Nadal, Serena Win Rome — French Open Titles Await?
by Jeremy Davis | May 20th, 2013, 1:46 am

Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams showed they are a slide above anyone on the red clay this year with the stumble of No. 1 Novak Djokovic and the fall off of — well, everyone on the WTA tour.

In Rome this weekend Nadal man-slapped former world No. 1 Roger Federer 6-1, 6-3, and Serena Williams likewise [explisive]-slapped Victoria Azarenka by the same score. It was a definitive defining of the current claycourt landscape.

“If you told me four or five months ago that after eight tournaments I would have won six titles from eight finals, I would say you are crazy,” said Nadal, who returning to competition from a rumored career-ending knee injury earlier this year.

Nadal dialed in the Fed-killer tactic during the Rome final — high bouncers to the Swiss’ backhand.

“It didn’t go how I hoped and I was missing too many easy forehands and crucial points,” Federer said. “He does an incredible job returning from the back of the court and it is hard because he covers the court so well.”

Nadal has now won 41 claycourt titles during his career.

Serena equally built on her resume, pounding Azarenka with twice as many winners as unforced errors in a laugher.

“The first three games took about 20 minutes,” said Serena, pumping up the “difficulty” of the match. “It wasn’t easy, nothing is ever easy. I think the difference today was I took the opportunities when I had them and came up with some really good shots.”

All in all, it was excellent, an excellency she hopes to continue.

“Last year I was feeling excellent on clay but didn’t do that great at Roland Garros,” Serena said. “This year I’m cautious and I want to work hard and stay focused and win every point I play, and not slack at all.”

Serena improved to 12-2 vs. Azarenka. Is Azarenka her biggest threat at Roland Garros?

“Whoever I’m playing is my opponent, and also the lady in the mirror is the ultimate opponent for me,” said Serena, who is 33-1 on clay since the start of last year’s claycourt season.

Azarenka said Serena was the better player — blah blah blah.

“After the trophy ceremony we were just talking about the match and wishing each other luck for the French Open, and that we’ll see each other in Paris, and hopefully see each other in another final,” Azarenka said.

So what have you got now?

Rafa was left for dead with the knee injury, but now is the French Open favorite. Djokovic is No. 1 ranked but is — the No. 2 favorite? Roger Federer is the aging outside favorite with a bad faux mohawk. Serena Williams’ only French Open hurdle is avoiding injury. Who are your Roland Garros favorites and contenders?


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22 Comments for Nadal, Serena Win Rome — French Open Titles Await?

Michael Says:

With the momentum going his way, Rafa is obviously the favourite to win Rolland Garros yet again. But I think it is not a given only if Novak manages to reach the last stages of the tournament. Novak has the game to trouble Rafa even on Clay and he deserves every bit of accolades for this feat just because he is 1 in a 1000. In 2011, he beat Nadal at Madrid and Rome in straight sets and i think that is a feat which is comparable to completing a career grand slam in my opinion. It is pretty tough to beat Nadal on Clay. Ask Roger, Ferrer, Andy, Almagro, Verdasco etc etc. They knew it all along.

van orten Says:

if they meet in semis or final it will mean both will be in form!!! so both will be competitive. expect a good fight then

Rumble Says:

Its either Nadal or Djokovic – as far as the French is concerned. Only Djoke can beat Nadal on clay, so if someone beats Djoke, its Nadal’s title. If Djoke plays Nadal? this time, I think, Djoke takes it.

James Says:

Agree Djokovic is the only one capable of handling a fit and confident Rafa on clay. However I don’t think Novak will prevail over Rafa in a best of 5 on clay considering Rafa plays much better now than he did in MC final.

gonzalowski Says:

In last year’s final only the Rain /wet clay really troubled Nadal.
This year’s Montecarlo… I think Nadal was still in construction. Now he has recovered backhand and moving.

Brando Says:

All I’ll say is IF Nadal and Williams play their very best clay court tennis, then it doesn’t matter whoever is across the net. It’s as simple as that since: their best on clay > better than anyone else’s. Period.

Giles Says:

@gonzalowski. “I think Nadal was still in construction”. Hahaha. Nice turn of phrase.

Steve 27 Says:

if you bet your money, what is your choice, really?
A 7 champion or someone who struggles with the kind of seppi or Tsonga on clay!

Humble Rafa Says:

“I think Nadal was still in construction”.

Do you think I am a building?

Kimberly Says:

What does it take to dismantle Tommy haas and Stan wawrinka from top spot of funk. Two masters not enough apparently!

mmto Says:

Yes I have also noticed that whenever Rafa is winning the funk/trunk is never changed. Despite winning so much this year Rafa is yet to be top funk. Booo!!

WTF Says:

James Says:

“Agree Djokovic is the only one capable of handling a fit and confident Rafa on clay. However I don’t think Novak will prevail over Rafa in a best of 5 on clay considering Rafa plays much better now than he did in MC final.”

Errmm.. could it be that the reason he didn’t play well in the MC final was *because* of Djokovic?

I think he’s going to be worried if he meets Djoker again. Very worried. He might talk humbly about the chances of other players like Federer beating him, but in his mind he knows he’s going to make Fed his bitch. I don’t think he will look at the Djoker that way though.

gonzalowski Says:

It was my poor language, Humble, I swear.
No dope allusion in here

M Says:

*prays for Rafa, Roger, & Serena to stay healthy*

*actually, prays for everyone to stay healthy*

I hope no one is forgetting about Ferru. There’s part of me hoping he’s on the opposite side of the draw from Rafa even though most matches between them are a stellar watch for me.

I felt like I was “hunching” last year before the US Open that this was his year for a Slam title (and still maintain if he’d gotten to play through his 2012 US Open semi with Nole in the wind that we might’ve had a different winner & the Brits might still be complaining). I’d love a Rafa-Ferru RG final. Year’s not over yet.

Humble Rafa Says:

Wonderful people at Yahoo Sports have a table tennis cover story on the tennis section.

Thanks Guys.

Giles Says:
Great article. Rafans

nadalista Says:

Thanks @Giles, very nice article.

Humble Rafa Says:

Angry man, John McEnroe speaking about Humble Highness.

“You could make the argument that he is the greatest player that ever lived,” McEnroe said


Your Turn!

Rumble Says:

McEnroe’s views change like the colors of Ivanovic’s panties – too often, and not for good reasons.

moam Says:

Serena toys with Sharapova and Azarenka like a cat with mouse. She is the greatest female player of this era. When healthy, only her big sis Venus could deal with her.
America is lucky to have the Williams sisters and the Bryan twins. Otherwise we would be slam win deprived for since 2003.
Serena is simply amazing!!

Rumble Says:

On the men’s side, its really pathetic now – Querry is ranked 20, Isner 21. But Isner is 28 years old. Querry is 25 years old.

After these two, there’s nobody. Not even in sight.

Roddick may turn out to be the last singles slam winner on the mens side for USA for a long time – its already been a decade, might be another…

WTF Says:

Isner got his priorities wrong. He didn’t go pro until after he went to College. So now he finds himself 28 years old only after a few years on the tour. He could have saved college till after retirement, post 30 and still got his degree. A sports career cannot be postponed to after 30.

To me it seems like he was in two minds and not all that serious about his career, and some opportunity and talent was wasted. He could have done more things had he turned pro earlier, and been an even better player than he is now.

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