The red dirt is unmistakable, Rafa’s clay court domination is undeniable and anything else besides a win at Monte Carlo this week is unfathomable.
Last year, Nadal went undefeated during the clay court season winning all the marquee tournaments including Monte Carlo, Rome, Madrid and of course at Roland Garros. At the time he wasn’t just playing the best tennis of his career, but the best tennis on clay of his career.
That may sound backwards but during the 2010 clay court season, Nadal might have been the most unbeatable tennis player of all time.
He was the Chicago Bulls of the 1990’s. He was the UCLA Bruins of the 1960’s and 70’s. The Roger Federer of the past decade or the Novak Djokovic of the last few months.
Nadal mopped the floor, or maybe I should say raked the dirt, with anyone who dared to man the court across the net from him. It was scary and beautiful and indescribably impressive.
It would be unfair to expect the 24-year old Spaniard to recreate the magic he conjured last year because, really, no one has played so well on the surface in history. Seriously.
But isn’t it reasonable to assume that he’s going to win the French, at the very least, again? Even if Rafa isn’t playing the best tennis of his career and even if Djokovic is, Nadal possesses the apotheosis of games suited for the earthy-red dirt.
Andy Murray, at his best, would probably have the best chance to dethrone El Rey de Clay. However, Murray is struggling to win any match on any surface right now. Who knows where his head will be over the next few months? It’s pretty safe to say that it won’t be below a shiny metallic trophy any time soon.
The road to Roland Garros begins with the Monte Carlo where, by the way, Nadal has won the title the last six times he participated in the event and, oh yeah, Djokovic won’t even be in attendance.
Since Djokovic isn’t in the draw, Federer slides to No. 2 leaving Rafa’s half rather light. Then, Robin Soderling, the only player in what seems like decades to beat Nadal on the clay, will also skip the event.
It looks pretty cakey for the Spaniard.