IT’S HARD BEING A FEDERER FAN AT THE FRENCH OPEN
When I wrote the first part of this piece, I had a fair inclination that I will be writing this in the near future, after the quarter/semi final of the French Open 2012 to be more precise. Because I knew that Federer will not (and should not) advance to the finals at Roland Garros.
Part of me wanted Roger Federer to lose the French Open semifinals to Novak Djokovic. Not a treacherous, disloyal part, but instead the faithful, emotional part. For one main reason – I cannot see him lose another Grand Slam Final to Rafael Nadal.
This is the French Open, a Grand Slam owned by Nadal. Admittedly I am not a big fan of the Spaniard, but that doesn’t mean I hate him or ignore his achievements or potential. I have always maintained that in another era, he would have been the greatest and my favorite. In fact I would advise other Federer fans the same as well, there is no point in hating Nadal. I accept that he is the King of Clay, the best tennis player on clay since Bjorn Borg. And his six French Open titles stand testimony to the fact. Clay is probably the toughest surface to play tennis on and to excel on it requires a different kind of stamina and agility along with quick reflexes and speed. Something that Rafa possesses which makes him look so effortless on a clay court. In fact, even exceedingly good clay court players pale in comparison to him. A phenomenon that we Federer fans are well acquainted with.
It is not Fed is not a good player on clay, it is just that when he plays against Nadal, he looks the second best. Case in point being the Madrid Open 2012, it was played on clay and Federer emerged Champion contrary to expectations. It seems that Federer becomes the best player on clay once the sword called Nadal is removed from over his head. That is what happened in 2009 when he won his maiden (and only) French Open. He dismissed Robin Soderling without breaking a sweat and completed his career Slam. But in a sport like tennis, there is no silver and it doesn’t matter how many finals he has reached at Roland Garros, nobody remembers the runner-up. And every final that Federer loses to Nadal, is like a thorn in the side of every Federer fan. That is precisely why I wanted him to lose to Djokovic. Despite knowing that last year in the semifinals of the French Open, he played the best match of the year, defeating Djoker and ending his unbeaten run. That match wiped out the doubt I had in my mind that Federer is past his prime. He still has it in him, but he also has a mental block along with it.
So as the French Open Men’s Final begins today, I support no one. Djokovic will either finish his career Slam or Nadal will go past Bjorn Borg. Either ways, I will watch it for some exceptional tennis from two of the most ingenious players tennis has seen. May the better man win! As for us, it will always be hard being a Federer fan at the French Open.