A year after their semi-final clash in Paris, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer were the players to beat on clay again in 2006. They pushed each other to the limits in the finals of Monte Carlo and Rome (one of the greatest matches of all time) before setting another title match at Roland Garros.
Nadal was the defending champion, and Federer played in his first final in Paris. The Swiss hoped to complete a career Grand Slam at 24 and enter the record books as the third player who held all four Majors after Don Budge and Rod Laver.
It was another classic encounter between the two world’s finest players, and Nadal emerged as the winner after three hours and two minutes. Rafa defeated Roger 1-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 for his second Major crown after just turning 20 and his 60th consecutive triumph on clay!
Rafa won 12 points more than Roger, serving at 77% and saving seven out of ten break points. Nadal got broken only once after a slow start in the opening set and kept the pressure on the other side. Roger faced 12 break points and lost serve four times.
He stayed in touch with his great rival until the last point but missed the opportunity to send the match into a deciding set. Roger did his best to maintain the same level as Rafa, but he finished with too many unforced errors, like many times in their encounters.
The shortest points up to four strokes were the dominant segment, and Nadal gained the crucial advantage. Federer was on the level terms with Nadal in the longer points, but he was not enough to give him the edge or force the deciding set.
The Swiss had to work hard right from the start, saving two break points in the encounter’s opening game and avoiding an early setback with a service winner. He broke Rafa in game two for a promising start and hit a forehand drive volley for a 3-0 advantage.
The Swiss had the edge so far, and he broke the defending champion in game four to increase the lead. Rafa squandered three break points in the fifth game and got his name on the scoreboard in the following one.
Rafael Nadal defended the Roland Garros title over Roger Federer in 2006.
It was too late for any comeback, as Roger held at love in game seven to wrap up the opener 6-1.
Nadal made a nice hold at the beginning of the second set and broke his rival from 40-0 down in game two with a backhand crosscourt strike for his first advantage. Federer sprayed a backhand error to find himself 3-0 down, and Nadal forged a 5-1 lead when the Swiss felt a volley long.
Rafa closed the set with a service winner in game seven, leveling the overall score and gaining momentum for the upcoming sets. The Spaniard held in the third set’s fourth game after defending four break points and earned a boost.
He broke Federer in the next one after a terrible forehand from world no. 1. A forehand winner cemented the break for Rafa in game six, and he blasted another at 4-3 to maintain the lead. Serving for the set in game ten, Nadal held at 15 after Federer’s backhand error and became the favorite to bring the match home and defend the title.
Rafa made the best start in the fourth set, breaking Roger in the opening game with a forehand winner and moving 2-0 up with an unreturned serve. Nadal served for the triumph at 5-4, but Federer was not to be denied at that point.
The Swiss broke back after a costly forehand mistake from his rival and locked the result at 5-5. Two easy holds led them into a tie break, and Roger earned the first mini-break after Rafa’s another forehand error. Suddenly, Roger sprayed two unforced errors, which would cost him a lot.
He lost the advantage and felt the momentum to Nadal’s side of the net. A fantastic defense pushed Rafa 5-2 up before earning two match points with another good serve to Roger’s backhand in the tenth point. He converted the first with a forehand drive volley winner, falling to the ground and celebrating the most significant success in his career.