Classic French final setHere comes the French Open final everyone expected and, except for other players, wanted: No. 1 Novak Djokovic, one victory from becoming the first man in 43 years to win four consecutive major championships, against No. 2 Rafael Nadal, one victory from becoming the only man to win seven titles at Roland Garros.
PARIS (AP) — Here comes the French Open final everyone expected and, except for other players, wanted:
No. 1 Novak Djokovic, one victory from becoming the first man in 43 years to win four consecutive major championships, against No. 2 Rafael Nadal, one victory from becoming the only man to win seven titles at Roland Garros.
How’s that for high stakes?
Djokovic is undefeated in his past 27 Grand Slam matches, which includes beating Nadal in the finals at Wimbledon in July, the U.S. Open in September, and the Australian Open in January. Nadal has won 51 of 52 career matches at the French Open; only he and Bjorn Borg have won the clay-court tournament six times.
Never before have the same two men met in four Grand Slam finals in a row, so it’s apt that no matter who wins Sunday, his achievement will be monumental.
“I have this golden opportunity to make history. This motivates me. It really inspires me. I’m really grateful to be in this position, obviously,” said the 25-year-old Djokovic, who owns five Grand Slam titles to Nadal’s 10. Both Djokovic and Nadal breezed through their semifinals Friday. If this stage of a Grand Slam tournament is supposed to provide a challenge, it did not — which probably isn’t all that stunning in Nadal’s case, but was rather striking when you consider Djokovic faced 16-time major champion Roger Federer and won 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 in a match that wasn’t really that close.
Nadal won all 15 sets he’s played this year at Roland Garros, losing only 35 games, the lowest total for anyone reaching a major final since Borg lost 31 on his way to winning the 1980 French Open.
Asked to size up Sunday’s final, Federer didn’t hesitate.
“I obviously pick Rafa,” Federer said. “I think he’s the overwhelming favorite.”
Errani, Sharapova set for final
PARIS — When Maria Sharapova’s opponent in the French Open final, Sara Errani, was 12 years old, she struck out on her own, leaving behind her family in Italy and heading off to Nick Bollettieri’s famed tennis academy in Florida.
Far from her parents, and not yet able to speak English well, Errani stuck it out for about 10 months, crying nearly every day. She called home a lot.
“I knew she was determined and focused,” her mother, Fulvia, said after watching Errani win her first Grand Slam semifinal, “so I knew she would figure things out.”
Now 25, Errani most certainly has. She figured out she needed to go back to Europe, eventually finding a new coach and a place to train in Spain. She figured out how to overcome the limitations of a 5-foot-4½ frame in a sport filled with taller, harder hitters — such as the 6-foot-2 Sharapova, a three-time major champion who will be standing across the net at Roland Garros the title at stake.
Mostly, Errani figured out that it made no sense to worry about whether she would ever be good enough to beat the best and instead focused on always improving.
“It’s not a question of believing or not believing. I don’t think about that. I just think about playing. I just think about going on court and giving my all. And whatever happens, happens. I’ve never thought, ‘I can’t beat someone in the top 10.’ I play and give my best, and if I don’t win, I don’t win,” Errani explained.
Sharapova is a global superstar and her story is well-known: born in Siberia, moved with her father to Florida as a kid, worked with Bollettieri, too.
“I don’t remember crossing paths,” Sharapova said. “We have never played against each other, but I certainly know she’s a dangerous player.”
because of the way she’s played here and because of the way she’s performed on clay this year.”