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Nadal Beats Federer to Collect Record-Tying Sixth French Open

Jun 5, 2011

Rafael Nadal clinched a record-tying sixth French Open tennis title by beating Roger Federer today, a victory that preserves the Spaniard’s No. 1 ranking.
The left-hander sank to his knees after retaining his crown by defeating the Swiss 7-5, 7-6 (7-3), 5-7, 6-1 in Paris. His victory ties him with Sweden ’s Bjorn Borg, who wonsix Roland Garros trophies from 1974 to 1981. Nadal received the Coupe des Mousquetaires from two-time champion Jim Courier .
“This is a very, very special moment for me,” Nadal said in an interview at the side of the main Court Philippe Chatrier. “I’ve won against the best player of all time. It’s a very emotional moment for me.”
Federer, a 16-time major champion, last beatNadal in a Grand Slam final at Wimbledon in 2007. Today’s win extended Nadal’s head-to-head record against the right-hander to 17-8.
“He beat me again,” Federer said at the trophy ceremony. “Of course I’m sad, but I’m proud with how I’ve played in the past two weeks.”
Nadal, also the reigning Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion, had started the season witha shot at becoming the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four Grand Slam tennis titles at the same time. Instead, he exited the Australian Open after a ruptured thigh muscle hampered his movement in a quarterfinal loss to Spain ’s David Ferrer .

Soderling Defeat
The second-ranked Novak Djokovic won his second major title in Melbourne and went onto defeat Nadal in four tournament finals. Nadal’s loss to Djokovic on the clay courts of Madrid last month was the Spaniard’s first onthe slow surface since Robin Soderling of Sweden handed him his only defeat at Roland Garros in the fourth round in 2009, the year Federer won his lone French Open trophy.
No. 3 seed Federer beat Djokovic in four sets in the semifinals, preventing the Serb from tying John McEnroe’s record of 42 consecutive wins from the start of a season, set in 1984. Djokovic would have been the new No. 1, replacing Nadal, if he had made his first French Open final or if Nadal had losttoday.
Full of Doubts
Top-seed Nadal was full of doubts in the firstweek of Roland Garros , repeatedly telling reporters that his play wasn’t good enough to win his 10th major title. The Spaniard started the tournament playing his first five-set match at Roland Garros, needing more than four hours to beat John Isner of the U.S. Afterwards, he said he was feeling “anxious” and “nervous” and had been unable to transfer his practice form into his matches. He said he regained his confidence after defeating Soderling in the quarterfinals.

Federer last won a major at the 2010 Australian Open, where his defeat of Britain’s Andy Murray extended his men’s Grand Slam singles title record to 16 trophies. Nadal has now beaten Federer in four French Open finals. Before today, the two last met in a major final at the 2009 Australian Open, which was won by Nadal and reduced Federer to tears at the trophy ceremony.
Federer lost in the quarterfinals in Paris last year to Soderling, ending his record streak of23 straight Grand Slam semifinals. He lost to Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, which was the six-time champion’s earliest loss at the All England Club since 2002. Djokovic defeated Federer in the semifinals of the U.S. Open, saving twomatch points. The Serb also beat Federer in the last four in Melbourne in January on the way to his second Australian Open title.
Today’s match was the 19th tournament final between the third-ranked Federer and Nadal. Only Ivan Lendl and McEnroe have played more finals against each other since tennis turned professional in 1968. It was the eighth time Nadal and Federer had met in a Grand Slam final, extending their record for the most meetings between two players in a major final.