Rafael Nadal, 72 and Counting…
Maybe it’s me but it’s starting to feel like no one is ever going to beat Rafael Nadal on clay, ever again. Igor Andreev, you are soon to become a permanent answer to the trivia question of the last player to do it.
Nadal of course destroyed everyone in Barcelona, just a week after making a mockery of Monte Carlo field (yes, Fed included) to run his all-time best clay streak to 72.
Along the way he’s thrashed Juan Chela, Tomas Berdych, Roger Federer, Guillermo Canas, David Ferrer and a few other lesser-names, but still some good quality wins.
And what’s scary is Nadal’s only lost two sets (both to Novak Djokovic in Miami) since the start of March winning 29 of his last 31 sets. And some could make the point that the Djokovic loss was no big deal since Rafa wasn’t looking for anymore hardcourt duty with the risk of injury looming.
Again, I got nothing against Nadal, and I admire him for all that he has accomplished (Heck, I even once wrote that he had a better chance of winning Wimbledon than Federer of winning the French.) But this is starting to get ridiculous. I mean no one is even close to beating this bull! In his last 10 clay wins, just three guys – Berdych, Storice and Ferrer – have even managed to get to 5-all. That’s absurd.
So of course later today is the big Nadal-Federer exo showdown on the mixed grass/clay court in Rafa’s hometown of Mallorca. It’s an interesting concept and made even better in that both Federer and Nadal have surface streaks going – Fed 48 on grass, Nadal 72 on clay.
Surely Nike and IMG have their fingerprints on this exo, but if I’m Fed I’m not so sure I’d be fired-up to play such an event. I know Fed’s a nice guy and he’s apparently buddy-buddy with Nadal, but seeing how Nadal right now is his No. 1 chief rival and with the French just weeks away, Fed needs to be doing anything he can to get an edge on Nadal. And this isn’t it. Hanging out with Rafa in his hometown playing an exo is not going to help his French cause in anyway.
After the Monte Carlo beat-down and with his French window closing, If I’m Fed, I’m working on ways to stop hitting forehands into the Mediterranean. I’m working on adding more drop shots to my game. I’m strengthening my backhand to better handle the Nadal topspin. And I’m figuring out ways on how to take Rafa out of his comfort zone.
But then again maybe Fed’s already got that all figured out and he’s just playing possum until the French. Would be an ingenious move on Fed’s part, and he is a genius after all. Or so they say.
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