12 Things I Think I Thought About Rafael Nadal And The French Open


Wrapping up some thoughts on a predictable men’s French Open and a wild women’s tournament.

1. Rafael Nadal
Even in his mid-30s, which he’s now entering, Rafael Nadal is still simply unstoppable. He’s the King of Clay with good reason. For most players, 12 titles is a great career, but he has 12 just at the French Open! That’s absurd when you think about it.

And there’s no signs of him slowing down or anyone rising up to dethrone him. Unless he gets injured he’ll keep piling up the wins.

2. Federer’s 20 Problem
Now just two titles away, Team Nadal is licking their chops since Roger Federer’s all-time record of 20 Grand Slam is well within striking distance, like September striking distance! Rafa’s never been this close.

Roger might get another at Wimbledon (if the draw opens up), but Rafa I think gets at least one more French and, if healthy, two elsewhere. And as I’ve said, Rafa has a better chance of a second Career Slam (by winning the Australian) than Federer does of getting another by winning the French.

3. Not Thiem’s Time
It’s a shame for Dominic Thiem and the many before him who have been denied a French because of Rafa. Fortunately, at 25, he should have plenty of chances when Rafa finally retires, whenever that may be, but raise a glass to the Austrian, he deserves it. He played well against Rafa but I just feel like the legs gave out toward the end.

4. Barty Party
The Barty Party Down Under is probably still raging, as it should. The 23-year-old Ash Barty held her nerve after blowing a big lead against Amanda Anisimova, then easily dominated the other teen, Marketa Vondrousova, in the final. She’s not your prototypical power player which makes her that much more fun to watch. I hope this isn’t a one-off because she is very rootable!

5. Women’s Semifinals
The French Open organizers did the women wrong playing both semifinals off of Center Court Chatrier. I understand the logistical issues and ticketing, but I don’t care who’s in those matches and what the men’s schedule looks like, they deserve a bigger and better stage than Court Simonne Matheiu at 11am.

6. Best On WTA
Has there ever been more upheaval and uncertainty on the WTA? The top players are losing early or injured. No. 1 seems up for grabs every week and we’ve seen a rush of new Grand Slam champions. It’s the post-Serena world…

7. Next Gen WTA
While the young men get the pub, the young women are getting the results. We saw Naomi Osaka win the US Open and the Australian. Now 23-year-old Ash Barty takes the French beating two teens, 17-year-old Anisimova in the semis and 19-year-old Vondrousova in the final.

And there are a bunch of other promising stars coming up as well like Bianca Andreescu, Coco Gauff, Iga Swiatek, Whitney Osuigwe, Dayana Yastremska and Marta Kostyuk.

Sofia Kenin announced her arrival stunning Serena Williams and Anastasia Potapova was able to close the deal on an undercooked Angelique Kerber.

Anisimova is going to lead the way for obvious reasons (and she’s actually good), but multiple Slams titles will come from this bunch and they really don’t have any “Big 3” to block their ascent like the men.

So with Serena, Venus and Maria on closing up shop, the WTA is about to get a whole lot younger. I guess looking at the last three Slam winners, it already has.

8. Federer’s Return To Red
While the wind, weather and of course Rafa ended Roger Federer’s French Open, I think it was still a successful return to the red stuff. Federer did have a good draw in Paris, but had no issues taking care of business. And it may lead him to give it another go next year. If not, what a way to go out against your rival Rafa in the semifinals.

9. Tsitsipas-Wawrinka
Easily the best match of the year, living up to the hype with a sizzling array of shotmaking and suspense.

It’s great to see Stan Wawrinka back to near 100% and Stefanos Tsitsipas continues to prove he may be the best of the new guys.

10. Get The Roof!
I know it’s coming, but a roof over Chatrier can’t come soon enough. Let’s hope the FFT can get this done next year as scheduled.

11. Serve Clock
What’s the point of a serve clock in tennis if they are not going to enforce it? Imagine if in the NBA the officials didn’t call the 25 second shot clock: “the Warriors went over by a few seconds, so what..”.

Nadal repeatedly went over 25 seconds during the final — the clock expired but no call was made — and many others players did as well (I’m not singling out Rafa).

I also don’t think the institution of the clock is speeding up the game – has the tour released any numbers to show it has? If it was, they would tell us.

And the clock starts after the chair umpire calls the score which means the chair umpire decides when to start.

It looks great, but it’s not working as intended.

12. Deciding Set Tiebreaks
The French is the lone holdout on the final set breakers, and they dodged a bullet Saturday after Thiem-Djokovic ended 7-5 in the fifth instead of 14-12 which would have really bumped the women’s final.

With a roof on the way in 2020, it should alleviate those scheduling concerns but it’s time for the French to join the trend.


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