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Rafael Nadal Becomes Winningest Champion In French Open History, Shares Moment With Pau Gasol
It was a strange, back-and-forth match, one that never quite got into a natural flow thanks to disruption from that most natural of elements – rain – but it ended exactly the way every match but one Rafael Nadal has ever played at the French Open ended – with Nadal on top, 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5.
Novak Djokovic, whom Nadal practically blew off the court at the start of play on Sunday but eventually regrouped after the first rain delay and worked himself back into the match, double faulted on match point to end it, a disappointingly – but maybe suitably – anti-climactic ending. Here is that ending, complete with Nadal’s customary victory face that makes it look like he’s undergoing a form of torture (a.k.a. Andy Murray’s face after every point):
And with this win, Nadal’s not just on top for this year – at the French Open, he’s now on top for all time, with seven championships. Bjorn Borg won six. Nadal turned 26 a week ago. We don’t feel like we’re going out on a limb guessing he’ll put some more distance between himself and Borg before his career is over.
And Nadal isn’t the only one thrilled with his victory, of course: his native Spain is celebrating along with him (and after that disappointing Euro draw with Italy, they could use an athletic endeavor to celebrate). Among the happy Spaniards: Lakers (for now) center Pau Gasol, who was in attendance in Paris for Nadal’s historic achievement. And when it was over, two of Spain’s greatest athletes had a nice little “pride of Spain” moment:
It’s tempting to think something like, “Oh, this was Djokovic’s first final at the French, he needed to get his feet wet, now that he has he can beat Rafa there.” Temtping, until you remember thinking the same thing about Roger Federer. Rafa is pure magic on the clay in Paris. He’s unbeatable. He looks like he could win at least five more of these, just because it’s inconceivable to imagine him losing there.
…Except for that one match in 2009. That one day. Against Robin Soderling. No offense to Soderling, who’s made two finals at the French, but… this is Rafa. Seven-time champion Rafa. In fact, let’s put it in big text, just to get the point across:
Rafa once lost at the French Open to Robin Soderling.
Let’s do it again, actually, because we still have trouble believing it ourselves:
Rafa once lost at the French Open to Robin Soderlinng.
Will he ever lose there again? As usual, we have to wait another year to find out.
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