Tuesday, June 8, 2010

You know who can stop Rafa at the French? Rafa

This is probably what 99 percent of tennis observers are feeling after this past weekend, but what the heck? I'll say it anyway:

Rafael Nadal can easily, EASILY, win at least four more French Opens before he turns 30 years old. That puts him up there in Navratilova levels as far as dominance at one Slam goes. Because if Robin Soderling couldn't stop him, then no one can--and I mean that in all seriousness.

You see, I've been nurturing these thoughts about men playing on clay for a couple of years now as to where if you're a big guy with a flat serve and a booming forehand who thinks attack, then it should be an ideal surface. Look at the games of the three other semifinalists: Soderling, Tomas Berdych and Jurgen Melzer. Soderling and Berdych are near mirror images of each other, while Melzer plays more of an all-around game he adapts to any surface (there's not many guys out there with final-round appearances at both clay and grass-court events nowadays).

But if what I think is an "ideal" way to play on clay can't get it done against Rafa, what can?

Not to discount him, seeing as how he just won the French a year ago, but I don't think Roger Federer will be able to. It's my opinion, but I feel he's going to have a harder time with the Soderling types in the years to come. It won't be any of Rafa's countrymen, like David Ferrer or Fernando Verdasco, who barely manage to win sets against him despite thir clay-court acumen (I just wanted to use that word!) We saw what happened with Soderling and Melzer against him.

Maybe Juan Martin del Potro? I don't know; It could be a couple of years before he's back in Slam-winning shape.

Whoever, whenever, whatever: It's gonna take a lot for others to stop Rafa from rolling at Roland Garros. If he keeps playing at this level and setting his schedule smartly to prevent more wear and tear on his body, I don't know how he can be stopped. I'm sure there are a lot of other inquiring minds out there wondering how!

(Photo: Getty Images)