What Does the Monte Carlo Final Result Mean for the Rest of the Clay Court Season?

I wrote about this topic a bit in my previous post, but after having read some of your comments and giving the topic some more thought, I felt it was worth it to make a post about it. We have time on our hands after all. I said in my last post that Nadal’s win over Djokovic in the Monte Carlo final made him the favorite for Roland Garros. While I think he still has a slight edge, I don’t think it’s that clear cut. First of all Djokovic was clearly not himself in Monte Carlo due to the death of his grandfather. He went three sets with both Dolgopolov and Berdych. Not to take anything away from those players. They are both great players in their own rights, but Djokovic started out slowly. He did the same thing against Nadal, but he never recovered.

I think he was just too emotionally drained at that point, so he checked out. So in the end we can tell very little from the final result. In a sense Nadal got lucky. He lost seven straight times to Djokovic and it’s no coincidence that he won the one time that Djokovic was having issues. That doesn’t mean this result has no baring on the future. It may just be the break Nadal was waiting for. But there is a lot of tennis left to be played in the clay court season and Djokovic will only get better. He can still beat Nadal in Madrid and Rome and if he does so he will once again gain a mental advantage before Roland Garros. Like I said, I still think Nadal is the slight favorite for the French Open, but it’s not that clear cut and there is still tennis left to play that will have a baring on the French.

In the end it’s probably better if Nadal wins the French instead of Djokovic. If Djokovic wins it he will achieve the non-calender grand slam and I’m not sure I want that. Neither Roger nor Nadal have been able to achieve that and it would make their era lose some of it’s shine. I think Roger is the GOAT and Nadal is the clay GOAT, and their era was the strongest in the history of the sport. If Djokovic goes and achieve the non-calender slam with them still around, it wouldn’t look so great. So for once I am actually siding with Nadal. If he wins a seventh French Open it would confirm his clay GOAT status and make Roger look even better for what he has achieved. Remember I have always said that Fedal’s destinies are intertwined.

It is thought that Nadal have spoiled Roger’s resume to a certain extent, but I don’t see it that way. Nadal forced Roger to improve and kept him motivated. Roger got his one French Open to complete the career slam after all, and I am content with that. If Nadal wins the French Open it doesn’t mean he will threaten Roger’s slam record either. He will be on eleven slams and go into Wimbledon with his usual confidence, but Djokovic and Roger will both be there standing in his way. Nadal probably needs to win two slams this year to stay on track for Roger’s record. So I guess it becomes a bit of a dangerous situation if he wins the French. He will get a confidence boost and could win Wimbledon. We don’t want that either.

Suddenly there are all kinds of scenarios coming up. If Djokovic wins the French then he could win the calender slam, and we certainly don’t want that. But I think that is highly unlikely. Even if he wins the French I think Roger or someone else will win Wimbledon or the US Open. These things have hardly ever been achieved for a reason. The non-calender slam is already a stretch, so I think the calender slams is pretty much out of reach. Think about it. Roger had the chance to win the non-calender slam twice, while Nadal had the chance once. If they can’t achieve it then it’s even less likely that Djokovic will achieve it with them still around. Djokovic isn’t even in the form he was in last year. So my guess is he won’t win the French, but you never know.

So what do you prefer? Djokovic winning the French and achieve something that Roger never could, or Nadal winning it and staying on course for Roger’s slam record? Remember if Djokovic wins the French then Nadal’s chances of catching up with Roger is pretty much shattered. And Djokovic will only be on six slams so he will still have a very long way to go to sixteen. I don’t think he can ever threaten Roger’s record. So there is a lot to consider here. Personally I don’t really have a preference over what happens and can’t really predict it either, so I will let you decide. You may ask why I didn’t bring Roger into the equation for the French. He has a chance but it is very unlikely I think. He will have to avoid Nadal, and for that he will have to be ranked number two and hope Nadal is on Djokovic’s side of the draw and lose.

Who do you THINK will win the French Open other than Roger?

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Who do you WANT to win the French Open other than Roger?

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7 Comments

  1. What does Monte Carlo mean for the rest of the claycourt season? Nadal. End of story. In fact I am picking it won’t change until someone beats him at the USO. Djokovic will play second fiddle until then. Roger will put up a good show but won’t beat him or even Djoko unless he too goes over to the dark side. I wish it were different but Nadal keeps raising the stakes – bad knees, bird flu and all.

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  2. Nadal will go out with injury, Djokovic will go out with exhaustion, Murray will win against Tsonga in the final. And Federer will be ready for Wimbledon ;-)

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  3. So what do you prefer? Djokovic winning the French and achieve something that Roger never could, or Nadal winning it and staying on course for Roger’s slam record?
    – Given a choice I would prefer Roger to win the French open and win his second career slam :-) .. Between the two, I would prefer Djokovic winning four straight. I think he deserves it very much if he gets there and especially if he is able to accomplish something Federer never could(beat Nadal at FO).. I think when he is done, Djokovic deserves to be spoken in the same level as Fedal. He is doing something incredible, by displacing two legends of the game. Even if he does not match the grand slam count, this will be something unique about his achievements, and frankly something that he deserves.
    Whether he will do that, it is another story. He is not playing as well as he was last year, when his mere presence won him a set. He had to work really hard to win AO and by all counts, struggling to keep the feverish pace he set at the beginning of the last year.
    I think that you are right to say that Nadal is a marginal favorite for FO as it stands right now. If Djokovic defends his titles at Madrid and Rome OR if Nadal goes out early(blue clay?? really), then Djokovic becomes an equal favorite. But beating Nadal in a best of 5 on clay has got to be the most challenging task in tennis ever(Yes, even tougher than beating Sampras on grass).. The physical and emotional toll it takes on a player to beat him is just incredible. Nadal makes sure that he turns every match into a physical grueling war and there is simply no other way to beat him on clay. You can’t hit through him for 3 sets(very unlikely that Soderling’s feat could be repeated). He just grinds you down!

    As Federer fans, the best scenario is for Djokovic and Nadal to grind themselves to dust, with Djoker winning a majority of the battles. That will allow Federer or even a Murray to sneak in for a slam title. I think it is very very difficult to see Nadal or Djokovic upset in a best of five right now.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Great comment Aravind.

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  4. Hi Ruan and all! Thanks Ru-an for keeping us entertained during these lulls and all you wonderful tennis commentators here. These long Fed breaks is really really hard for me. Anyways, my thoughts on your last few posts, Ru-an. I won’t read too much into the Nadal win because Djoko was clearly off. However, Nadal definitely has regained his confidence, is clearly on form, and has made some very important improvements/adjustments (better and smarter serve, high loop to Djoko’s back hand which seems to negate it, more powerful and deeper strokes hit with precision). An improved, confident, fit, and clearly juiced Nadal is what we don’t need right now! What a nightmare! I need to wake up from it! The good news is I don’t think the loss affects Djoko at all. He will not lose sleep over it and still believes he can beat Nadal, even on clay. Just hope Djoko grieves well and gets back on form asap because, as some of you commented, the best scenario is let these two gladiators battle it out till they bleed and Fed should just watch and do some wise pickings at FO, Wimbledon or Olympics!! Lol! As for FO, I would prefer Nadal take it. Why? Fed’s legacy is already severely question marked by h2h with Nadal and “weak era”. If Djoko went and did the Djoko slam, it would be another slap at Fed’s legacy. We don’t want anymore asterisks to Fed’s legacy. A Djoko slam would definitely bring down the prestige of all that Fed has achieved. No, we can’t have Djoko slam. Let Nadal win it. But winning FO may only boost Nadal’s confidence going into Wimbledon. This is also no good at all. We can only hope that by then his knees may have gotten worse and more importantly, a super charged up Fed would be ready to beat him there! We gotta have REAL confidence in our new Fed, right?! Fed 2.0, shall we say?!! It would be perfect, of course, if Fed or Murray win FO; you never know; stranger things have happened – who would have thought that by packing his bags for eternity, grandpa Djoko shook the status quo and changed destinies?!! 2012 has been such a suspenseful, unpredictable and interesting year so far!! All my senses are switched on full to absorb every moment of it. Hope you have recovered from you cold, Ru-an!!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Hey Veronica, nice to hear from you. Hope you are doing great. Good comment. I don’t think the MC result will affect Djokovic much either. As for who we want to win the FO, it remains a tough one. I don’t remember what I called Roger before. Roger 3.0? I think Roger 2.0 is apt though.

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  5. Nadal just won the least important masters tournament. It was played on a miserable court that is slower than a doping process in Spain with lots of winds. Many top players didn’t not participate (Federer and Isner). Djokovic lost his grand father and played poorly. On such a court the only thing you need to do is to put the ball with a lot of topsinn into the court and hope that your opponent gets a bad bounce. No question, that is Nadal territory. But just remember the semis against Simon. Simon missed tons of chances to make the result look different. Nadal is definitely not as good as it seems.

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