Rafa Nadal is Back
I’ve been writing a lot about Rafa Nadal during the whole clay court swing, outlining his form throughout. I’ve had my doubts about his form going into the French Open. Those doubts were erased this week at the Italian Open. Rafa came in to the Italian Open with confidence and tore through the draw like his usual self, taking care of Novak Djokovic in a masterful three set final.
Although Novak was able to take the second set, you got the sense that Rafa would easily take care of him in the third, which is exactly what happened. In the end, the score read 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 in favor of the King of Clay. The first and third sets were all Rafa all the time. You had to blink to realize that he was whipping the number one player and defending French Open champion so easily. However, this is the King of Clay after all.
Rafa now has nine Italian Opens to his name, and the rest of the field should take note of his form going into the French Open. It is very likely that Rafa can win his 12th French Open title. I just don’t see anyone else in the field that can hang with Rafa on this stuff. Although he just captured one clay court title going into the French Open, he was still pretty consistent in all the tune ups, making the semis at Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid. Nobody else on the ATP tour was this consistent during the clay court swing. Nobody seems to be dominating.
You can argue that Djokovic was dominating and slated as a favorite going into this Italian Open final. After all, he was coming off a strong showing in his win at Madrid, and he’s the defending French Open champion. None of that was a factor in Rome. So, who should we consider favorites going into the French? I have four names for you; Nadal, Nadal, Nadal and Nadal.
All kidding aside, Thiem, Djokovic, and Tsitsipas are playing very well on the red clay and should be able to go deep at the French Open. Out of those three, Tsitsipas beat Nadal at Madrid, in one of the most thrilling matches of the clay court swing. Nadal did beat Tsitsipas easily in Rome, but maybe we’ll see what can happen at the French. Out of all the youngsters, I do like Tsitsipas the best. He reminds me of a more versatile Gustavo Kuerten. On to the French we go!