We will discuss the tournament after tomorrow’s final, including the two SFs, some other observations, etc.
Two things seem quite apparent right now.
- This year’s French Open has solidified my own impression of this tournament, built through a 40+ year appreciation of the sport. I have heard this sentiment echoed throughout much of the tennis culture’s comments on the way this year’s tournament has unfolded, which seems to underscore a view that this is an inferior major with an inferior quality of tennis.
- Nadal and Thiem very well represent the best clay court tennis.
Two seemingly discordant things can be true.
Djokovic likely could have won today, in a truly odd semi-final match full of brilliant ball striking and surging comebacks, and nervy points alongside strange point strategy.
I have much more to say about the role Djokovic plays in this year’s tournament.
But Thiem did, in fact, outlast the Serb. I actually thought the Austrian had broken his will in the third set, but the strange weather-related conditions kept everyone guessing, even the players. Djokovic survived. Almost. The Austrian is a true giant of the sport, perhaps awaiting his formal coronation with the capture of his first major.
Nadal is the clear favorite. No one would be surprised by another straight-set thrashing of last year’s runner-up. We have come to expect these things, especially with Rafa and clay . . . and Roland Garros.
So let us acknowledge that this very poor outcome could very well come to pass; that fans of tennis want such an outcome or will celebrate such an outcome is almost offensive, yet we have to concede the Spaniard’s dominance is staggering, even if this means that this major, already 2nd tier in my own estimation, has further been practically ruined in the Nadal era. Again, I have to accept and value to some extent his dominance while at the same time consider this normality a kind of abnormality.
I will try to explain this a bit more later, but Rafa is in a no-win situation tomorrow.
Put another way, he has to win this title, his 12th. Yet this will mean almost nothing, beyond the slam count. We already know he is a god of clay.
A loss would have more meaning.
I want to say Rafa has a lot of pressure tomorrow. But we’ve seen him deal so often with this kind of Roland Garros pressure.
I also want to say that Thiem knows how to beat Rafa, though RG (Chatrier and Bo5) is an entirely different animal. Still, he’s beaten Nadal four times on clay.
He can beat Nadal.
I will stick with Thiem’s confidence, which I saw in his press conference after his SF win over Novak. The winds of Roland Garros this year, for me, are, as I said, some winds of change.
In the end, I beliem in Thiem.
I have to believe in something. At this point. In such a desolate place.