Federer and Nadal Both Make Strong Starts to the Clay Court Season in Monte Carlo

  • Federer vs Chardy

So the action is under way and yesterday Chardy set up a fourth meeting with Roger after defeating Schwartzman. Roger did get revenge for his Rome loss to Chardy last year in Paris which was a close affair. Today however Roger got proper revenge as he disposed of Chardy by the same scoreline Nadal disposed of his first opponent Pouille, 6-2, 6-1. I thought it was a highly encouraging performance at the beginning of the clay court season for the second best clay courter in the world in recent years.

It was basically JesusFed, who was also present in Indian Wells. The match stats are just about peRFect and there was no rust whatsoever after the three week break. I guess Roger really benefited from his training camp with Thiem while Thiem got the opposite out of it, because he lost 6-4, 6-4 to the guy Nadal destroyed today. I knew Pouille would be a difficult opponent but that is still a disappointing performance from Thiem. But I still think Thiem gained valuable experience that will serve him well in the long run.

How about dat first serve percentage?

Anyway to get back to Roger he couldn’t have asked for a better start to the clay court season. Sure Chardy didn’t look great out there by making double faults and unforced errors, but he is still a dangerous opponent and for Roger to routine him that easily is pretty special. It makes me excited and gives me hope that Roger can do some serious damage on the dirt. So even though Thiem made a poor showing I think we need to at least thank him for being good preparation for Roger for the clay season.

I liked the look of Roger’s new outfit but I liked his tennis even more. From the start he was looking to approach the net and to be aggressive on the return. I think that will be key this clay court season for him. Even though clay is a slow surface he still needs to try and dominate proceedings and not allow the base line grinders to draw him into too many extended rallies. It is not easy to do because he has to be very precise, knowing when to full out attack and when to wait for the right moment.

Any thoughts on the outfit?

But given how he played today he seems to be very much in the flow of things still. Roger’s draw doesn’t get any easier because next he plays Monfils who defeated the Dog in two tie breaks in an impressive display. It was surprisingly clutch from Monfils and you would have expected the Dog to win at least one of the breakers. But the French have always been different players when they played close to home, and I am expecting a tough match for Roger.

Roger leads the head-to-head 8-3 and I am sure he is primed for revenge after losing to Monfils in the Davis Cup final last year. On that occasion Roger could not prepare for the match due to a shoulder injury, but this time there will be no such luck for Monfils and I hope to see a good old beat down. But like I said Monfils is a talented and dangerous player who plays well close to home. Personally I am just excited to see Roger play so well so soon as if he is just carrying on where he left off in Indian Wells.

This means we can be in for a few more JesusFed performances this week but lets just take things as they come. Roger’s draw is no joke because both Stan and Dimitrov is through to the third round which means Roger will have another tough match if he beats Monfils.

  • Nadal vs Pouille

I watched the beginning of this match until 3-2 in the first set with no service breaks. I thought Pouille was playing well but that Nadal would win, so I left to go meditate. I didn’t want to meditate too long because of course Roger’s match was after, so I decided on 45 minutes. When I came back Nadal had already won 6-2, 6-1, with Pouille managing only one more game since I left. So I was just in time for Roger’s match. I was disappointed with Pouille but also realized Nadal must have played well.

Nadal was sporting a new paint job

So it looks like Nadal is very happy to be back on his favorite dirt which is an ominous sign. But don’t say I didn’t warn you. Who knows how far he will go in Monte Carlo but I won’t be surprised if he wins it. He is the underdog at the moment which suits him just fine. He doesn’t even have to lie when he says he is not the favorite anymore! He likes being the underdog and it will make him relaxed and confident. He now plays Isner who had that revival in Miami and who has looked good so far in Monte Carlo too.

That will be another test and will tell us more about his form. Like Roger he has a tricky draw which will be a true test of whether he is confident again.

  • Elsewhere in the draw

Today all the seeds won, with only one of them(Bautista Agut) needing three sets to get the job done. The only casualty in the seeds so far has been Gulbis who got obliterated 6-1, 6-0 by Haider-Maurer. The world #17 is having a shocker of a season thus far and is 1-8 for the year. And the main problem with his game as far as I’m concerned is that monstrosity of a forehand he currently has. He actually used to have a decent looking forehand which was a decent shot, but then he change it to his current bizarre forehand.

It really looks ridiculous, like he is trying to take flight or surf. But that is Gulbis for you I guess. Talented but crazy. At least he has a personality which is desperately lacking on tour these days. Elsewhere Cilic had his first win since coming back from injury by defeating Mayer in three sets. Another player who had injury woes of late is Tsonga and he has also looked good so far. He will now play Cilic for a place in the quarter finals to face Djokovic probably. Djokovic is still the man to beat and should Nadal make semis Djokovic will take some stopping.

The Djoker won a second of these today. Congrats!

But we will see how things pan out. For now I am just delighted with Roger’s form. I’ve been delighted with it since Indian Wells but it is good to see him bringing that form to Europe. How cool is it to see him play that well at age 33? As usual we are being spoiled as Fedfans. Tomorrow center court will be stacked with blockbuster matches as the big three and Stan will all be in action. Stan and Dimitrov will start proceedings after which Roger will hit the court. Nadal will follow and Djokovic vs Haider-Maurer will conclude proceedings.

A lot of tennis watching to be done tomorrow!

Highlights:

The  is in your court.

Posted in Masters 1000, Monte Carlo.

41 Comments

  1. Great to see the whole pack in competing in the same tournament again (without early, unexpected exist I hope).

    Rafa started a bit slow but then as the match progressed was able to make some great shots and you could see the confidence building right in front of your eyes – and the big smile while signing the camera lens, priceless.

    Great matches tomorrow, looking forward to it

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks for the update about Nadal’s form Neondreams.

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  2. not being patriotic but I hope Isner takes out Nadal tomorrow. With the big serve anything is possible.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Lets not forget that FO where Isner took Nadal to five sets. He also has a win over Roger on clay in DC. Like you say, when that serve is on anything is possible on any surface.

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  3. Sorry Ru-an but I’m going to have to disagree with you on Gulbis. Personally I think he’s a complete brat, went to jail in Sweden for a night, gambled away his French Open winnings last year (or was it the year before?). More in line with what I think of as good personalities are Monfils and Fognini, as they seem to come across better. Just my opinion of course.

    I managed to watch some highlights of Roger and Rafa though and they were both playing well. I also managed to catch some highlights of Stan, he looked very impressive vs Fognini.

    Anyway I’m gonna try my hand at some predictions for the rest of the tournament, in order of most to least likely:

    Monfils to beat Dimitrov

    Roger to reach final

    Rafa to lose before semis

    Last one is mostly wishful thinking though :-)

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Interesting. Stan played Monaco and how can Roger reach the final if he plays Monfils next and for Monfils to beat Dimitrov he has to beat Roger? Not to mention that Dimitrov would have to beat Stan first.

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    Veronica Reply:

    Ru-an, I thought I was the only one sleeping! haha!

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    Charlie Reply:

    Lol, it was about 1:00 my time when I posted that, so not surprised it doesn’t make any sense. Stan did beat Dimitrov though, and Monfils leads Roger by a set. For some reason I thought Dimitrov would play Monfils and then the winner would play Roger.

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  4. Thank You for the good analysis of today’s tennis, Ru-an. Greetings to you!
    Did not see any tennis today, busy with other projects, so your report was great. As far as Nadal goes, you bet he likes being the underdog, blah, blah, blah….did read that he is using a new racquet have you read that, too? Truly would love to see Roger defeat Nadal should they meet, it would be like a “trophy” for Roger! Guess, one match at a time.
    Cheers to all!
    Kindly,
    Dolores

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Hello Dolores. You are welcome. It is unlikely that Nadal is using a new racquet Dolores. Usually they are just paint jobs. I know now when your birthday is. Don’t think you will escape!

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    Veronica Reply:

    Hi Dolores, just wanna respond to your comment in last post where you said you are a Leo, same like Roger and you went “Grrr in a gentle way”. This is what makes you so loveable. Always kind, always gentle, won’t even hurt a fly. Reminds me so much of my own mum who is in heaven…. But alas! I’m not like you or my mum. When I Grrr… I GRRRR….!!!! Haha!

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  5. Hi Ru-an, according to this article, Nadal really did change his racquet:

    http://ftw.usatoday.com/2015/04/rafael-nadal-new-racket-racquet-monte-carlo-babolat-spin-control-power

    One of the things that Roger did when he was low on confidence was try out new racquets, and now Nadal is doing the same. That would suggest that Nadal is really sensing something is wrong with his game and trying to adapt.

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    Ajay Reply:

    Nadal has changed racquets far more often than Roger has

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  6. What a wonderful job you are doing with your blog now, Ru-an! You pay attention to every aspect, every detail. It’s so attractive, appealing, colourful, interesting, creative; and the posts are always thoughtful and well written. Was thrilled to watch Roger last night. I really like that he is using bhdtl more confidently and regularly now. I just love the offensive mindedness, rushing the net and aggressively returning from the word go. Don’t you think Roger has the best overhead smash?!! Yeah, no rust at all, I was pleasantly surprised! Except maybe the beginning games of 2nd set, I think, where he kept hitting his balls out. But I do think Chardy didn’t play well at all and that helped Roger look good. The Monfils match should give us a more accurate gauge of Roger’s level. And oh yes! The outfit is outstanding!! One of the best! Love the colour. He looked so elegant and immaculate! Did you see Nadal’s and Stan’s outfits??!!! Omg, I wouldn’t be seen dead in them!! Stan’s shorts!! What was he thinking??!!! And you wouldn’t think that Nadal and Roger have the same sponsors. Whereas Roger’s was so beautifully coloured and sophisticated, Nadal’s looked mismatched and cheap!! Do they have favourites at Nike?!! And Katyani, Birdshit’s shirt is horrific!! Haha!

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    Jiten Reply:

    Hi Sis, what about Monfils’ outfit? He may win a few cheap points in his match against Roger by sheer distraction it creates! And Stan just wants to break the jinx of losing early in a tournament by wearing as horrible shorts as possible. Looks like mini blanket galore! Hopefully Stan vs Dimi goes to a third set as I need to teach at 12:00 pm Monte Carlo time here in India. :-)

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    elizabeth Reply:

    About Monfis Marc Petchey said he looked like s stipey cucumber! My first thoughts were that he looked like a big long caterpillar. Fed looked good and determined so C’mon Roger.x

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    Dolores Reply:

    Agree, Elizabeth….Monfils looks like a caterpillar, a long one, indeed.

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    Veronica Reply:

    haha bro! What a lame effort from Stan…with a wrapped blanket round his waist and sleep walking on court….

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    Dolores Reply:

    Love your sense of humor, Veronica…Stan the Man wrapped in blanket round his waist and sleep walking….good one, Ha-ha-ha.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I don’t know about that. I still have under 200 fb likes. I have a fair amount of traffic but almost no one likes my page on fb. It’s quite strange. If you look at Jonathan’s blog who has 50 k fb likes compared to my 200 it’s a joke. I never cared much about fb until recently but still. I guess his blog is soooooo much better than mine LAWL. I guess my blog has to be pure garbage that after more than 6 years I still only have 174 fb likes and 125 subscribers or something. But yeah what does it matter? What does anything matter? Hahaha!

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  7. Oh man, and Monfils actually takes him out. He had absolutely no drop in level at all throughout the two sets!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes good match from Monfils as expected, but Fed let himself down.

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  8. Oh, NO, Ru-an, what happened????? Monfils 6:4, 7:6, am very sad.
    Dolores

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    Veronica Reply:

    Aww Dolores! I understand how you feel, especially as you missed the first match which he won and played some beautiful tennis….never mind, he can only get better in the next tourney! Onwards!

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    Dolores Reply:

    Yes, Veronica, I was a bit in shock when I flipped the switch to watch Fed/Monfils and to my horror saw the score. Just saw the very end of the tiebreak. You’re right, Veronica, onward to the next tournament in Instanbul with confidence in place, where Roger can only get better.
    Best,
    Dolores

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    Dolores Reply:

    ….oops, typing error…Istanbul, of course.

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  9. Argh, 5-3 up in the tiebreaker, I thought he could take it to 3. Then played some loose points. He really didn’t have a single easy service game, Monfils gives him a hard time, he’s just very defensive, but then quite unpredictable and can mix up aggression in his play. It’s a disappointment for FEderer as he had high hopes and was feeling confident. I hope this does not derail the next few months…

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  10. Just as I commented earlier. Chardy’s match wasn’t a good indicator where Roger is at coz Chardy played terribly. Clownfils is damn good when he shows up, isn’t he?! He’s slowly morphing into a bogeyman for Roger, Ugh! Luckily I had low expectations but I feel disappointed for Roger. He was so pumped. I hope this doesn’t set him back… His packed clay season now makes more sense. He can play them all now!!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Clownfils is good but this was not Fed 4.0. It was the AO Fed. Anyway the tournament isn’t over. One player lost that’s all.

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    Veronica Reply:

    Yeah, I wasn’t convinced when he played Chardy although I was happy he showed no rust. Its deceiving when Roger plays well against a lesser player. I said he could be upset by any one of of the 3 opening players; my intuition was right. Both Roger/Stan (finalists) are out….what a different scenario from last year. So frustrating Isner lost TB to the monster. But I think I want Nadal to make it so he can meet Djoker….

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    Jiten Reply:

    Isner won the second set though against a tide of break points against him. He needs to take the third at least to a tie-break!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Gonna get broken here.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yep. Should be over now.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Good call. I knew the he had a tough draw but after the Chardy match, in which he did play very well, I thought he would pull through. But then he let himself down mentally again.

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    steve Reply:

    Veronica, I think part of it is simply rust and issues with switching surfaces. He had a long break, it takes time to get back into gear. Last year he played Miami and went to the quarters, that kept him in tournament shape. Also, I don’t think he faced top players until the QFs in MC.

    Monfils was opportunistic this time, as he was in Davis Cup, and took advantage of a rusty Federer to get the win. Like you said, Chardy was in pretty woeful form so he didn’t provide a real test for Federer.

    Unlike last year, he’ll play Madrid, and it will be important for him to go deep in the tournament to at least get some matches. His decision to play an extra clay tournament looks prescient in light of this result.

    As long as he peaks for Paris, I don’t care if he loses in the first clay Masters of the season. He’s not going to win every match on clay in his old age.

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    elizabeth Reply:

    Sorry that Roger lost but he never seemed as though he was enjoying his tennis (unlike IW), maybe the DC defeat to Monfis was more telling than we thought. Although he lost I’m sure he’ll bounce back. We just all expect so much…we’ve been spoiled!

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  11. Disappointing result, but not totally unexpected. The last win Federer had over Monfils, Monfils was a point away from victory. Since then they’ve played twice on clay and Federer hasn’t won a set. Both times, Monfils caught Federer when he was underdone and didn’t have a lot of match play. But he’s becoming a bit of a problem opponent for Federer and I hope our man can sort it out going forward.

    All I can say is it’s a good thing Federer decided to play in Istanbul, he’ll get more time on the red dirt ahead of Paris.

    Nadal is probably winning the whole thing; I think Djokovic reeks of burnout. Since Doha he’s made the final of every single tournament he’s entered, the last time he played so much tennis during the spring HC season was in 2011 and he’s older now.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    ‘I think Djokovic reeks of burnout’.
    That’s a very interesting way of phrasing it. You make it sound like he can barely win a match when he just won the very difficult IW/Miami double and hardly lost a match all year. Moreover, winning doesn’t burn you out. In 2011 Djokovic lost his first match at the FO, and he already lost two this year. He might be slightly tired physically but mentally he will be fresh as a daisy. He could lose in MC to anyone, but I wouldn’t put any money on it if I were you.

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  12. I agree with Ruan; not sure Djokovic is burnt out at all. He knows this is his best chance to win the FO and beating Nadal here will go far to insure Nadal’s confidence issues remain. It seems whenever Nadal win a decent match now everyone thinks all of a sudden it means he’s going to win the whole thing now. He still hasn’t beaten a top 10 player since last year’s FO.

    Beating Isner on clay in 3 sets is not a sign of impenetrable strength. He may be gaining a bit of confidence, but not that much. I still don’t think he’s back to form and not sure he will get back to form this time around. His game was too reliant on relentless retrieving. You simply can’t do that forever, PEDs or no.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Right Jim. He is far from back. He won two matches on clay and all of a sudden the FO is in the bag. Obviously he can win it, but there is a long way to go and I would say it’s more like 50/50 this year. When your confidence was as low as his it doesn’t just snap back into place. As for Djokovic yes he would want to hold Nadal off in Monte Carlo. Then he can take a break and come back fresh for Madrid and Rome, and hopefully stop Nadal from winning neither of those too.

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