I would be lying if I didn't say I was expecting Rafael Nadal to win the Madrid final yesterday.
And I would also be lying if I didn't say that, in a way, that is the way it should be.
Obviously, I am a Federfan first and foremost. I wanted him to win yesterday. But when Rafa took it out? I was neither surprised nor upset when he won, just as I will not be surprised or particularly upset if/when he wins Roland Garros. Just as Wimbledon and the green grass courts belong to Roger, so red clay belongs to Rafa. It is right that he should dominate on it, on his home turf.
I would not be surprised if what we see in the six weeks of tennis we have ahead of us is a return to 2007, when the clay is Rafa's and the grass is Roger's. Leastways, this is how I am seeing it in my mind at the moment - each winning on the surface which is his own, each challenging, but not quite succeeding. Rafa has his Wimbledon. Roger has his Roland Garros. Each has proven their point.
What I would like to see is spirited challenging from both men, particularly from Federer on the clay. It would really be something, and would, I believe, silence any doubts anyone has ever had about him ever, if he beat Rafa on the red clay of Roland Garros. I sincerely hope they have the chance to play in the final again.
I attached significance to this Madrid match yesterday. Today... I'm not so sure, and not just because Federer lost it and I am his fangirl first and foremost. It felt to me almost like a clearing of the slate, like a return to the past, where the clay belonged to one and the grass to the other, before glandular fever and knee injury took their toll.
What it feels a bit like is a second chance - 2007 all over again. Roger is #1 and Rafa is #2. The Hispano-Suisse domination machine is back where they ought to be, at the top.
And so - let the games begin.
3 weeks ago