(This post brought to you by your friendly weekend editor, OMDQ)
Next Sunday, Roger Federer will embark on his annual quest to win the French Open and avoid the fate of Pete Sampras, Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl and many others by completing the elusive career Grand Slam. The clay surface of Roland Garros Stadium is the only one on which the 25-year-old Federer has failed to claim one of tennis’ four most prestigious titles.
Federer has dominated tennis for several years but failed to win in Paris, a paradox that can be explained in large part by the presence of archrival Rafael Nadal, a clay court specialist who has an incredible 81 consecutive wins on the surface and has won the last two French finals.
Check that: he HAD an incredible 81 consecutive wins on the surface. That streak ended today at the hands of – who else – Federer, who beat his 20-year-old Spanish rival for the first time ever on clay.
The win sends a message that Federer (already in the running for best ever, despite his failures in France) might be primed to best Nadal and finally win at Roland Garros. It might come down to whether or not this weekend’s victory was a fluke or if he has figured out the best way to handle Nadal’s game on clay.