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!