Friday, June 6, 2008

French Open: We Have Our Dream Final

Quick hits, then onto the goggle-eyed, bouncing-up-and-down, anticipation
Roger Federer defeated Gael Monfils in 4 sets in one French Open semi.
Rafael Nadal beat Novak Djokovic in 3 sets in the other semi.
Which means...
Federer vs Nadal. Sunday morning 6:00 PST on NBC. French Open Men's Singles Final.
It's really important for any and all sports fans to appreciate what's happening on Sunday morning. You don't have to have any particular affinity for tennis to enjoy the magnitude of this clash. These two men squaring off in competition is the equivalent of Ali/Frazier, McEnroe/Borg, Hearns/Hagler, really any of the great mano a mano rivalries of any generation.
These sorts of rivalries don't happen often, and they should be enjoyed by all who love sports.
On the one hand is Federer, with his easy grace, #1 ranking, and 12 Grand Slam titles, but still missing the last one to complete his resume; the French Open. Oh yeah, he's lost to Nadal there three straight years! This year, after a tough winter and spring, with multiple surprising losses and voices of doubt growing louder about how long he'll be on top, his very reputation is on the line here.
On the other hand is Nadal, with his mammoth arms, unbelievable fighting spirit, and 3 straight French Open titles. In fact, he's never lost at the French Open. Let me repeat that, because it's really an unfathomable thought. He has NEVER lost at Roland Garros. 27 for 27, he is. That's just, well, crazy. However, a loss would dampen that greatness, and people would likely begin to notice his lack of success on any other Grand Slam surface aside from clay, and more and more focus would shift to the ascendant Novak Djokovic as the man to unseat Roger the Great.
When these two meet, there is great respect between them, but they both have a clear understanding of what's on the line. Not only that, but neither one shies away from their clashes, in fact, they both seem to relish it, knowing that beating the other puts them at the very highest pinnacle of tennis. Finally, they both bring their absolute A game to their battles. There is never any whining, slowing down, or backing off.
No, this rivalry gives us the very best that tennis, and all of sports, can offer. The two best at what they do battling for a title with everything on the line. Sunday morning will give us a treat, I promise you, and I'm going out on a limb, and predicting that Federer will pull off the upset and claim his first French Open title. Can't wait to find out if I'm right!

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