enter the mighty Clay Monster the high priest of death. his latest fascination with hard courts which are sure to wreck his knees continues in Rotterdam where is playing both singles and doubles:
7th of February
Newly-crowned Australian Open champion, Rafa Nadal will continue his assault on hardcourts with an opening round match against Italian, Simone Bolleli, after the draw ceremony of the ABN AMRO WTT Rotterdam Open was revealed in Holand on Friday night.
He's expected to arrive in Rotterdam on Sunday to start training for his doubles and singles matches. On monday he will play doubles and most likely will play singles on Wednesday.
Rafa is looking to continue an amazing start to the season and hopefully with that, stablish himself as a hardcourt master. However, there is a long way to go, on his way:
He could meet Tomas Berdych in the second round. If he makes it past Tomas, there could be a potential quarter-final clash with french star Jo-Wilfred Tsonga and in the finals he could expect Nikolay Davydenko, Igor Andreev, big-serving Croat Ivo Karlovic or Gael Monfils.
General Shankski the supreme commander of the armies to the east, I think we should be thanking Simon for that Australian Open crown.
Simon, as i had suggested before that match, provided excatly the right test and practice. Warrior King was short on match play and practice. his ground game was not sharp enough and he needed to hit a ton of balls.
Simon came along at precisely the right time to provide the opportunity to hit a ton of balls. i just came across this article that somebody wrote.check this article out:
January 28, 2009 - Most Nadal matches are riveting
Just finished watching two hours and 28 minutes of riveting Rafael Nadal tennis. Most Nadal matches are riveting, especially when these Slams reach the rarefied air of the quarterfinal round, but this one was a particularly strong attention getter.
If you knew anything about Gilles Simon (Jeals Sea-moe for you aspiring Francophiles), you knew there would be long rallies, and there were. I'm sure Nadal would agree this was a superior test of his skill and will, despite the 6-2, 7-5, 7-5 straight-set takedown. Simon had a point to win the second set, which would have made things even more interesting, and I'll get back to that in a jif.
He's 24, going into his fourth pro year, and he's developed a beautiful game that is one part Andy Murray, one part Mats Wilander, one part John McEnroe. He's not big-banger, though he's perfectly capable of crashing short forehands to any open spot on the court and a backhand down the line, from behind his baseline, that was flat and hard enough to whip Nadal a few times last night.
He is a beautiful runner. Not nearly among the top-10 fastest players on the ATP tour, but the synchronicity between his steps and his stroking, especially running to the backhand side, is exquisite. And he has a very sneaky good slice serve into the deuce court that got Nadal's attention early in this match.
By mid-first set, Nadal was virtually camped with both feet inside the deuce court doubles alley after Simon had finessed two or three short-angled slice serves that left Rafa waving at air. From that point on, Nadal's adjustment pretty much neutralized the Simon slice serve. Unfortunately for Simon, however, he could not hit the flat one down the T into the deuce court with any consistency to take advantage of Nadal's "cheating" into the alley.
Simon didn't play nearly well enough to compete in the opening set, but there was no panic. He played his game, which is retrievals, safe and deep shots, and the patience to wait for the opening. His backhand is certainly the better of the two ground strokes. It's compact and, because he doesn't have a long backswing, he can hold the shot that split-second longer, disguising where he's going. The forehand, however, is a bit of a problem if he hopes to stay in the top 10.
It's a big, looping backswing that works just fine when he's got time to set up. But he needs to get better hitting running forehands, and it was all too obvious that Nadal was maneuvering throughout the crucial parts of this match to get inside-outs to drive the ball cross-court to Simon's forehand side. Because of the long backswing, he doesn't arrive for those balls with the best balance or the best chance to return deep and safe. It took him two sets to start dealing with that tactic, and he never really solved it.
He had set point at 5-4 in the second set, but Nadal just played his game, whacking a forehand cross-court so sharply to the corner that Simon could only throw up a lob in return. Set point saved. That's one of the reasons why he's No. 1.
It's hard to think of tennis as cyclical with the always improving racket technology, but maybe we are seeing a comeback from the smaller players who don't play muscle tennis. Simon is not short at 5-foot-11, but he's packing only 143 pounds, and it shows on his spindly frame. Still, he doesn't seem to be set back by injuries. Maybe it's because he isn't trying to crush every ball he hits.