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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Nearly the Greatest Upset of All Time

Yesterday at The French Open we very nearly witnessed the greatest upset in the history of tennis. Rafael Nadal has played in The French Open six times, winning it five times. If he wins this year, he'll equal Bjorn Borg's record of six French Open championships. To say that he's the greatest clay court tennis player of all time is probably undeniable at this point. Yesterday, he played his first round match against unseeded American John Isner, who became famous at last year's Wimbledon for playing the longest match in tennis history. No problem for Nadal, right? Not so fast.

Isner played what might have been the match of his life, at one point leading Nadal two sets to one. Nadal was in trouble. The match went the distance, Nadal narrowly winning the fifth set at 6-4. If five-time champion Nadal had lost in the first round of Roland Garros, the loss would have been historic and jaw-droppingly shocking. If you ask us, Nadal's shaky play shows that he is clearly rattled by his two recent losses on clay to a storming Novak Djokovic.

On a better note for American tennis, we said last year, (click here), that Shreveport, Louisiana native, Ryan Harrison, might be the future of tennis for a struggling American program. Harrison attempted to get into this year's French Open by winning his way through the qualifying tournament, but he lost. But then when Benjamin Becker from the withdrew from the tournament with an injury, Harrison got his spot. Unfortunately for Harrison, he had to play Sweden's Robin Soderling, who was in the finals of the two most recent French Open's, where he defeated Nadal one year and Federer the next. No one expected Harrison to win, but he did take the second set from Soderling before he lost the match, and he showed remarkable composure and confidence.

Unless something goes wrong in the future, it looks like 19 year-old Ryan Harrison does indeed have all the skills to become the next great American champion. But although Harrison's tennis career is on the rise, we would probably advise Harrison to learn some other languages if he wants to have any friends on the world tennis circuit, because it doesn't look like he's going to have the company of any other American men.

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