Defending champs hold on to Roland Garros crowns
2005 French Open champions Rafael Nadal and Justine Henin-Hardenne have both tasted success in Paris for the
second straight year, both winning their finals convincingly against two highly-respectable opponents.
In beating world No.1 Roger Federer in the final, Nadal once again displayed the fighting qualities that
saw him enter the final as a clear favourite as a result of his unbeaten run on clay since April of last
After shrugging off a shaky opening set, Nadal steadied to completely out-play the Swiss master with his
remarkable speed and defensive flair to emerge a 1-6 6-1 6-4 7-6(4) victor.
The victory was the Spaniard’s 60th straight on clay and, in two successful appearances, he remains
unbeaten in his favourite city.
“He’s the best player I ever played, the best in history, the most complete,” said Nadal. “It incredible to
feel this emotion again in Paris, my favourite city. I’m really happy. I passed some very difficult moments.
It’s a dream for me.”
“What is important is that my attitude was always positive,” Nadal added. “I had a winner’s attitude. What
is positive is maybe that I was not playing at my best level, but I still maintained an excellent
“If you play with a good mental attitude, even if you are not a hundred per cent, you can win because, in
fact, you win more with your heart, with your will power than with anything else.”
In becoming the first man to defend his title at Roland Garros since Brazilian Gustavo Kuerten in 2001,
20-year-old Nadal also prevented his opponent from completing the ‘Roger Slam,’ as Federer entered the final holding the Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open titles.
“He’s the best clay courter now and maybe the best of all time,” said the defeated Swiss great. “He’s a
fighter and a grinder and it makes it hard to beat him. He moves very well. I had chance to win it… I couldn’t
use my chances and it was a pity. I missed my opportunities.”
While Nadal may be the undisputed King of Clay, Henin-Hardenne once again established herself as the
premium female player on clay by not dropping a set on route to defending her 2005 crown.
A day earlier, the Belgian 24-year-old claimed her third Roland Garros triumph with a 6-4 6-4 victory over
Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia.
The brilliant Belgian showed her class early, dictating play from the very beginning to give herself an
early 4-1 advantage and later closed out the set with the help of a couple of big serves.
Despite an early hiccup in the second set that saw her lose the first two games to love, Henin-Hardenne
regained her composure and reseized control of the match as her Russian opponent began to falter.
“I probably didn’t play my best tennis during the whole match, but at very important games, that’s what I
did,” she said. “That’s been the same during all my seven matches this week.”
The Paris win was the Belgian’s third French Open title, having won it in 2003 and 2005, and her fifth
career Grand Slam crown.
“Winning here for the third time means maybe more than the fifth Grand Slam for me, I mean, because it’s
physically and mentally very hard on clay,” Henin-Hardenne added.
With the clay-court season coming to an end, the players will be setting their sights on the prestigious
grass courts of Wimbledon, which begins June 26.
Nadal too much for Hewitt (Tues Jun 6)
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