Lindsay and Juan José have the strange habit of looking at old tournament draws. Here is their back and forth about a very interesting event, the 2006 French Open.
Lindsay: So, to be completely honest I did not watch the 2006 French Open. I didn’t watch much clay at all in the time, and during the tournament I was doing a summer study abroad semester in Prague, and we were very busy making films and tennis did not even enter my mind.
But it’s Benny’s lone Grand Slam quarterfinal, so it’s very precious to me. What about you?
Juan José: For me, the 2006 French Open was one of the pivotal experiences as a tennis fan. And in a sense, it started a year earlier, when the Federer-Nadal semifinal felt like a huge event, a disturbance in the All Federer All The Time world the ATP had become.
By the time the 2006 clay season had rolled along, Federer had established his reign over men’s tennis, and it didn’t seem like there was any threat to his throne at all. He was the undisputed No. 1, and had won three straight Grand Slams. This is when the first GOAT talk was happening, and there seemed to be a coronation lined up: Federer, who had underachieved at the French Open until he finally broke through with his run to the semis in 2005, had a real chance to clinch that Holy Grail of tennis: to hold all four Grand Slams at once.
Then, the Federer-Nadal rivalry started in earnest, when the pair met in the first two big clay finals of the dirt season, first in Monte Carlo and then in Rome. Monte Carlo was a tense four-setter, similar to the 2005 French Open SF. But the Rome final was (and still is) one of the best matches these two ever played. It was a seesaw battle that found Federer holding a match point in the fifth set. Yep, that was the one and only time Federer took Nadal to the brink on a best-of-five clay match.
Federer even had a good look at a down the line forehand winner … that barely missed. Nadal won the match in a tiebreaker, and the table was set for a HUGE French Open. Both guys pulled out of Hamburg after the epic Rome final, so we wouldn’t see them again until they met at Chatrier a few weeks later.
Lindsay: So you’re saying there was some build-up to this French Open.
Juan José: Yes, you can say that! Seriously, though: that French Open felt gigantic. Like something that seemed impossible in the sport was about to happen: someone was going to play for the Grand Slam. First time in decades that a man had a chance to do it.
Lindsay: Wow. I missed a lot while I was in Prague! I am learning so much. Crazy how six years feels like a lifetime in tennis time.
Juan José: What was hilarious is that most Federer fans (like myself at the time) thought that the Rome final meant that Federer was destined to win the French Open. We misread that match completely: Federer gave it his all, and still came up short. The confidence that winning that specific match gave Nadal is really impossible to quantify, but you can sense the effect it had on their rivalry over the years.
The other thing that helped make that 2006 French Open huge for me was that I was living in Argentina at the time, and for them, Roland Garros is what Wimbledon is for other parts of the tennis world.
Lindsay: So now that the stage is set so well, shall we go section by section and look at the draw?
Juan José: Yes, let’s! First up, Federer’s section. You can see why it seemed inevitable that Federer would make at least the semifinals: such a murderer’s row until the fourth round with Berdych.
Lindsay: Hahaha yes, though I do love that Massu took a set off of him!
Juan José: Let’s chalk that up to being spoiled by Hartfield and Falla.
Lindsay: The only match in this section that I’m sad I missed is the Malisse/Massu first rounder that Massu took 9-7 in the fifth after dropping a two sets to love lead. I’m devastated it’s not on YouTube. Because I’m a masochist.
Juan José: YES! That’s such a Lindsay match. And it ends in heartbreak, too.
Also, the Argies went nuts when Hartfield had a chance to play Federer in that 1st round. It was kind of a fairytale story, since Hartfield was kind of a marginal player in the Argie Legion back then. There were a couple of ESPN features on it, naturally.
Lindsay: I have honestly never heard of Hartfield before ever. Tell me some facts.
Juan José: Hartfield…let’s see. There wasn’t much to say about his tennis – just your average old-school clay courter. He came from the northern part of Argentina, I think. And he had a very attractive sister. Seemed like a super nice guy, though.
Career high ranking of 73, achieved in 2007. Shows up as inactive on the ATP site, and has accumulated a 18-28 career record in ATP singles matches.
Lindsay: Hey, that’s not too shabby.
Juan José: He had only one win in Grand Slam play: a five-setter over … Ginepri at RG. Won only one ATP hard court match on tour. Never won a match on grass. And had a losing record on clay (15-18).
Lindsay: There’s a YouTube video of the match!
Juan José: That’s funny…I can’t believe there’s a 15 minute clip of Federer-Hartfield. YouTube is full of surprises.
Lindsay: Worth noting that I had not remembered that Mirnyi was still playing singles that recently. I thought he stopped at the turn of the century and I am not really kidding. The only other thing I have to say about this section is SMH Nicolas Kiefer. He only drops ONE GAME to Gicquel in the first two sets, then it takes him until 11-9 in the fifth to advance, and then he’s so destroyed that he retires in the next round vs. Berdych. Idiot. Classic Kiefer.
Juan José: I was laughing at that. One last thing: even though people might want to think Berdych was a Federer-killer back then, when Federer beat him in that R16 match in this tournament, it was the second of 8 straight wins by Federer over Berdych. He had trashed Berdych in Hamburg 2 and 1 the year before:
Lindsay: Oh Tooms. Okay, so shall we move on to Section 2? It looks amazing.
Lindsay: I am cursing the world that I didn’t get to see that Ancic/Robredo fourth round five-setter. That’s like a dream.
Juan José: Another Lindsay match! Aren’t you intrigued by that Montañés-Galvani five-setter?
Lindsay: Ohmygod absolutely not.
Juan José: Also, notice how there’s quite a few of these five-setters that start with a player going down two sets, then coming back to force a fifth…and then losing in the end.
Lindsay: Yeah, there’s so many. I bet Acasuso/Santoro was a shit-show. And with the French crowd? That’s entertainment.
Juan José: I feel like I should remember that match … but I don’t. That had to be nuts, though. And again, same formula: guy loses two sets, forces a fifth, loses in heartbreaking fashion.
Lindsay: Yup. And I love how all the sets were routs until the final one, which stretched until 11-9. Drama queens!
Juan José: Also … so many five-setters already!
Lindsay: I BET THEY WERE ALL THE GREATEST MATCHES OF ALL TIME.
Juan José: HAHAHAHAHAHA!
Lindsay: Speaking of doubles specialists, look at Dlouhy making the third round!! I didn’t know he could do that.
Juan José: Also, notice the two current tennis commentators in the draw so far? I don’t remember Rusedski being on tour in 2006, honestly.
Lindsay: Well he was losing to Paul Capdeville, so I’m not sure he knew he was on tour either.
Juan José: I actually do remember Capdeville. Some of the things that I wrote about Hartfield apply to him – he was the perpetual third wheel for the Chileans. Would only play in Davis Cup if Massú or Gónzález were injured.
Lindsay: I remember Capdeville because he beat Isner in Davis Cup. Yes that happened.
Juan José: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
Lindsay: So can we talk about Ancic?
Juan José: Right, Ancic. Ehm … he made the French Open quarters. I was never a big Ancic fan, honestly. Guy seemed neat as a person, but I found his tennis to be so unsatisfying. He was supposed to have this huge serve … only it wasn’t nearly that huge. He was supposed to blast shots from the back of the court … yet he didn’t really have much power. He did hit some nice volleys, though.
Ancic ended up with only three titles (all small, and one is a repeat: ‘s-Hergogenbosh) out of 11 final appearances.
Juan José: Career high rank of No. 7, and you could argue that most of his rep was for beating Federer at the first round of Wimby in 2002 and clinching Davis Cup for Croatia in 2005.
Lindsay: And just for having a career that ended too soon. Plus, he’s adorable.
Juan José: Yeah. Stupid mono really ruined his tennis life. Although … he did make the Wimbledon SF in 2004. And made three other QFs (all losses to Federer, interestingly enough).
Lindsay: But honestly I don’t think of him as a clay player, so making the QFs there is impressive.
Juan José: Agreed. And Ancic had a way better Grand Slam record than his pal Ljubicic, who he bailed out in that 2005 Davis Cup final. One more thing about Ancic. He only made 1 M1000 SF … ever.
Lindsay: He would have gotten eaten alive by the big 4.
Juan José: It took him 10 tournaments to win his first M1000 match!
Lindsay: Oh Mario. OMG OMG according to Wikipedia Ancic and Capdeville got into a shoving incident in their match!!
Juan José: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
Lindsay: They were both fined $3000.
Lindsay: Okay … from ESPN: “There was a near fight at the end of No. 12 Mario Ancic’s win over Paul Capdeville. Ancic was bothered by the Chilean’s repeated complaints to the chair umpire, including before the postmatch handshake, and he told Capdeville so. Capdeville thought Ancic lunged at him and responded by pushing Ancic, but it ended there.”
“‘The chair umpire favored him all the way,’ Capdeville said. “I was just criticizing the chair umpire, so I don’t understand why [Ancic] reacted this way.'”
“Marat Safin was fined $10,000 Wednesday for failing to hold a post-match news conference after losing in the opening round to Fernando Gonzalez. ”
Juan José: That’s … hilarious.
Lindsay: I think I found video …
Juan José: How priceless is that video title?
Lindsay: That is gold.
Juan José: I like how Ancic pushes the chair umpire. In soccer or basketball, that would’ve gotten him suspended, thus nullifying his best result ever at the French Open. Anyway, on to Section 3!
Lindsay: Aaaah, Nalby’s section. So, JJ. I have no clue who Vassallo Arguello is. I figure you might be able to fill me in.
Juan José: OK, Vasallo Argüello – he’s a fascinating character. Tennis wise, not much to say – he was a journeyman clay courter. But … he was one of those Argies who made it into the tour even though they came from humble beginnings. He came from a very working class part of Buenos Aires, unlike Coria, Gaudio or Nalbandián, who all came from more wealthy families.
Lindsay: Okay, so now I feel silly for not knowing who V.A. was. He was in the top 50 three years ago? I really do not pay attention to clay that much.
Juan José: Vasallo Argüello seemed really smart – quite articulate. It wasn’t a surprise when he started his own tennis site and conducted all sorts of video interviews with players. The site is called Segundo Saque.
Lindsay: Well that’s always nice to hear. And a fourth round showing at the French Open is quite impressive. He had five set wins over Grosjean and Sluiter.
Juan José: Also, Vasallo Argüello’s win over Grosjean was the second by a less than famous Argie over a French favorite so far. So, Argentina 2 – France 0.
Partially related, a first round highlight for me is Nalbandián actually beating Stan Wawrinka. That never happens.
Lindsay: Yeah, Nalbandian’s run was actually impressive, beating Stan, Richie, and Dima. What was most impressive however was that he was actually the favorite in all of those matches and he won them.
Juan José: Yes. However … what was he doing down 2 sets to Tursunov? On clay? Being David Nalbandián, that’s what. Also, I like how my countryman Lapentti is there. He somehow got killed by Sluiter.
Lindsay: I’m disappointed I can’t find a video of Nalbandian/Dima.
Juan José: I say we move on to Section 4. Top 10 Gaudio is here! Just two years removed from his epic win over Coria in the 2004 final. And somehow … one of the great clay-court players of that era was taken to five sets by none other than Evgeny Korolev.
Lindsay: KOROLEVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVV. OH MAN. He must have been like 15 then.
Juan José: He was 18 – still nuts. What happened to that guy? At one point people actually thought he was going to be really good … and now I can’t even remember the last time I saw him play. Or saw his name on a scoreboard or draw.
Lindsay: Korolev broke his arm a while back and had surgery, now he plays for Kazakhstan and is ranked in the 200s. Oh man, that Gaudio/Ferrero third rounder must have been hyped.
Juan José: Yep, I’m sure it was. Can’t remember anything about it, though. By the way, Korolev is ranked 210. 1-5 in ATP matches this year.
Lindsay: We have a Delpo sighting in this section! He played JCF in the first round as a qualifier. He was what, 17?
Juan José: Del Po! Yep, he was 17 at the time. That was his first main draw at Slam! I remember that, actually. Unfortunate for him to draw an ex-No. 1 and former RG champion in that first round.
Anyway, the last thing I have to say about Section 4 is that we find Sponsorless Davydenko here, backing up his strong SF showing the year before. He was ranked No. 6 at the time. Can you imagine a top 10 player without a sponsor these days? Davydenko was close to the top 5 … and yet he was walking on court with these nondescript shirts.
Lindsay: That’s crazy. I never understood why he was treated so poorly by everyone. Here are some highlights from his Gaudio match.
Sorry – writing “Roddick’s Quarter” at the French Open is just hilarious to me.
Lindsay: HEY NOW. This was as he was falling out of the top 10. Hurt ankle. Then lost to Murray at Wimbledon. Then married Connors for a while and made the USO Finals. 2006 was exhausting. So this quarter is hysterical because it became BENNY’S QUARTER.
Juan José: HA. Hey, Tipsarevic is here! Probably sighing away.
Lindsay: And then he isn’t. Seriously though, Benny’s run is more impressive than I thought. Tipsy, Bags, and Steps? Not totally embarrassing.
Juan José: Yeah – and that was the year Baghdatis made the AO final, remember. In other words, Benneteau beat PRIME BAGHDATIS.
Looking at that draw … had Roddick managed to be DECENT, he was almost assured of a spot in the QFs, right? Alberto Martín, then “D. Kindlmann,” then the little Rochus and finally Benneteau?
Lindsay: In theory, yes. In actuality? I don’t even know. Roddick on clay was more mental than anything else.
Okay that’s enough. Section 6. The Ljub.
Juan José: And so it begins. No. 4 ranked Ivan Ljubicic had never made the semifinals of a Grand Slam. Before that year’s AO … he had never even made a QF (lost to Baghdatis in Melbourne) Here’s his sad Grand Slam record.
Lindsay: Oh wow, he’s under .500!
Juan José: I mean, how bizarre would that be these days? That the fourth-best player in the world couldn’t make the last four of a Grand Slam ONCE IN HIS LIFE?
See? This makes me appreciate the Big Four era a lot better. The current No. 4 is Rafael Nadal, winner of 11 Grand Slams, GOAT of clay, and one of the greatest tennis players ever.
In 2006, the No. 4 ranked player was Ivan Ljubicic … 2006 AO quarterfinalist. Anyway, one narrative of that French Open was that this was Ljubicic’s chance to stop being embarrassing and finally make a Grand Slam semifinal.
Lindsay: Just for the semis, right? Nobody thought he could win it…
Juan José: Eh….no.
Lindsay: And it’s not like he was a spring chicken. That’s what gets me. I kind-of understand if you’re new to the scene. What was his Masters Series record?
Juan José: Ljubicic retired with a 121-87 record in M1000 play – not bad at all. He’s most remembered there for three big finals he lost: the 2005 Madrid final to Nadal (in which an injured Nadal came back from down two sets to win), the 2005 Paris final (in which Ljubicic came back from two sets down only to lose in the fifth to Berdych), and a very tough triple-tiebreak Miami final in 2006 that he lost to Federer.
Lindsay: But then he beat Roddick.
Juan José: Yes! Ljubicic’s win at that 2010 Indian Wells has to be one of the strangest happenings of the Big Four era: So random – completely out of left field.
Lindsay: OK, back to 2006: Ljubicic’s road to the quarterfinals at this French Open was not tough. Berlocq, Hernandez, Pico, and Ramírez Hidalgo. He got a big break with Ramírez Hidalgo taking out Ferrer, which is just seriously cracking me up.
So, funny things about this section: Jeremy Chardy winning a match; Gilles Simon losing to Hernandez; ToJo being upset by Christopher Rochus after leading by two sets. Not even Oli…CHRISTOPHER.
Juan José: Agreed on all of that. Simon getting trashed by good old Oscar Hernández (he had a weird one-handed BH) is really funny to see.
Lindsay: How did Rubén Ramírez Hidalgo straight-set Ferrer? That is a mystery.
Juan José: Well, back then Ferrer behaved like a journeyman clay courter and would max out on tournaments before RG. Here’s Ferrer 2006 playing activity: he played Valencia, Montecarlo, Rome, Barcelona, Hamburg and that weird World Team Championships before the French. He somehow lost in the first round of Valencia AND Rome To Ascione and Acasuso, respectively.
This after making the Miami SF, which propelled him to a No. 10 ranking that I think was a career high at the time, first achieved earlier that year thanks to a R16 appearance at that year’s Australian Open.
Lindsay: Wow. It was ’07 when he made the USO semis, right?
Juan José: Yep. That’s what got him IN the top 10. I wonder if he just put too much pressure on himself to perform well on clay. Still, he’s the ultimate late bloomer. It’s taken Ferrer a long time to finally see himself as one of the best players in the world.
Lindsay: Right. Also: Ljub was down 2 sets to Pico. I wish I knew the beats of that third set. The semi almost didn’t happen!
Juan José: No – and Mónaco wasn’t nearly the borderline top 10 player he is now. He was barely inside the top 100. His career high until that point was No. 59. Mónaco finished 2006 with an 18-23 match record.
Lindsay: Oh Pico. He was good enough to beat Verdasco though!
Juan José: I like how Monaco was 22 at the time. Sometimes I feel like he’s still around that age.
Lindsay: See I feel like Pico’s older, but I have a problem with Berdych. I always forget that he’s actually older than Djokovic, Murray, and Rafa. He’s forever 23 in my mind.
Lindsay: Anyway, onto Section 7. Let’s talk about Djokovic’s first Grand Slam breakthrough.
Juan José: YES! I told you this was a pivotal event for me. The quarter that was slated for No. 8 James Blake (although … this is clay) and No. 9 Fernando González quickly became Novak Djokovic’s coming out party. Also, Safin was there! And even though he was just a year removed from his win at the Australian Open … Safin was unseeded.
Lindsay: That’s so Safin.
Juan José: Couldn’t agree more. Anyway, I didn’t see Djokovic’s win over Horna, but I did watch that second round upset of González. The second set was particularly breathtaking: Djokovic was blasting winners from everywhere on the court. González had no idea about what was going on. He seemed lost. But then Djokovic’s inexperience set in, González finally got it together, won the third and fourth sets, and it seemed like the Djokovic was on his way out as they started a fifth set.
But then Djokovic righted the ship, and dropped the hammer on González. It was an awesome match to watch. I remember thinking that I saw the future in that match – I had heard of Djokovic before, but kind of like Janowicz this year: Djokovic was just a name, mainly “famous” for the eventful US Open match with Monfils the year earlier (which I missed, thankfully).
Lindsay: That’s really neat. I don’t have any vivid memories of him until 2007, so it’s fun to go back and look at where it all began.
Juan José: I actually don’t remember much of his win over Haas, but I do remember that tough match against Monfils – it was on Lenglen, and Djokovic handled the crowd and the moment so well.
Lindsay: That’s very impressive for such a young guy.
Juan José: Yep. Who knew he’d have so many issues with the crowd in the years to come.
Partially related: how the heck did Blake beat Almagro on clay?
Lindsay: I mean … Almagro. You answered your own question. I wish I could have seen the Blake/Monfils match. I bet there was crazy shot-making.
Juan José: And … Andy Murray is here!
Juan José: Murray was up two sets to one on Monfils, too! I didn’t see that at all – I think I only saw Murray for the first time at that year’s Wimbledon.
Lindsay: ANDEH MURRAY lost in the first round to Monfils. That entire match is on YouTube. It’s worth it just to watch the first few seconds to see Murray’s warm-up pajamas and Gael’s cornrows. But if you have a spare 4 hours, why not watch the whole thing?
It is of course the precursor to his actual breakthrough at Wimbledon that year when he upset Roddick.
Juan José: How does Murray take a clay set 6-1 over Monfils in 2006?
Lindsay: I don’t know, Monfils probably played tweeners the entire set or something. I mean, he’s crazy now, I shudder to think of his antics when he was young.
Juan José: Anyway, Djokovic showed up, and his run became the perfect appetizer for the inevitable Federer-Nadal showdown. Shall we move to section 8?
Lindsay: Yes please.
Juan José: Look who Nadal opens with!
Lindsay: Sod! So funny.
Juan José: Yep – that’s hilarious. Of course, back then the General was like an orc from Lord of the Rings, and couldn’t really play outdoors.
Lindsay: LOL at Ivo’s scoreline in R1, too.
Juan José: What I remember the most about this quarter were the incredibly entertaining matches between Nadal and Mathieu and Nadal and Hewitt.
Lindsay: I have watched Nadal/Mathieu highlights rather recently. So, so good.
Lindsay: The crowd in PHM/Rafa was great.
Juan José: It was nuts. Such a fun match. Anyway, shall we move to the QFs?
Lindsay: So…the quarterfinals look pretty lacklustre (TM Barry Flatman). Benny and Ancic went home meekly, as my favorites usually do. Nole retired. Kolya/Nalby was the only one that wasn’t in straights.
Juan José: The funny thing is I don’t remember much of any of them…except that last one.
Lindsay: What happened to Nole?
Juan José: This happened:
Juan José: He had a sore back, but decided to pull the plug instead of finishing. A common thing for pre-2011 Djokovic. And of course, that press conference was the talking point for a few days.
Lindsay: Why did he say he was in control? I mean …
Juan José: Well, I can understand what he’s trying to say: he felt like the fate of the points rested on his racquet. The problem was … that match wasn’t close at all. Djokovic never had a lead. I think he could’ve said the same thing, phrased it better, and no one would’ve made such a big deal out of it.
Lindsay: Oh man he sounds like Tomic. I am DYING at Rafa’s reaction.
Juan José: Yes, that’s a classic. The problem for Djokovic is that he did say “I was in control” about a match in which he never had a lead in and was down two sets to zero by the time he retired. Rookie press conference mistake.
Lindsay: Yeah, I mean, I get what he was saying partly … but also what he said was just wrong.
Juan José: What’s hilarious is that this rivalry, one of the biggest in men’s tennis, started in this strange way. This was the first of their 33 matches. Funny to think that it took Djokovic five years to beat Nadal on clay
Lindsay: It shows how brash you need to be to beat the top guys though.
Juan José: Yep – I was thinking a lot about 2006 Djokovic when I saw Tomic’s quotes from yesterday. I mean, a lot of people made fun of Djokovic’s openness about saying how he wanted to be No. 1 in the world. Fast forward to 2011, and there he is. Funny how things end up working out.
Man, this 2006 French Open was way more eventful than I initially thought. So many seeds for the future were laid here.
Lindsay: Indeed. I had no idea! So, semis? Why did Nalby retire?
Juan José: Nalbandián was actually the better player in that semi – it seemed like he was going to ruin what most of the tennis world had been waiting for … until he pulled a muscle in his stomach, and had to retire.
Lindsay: Oh gosh. That’s so Nalby.
Juan José: I think Julia mentioned (in the Paris post about Nalbandián) that this FO retirement was one of the very few for Nalbandián. That was really unlucky – Nalbandián was really taking it to Federer, who was absolutely dreadful to begin the match. But as Nalbandián’s discomfort grew, so did Federer’s confidence, and then the match ended on such an anti-climactic way. It was sad.
Lindsay: Ugh. And then it looks like Ljub played Nadal close, but just obviously wasn’t good enough … is that fair?
Juan José: It wasn’t as close as the scoreline suggests. I remember watching Ljubicic-Nadal, and all I remember is Nadal wiping the floor with him. It wasn’t close at all. Ljubicic kept getting pushed back and away from the court, and found it so difficult to get back on the baseline to be aggressive.
Lindsay: Oh LOL. The scoreline isn’t that bad. And then the final, the main event that everyone had been waiting for.
Juan José: Yep. Which ended up being quite a disappointment. It just wasn’t a good match at all. Nadal started the match as if his feet were glued to the ground. Federer was flying.
Lindsay: How very WTA of them.
Juan José: It seemed like the holy grail was indeed going to appear on Chatrier, that Federer was going to finally beat Nadal on clay and be the first man since Laver to hold all four Grand Slams.
But Nadal snapped out of his funk as soon as he lost that first set so badly, and Federer couldn’t be bothered to try anything other than hitting a ton of high backhands the rest of the way. In a sense, Federer played the Rome final better than he did the French Open final that year.
Regardless, Nadal backed up his crazy 2005 clay run with an even crazier 2006 clay run. He was now the emphatic King of Clay. And what was even more remarkable is that Nadal didn’t even play all that well that year – the pressure of defending Montecarlo, Rome, Barcelona and the French Open took a toll on his game. Yet he defended all of those titles anyway, beating the World No. 1 in three of those finals.
Lindsay: It’s just insane that six years later, Rafa’s still having crazy clay runs.
Juan José: That’s because he’s the Clay GOAT. And funny to think that his siege on the rest of the Slams started in 2006 – the first year he made the Wimbledon final. He went on to make finals the next time four times he played there! That streak stopped this year, with his loss to Rosol in the second round.
Lindsay: Crazy to look back at this draw and see how much the tour has changed in the past six years, and yet you still have Nadal and Fed at the top.
Juan José: Yep – they’re both still there. It’s not that surprising for Nadal, since he was only 20 back in 2006, but Federer was already 25. Yet Mr. Fancy Champagne still around in 2012, all the way up at No. 2.
Isn’t it funny to look at the top 10 seeds of that French Open? Ljubicic, Roddick and González all retired this year. Gaudio has been gone for a while now. Both Ljubo and Roddick are a year younger than Federer – González is just a year older.
Davydenko and Nalbandián are on their way out, too. As are Robredo and Blake.
Lindsay: I need a drink. Seven of the top 20 are gone. Three others are waning. And then there’s Jarkko.
Juan José: Ugh…Nieminen.
Lindsay: Okay, any final words?
Juan José: Man, was that French Open memorable or what?. For so many different reasons. It established Nadal as the King of Clay, it cemented the Federer-Nadal war, it introduced us to the two other members of the future Big Four, it gave Ljubicic a career highlight, and Benneteau made the QFs of a Slam. Oh, and it inaugurated the Djokovic-Nadal rivalry, albeit in a rather unusual way.
There was a shoving match on a tennis court, there were many five-setters, a coming out party, and many other things that we’re surely forgetting. Oh, and Del Potro played his first Grand Slam! And Federer was two sets away from actually holding all four Grand Slams at once. This French Open really had it all.
Lindsay: Thanks for the education, Juan José.
Juan José: I’d make that “education.”