Monday, April 22, 2013

Questions to be answered after Monte Carlo

The first clay court masters has come and gone and for those who have been frequent followers of tennis, for once there is a different result.  After eight years of the field trying and failing to dismiss Rafael Nadal from his throne in Monte Carlo, finally the world #1 Novak Djokovic has succeeded.  

I was personally thrilled to see a different result after eight years.  It simply doesn't make sense for any person, no matter who they are, to not be able to be beaten.  So in spite of an ankle injury which made Djokovic unsure if he would even be able to play in the tournament at all, he pushed through the pain because he wanted to be able to play in what he now considers a home tournament, since he has been living just down the street for the last several years.  Watching the intensity that he played with you could tell how badly he wanted this title.  Even so, after the almost bagel first set which eventually ended at 6-2, when Rafa got up a break in the second set I fully expected it to go three.  I was certainly unprepared to see him get broken at love serving for the set; and not only that, once it got to the tiebreak to see him only win one point.

Of course this all brings questions.  Was Nole able to win mostly because the conditions favored him, with the clay being damp from an early rain shower? Was it because Rafa isn't up to his full strength yet, claiming he got tired in the second set?  Is Rafa still struggling with injury, whether from his knee or the taping on his back?  All of these things remain to be seen.  I fully expect Nadal to rally and win in Barcelona this week.  What about Madrid, where he struggles a bit with the altitude, Rome, and of course the big question, the French Open?  Although clay is my least favorite surface, these unanswerables spice things up enough to make it all interesting once again.  In two more weeks Roger Federer will be back in the picture, with many wondering how he will fare having not won a title yet in 2013.  And with Andy Murray's lopsided loss we can't help but wonder if he will be any threat during the clay season.  As for me, I'm glad to have these questions to ponder as we wait for big guys to play once again.

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