If you are Robin Soderling, do you really want to even play Rafael Nadal on Friday? That is question in front of the Swede who is just a Stan Wawrinka away from a going face-to-face again with Nadal. And not just any Nadal. A pissed off, angry Nadal out for revenge.
Soderling of course has to beat the Swiss, no easy task. While Nadal, based on his recent performance shouldn’t have any trouble against Victor Hanescu. Earlier today, Rafa continued on his torrid clay run hammering Phil Kohlschreiber 6-1, 6-3.
“It wasn’t my best match but it was a correct match,” the four-time Rome champ Nadal said. “I did well, I played safe, I played focused all the time and Philipp tried to play more aggressive for a few moments but he made more mistakes than usual and that helped me a little bit. Philipp is a tough opponent and to play against him in the third round was a challenge for me. I am very happy about my victory.”
It wasn’t his best match? Amazing. I guess since he actually lost three games in a set, I’d be upset, too. This month on clay only three times has an opponent even won more than two games in a set against Rafa: Juan Carlos Ferrero won four, Ferrer three and today Kohlscreiber.
Even though he says he isn’t, the guy is playing some scary, scary tennis right now.
Also today, Soderling, Fernando Verdasco and David Ferrer all tripped up Italians. Ivan Ljubicic scored a mild upset win over Nicolas Almagro. But Spain got revenge on Croatia as Feliciano Lopez knocked out the suddenly struggling Marin Cilic who seemingly hasn’t won a darn thing since teaming with Goran Ivanisevic last month.
Lleyton Hewitt’s nice week ended at the hands of Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Wawrinka got the win of the day by doing something Roger Federer couldn’t do in Miami, defeating Tomas Berdych in a third set breaker.
And speaking of Federer, the World No. 1 got another win playing doubles with bud Yves Allegro. That’s what friends are for, right? Roger and Yves beat dubs specialists Paul Hanley and Simon Aspelin.
That all makes for a great line-up for Thursday’s third round. In addition to Soderling v. Wawrinka we get Novak Djokovic v. Thomas Bellucci plus Andy Murray v. David Ferrer. A trio of great matchups, take your pick.
On a hunch I’ll take Wawrinka who was a finalist in Rome a few years ago. I really don’t get the sense that he wants that rematch against Nadal.
“The body feels good,” Robin said today. “I know I’ve played a lot of matches and it’s tough to stay 100 per cent focused all the time and so it is something you really have to work on but so far I feel really good.”
Tough to stay focused? He’s already sounding like someone who’s at the end of his line.
That said, I’ll be Robin’s biggest fan tomorrow because I want to see him play Nadal again.
As for Djokovic, he’s been a real enigma. One day good, next day bad. He played great against Chardy in the opener and he’ll have to play just as well to beat Bellucci. And I think he will. The two have never played and Thomas has never won a match over a Top 10 player so I like the Serb.
Ferrer and Murray is another toss-up. Ferrer’s been hot, Murray not. I’ll go with the hot guy Ferrer. But a Murray win wouldn’t surprise me. Andy got a strong win over Seppi yesterday and that might be all that he needs to get out of his funk.
CENTER COURT start 1:00 PM
[WC] T Bellucci (BRA) vs  N Djokovic (SRB)
E Gulbis (LAT) vs [WC] F Volandri (ITA)
 D Ferrer (ESP) vs  A Murray (GBR)
Not Before 8:30 PM
 R Nadal (ESP) vs V Hanescu (ROU)
[WC] S Bolelli (ITA) / P Starace (ITA) vs  M Knowles (BAH) / B Soares (BRA)
PIETRANGELI start 1:00 pm
 F Verdasco (ESP) vs G Garcia-Lopez (ESP)
 J Tsonga (FRA) vs [Q] S Giraldo (COL)
 I Ljubicic (CRO) vs F Lopez (ESP)
S Wawrinka (SUI) vs  R Soderling (SWE)
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