Nadal Wins Rome, But Looks Less Threatening

As expected, Nadal won the Rome Maters Series today when he beat David Ferrer 7-5, 6-2 in a predictable final. At 5-4 and Nadal serving, Ferrer was two points away from the set at 30-0, but dumped a return off a second serve from Nadal straight into the net. He went on to play several more feeble points after which Nadal held serve. And predictably Nadal broke in the next game. The rest is history. It’s disappointing seeing another Masters Series final where a Spanish player basically just bows down before Nadal. Ernests Gulbis did no such thing though in the semi-finals, where he became the first player this clay court season to win a set off Nadal when he lost 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. For the first time Nadal started showing some vulnerability against a player who was not afraid to go for his shots. This is the sign we’ve been waiting for.

It seems Nadal is beatable on clay after all, depending on the speed of the surface. I think Monte Carlo is slow and high bouncing, which is why Nadal always does so well there. In Rome the surface is faster and the ball bounces lower, which doesn’t suit Nadal as much. In Madrid the conditions is even faster, which means Nadal will be beatable again there like he was last year. I don’t think Nadal is the player he was in previous years. Today against Ferrer he wasn’t all that impressive, and if he played against someone who was less likely to choke and had a bigger game, he may have been in trouble. All this is good news for Federer is his quest to defend the French Open and keep his hopes of achieving the calender slam alive. I’m not sure exactly what the conditions is like at the French Open, but Soderling has shown last year that Nadal can be beaten there by a player with a big attacking game.

It is important that Federer or someone else upsets Nadal at Madrid so that he doesn’t go into the French Open unbeaten. Last year that worked like a charm to soften up Nadal before the French Open when Roger beat him in Madrid. Lets not forget Soderling who played his part. This year someone will have to do something similar, or Roger would have to do it himself. I’d prefer that actually. Beating Nadal at the French Open would be something special. I heard today on twitter that Del Potro may need wrist surgery which would put him out of the game for 3-6 months. This is sad and unfortunate. Del Potro is an exciting player and one of the few guys who could threaten Nadal on clay. But at least it is one less difficult opponent for Federer to deal with on clay. Speaking of difficult opponents, there won’t be too many of those this coming week in Estoril. Here is the draw:

R. FEDERER [1]
2 BYE

3 QUALIFIER
4 PHAU, Bjorn GER

5 KUNITSYN, Igor RUS
6 CLEMENT, Arnaud FRA

7 FALLA, Alejandro COL
8 CHELA, Juan Ignacio ARG

9 MONTANES, Albert ESP [4]
10 BYE

11 LAPENTTI, Nicolas ECU
12 GIMENO-TRAVER, Daniel ESP

13 GRANOLLERS, Marcel ESP
14 HERNANDEZ, Oscar ESP

15 QUALIFIER
16 CUEVAS, Pablo URU

17 GARCIA-LOPEZ, Guillermo ESP
18 MALISSE, Xavier BEL

19 TAVARES, Leonardo POR
20 MELLO, Ricardo BRA

21 QUALIFIER
22 QUALIFIER

23 BYE
24 MONFILS, Gael FRA [3]

25 MAYER, Florian GER
26 GIL, Frederico POR

27 DARCIS, Steve BEL
28 GIRALDO, Santiago COL

29 MASSU, Nicolas CHI
30 MACHADO, Rui POR

31 BYE
32 LJUBICIC, Ivan CRO [2]
http://www.atpworldtour.com/posting/2010/468/mds.pdf

This is an ideal tournament for Federer now. It is probably the weakest event he will play all year as well. He really should win this title. His first match should be no problem, even with his confidence being as low as it is. Then next he could face Chela, who recently made the final of a clay court event in Houston. Then he could face Albert Montanes, last year’s winner at Estoril, in the semi-finals. In the final he could meet someone like Ljubicic or Monfils. This tournament should provide him with enough match wins and confidence to give Madrid a real title shot. I know you’ve heard this all before, but I really think and hope that this is tournament where Roger will get some much needed wins under the belt. I have a feeling that this is a pivotal time in the clay court season, a time in which Federer will start making his move in a plot to topple the clay king from his thrown once more.


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5 Comments

  1. Its my ultimate dream to watch Roger beating Nadal in FO. I feel still a long way to go and badly wants him to retain his FO title. Sadden to hear about Delpo, I would think that he will be the next person to give Nadal a hard time. We have witness that on HC, just curious how clay will look like.

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  2. Barring the Australian Open win, Roger’s results so far are probably worse than 2008, aren’t they? This is beginning to get concerning. I didn’t care too much about his losses on Indian Wells & Miami. But the early round exits start to become a pattern. A pattern I hope he will break for good in Estoril.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    No need for concern just yet. I mean give the guy a break. He won the last major LOL.

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