So far in the clay court season things have gone mostly as expected, with Rafa dominating all competition and dropping only one set in three tournaments. Utter dominance. But we might yet me spared from another one sided clay court event. There is many things that lead me to believe that this will be the one clay court event where we might actually see something different. First of all Rafa and Djokovic is in the same half of the draw, so we know we won’t see another Rafa/Djokovic final as in the two previous Masters Series events. Then there is the conditions which will be different because of the altitude of Madrid, which will give some extra assistance to the attacking players like Roger. Already Rafa has made a big deal of the conditions in the media.
“The altitude is a serious problem so close to Paris. It would be better if Rome were the last event before Paris since the altitudes are similar,” said the top seed.
“The bounce is complicated. I trained on Friday and had a lot of bad bounces on the courts.”
These kinds of statements are strange coming from Rafa, I wouldn’t have thought he’d make such a big deal of the conditions. Madrid is just 600m above sea level which isn’t that much anyway, a tournament like Johannesburg is played at 2000m above sea level. He is still the clear favorite to win the tournament and he still has a week before Roland Garros to prepare on sea level for Roland Garros. It’s not like he is the only one that will have to deal with it. Is there just some doubt creeping into the mind of the world number one, is he starting to feel the pressure of being the hunted? Or is all this domination causing him to doubt? We will find out soon. It’s hard to believe he will not win a fifth straight French Open title, but maybe his preparation will be hampered if he loses in Madrid.
His draw is certainly rigged with good clay court players and one wonders what effect his packed clay court schedule would have had on his physique and mind. Djokovic, on the other hand, could be tired as well after winning the first Serbian Open in his home country today. In the bottom half of the draw, Roger will already be drooling over the prospect of making only his second final of the year and a possible match up between him and Murray is another mouth watering prospect. Will we see the first Roger/Rafa clay court final of the season? There is a good chance and my mouth waters just thinking of it. It’s been a while since the Australian Open and I can’t wait to find out what is the next chapter in this great rivalry.
Roger needs to make the final to get some confidence before the French Open and measure his form against the best. And knowing Roger he would fancy his chances in the conditions to go all the way…