide.
The match ended up hinging on two mammoth games in the middle of the set, where Dinara held her own serve after countless squandered opportunities before carving out literally dozens more on the Serbian’s serve next up, only to come up just short this time. Having spent her last bullets, the Russian folded and conceded the final two games in a blur, with Ivanovic racing up into the stands to embrace her entourage after the final point.
Henin, champion here in 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007, was on hand to present the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen to her successor in a ceremony which represented the changing of the guard in women’s tennis. And after today’s final, she may well be tempted to dust her racquet off and get her shoes back on. The Belgian’s mantle as the new millennium’s queen of clay is safe for a good while yet at least, but Ivanovic will take heart that the monkey is off her back and no doubt go from strength to strength now that she has her first Grand Slam title to her name.
Can't wait for Wimbledon.