Waking up to Roland Garros today has turned into waking up to rain, again. Roger Federer was up two sets on Julien Benneteau before the rain hit. And Maria Sharapova sneaked out the first set but will be down a break when play resumes, which is hopefully fairly soon.
Before the inclement weather, Elena Dementieva used three sets to turn away Vera Zvonareva, and Fernado Gonzalez ran his record to a perfect 16-0 on clay this year, thumping Robby Ginepri. (Looks like I didn’t miss much while I slept!)
But the tournament story really isn’t the rain, but it’s a word that rhymes with rain, pain. And pain is something that Rafael Nadal has been afflicting on all comers.
Novak Djokovic might be playing well and Roger Federer is having his way with a pretty easy draw. But Nadal is destroying his opponents. And the stats bear it out.
Losing just three games to Fernando Verdasco and five games to Nieminen spells trouble for everyone else. Plus, in the final sets of his four matches this week he’s surrendered just five games total. That tells me that he’s either getting stronger and/or his opponents are running out of gas.
So for Nicolas Almagro, his next opponent, or even looking ahead to Djokovic or Federer, how the heck are one of them going to win not one, not two but three sets in a single match over a healthy Nadal? How is that going to happen when Rafa has lost a total of one set this year and the last combined.
As I said before, Nadal’s greatest weapon at Roland Garros may be the best-of-5 format.
Further, while Nadal’s been obliterating the competition, Fed’s having trouble serving out sets against mighty dirtballers like Julien Benneteau and dropping sets to Albert Montanes. Djokovic has looked the sharper of the two, but let’s face it, neither guy has really played anyone worth his lick on clay. Paul-Henri is okay, but late in a Slam the guy has no belief. And Gremelmayr, who was on top of Novak in the opener, is no where near among the elite on the dirt.
However that should change moving forward. Ernests Gulbis is a worthy foe and one who I think figures to test Djokovic, so we’ll see just where the Serb is. And Gonzalez should be able to push Federer a little more than anyone else has thus far.
But at the end of the day I still see Fed and Rafa getting to finals, and I’m hoping my man Gael Monfils can navigate through Ljubicic and the Stepanek/Ferrer winner (I could see either player winning, I’ll almost lean toward Radek there) and end up in the semifinals somehow. Would be great to see!
As for the women, looks like an Ana Ivanovic v. Svetlana Kuznetsova final. And I think Sveta might just win it! Sharapova keeps getting lifelines from her opponents, but I think Sveta will take care of here, and Ana should finally put away the banged up Jankovic.
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