Blog: Nadal tops Federer for French title

Rafael Nadal celebrates after winning his sixth French Open title.
FOX Sports Zack Pierce
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Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have owned Roland Garros in recent years, combining to win each of the last seven titles there. This year, it was Nadal. He won his sixth career title in Paris — tying Bjorn Borg's all-time mark — by beating Roger Federer in four sets Sunday. Recap all the great action with our game-by-game blog and add your comments on the match below.

2011 French Open men's final
1 Rafael Nadal
3 Roger Federer

Fourth set

Game 7: A quick 40-0 lead gives Nadal three championship points. Federer fires a forehand long on the next point — a fitting way for this match to end — and Nadal has done it! A sixth French Open title and his 10th Grand Slam crown overall. Read the AP recap of the match here.

Game 6: Federer coaxes an error out of Nadal at 15-30 and let's out a "Come on!", knowing his time is once again wearing thin. Nadal's impeccable defense shines through again as he hits another desperate lunging lob within a foot of the line (feels like he's done that about 20 times today) and wins the next point. Federer saves the break point with a big serve, but Nadal earns another and gets it, all but sealing up this match. 5-1 Nadal in the fourth.

Game 5: Federer gets to 30-30 after a gorgeous rally ends with a half-volley passing winner up the line. But he then slaps a backhand into the net and misses wide with a shot on the next point. 4-1 Nadal, and he's once again two games away from the title.

Roger Federer

Roger Federer bounced bacl to win the third set 7-5.

Laurent Baheux

Game 4: A great forehand winner, a Federer error and a double fault help Nadal take a 0-40 edge on Federer's serve. Another major trouble spot for the Swiss. Federer hits the tape with a forehand on the next point and hands the advantage to Nadal. He's up 3-1 in the fourth.

Game 3: Nadal posts a strong hold after his shaky effort in the first game of the set. He leads 2-1, on serve.

Game 2: Quick hold for Federer. He seems to have that early first set hop back in his step and serve. If anyone's got the chops to rally from two sets down against Nadal at the French Open, it's this guy.

Game 1: Federer's drop shot continues to do him favors. He races out to a 0-30 edge on Nadal's serve to start the fourth. A big backhand out wide forces an error out of Nadal for three more break points. But Nadal ratchets up the pressure and saves all three. A big serve up the T gives Nadal the advantage, then earns the tough hold after a long rally. Huge save there.

Third set

Game 12: Federer jumps out to a 40-0 lead, then secures the set two points later. Settle in, folks. We're playing a fourth.

Game 11: Nadal stumbles out of the gate on his serve, falling behind 0-40 thanks to Federer ramping up the pressure with his shots. Nadal saves one of the break points, but secures it with a half-volley on the second attempt. He takes a 6-5 lead and will serve to force a fourth set.

Rivalry renewed

Check out all the best images from the French Open title clash between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

Game 10: Federer stays sharp and holds quickly, finishing the game with an ace out wide that Nadal didn't even move to take a stab at. 5-5 here in the third.

Game 9: Nadal holds at love. Any slip up from Federer now will cost him this match.

Game 8: Easy hold for Federer. 4-4 as we head down the stretch in the third set.

Game 7: Spoke too soon! Federer refuses to wilt and bounces right back to nab a 0-40 edge on Nadal's serve. A textbook drop shot gives him the break right back, and we're on serve again in the third.

Game 6: And just like that, it all falls apart for Roger. He gets down 0-40, smacks a beautiful wide serve that Rafa returns beautifully, then misses a forehand badly wide. Nadal up a break and now just two games from a record sixth title at Roland Garros.

Game 5: Federer gets to deuce on Nadal's serve and has a window of hope. The world No. 1 claims the next two points for the hold. He leads 3-2.

Game 4: Nadal forces Federer to deuce on the Swiss serve, but he can't push forward to the break. Federer finishes it off by ripping a forehand cross-court winner off the line. 2-2 in the third.

Game 3: Nadal is 101-0 at Grand Slams when winning the first two sets. Throw that on top of his gaudy resume at Roland Garros and you realize just how daunting this is for Federer. Nadal holds without much trouble and leads 2-1 in the third.

Roger Federer (AP Photo/Laurent Baheux)

A brief rain delay interrupted play late in the second set.

Laurent Baheux

Game 2: Federer holds at love in his first service game, an encouraging sign as he tries to dig out of what must seem like an insurmountable hole.

Game 1: Federer swipes the first point on Nadal's serve, but the Spaniard roars back to win the next four points. 1-0 Nadal in the third.

Second set

Tiebreak: Nadal gets off to a good start, taking the first point off Federer's serve, ripping a forehand winner near the sideline, then coaxing an error out of Federer for a 3-0 lead. Federer then pushes a forehand into the tape before outlasting Nadal on the next rally to notch his first point of the proceedings at 4-1, Nadal. Federer takes the next point off Nadal's serve before again hitting into the tape to fall behind 5-2. After a long rally, Nadal crushes a backhand pass to give himself four set points at 6-2. Nadal misses wide on a backhand up the line to make it 6-3. A strong serve out wide sets up a forehand rip to win the set for Nadal. He's a set away from a sixth French Open title.

Game 12: Just when it looks like the crisp Federer shot-making has returned, he plays a loose, error-filled game. Nadal forces the tiebreak. Federer really must win it to figure he has a shot to win this title.

Game 11: Federer holds at love. Are we seeing another huge momentum shift? Federer leads 6-5.

Game 10: Federer survives a set point at 40-30 to push us to deuce. Then the rain starts falling. They suspend play for about 10 minutes, then resume without a warm-up at a very key spot. Federer mishits the return on Nadal's serve to give the Spaniard a second set point, then gets back to deuce after yanking Nadal around the court on the next point. Federer gets a break chance after another lengthy rally when Nadal misses long. And then another Rafa mishit gets Federer back in the set at 5-5.


Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have given us plenty of historic moments over the years. Relive the matches.

Game 9: But just like that, Nadal takes the first two points on Federer's serve, then takes the fourth for a 15-40 edge and two break point chances. Federer saves one with a heavy serve wide, then the next with a nice volley off a Nadal passing shot attempt. At deuce, though, Federer misses the volley to give Nadal another look. Federer then misses a backhand try up the line. Nadal gets the break and can still serve for the set after all.

Game 8: At 30-30, a brilliant point. Federer stripes a backhand up the line after a long rally to get his first break chance in quite some time. Nadal bombs a serve to save it and take us to deuce. A backhand long for Nadal gives Federer another shot at a break. Federer squanders that with a backhand error. Another long rally ends with Nadal missing a forehand long. Third break chance for Federer. Nadal then mishits on the next point to hand the break to Federer. We're back on serve at 4-4.

Game 7: Federer shows a sign of life as he holds at love for the first time in the match. He'll still need a break to get back in this set. 4-3, Nadal.

Game 6: Nadal charges to a 40-0 lead before Federer claws his way back to deuce. Nadal, though, shakes off the challenge and holds for 4-2.

Game 5: The Federer that looked so sharp through the first 6.1 matches of this tournament has completely disappeared as he falls behind 15-40 here thanks to more sloppy hitting. Nadal doesn't even have to come up with winners right now. A pair of aces up the middle save the break points and bring us to deuce. Yet another backhand error gives Nadal a third break chance. A big serve helps Federer salt that one away too. A service winner and backhand winner save Federer from complete desolation here in the second. 3-2, Nadal.

Rafael Nadal (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)

Rafael Nadal reeled off seven straight games from the end of the first set into the second.

Lionel Cironneau

Game 4: Federer digs his way to 30-30, which practically qualifies as a break chance with the way he's been playing lately. He returns Nadal's serve into the tape on the next point and then does the same with an easy backhand in close. Nadal holds for 3-1.

Game 3: All the buzz that was in the crowd as Federer was playing so brilliantly in the first set has been sucked out as Federer shoots another errant backhand to start this game. Federer bounces back for the hold, ending Nadal's streak of seven straight games won. Nadal still up a break in the second.

Game 2: It's all Federer can do just to not get run off the court right now. Nadal is crushing shots, pushing Federer way behind the baseline. Nadal holds at love for 2-0.

Game 1: It might all be coming unraveled for Federer here. Three errors put him 0-40 down on his first service game of the set. He saves the first break point when Nadal flicks a forehand long. But Nadal wins the next extended rally to secure the break. He has won six straight games and is suddenly in total control of this match.

First set

Game 12: A few Federer errors give Nadal a set point at 40-30. Nadal curls a forehand out of Federer's reach to take the first set. The five-time champion looks every bit the part right now.

Game 11: Nadal is really flying around the court now, pumping his fist and displaying the trademark energy that has carried him to nine Slam titles of his own. He wins a point at 30-30 after a rally for another break chance. Federer saves it by a fraction of an inch as he nearly sends a forehand wide. Nadal then wins another break chance. Federer's first serve misses by a hair and Nadal takes advantage, winning the next point to secure the break. What a shocking swing in momentum as Nadal will now serve for the first set.

Game 10: There's no player more mentally tough than Federer, but will he be able to regroup after that most discouraging of breaks? He jumps out to a 15-30 edge on Nadal's serve, but the Spaniard quickly shuts the door. 5-5 in the first.

Game 9: At 30-30, Federer rips a backhand into the tape to give Nadal his first break point opportunity of the match. And he gets it after chasing down a Federer cross-court backhand and sending back a shot too tough for the Swiss to handle. We're back on serve in the first at 5-4, Federer.

Game 8: Nadal may be a little mentally affected by what's going on. He had a strange, brief conversation with the chair umpire during the last game and delayed the start of this game while adjusting the tape on his feet. Nadal races out to a 40-15 lead, but Federer fights back to deuce. Nadal misses long on the next rally and suddenly Federer has a set point. He then misses — barely — with a drop shot attempt on the next rally, then slaps a second-serve return into the net and then Nadal smacks a brilliant cross-court passing shot to secure the hold. 5-3, Federer.

Game 7: A near jinx there as Federer stumbles to a 15-30 deficit on his serve. But an ace out wide, another big serve out wide that ends in a point for Federer, and another serve-and-volley combo get Federer out of trouble and put him one game away from the first set.

Game 6: Nadal scores a relatively easy hold, but he's still a break down and Federer's serve continues to look sharp.

Game 5: After a few long rallies bring us to 30-30, Federer hits another strong serve and secures a key point with a forehand winner. Nadal sends a shot long on the next rally to make it 4-1 Federer in the first. He has already won as many games in this match as he did in the entire match the last time these two met at Roland Garros, in the 2008 final — a 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 Nadal win.

Roger Federer (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Roger Federer was in complete control early in the first set.

Michel Euler

Game 4: At 30-30, Federer hits a forehand up the line at nearly clips the line, but an overrule from chair umpire Pascal Maria gives the point to Nadal. He wins the next to hold and the five-time French Open champion is finally on the board.

Game 3: Three gorgeous serves from Federer to start the game — out wide for an ace, up the T for a winner, up the T again for an ace. Nadal manages to salvage one point, then Federer finishes off the easy hold with a serve-and-volley. Federer — who's 0-4 all-time against Nadal at Roland Garros — is in total control early on.

Game 2: It doesn't take long for Federer to get a look at an early break, as he jumps out to a 15-40 lead on Nadal's serve. A tricky serve into the body saves the first break point for Nadal, then Federer sprays a forehand long after a rally to bring us to deuce. Nadal hits the tape after another rally on the next point, giving Federer a third break chance, but another errant forehand from the Swiss on the next point takes us again to deuce. Nadal then misses wide and long with a forehand. A fourth break opportunity for Federer. Nadal comes in for what should be an easy short forehand on the next point, but he hits it into the tape and Federer secures the early advantage.

Game 1: Federer starts with the serve, a tool that helped him out so much against Novak Djokovic in the semifinals. He starts off strong here, notching an easy hold for 1-0. We're off and running in Paris.

Zack Pierce is an assistant managing editor and a tennis editor for

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