Submitted by: Jason Atherton
The men s tennis circuit now heads for the clay courts of Europe with the next Masters event taking place in Monte Carlo. The players who have been battling out on the hard courts since last August will certainly relish the change but how many of them believe that they have better chances to win on clay as opposed to hard courts.
The 2008/9 hard court season was once again dominated by the world s top four players. Federer won the US Open, Rafael Nadal the Australian, Djokovic won the Masters Cup, while Britain s Andy Murray won three Masters and was runner up in the US Open.
Rafael Nadal of course has retained his world number one position and he is odds on to consolidate that position when he starts on his favourite surface, clay.
The Spaniard is a God on clay and probably unbeatable. His two Masters wins and his fourth French Open title bears testimony to that. However now that he has broken through on grass, when winning Wimbledon for the first time last year and on the hard courts when he took the Australian Open in February, Nadal has become even more revered than his greatest rival, Federer.
As it stands right now, Nadal has won six Grand Slams and is the favourite to win his seventh when the French open gets under way in Paris at the end of May. He has won there for the last four years and in fact has never lost a single match at Roland Gaross. His demolition job of Federer in the 2008 final, 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 probably did more to damage the ego of Federer than enhance his own, but it also told the other top players that they have little chance against him. After all, Federer is the second best clay court player in the world and the emphatic manner in which Nadal dispatched of him merely highlights the gap the the others must bridge.
Murray has consolidated his position as one of the top four players in the world. In terms of recent head to heads against the other top three players, he is the top man. Two wins and one defeat against Nadal, three wins against Federer and three wins against Djokovic but unfortunately Murray may have to wait to Wimbledon before his first realistic chance at a Grand Slam becomes likely. He might surprise a few on the clay but it is difficult to see him making any impression on Nadal.
Nadal is still only 22 years of age, he is an exceptional talent on the tennis courts and is well on course to become one of the all time greats, if he isn’t already. He is still maturing in both terms of his play and attitude, attributes that will only help his cause to consolidate his position as the World number one for many years to come. The one trophy that eludes him is the US Open, which he is sure to have high on his list of priorities for 2009.
About the Author: John Fletcher writes about Tennis on many websites. Read his latest previews and views on the
French Open Tennis
major which takes place in May.