In a brilliant display of tennis that restores his dominance on clay, Rafael Nadal of Spain defeated the only player to take him out at the French Open, Robin Soderling of Sweden, in the final. Nadal won 6-4, 6-2, 6-4, meaning that he didn’t drop a set in taking home the trophy. By winning, Nadal also reclaims the number one ranking in the world.
With last year’s tumultuous events for the Spaniard now history, including problems with his right knee and the divorce of his parents, Nadal comes through with a well-deserved major title. The perfection of his play and the ease with which he moved through the draw validates his comeback even more. It will be interesting to see where he takes this level of play in the coming weeks with Wimbledon just around the corner.
As for Soderling, a finalist for the second year in a row at Roland Garros, his play today was nowhere near the same level as his victory against Roger Federer in the quarterfinals. However, he showed traces of the brilliance in the first set, where he had chances to break the king of clay. In the two sets after that, it looked as if the strain of the two weeks simply weighed down a little too much on him (along with Nadal’s heavy topspin and relentless ability to get back every ball). While Soderling finished the match with 45 unforced errors, Nadal played a much cleaner match as usual, dropping on 16 points to errors.
The results of this tournament, although unsurprising on Nadal’s end, further solidify Soderling’s top ten position. Should he take away the tension from his game in the future and continue gaining experience at this level, I see him one day hoisting a major title. As he showed throughout the tournament, he no doubt has the ability. Look for Soderling to make it to the second week of Wimbledon and appear in at least the quarterfinals of the event. His best showing so far was year’s fourth round. He has the big game, it’s only a matter of removing nerves from the equation at the biggest matches and believing he can win even when down by a set or two.
With no points to defend at Wimbledon, and the ability to do some real damage at the tournament (if not come out the victor) Nadal looks set to rightfully remain number one for quite some time. Congratulations, Rafa, on another spectacular clay season.