The women have already started their Road to Roland Garros this week with two events in Charleston and Mexico. But the men have a few more days to prepare for the onset of grinding clay season which begins in earnest next Monday in Houston and Casablanca.
The real fun, though, is in two weeks in Monte Carlo when King of Clay Rafael Nadal returns to his cherished European dirt to battle Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, David Ferrer and others.
Nadal, who skipped Miami to rest up for the clay, has to be feeling very good about where his game is. He’s 17-1 on the season and after some early doubts he’s again the undisputed heavy favorite to win an eighth French Open. And as of now, I don’t think anyone is going to stop that from happening.
Djokovic, meanwhile, has hit the skids of late. He’s losing matches he shouldn’t be and the bad patches are coming in bunches now. One match he’s playing great, the next he’s flat. And unfortunately for the Serb, there’s little let up in his schedule. After a busy last month – Dubai, Indian Wells, Miami – he now jets back across the U.S. for Davis Cup this week in Idaho before finally returning to Europe where he’ll have about a week before his first match on red clay.
Miami champ Andy Murray didn’t inspire with his title on Sunday, but a win is a win. He’ll have a week off before joining Rafa and Novak in Monte Carlo. Clay is not his best surface but we’ve seen him before play well on the red stuff.
And what of Roger Federer? The Swiss has been laying low, hopefully getting his back right for his May return in Madrid. Now at 31 and with Nadal and Djokovic in the way, unless Madrid turns back to blue it’s tough to see him adding to his trophy count next month.
With that, here’s where some of the top guys will be playing this spring before the start of the French Open on May 26.
Nadal(4): Apr 14 – Monte Carlo, Apr 22 – Barcelona, May 5 – Madrid, May 12 – Rome
Djokovic (3): Apr 14 – Monte Carlo, May 5 – Madrid, May 12 – Rome
Murray (3): Apr 14 – Monte Carlo, May 5 – Madrid, May 12 – Rome
Federer (2): May 5 – Madrid, May 12 – Rome
Ferrer (4): Apr 14 – Monte Carlo, Apr 22 – Barcelona, May 5 – Madrid, May 12 – Rome
Del Potro (3): Apr 29 – Estoril, May 5 – Madrid, May 12 – Rome
Apr 1 (Davis Cup)
Apr 8 (Houston, Casablanca)
Almagro, Isner, Haas, Monaco (Houston)
Anderson, Paire (Casablanca)
Apr 15 (Monte Carlo)
Apr 22 (Barcelona, Bucharest)
Nadal, Ferrer, Berdych, Gasquet, Raonic, Almagro (Barcelona)
Simon, Seppi (Bucharest)
Apr 29 (Munich, Estoril)
Del Potro, Monaco, Wawrinka, Seppi (Estoril)
Tipsarevic, Cilic, Haas (Munich)
May 5 (Madrid)
May 12 (Rome)
May 19 (Dusseldorf, Nice)
Tipsarevic, Almagro (Dusseldorf)
Berdych, Isner, Simon (Nice)
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