The last two lines of my preview of this match were:
“A guy can dream 😉
Enjoy the match!”
Dream crushed and not an enjoyable match. Not only was the match a terse rejection of my blog’s final proposal, but Wawrinka has to be thinking the same thing: Dream crushed and not an enjoyable match. Even some losses are “enjoyable” if there are some redeeming qualities to the experience. Making some kind of stand against Rafa today would probably have given Stan something memorable to carry with his game the rest of the season. This might haunt him like it’s haunted so many players.
Remember the discussion of how Ljubičić would have, had he given Roger meaningful coaching advice earlier in his career, suggested Fed skip some of the clay? Today was a reminder of that; or, I should say: what comes from a day like today, as in Stan has a long hangover from a beating like this.
Rafa wins La Decima at the 2017 French Open 6-2 6-3 6-1. This looks like several other finals scorelines involving the Spaniard. It’s just the way it is. The only hope or optimism surrounding this final was my preview of the match. I looked for a way to make this more interesting, and I still stand by many of those points.
But two things happened today to retard any hope:
- Stan played mediocre tennis
- Rafa reaffirmed his GOAT clay court genius
Two things can be true.
Stan needed to be more brilliant. He wasn’t. He hit some decent shots, but those were buried in errors, by which time he was buried in the match.
Funny to even say this, but watch the match through the first set at 2-2. Things looking good, Stan’s serve, his deep ball, etc. But that was all she wrote.
Mary Carillo continued to give us some useful background on Rafa, which included how Toni noticed Rafa’s naturally gifted clay footwork at 3 years of age. The footwork is critical, how quickly he gets to balls, but more so how quickly he can run around balls, get to the net, etc., for winners. Winners. Winners.
Errors. Errors. That was the difference today between Nadal and Wawrinka.
Many of you will say “Rafa’s offense facilitated those errors from Stan.” Sure. But Stan just looked poor and Rafa just doesn’t miss.
Some of the readers and I have been talking about what makes a clay court specialist. One of the defining characteristics for me is the natural ability to put the ball in play, which comes from a combination of footwork (experience on clay) and ball spin.
Rafa RARELY misses. It’s a natural wonder of the world. Insane.
We have seen the same from other solid clay court players. Ramos earlier this season, guys with that great clay sense simply find the court, continue the point. Rafa is the greatest of these defenders but he has the incredible offense, as well.
Between his unbelievable clay skills and his point-to-point will to dominate, the match is pretty hopeless.
Which makes the tennis tough to really enjoy. We can appreciate his mastery, his all-time clay game, but the contest is without much competition, or hope.
Congratulations, Rafa. You are the true clay GOAT.
Indeed, today perhaps more than any other confirmed the peculiarity of this surface, the specialized kind of tennis that’s played there.
Of course, Stan certainly didn’t help.
I will have a longer wrap later. I’m off to church, to pray.