Some say beating Rafa over 5 sets on clay is the toughest thing in sport – not just tennis, I would agree with that. John McEnroe
By Roger Childs
It’s not often both top singles seeds win the finals of a grand slam. It could happen at Roland Garros over the weekend.
Rafel Nadal, the ten times champion, is highly likely to take his 17th grand slam and Simona Halep, who is after her first, has a very good chance of pulling it off this time.
The women’s final could be a close encounter
Overnight New Zealand time, she meets US Open champion, Sloane Stephens, in the women’s final. Last year Halep was a set and 3-0 up against Jelena Ostapenko, but couldn’t cope with the Latvian’s power hitting in the third set.
Halep will be determined to make amends this year and her form so far has been first class. On her way to the final she only dropped a single set – a tie break in the quarters to Angelique Kerber.
In the semi finals she easily beat the 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza 6-1 6-4, and feels that her experience should win her the title.
However, Sloane Stephens has also been playing very well to and easily accounted for compatriot Madison Keys in her semi final: 6-4 6-4. She is very conscious of what’s at stake:
It’s a grand slam final. You have to go out there and get after it …
The women’s final is definitely a foregone conclusion!
“King of clay” unstoppable?
Probably, but finals opponent Thiem is a very good player on the orange dust. As it happens, in their last meeting in the quarter finals in the Spanish Open, the Austrian beat Rafa 7-5, 6-3.
However, Rafa’s record at Roland Garros will probably never be beaten. He has the big-match temperament having been in over 20 grand slam finals, whereas Thiem is embarking on his first.
Both had comfortable semi final wins in three sets, with Nadal thrashing Juan Martin Del Potro 6-4 6-1 6-2.
Thiem had more of a contest in a match of high quality against unseeded Italian Marco Cecchinato who is ranked 74th in the world. He won the first set 7-5, but the second went to a tie break which the Austrian eventually won 12-10. The final set was much easier as the Italian won only a single game.
Nadal should win on Sunday night; it would be a major upset if Dominic Thiem prevailed.