“King of Clay” we all know who we are talking about but it is something we haven’t used for a while. Monte-Carlo and French Open champion on nine occasions his dominance on the dirt was absolutely outstanding.
A couple of years of injuries and inconsistency in form meant that title was used less and less. It’s been almost three years since Rafa won his last major at Roland Garros in 2014 and this year he has looked as sharp as he did that year but has fallen short on three occasions to Roger Federer.
The big question is, can he reclaim that title and become a force on the clay once again?
Last year we saw Rafa win Monte-Carlo for the first time in three years after winning it 8 years in a row and going on an incredible 46 match winning streak by the coast but is he favourite once again?
Going into the tournament you’d have to say he is favourite. Inconsistencies are there in Kei and Stan’s game despite both being good clay court players and for Andy and Novak this is realistically going to be a tough ask, first tournament since early exit at Indian Wells it may take a week to find rhythm again.
There are no doubts in my mind that Nadal is playing his best tennis since he last won Roland Garros, he seems to have found some new confidence and slight changes to his game have helped.
This season he has added Carlos Moya to his team and I think it helps to get another set of eyes and ideas and this year we have seen a bit more variation in the serve especially with some spin and Nadal having one of the highest first serve percentages on the tour isn’t a surprise.
Where he has struggled this year is against fast thinking players and the first one that comes to mind is Federer. On the fast hard courts it doesn’t always suit Nadal but in these slow conditions in Monte Carlo he will be patient will be the one to beat.