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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 June 2006, 17:55 GMT 18:55 UK
Relentless Nadal is king of clay
By Chris Bailey
BBC Interactive commentator

Rafael Nadal
Nadal beat Federer 1-6 6-1 6-4 7-6 (7-4) to retain his title

Rafael Nadal's victory over Roger Federer in Sunday's French Open final was the same old story, with Nadal almost saying to Federer, "you can't beat me on clay".

It was a massive match for Federer. The last time someone was one win away from holding all four Grand Slam titles was 1968 and Rod Laver, so history was staring Federer in the face.

And after an incredible start, maybe it began to play on his mind and he let Nadal in.

Federer came out and just started firing and Nadal could not live with it, but then we have seen that before.

It was very similar to the final in Dubai earlier this year and as soon as Federer comes off that high, Nadal's there to take advantage of it.

I was surprised how little Federer came into the net bearing in mind how successful that had been in the Rome final (Nadal won in five sets after Federer had two match points).

Nadal had played quite defensively over the two weeks in trying to hold on to his title, but as soon as he got into the final against Federer he thought, "I'm here now and I know I can beat you."

Who knows what impact this may have on Federer at Wimbledon?

With two Roland Garros titles at the age of 20, I think there is no doubt Nadal could be one of the all-time greats.

He has already passed Guillermo Vilas' record of clay-court wins and is now on 60, and who is to say he will not remain unbeaten until he gets back to the French Open next year?

It is up to everybody else to step up their level on this surface and try to take him out. It is incredible that somebody so young is able to produce that level of tennis.

Time will tell how he goes down in the history books as a clay-court player but he has got to be right up there now.

It will now be interesting to see how he makes the transition to grass. I would not expect much from him at Queen's but the best thing about Nadal is his attitude.

If he believes he can play on this surface then anything is possible.

And who knows what impact this may have on Federer at Wimbledon?

It is going to be a tough pill to swallow bearing in mind how much he put into preparing for the French.

He thought after Rome he had maybe found the key to getting that victory over Nadal.

It is going to take him at least a couple of weeks to get over this I would have thought.



SEE ALSO
French Open men's final photos
11 Jun 06 |  Photo Galleries
Gamewatch: Federer v Nadal
11 Jun 06 |  Tennis
Men's singles draw
26 May 06 |  Tennis
Women's singles draw
26 May 06 |  Tennis
French Open schedule
27 May 06 |  Tennis
French Open on the BBC
27 Apr 06 |  Tennis
Nadal's tactics
30 May 06 |  Skills


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