Saturday, May 16, 2009

Rafa says he's not the favorite ahead of Djoko clash

"In this tournament I don’t even think that I’m favorite. I’m one of the four players in semi-finals and we’ll see what happens, because I think that these conditions are quite different from a normal clay court tournament and playing against [Djokovic] is going to be a true challenge. Djokovic is going to try to make me be more inside and to make me use my forehand more."

-- Rafael Nadal speaks ahead of his semifinal clash against Novak Djokovic

The world number one, who rallied back from a 0-4 deficit in the second set of his quarterfinal showdown with Madrid native, Fernando Verdasco, sealed a 6-4, 7-5, victory to book a semifinal spot against Novak Djokovic.

The Facts

- This is the 3rd straight Masters event on clay that Rafa and Djokovic have crossed paths.
- Rafa leads Djokovic 13-4 H2H.
- Rafa has won their last four consecutive meetings, the last 3 were on clay.
- Djokovic's clay season so far this year includes 2 Masters finals, 1 ATP 250 title and this week's Madrid Masters semifinal showing.
- Rafa has a 149-4 record on clay since 2005.
- If Rafa wins Madrid, he will be the first player (since 1990) to win all 3 Masters events on clay in the same year.
- Rafa is currently on a 32 match-winning streak on clay (he is 18-0 on clay this year).
- Djokovic has reached the last 3 consecutive Masters finals (Miami, Monte Carlo and Rome).
- Rafa is 8-0 against Djokovic on clay.

Well I certainly never get tired of reciting Rafa stats, more importantly Rafa's stats on clay. It's just mind-blowing. But I have to agree with the Spaniard, with the conditions in Madrid (apparently this altitude thing is not a joke), Djokovic has a better chance against Rafa than he will ever have on any other clay surface.

I gotta give props to Rafa for pulling through against Verdasco in straights. He was 0-4 down, and already thinking about the 3rd set, yet he managed to come back. He really knows the importance of finishing off a match in straight sets rather than surrendering to a decider. For starters you never know what could happen in the deciding set, and more importantly, the less time you spend on court, the more fit you'll be for your next matches, which is something Rafa more than possibly anyone else on tour needs to benefit from.

Just like last year's Monte Carlo final when he was trailing Federer 0-4 in the second set and ended up winning 7-5, 7-5. Pulling off those comebacks against formidable players is just ridiculously awesome I must say, and it's one of the reasons why he is now the number 1 player in the world.

Anyone remember Rafa's comeback against Ljubicic in the Madrid Masters back in 2005 (when the tournament was on indoor hardcourt and the Masters Series finals were still played best of 5)???! Rafa was down 2 sets to love and ended up winning the title. That was just mean... Haha!!

Anyways am looking forward to tomorrow's semis. Rafa vs Djoko (not before 4pm Madrid time, 5 pm Cairo time), Fed vs Del Potro (not before 8pm Madrid time).


Julia said...

Hi Reem,

Nice post :)

You're right about Djokovic having the best possible chances against Nadal on clay in Madrid but don't forget Djokovic has played A LOT of matches recently and we all know that stamina is not his strongest assets. Something tells me he won't keep up with Nadal.

I could be wrong but am sensing a Nadal Federer final.

marooned84 said...

and what a clash it was!!! the longest match in the history of the master series events!

you know, watching the 2nd semi final after it, I felt Federer and Del Potro were training not playing! I vote for it as best match of the season!

Reem said...

Hi marooned84,

It's definitely up there with the Rafa-Verdasco Oz Open semifinal and the Rafa-Fed Oz Open final.... I got carried away and just poured my heart out in the post above... haha .. We're truly blessed that we get to witness such greatness :)