French Open 2012: Chasing History

“Everything in life is a lesson, and that’s the way it goes. I hope I can come out stronger and better from this experience.” – Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic has four reasons to celebrate even if he failed to complete his career grand slam in this year’s French Open.

Reason #1: The Serbian will stay as the number one player on the world as the new ranking is released on Tuesday.

Source: ATPWorldTour

Reason #2: His own history will come in time. Convincingly defeated by Rafael Nadal in their first final match in Philippe Chatrier, Djokovic is still seven matches away from winning this slam. Come to think about it and you’ll realize it’s not a long and winding road should he remain healthy next year.

Reason #3: Djokovic is the only player who stole a set from the King of Clay. His third set win (6-2) was near to perfection and it was absolutely the sharpest game to defeat Nadal in his favorite surface. The Serbian was serving big, he’s hitting the ball flat and with more depth and most importantly, he’s moving around the court to get a better angle before hitting a winner. For sure, momentum has not shifted without the play suspension. Djokovic must have realized by now that there is a 50-50 chance that he can consistently make things right next year given the fact that Roger Federer failed to bury his Rafa-problem in clay in four final meetings. That’s the magic word, Consistency!

Reason #4: It’s Djokovic’s first runner-up trophy. It’s not a bad reward at all considering he saved four match points against a crowd favorite (Jo-Wilfried Tsonga) and won in straight sets against the Swiss Maestro (Roger Federer) before raising that trophy. Take a look at the Serbian’s draw and anyone can say it’s a tournament anyone should be proud of.

“I could easily have lost the match in fourth round or even more against Tsonga, but I managed to come to the finals for the first time in my career.  I should be happy about that, of course.  I will be and I am, but in this moment I am disappointed about this loss because I thought I started to play better in the third set and felt like I could take this match to a fifth set, and then, you know, everything could be possible, but, yeah, unfortunately there has been a rain delay yesterday when I started to feel really good on the court. But look, you know, I don’t want to find an excuse in that, because the first rain delay maybe helped me a little bit; the second helped him. So that’s the way it goes, and the better player won today.  So congratulations for that.”

As for Rafael Nadal, he became the second player in history and the first in open-era to win multiple French Open titles. And here’s the truth about this- at such a young age of 26, it’s still possible to surpass the merits achieved by French player (Max Decugis). This is Nadal’s eleventh grand slam title, though, his French Open draw this year is not as impressive as his runner up. Nadal was too invincible before the finals and his aggressive style of playing in six matches became too predictable. Personally, Nadal’s 2011 draw was better for the sole reason that he was showing vulnerabilities in the first, second and final rounds.

“I really don’t know how many more years I will be here playing.  Is impossible to predict the future, no?  I will be here until my physical respect me, until the injuries, you know, respect my chances to keep playing and until my mind stays with motivation, with passion for what I am doing.  Hopefully for a long time.  I don’t know…. Probably the reason is because I always was scared to lose.  That’s why I go on court every day against other opponent with the full respect, knowing that you can lose and you can win.”

It was an ideal run for Maria Sharapova in women’s singles. She completed her career grand slam (Wimbledon in 2004 against Serena Williams, US Open in 2006 against Justine Henin, Australian Open in 2008 against Ana Ivanovic and on Saturday night, the 2012 French Open against Sara Errani) after her a shoulder injury in 2008-2009. Though, I can’t deny that her draw was as similar as to Rafa’s yet as they say, a win is still a win whatever the draw says. It was still a memorable two-week event especially to her seven million+ fans in Facebook. Her fans will always remember how she was tested by a first-time slam finalist. And, of course, the tournament organizers, sponsors and photographers cheer as Sharapova returns to #1!

“I proved that no matter how many punches I took in my career, I’ve always gotten back up.  I never made excuses for me, not to myself, not to people.  I always relied on my own talent, on the help of my team.”

Source: WTATennis

Overall, this is an eventful French Open with a predictable ending. Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova showed the world that they are still super stars and they are here to to stay in more years to come.

However, French Open won’t be French Open without its unexpected upsets. Topping that list is the first-time first round exit of Serena Williams in a gram slam against a Virginie Razzano.

Photos and interview transcript courtesy of: Roland Garros