2016 French Open has had its moments. The rain has played the spoilsport for most of the tournament to an extent that for the first time an entire match day schedule had to be called off. This made life of organizers, fans and players tuff.
To make things worse the tournament saw the early exit of nine time French Open Champion Rafael Nadal due to injury and the absence of Roger Federer again due to injury.
All these reasons would have been sufficient to make a spectator not watch any of the French Open but in such adverse conditions the level of the matches has gone up. The tournament has produced some close matches, in the absence of big names new players have made most of the opportunity at hand and we now have a certain 22 year old Austrian Dominic Theim who was not that well known before but his semifinal appearance has surely earned him the limelight and one can only hope that he continues to play good tennis and becomes a challenger for the top prize.
Two men though have defined the new rivalry in tennis. They have finally managed to come out of the shadow of Roger-Rafa rivalry and have defined the new generation of tennis rivalry.
They have managed to fill up the void and it’s a win win not only for them but for tennis as a whole. For it is the rivarlies in sports which drive the interest, be it the India- Pakistan rivalry in cricket or club rivalry in Football they all have that special emotional feel about them which drives not only the players but also the sports and the fan alike. The two men in contention are the current world no 1 and world no 2 in tennis Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. Come Sunday the two will square off against each other on the red clay of Philippe Chatrier for a shot at the Roland Garros Trophy a title which eludes both men.
He has achieved it all, he has defeated them all he is truly a legend even today and with his best days on he will only strengthen his legend even more but he has failed to win it at the clay. He has been in the final in the last 4 of the five years but even after 12 years of apprenticeship at the clays of Paris he has still not won the trophy. He has come closed only to be shut down by Nadal and last year by the Swiss Stanis Wawrinka. He would want to add that only missing trophy to his cabinet and take home the French Open and become only the seventh man in the Open era to complete a career grand slam and hold all 4 titles at the same time. The win will add the no 12 trophy and he will come even closer to challenging Roger Federer 17 titles, as things stand he seems the only man who can actually beat Roger’s record.
Djokovic has been edgy this year, he came into the tournament suffering defeat at the hands of Andy Murray in Rome the man who he will face in the final.
But in the French Open he has been at his best having lost just one set. In the past two matches he has displayed complete dominance. In the semifinal he simple bludgeoned his competitor so much so that the young Austrian seemed shell shocked once the match was over having no clue what struck him.
The Brit has a point to prove and ever since parting way with his coach his game has become more potent. He has already become the first man since Bunny Austin in 1937 to reach the French Open final and only one of the 10 men since 1968 to reach all four grand slam finals.
Coming into the tournament having won at Rome against Novak was surely a confidence booster but he managed to survive not one but two scares both in the first two matches as both were five setters.
But since then he has accustomed himself to the clay and has improved him game tremendously but the ultimate test will be against Novak Djokovic a man who has 23-10 head to head record over him. Murray will be looking to the go the way of Fred Perry’s the last Brit to win a French Open back in 1936, 80 years since. At 29 there would be no better opportunity for Andy to prove his credentials as an all-round player and not a hard court specialist.
What to expect from the final
The onus is on Andy Murray to produce something masterful for beating Djokovic in his game is very tuff.
If they were to play straightforward percentage tennis, two-hander to two-hander, crosscourt forehand to crosscourt forehand, Novak is simply the beast who will come out victorious for he has an insane physical might and keeps on firing all through the match each powerful than the previous.
It is thus for Andy to produce something different and in fact Andy has worked on this part and thus was able to beat Novak at Rome. He takes more risk, and mixes his strokes well, thus it will the variation in his strokes and how well he attacks Djokovic’s second service while defending his own will determine if Andy will be able to come out good like Rome.
For the fans the match will have everything of a classic if the previous encounters between these men is anything of a sample. The match will be remembered by people for the hard work the two men will put in, the undying ability to fight to chase down balls, to not give up. But such will be cruelty that at the end it will only be one man who will come out victorious. Whether Novak finally be lucky for the 13th time or will Andy give Britain its first French Open in 80 years the Sunday will bear witness to history in making.