Midpoint of the Clay Season, Nadal Still the King
by Ben Pronin | May 3rd, 2010, 12:28 pm

The big questions posed in the beginning of the clay court season was whether or not Rafael Nadal would resume his dominance and who would be able to derail him? So far, the answer to the former is a straight-forward yes and the answer to the latter is no one. ADHEREL

There are four big events during the clay season: Monte Carlo, Rome, and Madrid Masters, and the French Open. Two of them have been played out already and Nadal walked away with the Monte Carlo and Rome titles having dropped only one set. And by skipping the Barcelona tournament, Nadal has put himself in prime position to sweep the last two big events and complete the greatest clay season of all time.

But Nadal is on the fence about playing in Madrid. I know it’s all about the healthy approach for him, but I believe playing Madrid would not hurt him as much as some people might think. Last year he reached the finals after already winning three other clay tournaments despite dealing with physical and emotional problems. This year, the emotions seem to be in check and his knees seem to be in check. He has a week to rest, too, and he has not spent nearly as much time on the court this year as in previous years.

I know another big argument against Madrid is that the conditions don’t help with preparations for the French. While this may be true, I don’t see it as a serious issue for Nadal. Federer won Madrid and the French last year, is Nadal really incapable of doing the same? Nadal is the overwhelming favorite for Paris no matter what his decision regarding Madrid is.

After winning in Rome, Nadal said, “I didn’t play at the level I did in Monte Carlo, but I’m still winning and that’s the important thing. I’m probably more happy winning without playing (my) best. It was more of a mental thing.”

Nadal’s below-Monte-Carlo-level is still head and shoulders above the rest of the field. Ernests Gulbis provided Nadal with a stern test in the semifinals but Nadal upped his game when it mattered most and showed why he’s the most mentally tough player on tour. But it’s nice to see Nadal is always focused on improving and playing better.

In my preview for the clay season, I listed several players who could potentially challenge Nadal on his turf. Fernando Verdasco has been the second most successful player on clay, but Nadal showed in the Monte Carlo final that Verdasco has a ways to go before he can knock out Nadal. David Ferrer got a good number of games in the Rome final but he was never in a position to actually take the match.

Novak Djokovic, who I thought would be Nadal’s biggest threat, is still trying to regain his composure. His serve is still up and down, but the rest of his game is getting better. His problem, now, is regaining his confidence on the big points. Tennis-wise, him and Verdasco were almost equal in their quarterfinal in Rome, but Verdasco was mentally tougher.

Andy Murray finally won a match after going 0-3 in since Indian Wells, but he still has some mental cobwebs to shake off and his clay game could use some work.

Juan Carlos Ferrero had a good Latin clay swing but he has disappointed so far. A loss to Nadal in Monte Carlo isn’t a bad result but he got crushed by qualifier Santiago Giraldo in the first round of Rome, winning only three games. Another prominent clay courter who has yet to win a match is the current number one, Roger Federer. Saying he hasn’t won a match makes things seem worse than they really are considering he’s only played one match on clay, but it was his second straight loss in general.

Federer has a chance to get a few matches under his belt in Estoril this week, but things don’t look great for the current French Open champ. He needs to groove himself into form before he finds himself holding another plate next to Nadal eating his trophy.

There’s also Nadal-killer Robin Soderling who played a good tournament in Barcelona but then got routed by Stanislas Wawrinka in Rome. Apparently he’s struggling with some physical ailments but he should be in shape by the time the French rolls around.

Based on the way things have played out so far, both Madrid and the French are fairly wide open in regards to who will get to lose to Nadal in the finals. I can’t foresee anyone toppling him unless his knees suddenly give out. If Nadal doesn’t play Madrid, I think Verdasco is the next in line to take the title. At the French, if not Nadal, then probably Federer. I just hope a few more players can push Nadal and produce some classic matches.

Funniest Quote: “But his level is now down just a bit and others are starting to get confidence and the belief that they have a chance to beat him,” said Djokovic regarding Nadal.

You Might Like:
Watch And Listen To Vania King Sing ‘Dream A Little Dream Of Me’ During An ESPN Interview [Video]
Poll: How Many Matches Will Rafael Nadal Lose This European Clay Season?
Cuevas Wins Pablo Battle, Defends Brasil Open for 2nd Consecutive Title
Novak Djokovic: Wimbledon Champion, King of Tennis
Rafael Nadal On ESPN Sportscenter: Acapulco Was One Of My Best Finals Ever On Clay [Video]

Don't miss any tennis action, stay connected with Tennis-X

Get the FREE TX daily newsletter

57 Comments for Midpoint of the Clay Season, Nadal Still the King

Huh Says:

“The big questions posed in the beginning of the clay court season was whether or not Rafael Nadal would resume his dominance and who would be able to derail him?”

This was and is just a childish question, if anything, and I am one of those who have never entertained such doubts in my mind re:Rafa. Even thou I m a Federer fan, my BIG CONGRATS TO RAFA for winning the Rome Masters. It would be quite amazing if he produces another 2008 kinda summer domination at FO-WIM! Bring ’em on!!! GOOD LUCK TO NADAL thou. I want him to be at his best, win or lose.

Rsutherland Says:

For singers (yes this post is tennis-related), adapting to a higher altitude (Madrid?) actually helps strengthen their breathing so singing in lower altitudes is actually easier (albiet temporarily). Why is this not advantageous for an athlete?

Rsutherland Says:

For the lungs, breathing in high altitudes for a week then going back to sea-level is kind of like wearing ankle weights for a week then taking them off – walking/running is then easier.

Joe Says:

childish? “huh” is an apt moniker for that post.

Anna Says:

Rsutherland – I’m not an athlete so I’m not sure but I’m thinking the higher the altitude, the less oxygen, the more exertion. It’s not just the athletes conditioning but the on court conditions as well. Apparently the ball moves faster in thinner air (who knew) and the bounce is different as well. I think the players prefer conditions to be similar to FO just before heading into that tournament.

Skorocel Says:

„Nadal’s below-Monte-Carlo-level is still head and shoulders above the rest of the field.“

Very true, Ben!


„Based on the way things have played out so far, both Madrid and the French are fairly wide open in regards to who will get to lose to Nadal in the finals.“

LOL :-) Very nicely put! Just as one fan once said here about Fed, God created everyone equal to Nadal as well. That means, everyone loses more or less equally to him on clay! ;-)

Huh Says:

“Joe Says:
childish? “huh” is an apt moniker for that post.”

Grow up dude, grow up if you’ve already not. Dont worry about me, take care of urself, wud b good for u. Keep comin at me, if u like, I enjoy it. hehehe.

Rsutherland Says:

Thanks Anna.
Also in my field, in order to execute a difficult passage, sometimes we practice things similar, yet more difficult or the same passage at a faster speed than what is required so when the ‘big time’ comes, it seems easier.
The only difficult thing I do athletically is wind sprints. After doing them for a while in the mountains, they sure are a lot easier at sea level.
Maybe just training at a high altitude (not actually worrying about executing in a match) would be an interesting way to prepare…I don’t know.

Rsutherland Says:

Isn’t the ‘Nadal is invincible on clay’ thing getting a little redundant?
Is a new tennis-x game simply finding new and clever ways to articulate that sentiment?
This still seems to be the ‘golden oldie’ (hence unoriginal) tactic of propping someone up to an unreasonable level in order to make the eventual fall seem worse.
Haven’t we seen a style of play that gives him trouble already?
Nadal doesn’t believe he is inevitable. He sure wasn’t last year.
Whats up with that….
You guys should appreciate idiots like me who like talking about their looks, or quirks…or something, anything else…Gawd…

Voicemale1 Says:

Nadal will play Madrid. That’s why he gave up Barcelona – so it would give him a schedule of every other week of play. Plus he gave up Doubles in Monte Carlo & Rome which had previously played over the years. He has Final points to defend in Madrid. He’ll play. Even with all of the alleged disadvantages like the allegedly “faster” court in Rome and the “altitude” in Madrid, his results on clay still tower over everybody.

fed is afraid Says:

rafa will regain his title in paris.
roger who?

Ben Pronin Says:

I’m not saying Nadal is invincible, I just can’t foresee anyone toppling him. He has one tough match (against Gulbis) out of 10 matches and suddenly all of his weaknesses are showing? I don’t think so. It takes great execution coupled with 100% concentration, something that is far from easy to come by.

madmax Says:

fed is afraid.

You don’t know? Roger Federer. World. No. 1. for about 50,000 years.

J Says:

Agreed Ben. Rafa isn’t quite at his optimum level yet but he doesn’t really need to be the way everyone else is playing. Rafa at 80% is better than the rest of the field at this point.

Interesting that Rafa says he’s happier with his Rome win than the MC win. He was in scintillating form in MC but in Rome his mental strength came back full force. In the Gulbis match, he refused to capitulate, despite everything Ernests was throwing at him. I have a feeling that come Madrid and then the French, Rafa will be combining his astonishing skill a la Monte Carlo AND his formidable mental fortitude as we saw re-emerge in Rome. The result? Everyone else will fall by the wayside I’m afraid.

jane Says:

But what will happen on grass? That will be even more interesting in some ways. Rafa won Queens AND Wimbledon in 2008 but he didn’t play on grass last year (well, practically). So I wonder how he’ll fare in 2010? It’s not the least surprising he’s dominating the clay season. He is one of the best ever on the surface.

ThyGodisTennis Says:

Nadal will not win French Open.

Best of five will be too much for him. The knees are gonna hurt and he will go down. Nadal has peaked too soon for the clay season.

Sorry, Nadalites.

Kimmi Says:

Wasn’t nadal performance in Monte carlo due to the courts suiting his game more..I mean a very slow clay compared to rome? I think in Rome, other guys were able to push him a little because the clay is faster, so nadal did not have as much time to set up as in monte carlo.

Madrid conditions are even faster. So, we will probably see more close matches for nadal.I could be wrong but it somehow feels that was to me..

jane Says:

Perhaps, Kimmi, but Rafa has now won Rome five times in a row and Monte Carlo six times, so the clay difference between Monte Carlo and Rome can’t matter too much.

However, challengerlevel posted a couple of weeks ago that the clay at Roland Garros has been changed to a faster version/surface as of last year, so if that’s true, who knows how it will affect things this year. Maybe, maybe not. Rafa’s just great on any sort of clay, I suspect.

Ben Pronin Says:

Jane, you can’t listen to anything challengerlevel says.

The surface in Monte Carlo suits Nadal slightly more than Rome. Rome isn’t as grainy so there isn’t as much sliding. But like jane says, the difference isn’t enough to deter Nadal. Hamburg played similarly to Madrid and Nadal won in Hamburg, beating Djokovic and Federer along the way. For Nadal, clay is clay is clay. If it’s green clay, yellow clay, orange clay, doesn’t matter, Nadal wins.

Kimmi Says:

Ben – I was not talking about nadal not winning on faster clay..my point was on how other players were able to push him. They could not push him in MC but they did in Rome..I know he kept saying he did not play well but I think the faster surface might be one of the reason for his “bad” perfomance.

RG clay was faster than monte carlo last year. Not only challengerlevel said..I heard commentator Robbie Koenig mentioned the same thing so there might be some thruth in it.

skeezerweezer Says:


You crack me up with your Nadal sentiments every chance you get to throw a “bone” to Rafa, lol.

Twisted, obsessive, bewildering, but all so true:)

Gang, this is “Rafa” time, let his fans fly their banner. Happens every year around this time.

What’s different this year? The knees. He won’t last the year the faster the courts get.

First, guys have figured out how to hit through the big swinging Spaniard. This can be done on the faster surface, cutting down Rafa’s time to make the big swings he wants.

Second, courts that are faster, are usually harder on the body ( Wimby excluded ) and this is where IMO is going to be his true test now of continuing to compete at a championship level. His style of game is the most physical on the body than anyone out there, we all know that.

Time will tell.

In the meantime Rafa fans, enjoy the Clay season on the Rafa ride, he is “King of Clay”

Kimmi Says:

jane: “Besides, it doesn’t make that much difference if Djoko is number 2 or 3 there, in my opinion, as long as he goes deeper than last year!! Rafa too. : )”

jane, I pulled this quote from you on another thread. If you don’t mind me bringing it here, as I think this thread is active at the moment.

Depending on the draw at RG, djoko seeded # 2 can be *VERY* significant for him to reach the final of a grand slam or even win it.

If Federer and nadal are in the same half, and players like verdasco seeded on the same half as federer and nadal..that will be a dream draw for djoko.

OK, there are a lot of other players but Djoko has proven to play very well on clay..Ofcourse he will have to win every match but not worrying about playing both federer and nadal can increase his chances of reaching the final (which is not bad) or winning this whole thing. That’s my take.

Now, if he gets Nadal on his half, then all these specualtions could be wishful thinking. ha!

dc Says:

Federer’s daughters have started babbling and the rumor is that the first word they uttered were FO..FO…apparently Fed thinks they want him to get the French Open. This has upped Fed’s motivation levels significantly; we should watch out for Fed at the FO.

jane Says:

Kimmi, The point is “IF” Fed and Nadal are on the same side. It could just as easily be Nadal and Djoko on the same side, whether Djoko is seeded number 2 OR 3. That was my point on the other thread. So in that sense it doesn’t make much difference. It’s kind of 50/50 either way, whether he’s #2 or 3, as to where Nadal will land. But you’re right that if he is seeded #2 then the chance that he’d only have to play Nadal OR Fed *IF* Djoko gets that far is a better one. Ultimately, there is not much point fretting about it. Just going to wait and see what happens. Mainly, I want to see him do better at this slam, getting to the semis would be good. Anything more would be fantastic. But who knows? He’s been quite up and down this year. I don’t know what to expect.

Kimmi Says:

Yeah, I agree the point is “IF”. But he will definetly have a better chance of a dream draw if he was # 2 rather than # 3. (but also sometimes draw opens up a la federer last year FO, so we never know).

Anyways, djoko is not my fav but will be happy for him if he is seeded #2 in a grand slam for the 1st time, he is been #3 for too long. Only couple of weeks left, he could achieve this. Wish him all the best :)

jane Says:

Thanks Kimmi – I think you have a good point; it’d be nice if he could be seeded #2 at a slam. We’ll see what happens this week and at Madrid.

i am it Says:

Ben, a little bit of conflict in the narrative, kida disruption of linearity, would make it more interesting, just a thought. IMU Nadal would rank Madrid after Rome and Monte Carlo, so far his FO prep goes. We have heard him drawing distinction between the FO and Madrid surfaces and how Madrid result does not forecast his performance at FO, etc. For that reason, in Nadal’s case, we are past the mid clay season, waiting for the climax at FO. However, the same is not true in Federer’s case, who has yet to hit the mid way mark, so far his clay prep goes. He needs more match practice, and he will have just about enough from Estoril and Madrid, but then one can argue he may not need extended match practice to get ready for the Slam.

Kimmi, interesting point about Djoko. The higher the ranking the better, and obviously it is still better if you can avoid both Federer and Nadal until the final.

Jane, all I can say about Djoko is his shots need to be sharper and more accurate. Consistent good serve will definitely help. He should reach at least semi at RG, and everything else, like you said, is just gravy. BTW, you are good to go.

I forgot to say hello to Margot, Contador, and Puckabandit (?). Special hello to you three, if you still visit X.

Ben Pronin Says:

I am it, I’m not saying it’s the midpoint based on Nadal or any particular player, just based on the big events. For Nadal, Madrid may not be as important as another Masters but for me, a Masters is a Masters. Some people don’t even considering MC a Masters since it’s optional but I still do.

Anyways, Djokovic is an interesting case. I want him to reach the final, honestly. I realize it’s asking for a lot but he hasn’t been in a slam final for almost two years now, it’s about time to reach another one.

steve Says:

Nadal hasn’t run into big hitting players consistent enough to hurt him. Del Potro is out with injury (probably until after clay season is done), Davydenko too. Verdasco has the firepower but is an unpredictable headcase. Gulbis came close, but he was too inconsistent to take the chances he had in the third set.

I predict Nadal will make it to the final of RG. The chances that he will meet a power baseliner consistent enough to take him out before then seem fairly small. The final is another matter.

Djokovic is a cipher at the moment. He could improve his form enough to do well in RG, but who knows.

Lion Says:

Jane – enough of the rafa kool aid, he did not win rome 5 times IN A ROW.

Thy god is tennis – The word is rafatards as in rafa-retards, nadalites is ok, but rafatards explains it better. who is to say if rafa will win another title, this year? rafatards will have you believe rafa is the 2nd coming of Jesus, if you let them flaunt their stupidity.

And rafa is good on any kind of clay? I bet roddick will have a winning H2H against nadal on that green clay tournament he won like 4 or 5 times and was in the final another time. Federer has bageled nadal at Hamburg. Federer has won hamburg 4 times and lost in the final to nadal in a year when his game was in a slump, during that stretch he had lost wimbledon final, AO semis to djokovic, lost to players like fish and blake for the 1st time ever. So that final is more of an aberration than the norm.

On Hamburg clay Federer will beat nadal 8 out of 10 times. I believe that will be the case in madrid too. MC and french open go to the pick-@ss-oh. Rome is a toss-up as their one super classic final shows.

fingers crossed for some one to rope nadal at madrid. please start the nadal rope fest already, last year was straight out of a fairy tale for the el-itchy-butto haters.

nalbandian, delpotro and davydenko’s injuries definitely help the pick-@ss-oh. they have roped him like he was their b@#ch when they have played.

Lion Says:

I also want the sissies that complained about using the word r@pe, to know that they can go back to rafaelnadal.com if they want to communicate only with people who are morons and sissies.

This is a site for real hard-@sses, not for itchy-butts.

Lion Says:

nevertheless, i have used the word rope instead of r@pe, considering the sensitivity of these sissies that are rafatards.

see Von? I am being nice to rafatards. LOL

and dc, that was a hilarious one about the twins. I am LMAO!

montecarlo Says:

Lion is still not Banned? Wow

Rsutherland Says:

Lion just has a fetish for Rafa’s backside.
Thats OK, Lion, so do countless others. Here are some links that might help you relieve some tension:
There are many more and easy to find.

Hartmut Hesse Says:

Clay Court Season 2010 – A LAtin Love Affair!?

The first month of the European clay court season is over an it is time for a short check-up on who is among the favorites for the French Open.
So far it is only a handful of players who were able to claim a clay court title this year and in April all of them carried a Spanish passport.
But the rest of the season was pretty much a Latin love affair, as well. Only one “white boy” was able to claim one of the 9 tournament titles handed out on the red dirt this year.
And guess where he is from?!? –Switzerland of course. But surprise, surprise – it was not Roger who did it. It was Stan Wawrinka who took the title in Casablanca, Marocco in the beginning of April.
All the other winner came either from Spain or South America. Nadal took the two ATP-1000 series titles in April, Juan Carlos Ferrero also captured two titles and fellow spainiards Verdasco and Ferrer won one event. The other two winners are Brasilian Thomasz Belluci and Juan Ignacio Chela from Argentina.

So, who else will be among the contenders for the French this year?
For sure it is Roger, who has an easy draw in Estoril this week and will probably win and get some confidence for his title defense in Madrid.
Robin Soderling, who reached at least a final against Verdasco, is also playing quite well and might have a chance to get to the semis at Roland Garros.
The most disappointing performance comes from Murray and Djokovic who did not do much damage on clay yet. But as soon as the French start and we will play best of five sets, they will be there again, I’m sure. But I don’t see more than a quarterfinal for them.
Del Potro and Davydenko are still out because of injuries and this made it much easier for the Spanish clay court specialists so far. But at least Davydenko might be back for the French. But it remains uncertain, if he can show up with confidence and some clay court wins in his bag.

So, far it all looks like a Latin love affair in Paris or Nadal and Federer again will get it on again… ;)
Let’s see…

Hardy Hesse
Hesse Tennis Training
Professional Training and Coaching for Top Juniors and Professionals

Polo Says:

I think I saw a different tournament from what others here saw. At the Rome tournament, Nadal dominated everyone except maybe Gulbis but Nadal still won. Wawrinka kept it close for a while in the first set but the second was all Nadal. As somebody here said, if its clay, it does not matter what kind, Nadal will take it.

gonzalowski Says:

Congratulations, two years reading this blog, and enjoy it a lot specially clay season

Continue the same, people

Lion Says:

here is a video for you and other rafatards :


at 1:50, djokovic totally nailed the pick-@ss-oh :)

and unlike your rafatard videos, which barely has 20000 views, the above has close to a million views. if you rafatards had any sense, you would have asked the pick-@ss-oh to stop being such a pick-@ss. I guess he is a pick-@ss-oh and you rafatards are kiss-@ss-ohs….. you guys deserve each other.

weren’t there rumours a few years back that nadal and f-lo kissed? anyone have more dirt on it?

get ready for the itchy butto rope fest…..

Polo Says:

It’s a beautiful May morning made even better with the feeling of being free. Even for those who only see the ugliness in everything.

jane Says:

Lion, “he did not win rome 5 times IN A ROW.” You’re right, and it was my fave Nole who won it in 2008. Doh!

HOWEVER, Rafa still rocks the clay, whether the 5 Rome titles were consecutive or not.

Lion, you do know that Fed and Nadal are quite friendly, yes? As are Djoko and Rafa; they were just watching soccer together in Rome. It’s so funny that the fans are so polarized when the players aren’t.

Ben Pronin Says:

Jane, cmon, I don’t think their fans are all that polarized, at least not all the time. It’s just this freak called Lion who’s polarized from the rest of the world.

Speaking of friendliness, it played a huge part in making the first Hit for Haiti so successful. They were all joking around together and everything and it was a pleasure to watch. Even though Djokovic is always playing the pity game, he still, at least covered up, any bad feelings. Best part: http://gallery.fotoglif.com/images/large/eff5qumwmc1q.jpg

margot Says:

I am it: hmm…shall I 4give u 4 4getting me…???
Oh all right then! Welcome back! Nice to see u mister! Am very sorry about your man Delboy. What a bummer. You’ll just have to climb on board the special Gulbis/de Baaker bandwagon. You’d be in excellent company -me, jane, kimmi and conty and that’s just 4 starters!

jane Says:

Ben, that’s true: all the fans aren’t polarized.

Victor Says:

It is funny, when things are said about Roger, no one utters a peep. You say anything about the other players and people have to stand up and start preaching us about morality, people seeing only ugliness and branding other posters as freaks (and this guy gets to write? how pathetic is that).

I guess this is how the world runs. When lesser countries do f%*k-ups, not a peep, but when US does similar things, people have to come out and talk about justice and fairness.

To Lion : dont listen to this mumbo jumbo from these moral morons. Your posts are very funny and these “rafatards” as you call them do get out of hand during this clay season. besides anyone who can name the 5th player to beat nadal and federer in the same tournament, deserves respect. Hope the powers that be at x-blog are wiser than these moral morons.

To Jane : If nadal is a friend of Novak, why did he take offense to novak’s imitation? if you are going to tell me, professional athletes are friendly based on a few cordial things they do for publicity, you are being naive. They do such things or else moral morons will not let them play the game peacefully. sport is gladiatorial. you think nadal makes all those come backs in a match being a oh-so-nice guy? look at the cuss words he utters in spanish on a court, there is nothing nice about them. not knowing english is a boon sometimes. and you think it is possible to switch off that dog eat dog attitude once off-court?

There is a good reason sport is compared to battle. Soldiers and sportsman are trained to prevail and survive more exclusively than other people. I think you are just being naive about sportsmen being pals.

Ben Pronin Says:

Victor, show me where someone here said “fingers crossed for some one to rope [Federer] at madrid. please start the [Federer] rope fest already, last year was straight out of a fairy tale for the el-itchy-butto haters.”

Let’s not forget “rope” is intended to mean “rape”. Plus, madmax is always super quick to defend even the smallest offense towards Federer, so I don’t see how you can say “no on utters a peep” when someone insults Federer. And saying “Federer’s going downhill” doesn’t even compare to saying “I hope Nadal gets raped”. So go laugh it up with Lion and his sick fantasies, seeing as how you’re the only one who sees his “funny” side.

jane Says:


Maybe I am being naive; for sure there are many things done for publicity purposes, and Rafa and Nole share the same publicist. However, they seem to do things that are not publicity related too – for instance, they golfed at IW, or Ezorra recently posted a photo of them (and other players) in a hot tub, so I don’t know. Unless I am there with them, I don’t know that they are friends OR that they are enemies. Maybe should’ve worded my response to Lion as “seems like they are friendly”.

That all said, I do think players can be gladiatorial on the court but then cordial off it. Why not?


Jimmy Connors once told a story about how Ilie Nastase was so nice to him and they were “best friends” early in his career. After he lost to him at Wimbldeon in the early 70s Jimmy’s Mom was like of course he’s your best friend on the tour. He’s beaten you every time. Their friendship cooled later and Ilie was no longer Jimmy’s “best friend” after he had lost to him 7 times in a row in the late 70s early 80s.

jane Says:

I wonder if could go the opposite as Connors/Nastase too NELTA: in other words, I wonder if players who initially don’t seem to like/respect/appreciate one another, but between whom a rivalry is built up through some good or tight matches, thatthey actually come to respect/like one another more than before?

Anna Says:

Ben – I just have to say YOU ARE THE MAN!!!!!


That’s definitely possible Jane.

Anna Says:

I think both love and hate in competition is always a deterrent and will sabotoge an athletes game faster than a double order of french fries. No one knows the mind and heart of a champion better than another champion, and from that standpoint Roger and Rafa have much more in common than otherwise. Aside from that I think Rafa and Roger have true respect and affection for each other. It really isn’t necessary to hate someone because they have a differing opinion or because they stand on the opposite side of the court.

jane Says:

Well said Anna – especially this part: “It really isn’t necessary to hate someone because they have a differing opinion or because they stand on the opposite side of the court.”

Anna Says:

Thanks Jane! It’s true. All you have to do is look at Venus and Serena. They compete lights out against each other, but when the match is over their still sisters and their love and respect for each other supercedes all else.

sidmore Says:

Nadal will skip Madrid. The only reason people want him to play is so he can lose the French Open and Wimbledon. The impact on his knees are cumulative with tendonitis so the less play the better. Feeling good today does not mean feeling good tomorrow, because it is a chronic condition that has to be managed. There is no purpose to Madrid anyway since his focus during this part of the year has to be grand slams. So stop shilling for Federer and let Nadal rest his knees in peace.

sidmore Says:

nalbandian, delpotro and davydenko’s injuries definitely help the pick-@ss-oh. they have roped him like he was their b@#ch when they have played.

NEVER on clay but why bother with FACTS when you can just make s@#t up.

Anna Says:

Rafa confirmed for Madrid yesterday. He’s stated unequivically that the knees are good and he had no pain in either MC or Rome. I’m thinking (hoping) the team knows what there doing. For sure the big picture is Roland Garros.

Top story: ATP Won't Strip Ranking Points From UK Tournaments; Greenlights Future Bans