Nadal, Serena affirm favouritism for French Open

mastermind5991 Roar Guru

By mastermind5991, mastermind5991 is a Roar Guru

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    Spain's Rafael Nadal, left, hugs Switzerland's Roger Federer during the awarding ceremony after winning the Men's singles final match at the Australian Open Tennis Championship in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Feb. 1, 2009. (AP Photo/Rick Stevens)

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    Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams showed at the Madrid Masters over the weekend why they will be the favourites to win this year’s French Open.

    Spaniard Nadal defeated surprise finalist Stanislas Wawrinka, who benefited from the shock second round exit of Novak Djokovic, in straight sets to claim his third Madrid Masters title.

    Serena Williams did likewise to Maria Sharapova, in the process notching up a 14th consecutive victory over the Russian dating back to 2004.

    Nadal has made the most impressive of comebacks on the ATP tour, having made the final of all seven tournaments he has entered since launching his comeback in February.

    Out of those seven finals he has won five titles; two in South America, one at Indian Wells and the two most recent coming in his home country of Spain.

    However, one of those two final losses came in his favourite tournament outside the French Open, the Monte-Carlo Masters, where, after eight years, he surrendered the title to his nemesis Novak Djokovic.

    Many believed it was that victory by the Serbian which that him the favourite for this year’s French Open.

    But I still believe that Nadal should be the favourite for Roland Garros, which starts in two weeks, given his history at the tournament (seven titles and only one solitary match loss).

    History beckons for the Spaniard in Paris – an eighth title would see him become the first man to win eight titles at any Grand Slam tournament.

    As it stands now, Nadal is only 25 points behind David Ferrer in the rankings. As he is defending maximum points in Rome, Nadal will have to hope that Ferrer makes an early exit in the Italian capital to snatch the fourth seed slot in time for the French Open.

    Novak Djokovic will be the top seed in Paris, followed by Andy Murray and then Roger Federer, meaning that Nadal will almost certainly receive his lowest ever seeding at any major since Wimbledon in 2005.

    Hopefully the draw will pan out such that Djokovic and Nadal won’t have to meet until the final. Djokovic is currently on a streak of eleven consecutive Grand Slam semi-finals, dating back to Wimbledon in 2010.

    After the French Open, though, Nadal will have virtually nothing to defend (save for a second round loss at Wimbledon last year), so there is a huge chance that Nadal can finish the season on a roll and reclaim his place in the top two.

    Just when it was thought that the Djokovic versus Nadal rivalry was dead, suddenly it is reborn again.

    Meanwhile, on the women’s side, Williams continued her dominance over Maria Sharapova.

    The American, whose clay performances have been mediocre historically, defied an eleven-year red clay court title drought to record a straight sets victory over the Russian.

    In doing so she also consolidated her world number one ranking, which she has all but locked up ahead of the French Open.

    Very specifically, in 2008 and 2012, Williams had enjoyed very successful clay court seasons, even more successful than the players who would go on to capture the French Open in those years (Ana Ivanovic and Maria Sharapova, respectively).

    Those same two years, Williams entered the French Open as one of the favourites to win the title; the first coming after Justine Henin’s shock retirement left her as the only active woman at the time to lift the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen trophy. The second came after she defeated both Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova to win the Madrid title on the controversial blue clay.

    In 2008, Williams received possibly the easiest draw of anyone else in the field, and it was ready-made for her to win what would have been her second French Open title (after 2002).

    Instead, she crashed out in the third round to Katarina Srebotnik, opening the door for Ana Ivanovic to eventually capture the title.

    It must be remembered, though, that Ivanovic had a very poor build-up to the French Open that year, having suffered two early exits in the three tournaments leading up to Paris.

    Last year Williams was also given an easy draw, but was sent packing in the first round when she went out to Virginie Razzano in three sets.

    That defeat also cleared the way for Maria Sharapova to capture the title, and thus complete a career Grand Slam which would later be complemented by a silver medal at the London Olympics.

    In both those years Williams would have met the eventual champion in the quarter-finals, and given her dominance over both of them, she could have easily defeated both of them on the way to winning another two French Open titles.

    The latter defeat would turn out to be the turning point of Williams’ career. Her first round loss last year appeared to vindicate that the great Williams sisters era was coming to an end. How wrong that turned out to be.

    Before Wimbledon last year, Williams hired French tennis coach Patrick Mouratoglou, who had previously had experience with Marcos Baghdatis, Yanina Wickmayer and Aravane Rezai, among others.

    The results came immediately – the 31-year-old finished 2012 on a rampage, winning her fifth Wimbledon title, the Olympic gold medal, her fourth US Open title, her third year-end championships title, and finishing the year ranked number three

    This year, she has picked up where she has left off from last year, picking up four titles: the Brisbane International, a sixth Miami title, a third Charleston title and now a second Madrid title.

    Additionally, she has reclaimed the number one ranking, which she can keep a strong grip on after the French Open given she is defending minimum points.

    The tournament in Rome starts this week. Maria Sharapova has maximum points to defend (as the two-time defending champion) so she will have to hope that Williams makes an early exit for her to claim the top seed slot for the French Open. Otherwise, Williams will enter the French Open as the top seed, and the favourite to win the title.

    Next week I will provide a series of articles previewing the big four’s (both men’s and women’s) chances of lifting the French Open title, and identify some of the big threats outside of those groups for the title.

    Already Rafa and Serena are looking the goods, but there are others out there as well.

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    The Crowd Says (15)

    • May 14th 2013 @ 5:29am
      Johnno said | May 14th 2013 @ 5:29am | ! Report

      Gotta feel for Federer in that photo lol. That hug would of been awkward and hard to take lol. Oh well he has gotten used to it, he has been losing to Rafa most of the time since Rafa was a teenager lol.

      Nadal and Serena , maybe. Both have had a few form issues this year. Novak lost last week, I will still back Novak, but Rafa is still young, and will be tough to beat at the French open, his home away form home, probably the 1 place in the world Rafa can say is his dream home.

      • May 14th 2013 @ 10:43am
        clipper said | May 14th 2013 @ 10:43am | ! Report

        Johnno – Nadal leads Federer 19-10, so obviously in the majority, but not most of the time (except for clay) Federer leads Nadal 2-1 on grass and 4-0 on indoor hard court – so if you take out clay then Federer has a better head to head over Nadal – but I think Nadal would have a better head to head over everyone on clay and it would be a surprise to see him lose at the FO this year.

        • May 14th 2013 @ 1:15pm
          Johnno said | May 14th 2013 @ 1:15pm | ! Report

          clipper, swing anyway you want with stats. Outdoor Hard court -It’s 6-6 all. indoor might be 4-0 to Fed, but no grand slam’s are indoor so not important or meaningful indicator is indoor hard court.
          And grass 2-1 to Fed, but in grand slam final’s on grass it’s 1-1 all.
          But on hard court and grass Federer’s best surfaces , Nadal is far far closer to Nadal than Fed, just a 1 game difference, and he cleans him up on clay on Nadal’s better, so overall comparatively speaking Nadal is more adaptable and better all round player.
          And indoor carpet is so Euro 1980’s. The 80’s are over.

          • May 14th 2013 @ 2:35pm
            clipper said | May 14th 2013 @ 2:35pm | ! Report

            It was indoor hardcourt – I think most of them were at the year end championships. Don’t forget the Australian becomes indoor hardcourt if the weather is too hot or rainy.
            By your reasoning then, Sampras would be much further down the all time list as he was terrible on clay and therefore not an more adaptable and all round player. There is no doubt Nadal is the best clay court player ever, and therefore he should have a far superior record on that surface.

            • May 14th 2013 @ 3:55pm
              Edmond said | May 14th 2013 @ 3:55pm | ! Report

              Nadal is a better player than Federer in every way. 10 grand slam meetings since 2005 and Nadal won 8 of them. Federer’s only able to beat Nadal in a slam when he was not yet matured.

              • May 14th 2013 @ 5:27pm
                Johnno said | May 14th 2013 @ 5:27pm | ! Report

                The first match they ever played Nadal beat Fed on hard court as a 17 yr old teenager. Nadal also has a singles Olympic gold medal, which Federer doesn’t have . In there first meeting Nadal at 17 years of age beat Fed in 2004, so he has been Fed when Fed was in his absolute prime. And Fed hasn’t really declined until I would say this year to be honest. He has slowed down a bit, Fed from 2008-12 was blitzing everyone until Nadal, came really good, then Novak, and now murray. Fed hasn’t declined, just Nadal, and now Novak have overtaken him.
                Fed’s tennis in many ways was better from say 2008-11, as opposed to Fed 2003-7, fed was so good in 2009 just Nadal is just so damn good.
                Novak won his 1st grand slam at 2008 OZ open, and his real break out dominating year was 2011, where he had maybe the best year ever in the modern open era of tennis in men’s tennis.

              • May 15th 2013 @ 9:30am
                clipper said | May 15th 2013 @ 9:30am | ! Report

                Federer has the record number of weeks at number one which Nadal doesn’t have, 24 straight GS SF and 25 straight GS QF and 6 more Grand Slams – but Nadal is better than him on clay and Novak may end up being better than both if he maintains his form – the French Open will be a good indication if he could indeed manage winning it.

          • May 17th 2013 @ 11:13pm
            ohtani's jacket said | May 17th 2013 @ 11:13pm | ! Report

            Nadal being a match-up problem for Federer doesn’t mean he’s an all-round better player than Federer. Federer was or has been a better hardcourt player than Nadal both indoors and outdoors and a better grass court player.

            • May 18th 2013 @ 9:35am
              Johnno said | May 18th 2013 @ 9:35am | ! Report

              But it’s the cumulative gap, and comparative gap, that;s the difference, Nadal is far closer to Federer on his best surfaces, than Federer is too Nadal on clay.

              And to point out some facts on Hard court, they are actually even in the head to head stakes.

              On “outdoor hardcore” Nadal leads 6-2 “Yes 6-2 , so it blows out the hardcourt myth there, clear advantage to Nadal”

              Federer’s saving grace is a 4-0 lead on the indoor carpet/hardcourt.

              But no grand slams are played indoor’s anyway except when the roof goes up at the Australian open and wimbeldon when it rains.

              -Grass it’s 2-1 Federer, and in grand slam finals on grass it’s tied 1-1 all.

              -Clay Nadal 12-2 . So massive gap there.

              Reality is only place Fed can kick’s Nadal’s ass, is indoor euro 1980’s style carpet’s.

              • May 18th 2013 @ 10:55am
                ohtani's jacket said | May 18th 2013 @ 10:55am | ! Report

                Why are you so concerned with head to head?

                Federer on hard court: 546-113 (.829) 52 titles
                Federer on grass: 117-17 (.873) 12 titles

                Nadal on hard court: 282-85 (.768) 12 titles
                Nadal on grass: 50-12 (.806) 3 titles

                64 titles to 15.

                Federer’s record on clay is 179-54 (.768), 10 titles. Fairly close to Nadal’s hardcourt record wouldn’t you say?

              • May 18th 2013 @ 11:20am
                Johnno said | May 18th 2013 @ 11:20am | ! Report

                Because for me between the 2 it’s working out who is the better player between the 2, and head to head Nadal win’s. Federer has a lot impressive statistics, but the reality is he hasn’t been able to overall his main rival in his generation.
                The fact he won 3 out of 4 of his grand slam’s when Nadal was injured shows that. Fed is great, Rafa is just better.

              • May 18th 2013 @ 1:14pm
                ohtani's jacket said | May 18th 2013 @ 1:14pm | ! Report

                Head to head doesn’t show who the better all-round player is. Federer is/was a better hardcourt and grass player than Nadal and Nadal is a better clay court player. Whatever their head to head record may be on those surfaces doesn’t diminish from their records against all players.

                And Federer only won one Grand Slam where Nadal was out through injury. Murray and Djokovic won the most recent Grand Slams where Nadal was absent and no-one holds that against them.

    • May 17th 2013 @ 9:14am
      Whiteline said | May 17th 2013 @ 9:14am | ! Report

      Finally. Some people who recognise Nadal’s dominance over Roger. Let’s not forget when Nadal was injured and Fed took another 3 or 4 slams. It’s a lot closer than the media portrays.

    • May 17th 2013 @ 7:45pm
      Frankie Hughes said | May 17th 2013 @ 7:45pm | ! Report

      Federer was lucky to face mental midgets like Roddick and Murray in 7 finals.

      Nadal has beaten Federer in 6 slam finals and Djokovic twice.

      As for Djokovic being better than both? No chance. His career will be on the decline by the end of 2013.

      Guys like Dimitrov, Janowitz, Raonic are the future.

    • May 20th 2013 @ 4:50pm
      Johnno said | May 20th 2013 @ 4:50pm | ! Report

      Oh just to remind everyone, last night Nadal wiped Federer 6-1-6-3 to win the Italian open. Another win for Nadal over Federer, the head to head is now 20-10 in favour of Nadal.

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