Having conquered his anxiety and battled through tough situations, Rafael Nadal won possibly the sweetest of his six French Open titles.
If the Spaniard was simply awesome in 2008 when he claimed the French crown without dropping a set, this year he had to survive a few wobbles on the way to his 10th grand slam title.
“When you fight a lot to win, it makes the title more special,” said Nadal who retains his world number one position after pressure from Novak Djokovic.
The 25-year-old Nadal clawed back from the brink in a five-set thriller against John Isner and recovered from a sticky start to beat old rival Roger Federer 7-5,7-6,5-7,6-1 in the final.
“In 2008 I think I played better than ever but I finished the tournament and I didn’t feel that I won Roland Garros because I won in three sets. However, when you come back after a tough situation, it makes the tournaments and the victories more special.”
Federer boosted by form
Meanwhile, Federer believes his run into the final and the way he defied Nadal proves that he is on the right track to add to his record haul of 16 Grand Slam titles.
“It was just important to get to another Grand Slam final, keep on playing well,” said Federer. “Physically I’m feeling better than I have in a long time and that’s very positive.”
He further claimed his priority now was to turn his focus fully to Wimbledon in a bid to regain the title that means the most to him.
“To win Wimbledon is a huge priority. That’s always, for me, the number one goal in the season.”
Li sets sights on next major title
Meanwhile, China’s newly-minted first Grand Slam champion Li Na, who won the French Open title at the weekend, is not resting on her laurels and is already thinking about winning a second major title.
“When you have the first one, naturally you will think about the second one,” said Li who beat defending champion Francesca Schiavone of Italy 6-4, 7-6.
Li said her storybook success at the French Open would help her throughout the rest of the year on the grass and hard courts.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 7th, 2011.