My Clay Court Season Preview: A Pivotal Period in the 2015 Tennis Calendar

Well we are officially in the clay court season as my new blog color suggests. If you look at the top bar where I changed the color you will also see a new tab called ‘Gallery‘ where I added photos from my blog since the beginning of 2014. I hope you like it and I will keep adding the images I use on my blog there as time passes. I also added the ‘Blog for me’ tab and updated just about all the other tabs so take a look. The first big clay event is only next week in Monte Carlo but already this week ATP 250 events are being played in Houston and Casablanca. I came up with the idea of making a kind of preview post of the clay court season while we are waiting for Monte Carlo to begin, as I don’t have much interest in Casablanca and Houston.

I think this coming clay court season will be interesting and important for several reasons:

1) Nadal’s confidence crises.

This is the first and foremost issue on most serious tennis fans’ minds going into the clay court season. Nadal has been going through a similar confidence crises Roger went through in 2013, ever since Wimbledon last year. Starting with Kyrgios he has lost to a string of low ranked players. It is difficult to compare the confidence problems of Fedal however because I think Nadal is now pretty much dependent on clay to find his confidence again, whereas for Roger he had more opportunities to regain his confidence given that he is a more complete and versatile player. If Nadal fails to do anything less than win the French Open this year he is in trouble.

I know it is not wise to ever write Nadal off but given the current situation you would think if he fails to win the French Open after only having ever lost there once before, it could really set him back. His slam winning days could be over. He will also drop out of the top five in the rankings for the first time since entering it in 2015 most likely. If he doesn’t win the French Open then how will he find his confidence again? It’s going to be hard to do on grass, on hard court, or indoors. And then it is another year before the next clay court season, and although you would never write his chances off to win in Paris for a long as he plays it will then get much harder for him.

So I think Nadal desperately needs to win the French Open after all the recent setbacks.

2) Djokovic’s quest for the career slam.

No doubt Djokovic is already one of the all time greats with eight grand slam titles. Right up there with Connors, Lendl, and Agassi in the open era. But he is still looking for that elusive French Open title which would give him the career slam. I am 99% sure he would have beaten Nadal in the 2011 final had God mode Fed not shown up against him in the semis. He also came awfully close in 2013 when he was a break up in the fifth set against Nadal. He must by now feel cursed in Paris and if he plays Nadal this year he may lose again. But he has also looked awfully good so far this year. It’s almost been 2011-like. And there is always the possibility that Nadal can be upset by the likes of Stan, Nishikori, or Dolgopolov.

He just has to catch someone on a good days like Soderling in 2009 and with his confidence still low he could be eliminated. Either way Djokovic has now won both of the last two slam finals he played in and he will believe that this is finally his year.

3) Federer’s packed clay court schedule.

Roger has of course added Istanbul to his clay court schedule this year and he is playing all three the Masters events. That is double the amount of clay court events he played in the last three years, and in the last two years he lost quarters and fourth round in Paris as well. And then of course last year he played that great match against Gasquet in the Davis Cup final to clinch the title for the Swiss. I think that match probably made him realize how good he can still play on clay and that his results on clay have been poor in the last few years by his own high standards. I don’t know if he will play all the clay events he is scheduled to play. Maybe he will skip Rome or Madrid if he does really well in the other events.

But it looks like he is looking to improve his result at the French Open this year and that he is taking the clay court season quite seriously. Remember last year he also sat Madrid out due to the birth of his twin sons which definitely affected his results. So I think this year he wants to play at least three warm up events for the French Open and try to make at least semis again at the French. He could also use the points after the third round loss in Melbourne. That was quite a big setback but hopefully Roger can make at least semis and regain his consistency at the slams. I wouldn’t look any further than that because after Melbourne that would already be a very encouraging result.

It would set him up well for the grass court season too.

So there it is. The three main reasons I think the clay court season will be very interesting this year. But those are definitely not the only reasons. I will also be eagerly following the progress with young Thiem who is currently training with Roger in Zurich. And then there is also the question of the effect that the clay court season will have on the grass court season and the rest of the year. I have already said that should Nadal fail to win the French Open he will probably keep struggling. If Djokovic wins the French Open he will still be in the running for the calender slam. I don’t think he will get it. I think winning the career slam will be hard enough. But if he fails to win the French he will be a serious threat at Wimbledon again.

Federer’s outfit for Monte Carlo/Istanbul/Madrid/Rome

Yes he will be a serious threat if he wins the French Open too, but that could take a lot of effort and the relief he may feel at finally winning it could open the door for someone like Roger to win a record eighth Wimbledon. The best scenario from my personal point of view would be if Djokovic wins the French and Roger wins Wimbledon. I just think Djokovic will win at least one of the French or Wimbledon, given how well he has been playing. And the worst scenario from my point of view would be if Nadal wins the French and Djokovic wins Wimbledon, with Roger missing out again. I am fans of both Roger and Djokovic, so I want Djokovic to get the career slam and Roger a record eighth Wimbledon.

Federer’s outfit for the French Open

And as far as Nadal goes he can just fade away. But yeah that is just my personal preference. Nadal could easily win a tenth French Open this year. But whatever happens there is no doubt that this clay court season could play a pivotal role in the careers of the big three. I am already looking forward to Monte Carlo where Djokovic, Roger, Nadal, Thiem, and most of the top 50 will be in action. You can view the entry list here. It should be a cracker!

The  is in your court.

Posted in Uncategorized.

61 Comments

  1. I know right now it doesn’t look like Djokovic is threatening Roger’s slam record but if he somehow manages to win even 2 out of the next 3 slams, I think he will beat Nadal’s 14 record. I think you have started to like Djokovic a lot more recently Ruan.

    [Reply]

    Katyani Reply:

    Hey Ajay, I just wanted to let you know that I liked your comment (long one) on the 5th April about Roger and Novak (a few posts back). I hope you know the one I am talking about. You made a lot of sense and you seem to know a lot about tennis. Maybe even as much as Ru-an. To me anyway :-) I didn’t know you followed tennis that much. You made a lot of good points and I agree with them all, except…. unlike you and Ru-an, I am not there YET where I like Novak as much as you guys seem to do :-)
    I absolutely love the way he plays and the points he makes…. but that’s it. And this dominant “I am beating them all huffing and puffing, look at me, I am unbeatable”-time is really getting to me.

    I am totally a Serena fan, but in the place she is right now, unbeatable and unplayable… is not working for me. You do need some competition. And she has absolutely NONE. The only one close enough to beat her is Vika and she is just not a 100%.
    Luckily, Novak can be beaten by what seems to be only our hero. And he will beat him.
    Don’t be so sure guys that Novak will win RG…. He won’t :-)

    [Reply]

    Ajay Reply:

    Thanks for the complement Katyani :-)

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I’d be happy if he beats Nadal’s slam record but not if he beats Fed’s. 15 would be a nice number with Nadal on 14. I have always liked Djokovic. When he beat Roger in the 2007 Canada Masters final I knew he was an exceptional talent. He took a long time to mature but once he beat Nadal in those 7 straight finals I couldn’t help but love the guy. He kept pounding Nadal until the 2012 AO final where he was so in Nadal’s head that Nadal missed a sitter in the 5th which cost him the match. There he did to Nadal what Nadal did to Roger in 2009. I’m surprised when Fedfans are not fans of Djokovic. Was it not for him Nadal would already be on 17 slams and two career slams. So he would be GOAT.

    [Reply]

    Ajay Reply:

    I think we are conveniently missing something when we thank Novak. Think about Aus 2008, Aus 2011 and Wimbledon 2014. All would have been his even anyone else was on the other side. I think frankly Novak has cost Roger more than Nadal anyway.

    [Reply]

    Katyani Reply:

    Actually… Rafa, Novak and Andy have ALL cost Roger a lot :-) And lets not forget how much Delpo has cost Roger. But luckily… Roger returned the favour and also cost them some pretty good and important titles :-)

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Those were not finals aside from Wimby and Nadal has cost Roger way more than Novak.

    [Reply]

    Ajay Reply:

    No I only told that Novak has cost Roger more than Nadal. He has defeated Nadal 3 times on the trot in Grand Slams and that is it. Novak has actually defeated Roger 6 times in Grand Slams. Even though only one of them was in the finals the other 5 were still semis and some which he would have definitely won had he not lost against Djokovic.

    [Reply]

    Ajay Reply:

    The way I would rather phrase it is, because Nadal knows Novak is still there in a tournament I think he is tanked. Paris 2013 and Shanghai 2013 were two matches were he definitely did not show up because he knew Novak was waiting for him. But as far as only Grand Slams go, surely Federer has suffered more at the hands of Novak than Nadal has suffered.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Well trash talking would not exactly be something Ajay. He has done his fair share of trash talking in the past that’s for sure.

    [Reply]

    Ajay Reply:

    I have not made any reference to trash talking ??

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Oh sorry wrong person. That comment should be for Veronica.

    [Reply]

  2. And I really like this new archives option in the side !!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Well it’s not exactly new Ajay. It’s been there for a while. But the related posts below every post is new.

    [Reply]

    Katyani Reply:

    Hey Ru-an, I like the Gallery. Nice pics. Just don’t forget my favourite one, Roger in white with his hands on his headband. His best pic by far.

    And wow Ru-an, what are you on?? You are writing great posts, one after the other. Almost one every day. It gets hard to keep track of them all :-) Anyway… keep it up and keep them coming :-)

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    That’s good Katyani. I’m just putting some more effort into my blogging now since I’m not actually working. I wana try to make it a more full time thing.

    [Reply]

    eric Reply:

    Awesome. Good for you Ru-an. Great post and as you know I completely agree with you about the Djoker. How could you not be a fan, the guy is probably the most complete player of all time. And yes, 18-15-14 would be perfect! I think Nadal does not win the French and then emotionally implodes. Terrible bet given his history, but it just feels like he’s on the verge of cracking to me. The FO draw will be crucial. I love that Roger smells weakness in Nadal and wants to take advantage of that. Love it. The Goat knows all!!! The effort you’re putting into your blogging is obvious and great. I’ve been taking a little travel break to visit family between handing in my work and getting feedback so haven’t been around much and won’t for another week but still read all your posts no matter where I am.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Eric. I’m gonna have to disagree with you about ‘probably the most complete player of all time’ though. I’ll just let another legend do the talking for me:

    Enjoy your break ;-)

    [Reply]

    Katyani Reply:

    Hope you get work you like very soon Ru-an.

    And Eric, I agree with you. It is not possible not to like Novak’s game and playingstyle. I myself love to see him play. But there is a big diff in Novak the player and Novak the person.
    Novak the person is not always likeable…

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thank you. I think Djokovic is likable but he is very sensitive like Becker says here. It’s very important for him that people and crowds like him which sometimes makes him look awkward. He should just try to care less what people think. Not everyone is as privileged as Roger with their parents and the conditions they grow up in. I think Novak actually grew up in tough conditions.

    [Reply]

    Ajay Reply:

    Novak definitely is not the most complete player ever. Even though from the baseline he is the best, he is useless both at coming to the net and at things like smashes, half volleys in forehand and backhand side and handling slices from opponents. At his best Roger is more complete than Novak for sure. But in these slow courts you barely even need the skills Novak is bad at and I agree at times it does look like he is the most complete player ever.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes I’m glad you bring this up again. For one thing he has a shockingly bad overhead for a world #1. His volleys is average too. And of course he doesn’t have the feel Roger has on a tennis court. Roger is pretty much perfect. You can say his bh or returns is average but that would hardly be true. Or saying his bh is average because Nadal can exploit it with high moon balls is wrong too. That is one guy in the entire world who can do it. His bh is actually very solid. So yeah he is as complete as they come. Djokovic is quite complete too but he isn’t nearly the attacking player Roger is. Roger is not a grinder but he can do defense quite well. Especially in his prime when he was faster. He also has a better serve than Djokovic although Djokovic has improved in that area of late. People tend to hype players when they are at their best and forget how good Roger was at his best.

    [Reply]

    Eric Reply:

    Yeah, I’m actually glad you guys commented on that because you’re right. The overheads are terrible and the volleys just mediocre, and not great attacking. I think what I was feeling when I made that comment is that it’s just so damn hard to get to a weakness with him and exploit it. When Novak in playing as well as he is now his weakness in volleys and overhead are virtually meaningless because he almost never comes to net other than to chase a drop shot or when he’s in a totally dominant position. Roger has unlimited versatility but his backhand has been a much more exploitable weakness than anything in Novaks game. Rafa has turned into a much better volleyer and server than I ever expected he would be.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Roger’s bh is only exploitable to some extent on slower courts. But like I said, the only guy that really exploited it is Nadal with an unnatural amount of topspin from a left hander. Otherwise Roger’s bh doesn’t really get exploited. Look how well it held up in the FO ’11 SF vs Djokovic for instance. It’s pretty solid if you ask me. Djokovic on the other hand can be exploited by Roger on fast courts. I mean at 33 he straight setted him twice in a row on faster courts while he is in his prime. Now that is what I call exploiting.

    [Reply]

  3. Good read! Rog has fewer points to defend than all other top guys on clay so hoping he can make a real push and set himself up for Wimby. Novak I think almost better than 2011 as he has won matches when not at his best! However, RG still a big mental hurdle for him! Also, he cld exhaust himself if he carries on and then run out of steam at a key moment in a key game!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Susie. Yes Djokovic is playing a lot of matches and will probably make a really big push in the clay season to try and win that illusive FO. And if he does then hopefully he is tired for the grass season. Don’t wana see Fed lose another final to him in five sets.

    [Reply]

  4. If you were not so blinded by your personal feelings to Nadal you would understand that without Nadal the tennis circuit would not be what it is today.

    It would be really boring. Roger would probably have more than 25 GS-titles and Djokovic would probably never have evolved into the player he is today because Rogers aura of invincibility would have been tremendous without Nadal showing he could beaten. Nadal is the one who made the circuit interesting and exciting again after Roger dominated for so long without any real opposition. Imagine if he had no opposition from 2003 until today, how interesting and exciting would that be? When Roger, Nadal and Djokovic are playing each in big tournaments even the casual tennis fans bench themselves early in the morning or late at night to enjoy the excitement.

    You will probably dismiss me as a Nadal fan, but deep down you know I’m right. And I’m not a Nadal fan, I’m a ATP World Tour-fan. I’ve been following the tour since 1990 and watched every Grand Slam, Masters 1000, ATP Finals and other interesting tournaments (Basel, Dubai, Queen’s Club) and in earlier years also Antwerp, Grand Slam Cup etc.

    Having been around for so many years I can tell you that the period from Sampras retirement (and Agassi was getting kind of old) until Nadal and Djokovic began challenging Roger it was a feeling of emptiness because there was only one (Roger) great player on the tour. Sure, it was a feast for a tennis fans eye to watch Roger play but in the end it became boring. So I think you reconsider your feelings towards Nadal and be thankful for what these three players bring to us tennis fans, they are all great players and persons and without each other none of them would be what they are today and neither would tennis as a sport.

    I’ve been following you blog since the start but this is the first time I’m writing a comment. I think your blog is interesting mostly because it shows so much how much Roger is loved by his fans and how much they can’t stand Nadal. The same goes for Nadal fans, Facebook comments is a great source if anyone might want to follow this phenomena. It’s not just Roger and Nadal battling each other on court, their respective fans are battling each other on blogs and social media but I guess it was unavoidable with all this modern communication. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, it brings an extra dimension to the sport, much like hawk-eye did when it was introduced. I also think your blog is very well written and easy to read, you are good at staying on topic (unlike me).

    Well, I hope I didn’t write to much to bore you or to offend you in any way but I just wanted to let you know my opinion on Roger, Nadal, Djokovic, your blog and tennis in general. Keep up the good work, I’ll keep following your blog as long as it’s around. Bye for now.

    PS. Yes, Djokovic is my favorite player as my last name might indicate that but he is not the reason why I love tennis. Right now The Big 3 is the main reason.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks for the follow but I am surprised that you say you have been following my blog since the start, given I recently said I appreciate Nadal since without him Roger would have completely dominated and the tour would have been boring. It was right after the Dubai final in this post. Here:

    I was hoping for a third set but it was too much to ask. Aside from the point I just mentioned and one other point, Roger came up with a winning serve every time there was an important point. It was a bit boring to be honest, although I’m sure for people who only care about winning and not seeing a good match that was very exciting. For the first time I was happy that court surfaces had been slowed down. I remembered why I became an Agassi fan in the 90’s after I was a Sampras fan to begin with. And Sampras had an even more devastating serve than Roger. He came up with second serve aces regularly when he was in trouble. I was a huge fan to begin with but then his dominance just became boring.
    With the fast courts of the 90’s he just served everyone off the court on faster surfaces, and he had a pretty dull personality too. So I switched to Agassi, even though Agassi got as routinely beaten by Sampras as Roger gets beaten by Nadal. Whenever they met at the US Open or Wimbledon Agassi had very little chance. So I am definitely not into supporting players just because they are winning. Tennis always comes first. The tennis has to be enjoyable or I will support someone else. The reason I supported Roger for this long is because it is hard to get bored of his tennis and he doesn’t have a dull personality either. But after watching the Dubai final I could certainly see how I could have become bored of Roger if the ATP didn’t slow down the courts so much.
    I also have to thank Nadal for coming onto the scene to challenge Roger. If it wasn’t for Nadal and slower court speeds I can see how Roger could have completely dominated the sport in which case I would have lost interest. I know for the fans who worship Roger like he is some kind of deity and for whom only winning is important, that doesn’t make sense. But who cares about them? It has always been about tennis first of all and then Roger. I loved tennis before Roger came on the scene and I will love it after he is gone. Many people don’t understand this concept because they only follow tennis because of Roger. In their eyes he can do no wrong and should never be criticized by anyone. He is God in the flesh.
    If that is the reason people want to follow tennis that is fine with me, but they should know this is not the blog for them. I strongly discourage that kind of celebrity worship. Sure you can worship worse people than Roger, but like I said this blog is first and foremost about tennis. Roger is secondary. To me this goes without saying anyway, because if there was no tennis there would be no Roger.

    I cannot imagine how you possibly could have made this comment if you read the above post. So yeah it’s all answered there.

    [Reply]

    Predrag Ljubisavljevic Reply:

    I said I’ve been following it since the start, not that i read EVERY post. i have now read the Dubai post and yes, it’s good you can appreciate Nadal as well as his challenge to Roger. It would be really nice if they could have a couple of matches against each other this year, it’s been a while now. Luckily we’ve been able to see Roger and Djokovic play some great matches last year and this year. Hopefully Nadal will be in the mix again soon. All of them in the Wimpy semis would be something really special but I guess it’s to much to ask. Let’s pray to the tennis gods it happens…

    [Reply]

    eric Reply:

    I appreciate Nadal too for the same reasons, but I’d appreciate him more without his gamesmanship and if Fed would get over the past trauma and beat him more often. Even Roger and Djoker have both said repeatedly that Rafa made them much better players and professionals and that they too appreciate him. Just because some of us are clearly not Nadal fans doesn’t mean we wish he never showed up.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Right Eric I can appreciate Nadal and dislike him at the same time. To me he is just like a necessary evil.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Yeah I wouldn’t mind some Fedal matches either. But as you know when Nadal is struggling he usually avoids Fed, whereas when Fed is struggling he usually plays Nadal. Yeah I wouldn’t put much money on Fedalovic making the semis of Wimby. The chances of Nadal making it is slim.

    [Reply]

  5. Once again thanks for giving such a detailed preview, Ru-an. Your blog has become more ‘colorful’ since you changed the name, and I mean colorful in every sense. :-) As you said this clay season is going to be pivotal for the big-3, and in-turn for the whole tennis world. It will definitely give us insights as to where Nadal’s career is heading, and also whether Djokovic ca finally overcome his nerves to finally win FO. Djokovic winning FO might help Roger big-time as well, like you said. He can then concentrate on winning Wimby. But in the clay season things can change very quickly for Nadal, like we saw last year. He almost went title-less, but for Nishikori retiring in Madrid. This time around all players might know that Nadal is most vulnerable now, even on clay. Also I think nobody has ever won the AO and FO consecutively at least for quite some time now. So it’ll be another record for Djokovic if he wins it this time.
    P.S. I found this on twitter
    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CCC1oDcWAAASDoh.jpg
    It was after the AO 2008
    The last line-“But now I’m here it’ll be tough for him”, says a lot about his attitude then. It was obvious that things weren’t right between Djokerer during that time, and it was only since a year or so that their relationship has been on good terms.
    It also shows how much Djokovic has matured now compared to 2008.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Cheers Nakul. Yeah it will be interesting to see how Nadal fares in the run up to the FO, starting with Monte Carlo. He will be happy to be back on his favorite dirt, but will he win titles? I am sure he will win at least one like last year. Probably Barcelona and maybe a Masters too. If he wins Barcelona and a Masters then his chances look good at the FO again.He musn’t be allowed to get confident again if Djokovic wants to win the FO. Djokovic has to at least take care of that part if he wants to win the FO.
    And yeah Djokovic matured a lot. He used to be such a wimp, retiring whenever he didn’t feel 100%. And I for one am glad he matured.

    [Reply]

    Nakul Reply:

    Basically whatever Roger predicts usually comes true. Like last year when he said Nadal was the favorite at the FO, Nadal went on to win it. So this time I hope he says Djokovic is the favorite, in case he does. I think he respects Djokovic now even more than last year, if at all that affects his prediction somehow.

    [Reply]

    Nakul Reply:

    How about these statements by Simon though?

    http://www.tennisworldusa.org/Gilles-Simon-Rafael-Nadal-Failed-to-Impress-Me-articolo23287.html

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I wouldn’t make too much of them Nakul. Simon has a big mouth. He’s said some unpleasant things about Roger in the past too. Probably Nadal will win the FO again this year.

    [Reply]

  6. What a wonderful make-over, Ru-an! So sleek!! You’ve certainly up your game! Other players (bloggers) better catch up!! Like the new additional features too! You’ve picked the top 3 reasons to look forward to on the dirt; and it’s no co-incidence that it involves Fedalovich. This clay season is ALL about Nadal; whether he will win his 10th or whether this is the beginning of the end for him. Logically, if he doesn’t win it, Djoker should…but not so fast! Roger or someone else could win it too!!! For once, the FO looks a little bit more wide open. One thing I know for sure. Nadal and Djoker will be under EXTREME pressure to win it; which will not help their cause. Should they meet, they will be out for blood. It will be like watching Apocalyse Now!! I used to dread the clay season. Now I can’t wait!!!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Veronica but I’m just getting started. A lot of work to do here.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Well so much for the makeover. I tried to improve my blog and in the process my right side bar disappeared. Sleek now, isn’t it?

    [Reply]

    Veronica Reply:

    Haha! Well done, Ru-an!!!!

    [Reply]

  7. Great write-up, Ruan :-) I wonder if Wawrinka and Nishikori can make big impacts in the Masters events again this year.
    Plus, Stan will surely do better than he did last year at the French Open.

    As for the top guys: I don’t know if Djokovic can/will beat Nadal at RG. Also a possibility he might not have to play him. Nadal will be so desperate for this one (last) title. I wonder if Fed might be able to take advantage of this somehow
    Have to say, I’m also a big fan of the kit – it’s really pushing the boundaries now

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Krish. I agree the kits are interesting. Something different.

    [Reply]

    Veronica Reply:

    Krish, , “pushing the boundaries”, couldn’t have worded it better! Roger has really come a long way from the days of predominantly blue in all forms and shades! A packed clay schedule, a statement kit, you think Roger’s got something up his sleeves, guys??!! Next thing we know, he might try some trash talking!! Lol!

    [Reply]

    Jiten Reply:

    I hope that “something up his sleeves” is not another pair of twins. :-)

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Me neither. That would spell the end of his tennis career surely.

    [Reply]

    veronica Reply:

    Yeah, Ru-an surely that would spell THE END for Roger, haha! Nadal’s ranking will be the talk of FO. I think he should be able to get back to no. 4 as he’s only got points to gain. But if he doesn’t do well and stays at no.5 and they don’t bump him up at FO, well, it can get rather interesting! Stan and Nishi can cause upsets on clay, even Thiem whose game suits clay.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I would be surprised if Nadal is not ranking top 4 come the FO. If he is not I don’t think he will win it. He needs to get some confidence going on clay after all the dismal results of late. I think he must probably win two clay events to be ready to defend the FO again. Really interested to see what happens at MC.

    [Reply]

    veronica Reply:

    Hahaha, brilliant, bro!! So funny!!

    [Reply]

  8. Hi Ru-an, hi everyone.

    Great post. I agree Federer wants to improve his clay results this season. After skipping Miami, he should be well-rested and have plenty in the tank for the long clay and grass run. The final was the only really strenuous match he played in IW. Before that, he cruised through Dubai (which is a fast court where points were short) and he had a month break prior to that. That’s enough for him to recuperate, recharge his batteries, and train thoroughly.

    I commented in Ru-an’s previous post that I was skeptical that Djokovic would win RG this year. There is one huge thing that is different from 2011, even if he is playing as well as he was then: he hadn’t won the other three slams. There would have been no pressure to complete the career Slam had he faced Nadal then. I don’t think anyone would have expected him to beat Nadal, either, despite having stopped Nadal in four straight finals.

    Now, he has the pressure of completing the Career Slam and beating Nadal. It was too much for Federer, I don’t think it will be any easier for Djokovic. It’s mentally too tough for Djokovic to grind robotically for five or six hours, which is what it will take for him to dethrone Nadal, especially if he’s thinking about the Coupe de Mosquetaires the whole time.

    Every champion cracks, no matter how tough they are mentally. Eventually they will face a pressure situation that is too much for them, and they stare their own limitations–their own mortality–in the face. Federer faced that moment twice–once at Wimbledon ’08 and then at AO the following year. What matters is not avoiding that moment, but how one handles it afterwards. And Federer has handled it magnificently. Seven years after that, he’s still going. Anyone who watched him battle Djokovic saw that the pure white flame burns just as brightly as it did over a decade ago when he first became the world’s top player. He fought Djokovic with the fierceness of a man eight years younger, and that was just for a Masters title.

    Nadal has never really faced that moment, he’s lived his entire career trying to evade it, and thanks to Uncle Toni’s machinations and various pharmaceutical miracles, he’s somehow managed to avoid it. I don’t think Djokovic has faced it either, he has not yet reached that point in his career. It will be interesting to watch Djokovic confront the downward side of his career, less so with Nadal (given his frantic attempts to explain away losses due to injury, I don’t think he’ll handle it well at all). But neither of them will handle it as well as Federer has.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Steve. Well we haven’t seen how Djokovic and Nadal handles it so we won’t know how they will. But as far as Nadal goes yes I think he will have a much harder time handling it. The FO is his fortress on tour. Clay is everything to him. It is the platform from where he built his entire career. Once that platform is shattered he has a problem, whereas Roger is a much more complete and versatile player. He had several fortresses, although Wimbledon was his best one. So lets hope Nadal’s fortress finally gets shattered this year. And I don’t agree that is isn’t any easier for Djokovic to grind Nadal out than for Roger. Djokovic has at least pushed Nadal to five sets and was even a break up in the fifth. Roger could never do this. That doesn’t mean I think Djokovic can beat Nadal this year. But his chances are still better than Roger’s probably ever was.

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    Katyani Reply:

    Hey Steve. Wow, great comment. Where do people like you, Ru-an, Veronica, Jiten, Vily (where is Vily by the way??), Bharata, Elizabeth and many more whose name I definitely forget… come up with such good comments and thoughts?? Very hard to equal dude. Trust me.
    But you did mention one thing that I think about ALL THE TIME when I see Roger play Rafa or Novak or Andy. Or even players like Nishi, Raonic and Dimi. That…. I literally have to remind myself EVERY TIME that I see Roger play them… that there is an age difference of 5 to 6 to even 10 years and there is a difference of almost 300 to 500 matches played.
    Every match Roger plays with Andy and Novak… he keeps up with them and is literally less tired then them :-)

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Vily was given a much deserved vacation.

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  9. Hey Ru-an, you changed your pic :-) I like it. But you are really white :-)

    You know, I think Rafa and his uncle believe that they can catch or surpass 17 slams as long as Roger stays on that, 17. I know you can not and never count Rafa out, trust me, I know that !!!, but it is also getting obvious that he is struggling with his body. But as long as Roger stays on 17, he and his uncle think that Rafa can “last that long”. But I really believe that if Roger wins another slam, that that will be kind of the end of Rafa “trying”. NOT that he will retire, but it seems that they really think 3 or 4 slams to equal or surpass are doable. But if Roger is on 18 or even 19… man, even the Great Uncle Toni will have to know that Rafa cannot catch that. He is 28 going on 29, but NOT his body. And like I said, you cannot count Rafa out, but a body is something else. Look at how many players are now struggling with their injuries and how many have had to retire from a great career because their body said “no more”…. I guess RG really will tell it all and luckily for us….. Roger really believes he can win RG this year…. he is trying !!!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thank you I guess. I don’t see much sun these days. Not as much as I saw when I wan playing tennis all day in the sun anyway. Yeah Nadal’s body is struggling. Who knows how much longer can he compete for the FO title though. I bet if he equals Roger by winning only FOs from here on he will think he is the GOAT.

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  10. Been reading all posts and to be honest even a sub par Nadal will take a lot of beating….BUT BELIEVE ME I WANT TO SEE THAT….especially on clay. Although DJO has been playing lights out tennis I can’t help thinking that he looks at times as if he is just on the edge, I guess Roger made being No1 tennis player look easy. I am interested to see how Raonic will do on clay this year you never know maybe he could be our ‘Soderling’ at RG. But enough of these ramblings C’MON ROGER (sorry Ru-an he’s my favourite) x

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