Looking for Candidates Who Can Beat Nadal On Clay

by Dan Martin | May 6th, 2008, 3:09 pm

Rafael Nadal is 103-1 on clay over his past 104 matches heading into TMS Rome. Anyone boasting a 99.03 winning percentage on a given surface has to be taken more than seriously as a favorite. Nadal is in Edwin Moses range, the track star who won the every 400 Meter Hurdles event he entered between 1977 and 1987. If the grass court season were not so short, Roger Federer, who does own 54 consecutive wins on grass, would also be in that type of spot. Come on Roger play Newport, RI after Wimbledon! The fact is that Nadal holds 4 consecutive Monte Carlo titles, 3 consecutive Rome titles, and 3 consecutive French Open titles. Who is going to bet against him winning his 4th title in Rome and Paris in 2008? Still, sports are about competition, and it is important to figure out who the usual and unusual suspects for dethroning Rafa might be.
The Other Top Players: Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic

These two have proven to be good on all surfaces. Both have posted a few convincing wins over Nadal in big events.

Best Case Scenario: Nadal enters a match slightly leg weary due to having faced a player akin to David Ferrer or a game Nikolay Davydenko in a previous round. The court plays reasonably fast for clay and either man has a day where they are aggressive but make few errors.

Could it Happen?: In one sense yes because Roger did beat a worn down Nadal in the final of Hamburg 2007. Federer also had many chances vs. Nadal in the 2008 Monte Carlo final. Djokovic is solid enough on both wings to have a day where he plays at his top level and is tough off the ground for Nadal even on clay. The problem each man faces at the French Open is that actual court in Paris is so big. Nadal has plenty of room to run down great shots, and we all know he is strong enough to hit great shots back from what are normally losing positions on a court. Add to that the 3 out of 5 set format in a Grand Slam match and the chances become slim for maintaining a high level of excellence while attacking a player who defends as well as anyone. Throw in the fact that Nadal can attack and beat a player up with his ground strokes and the odds of a 3 out of 5 set win for either Federer or Djokovic over Nadal seem slim.

The Giants

6’6” Sam Querrey, 6’7” Chris Guccione, 6’9” John Isner, and 6’10” Ivo Karlovic all could throw a change up against Nadal by simply changing the geometry of the match while also winning easy points on serve.

Best Case Scenario: Karlovic is the only one of the 4 with any real clay court experience even if Querrey is making strides. Dr. Ivo would need a dry day in which the court plays exceedingly fast to have a chance at serving big and frustrating Nadal.

Could it Happen?: In a 2 out of 3 set match, this might be somewhere on the edge of the galaxy of possibilities, but in Paris this could never happen. It would be a fun match to watch, but none of the ATP’s big men have much of a chance vs. Nadal on clay.

The Spanish and Argentine Armadas

There is no shortage of clay court animals hailing from Spain or Argentina. A cursory look at the top 100 reveals that 10 of the top 100 are from Argentina and that including Nadal Spain boasts 13 players in the top 100. Most of these players have games suited to slow courts and could all pull an upset of anyone not named Nadal on the dirt. The problem they have with Nadal is he does what they do better, he is stronger, he is mentally tougher and he is a lefty. All of that adds up to a competitive advantage for Nadal. (I will leave David Nalbandian, Nicholas Almagro and Juan Martin del Porto for other sections)

Best Case Scenario: A player such as David Ferrer or Juan Monaco gets a shot at Nadal on a day when Rafa is feeling low. Maybe he had a tough match, maybe he is a little sick, maybe he got dumped … but a day where Nadal is not at his steely best. On that day, Ferrer especially could come through.

Could it Happen?: In a 2 out of 3 set match I think it could happen. The odds would not be great, but Ferrer did just take a set off of Nadal. If a player can win one set, winning a second is not impossible even if more difficult. Winning 3 sets against Nadal seems highly unlikely though. On a bad day for Nadal, he can normally play and hit his way through the funk over a single set. He was exceedingly nervous at the 2005 and 2006 French Open finals, but won each match in 4 sets.

The Punchers: Nicholas Almagro and Fernando Gonzalez

Gonzo and Almagro have something Ferrer lacks – heft on their ground strokes. On a hard court or indoor court I think Ferrer has a better chance vs. Nadal than either of these two. However, on clay I think a player has to at least make Nadal uncomfortable and find a way to pin him into bad court positioning. Even if one does this Nadal normally finds the goods, but Almagro and Gonzalez do have enough power to have a punchers chance vs. Nadal

Best Case Scenario: Play in the Zone – that is not much of a game plan, but it is the best I can think of for anyone trying to out hit Nadal on clay.

Could it Happen?: Unlikely in a 3 set match and not at all likely in a 5 set match.

The Enigmas: Marat Safin and David Nalbandian

Nalbandian might be the Karol Kucera to Nadal’s Agassi or the Brad Gilbert to Nadal’s Becker. Every player has someone they do not match up well with and do not enjoy playing. David Nalbandian might be that player for Nadal. The problem is he never plays well enough for a long period of time to test that theory. The two have never met on clay.

Marat Safin could execute a similar game plan as Djokovic and try to hit big serves, nasty returns and heavy ground strokes vs. Nadal.

Best Case Scenarios: For Safin it would be getting Nadal in the 1st or 2nd round and playing out of his mind. He is insane enough to believe, but in Canada last year on a hard court Safin dominated Nadal for one set and still lost the set before folding. For Nalbandian, he needs to win his key matches and get some confidence. If he does that he could pose some problems to Nadal due to his odd style of play.

Could it Happen?: The Safin scenario might have made sense 2 years ago, but too much time may have siphoned off enough genius that only a madman remains. Nadal beats Safin on clay. Nalbandian is an X factor in that his two comprehensive wins over Nadal came on an indoor court. The match up on paper is as favorable as anyone has vs. Nadal, but mentally it is hard to bet on Nalbandian. It is even harder to bet against Nadal’s tenacity. Odds are he would find a way to beat Nalbandian on clay even if he is thrown by Nalbandian’s returns and ability to change the pace and direction of the ball.

The Young Guns

A young player who has spent his final years as a junior or satellite player watching Nadal comes into his own physically and tries to take the gauntlet from Nadal. The advantage such a player has is that Nadal is the only standard for clay court excellence that they have known and therefore such a player has had a goal in practicing and developing his craft. Juan Martin del Porto is 19 and is 6’5”. He looks like a very good player in the making. Undoubtedly, Spain, Argentina, as well as the rest of Europe and South America are developing young players who like clay. Juan Martin is not our only candidate even if naming these younger clay court specialists is hard to do.

Best Case Scenario: Juan Martin del Porto seems feisty enough to challenge anyone (ask Murray’s mom). At 19, he may not know to be afraid. 2 of his 3 losses to Nadal have been respectable. Basically, a young player with clay court skills needs to come along and challenge Nadal in a way that few have tried – physically. Young players do not tire as easily and can pull surprises. If a guy who plays like Nadal did in 2005 faces Nadal in 2008, my money would be on Rafa 08, but youth eventually comes through in tennis. I am not implying that Nadal is old either, but he does have some miles and injuries that have accumulated.

Can it Happen?: In 2004 we knew who Nadal was, and by 2005 he was the form horse entering the French Open even if he was the #3 seed. At this point such a young player is not on the horizon so I would not bet on anyone supplanting Nadal in 2008.

Final Analysis: Federer and Djokovic likely have the best short term odds of beating Nadal in a big match on clay. Ferrer and Davydenko are the 3rd and 4th most likely to pull the upset. However, the youth movement in tennis is never ending and this unknown faction is the group that will eventually dethrone Nadal on clay. I would not hold my breath on it happening anytime soon though.

You Might Like:
Rafael Nadal: I’m Ready To Win Titles, But I’m Not The Favorite Yet To Win The French
Unstoppable Roger Federer Tames Rafael Nadal Again for Miami Open Title
Nadal Looks For Grand Slam Title No. 22, Ruud His First In The French Open Final Today
Novak Djokovic: It’s Going To Be A Really Interesting Season, You Cannot Count Out Federer And Nadal
Novak Djokovic Wants The French Open: I’ve Proven I Can Win On All Surfaces [Video]

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66 Comments for Looking for Candidates Who Can Beat Nadal On Clay

andrea Says:

funnily enough, after novak’s retirement in monte carlo, some writer did an analysis on who retires the most and del porto was one of the highest….and he retired again in the third set against murray. what is that?

the top players have the ability to break nadal and that’s the only way to get a leg up on him on clay. (and of course, holding your own serve. roger…pay close attention to that footnote).

i’d like to see nadal beaten on clay and not be given the ‘but he was tired’ excuse a la hamburg last year.

tennisontherocks Says:

This week will be bit tricky for Rafa. I don’t remember him playing and winning title 3 weeks in row. If he gets stretched in early round matches, it will give good chance for someone to upset him in later rounds.

I would add Tsonga, Berdych (if he recovers from ankle injury) and Gasquet to the list with Gonzo/Almagro. All 3 have enough weapons to hurt Rafa, but not consistent enough to do so over best of 5.

I will also add Murray/Stepanek to safin/nalbo category. They both can do lot with the ball and can drive him nuts. But again, not in best of 5 match.

zola Says:

I think the ones with a chance to beat Rafa are Federer, ferrer, Davydenko and maybe Nalbandian.

Djoko needs to learn to finish a match first. He retired against Rafa in RG 2005 and against Federer in MC this year and against Nalbamdian in DC ( these are hust clay retirements!). Of course, he is always “in control”.

Federer has played best of fives with Rafa and has gone toe to toe with him.He has taken a set from Rafa in RG final. He has played 2 RG finals, 1 SF, and gazillions of master series finals with Rafa. I give him the best chance. The rest? I don’t think so!

fed is afraid Says:

no one can beat him, give it up peeps!! lol

FOT Says:

Tsonga is trying to come back from an injury…
Gasquet is trying to get his ‘head’ on straight…
Berdych is flaky as can be (look great one minute…lose first round the next..) Uhm…that seem to fit Nalbandian as well…and Safin…and Murray…and Stepanek! lol!

zola Says:

by the way, Del Potro was crying from back pain when he retired. The same injury took him off courts for 3 months.
Djoko was running like a rabbit ( in Fed’s terms) and then he decided that he had a sore throat. Against Rafa in Wimbledon he retired with a blister on his pinky toe. He literally abandoned his team in DC on a decider and left the match! he wants to retire its ok. just don’t compare him to Del Potro who retired with a legitimate reason.

I like tennis bullies not tennis sissies Says:

Looking for Candidates Who Can Beat Nadal On Clay

typical tennis-x bias
I will see forward to your headline in June: Looking for Candidates Who Can Beat Federer on Grass

Dan Martin Says:

Tennis bullies – I will write that column. I see no bias in stating Nadal is nearly unbeatable on the stuff but wondering who or how a defeat might happen. Curiosity follows unprecedented streaks and this is certainly one of them. Furthermore, my younger sister would kill me if I was biased against Nadal.

Dan Martin Says:

Murray I agree has a Nalbandian quality to his game, but I think mentally Murray has assumed Rafa to be the man on clay (for good reason). In a sense I think an older or younger player may have the best chance of not having been beaten in the locker room. Many of Rafa’s peers may have conceded clay to him.
Of course, that still leaves getting beaten on the court as a strong possibility.

Voicemale1 Says:

Andrea: Del Potro’s back has given out before. Many times – which isn’t surprising for a guy 6’5″ that is forced to bend down low a lot, like for drop shots Murray fed to him. The problem with Quitovic is that we all know his retirements are bogus. He said in his latest press release that he’s “hurt” that people think he retires bogusly, then stupidly undercuts his complaints by saying in that same press release he could have finished the match against Federer in Monte Carlo! And he wonders why people say what they say about him?? This brainless Serb doesn’t even know not to undercut his own whitewash. That’s why the world rightly comes down on Quitovic’s retirements – we all know they’re fake. And he as much as said so, unwittingly or not.

As for Nadal on clay, there’s no secret to his success. His uber-topspin is so rewarded by the surface that it literally forces his opponents into errors that statistically get logged as “unforced”, but it’s a misnomer. Davydenko said in Monte Carlo that Nadal’s topspin, especially to his backhand side was too difficult to control regularly. That’s what everyone feels when they play him on clay. Add to that his fluid movement, incredible foot speed & balance, plus the slower rhythm of play and you get Nadal’s unsurpassed clay game. He plays high-safety tennis of the “Not to Miss” brand, and it’s stunning how successful he is doing that. He plays a defensive game not only superbly – but does so more aggressively than anyone before him ever has. As Steve Tignor pointed out in the Monte Carlo Final: down 2 breaks in the 2nd Set, Nadal didn’t panic. He just reverted to what he knows in his soul he does best: play clay court tennis on his terms. He stopped missing. He went 21 points (that’s over 5 full games) without an error, while simultaneously orchestrating his most successful tactic against Federer – driving his powerful forehand 1 foot from each line right into Federer’s backhand corner. He beat Federer with this tried & true formula, again. It will always work for Nadal. Success against Nadal is simple: how Federer (or anyone else) copes with the Nadal Forehand (which on clay is THE weapon in the game) going to their backhand when it’s a foot or so from each line. And when you add that Nadal can string together several games worth of Error-Free Tennis – you end up just surrendering.

A recent Federer comment gives another insight into why Nadal’s clay court game is so impenetrable. Fed said that, on clay, “..your serve won’t save you”. Exactly right. Nadal can’t be served off a clay court by big servers looking to keep him on the defensive; nor does Nadal’s lack of a huge serve hurt him on clay. Clay is all about the rally – and if you don’t have a well developed game beyond a big hitting serve, trying to live with Nadal rallying from the back of the court makes for an exceptionally long and fruitless day.

Nadal is also a superb match player. He & Federer have an uncanny ability to assess every shot of every point of every one of their matches AS THEY HAPPEN. They’re so alert to what they need to adjust to turn matches around. When you combine that acumen with all of Nadal’s other gifts that a clay court rewards, it’s no mystery why he’s so tough to beat. Someone will sometime, but he’ll just go back and start another streak when that happens. A loss won’t diminish what’s he’s achieved, no matter who manages to beat him.

Seth Says:

I’m a staunch Fed fan, but I have to admit that Rafa’s really grown on me in the last year. I’ve never had anything against him (other than ’05 FO semifinal and the ’06 and ’07 FO finals!), but I’m really coming to appreciate not only his game, but also his demeanor both on and off the court. It seems that Djokovic’s less-than-sportsmanlike behavior may have thrown Rafa’s respectfulness and fighting spirit into sharp relief, so much so that I’m grateful such a classy and dignified player like Nadal has shaped up to be Fed’s main rival.

I’m still hoping for a Federer coup at Roland Garros this year, but if it ends up being Rafa’s year for a French Open Four-Peat, I won’t be disappointed.

JCF Says:

It’s Potro, not Porto.

JCF Says:

“Djoko needs to learn to finish a match first. He retired against Rafa in RG 2005 and against Federer in MC this year and against Nalbamdian in DC ( these are hust clay retirements!). Of course, he is always “in control”.”

Djoko also retired to Nadal at Wimbledon last year…

Giner Says:

Why is it when Justine Henin retires from ONE match (Mauresmo’s previous two opponents in the same tournament did exactly the same thing!) people kick up a storm and she becomes the biggest villain in tennis… but not such a big deal is made of Djokovic who is known for retiring when he’s tired. He was looking down and out against Tsonga in Melb, and Jim Courier remarked that Djoko has been known to retire when he can’t be bothered, and that he very well could do the same thing again that day (he was looking very tired, even though he hadn’t dropped a set going into the final).

Dr. Death Says:

Dan – I would like to be your editor for a moment if I may. Change beat to “dominate” or “regularly beat”.

Nadal will have an off day every 100 games or so on clay; it is only human.

Zola – we came in 3rd. many thanks for the thought.

Kozmikwunder Says:

Dr. Death:

Every 100 games or every 100 matches???

Tejuz Says:

well.. i guess Fed has the best shot, cuz most of the time he is last guy standing against nadal in a clay court tournament. But its still a long shot for him. Nalabandian could be the next guy who can beat Nadal. I dont agree that Murray’s game is similar to Nalbandian’s. Murray is too defensive.. he could drive anybody nuts with his retrieving.. but Nadal would be more than happy to play long rallies with him. But Nalabandian has got an all-round game.. great backhand which could negate Nadal’s topspin forehands.. great drop-shots. It will be quite a match.

Tote Tennis Pro Says:

Can’t see anyone chalenging Nadal on clay this season. Of course if he has an off day, or if he is tired from playing so many matches… but his technique and determination mean he is almost unstoppable.

Fed and Djok? Nah. Anyone else? Nah. Clay is Nadal’s surface. What will be more interesting to see is whether Grass is still Federers…!

Tennis-Clearwater Says:

Oddly enough, a friend and I were just having this exact conversation last nite. We both agreed immediately that Djokivic is the only one that really has everything he needs to do it. I don’t see the big serving giants beating Nadal on clay. I may even consider James Blake as a potential slayer if he gets hot at the right time.

Dr. Death Says:

Kaz – good point. He will lose a game every 100 and a match every 100 matches or so.

jane Says:

I will likely be another Federer / Nadal final in Rome; that’s what the odds tell us.

Ferrer and Nalby are both out now, and Djokovic is still on antibiotics. I don’t see anyone else in Federer’s half beating him unless they have in the zone days (Gonza, maybe Stepanek?).

And who can beat Rafa on clay? Pretty much no one.

Dan Martin Says:

I agree that someone regularly beating Rafa will be a more interesting phenomenon than the odd stumble but right now we are not even seeing the odd stumble. Fed got a nice win over Canas and Djokovic has bad blood with Federer. So that half should be interesting if form holds. JCF vs. Nadal in round 2 is a nice match, but poor JCF has never quite recovered from whatever hit him in 2004.

I like tennis bullies not tennis sissies Says:

Seth Says: I’m a staunch Fed fan, but I have to admit that Rafa’s really grown on me in the last year. I’ve never had anything against him (other than ‘05 FO semifinal and the ‘06 and ‘07 FO finals!), but I’m really coming to appreciate not only his game, but also his demeanor both on and off the court.

the Nole effect. :)

funches Says:

Addressing some random stupidity:

1)Why do people still waste time including Safin on lists of dangerous anythings? The statute of limitations has run out on him. He’s been playing almost every week for the past two years and almost never wins two matches in a row. Also, he never threatened at Roland Garros even when he was on top of his game.

2)Djokovic deserves criticism for constantly abandoning matches, but people who hate him lose credibility when they throw in his Wimbledon retirement last year and/or try to compare what he has done to what Henin did in the Australian Open final. He could barely move when he played Nadal in the Wimbledon semifinal but still won the first set because Nadal was tight. Maybe his tolerance of pain is low, but on that day he was not running like a deer. He was running like a Hantuchova. The difference between his lame retirement against Fed recently and Henin’s lame retirement against Mauresmo is simple: he quit in a non-final of a non-Grand Slam. SHE QUIT IN A FINAL WHEN HER OPPONENT WAS ON HER WAY TO THE FIRST GRAND SLAM TITLE OF HER CAREER. A slightly more significant occasion.

I like tennis bullies not tennis sissies Says:

Who will be the best on clay this year?

-> Rafael Nadal 17%
-> Roger Federer 81%
-> Novak Djokovic 1%
-> David Ferrer 1%
votes: 1229


Daniel Says:

I am not watching the match, but look like Ferrero`s attacking game is working, or Nadal are missing a lot.
Could it be this time! The biggest upset in tennis in the last 4 years?

naresh Says:

as v speak about who could dethrone Nadal on clay..the one man that no one has talked about..might still not talk about..is Ferrero !

he’s taken a set off Nadal and is 3-1 up in the 2nd set, at Rome !!

Daniel Says:

What is happening? Nadal is having a off day on clay (something I’ve never saw before)! someone…

andrea Says:

well. the answer to this article’s title is: juan carlos ferrero!
i knew this would be the year that nadal’s clay court dominance would be under threat.

bring on the french!

naresh Says:

Ferrer packedup against Stepanek, so i guess he must’ve been tired. to play back to back tournaments on clay has got to be the toughest challenge for a tennis players fitness..even for the He-Man Nadal !

tennisontherocks Says:

Oh boy, Ferrero beats him. anybody saw the match?

naresh Says:

Nadal’s out. he lost the 2nd set 1-6. the guy needs to take it easy b4 RG !

Ray Says:

I watched it, Nadal had the trainer out in the second set-his foot looked terrible.

He had an off day against a guy who is very good on clay and had a virtually perfect day. Ferrero played VERY well. So now Nadal will at least get some rest.

fed is afraid Says:

omg, what happened? i can’t believe it. well he is injured and he showed how to play until the end, unlike someone else i could mention-d-quiter.

NachoF Says:

This might actually be good for him… itll give him a little more time to rest up for Hamburg….. I have the feeling Federer’s gonna be the one thats exhausted for the French Open if he advances a lot in Rome and Hamburg

Juan Carlos Ferrero Says:

ju hab tu belief ju can do it, no?
Rafa still numer 1 in dis sufrase.
No can win eberything all de time.

Juan Carlos Ferrero Says:

also, is okay for call me “de sexy”, is okay…

Leo Says:

yep – gotta agree. this may just work in Nadal’s favor.

fed is afraid Says:

i guess it means roger can finally win rome with rafa out of the way. too bad it takes that for him to “maybe” win it.

kitty likes gravy Says:

Behind all these comments, the “It’s okay, Rafa, get some rest” fans are thinking “NOOOOOOOO!!!!”

Mike Says:

It’s amusing to see Fed-haters popping up, somehow spinning Rafa’s surprise loss into a way to bash Roger.

Anyway, Ferrero’s still capable of putting together a tough match or two (he had a few nice tourneys last summer), but no one outside of his nuclear family thought he had much of a chance today. (I take it on good authority that his cousin, Maria Consuela, dropped a dime on Rafa on Betfair this morning.) So don’t feel bad about the unfortunate timing of your post, Dan!

Dan Martin Says:

Crazy match. I include Safin due to a man named Andre Agassi who won the 1999 French and U.S. Open titles after looking old and irrelevant. Do I think Safin will turn it around? No, but he could turn it around and that makes him somewhat relevant. JCF gets a huge win. I think Fed can more or less skip Hamburg if he does well this week. Rafa loses 495 ranking points today. Federer is 175 points ahead on clay from what he earned last year at this point. He has 500 points to defend in Hamburg, but if he plays through in Rome he can gain up to 425 points over what he did in Rome last year. That means if he plays well in Rome expect him to skip Hamburg.

kitty likes gravy Says:

“fed is afraid” basically says it takes an early Nadal loss on clay for Federer to capture a title in the same tournament. Isn’t that Nadal’s situation when it comes to Wimbledon? There’s no likelihood of a similar final to 2007, or a win over Federer in the final. Not yet.

kitty likes gravy Says:

Rumour has it Safin will be retiring within the next two years.
If I can locate the source of this info again I will post it.

Von Says:

Juan Carlos Ferrero played a very smart, strong match. He was hitting groundies and going for his shots behind Nadal and down the line. Nadal’s foot looked so painful — there were approx. 2 inch cuts on his foot — huge blisters. He had it bandaged heavily, but even with the bandages, it had to have been pure torture for him to play. Just looking at it made me feel his pain. He seemed relieved when the match was over.

Now Davydenko’s part of the draw is wide open — I just hope that Juan Carlos can get far into this tournament considering the phenomental mountain he had to climb — some sort of reward for his huge effort. He was ever so gracious in his triumph – a very classy and dignified athlete.

Someone mentioned Safin not stringing more than 2 matches together — he did that in Munich, a week ago. I give him credit for showing up in every tournament he enters and making the effort — one of these days, it WILL come together again for him. Irregardless of the criticism, he’s one great champion with a champion’s heart and should be commended not ridiculed. Even though he is in his pre-twilight years, his style of play is superb. Let’s not write him off yet. Some kindness perhaps?

fed is afraid Says:

nadal took roger to 5 sets at wimbledon and almost won it except for exhaustion for playing 7 straight days while roger was resting for 5 straight days. roger has never threatned nadal at the french. he has never taken rafa to 5 sets at the french.

fed is afraid Says:

heck even after roger won the first set 6-1 in 06, i knew he would lose the match, and of course he did.

Von Says:

Tennis-Clearwater – Hello from Tarpon Springs. I looked at your website — very informative. Maybe I’ll show up at one of the local matches on a nice, cool day — the weather is heating up already — what happened to spring? Cheerio.

andrea Says:

i wouldn’t count on roger being too exhausted at the french. roger has one thing up on everyone in the past few years and that is consistency. even in the first four months of this year, the only two tournaments he didn’t make the finals or semis was dubai and miami. plus, he reiterates time and time again how he plans his schedule to avoid burn out.

if he wins rome and hamburg, he’ll be guaranteed to have the latest start at the french for first round action and then a day off in between each match to recover.

zola Says:

Seems your search hit a result. Rafa lost to JC Ferrero today. I hope he can bounce back in HAmburg and get enough rest for RG.

Seth Says:

Too bad for Rafa today. I was really excited at the prospect of another Fedal final. Keep your chin up, Rafa fans, he’s still the man to beat on the dirt!

jane Says:

Sad for Rafa.

But just when ya think order is restored in the court, along comes that someone who can beat Rafa (yes, on an off day, but still, let’s give credit where credit is due; he played well). Congrats to Juan Carlos Ferrero.

Rafa, soak those blisters. Much more clay to be had.

zola Says:

Thanks Seth.
I am very concerned about his injury. That foot did not look good and apparently the blister was there since Barcelona.

Tennis-X staff
I love this weeks Funk/trunk column. the referencr to ET’s job is priceless!

Marko Says:

This Nadal loss gives Djokovic a good chance to gain some ground on him. Nadal is currently ahead of Djoko by 1,180 points, but if Djoko wins Rome he can potentially close the gap to 340 points!!!

Go Nole!

sensationalsafin Says:

I watched the match and boy did Ferrero play great. He played the perfect way and he was able to do it throughout the whole match, not just in patches. But Nadal’s foot looked terrible. I don’t even understand how he could stand on it, yet alone play with it. He should go very far in Rome if he keeps his play up. As long as he doesn’t let this win get to his head and stay focused the way he did in this match, I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins the whole thing. Of course there’s Federer, but who knows?

Marko Says:

Due to Nadal losing, this is a great chance for Djoko to gain some ground on him. There is currently a large gap between 2nd place Nadal and 3rd place Djokovic with 1180 points between them. Though if Djoko can put some wins together and win the Rome title the gap in points can shrink to 340!!!

Go Nole!

Tennis-Clearwater Says:

Jaun Carlos Ferraro did what Federer couldn’t. He redirected the rallies to Rafa’s backhand and attacked the open court to Nadal’s forehand after setting up the point. Absolutely masterful. Bravo Ferraro.

fed is afraid Says:

we don’t want d-quiter to gain points on rafa; that would be terrible. but he won’t win, he will either lose or quit.

Harry Says:

Exactly Tennis-Clearwater! Ferrero constructed his points and opened up the court very well today; he hit numerous shots (sometimes winners) to Nadal’s forehand – something that other tennis players including Roger refrain from doing. I was also pleasantly surprised to see him attack Nadal’s second serve even during crunch points and that paid off too.

bradford Says:

Don’t you love the commentator jinx when they say…”so and so hasn’t had a double fault in five matches!” …and presto, as if by magic…a double fault ensues! …I’d guess, like all other jinxed recipients, Rafa wished Dan hadn’t published the above post :)…perhaps “slain” by our most fervent admirers!.. Geez, I have to hand it to Ferrero!…as Robbie Coneig put it…”Ferrero just needs to take it to the red-line and keep it there!” …love his commentary with Doug Adler! Would somebody please tell Robbie or Doug…who ever keeps saying that the new “young guns” just hjave to add another weapon in their “armor” that they have that “a bit off?” Guys, it’s another weapon in the arsenal right!? Sorry to compain, you’re both eight million times better than what we have to stomach here in the US…in fact Robbie, Doug…you’re “spot on!”

Sean Randall Says:

Nice post Dan.

In my mind the guy with the best shot of beating an in-form Rafa at the French is…gulp…Novak.

His backhand is very solid, he can hit through the court, he can get free points off his serve, he makes few errors on his side of the court and he’s got that dropshot.

Sean Randall Says:

Bradford, spot on. Dan jinxed him with the post!

Daniel Says:

Well, I’ve been doing some math, and it looks like we can have a change in rankings at the end of Hamburgo, but most likely after RG.

This is where we stand
Roger Federer: 6775(defending 75 pts this week)
Rafael Nadal: 5930-495 = 5435 (next monday)
Novak Djokovic: 4750 (defending 125 pts this week)

If Djokovic make better than QF in Rome and Hamburgo, he will get pretty close to Nadal (over 5000 pts) going to RG, and even with Nadal winning Hamburgo he will add only 150 pts to his 5435. Nadal will have to play RG under the pressure of loosing the number 2.
But, it all depends on how Djokovic will behave. This is the moment when he needs to show what he is maid of, and how bad he wants to be number 1, because, he will have to be number 2 first!

Federer was the one who gain with this Nadal loss, he could make better in Rome and depending how far he goes he can choose not to play Hamburgo. If he wins both MS, he will enter RG with 7200 pts, more than 1500 over Nadal, which will give him a secure ranking until the MS Canada.

I hope Nadal will be over his injury soon, cause nothing will be worst for the next excitement weeks than a injured Nadal!

Luka Says:

I agree that Marat shouldn’t be written off. He’s the great champion and will win matches again. It is only the question of time…

I like tennis bullies not tennis sissies Says:

fed is afraid Says: i guess it means roger can finally win rome with rafa out of the way. too bad it takes that for him to “maybe” win it.

agree. fed cant win on clay when nadal is around to stop him. hopefully djoker can take care of the arrogant swiss.

April Says:

I am personally hoping that Federer wins this year. I know that he is still playing great but he will want to retire in not-so-distant future. I read a bit about him on The Tennis Channel’s website a while back. I also think that Nadal tries extra hard to always win the French Open because he wants to keep his rival from getting his career Grand Slam. Federer is, after all, the number one world ranked player.

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