Tag:Rafael Nadal
Posted on: April 23, 2008 1:30 pm
Edited on: April 27, 2008 7:49 pm

Clay Facts

The first Masters Series, on clay, of the season takes place this week at the Monte Carlo Country Club, in Monaco.

The last seven winners in Monte Carlo have all gone on to the final of the French Open that year. Nadal is the three-time defending champion in Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome and Roland Garros. Since 1991 only Marcelo Rios of Chile, in 1997, and Cedric Pioline of France, in 2000, have won in the Principality and failed to reach the final in Paris once.

Rafael Nadal is 24-1 lifetime in Monte Carlo and tied New Zealand's Anthony Wilding record of four consecutive wins here. Wilding won between 1911 and 1914. Nadal lost to Argentina's Guillermo Coria in the third round in 2003 and is a perfect 22-0 since. Coria won the title in 2004, served for the match in Paris but lost in five sets to fellow-Argentine Gaston Gaudio. He never recovered and is attempting a come-back, playing challenger events.

He is also the second player to claim both the single and double titles at a Masters Series, with his win alongside Spain's Tommy Robredo.

Nicolas Almagro has won two of the four clay court events he’s entered this year. He served for the title last week in Valencia, Spain, but eventually lost to fellow Spaniard David Ferrer.

Sam Querrey is the only American in the draw in Monte Carlo. He won his first two matches, beating Spain’s Carlos Moya and Italy’s Andreas Seppi. The U.S. is set to meet Spain in Spain, probably on Clay, in the Davis Cup semifinals in September.

10 French and 9 Spanish players entered the main draw in Monte Carlo. Two of the French have reached the 3rd round --Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils--, while 5 of the Spaniards are still alive before the quarterfinals.

Roger Federer committed 54 unforced errors in his come-from-behind win over Ruben Ramirez-Hidalgo in the 2nd round in Monte Carlo. He was down 1-5 in the 3rd set before rallying and claiming the tie-breaker 7-1.

Federer, runner-up here the last two years, is now working with Spain’s Jose Higueras. Higueras claimed 16 ATP titles, 15 of them on clay, as a player and helped guide Michael Chang (1989) and Jim Courier (1991-92) to Roland Garros crowns.

For the first time in his 225-match ATP career, Croatia's Ivo Karlovic failed to serve a single ace in his straight-set loss to France's Gael Monfils.

Sam Querrey is the first American to reach the quarterfinals in Monte Carlo since Vince Spadea in 2003.

The first six seeds made it to the last eight. Only Richard Gasquet (7), who lost to Querrey in the 3rd round and Mikhail Youzhny (8), who lost to Igor Andreev in the 2nd round, are missing.

The top four seeds, Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Davydenko are also the four leaders of the 2008 ATP Race. Only once before have the top four seeds all advanced to the semifinals of an ATP Masters Series event. That first happened in Cincinnati in 1999, when Pete Sampras, Patrick Rafter, Andre Agassi, and Yevgeny Kafelnikov all made the last four.

Nadal will win again in Barcelona next week, unless David Ferrer can play his best for two sets in the final. Other players to watch are James Blake and Guillermo Coria.

Posted on: April 4, 2008 6:20 pm
Edited on: April 4, 2008 6:24 pm

Nadal can't stand the Madness

Rafael Nadal, who qualified for the final of the Sony Ericsson on Friday afternoon, does respect college basketball but can’t stand the Madness.

“I respect 100% college basketball. I think it’s very important,” he said. He is also somewhat aware of the significance of the event. “I know it’s very important, the college basketball, because I see always the American players and the men in the locker room watching it.”

The reason behind his dislike of this American institution is simply based on a scheduling conflict.

“But, well, we can’t have the calendar thinking about the college basketball, no? So we are 100% disappointed about this decision of the ATP.”

CBS, the official broadcaster of both the Sony Ericsson Open finals and the NCAA basketball tournament, wants the finals of both events to be played over the same weekend.

The previous years, 8 weeks separated the Miami finals from the start of the French Open, in Paris, France, the second grand slam of the year and the pinnacle of the clay season. This year, the gap between the two is only 7 weeks.

Many believe that the reason why the ATP changed its schedule is because of the Olympics, while the Australian Open or the French Open did not move their dates on the calendar, neither did Wimbledon or the U.S. Open, which is scheduled to start one weel after the end of the Olympic tennis tournament.

With three clay court Masters Series events –Monte Carlo, Rome and Hamburg --, the biggest International Series event of the clay season, in Barcelona, Spain and a Davis Cup weekend to fit in, Nadal feels like he’s been robbed one week from his favorite time of the year.

His English, although much improved, is still tentative at best. But when it comes to talk about the clay season, he becomes very eloquent and his point comes across rather clearly.

“We have three Masters Series on clay during all the season, and we have three Masters Series in four weeks. So for us it’s terrible. And three Masters Series in the middle of the biggest tournament on clay in the world: Barcelona. So if you see the calendar, that is unbelievable. Everybody can say about the Olympics. It’s not for the Olympics. It’s because these two tournaments [Indian Wells and Miami, the two hardcourt Masters Series played in the U.S. in the spring] are one week later, because you have university or something like this, college basketball … For me it’s terrible. You know, I’m a clay player, but I can play very well on all surface. But play four weeks it’s impossible if you are playing well, no?”

Nadal is very polite and did not bring the issue up by himself. What triggered his rant was a remark about how European players complain about being in the United States for over a month and how he, unlike most of them, usually fares well in Indian Wells and Miami and seems comfortable being here.

“I’m very comfortable in the United States, but not for this time … the European players are, well, I don’t know, very angry about these decisions, no?”

Category: Tennis
Tags: Rafael Nadal
Posted on: March 14, 2008 1:41 pm
Edited on: March 14, 2008 1:45 pm

King Roger to keep his Throne through '08

Even though I hate making predictions for the simple reason that, unlike most of the pundits, all the fans and several of my colleagues, I am completely unable to foresee the unraveling of future events and can only study the outcome of past events, I will write here and now, that Roger Federer will remain atop the ATP world rankings until the end of the year.

Players hold their ATP Ranking points for 52 weeks before they drop off the following year.

He’s been at the top of the tennis world since February 2, 2004. I’ll spare you the maths, that’s a record 215 consecutive weeks. Ivan Lendl (168), Jimmy Connors (160)  and Pete Sampras (102) are the only other players with 100+ consecutive weeks as World No. 1.

Rafael Nadal has been No. 2 since July 25, 2005, or 138 straight weeks. No one had ever been No. 2 for so many consecutive weeks before.

You’d believe Nadal hates Federer. Yet, they are reportedly good friends. Would you be friend with the guy that prevents you from being the best in the world for years? Or would you be friend with the dude that prevents you from being recognized as the greatest tennis player ever by making you look like a fool on the Parisian clay every year in June?

If you answer “no” to any of those questions, you really don’t understand what competition is about and should stick to your xbox or to whatever is it that makes you feel like you matter in this world.

Thanks to Greg Sharko, the custodian of the ATP stats vault, we learn that “after Federer's first round exit in Dubai and Nadal's quarterfinal effort, the Swiss No. 1 will hold a 350-point lead over the Spaniard as of Monday. This is the closest margin since May 10, 2004 when Federer led No. 2 Andy Roddick by that same figure.”

Ironically Roddick took Nadal out in Dubai, saving Federer’s No.1 spot. That was last week.

New rankings won’t be published before March 24th, following the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, California. I bet you your house, no forget that, your house is worth nothing. I bet you a steak dinner, now that is something of value, that Federer will still be the No.1 player in the world when the new rankings come out. And not only would he still be in charge, he would also have increased his lead over Nadal.

Have you chosen the restaurant yet?

I should have warned you though. That’s not all Sharko said. He went on: "The No. 1 ranking can't change hands at the first ATP Masters Series tournament of the season, the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, since Nadal is defending title points (500) while Federer lost in the opening round (5).”

And finally, Sharko concluded by saying “but depending on the results of both players in Indian Wells, then the No. 1 position could be up for grabs going into Miami. Nadal has quarterfinal points to defend (125) while Federer has fourth round points coming off (75).”

Miami, Florida, plays host to the second Masters Series event of the season, the Sony Ericsson Open.

This is where I start getting ahead of myself. I don’t see Federer, who says he’s completely recovered from the mononucleosis that hampered his early season outings, not fairing better than Nadal, or at least as well as him in California and Florida.

Seriously, did he really reach the semifinals of the Australian Open with mono?? Careful readers will note the use of the double question mark, to indicate particular emphasis, which seems appropriate when you consider that most people can’t even walk with mono.

But I digress. Back to my getting ahead of myself. Federer will leave the United States and head to the European clay season still leading the rankings. And this is where it gets interesting.

Nadal has something like a billion points to defend on clay. He hasn’t lost on the red surface since, I don’t know… has he lost ever? Well yes, he did lose, once, last year, to Federer, in the final of the Hamburg Masters Series, in Germany. However, he won the five other events he entered, including a third consecutive French Open title. While, in the meantime, Federer was losing in the 3rd round of the Italian Open, in Rome to Filippo Volandri and to Nadal again in the Roland-Garros final.

We are now at the end of the clay season and Federer is still in the driver’s seat.

The Championships at Wimbledon are next. Federer hasn’t lost on grass since 2002. Nadal has reached the final in London the past two years. The question you have to ask is: Who is more likely to repeat? My money is still on Federer. It’s US dollars anyway, it won’t be worth much by the time the Swiss player breaks Bjorn Borg’s record with his 6th consecutive win at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.

To predict the outcome of the hard court season gets tricky. Federer did very well last year and has loads of points to defend. Throw in the Olympics in Beijing, China, in August and you may see some upsets in early September at the U.S. Open in New York, where Roger hasn’t lost since 2003. But this is where Nadal’s body usually starts breaking down. So once again. Fed remains Numero Uno and rolls through the rest of the season to finish a fifth consecutive year at the top of the rankings.

How about Novak Djokovic? You’re definitely entitled to ask. The Serb is a rising star and honestly the only player able to challenge Federer and Nadal today.

Here is the story. Djokovic is defending runner-up points (350) in Indian Wells and champion's points in Miami (500). He also won the Masters Series in Canada last summer and went on to challenge Federer in the U.S. Open final. That is on top of semifinal appearances at the French Open and Wimbledon. In other words, a huge load of points to defend. Maybe too much, too soon.

Yet, I said it before and I will repeat it to conclude. I wouldn’t be surprised if Djokovic were the next world No. 1.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com