“Federer Wins the French Open?”
Well it hasn't happened quite yet, but I am going to go out on what I think is a thick tree limb and make an early prediction - the world’s number one will finally conquer the grand slam title that has been so elusive to so many previous former number one’s such as Sampras, Connors, McEnroe, Edberg, Becker, Newcombe, and Smith.
Can Federer do what tennis legends Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, and Pete Sampras couldn't, Win at Roland Garros?
So, how did I come to such a conclusion when the king of clay, Rafael Nadal, currently has Federer’s number on the red dirt? It’s quite simple, Federer is adapting and improving on the clay each and every year that passes. Federer, unlike many of the players mentioned above, has proven that he can win regularly on clay and consistently defeat even the best clay court players in the world…except, of course that fighting bulldog, Rafael Nadal, at least so far. However, Federer's confidence and clay court prowess is growing with each clay court tournament he enters and this is not good news for the rest of the field including Mr. Nadal, who I think will go down to Federer at the French in an easy four set final.
Rafael Nadal is currently the king of the dirt ballers.
Federer’s clay court record the past two years has been impressive, considering how little he plays on the dirt compared to some of the clay court specialists. In 2005 Federer played a total of only three clay court tournaments, whereas the 2005 French Open Champion Nadal played 11. Just think how much better Federer would be if he devoted more of his time to playing on the clay. I personally think it would be in Federer’s interest to add a couple more warm up tournaments on the red clay before the French since he has proven the longer he plays on it, the better he adapts.
So let’s look at the facts. It appears Federer is progressing rapidly with each passing year of the clay court season. He has won three clay court tournaments the previous three years, not bad for a part-time clay courter. Not only has Federer, who many do not think of as a dirt baller, won the Hamburg clay court title the last two years, but Federer also has had impressive wins against several former French Open Champions and former Finalists, defeating many of the so-called clay court specialists along the way.
Roger Federer seems to be improving with each clay tournament he plays.
Since 2003, Federer has had clay court wins over former French Open champions Carlos Moya (1998 champion), Juan Carlos Ferrero (2003 Champion), and Gaston Guadio (2004 Champion). He has also defeated top 10 ranked players and clay court specialists Guillermo Coria (2004 Finalist), Tommy Robredo, Fernando Gonzalez, and David Ferrer. This year, Federer reached the final of his first clay court tournament, losing to Nadal in a close four setter and he came oh so close to beating Nadal in Rome last week.
Observing Federer the past few years, I have seen a man who is not only the most dominant player in men’s tennis, but a true student of the game. Federer is a man who seems to value his place in tennis history and he has a desire to go down as the best all court player the game has ever seen. And, from my vantage point, he's not far away.
Some might not agree, but I think Federer’s game is primed and ready to take his first clay court grand slam title in 2006. I also think he will follow by winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open to close out the greatest feat of all, the same year Grand Slam! It would be an incredible feat, which is why I said I would need a very thick tree limb to climb out on. Right or wrong, it should be fun watching.
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