Nadal Opens Clay Season Wednesday; Federer Also in Action

Posted on April 23, 2008

World No. 1 Roger Federer and No. 2/three-time defending champion Rafael Nadal are among the 12 seeds in second round action Wednesday at the Monte-Carlo Country Club. Nadal begins his spring clay court singles campaign against wild card Mario Ancic, while two-time finalist Federer, coming off his first ATP title in Estoril on Sunday, takes on Spanish qualifier Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo.

French No. 1 Richard Gasquet also makes his clay season debut against Belgian qualifier Kristof Vliegen. No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko begins the Court Central line-up on Wednesday against Italian qualifier Simone Bolelli.

Nadal enters his first ATP clay court of the season with an amazing 107-3 record on clay over the past three years, winning 17 titles during that stretch. The 21-year-old Spaniard compiled an Open Era record 81-match winning streak on clay from 2005 Monte Carlo until losing in the final in Hamburg to Federer last year. He is the threetime defending champion in Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome and Roland Garros. Although this is the Spaniard’s first appearance in singles, he’s already won two doubles matches this week (w/Robredo) to reach the quarterfinals.

Federer and Nadal have occupied the No. 1 and 2 positions together in the South African Airways ATP Rankings for a record 144 consecutive weeks since July 25, 2005 when Nadal became No. 2 for the first time. Federer has held No. 1 for a record 221 straight weeks since he took over the top spot on Feb. 2, 2004.

Top 3 Ranking Update – The 2007 Monte Carlo tournament points dropped on Monday with Nadal losing 500 points and Federer 350. Here is a look at the Top 3 players and with the total number of ’07 clay court points dropping off between next week (Barcelona) and Roland Garros:
Points ’07 Clay Points Dropping
1) Federer 6,425 1,275
2) Nadal 5,455 2,150
3) Djokovic 4,725 900

This is the second straight week Federer is working with former Top 10 Jose Higueras, a winner of 16 career ATP titles (15 on clay). In nearly two decades of coaching, the 55-year-old Spaniard helped guide Michael Chang (1989) and Jim Courier (1991-92) to Roland Garros crowns. Federer said in Estoril, “I’ve been thinking about a coach for a long time, I had a few names but there isn’t too many out there. Once I had Jose in my mind I asked him if he’d be interested. He was quite flexible and came over. I took the decision when I was in the States.” Federer split with coach Tony Roche after Rome last year. (ATP Digital Services)

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