There are some constants that have developed in tennis for the past few years. Roger Federer and his amazing successive appearances in semi-finals of major tournaments, Andy Murray’s regular failures in major tournaments, Andy Roddick’s continuous failure to get out of that ‘one-slam’ wonder and Rafa Nadal‘s consistent dominance on clay. And this time of the year is clay time, and tennis fans know this- this is the time when Rafa Nadal takes center stage. And Nadal never failed again this year as he showed to the rest of the field why he is called the ‘King of Clay’ or perhaps the ‘greatest clay court player of all time’. To start his campaign, he won Monte Carlo Masters for the 7th time. Now talk about dominance of one player in one single tournament! He defeated David Ferrer in the finals, and though Rafa Nadal did not bring his A-game to the match, still he came out the victor. This was again repeated in the Barcelona where Nadal again won the tournament. What I am waiting for is the French Open. Will Rafa Nadal win this year’s edition of the Roland Garros? This year’s edition will be interesting since we will know the answer if indeed Novak Djokovic is for real; is he really a threat to Rafa Nadal? Other rivals to look out for include Robin Soderling and Del Potro who is making waves now in Estoril. Even with a resurgent Djokovic in the thick of the fight, I am counting on Rafa Nadal to win it all.
It’s that time of the year when the top players in the men’s circuit descend on the clay courts of Europe. And this is the time of the year when Rafael Nadal takes centerstage. And this is the time of the year as well when I’ll be excited checking results of matches knowing for a fact that Rafa Nadal has a higher chance of winning compared to the other ranked players. Together with Justine Henin, Rafael Nadal is considered as the most successful player on clay. He is the winner of five French Open singles titles. Rafa never lost a match at the Roland Garros until May 31, 2009 and this was the time when Robin Soderling took him out of the tournament. Because of the impressive run of Rafa Nadal at Roland Garros and the many clay court events, he was named as the ‘King of Clay’. Again, this year it is expected that Nadal will strongly figure in the many events involving the surface.
But the problem is that Rafa is facing a different scenario. If in the past he contends with Federer and Soderling, this time around he will need to battle it out with hot Novak Djokovic.
Clay season for tennis that is. After the hardcourts of Miami and Key Biscayne where Djokovic and Davydenko ruled on the men’s side and Ana Ivanovic and Serena Williams on the women’s side, it is time to signal the start of the clay courts season. Faster surfaces of the hardcourts will yield the spotlight to the red clay, for slower movement of the ball and for slower yet intensified style of playing. Novak Djokovic is the defending champion after he defeated Richard Gasquet of France in the 2007 finals. The Estoril Open at Portugal is a great preparation for the forth coming Roland Garros Open. In fact, world number 1 Roger Federer is set to compete in Estoril with Paris in his mind. The goal is of course to condition his body and mind in preparation for the Roland Garros- which is the only Grand Slam that has eluded his hands for years.
Estoril is often home of clay courters and future champion of Roland Garros. Sergei Bruguera, Thomas Muster, Carlos Moya, Gaston Gaudio, Albert Costa and Juan Carlos Ferrero are just some of the names that played great at Estoril and saw their fortunes improved on the French Open improved as well. The Estoril Open that is set to open April 12 is a combined event of the ATP and the WTA, and another tennis event where Mercedes-Benz has a sponsorship.