Rafael Nadal needs to shut his mouth and just play tennis. Nadal is among the most humble, respected, well-spoken guys on the tour but I’m tired of hearing him complain about the altitude.
First he was complaining about Madrid’s high altitude last week, now it’s Rome low altitude.
Today, three days after getting rocked by Novak Djokovic in the Madrid final, Nadal took the court in Rome still feeling that hangover, but the Spaniard escaped the always formidable clutches of one No 148 in the world Paolo Lorenzi to win 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-0 (ok, sarcasm over).
“I think there is a difference between Madrid and Rome, different conditions and the altitude and the speed of the ball and everything is completely different,” said Nadal who now plays his countryman and good friend Feliciano Lopez .
“After losing the final there makes everything more difficult and you know, you do not have time for practice and you are a little bit more tired and you arrive a little bit more sad because you lost the final and all these facts make it difficult.”
Rafa, how many times have you won Rome? 1? 2? 3? 4? 5? How was the altitude then?
And how many days between Madrid and Rome did you have to prepare? Are two days not enough to keep you from hitting forehands into Roman Coliseum and point blank overheads into the net? That’s not the altitude my man.
Speaking of the altitude, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer had little trouble making the that very same adjustment against much stiffer competition than what Nadal faced.
Djokovic won his 35th straight, 33rd of 2011, hammering Lukas Kubot 6-0, 6-3.
“It is a great way to start,” said Djokovic. “It is always great to have a straight set win and spend less time on the courts and save some energy for coming rounds.”
Djokovic now moves on to play a tough customer in Stan Wawrinka tomorrow. And I give Stan a decent shot against the Serb.
The other Swiss, Federer, played some solid tennis beating JW Tsonga 6-4, 6-2. Federer now plays another Frenchman, Richard Gasquet, in a good one tomorrow.
“I am excited to play Richard because he’s a great player and we had a good match against each other in Dubai, so I am looking forward to playing on clay,” Federer said. “I need to be very focused is and smart with a good game plan and we’ll see how it goes.”
There’s also been a rash of withdrawals this week. David Ferrer joins the casualty list as the Spanaird withdrew due to an illness. No. 8 seed Jurgen Melzer also had to retire with a back injury to Florian Mayer.
Tennis Channel will have first ball at 6am ET with Nadal against Lopez. ESPN3.com has live Rome streaming in the U.S. and perhaps parts elsewhere.
CENTRALE start 12:00 noon
 R Nadal (ESP) vs F Lopez (ESP) – ATP
D Hantuchova (SVK) vs  F Schiavone (ITA) – WTA
Not Before 3:00 PM
 R Federer (SUI) vs  R Gasquet (FRA) – ATP
Not Before 7:30 PM
 C Wozniacki (DEN) vs Y Wickmayer (BEL) – WTA – Possible Court Change
Not Before 9:15 PM
 S Wawrinka (SUI) vs  N Djokovic (SRB) – ATP
PIETRANGELI start 12:00 noon
[Q] A Medina Garrigues (ESP) vs  J Jankovic (SRB) – WTA
Not Before 1:30 PM
[LL] J Nieminen (FIN) vs  T Berdych (CZE) – ATP
P Starace (ITA) vs  A Murray (GBR) – ATP
Not Before 7:30 PM
 R Soderling (SWE) vs  N Almagro (ESP) – ATP
 V Azarenka (BLR) vs  A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) – WTA
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