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Saturday, June 4, 2011

A Different Kind of History

Well, history is indeed being made at this year's French Open, but not the kind we expected. We really thought Novak Djokovic would extend his unbeaten win streak for 2011, not only breaking John McEnroe's 1984 record of a 42-0 start to a year, but would also win his first French Open title. Wrong.

Unfortunately for Djokovic, it seems that Roger Federer didn't like the fact that he's been considered an afterthought for most of this year, and he took out all his frustrations yesterday in the semi-finals on Novak. Federer beat Djokovic in four sets, ending Novak's win streak at 41 straight matches, and set up another Federer/Nadal Grand Slam final.

What was unusual about the match was the emotion with which Federer played. Always stoic, always one to keep his emotions bottled up on the court, Federer was in rare form yesterday, screaming and yelling at times, leaving no doubt to the thousands of crazed, screaming French fans that this match meant a lot to him. And when he won, Federer held up a "#1" finger, wagging it in the air, almost to say to the tennis world, "Now who's the best player in the world?" If you missed the match, we're sorry, because John McEnroe and many others commented that it was one of the best matches Federer had ever played; and for a storied career like his, that's saying a lot.

There's a lot on the line tomorrow in the Federer/Nadal final. If Nadal wins, he'll tie Bjorn Borg's record of six French titles, and if Federer wins, it will be his second French, and 19th Grand Slam title overall. But it'll be a tough one for Federer, he's never beaten Nadal at the French Open.

History was made today over on the women's side when Li Na defeated Italy's Francesca Schiavone to become the first Chinese player, man or woman, to win a Grand Slam tennis tournament. Something like 50 million Chinese people were watching the match on t.v. today; something tells us that in about five years, there will be a whole pack of young Chinese girls coming up through the ranks of the tennis world.

One last note on Novak Djokovic's win streak. As we said before, he only needed one more win to tie McEnroe's 27 year-old record, and if Fabio Fognini hadn't pulled out of the quarterfinals with an injury, we're almost certain Djokovic would have had it. It's a shame that he lost the record on a fluke.

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