06 June 2010
A physically-fit Rafael Nadal won his fifth French Open title on Sunday defeating repeat-finalist Robin Soderling of Sweden 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.
The 24-year old Spaniard captured his seventh career Grand Slam title and had little difficulty avenging his fourth-round defeat against Soderling from a year ago.
Nadal broke Soderling's serve to go up 3-2 in both the first and second sets and after breaking again in the first game of the third set he never looked back.
After the match Nadal admitted that the victory was an especially emotional one for him given the physical and mental hardships he endured in 2009. He spoke specifically of the effects that injuries to his knees and the stress his parents' divorce had on his game during that time.
Free of such distractions and hindrances, Nadal is back playing the dominating style of clay-court tennis we all remember so well. His record on the surface over the past five years is remarkable. He improves to 203-16 on clay throughout his career with 28 titles. His impressive record on clay is as follows during that time:
2005 - 50-2
2006 - 26-0
2007 - 31-1
2008 - 24-1
2009 - 24-2
2010 - 22-0
Nadal inches closer to Bjorn Borg's record of six French Open championships which he will surely surpass at some point. He also recaptures the number-one ranking from Roger Federer.
For Soderling it was another great run at Roland Garros. In consecutive years he has beaten the two greatest clay-court players of this era in men's tennis. Yet both times he has come up one victory short of attaining his first major championship. Still, with his strong performance in Paris again this year, Soderling has proved himself worthy of his top-ten ranking and should be truly considered as one of the big threats of men's tennis.
As the ATP Tour now switches from clay to grass, Nadal is once again in the driver's seat. After being forced to skip Wimbledon a year ago, it will be of great interest to see if he can capture the two Slams back-to-back as he did in 2008.
For now though, a celebration no-doubt for a young man whose skill and accomplishment on the tennis court has impressed us yet again.
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