Thursday, April 24, 2008

We're Back to Clay: Behold the Rafa Storm !!

Don't you just love watching Rafa on clay ?!?! The Spaniard reminded us all on Wednesday, why he has captured the French Open title three times, as he easily dispatched former top-ten player Mario Ancic 6-0, 6-3 to cruise into the third round of the Monte Carlo Masters.

The 21-year old claycourt genius, quickly snatched the first 8 games of the match before conceding his own serve in the second set, a slipup he quickly managed to recover from as he finished off Ancic in no more than 75 minutes. Next up for Rafa, is his compatriot and former world number one, Juan Carlos Ferrero, whom Rafa leads 5-1 head-to-head.

Unlike Rafa, Roger Federer had to book his third round spot the hard way. It seems that the world number one was expecting another easy win to be handed to him, like his final against Nikolay Davydenko in Estoril last Sunday. The Swiss ace grabbed his first title of the season in Estoril, when his Russian opponent, Davydenko, was forced to retire with a leg injury. Spanish qualifier, Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo, however, didn't make it that easy for Federer in Monte Carlo on Wednesday.

Federer thought he had everything under control against the Spaniard when he clinched the first set 6-1 in about a half hour before a new Hidalgo showed up on court for the second set and broke the Swiss early on, and almost broke him again, to level the match at one set apiece.

Federer went on an unforced error spree in the decisive set, as he suddenly found himself 5-1 down, facing yet another humiliation this season. The top-seed however raced to win the next 5 games to force a tiebreak which he easily claimed 7-1, to avoid a second round exit from Monte Carlo, where he has lost in the final to Nadal the past 2 years.

Federer's third round opponent is Frenchman Gael Monfils. If you're wondering if he's the annoying Frenchie with the small afro and sleeveless t-shirt who keeps cheering on himself every single point... yep unfortunately that's him!! We haven't been seeing much of him recently because he's had a dismal season so far, winning only two matches prior to this week's tournament. Monfils however managed to notch two wins in Monte Carlo so far, as he ousted Fernando Verdasco and Croatian giant, Ivo Karlovic.

Make sure to catch the much anticipated third round clash between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray on Thursday (fourth match from 10:00 a.m. MC time).

Cheers :)

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