Sunday, April 19, 2009

Nadal fights his way to 5th straight Monte title

I had a nostalgic moment last night, and I went through all the posts, articles and news pieces I've written about Rafa's clay victories dating back to 2005, and I was in awe of how dominant the Spaniard has been and couldn't believe that it's 4 years later and still no one can really test him on clay. So imagine my surprise when I saw Novak Djokovic today step up and take a swing at it.

The Serb, who lost to Rafa 6-3, 2-6, 6-1, in the Monte Carlo final today, reminded us all why he had climbed to the number 3 spot in the world rankings and how he managed to take a Slam off Rafa and Federer last year. Okay he did lose 6-1 in the third, but still, during the match, we saw Djokovic's ability to dominate, regardless the surface, as he moved Rafa around the court, hitting all sorts of winners, forcing the Spaniard to defend and attacking all those Rafa shots that kept falling shorter and shorter on court.

It was quite refreshing to see someone challenge the world number one on clay, and being a Rafanatic, I never lost faith in Rafa despite the 6-2 drubbing he got in the second set, and I certainly enjoyed seeing him fight off all those breakpoints in that epic first game of the 3rd set. What was a bit disappointing was the way Djokovic broke down after those first couple of tight games in the third and how he threw it all away at the end, double faulting on breakpoint and allowing Rafa to race to a 5-1 lead. Don't get me wrong, I'm beyond thrilled that Nadal has claimed his 5th straight crown in Monte Carlo, but I'm just saying it would have been cooler had Djokovic tried to fight till the very end. Then again, whose spirits would not be broken against someone with the class of Rafa on clay?!?!

Rafa now equals Roger Federer's record of 14 Masters Series wins, trailing record-holder Andre Agassi by 3 titles.

Next stop for the world number 1 is Barcelona, where again he has been the champion for the past 4 years. Other seeds in the Barca draw include Fernando Verdasco, Nikolay Davydenko, David Ferrer, Fernando Gonzalez and Marat Safin.

Nadal opens his campaign on Wednesday against Yen-Hsun Lu or a qualifier. He is seeded to possibly face David Nalbandian in the quarters, Stanislas Wawrinka in the semis, and Verdasco in the final.


marooned84 said...

He did a good job there! I think it will be frustrating for anyone to challenge him on clay this season...

Reem said...

He did well but he was far from his best. Djokovic dominated him for quite a while during that match. But he still managed to win despite that lapse in concentration.

The scary thing is he's only gonna get better and better by the time the French Open starts. I can't wait :)

marooned84 said...

Yeah me too, now that I'm unemployed starting next month I'll have time to watch!