PDA

View Full Version : Rafael Nadal's Clay Season - 2009


Blinkism
04-05-2009, 04:35 AM
Ok, so Rafa's had a very excellent first quarter Hardcourt Season - Australian Open Champion, Indian Wells Champion, Rotterdam Finalist, and he's reached the Quarterfinals in Rotterdam and Miami.

So now he's resting before starting his clay season in Monte Carlo. Since his emphatic victory over Federer at last year's French Open final, we've only seen Nadal play Davis Cup ties on clay (most recently beating Djokovic).

This clay court season for Nadal will be interesting to watch because he is entering the clay court season for the first time as the #1 in the world, and after having lots of success on the other surfaces; Queen's, Wimbledon, Toronto, the Olympics, Australian Open, and most recently in Indian Wells.

It will be interesting to observe how his new tactics and technique, which he adapted for Grass and the Hardcourts, will translate onto clay. Most likely, with the most recent Davis Cup matches as proof, we could see Nadal being even more dominant and offensive in his game on clay. He's definitely improved his serve, his slice, and his net game. Add that to the arsenal of weapons he had going into the 2008 clay season and we could see a monster of a clay season in 2009.

Ofcourse, i'm just speculating here. Can we see Nadal be the first to pull off the MonteCarlo-Rome-Madrid triple? or the MonteCarlo-Barcelona-Rome-Madrid Quadruple (that's just ridiculous!)?

A look at Nadal's clay season:
Monte Carlo
As the defending champion, and winner of the last 4 straight titles, Nadal's clearly the overwhelming favourite in Monte Carlo. Add to the equation the fact that Federer (last year's finalist) has dropped out of the tournament, and it looks like it's basically a lock for Nadal this year.

Barcelona
Well, it's basically the same situation as Monte Carlo. However, if Nadal's going to skip any of the big clay court tourney's this year it should be Barcelona. Now that Madrid's on clay and in the French Open season, there's no reason to play in Barcelona.

Rome
Well, Nadal's not the defending champion this year. However, he will be one of the favourites along with, ofcourse, Djokovic and to some extent; Federer. If Nadal skips Barcelona his chances of winning in Rome for his 4th title will be very high (especially if his biggest competition is Djokovic, judging from the most recent DC action).

Madrid
Well, this one's a tough one to judge. Nadal has won this tournament before, but never on clay - as this is the first year Madrid is being played on clay. According to Toni Nadal; Rafa may or may not play this tournament, as the conditions are not favourable for FO preparations. I'm thinking, if Nadal's skipped Barcelona and cruised through Monte Carlo and Rome then he will probably play Madrid to keep the momentum rolling into the French Open.

French Open
Well, this one's an obvious call. Nadal's, like in Monte Carlo, is the overwhelming favourite. Ofcourse, he will have his competition in Federer, Djokovic, Monfils, and the whole bunch. It doesn't look like there's any up-and-coming Clay-Specialists who can really challenge Nadal ATM, but we'll know more about this as the clay season progresses.

-
So, what are your predictions on Nadal's clay season? Is he overhauling his scheduale, or is it basically looking like 2009's clay season will be a repeat or an upgraded version of 2005-2008?

Let's hear your thoughts!

The Don
04-05-2009, 05:04 AM
Im ready to see nadal in Clay action again :D im sure he will win French Open hopefully.

gj011
04-05-2009, 05:24 AM
Nadal is going to win FO and three out of four other tournaments. That seems to be the pattern in previous years, and I think it will be repeated this year too.

vtmike
04-05-2009, 05:30 AM
Im ready to see nadal in Clay action again :D im sure he will win French Open hopefully.

Nadal will dominate like crazy...Murray hasn't proved himself on clay, Djokovic & Tsonga are inconsistent, Fed goes into lala land no matter who he plays now (not just Rafa), DelPo is too young and inexperienced at playing in big occasions...So really nobody to challenge Nadal this year esp since he has more confidence than last year...
which is kinda sad since I really wanted to see Fed get his first FO :(

euroroberto
04-05-2009, 05:32 AM
Have they taken Hamburg out of the schedule this year? I think he'l win 4 out of 5 of the ones you have listed above, it's a shame you havn't mentioned Andy Murray anywhere as a possible contender, he's not better than Nadal but could make some semis and some finals hopefully

The Don
04-05-2009, 05:36 AM
Nadal will dominate like crazy...Murray hasn't proved himself on clay, Djokovic & Tsonga are inconsistent, Fed goes into lala land no matter who he plays now (not just Rafa), DelPo is too young and inexperienced at playing in big occasions...So really nobody to challenge Nadal this year esp since he has more confidence than last year...
which is kinda sad since I really wanted to see Fed get his first FO :(

haha yea I would actually be happy for federer if he won his first FO after all the times nadal gave him a beating on clay. I like federer too but lately idk he's been idk cant explaine it. he's not like before which is sad.

deltox
04-05-2009, 05:41 AM
This is Monfils Clay breakout year,, thats right, you heard it here first

news at 10

Blinkism
04-05-2009, 05:41 AM
Have they taken Hamburg out of the schedule this year? I think he'l win 4 out of 5 of the ones you have listed above, it's a shame you havn't mentioned Andy Murray anywhere as a possible contender, he's not better than Nadal but could make some semis and some finals hopefully

Well, they've switched Madrid with Hamburg. Madrid is now the 3rd clay court masters and Hamburg is downgraded to a 500 event.

And I didn't mention Murray because I haven't seen anything from him that's TOO special on clay. But he should be favoured to make atleast the Quarter's in any clay court event this season. He's definitely improving this season, will that translate to the clay court? Hopefully! Doubt he could really do anything to give Rafa any trouble on the red stuff, though!

clayman2000
04-05-2009, 06:38 AM
I just looked at the clay schedule, and Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome are B2B2B. Then hell get 2 weeks off before Madrid, then 1 week and RG.

We all know that Nadal does not loose on clay when he's healthy. That being the case, Rome might be the tournament where he looses. That being said Nadal wins most of his clay matches very easy, and if he plays like he did anywhere near last years RG, he should win all his matches.

I dont see Madrid being a problem. All the other guys have to do it, so why shouldnt he. And anyways, isnt Monte Carlo the only non mandatory Masters, as it was made that way to avoid relegation like Hamburg.

Personally, i dont think Nadal will ever be able to dominate a season like Federer has, loosing 4-6 matches a year, however on clay, its possible he might not even loose a matche

thejoe
04-05-2009, 06:41 AM
He will win any clay court tournament he can be bothered with.

obnoxious2
04-05-2009, 07:19 AM
I think he needs to cut 1-2 clay tournaments out of the list. He already is beginning to look exhausted and the more time off will help him more to winning the FO again.

iriraz
04-05-2009, 08:03 AM
The question is does it matter for him winning titles like Monte Carlo or Barcelona more then having a shot of beeing fresh and healthy in autumn for Us Open series and indoor.
Even if he takes a break after Wimbledon i doubt he will have enough energy to win at US Open after playing Toronto and Cincinnati.

ruerooo
04-05-2009, 08:08 AM
The question is does it matter for him winning titles like Monte Carlo or Barcelona more then having a shot of beeing fresh and healthy in autumn for Us Open series and indoor.
Even if he takes a break after Wimbledon i doubt he will have enough energy to win at US Open after playing Toronto and Cincinnati.

Are Rogers Cup and Cincinnati both mandatory, since Rafa's played IW and Miami?

Or is it permitted to play one or the other?

Safinator_1
04-05-2009, 08:09 AM
Clay Season should be renamed Rafa season. 4/5 he wins Madrid or Rome he will lose due to injury

iriraz
04-05-2009, 08:20 AM
Are Rogers Cup and Cincinnati both mandatory, since Rafa's played IW and Miami?

Or is it permitted to play one or the other?

Except Monte Carlo all others are mandatory.Of course if someone says he is injured he will be checked by a medical panel to decide if he is capable of playing or not.
I doubt that any top player would like to get himself in trouble by getting a penalty.So seeing a few tanking jobs wouldn`t be a surprise at all

egn
04-05-2009, 08:44 AM
So although it is completly obvious Nadal is going to win the French Open just in case he does not I want to be able to say I called it so here i go.

Nadal DOES NOT..I repeat...DOES NOT win the French Open...who is going to beat him I do not know but I see it happening.

bladepdb
04-05-2009, 11:13 AM
Nadal DOES NOT..I repeat...DOES NOT win the French Open...who is going to beat him I do not know but I see it happening.

Yeah keep dreaming.

Nadal will have absolutely no trouble cruising through the French Open. Dominance is the question -- will he able to do so in straight sets like he did last year? I doubt it but it's not all that unrealistic either.

Anyway I think Nadal's dominance this year on clay will reveal itself once more. He had a +81 streak...he wants to push the envelope and go beyond that.

I expect him to play in all the tournaments, which certainly is not a good decision IMO. However, there is no question he will play Rome, Monte Carlo, and Madrid since they are Masters events and he would be able to tie the record for 16 Masters shields.

He wants to push the bar at Monte Carlo.

He wants to redeem himself in Rome after last year's unfortunate foot incident.

He will play at both Barcelona (unfortunately) and Madrid (possibly unfortunately due to the time between Madrid & Roland Garros). They are in his home country; I don't see him passing on those, most certainly not Madrid.

Nadal has the physical ability to dominate the four big events, but then RG is the biggest event and if he wears himself out before that, it could prove fatal. He's going for the 5-in-a-row here, put himself up there with Sampras, Federer, and some old names that won the same Slam five times in a row. I think with that in mind he MIGHT consider passing on Barcelona, which would be a good decision.

Madrid will be very hard, if not impossible, to pass up. Perhaps he might scope out of the field before playing it...if other Top 10 players decide to face the fine and pass Madrid, he might too so he can be on the same footing as them for RG. Then again it might also present an "easy" opening to win a Masters event, which would be very tempting. Anyway Madrid is the biggest toss-up and might well end up being the deciding factor for Nadal's dominance in this year's clay court season.

clayman2000
04-05-2009, 11:35 AM
Yeah keep dreaming.

Nadal will have absolutely no trouble cruising through the French Open. Dominance is the question -- will he able to do so in straight sets like he did last year? I doubt it but it's not all that unrealistic either.

Anyway I think Nadal's dominance this year on clay will reveal itself once more. He had a +81 streak...he wants to push the envelope and go beyond that.

I expect him to play in all the tournaments, which certainly is not a good decision IMO. However, there is no question he will play Rome, Monte Carlo, and Madrid since they are Masters events and he would be able to tie the record for 16 Masters shields.

He wants to push the bar at Monte Carlo.

He wants to redeem himself in Rome after last year's unfortunate foot incident.

He will play at both Barcelona (unfortunately) and Madrid (possibly unfortunately due to the time between Madrid & Roland Garros). They are in his home country; I don't see him passing on those, most certainly not Madrid.

Nadal has the physical ability to dominate the four big events, but then RG is the biggest event and if he wears himself out before that, it could prove fatal. He's going for the 5-in-a-row here, put himself up there with Sampras, Federer, and some old names that won the same Slam five times in a row. I think with that in mind he MIGHT consider passing on Barcelona, which would be a good decision.

Madrid will be very hard, if not impossible, to pass up. Perhaps he might scope out of the field before playing it...if other Top 10 players decide to face the fine and pass Madrid, he might too so he can be on the same footing as them for RG. Then again it might also present an "easy" opening to win a Masters event, which would be very tempting. Anyway Madrid is the biggest toss-up and might well end up being the deciding factor for Nadal's dominance in this year's clay court season.

Isnt agassi's record 17.
Nadal will play Madrd, he is a workhorse.

Everything else you say is bang on

Cesc Fabregas
04-05-2009, 11:37 AM
The guy just has to walk on a clay court to win.

clayman2000
04-05-2009, 11:46 AM
The guy just has to walk on a clay court to win.

No he just has to enter the tournament :lol:

saram
04-05-2009, 11:47 AM
I see five more clay titles for the king of clay....

tudwell
04-05-2009, 11:53 AM
I think we'll see a sharp decline in Nadal's level in play (which we already saw in Miami). He's never had so much success so early in the year, and on the most taxing of surfaces, too. Every year he's pooped out by the time the U.S. Open rolls around, but this year, he got a head start on exhausting himself. This is Federer's year for the French.

Blinkism
04-05-2009, 12:10 PM
I think we'll see a sharp decline in Nadal's level in play (which we already saw in Miami). He's never had so much success so early in the year, and on the most taxing of surfaces, too. Every year he's pooped out by the time the U.S. Open rolls around, but this year, he got a head start on exhausting himself. This is Federer's year for the French.

Well, last season he had only played like 4 or 5 matches less than he has this year before going into the clay season. And look how dominant he was in 2008, with the notable exception of Rome.

We might see a similar thing happen this year, where Nadal goes out early in one of the 3 Masters on clay, or in Barcelona, in order to get some more rest before the FO. That is, only if the competition proves to be tough in Monte Carlo and Rome. If those 2 are a cakewalk, well then I don't see Nadal tanking in Madrid, really.

tudwell
04-05-2009, 12:41 PM
Nadal doesn't tank. He gives his all every point of every match of every tournament. If he loses, he's beaten fair and square.

cucio
04-05-2009, 01:03 PM
Right after trouncing Tipsarevic 1, 0 and 2 in this year's D-Cup tie Spanish captain Albert Costa said that Nadal's performance for that match had been ok-ish, but nowhere near as in practice that week, where he was wiping the floor with Ferrer, Robredo (coming from winning two clay tournaments), Almagro and Feliciano.

So, hummm, let's call Chuck Norris, perhaps he can make it competitive.

Nadalfan89
04-05-2009, 01:09 PM
Nadal will go 100-0.

He is such an unstoppable force on clay that it scares me. I honestly don't even know why the other players stick around when that unhuman monstrosity steps onto the court with his massive bulging biceps and tree-trunk thighs. He hits his forehands with about 10000 rpm of topspin and then charges around the court like testosterone fueled race horse bent on obliterating anyone and anything that gets between him and the French Open championship cup.

They should just give him the cup and spare the other plays the humiliation. Afterall, what can a mere mortal do against such awesome force?

bladepdb
04-05-2009, 01:16 PM
Isnt agassi's record 17.
Nadal will play Madrd, he is a workhorse.

Everything else you say is bang on

Not sure...you might be right.

bladepdb
04-05-2009, 01:18 PM
Nadal will go 100-0.

He is such an unstoppable force on clay that it scares me. I honestly don't even know why the other players stick around when that unhuman monstrosity steps onto the court with his massive bulging biceps and tree-trunk thighs. He hits his forehands with about 10000 rpm of topspin and then charges around the court like testosterone fueled race horse bent on obliterating anyone and anything that gets between him and the French Open championship cup.

They should just give him the cup and spare the other plays the humiliation. Afterall, what can a mere mortal do against such awesome force?

Wow that's a little overboard there..

He doesn't hit 10,000 rpm topspin...closer to 4k+ on a consistent basis :P

VivalaVida
04-05-2009, 02:28 PM
Nadal will go 100-0.

He is such an unstoppable force on clay that it scares me. I honestly don't even know why the other players stick around when that unhuman monstrosity steps onto the court with his massive bulging biceps and tree-trunk thighs. He hits his forehands with about 10000 rpm of topspin and then charges around the court like testosterone fueled race horse bent on obliterating anyone and anything that gets between him and the French Open championship cup.

They should just give him the cup and spare the other plays the humiliation. Afterall, what can a mere mortal do against such awesome force?
:shock: Wow you went way overboard

Blinkism
04-05-2009, 02:40 PM
I think Murray is the wildcard in this Clay Season for Nadal.

I'm thinking Djokovic and Federer will have the same or similar seasons as last year's clay season. Murray, however, has improved since then, and so logically his clay game must be improved.

Probably not good enough to challenge Nadal in 5 sets on clay, tough.

IvanAndreevich
04-05-2009, 03:31 PM
Murray is on the run during points, that's why he is so good defensively on HC. Try that on clay and you will be wrong footed a lot. That strategy would make him a terrible mover on clay, and that's what wins him matches against the best - his defense.

saram
04-05-2009, 04:11 PM
Isnt agassi's record 17.
Nadal will play Madrd, he is a workhorse.

Everything else you say is bang on

Yup, I think Agassi had 17 MS shields at the end of his career.....

Josherer
04-05-2009, 04:20 PM
Nadal will skip one and win the rest...

Hopefully fed can make it to another consecutive final... though his chances against Nadal are obviously very slim.

Blinkism
04-05-2009, 05:00 PM
In trying to figure out who are the clay-court specialists at the moment (outside of the top 5), I've made this little list, in order of most accomplishments on clay this year to date
__________________________________________________ ___

1. Nicolas Almagro - Won the biggest clay tourney of the year, so far, in Acapulco and made QF's in Brasil

2. Tommy Robredo - Won the 2009 Brasil Open and in Buenos Aires, and made the SF's in Vina Del Mar and the QF's in Acapulco.

4. Fernando Gonzalez - Won the title in Vina Del Mar, Chile

5. Gael Monfils - Finalist in Acapulco

6. Jose Acasuso - Finalist in Chile and SF in Acapulco, Brasil and Buenos Aires.

7. Juan Monaco - Finalist in Buenos Aires and QF's in Chile + 1st Round Davis Cup on clay.

8. Thomaz Bellucci - Finalist in Brasil Open

9. David Nalbandian - SF's in Buenos Aires

10. Juan Carlos Ferrero - QF's in Brasil Open and Buenos Aires.

Notable Mention goes to: Martin Vassalo Arguello (SF's in Acapulco), Pablo Cuevas (SF's in Chile), Frederico Gil (SF's in Brasil), and Juan Ignacio Chela (QF's in Chile, and 1R DC).
__________________________________________________ ___

So these are the guys who, outside of the Top 5, are the most accomplished Clay-courters this season.

A lot of new names in this list, and alot of old names. I don't see anyone on that list, however, that poses a really serious threat to Nadal, Federer, or Djokovic (with the exception of Monfils) on clay.

Blinkism
04-05-2009, 05:03 PM
Also, I've been hearing arguments from people about Nadal having a lower chance of dominating the clay season because he has never had a season such as this Hardcourt season where he has had to play as many matches before the Clay season.

Well, it turns out that at this point (April 5th) last year, Nadal had played 27 matches. So far this year, Nadal has played 27 matches.

What do you all think? Is Nadal more tired this year, or is that just speculation based on his performance against Del Potro and in Miami, overall?

Bonus Fact: Nadal is undefeated in 16 matches on clay starting from his victory over Potito Starace in Hamburg 2008 (6-4,7-6) to his recent victory in the Davis Cup 2009 tie against Novak Djokovic (6-4,6-4,6-1)
and he's 39-1 in his last 40 matches on clay, with the single loss coming in Rome 2008 against J.C. Ferrero.

Joseph L. Barrow
04-05-2009, 05:07 PM
Well, he's been playing better than ever, but he's also consequently had to play more in the pre-clay-court season, and has already shown signs of tiredness and knee problems. Now, make no mistake that I expect him to rip through the clay court season again nevertheless, but I do think he may have one or two blips.

babolat15
04-05-2009, 05:28 PM
i would like to see monfils win the french although im a big rafa fan

welcome2petrkordaland
04-05-2009, 05:56 PM
i will have serious doubts about the ability of the Nadal camp to put together a smart schedule if he tries to play Barcelona plus all 3 Masters before Roland Garros. It's so obvious that he should skip Barcelona.

bladepdb
04-06-2009, 12:34 PM
In trying to figure out who are the clay-court specialists at the moment (outside of the top 5), I've made this little list, in order of most accomplishments on clay this year to date
__________________________________________________ ___

1. Nicolas Almagro - Won the biggest clay tourney of the year, so far, in Acapulco and made QF's in Brasil

2. Tommy Robredo - Won the 2009 Brasil Open and in Buenos Aires, and made the SF's in Vina Del Mar and the QF's in Acapulco.

4. Fernando Gonzalez - Won the title in Vina Del Mar, Chile

5. Gael Monfils - Finalist in Acapulco

6. Jose Acasuso - Finalist in Chile and SF in Acapulco, Brasil and Buenos Aires.

7. Juan Monaco - Finalist in Buenos Aires and QF's in Chile + 1st Round Davis Cup on clay.

8. Thomaz Bellucci - Finalist in Brasil Open

9. David Nalbandian - SF's in Buenos Aires

10. Juan Carlos Ferrero - QF's in Brasil Open and Buenos Aires.

Notable Mention goes to: Martin Vassalo Arguello (SF's in Acapulco), Pablo Cuevas (SF's in Chile), Frederico Gil (SF's in Brasil), and Juan Ignacio Chela (QF's in Chile, and 1R DC).
__________________________________________________ ___

So these are the guys who, outside of the Top 5, are the most accomplished Clay-courters this season.

A lot of new names in this list, and alot of old names. I don't see anyone on that list, however, that poses a really serious threat to Nadal, Federer, or Djokovic (with the exception of Monfils) on clay.

Also, I've been hearing arguments from people about Nadal having a lower chance of dominating the clay season because he has never had a season such as this Hardcourt season where he has had to play as many matches before the Clay season.

Well, it turns out that at this point (April 5th) last year, Nadal had played 27 matches. So far this year, Nadal has played 27 matches.

What do you all think? Is Nadal more tired this year, or is that just speculation based on his performance against Del Potro and in Miami, overall?

Bonus Fact: Nadal is undefeated in 16 matches on clay starting from his victory over Potito Starace in Hamburg 2008 (6-4,7-6) to his recent victory in the Davis Cup 2009 tie against Novak Djokovic (6-4,6-4,6-1)
and he's 39-1 in his last 40 matches on clay, with the single loss coming in Rome 2008 against J.C. Ferrero.

Thank you! Nice facts.

bladepdb
04-06-2009, 12:37 PM
Just checked the entry list for Barcelona. Nadal's playing..... Damn.

SaintClaires
04-06-2009, 12:38 PM
Just checked the entry list for Barcelona. Nadal's playing..... Damn.

Why "damn"?

bladepdb
04-06-2009, 12:41 PM
Ideally an extra week of rest for Nadal would all but guarantee that he will dominate French Open again.

IMO he's still going to have an amazing season, but the more you play the more your risk injury so that's just my thought on that. I think with Barcelona he'll have three weeks of clay tennis in a row, then only one week of rest before French...something like that.

SaintClaires
04-06-2009, 12:43 PM
Ideally an extra week of rest for Nadal would all but guarantee that he will dominate French Open again.

IMO he's still going to have an amazing season, but the more you play the more your risk injury so that's just my thought on that.


That's an interesting point. Now that I think about it, Roff-I-Yell-Nah-Dall should skip a lot more tournaments. Maybe then he won't be walking on one leg by the time the US Open comes around.

bladepdb
04-06-2009, 12:46 PM
That's an interesting point. Now that I think about it, Roff-I-Yell-Nah-Dall should skip a lot more tournaments. Maybe then he won't be walking on one leg by the time the US Open comes around.

I wouldn't necessarily say a "lot" more but I mean this year he could have skipped Rotterdam and Dubai (skipped only cuz of injury from Rotterdam) and be in fresher shape for Indian Wells & Miami (though it wouldn't have matter too much). Skipping Barcelona would be nice; then from here on out, play only the 3 Masters clay events and French Open, then Queens (for Wimby warmup), then Wimby...then only the Master's events and USO & Master's cup.

That's probably how it'll go down anyway, I think, but he might squeeze in a few more tournaments and I'll be sad if he does lol.


EDIT: Now that I posted that, it looks like all he should do is play Master's and Grand Slams haha. Throw in a couple warmup tourneys like Doha and Queens in there and Davis Cup (which is like once every now and then) and he's good to go :P

CCNM
04-06-2009, 02:14 PM
There's an article posted on his website that says he's strongly considering pulling out of Madrid. I wonder if he's feeling the pressure of being #1 yet.

bladepdb
04-06-2009, 07:58 PM
There's an article posted on his website that says he's strongly considering pulling out of Madrid. I wonder if he's feeling the pressure of being #1 yet.

Doubt it...he's not the kind of guy that'll let it get to him.

Blinkism
04-07-2009, 11:17 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiuUxfindvo&feature=related

This is a clip of Nadal vs. Djokovic from his most recent match on clay - at the Davis Cup, for those of you who didn't see the match. This came after Nadal lost in Rotterdam due to injury in the final.

He then went on to completely dominate Tipsarevic on clay and really go through Djokovic with ease, especially in that last set.

That's all the evidence we have to work with on how Nadal's looked on clay so far this year (I know, it's only 2 matches in the middle of the hardcourt season, but still!).

Pirao
04-08-2009, 02:32 AM
Nadal will win everything or almost everything, as usual.

Blinkism
04-14-2009, 11:38 AM
Ok, the second round at Monte Carlo is not even over, yet it's time to review the "progress" of this year's up-and-coming clay-courters - potential threats to Nadal during this clay season. It's not going to be pretty.

In trying to figure out who are the clay-court specialists at the moment (outside of the top 5), I've made this little list, in order of most accomplishments on clay this year to date
__________________________________________________ ___

1. Nicolas Almagro - Won the biggest clay tourney of the year, so far, in Acapulco and made QF's in Brasil
- Out in the first round of Monte Carlo to Montanes. Not exactly the worst opponent to lose to, but a rather disappointing showing from a guy touted as the new star of this year's clay season.

2. Tommy Robredo - Won the 2009 Brasil Open and in Buenos Aires, and made the SF's in Vina Del Mar and the QF's in Acapulco.
- Out in the second round of Monte Carlo to Monaco. Another disappointing result from a guy who's had good clay results so far this year.

4. Fernando Gonzalez - Won the title in Vina Del Mar, Chile
- Well, Gonzalez isn't playing Monte Carlo this year. Seeing as he isn't defending any points at all, it's not the worst thing possible. Could have taken advantage, though, and got some free points in MC. Too bad.

5. Gael Monfils - Finalist in Acapulco
- For a guy considered the biggest threat on clay to the Top 4, a First Round loss to Tipsarevic is VERY disappointing. The less said about it, the better.

6. Jose Acasuso - Finalist in Chile and SF in Acapulco, Brasil and Buenos Aires.
- First Round loss in Monte Carlo to Granollers. I consider Granollers and Acasuso on roughly the same level on clay, but it is still too bad that Acasuso couldn't follow up on solid results from earlier this year.

7. Juan Monaco - Finalist in Buenos Aires and QF's in Chile + 1st Round Davis Cup on clay.
- Monaco is doing the best of this entire list, so far. Beating Chardy and Robredo back-to-back is a good showing from Juan. His clay season looks promising.

8. Thomaz Bellucci - Finalist in Brasil Open
- Failed to qualify for Monte Carlo. What more can be said? Disappointing.

9. David Nalbandian - SF's in Buenos Aires
- Well, he's in the second round in Monte Carlo, but he's not shining or anything. Nothing negative to report about Nalby, yet. He's doing solid on the red stuff, so far, this year.

10. Juan Carlos Ferrero - QF's in Brasil Open and Buenos Aires.
- One of the shining stars of this list. Winning the title in Casablanca was a big plus in his 2009 clay resume. Great job, JC!
Too bad about the fact he's not playing MC.

Notable Mention goes to: Martin Vassalo Arguello (SF's in Acapulco), Pablo Cuevas (SF's in Chile), Frederico Gil (SF's in Brasil), and Juan Ignacio Chela (QF's in Chile, and 1R DC).
- Arguello did well to beat Andreev in MC. Cuevas is not following up on that SF in Chile. Gil did well to reach the QF's in Casablance, but is having a pretty mediocre season, so far. And Chela did well to reach the second round in MC, but that'll be where his season ends (barring a miracle/tragedy against Nadal).

Two new names can be added to the list, Serra and Montanes. Both are solid, so far, this year.
__________________________________________________ ___

So these are the guys who, outside of the Top 5, are the most accomplished Clay-courters this season.

A lot of new names in this list, and alot of old names. I don't see anyone on that list, however, that poses a really serious threat to Nadal, Federer, or Djokovic (with the exception of Monfils) on clay.

The potential threats to Nadal, are not looking very threatening, so far.
Of the entire list, only Monaco and Nalbandian are left in MC.

Blinkism
04-20-2009, 10:35 AM
OK. Nadal's won Monte Carlo.

Good start to his clay season, as per usual.

Now onto Barcelona!