I didn’t see much of this match but it seems that Roger played well. He broke once in the first set and picked it up in the second, breaking two more times. Tsonga had his chances to break back as he ended with a 0/7 break point conversion rate. Roger on the other hand was probably above his average with a 3/7 break point conversion rate. Roger was struggling to close out the match at 5-2, squandering 3 match points before he won. Tsonga is not a giant on clay but this was a convincing win nonetheless. I like what I saw. The main thing was that he kept his good from up which saw him take Nadal to three sets in Madrid. He will now play Gasquet who won his first two matches with ease. Roger holds an 8-1 head-to-head record over Gasquet, having lost the one match on clay. Despite that I don’t see Gasquet being a problem for Roger.
The big news of the day was the Nadal lost the first set against journeyman Lorenzi. That didn’t look like the Nadal we know. It looks like his confidence definitely took a hit against Djokovic in Madrid. He also seems tired. That is no surprise given how much he is playing. Again I can’t help wondering why he didn’t leave out Barcelona from his schedule. He did it last year and he went unbeaten in the clay season. Now he has tired himself out while his confidence took a hit as well. This is the event where he will be the most tired, and Roger has to try and take advantage of that. But even if he gives Nadal just another tough match it will tire him out some more. Djokovic on the other hand looked good, winning easily in straight sets. I think Nadal is gonna get beaten in Rome again. He got lucky with the draw as usual, with Ferrer having withdrawn.
Having to play Ferrer, Roger, and Djokovic in succession would have been a tough ask given the condition he is in. If I have to make a prediction I’d say Nadal will lose to Djokovic in the final again, with an outside chance of losing to Roger in the semis. If he does happen to lose, it won’t be good for his confidence going into Paris. If he loses to Djokovic then Djokovic’s ownage of him will increase. If he loses to Roger he will appear even more vulnerable. All of this makes this clay court season much more interesting than previous years. The second half of the season has certainly picked up, thanks to Djokovic. I am now looking forward to the next time Nadal loses. To go into Paris with a lot of confidence he will need to win Rome. If not, his confidence will take another hit, and it may turn the scales in Djokovic’s favor for Roland Garros.
I am really hoping that Nadal doesn’t win in Paris this year. This would help to stop all this GOAT talk about Nadal, because then he won’t even be the GOAT on clay yet, having not equaled Borg’s 6 French Open titles yet. We are now entering an interesting period of the overall tennis picture as well, because if Djokovic beats Nadal at the French Open, it will be the changing of the guard. Djokovic could start dominating and Nadal won’t even come close to Roger’s slam count. As always, things can change fast in tennis. But we are not there yet. Lets see what happens in Rome first, an event which could prove to be pivotal in this clay court season.