The Rafa Nadal bakery is well and truly open for business. Two bagels, two breadsticks... wow. That's something else.
Rafa hasn't won a tournament since Rome last year and so he is, in some respects, at his most vulnerable going into this clay season. If he cannot win on clay, especially here at Monte Carlo, where he's won six times in a row before, then something is going on.
...but as of this moment, something is not going on. Or rather it is, but it is the good something. If Rafa wanted to send a message, he could hardly have done it better. Smell that fresh bakery aroma - it's going to be around for a while.
I mean, sure, Thiemo de Bakker and Michael Berrer aren't exactly Federer and Djokovic. But when you consider the pressure - the incredibly immense pressure - that is on Nadal at the moment, the way he has opened this season is exemplary. There's no fear from Rafa - Shmafa is nowhere to be seen on the red stuff. There's none of that caution that we saw after that loss he took to Soderling at Roland Garros. There's none of that.
It's a little difficult to make a sweeping statement based on two matches. But when in those two matches Rafa only gave up two games... consider this statement swept. Rafa is, as ever, the man to beat at Monte Carlo - and he's the one they'll all have to overcome if anyone else is going to taste glory on clay.
Roger: older and not quite out
6 months ago