Nadal Wins 7th Barcelona Title

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.

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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!

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A Preview to Federer’s Clay Court Season

It was nice to see in the polls of my last post that most of you wanted Djokovic to win the French Open, even though most of you didn’t think he will. I tend to agree with that. I don’t think Roger’s grand slam record is under any threat from Djokovic, and therefor it is ok if he completes the non-calender slam. If Nadal wins the French and wins Wimbledon afterwards, Roger’s slam record is once again under threat from him. In my last post I wrote about the chances of Nadal and Djokovic at the French Open this year. I said a few things about Roger’s chances but I will now dedicate a post to it. This is after all a Federer blog! I think the winner will be either Nadal or Djokovic but you can’t count Roger out, especially after how he has been playing this year.

I actually expect a lot from him in the clay court season. Even though he lost to Roddick in Miami he is riding a wave of confidence. That loss will do little if anything to affect his confidence. After opting not to play in Monte Carlo he will be rested and ready to make a big impact. He will start off on the blue clay of Madrid where the altitude suits him. I think everyone pretty much expects him to make semis at least, as is the case with all tournaments. Then it is a question of getting past either Djokovic or Nadal. Since Madrid was played on clay Roger has won the title once, made the final once, and made the semis once. On each occasion he played his last match against Nadal. So even though he lost to Nadal twice, he has shown that he can beat him in Madrid.

Who would ever forget that final where he clinically disposed of Nadal to start his resurrection in 2009? But of course he did everything right to the T on that day. To beat Nadal on clay is a gargantuan task and takes nothing less than perfection. So Roger will once again have his work cut out for him if he faces Nadal in Madrid. The reason he beat Nadal in 2009 there is because he played as attacking as possible. He used the faster conditions there to his advantage and didn’t give Nadal much breathing room, but at the same time he used variation. He was using drop shots and slices, and serve-and-volleyed selectively. This is what he has to do to beat Nadal on clay. But it’s much easier said than done. He has to be full of confidence and execute to the T.

Now, we know he has been full of confidence of late. I think he can beat Nadal in Madrid again. He beat him in Indian Wells on a surface that isn’t that much faster. It may even be similar speeds since Indian Wells in not at altitude. He must play a similar game plan than he did in Indian Wells to beat Nadal. Maybe with a little more variation since it is clay. But that match in Indian Wells will give him confidence when he comes up against Nadal again. I think I would prefer that Roger is in Nadal’s half of the draw again. If he beats Nadal then we probably have a nice Djokerer final. If he loses then Nadal comes up against Djokovic again on a surface which will give Djokovic a good chance. If Roger is in Djokovic’s half he will probably have a better chance of making the final though.

Roger played Djokovic only once on clay last year in that epic French Open semi. This year Roger is playing better and Djokovic is playing slightly worse so, Roger will like his chances. I think in the end Roger has a fair chance to make the final in Madrid. Winning it would be just awesome. In Rome Roger has a chance to make up some points where he lost in the round of sixteen last year. Again you would expect him to make at least semis. Then whatever else he wins will basically be a bonus. Then we get to the big one. The French Open has been Roger’s least successful slam over the years, but only because he lost to the clay GOAT in four finals. Last year he had a great tournament where he didn’t drop a set until the semis.

If he can play like that again you can’t really ask for more. Of course he still lost to Nadal, but he beat Djokovic and made another slam final. It looks like Nadal will play four clay events before Paris and there is no sign of his knee problems, so the chances of Roger becoming number two in the rankings before the French is virtually zero. Therefor I hope he is in Nadal’s half of the draw. If he loses then we have that much anticipated Djokodal final and if he wins he has a great chance to win his second French Open. To beat Nadal at the French Open is the ultimate challenge in tennis for Roger. It is what every Fedfan dreams of because it is the one thing Roger has never done. Can he do it this year? It would take a small miracle but if we have learned anything from tennis it is that you just never know.

If he does beat Nadal in Paris it may be the crowning achievement of his career. It is that difficult to do. So no matter how many times he lost to Nadal in Paris, he must keep believing that he can beat him there and try new things. He must be more aggressive than he has been in the past when he was trying to beat Nadal from the base line at his own game. I think he is over that stubbornness now and is willing to experiment a bit more. Maybe the fact that he is now a more mature player is just what is needed to get a win over Nadal in Paris. The main thing is to keep believing and play as if it is the first time they square off there. Then he must not get tight like he did in the past when an opportunity presents itself to take the match away from Nadal.

Well I am gonna stop here for now. I’ll let you guys discuss this subject some more. You are good at it after all.

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What Does the Monte Carlo Final Result Mean for the Rest of the Clay Court Season?

I wrote about this topic a bit in my previous post, but after having read some of your comments and giving the topic some more thought, I felt it was worth it to make a post about it. We have time on our hands after all. I said in my last post that Nadal’s win over Djokovic in the Monte Carlo final made him the favorite for Roland Garros. While I think he still has a slight edge, I don’t think it’s that clear cut. First of all Djokovic was clearly not himself in Monte Carlo due to the death of his grandfather. He went three sets with both Dolgopolov and Berdych. Not to take anything away from those players. They are both great players in their own rights, but Djokovic started out slowly. He did the same thing against Nadal, but he never recovered.

I think he was just too emotionally drained at that point, so he checked out. So in the end we can tell very little from the final result. In a sense Nadal got lucky. He lost seven straight times to Djokovic and it’s no coincidence that he won the one time that Djokovic was having issues. That doesn’t mean this result has no baring on the future. It may just be the break Nadal was waiting for. But there is a lot of tennis left to be played in the clay court season and Djokovic will only get better. He can still beat Nadal in Madrid and Rome and if he does so he will once again gain a mental advantage before Roland Garros. Like I said, I still think Nadal is the slight favorite for the French Open, but it’s not that clear cut and there is still tennis left to play that will have a baring on the French.

In the end it’s probably better if Nadal wins the French instead of Djokovic. If Djokovic wins it he will achieve the non-calender grand slam and I’m not sure I want that. Neither Roger nor Nadal have been able to achieve that and it would make their era lose some of it’s shine. I think Roger is the GOAT and Nadal is the clay GOAT, and their era was the strongest in the history of the sport. If Djokovic goes and achieve the non-calender slam with them still around, it wouldn’t look so great. So for once I am actually siding with Nadal. If he wins a seventh French Open it would confirm his clay GOAT status and make Roger look even better for what he has achieved. Remember I have always said that Fedal’s destinies are intertwined.

It is thought that Nadal have spoiled Roger’s resume to a certain extent, but I don’t see it that way. Nadal forced Roger to improve and kept him motivated. Roger got his one French Open to complete the career slam after all, and I am content with that. If Nadal wins the French Open it doesn’t mean he will threaten Roger’s slam record either. He will be on eleven slams and go into Wimbledon with his usual confidence, but Djokovic and Roger will both be there standing in his way. Nadal probably needs to win two slams this year to stay on track for Roger’s record. So I guess it becomes a bit of a dangerous situation if he wins the French. He will get a confidence boost and could win Wimbledon. We don’t want that either.

Suddenly there are all kinds of scenarios coming up. If Djokovic wins the French then he could win the calender slam, and we certainly don’t want that. But I think that is highly unlikely. Even if he wins the French I think Roger or someone else will win Wimbledon or the US Open. These things have hardly ever been achieved for a reason. The non-calender slam is already a stretch, so I think the calender slams is pretty much out of reach. Think about it. Roger had the chance to win the non-calender slam twice, while Nadal had the chance once. If they can’t achieve it then it’s even less likely that Djokovic will achieve it with them still around. Djokovic isn’t even in the form he was in last year. So my guess is he won’t win the French, but you never know.

So what do you prefer? Djokovic winning the French and achieve something that Roger never could, or Nadal winning it and staying on course for Roger’s slam record? Remember if Djokovic wins the French then Nadal’s chances of catching up with Roger is pretty much shattered. And Djokovic will only be on six slams so he will still have a very long way to go to sixteen. I don’t think he can ever threaten Roger’s record. So there is a lot to consider here. Personally I don’t really have a preference over what happens and can’t really predict it either, so I will let you decide. You may ask why I didn’t bring Roger into the equation for the French. He has a chance but it is very unlikely I think. He will have to avoid Nadal, and for that he will have to be ranked number two and hope Nadal is on Djokovic’s side of the draw and lose.

Who do you THINK will win the French Open other than Roger?

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Who do you WANT to win the French Open other than Roger?

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