Well, that was pretty empathic wasn’t it? Rafael Nadal didn’t just beat the guy with the most clay court wins on the year, he murdered him. And murder might be putting it kindly. Nadal celebrated his 22nd birthday Tuesday by pulverizing clay specialist Nicolas Almagro 61, 61, 61 to up his Roland Garros record to 26-0 and reach his fourth straight semifinal at the biggest clay event in the world.
That’s about all there is to talk about regarding the match. Rather, let’s focus on other stuff, like at one point during that match do you think Roger Federer switched off the TV and asked Mirka to join him for a bite on the Champs-Elysees? How about Novak Djokovic. Think he started breathing heavy again after seeing that scoreline in the locker room? Maybe he vomited?
Bottom line is right now, Nadal is playing some awesome tennis. Yes, maybe Verdasco was injured, but whipping up on Jarkko Nieminen and Almagro like he did reminds everyone that he’s the best on clay and no one’s even close. And that includes Roger and Novak.
Maybe in a few days that will change and I’ll have to eat my words, but from what I’ve seen this far, Roger and Novak may as well pull out now and give themselves a few more days of rest before Wimbledon rather than face what is coming down the pipe. Heck, Novak might very well pull out mid-match against Rafa. If he goes down 6-1, 6-1 like Nico did after two sets I’m sure he would, though I doubt he declare himself in control of the match again.
As for Federer, there’s still hope. Hope of Rafa getting sick or injured. Maybe Rafa eats a bad paella or baguette. Maybe he picks just one too many times. Maybe he upsets Mirka by grabbing the last crème brulee from the player café. Or something else. Freak accidents happen.
If they don’t, then this tournament is over.
In a best-of-5 format on clay, right now Rafa is unbeatable. The guy has lost just 25 games to reach this point, which I’ve read is the fewest lost by any guy leading up to any Slam semifinal in the Open Eral. That’s fewer than Bjorn Borg, Ivan Lendl and even Guillermo Vilas who all played at a time of lesser depth.
Okay, so enough fawning on Rafa. Looking ahead to tomorrow I think my man Gael Monfils has a real shot at beating David Ferrer, and I honestly can’t believe he’s made it this far. With the slower, heavier conditions on the clay Ferrer has a tougher time hitting winners. And the speedy Monfils should be able to track down just enough shots to give himself a chance to beat the Spaniard. Monfils also have much more firepower than Ferrer, so if the Frenchman can keep some sort of consistency and cut down of the errors he should get through. It won’t be straights, but with the crowd he has a real chance.
Federer, meanwhile, meets a very dangerous Fernando Gonzalez who has yet to drop a clay match this season. Granted the wins have come at the lesser events, but that along with the fact that Gonzo beat Fed in their last meets at the Masters Cup can only the Chilean’s cause.
And even in the heavy, wet conditions Gonzo can still blast winners, something many other players cannot do against Fed. Heck, if Julian Benneteau or Albert Montanes can hang with Roger, you would think that Fernando would be able to also and then some.
That said, I think Fed will struggle but get through.
Looking at the women’s lineup for Wednesday, Svetlana Kuznetova gets through and I think Dinara Safina does the same.
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Happy 33rd Birthday Roger Federer!