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Sports Then and Now



Rafael Nadal Heads The Field Into The French Open 0

Posted on May 18, 2010 by Marianne Bevis
Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates his victory over Roger Federer of Switzerland at the end of their Madrid Open final tennis match

Who would have thought it would be a year to the day before the tennis world saw another Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer face-off? And who could have predicted that it would, as it was 12 months ago, be in the final of the last clay Masters of the year, in Madrid?

The balance of power as they entered the home straight this year has, though, looked a little different.

2009 began with Nadal as world No. 1, winner of the Australian Slam, and dominant through the clay season. But by the time he reached Madrid, his months without a break had wreaked havoc with his knees and he was soon forced off the tour to recuperate.

This year, he was short of his best form in Melbourne. But with the clay came the Rafa of old. He won every tournament he entered, and this time he paced himself so that he looked, if anything, stronger and fitter with each passing week.

So the Nadal in Madrid 2010 was a stronger animal than the one Federer dominated in 2009, while the Federer on the other side of the net was only just getting into his stride following a month off the tour with illness.

Add in the extra factors of Andre Agassi’s Masters record, and the imminent French Open title to fight over, and this was destined to be a great occasion. It saw Nadal avenge his loss of 2009, and take the outright record for Masters titles: 18. And he is still just 23.

Looking beyond the Rafa-and-Roger showdown, the Spanish armada once more laid down its marker, as it has done throughout the spring.

Three of the four finalists in Madrid were Spanish, as were six of the last 16. And that’s without their fourth man Juan Carlos Ferrero and their fifth Tommy Robredo, both missing with injury.

So, not surprisingly, Federer is the only non-Spaniard in the top five this week. Who’ll give me odds against the Spanish reign continuing in Paris? I thought not. Read the rest of this entry →

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