With both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal out of this years’ French Open due to injuries, there is no better time to look back at one of their classic French Open encounters. Though the two maestros faced each other in a number of finals, the 2008 final is special as it consolidated Nadal to a level no one could ever think of.
The match is one to forget for all tennis fans as there was nothing to write home about. Nadal simply bludgeoned Roger Federer in straight sets in the final and took home a fourth French Open trophy.
The match is significant for a 22 year old Nadal post this win came out of his shadow and would go on to dominate the tennis for next few years and from being only a clay court player he would establish his legacy all round. The might which he showed against Federer decimated Federer completely and the odds turned in his favor from hence forth on all surfaces.
Nadal till 2008 still had the reputation of being only a clay court player and his loss in the semifinal of the Australian open only further strengthened that claim. But his supremacy over clay was impeccable. It is very difficult to point at any one who had such complete dominance over a surface, even Federer supremacy over Grass court was challenged but Nadal was supreme. The 2008 final was an example of this. His 2008 French Open is considered one of the greatest Grand Slam performances of all time.
Nadal won every single set he played in the tournament, and dropped just 41 games on his route to his fourth consecutive French Open title.
No one would associate words like decimated, crushed for Roger Federer even today when he is approaching the end of his career but they were used in 2008 at a time when he was in the prime of his career world no 1, but he was demolished by Rafael Nadal in a manner that bordered cruelty. It was regarded as his worst and the most agonizing defeat at any grand slams till date. Such was the dominance of Nadal that Federer only managed to win four points. The final score after one of the shortest finals lasting one hour 48 minutes read 6-1, 6-3, 6-0. The win was not celebrated by Nadal he seemed apologetic so was Federer who apologized to the fans for having not lived up to the expectations having failed to put up any fight.
The final loss was such that it haunted Federer for some time to come.
He failed in the Olympics and even lost the Wimbledon, his forte to Nadal in another classic match and Nadal went on to clinch two grand slams, an Olympic Gold and the year ending World no 1 ranking. It required the mental strength of Roger to come out after such a beating for this match was not about big strokes, comebacks, rallies but about brute about breaking hearts, shaking confidence. It’s a classic for being a one sided match, a match is an exception for some the only black mark in Federer’s long career.