2017 French Open Final: Rafa’s Return

The King of Clay wins the 2017 French Open final (afp)

The King of Clay wins the 2017 French Open final (afp)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted for various reasons, but the 2017 French Open Final was an event I had to make time for.

What is happening this year?!

The 2017 French Open Final

Federer was absent, Djokovic had a (sadly predictable) early exit, and Murray fell to a dogged Wawrinka in the semis. The final came down the resurgent King of Clay, and Stan the Man. Both former champions (though Rafa a little more so), both multiple slam winners (a rarity in the current era), and both seemingly impervious to the ravages of time.

There must have been little doubt how this final was going to go, however. There certainly wasn’t in my mind. The often impressive, always surprising Wawrinka didn’t exactly struggle to get to the final, but there were some tight sets. And, of course, that roller coaster of a five setter against the world number one in the semis. Nadal, conversely, breezed through his draw without dropping a set. And with breadsticks and bagels galore—not to mention a retirement—Nadal must have felt about as fresh as it gets.

So the 6—2, 6—3, 6—2 scoreline shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise. Rafa gets French Open number ten and moves ahead of Pete Sampras in the total Slams table.

The Old Big Two

The ongoing surprise of 2017 has been the resurgence of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Not simply taking the first two slams of the year, but winning almost everything in between. Indeed, the ATP Race to London rankings has them sitting proudly atop the table at present. Now we head into the brief grass court season, Roger Federer must be fancying his chances of Grand Slam number nineteen!

The Big Five

I’ve typically been on the side of Wawrinka not being on the level of the Big Four in the past. Sure, he has as many slams as Murray, but there was always more to it for me personally. The unbelievable consistency Murray has shown, not to mention the impressive trophy hall outside of the Slams. But I’m ready to change this view.

Wawrinka has been in the top four for three years now. He’s won slams, masters, and when he’s not winning them he’s reaching the quarter-finals and semi-finals. Sure, it’s taken him longer than the others to get there, but it took Murray longer than Djokovic, and Djokovic longer than Nadal.

And, right now, the top five spots are taken by these players.

The New Big Two

This year was supposed to be about epic battles we were going to see between Murray and Djokovic as they fought for the biggest crowns. It started out well, with a tight battle in Qatar. But since then the two have had a series of disappointingly early exits.

For Djokovic, who’s 2016 was front-loaded with victories in the first half of the year, the fall from grace looks pretty dramatic. From this time last year, Djokovic has gone from being 8,000 points clear in first place to dropping all the way to fourth. Furthermore, his 2016 French Open victory marked the landmark achievement of holding all of the Slams at once. With Nadal’s victory in the 2017 French Open final, it is the first time since 2010 that Djokovic has not been the holder of at least one of the Slams!

For Murray, the effects of his subpar 2017 have not been as drastic. His 2016 was all tail-end success, winning much of his ranking points in the second half of the year. Unfortunately for the world number one, this means that he basically has to win everything from now until the end of the year to maintain his number one ranking. With Federer and Nadal playing the way they are, Murray will have seriously up his game to have any hope of that.

John Bullock

Maker of digital (and sometimes physical) things. Attention span of a

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