Nadal won his 7th Barcelona title yesterday when he defeated Ferrer 7-6(1), 7-5. Ferrer made it competitive but in the end all the past losses to Nadal on clay probably worked against him. As far as I can remember he had four set points in the first set when Nadal was serving at 0-40 and 5-6, and in the second set he came back from a break and then served for the set at 5-4. Nadal is basically Ferrer 2.0. He is just as fit and tenacious but he has a bit more flair. Ferrer is just too one-dimensional to be at the very top of the game. He lacks a big weapon, where Nadal has one of the most destructive forehands in the game. It’s quite insane how Nadal dominates these clay events. He keeps doing so year after year and he is only 25 years old!
He was an early bloomer and he does have a very taxing game style, but 25 is young no matter how you look at it. One wonders for how long he can keep dominating the clay season. He has already won the first two clay court events he played. Can he win Madrid, Rome, and Roland Garros as well and sweep the clay court season again? I would be surprised if he does. I think Djokovic would certainly have something to say about that, and to a lesser extent Roger. Djokovic withdrew from his home tournament in Belgrade to be with his family after the death of his grandpa as far as I can gather. This could work in his favor as he will be more rested for Madrid, Rome and the French Open while Nadal must tire at some point.
I’m still a bit surprised Nadal plays five events in the clay season, especially when he had knee problems recently. With the way things are going Nadal will take a loss somewhere. It’s most likely to come in Madrid. There Djokovic will probably beat him or Roger if he does something special. I personally wouldn’t mind if Djokovic wins Madrid to gain some momentum going into Rome. He already beat Nadal there last year and if he does so again it would be a nice mental boost for him going into the French Open. Rome will have the most baring on what happens in Paris. If Nadal beats Djokovic there then he will be very hard top stop in Paris. If Djokovic wins Madrid and Rome again then he will have a fair chance of winning his first French Open.
The clay season will be dominated by Nadal and Djokovic and to a lesser extent Roger. Murray lost in the quarter finals of Barcalona again to Raonic of all people. A lot of people said he is just a serve and this goes a long way towards proving these people wrong. He does have a decent ground game although I doubt he will ever achieve something significant on clay. Anyway Murray seems to be struggling on clay. Maybe he can improve in Madrid and Rome but I can’t see him being a significant threat to the top three. Del Potro also starts his clay court campaign in Estoril this week. He is one other guy that could possibly threaten the top three on clay. We are nearing the business end of the clay court season. Can’t wait to see Roger back!