Hercules, how do you rate Nole's chances on clay this season? I think that will be the most interesting part of the season for me - his hardcourt prowess is beyond proven, and the rest of the season there will be a mere execution. But claycourt will be much more eventful, in my opinion, more so since facing Nadal there is a greater challenge than facing Federer on any kind of fastcourt.
excellent question. i will have to answer in several parts since i am doing other things right now. one of them is watching the murray/dr ivo match.
serbian slayer won in estoril last year. ran into the clay monster in rome and at roland garros. clay monster just took him apart at those 2 events. so you are right. he faces a much bigger challange against Nadal on clay than he does against Fed on hard courts.
that said, this a new djokovic. one who is a slam winner and one who is more confident of his abilities than ever before. and he continues to improve. he is going to want to prove himself on clay as well in time.
i think the clay monster`s current form will be carried over to Monte Carlo and Barcelona. he will struggle there but he will rebound and regain his steely resolve and his ground game to win in Rome and at Roland Garros. nobody will stop him there. he has nothing to show for this year so he will give all he has to win those two events. it also effectively gives him 2 events--monte carlo and barcelona--to get his act together. he really should have gone to south america and he would not be in this mess.
translation: new djokovic will be a factor on clay this year. being #3 also means he gets a few easy opponents as he gets his teeth into the tournaments. he could take out some big time scalps in Monte Carlo. or maybe even in Rome where he could take out somebody like Fed. however i dont think he can beat Nadal on clay. his biggest weapons--his movement, his serve, and his return of serve---are less effective on dirt.
nadal`s heavy topspin causes too many problems for them all on clay. also beating him in a best of 5 sets foremats on clay is nearly impossible. he is 34-0 on clay in those best of 5 sets foremats.
when all is said and done, serbian slayer`s stock is going up on all surfaces because he continues to improve his overall game. further, he is determined and driven to be #1 so there will be no stopping him eventually.