Rafael Nadal – Monte Carlo
Ahh… Spring is in the air. Flowers are blooming. Birds are chirping. And Rafa is CRUSHING forehands on the red clay! If not for Federer this year, Rafa would be the player of the year. Federer has beaten him in the three biggest tournaments of the year. Otherwise, Rafa has been incredibly dominant. If there is one thing that we know about Rafa, it’s that he thrives on the clay. This may be exactly what he needs to conquer the Federer riddle and get back to hoisting championship trophies.
Monte Carlo is his first test, and one of the tournaments where he has been most successful. The video above shows him in his element, smashing heavy forehands. As he prepares for the year’s third Masters 1000 event, he is clearly the favorite. With Murray and Djokovic coming back from injury and Federer sitting out to rest, watch out for Rafa. He may be entering the twilight of his career, but his play certainly isn’t indicative of that.
The European red clay is where Rafa makes his hay. The softer clay allows his ball to jump off the court, and provides some added relief for his overly stressed knees and joints. It is where he feels the most comfortable, and where his opponents fear him the most.
This year, the stage is set for him. The resurgence in the early part of the year coupled with the defeats at the hands of his old rival. The hobbled superstars making their return on the courts that Rafa has dominated. Don’t write off Rafa. Especially not after seeing him stripe forehands with the live arm of a younger version of himself…
Sidenote: how fun would it be to sit on the court and watch Rafa practice? The ball just comes off his racket differently, and it is a sight to behold. Take us to Monte Carlo!!!