Arguably the best rivalry in tennis right now is just moments away from resuming as Rafael Nadal bids for his 33rd consecutive clay court win against Novak Djokovic in the first semifinal at the Tennis Masters Madrid. In the latter semi, Roger Federer meets Juan Martin Del Potro.
Handicapping both matches is pretty straight forward. Until someone beats Nadal on the dirt I’ll continue to back the Spaniard especially in his home country. Djokovic has been playing his best tennis of the season the last month, but based he’s never beaten Nadal on clay in eight prior tries and I don’t think that trend changes today.
But Novak should be comforted in knowing that all the pressure in the world is rests on Nadal, so the Serb should be feeling loose. I expect a tough match and if Nadal’s underperforms Djokovic has the ability to pull the upset.
After getting waxed at the Australian Open by the Swiss, Juan Martin Del Potro gets another shot at Roger Federer. Del Potro is coming off one of his biggest career wins yesterday, an impressive straight set victory over birthday boy Andy Murray which assured Federer the No. 2 seed at Roland Garros.
Federer’s playing a little better than what I saw from him at Monte Carlo but the fact that he lost a set to Andy Roddick on clay is somewhat troubling. Del Potro has the game to hurt Roger (who doesn’t these days?) but like we saw from Fernando Verdasco, I think the moment and the occasion will also catch up to DelPo.
DelPo has never won a single set against the Swiss in four prior meeting, and even though he’s playing much better now I think the Swiss will get through in a tight affair.
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