Betting against Rafael Nadal at the French Open is only for those who do not like money.
He has had 34 consecutive victories, lost once in 66 matches and claimed his eighth title in Paris last summer and there is no indication of him slowing down now as today he defeated Andy Murray 6-3 6-2 6-1.
Just as expected, Nadal started the first set in sublime form, effortlessly striking heavy forehands from corner to corner to take an early break. Murray persevered with strong service games but the lead had already been established and Nadal took the first set 6-3 with a display of flawless tennis.
Murray looked hungry at the start of the second with a service hold game to love and a superb drop shot Nadal didn’t even get the chance to react to. The hope of the first game did not last long as Nadal broke his serve in the third game causing the Brit to scowl towards the sun; an absent foe of a child used to Scottish weather. Murray failed to capitalise on his usually brilliant returns as he continuously dropped his length allowing Nadal to comfortably hold serve. Another break followed for the Spaniard as he relentlessly dismantled Murray’s game for a two sets to love lead.
The third set was equally disheartening for Murray as Nadal was relentless in his bid to make his ninth Roland Garros final. A physically agitated Murray slipped 2 breaks down in the third set before forcing the Spaniard to deuce in the sixth game of the set but Nadal held and then broke in the next game to clinch the match.
It was big ask for Murray to do the near impossible in knocking off the King of clay who only seemed troubled when speaking in French in his post-match interview. Nevertheless, Murray played a great tournament, his best one yet since his back surgery that prevented him from playing the French last year. Despite it being one of Murray’s statistically worst results in a grand slam, there is nothing to suggest that he cannot defend his title at Wimbledon with a different surface and a contrasting vibe.