ATP Barcelona Blog — Day 3; Nadal Rolls, Blake Rolled
by Staff | April 30th, 2008, 6:55 pm

By Jill Neuharth

The universe must be back in alignment as the warmth returned today and the king of the clay retained his throne. Rafael Nadal, who made his 2008 Barcelona debut in front of a packed house, reminded us all why he is the master. Italian Potito Starace made a formidable adversary but was no match for the sly Nadal. Pretty-boy Poto soon learned the hard way not to ignore shots that are sure points with other players. By the time Potito woke up and smelled the espresso, it was all over for him. Nadal took Starace in straight sets 6-4, 6-2.

Keeping pace with the other top Spanish seeds, Tommy Robredo, Nicolas Almagro and David Ferrer made tapas of Robin Haase, Filippo Volandri and Gabriel Trujillo-Soler faster than you can say vino tinto por favor. Not included in this club is No. 5 seed Carlos Moya who was sent to the naughty corner by Latvian firecracker Ernests Gulbis. After losing the first set 4-6, Gulbis, twelve years Moya’s junior, pumped up his game and served the Spaniard up to win the next two sets 6-1 and 6-4.

The Moya defeat was not the biggest upset of the day by far. That fiasco occurred on the center court between No. 8-ranked James Blake and No. 83-ranked Dennis Gremelmayr. It took barely one hour for the fast-rising German to knock the sole remaining American out of the draw. Speaking of Yankees, the sole American doubles entry almost found themselves on the same plane home as Blake.

The Bryans faced off against Agustin Calleri and Potito Starace this afternoon, shortly after the sun went down and the air temperature dropped below freezing. It was the second time in as many days that the Argentine-Italian team faced a set of twins. One would almost think it happens every day in professional tennis. In perhaps the closest match all day, the Bryans narrowly escaped elimination. In fact if you read the scoreboard at the end of the match it appeared that only Mike Bryan remained as the other three names had been knocked clear off the board by direct hits. The presence of a noisy photographer, whose antics agitated Calleri, might have been just enough to ensure that the twinkies weren’t in line for check-in behind Mr. Blake. Final score: 5-7, 6-2 and 12-10.

Calleri’s countrymen Nalbandian and Ker finished off the Israeli dream team in doubles, while Chela and Canas both sailed easily into the third round. Joining them in round three is Spaniard Feliciano Lopez who in a heartbreaker of a game against countryman Alberto Martin, advanced in the series. Barcelonan native, Martin led after the first set but just wasn’t able to hold his serve in the second or the third, falling 6-3, 2-6 and 4-6 to Olivia Newton John hairdo-lookalike Lopez. With more than half the players headed for home, or at least to the players party tonight, action tomorrow will no doubt heat up, as hopefully will the mercury.

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14 Comments for ATP Barcelona Blog — Day 3; Nadal Rolls, Blake Rolled

andrea Says:

nadal made some interesting comments today about how he felt this clay season would be the toughest yet to defend….

wonder if he’s feeling the pinch after fed’s spirited chomp at his clay heels in monte carlo? or just hedging his bets in the press? you never can tell….

zola Says:

Andrea, go look at atp page:

Rafa has to play EVERY week. After Barcelona, it is Rome and the week after Hamburg. Then one week in between, French Open and then Wimbledon a week later. He said it is impossible to stay focuse and be 100% week after week for a whole month.

Maybe some information will help you make better judgements. Not everything is about Federer!

zola Says:

Sorry for Blake, but he at least made the effort to go there. I think he will do better in Rome.

tennisballpenetrator Says:

There is actually two weeks between the end of the French Open and the beginning of Wimbledon. But even so, it’s still so short, and especially if Nadal chooses to play in London/Queens again.

fed is afraid Says:

rafa will be fine, it is roger who has to worry.

Tote Tennis Pro Says:

Yep the schedule is just too much for Nadal, and he’s not happy. the problem is the way that theyve accomodated the Olympics:

“Rafael Nadal has criticised tennis chiefs, saying the European tennis calendar is being “destroyed” by the packed schedule.

“These people are destroying Europe and Europe used to be the foundation of the tour,” said Nadal, who is playing four events in as many weeks. ”

“I think it’s completely impossible to play at one’s best level for all four tournaments – Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome and Hamburg,” Nadal said.

“You just have to accept this situation, all the players will be the same, they will not be able to play at their high level for all four, I think it’s totally impossible.”

FOT Says:

The problem for Nadal isn’t that the tournaments are back-to-back-to-back-to-back… It’s that he wins all of them (I guess that’s a good problem to have!) lol. But, I mean, you know he’s going to be in the finals of all of them so when you play that much (or rather win that much), it does become too much. For a player like, say – Blake, he can play in all those tournaments and it’s no big deal because at best, he may win a round or two. So his body isn’t being taxed. Nadal’s is.

I think Roger did great to play Estoril then skip this week before continuing. At least he has a week rest. Rafa’s schedule is to play Monte Carlo, Spain, Rome, Hamburg, and the French. And since he’s practically defending all the points in those tournaments (except a winner’s point in Hamburg), he can’t realy afford to NOT play in any of them. It’s a tough situation for him. But hopefully the schedule won’t be this bad next year without the Olympics.

Zola Says:

The problem is not the Olympics. It is that the IW and Miami were pushed ahead for one week to accomodate CBS’s TV coverage demand ( they want to broadcast Miami final and NCAA final during the same weekend). That resultd in elimination of one week afte MonteCarlo.

The clay schedule was crazy anyway and that decision made it even worse.

I expect you to look at the schedule objectivelt. Forget Nadal. The clay season has only 3 master series and these are all jammed in one month, with the clay GS just one week after the last MS. Tell me it is fair!

I definitely think there should be one master series on grass as a preparation for Wimbledon. See how many master series are there before US Open?

I think ATP needs to reconsider the whole calendar. If they can’t then the players should reconsider the ATP!

Zola Says:

by the way, it will be hard for most of the players who have good records on clay, like Federer, Ferrer, Almagro, Davydenko, ….This carlessness will result in more injuries and more withdrawls and more fan s will be disappointed. Right now there are masive law suits against ATP by HAmburg and Monte Carlo.

I hope it all results in a big change in ATP and expulsion of Mr. Disney.

It is not just Rafa who is unhappy with ATP. He is just the most vocal ( james Blake joined him yesterday). 17 out of top 20 players have asked the ATP board not to renew ET’s contract automatically and review the resumes of other applicants. So, there is growing dissastisfaction with the way this board ignores the players.

Dr. Death Says:

Must say that I agree with Zola. I think the pencil neck geeks who run the sport do not play the game of tennis. (Age aside and it is a big factor) I have been playing two to three hours a day and living on Advil. I cannot imagine what it must be like to play every week, reach the finals, and then move on to the next tournament.

When we look at other sports, basketball, Am. football, soccer, etc., there is a constant large crop of new players coming up. So in Am. football, if the Sports Masters kill a lineman or a running back in five years, the fans don’t care. There are numerous replacements.

We do not have that feeder system in tennis.

Sash Says:

Hope The Hamburg and MC organizers win the lawsuit against ATP!

ferix Says:

Can Almagro beat Nadal? What do you guys think? I think he’s more likely to do it than anybody.

fed is afraid Says:

you heard it here first, no one will beat rafa on clay, he is too good, too tough. and he will win wimbledon this year, if the playing field is fair for everyone, not just roger.

Ryan Says:

To all the haters out there who claim that fed only wins against pussies or opponents who have a lot of weaknesses, and can’t win against real players should explain his win against djokovic…..that also on fed’s worst surface clay.When he was being out rallied on hard courts everyone was wondering what he was going to do on clay.What weakness does djokovic have? He has the guts and a tough ass game but still fed beat him up in that semi final in straight sets(6-3 3-2 ret not even a tie break)…and that proves fed’s greatness…..

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