2017 French Final: La Decima

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 rafael-nadal_reuters-mredeeming 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:

  1. Stan played mediocre tennis
  2. 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.

8 thoughts on “2017 French Final: La Decima

  1. Caligula

    This was 2008 all over again! Complete and utter clay-court domination by the king. It was tough to watch, you could see Wawrinka melting away as Rafa’s never ending assault continued. One simply cannot outhit Rafa on clay, one cannot outrun him nor outmuscle him. And with these factors being so important on this surface. It comes as no surprise anymore when we see Nadal completely dismantle his opponents on the red clay, it’s ugly and somewhat disheartening. Reminded me of 2008 when Federer was brutalized, this is nature of Nadal when he is 100% or near it, it’s not pretty, but damn if it isn’t effective.

    The brutality is also what makes Nadal’s clay-court mastery so “elegant” and efficient, he bullies you around, never giving you time to position yourself correctly and those high bouncing top spin heavy balls just devastate the OHB all day long.

    This was a display of power, complete dominance of the clay, and a reminder to anyone if Nadal is within his optimal capacities it is nigh impossible to deny him.


  2. Caligula

    Federer and Djokovic should Count themselves lucky! If it weren’t for a Soderling who stepped up against a passive and mediocre Nadal in 2009 or Nadal’s 2-year slump they would have never had a single FO title to their name. How can I say this with a clear conscience? Well I can’t since I am tyrannical Roman emperor, but if I weren’t one I would simply point to these matches/FO runs.

    Federer should praise Soderling every night at the dinner table for having gotten to take home a FO whilst Nadal existed. Djokovic who admittedly on a good day can trade more blows with Nadal on clay due to their similarities in style of play should still count himself lucky for having Nadal slump so hard on the 2015-2016 period.


    1. Utsav

      Your Majesty is, as always, correct and persuasive. I do still humbly posit that were it not for La Roja Federer in the way in 2011, the then-rampant Serb would have beaten El Matador on the dirt of Roland Garros in 2011.

      Wimbledon should be interesting. Wonder if the Spaniard can transfer his excellence here to the grass.


      1. Caligula

        2011 is an interesting proposition, but tough to say what would have happened since bo5 on clay is where Rafa reigns supreme.

        Wimbledon will indeed interesting to follow this year with Fedal so dominant. If the courts have been sped up then perhaps Nadal will not find it to his liking.


  3. wilfried

    Congratulations to Rafael Nadal and his fans.
    Rafael played an amazing match, even if the the conditions favored him yesterday.
    I watched the match on France 2 (a french channel).
    Nadal’s tennis was of another galaxy, they said on there.
    His defence was like offence at the same time, with quick, powerful and accurate shots, and mercurial movement. Simply too hard to defend against.
    But they also commented several times that it showed that Stan was physically a bit depleted after his brutal SF against Andy Murray.
    For them Stan didn’t have the strength in his legs to set himself up well for winners (on both sides), which they pointed to as the main reason for most of his errors when he went for his shots. Not that it would have made much difference in the end result, but it may have made the set scores less severe and the match more enjoyable, perhaps even put a different complexion on that match.
    It seems Nadal is in a very good place now and will be hard to stop in the future slams.


    1. Caligula

      I here ya Wilfried! Anything to make that match competitive would have been great I almost fell asleep in the third set from lack of excitement.
      I don’t know about Nadal’s chances on grass. Seems to me that ship sailed a long time ago, Rafa looks resurrected, but given grasses more “slippery” nature he may just have used up most of his fuel and won’t have enough left in the tank for some potential gruelling 2 weeks of b05 at WB.

      But who knows he has improved his serve immensely since 2010 and is moves more economically around the court, plus he seems to have gained much needed strength and moves much better than he did in 2015-2016. She should take advantage of his current momentum and he certainly isn’t a stranger when it comes to reaching the WB finals!

      Nothing would please me more to see a potential Fedal rematch on grass, nostalgia for better or worse is still nostalgia! If Fedal remain relatively fit for WB, then I can’t wait to see that unfold. It would truly mark this year as the year of FEDAL, if they should “spoil” WB next. If this holds true, then Djostanorray better pack up and hope for a better season next year.


  4. wilfried

    I also ‘d like to see a Fedal rematch at WImbledon, but not at an earlier stage than the WImbledon final.
    I hope the Wimbledon draw won’t have Fed and Nadal in the same quarter nor half.


  5. clint grike

    Congratulations to any Nadal fans out there! Your guy decimated 😮 the field. Yes it was 2008 all over again. For those of us who aren’t fans it is demoralising to see such utter dominance but you can’t take anything away from him. His supreme skill is complimented by a will of steel and total commitment. That’s what it takes and a certain Serbian former world number 2 should take note.
    Looking ahead to Wimbledon…. Rafa hasn’t been a factor at SW19 for the last 6 years. But he hasn’t won at RG so easily in the last 6 years. Still I think he will be vulnerable in the first week, while the grass is still lush. If he can outlast the grass then he will be very dangerous.


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