Rafael Nadal has taken a week off allowing some of the other top players to get a shot at ATP clay titles this week – how nice of him. Among them are Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic who are playing in Estoril and Belgrade, respectively.
While Djokovic enjoys another day off courtesy of a bye and being part of the Serbian Open management team (ownership has its privileges), Federer returns to play still seeking his first clay match win.
After a stunning loss last week to Ernests Gulbis in Rome, Federer will play veteran Bjorn Phau in the second round at Estoril on Wednesday.
“I felt good going into Rome, but after one match and intense practice I’m looking forward to the week ahead,” said the 2008 champion.
“For sure, I’d like to win the tournament again,” he added. “As the only Top 10 player in the draw, I have high expectations. But first of all I’d like to record my first win on clay after losing to [Ernests] Gulbis last week.”
High expectations he should have. Except for Federer, the field is bare bones with next to no one who should challenge Roger.
His opponent tomorrow, Bjorn Phau, does have a win in two tries against the Swiss. The German beat Federer way back in 1999 with Roger getting revenge at the 2007 Australian Open. The match will be broadcast live in 3D by MEO, the cable channel from Portugal Telecom, for the first time at a national event.
I have no idea how that 3D works, but let’s hope Fed doesn’t have a case of the shanks tomorrow. That would be quite trippy for the viewers.
At the Serbian Open on Wednesday, Ivo Karlovic, Sam Querrey and Stan Wawrinka are in action. And the highlight of Munich tomorrow will be matches featuring Marin Cilic, Mikhail Youhzny, Tomas Berdych and Nicolas Almagro.
And there were some rumblings that Rafael Nadal may skip on playing Madrid. Well, Uncle Toni has confirmed that Rafa will be in the draw next week – there really should never have been any doubt as he cannot skip BOTH of Spain’s clay events!
CENTRAL start 11:00 am
M Larcher de Brito (POR) vs S Cirstea (ROU) – WTA
Not Before 1:50 PM
 A Montanes (ESP) vs D Gimeno-Traver (ESP) – ATP
Not Before 4:00 PM
 R Federer (SUI) vs B Phau (GER) – ATP
[WC] F Gil (POR) / R Machado (POR) vs  A Clement (FRA) / R Lindstedt (SWE) – ATP
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