“To win seven times in a row any where is almost impossible I think. But to win Monte Carlo, all the best players in the world are here, you always have tough matches, is impossible to imagine for me. So I am very lucky, I think.”
Come on, Rafa, it may be lucky number seven, but you certainly didn’t need much luck to win your seventh Monte Carlo Masters title! Please. He took the title this Sunday, beating Spanish No. 2, David Ferrer, 6-4, 7-5 in the final.
It was an emotional win for him (via the AP):
“To start the clay season like this is fantastic, but it’s more fantastic to win Monte Carlo another time,” Nadal said. “This is the Masters tournament where I feel more emotion when I’m playing, because here in 2003 everything starts. I played qualifiers here, won two matches, and was for the very first time in my career top 100.”
It was, surprisingly, Nadal’s first title since winning Tokyo last October. Since then, he’s played and lost three finals (Federer in the London WTF, Djokovic in Indian Wells and Miami.) But this is Monte Carlo, Rafa’s favorite tournament on his best surface – the place where he not only made a mark as a newcomer, but made a statement last year when he won the title after a year long title drought, the loss of his beloved French Open and ongoing injury problems. Since losing to Coria in his 2003 debut, he’s enjoyed a 37 match winning streak in the principality and has amassed a 39-1 win-loss record.
“Rafa is incredible on clay. I mean, he’s everywhere at the same time. He’s the best player on clay in history.” No duh, David.
Rafa moves straight on to Barcelona, a tournament he skipped last year. “I am healthy now, so why not?” he told the press in Monte Carlo. He also mentioned that he’s planning to work a bit on his slide in coming weeks. You know, because even the best clay courter in history can get better.
Talking about all-time greats, the Bryan brothers clinched their 70th team title with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Chela/Soares in the doubles final.
I can’t wrap up Monte Carlo without mentioning how much I enjoyed Rafa’s semifinal vs. Andy Murray on Saturday. I’ve mentioned this before – how the best tennis matches feel like conversations between the opponents. That’s how this match felt to me. The variety of strokes, the creativity of the point construction and the sheer emotional and physical power that these two displayed – especially in the second set - swept me away like a great book or film can. This is an entirely different experience from say, many of Roger’s matches, which engross (perplex, agitate and sometimes elate) me from the results-oriented perspective of points won and scoreboard advantage. My only complaint about Saturday’s match was that it went on too dang long and my DVR cut out the ending. But the second set, alone, was a world on to itself. I didn’t even need to know how it ended.
I admit I wasn’t swept away by this weekend’s Fed Cup action, but there were plenty of interesting story lines. The finals are now set - Russia vs. the Czech Republic in Russia this November. In the semifinals, Russia whitewashed Italy 5-0. The defending champions were missing their team heroes: Flavia Pennetta and Francesca Schiavone. In Belgium, the Czech team won in the deciding doubles rubber, asBarcelona Open Banc Sabadell
In other Fed Cup news, Team USA is out of the World Group for the first time in its history. It was bounced by Germany’s Andrea Petkovic, who won the tie-clinching rubber over Melanie Oudin.
Serbia’s back in the World Group fold, after what the Fed Cup website describes as a “wierd and wonderful” tie vs. the Slovak Republic. Ivanovic, Jankovic, Cibulkova and Hantuchova? No surprise there was drama. Click here to read more.
Up next – seven of the top ten WTA players hit Stuttgart for the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. There’s also a WTA tournament in Morocco. Many of the top guys (minus Nole and Roger*) hit the clay in Barcelona.
*Sorry guys, a typo before – I meant to say minus Nole and
. Rafa obviously will be playing Barcelona.