Sunday, May 18, 2008

I Am Rafa, Hear Me Roar ...

We all witnessed on Sunday, yet another Rafa-Fed epic final. But this one however ranks way up high on the rollercoaster charts. The match turned around so many times before Spanish sensation, Rafael Nadal, finally came through 7-5, 6-7, 6-3, to lift his first Hamburg shield and rock Roger Federer's hopes ahead of the French Open.

Nadal stepped on court on Sunday coming off an intense fight the day before, against Novak Djokovic, who was threatening Nadal's 3-year residency as the world number 2 in the tennis rankings.

Federer on the other hand, had cruised past his semifinal opponent, Andreas Seppi, and stepped on court on Sunday with the kind of conviction that saw him snap the Spaniard's 80-something winning streak on clay by defeating him in the Hamburg final last year.

The Swiss number one raced to a 5-1 lead in the first set before Nadal, who needed some medical attention to a muscle in his right thigh, stormed back winning the next 6 games to grab the first set 7-5, and also broke Federer's serve in the opening game of the second set.

It was then time for Federer to turn the tables once again, when we all thought the match was going Rafa's way, as the Swiss broke back and managed to take a 5-2 lead before a stubborn Rafa retaliated and forced the set into a tie-break, where Federer finally prevailed.

If the first two sets swayed us back and forth between the world's top two players, the deciding set was strictly Rafa's. The claycourt talisman notched a precious break to go 4-1 up and confidently closed out the match to avenge his 2007 loss to Federer and make a solid statement ahead of Roland Garros.

The French Open kicks off next Sunday, the 25th, where Rafa will be hoping to capture a fourth straight title and preserve his clean record in Paris.

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