Djokovic Cruises Into Monte Carlo Semis, Nadal Battles Past Ferrer

Today’s tennis began with Raonic withdrawing in his match against Berdych after trailing 2-5 in the opening set. Next up was Roger’s conquerer Monfils against Dimitrov. It was yet another poor showing from Dimitrov after getting through the early rounds, getting schooled 6-1, 6-3 by the Frenchman. Monfils is clearly playing well but losing 1 and 3? Pathetic really.

  • Djokovic vs Cilic

Following that disappointing match was the top seed and world number one Djokovic against US Open champion Cilic. The Djoker was looking as sharp and fresh as ever as he served another bagel in the opening set. This looks more like the 2011 version of Djokovic who you may remember served bakery products left and right in a devastating opening run to the season where he went on a 41-match winning streak. In the second set Cilic put up a bit more resistance as Djokovic wrapped it up 6-3.

Lol @ Troll Tennis

It was another impressive display from the world number one who still looks unstoppable. Bageling Cilic would also be the kind of message he wanted to send Nadal before a possible semi-final encounter.

  • Nadal vs Ferrer

This replay of last year’s quarter final was always going to be the match of the day. In the first set it looked like the Nadal of old who had Ferrer on a string as he won it 6-4. In the second set he raced to a 4-1 lead with two breaks and it looked like it would be another short match. Fortunately for the spectators no one fights harder than Ferrer. He clawed his way back to 4-5 and with Nadal serving for the match he broke serve again. He then broke Nadal for a third time in the set as he turned the second set around 7-5.

Yep

There is simply no surrender in Ferrer’s vocabulary and for that you have to respect the guy. I get mad at him when he doesn’t have the weapons to defeat Nadal but that is just silly because he gives everything and you can’t expect more than that. Nadal has more powerful ground strokes and the ability to make difficult shots at important junctures, which is what sets him apart from Ferrer. The third set was anything but a schooling because Ferrer kept fighting hard, but Nadal took it 6-2.

  • The Djokodal semi-final

I don’t care about the bottom half. I don’t care about either player and I don’t care who wins. As far as I’m concerned the real final is being played tomorrow between the Djoker and Nadal. The head-to-head is currently 23-19 in Nadal’s favor but Djokovic is on another dominating run in the rivalry as he won 4 of the last 5 five meetings(and 12 of the last 19). So hopefully he can just continue the domination and prevent Nadal from winning a ninth Monte Carlo Masters. Already 19 of his record 27 Masters titles are on clay and that has to stop.

Not to mention that there should be at least one grass Masters to replace a clay Masters. Anyway it should be another interesting encounter. Djokovic must stop Nadal or he almost instantly becomes the favorite to win the French Open again. In fact he probably is already after the Ferrer win. He looked ominous and only Ferrer’s stern refusal to surrender prevented a straight set drubbing. Nadal may still be slightly vulnerable though and if that is the case Djokovic must take full advantage.

Should be a cracker!

The fact that Nadal did not put Ferrer away after being two breaks up in the second set may suggest vulnerability, but like I said Ferrer also deserves a lot of credit for the way he refused to surrender. Djokovic is of course an altogether different animal though. Defeating Nadal on clay is nothing new to him and he is showing no signs of fatigue whatsoever. He possesses the weapons, defense, and mental fortitude that Ferrer does not have. But the main thing is that he does not fear Nadal at all.

When he steps on the court with the Spaniard he backs his own chances. His backhand is so damn solid that Nadal cannot exploit it with his vicious forehand cyclones of death. He also has the serve and forehand to keep Nadal on the back foot on his own serve. And not to be forgotten is his exceptional returns of serve which can put Nadal on the defensive on Nadal’s serve. Djokovic possesses all the tools necessary to disarm and destroy the monster. He is the anti-Nadal like Nadal is the anti-Federer.

Ajde!

 

Highlights:

The  is in your court.

Posted in Masters 1000, Monte Carlo.

40 Comments

  1. Not only a most accurate post, but an exceptionally well written one. The calm of home suits your writing, my friend. This semi is extremely important and will be fascinating to see which way it goes. If Nadal can somehow step it up, he makes a very big statement that no matter what, he is the king of clay and all will bow to him. But frankly, it is very possible that Nadal will really get his ass kicked. Djoker is just not fucking around these days and he not only wants to win, he wants to inflict fear and pain. Very very exciting!!!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Haha thanks Eric although I’m not sure how much calmer it is over here in South Africa with the political situation. Trying to stay positive though. Can’t wait for the Djokodal semi myself. I don’t expect Nadal to really get his ass kicked but that would be ideal.

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  2. Nadal/Ferrer – best match of the year so far.

    “The head-to-head is currently 23-19 in Nadal’s favor but Djokovic is on another dominating run in the rivalry as he won 4 of the 5 five meetings(and 12 f the last 19). So hopefully he can just continue the domination and prevent Nadal from winning an eighth Monte Carlo Masters.”

    Well, considering all surfaces. The statistic above can be misleading. Clay has to be viewed in insolation

    H2H 14:4 on clay in Nadal’s favour. Djokovic has nothing to say here.
    Even if djokovic wins, he won’t have mental edge and Rafa won’t lost sleep on that coming into French Open – just like last year and the year before.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    True Djokovic won’t have the mental edge at the FO if he wins tomorrow but it’s not gonna hurt his chances, and it’s not gonna help Nadal’s chances. Nice to see new commenters.

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    Neondreams Reply:

    Anyway, it’s a lose-lose situation for Djokovic.

    If he wins, he’s going to think “I did beat him on clay before French Open and I’m going to lose there again, sigh”

    And if he loses it’s like “Man, I can’t beat him even when he’s weak, it’s never gonna happen”

    true nole hater right here.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Haha no worries I’m a true Nadal hater. You are right to some extent but since Nadal’s confidence may not be fully back yet who knows what effect another loss to Djokovic can do. And a win is a win. Every win Djoker gets in the rivalry these days makes his ownage of Nadal worse. I know the odds do not favor Djokovic at the FO but he is very confident so far this year and if he keeps beating Nadal it could just help him to finally get that win at the FO, or it could mean someone else beats Nadal. Wishful thinking but not entirely beyond the realm of possibility.

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  3. “The fact that Nadal did not put Ferrer away after being two breaks up in the second set may suggest vulnerability, but like I said Ferrer also deserves a lot of credit for the way he refused to surrender. ”

    + we have to remember that Rafa lost last year exactly at the same stage of Monte Carlo to Ferrer 0-2

    this year he managed to win :-)

    no sign of vulnerability

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Hence ‘may’ ;-)

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  4. No matter what, Djokovic seems destined not to defeat nadal in a best of 5 sets on clay. Nadal has the sheer power to outgrind any challenger on clay at the French Open. If Nadal was in a wheelchair and you handed him a tennis racket he would still win the French Open. True facts right there!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    “If Nadal was in a wheelchair and you handed him a tennis racket he would still win the French Open. True facts right there!”

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  5. “So hopefully he can just continue the domination and prevent Nadal from winning an eighth Monte Carlo Masters.”

    Nadal has already won MC eight times. If he wins it again this week, it will be nine titles. Why don’t you check your facts before you post? SMH. Then you make this mistake:

    “The second set was anything but a schooling because Ferrer kept fighting hard, but Nadal took it 6-2.”

    Nadal won the third set 6-2, not the second!

    Seriously, one should need an IQ test before they are allowed to have a blog. Jonathan’s blog is so much better even if he worships Federer a bit too much. At least he is fairly intelligent and doesn’t contradict himself every two minutes.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I suffered from years of severe depression, anxiety attacks, and I had a nervous breakdown. This affected my brain deeply and I still take three ant-depressants a day just for my brain to function normally. One result of the years of mental and emotional torture was that I still have trouble concentrating, so I do make obvious mistakes at times. These mistakes have nothing to do with intelligence. They are purely lapses in concentration. At school when I got poor grades my teachers were always asking my mom what is going on and why my concentration was not in class, because according to them I was highly intelligent. As for contradicting myself that shows a deep lack of intelligence on your part.

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    Jiten Reply:

    OMG! You are so intelligent. Your IQ must be over 1000 to be able to memorise such great facts like Dull winning the third set 6-2, not the second and him possessing eight MC titles instead of seven. Wow, you must be some genius and deserve a Nobel prize for this! Ru-an, why don’t you simply ignore this troll? You don’t need to give any explanation for the mild slips. The longtime readers of your blog understand them pretty well. If somebody cannot appreciate your exceptional ability of analysing a tennis match (or the game of tennis as a whole) which requires a different kind of IQ, he/she does not have a place in your blog.

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    rahan Reply:

    Dear Craig77:

    I also agree that Jonathan worships Federer a bit too much and Ruan contradicts himself every two minutes.
    Therefore I would like to ask you to write me your blog’s address: I think that I will enjoy it a lot !

    P.S. Because you have an unusual high IQ, let me stress that you should not take my previous request literally.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I don’t really contradict myself though. It’s usually just a lack of reading comprehension or flat out stupidity that make people think that.

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  6. Hi Ruan–great post as usual. One thought: I actually didn’t think Nadal was playing at his usual clay court insane level. he seems to be staying further back, hitting a lot more short balls, and not playing with the kind of fire we are used to seeing. he might still beat Nole but he looks more human on the court these days. And what was all that nonsense today with him getting warnings for coaching? The Nadal camp needs to tone it down. I really want Nole to win the French this year. He’s the more complete player and I for one cannot watch Nadal picking his ass anymore!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Cheers Sakhi. Yeah Nadal is a known rule breaker and cheater. It’s nothing new. They are also finally starting to clamp down on his with the time wasting. But only since he is losing more. When he was winning they let him off the hook. They are starting to give him first serve penalties now which is nice to see. I think it happened twice vs Ferrer. And I think we will see Nadal exposed more and more for the cheat he is as his career winds down. Exciting times ahead!

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    FeDaL Reply:

    Ru-an why not just stop covering Nadal completely? It has become evident that you have some deep disdain for him, I remember reading your older articles back in the 2008-2010 period and you seem much more respectful of Nadal’s qualities. He may have had his fair share or questionable antics on court, but so have almost all great players in tennis history.
    We get it he has a formula to dismantle Federer’s game, to quote you his “vicious forehand cyclones of death” have been an excellent weapon against Federer often weak single backhand strength. And these things are a given, some players just have advantages over others, but you can’t take away from Nadal what he has achieved in a period where Federer was practically unchallenged and almost complete on any surface he played on.
    The physical and technical calibre Nadal displayed in those years is worthy of praise no matter who you root for, the Wimbledon 2008 final has to be one of the most beautiful and skilful matches I have ever seen in men’s pro tennis, and your new favourite, Djokovic can’t even come close to the consistency and brutal work Nadal put into his game, 3 consecutive Wimbledon finals, not bad for a clay court specialist, and then battling Federer (arguably the most complete attacking player to ever grace the tennis courts) in his prime, is what will always make him of the best ever. Djokovic, your new hope and protector of Federer’s legacy (which I think is absurd) does not and will never belong in such a group, he will always be number 3 behind the great Federer and Nadal.

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  7. Good post, Ru-an! Maybe it’s better you don’t have a job as your posts are up a notch without work to distract you! Ha! Nadal still lacks confidence, playing 5 meters behind baseline and after breaking Ferrer playing passively, not gonna cut it against Djoker. If nothing changes, it’s gonna be a straight sets win/schooling by Djoker. As Eric put it so well, Djoker doesnt play around these days. Finishes his matches efficiently and is on a mission to dominate and break Roger’s records. Who can stand in his way? A fading Nadal? An aging Roger? The one slam wonders, Stan, Cilic? The big hitters Raonic, Isner? The new generation? Only if he breaks a leg or an arm or another grandfather passes away, nothing’s gonna stop Djoker this year and next! He is even more devastating than 2011. True he is 4 years older now but he is much more experienced and emotionally more stable and settled now than 2011. Plus he is not old, still in his prime and has a more efficient game and better serve now. it’s important for Nadal to win this encounter. If he loses, it’s gonna be another dent in his confidence although FO is a different animal all together. But confidence has to be built and Nadal has lost a lot of it this time round; not like last year. Can’t wait to find out who will be the clay king this season. Djokerdal matchup entertainment is nowhere near DjokerFed but just to watch their gladiatorial efforts not giving up an inch and coming up with incredible saves is thrilling. You can almost smell blood on the courts when they finish!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Well obviously it helps with my blog posts not working at the moment Veronica. I will soon start studying again but that won’t interfere with my blogging the way a 9-5 job does. That kills your blogging. I am also updating old posts now so you guys should keep a look out. I don’t think Djoker is as devastating as he was in 2011 but he looks pretty close. I like the Djokodal match up becuase nothing is as pleasing as Nadal losing regularly to the same player. It’s fantastic to see Djokovic doing everything Roger was not able to do vs Nadal and being the anti-Nadal. I have often wondered why Fedfans can’t appreciate that more. Surely it must be very pleasing seeing Nadal getting owned after the way he owned Roger in the past? But I think you guys find it hard to enjoy it the way I do because you view Djokovic as Roger’s rival, failing to realize that if it wasn’t for him Nadal would already have surpassed Roger in the GOAT debate. So in a way he is very much Roger’s friend.

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  8. Another good read Ru-an congrats. I don’t think it matters too much if DJO wins today if he beats Nadal I still wouldn’t bet on him to beat him at RG. Nadal looks like he is back, if indeed he was ever away. Have read so much about an ageing Federer being swept away by Monfis if this is the case what is Dimitri’s excuse, can’t see this guy being the future of tennis…no matter how Federlike he becomes! What a player Monfis could be if he really decided that he was really serious. Just hope that there are no more begels!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thank you Elizabeth. Nadal was away make no mistake about it and he is still not a lock for the FO. If he wins today he probably is though. Yes Dimitrov is a disappointment because he does have loads of talent and do some interesting things on a tennis court. Monfils is the same although maybe even more talented. He will never be a more serious player. He is unbelievably talented but he is an entertainer, not a professional.

    [Reply]

    Albert Reply:

    I’d give Monfils the benefit of the doubt and call him a professional entertainer. :-)

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    True. He would do well in the circus or on stage.

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  9. Djokovic looks ominous, I must say. OTOH, Cilic just came back from injury, and he’s never been a force on clay–not to mention his extremely poor record against Djokovic. Djokovic’s other opponents were journeymen, so it’s hard to gauge if he’s in the scorching form needed to beat Nadal.

    Nadal has been tested by two tough players and survived, so he’ll be confident. People were saying Nadal was finished because he hadn’t beaten a top ten player since June. Well, now he’s done so by defeating Ferrer.

    Nadal isn’t going to decline until his mid-thirties–if then. Because his game is so mindless and mechanical, he can take months off the tour to allow his body to recover and still return to his peak near-instantaneously when he returns. All he needs to perform well is power and speed–and the miracles of modern medicine can help him with that.

    Even if Djokovic does win this one (and he does look like a winner going in), it’s doubtful he’ll be able to keep it up for the next six weeks. Nadal is back to his best, or so close as to make no difference, and we know he can always maintain his level for the duration of the clay season. Djokovic has played a lot of tennis; his level will drop.

    In 2013, Nadal managed to best Djokovic in a mind-numbing war of attrition in Paris. The aftereffects affected him for months. I think they’re still with him, hence his desultory loss at RG last year. He just didn’t have the stomach for another five- or six-hour baseline war with Nadal. I think it’s just hard, these days, to motivate himself enough for that kind of grind.

    Regarding the matchup, you’ve analyzed the dynamic well. Only thing I have to add is that Nadal doesn’t have the slice that Federer uses so well to counter Djokovic’s backhand and control the tempo of rallies. Djokovic can just belt every ball and beat Nadal with pace, shot for shot. At least in best-of-three.

    I’m rooting for Djokovic here, strictly as the lesser of two evils. With Federer out, my standards are frankly pretty low: just give me the one who doesn’t pick his ass between points.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    ‘In 2013, Nadal managed to best Djokovic in a mind-numbing war of attrition in Paris.’

    Maybe it’s time to expand your horizons a bit Steve? That was one of the best grand slam semi-finals of all time, just like the 2012 AO final was one of the best finals of all time. Many experts would agree with me. Federer is not the begin all and end all of tennis believe it or not. For one thing he collapses in long five set matches(and even some three set matches) and has a poor five set record compared to the rest of his achievemnts. He also collapsed vs Monfils so it’s his own fault he is not waiting in the final for the winner of Djokodal.

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  10. 6/3, 6/3. Is that dominance or not? Guess we don’t need to buy bread. Some nice fresh bagels and breadsticks coming tomorrow…..

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes it is. I loved how Djokovic broke Nadal in the last game and didn’t even have to serve it out. That was some kind of statement right there. Unbelievable display.

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  11. Djokovic was down a break early 2-0 and then just steadied himself. I’ts really inspirational to see that kind of resolve. It’s not like he is just a robot out there who shuts out the score and plays without thinking. He’s concsious of what he’s doing out there. You can see him smiling after he loses a point after some ridiculous defence by Nadal.

    It’s easy to see why Djokovic can do what Federer can’t really do consistently, he just has so much variety on that backhand. He went down the line and then other times he would go cross court and he had Nadal rushed on his shots. He also went after Nadal’s forehand beautifully. Plus a few deft moves at net. But the really impressive thing is that he never seemed to be out his comfort zone apart from some tricky moments…it was a controlled performance.

    The scoreline does not really show how close it was…before Djokovic broke, he served a marathon game saving break points, and then the game he broke in the 2nd set, Nadal was up 40-0 and then threw in a double fault and Djokovic made him pay.

    What it means for the French Open I don’t know. I think Djokovic had to win this one to stop Nadal gaining confidence. I remeber Djokovic beat Nadal (was in Rome last year?) but it made no difference in the finals of RG.

    Ha ha yes as the poster above says, time for some breadsticks and baguettes tomorrow…

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes that point where Djokovic smiled after that unreal defense from Nadal summed it up well. Just amazing composure from the Djoker. When Nadal plays a point like that against Roger he is usually shell shocked and can’t stay in the moment. Djokovic just smiled and calmly continued to break Nadal anyway. I was kind of waiting for Djokovic to lose his cool there but when I saw how he just smiled I knew he dealt with it the right way. His calmness was really amazing. Agree about the Djoker bh too. It completely nutralizes Nadal’s most devastating weapon, and then does some damage of its own like that cross court winner he hit on match point. Just a gorgeous sight. How cool is it to see someone give Nadal such a headache after Nadal gave Roger such a headache?!

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  12. Bummer. They have not yet aired the match in the US and I know the score. Hate when that happens. But that is the score line I was anticipating anyway. The confidence gap is huge and unless Nadal plays at his best he just doesn’t have the weapons he needs to punch through Djokerss super tigr game. Not surprising. Could have been even more dominating if Novak didn’t have a slow start from your accounts. Looking forward to watching anyway. Veronica you were so poetic a few comments ago, love it!!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I don’t understand that. But you should have checked on live stream. You missed a hell of a match. You called it well. Djokovic obliterated Nadal in a display of utter dominance. The tennis was very high quality and Djokovic played like a god. I am now starting to think he is back to 2011 form. It was everything I hoped for and more. Nadal was his old self but had no answers to the Djoker’s mastery.

    [Reply]

    FeDaL Reply:

    Dominated? No, and Nadal being his old self is also not a correct statement, he is a shadow of his former self. But even then he gave Djokovic a tough time, so calling it oblitiration is absurd. But whatever makes you feel better, I guess….

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Come on Fedal I know it’s tough when your player loses but you have to admit that was a good old spanking. And if Nadal was not his old self then he was close to it. That defnsive point he plays at 3-3 in the second set showed that his movement is back and was as a good a defensive point as he’s ever played. I couldn’t believe what I saw.

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    FeDaL Reply:

    He wasn’t even close to his old self. The slow way he moved, there was no spark and his shots weren’t as lethal as usual. A couple of times there was a spark of greatness that we are used to seeing with him, but there were too few of those. Anyone claiming Nadal moves as well as before in his prime needs to see this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APcPcNsIZw8

    [Reply]

    Bharata Reply:

    Well maybe it was not a domination, but Djokovic broke him 4 times and was in on many service games. He also broke him at key points in the match.

    Nadal isn’t back to where was he was at his peak, but that’s like saying anyone who beats Federer was just lucky because Federer wasn’t playing at his 2005-7 level. In any case Nadal was moving very well, as good as ever, he just lost most of the big points. He was neutralized by Djokovic’ s controlled aggression.

    Anyway it was a good week for Nadal, by beating Ferrer, that must be his first top 10 win in a while. He is steadily improving. He just wants to peak by RG, so he’s still on schedule.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes Bharata Nadal is indeed on schedule and will feel good about his week. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that he got spanked while moving and serving very well. It also doesn’t take away from the fact that the Djoker keeps spanking him and leads Nadal 13-7 in the h2h since the beginning of his prime, including 5 wins on clay and winning 5 of their last 6 meetings. Eventually this has to catch up with Nadal too in a big match.

    [Reply]

    Eric Reply:

    It was my amateur mistake – haha. I saw the time was 9:30am but It originally aired at like 5 am which I didn’t realuze. No biggie. I’ll watch it tonight. Must have been great fun.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Yeah I’m sorry you missed it. Would have liked to hear from you afterwards. Enjoy the rerun.

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  13. Pretty good win for Djokovic, the 6-3, 6-3 scoreline makes it look quite routine. Nadal has definitely played his best week of tennis this year, and this is the first Semifinal he has reached in a “big” tournament (Slam/Masters/WTF) since last year’s French Open.

    Novak knows the plan, he knows what he has to do. Nothing really different this time round except he’s serving a bit better and Nadal might be a little bit weaker compared to previous years even at Roland Garros. It all comes down him and Nadal making it far enough to meet each other, and then perfectly executing the game plan (and I mean perfectly).

    [Reply]

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