Good morning hoddlers, and happy monday.
I never bet against Rafael Nadal at the French Open - and for good reason. Going into this year’s tournament, Nadal had a 105-3 record at Roland Garros. And he won the title 13 times.
He faced a daunting draw, taking on Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals. It’s cruel for the two greatest players in history to square off in the quarters, but Nadal took it in four. He improved to 101-1 at the French when winning the first set.
On Sunday, he obliterated Casper Ruud 6-3 6-3 6-0 to win his 14th title. For perspective: Pete Sampras won 14 Grand Slam titles in his entire career.
Nadal, whose career seemed over entering 2022, now has 22 major titles, two more than Djokovic and Roger Federer.
After the final, Nadal admitted that he needed injections to keep going during the tournament, as he suffers from a degenerative condition. Though Wimbledon seems unlikely, it’s a remarkable accomplishment for a player who had to retire from a tournament just days before the French began.
And what a year it’s been for Nadal to have claimed the Australian and French Opens. He is in the twilight of his era, and Federer seems to be half-retired by now. Tennis fans have lived in a golden generation, and how lucky are we to witness two late great runs from the greatest player of all time.
Ash Barty’s sudden retirement cast uncertainty into the women’s tour. The last time a World no. 1 retired, women’s tennis dabbled in a merry-go-round of number-ones who never dominated the tour.
Iga Swiatek, just 21 years of age, bucked that trend 14 years later, defeating 18-year-old Coco Gauff in straight sets to win her 35th consecutive match. Swiatek has won five titles during that streak (Indian Wells, Miami, Stuttgart, Rome and Roland Garros), all won in straight sets.
She is the undisputed number one, and how fitting is it for her to accomplish this in the same tournament that Nadal - her idol - has dominated.
Looking at the Top 10 in the world is unsettling business, as so many lose in the early rounds of majors (heck, Anett Konteveit is now the No.2 player in the world despite losing the first round of the French and reaching the quarterfinals of major just once in her career). It makes women’s tennis frustrating to watch.
But Swiatek is must-watch tennis. There is no one better than her right now. No one matches her movement on the court, and her forehand is one of the deadliest I’ve seen in years.
As for Gauff: the final marked the only time her age showed, and her nerves were obvious from the first game. She is a future World No. 1, and this is only the slightest of setbacks.
Fitzie’s track of the day: Summertime, by Charles Mingus
And now for your links:
The Athletic ($$): Can Ivan Perisic succeed in England?
Gareth Bale says World Cup is ‘final piece of jigsaw’
Alasdair Gold: Alessandro Bastoni and more in the lates Q+A
Burglars cause significant damage to Plymouth Argyle pitch
Rafael Nadal: Having French Open title ‘means everything’