Apr/16

17

King of Clay Reborn Today?

rafangkYes Rafael Nadal looked a lot like his former self this week as he claimed his ninth Monte Carlo Open title with a vintage week of sensational victories particularly against Dominic Thiem Stan Wawrinka and Gael Monfils today in the final. The fighting spirit is still there. The hunger and desire to win big titles is still clearly there. The court movement is still exceptionally excellent. The forehand and backhand showed variety and good penetration. The serve was okay at best. The touch shots and drop shots were very good but there was that one horrific easy netted forehand volley which was positively un-Nadal like. In tennis and boxing one split second error can result in the deathblow. That one error on the volley was especially alarming. Could that netted forehand volley today be one of the tell tale signs that the fissures and cracks still exist in the Nadal arsenal but just nobody else can exploit and expose those still existent flaws except the absent world no 1 player who lost early in the week to Jiri Vesely? We really do not know if Nadal has the confidence to conquer Djokovic. Everybody Nadal beat this week were players we all expected to beat. There is the possibility winning today could ignite the old Rafa Nadal to suddenly regain his lost aura and go on a rampage through to the finals of Roland Garros. But there is also the possibility that Nadal could run into Djokovic in two weeks and suffer another brutal beating which blasts his confidence irreparably. (Photo Credits: Gail Koskorelos – above photo /  Henk Abbink – lower photo)

21 comments

  • Dan Markowitz · April 17, 2016 at 8:13 pm

    I don’t know, Scoop, I didn’t necessarily think he could beat Thiem even in Monte Carlo and I certainly thought he was the underdog against Wawa, but he obviously handled the latter easier than the former. I didn’t see today’s match, but beating Le Monf after he blitzed Tsonga is also impressive. Do I put Nadal ahead of Djoko after this week? No way, but he now has a sniff of a chance of winning Roland Garros while before this week, he had none.

  • Michael · April 17, 2016 at 10:54 pm

    Two out of three tennis doesn’t mean squat as far as who will win the F.O.

    Rafa had a nice Dead Cat Bounce this week. As for the FO., put all your chips on Djoker fresh after a nice week at the beach and a few meals at Le Louis XV.

    We may even go into NY this year with a live CY Grand Slam.

  • sharoten · April 18, 2016 at 7:37 am

    “but there was that one horrific easy netted forehand volley which was positively un-Nadal like. In tennis and boxing one split second error can result in the deathblow. That one error on the volley was especially alarming. Could that netted forehand volley today be one of the tell tale signs that the fissures and cracks still exist in the Nadal arsenal”

    Good lord, what drugs are you on? Believe it or not, and I know you watch Djokovic matches with your delusional glasses on, but he has missed plenty of volleys and other shots himself in virtually every match he has played. Don’t think he has ever won a match 60 60.

    Rafa just won a tournament that had a tougher lineup than either IW or Miami, and he played through a tougher draw than Djokovic has had in a couple of years, and he persevered and he worked and he played brilliantly and he very deservedly won the cup. Whether it’s an omen for what is going to happen in the rest of the clay season or the rest of the year, who knows? I don’t, you don’t, the players don’t. No one does, but give Rafa credit for what he accomplished. I am so sick of him not getting credit where credit is due.

    Even Gael in his presser said the same thing, that the media has been harsh and cruel to Rafa and now that he’s won maybe they’ll get off his back. Robin Soderling instagrammed a message on Saturday calling out the media for their treatment of Rafa. Many other players have done the same. It’s disgraceful how a legend of the game has been treated.

  • Moskova Moskova · April 18, 2016 at 8:04 am

    sharoten : funny and well said. I think rafa has added some raspberries to his juicing regimen again ;) should be an entertaining clay season.

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · April 18, 2016 at 8:09 am

    I agree Rafa is treated by the tennis media as if his ranking dropped to lower than 50 – he’s still top five and no 2 on clay – allow me to add a distant no 2 on clay behind Djokovic no matter what their Roland Garros title counts are – Djokovic still holds a strong mental edge on Rafa on all surfaces including clay – until Rafa shows he can beat Djokovic on clay I say his confidence is still in need of repairs – If Rafa can beat Djokovic on clay before Paris then and only then will Rafa be the favorite or co favorite to win Paris – The wins vs Thiem and (not at his best) Wawrinka were excellent and impressive – but to beat Djokovic is a whole different ballgame -

  • Dan Markowitz · April 18, 2016 at 8:39 am

    Sharoten, stop banging on the “Oh, Rafa, has been treated so badly by the media” bandwagon. Of course he was going to get railed by the media. In any sport, if the GOAT suddenly at 28-29 for no apparent reason, everybody gets injuries of some sort, starts losing in slams to Verdasco in the first round, Dustin Brown in the second round, Fognini in the third round when he’s up 2 sets to love, an unknown Nick Kyrgios and then gets absolutely dusted by Djoko and Berdy, two guys he had handled rather well when he was playing like the Real Rafa, that athlete is going to be treated with suspicion and criticism. Especially, when it’s a guy who’s been suspected roundly of being the Alex Rodriguez of tennis, maybe these suspicions are fallacious, but they’re still out there.

    So, this is NEWS, reporters would be remiss not to write articles about it and ask Rafa probing questions.

  • sharoten · April 18, 2016 at 9:06 am

    Ahhh, so Rafa wins a big tourney and it’s because he’s doped up. Federer is playing awfully well for a 34 yr old and Djokovic became a Superman when he gave up gluten. But it’s Rafa who is suspicious. Okey dokey. And the only reason those fallacious suspicions are out there is because idiots like you keep repeating them despite there being no basis, NONE, for them.

    And Rafa is a distant no. 2 on clay behind Djokovic? Those are some strong drugs you’re on Scoop.
    On Clay:
    Rafa: 353-32; 91.7 winning %; 48 titles
    Novak: 160-42; 79.2 winning %; 11 titles
    Federer: 212-67; 76.0 winning %; 11 titles
    Murray: 83-39; 68.0 winning %; 2 titles.

    No active player has more than 12 titles on clay. Djokovic could win the next five FOs and he still wouldn’t come close to being at the top of the clay game.

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · April 18, 2016 at 9:18 am

    Djokovic is still the giant favorite to win Paris Sharoten – you’re gonna have to deal with it – and surely Djokovic will have to deal with a raging and proud and viciously fierce Rafa who is obsessed and possessed with winning Paris again -

  • Dan Markowitz · April 18, 2016 at 9:19 am

    Idiots, come on, Sharoten, show a little civility! You may be right, if you asked me to predict whether Rafa, Fed, Murray and Djoko are either all on PED’s or none of them are on it, I’d go all of them, but you’re also right, there’s nothing to prove any of them are on it. Except when I look at Jaime Murray and Andy, their bodies are incredibly different for two brothers born within a couple of years of one another.

    Right now, Djoko will toy with Rafa on clay in a big match. The dynamic has changed and as Michael said earlier in this blog’s comments, 2 out of 3 doesn’t add up to 3 out of 5. We know Djoko will be in the later rounds of RG, let’s see if Rafa will join him for perhaps their most classic clay match. That would be fun.

  • Bryan · April 18, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    Nadal certainly had a resurgence last week but I won’t call him the king of clay again, unless he wins Madrid, Italy and the FO. The time when he dominated all clay tournaments is over. Other guys have caught up and there’s young guns who will be making waves.

  • Bryan · April 18, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    “I didn’t necessarily think he could beat Thiem even in Monte Carlo and I certainly thought he was the underdog against Wawa.”

    Cosign Dan. Thing is Nadal used to own Monte Carlo. That he was able to win it this year does not mean that trend will continue. Thiem, Zverev and Taylor are coming, while Djokovic, Stan and a few others will be bringing heat on Nadal all spring.

  • Doogie · April 20, 2016 at 4:54 am

    Fritz mentioning in same sentence is a disrepect to Thiem and Zverev.

    Fritz is one (DT) and two (AZ) steps behind them right NOW.

    Thiem is #15 and in 2016 ranking race #7.

    Zverev is also way behind Thiem – but this is normal as he is younger. (of course same for Fritz).
    Zverevs results and wins are lot more impressive in comparision to the US Boy.

    He defeated Simon twice, Anderson, Dimitrov, Cilic. Close losses against Berdy 5:7 in 3rd, 4:6 in 5th set, had matchpoint vs Rafa.

    Fritz has no win over Top 20 player, not even a set. He reached final on ATP Tour after wins over Mmoh, Johnson, Becker and Berankis?!
    On challenger he has lot of wins to his respect.

    Right now he is prospect while Thiem and Zverev are contenders and are tough opponents for near everyone!!

    Fritz will be in same league maybe once but not NOW

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · April 20, 2016 at 8:16 am

    Welcome back Doogie it’s been a while! Agree Zverev and Thiem are way ahead of Fritz but remember Fritz has just entered the ATP level and Zverev has been around ATP challengers since he was sixteen – so their learning curves and progression paths are far different – Fritz extended Sock to five sets and beat Querrey and also the older Zverev in Aus Open qualies – we see a bright future for Fritz because of his game and also his exceptional serve and forehand and most of all his ability to play clutch tennis when it matters most – also Fritz wasn’t even a top junior two years ago he really made a big breakthrough and improved significantly at 16/17 – you are right that Zverev and Thiem are way ahead of Fritz right now – their rankings show it -

  • Andrew Miller · April 20, 2016 at 10:34 am

    Fritz NEVER BEAT QUERREY. That said, he’s [dam] good. The whole group of U.S. teens is [dam] good. Best group of U.S. teens on tour since the late 80s. Don’t think they are “so far” behind, either. They have gaps in their games – but so did Sampras when he won the U.S. open in 1990 at age 19.

  • Andrew Miller · April 20, 2016 at 10:40 am

    Probably best “generation” since French (Tsonga, Monfils etc), Spanish armada.

  • Andrew Miller · April 20, 2016 at 10:44 am

    French should be a great tournament.

  • Moskova Moskova · April 20, 2016 at 3:10 pm

    down goes fritz-mania lol

    it’d be great to see thiem go deep at RG – he’s got a legit shot at week 2

  • Andrew Miller · April 20, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    Steve Tignor/Tennis.com: Thiem=Future French winner (likely)

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · April 20, 2016 at 5:32 pm

    It’s pretty obvious Thiem is a future winner at Roland Garros – the nice trick would have been saying it two years ago -

  • Doogie · April 21, 2016 at 2:53 am

    In the mean time I am father of 2 girls, changed my resident and my job –> thats exhausting :)

    Of course Thiem is the obvious pick to make a grand slam title but let us give these 3 youngsters time to develope their game.

    Thiem needs to play smarter on big points, Zverev has to improve his movement and has to learn to handle guys who plays with lot of variety.

    I like Fritzs attitude on court, his body language (!!), best body language beside Isner in last years in US tennis and his serve.

    His groundstroke technique looks bit strange tbh but he manages to hit the ball in front of body – this matters most in tennis. Not what u do with racket or arm before hitting the ball.

    His family is also a “tennis family” – that indicates me that he takes his job very serious and that they will make most of his potential.

    Next has to establish on ATP level – which should be difficult in next months because playing on red clay and grass could not be easy (esp on grass).

    But we are speaking about a 18 years kid – he has time and lot of things are showing in right direction.

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · April 21, 2016 at 7:49 am

    That’s a lot of changes Doogie! Congratulations and best of luck – Also regarding Fritz I was told his family is very wealthy so he does not have that extre pressure to earn $ – Fritz has all the right qualities and his game has it all – he is still just a colt – just wait till he is a thoroughbred -

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