It’s that time of the year again, we are now entering the clay court portion of the ATP season. Here I will outline a few things to look forward to and make some predictions about how I think the tournaments will go.
The start of the season consisted of three big title tournaments on hard court (Australian, BNP Paribas, Miami). The clay court season is jam packed with big tournaments over the course of the next two months. There are masters tournaments in Monte Carlo, Madrid, and Rome, and then the season finishes off with the French Open. It’s a very exciting time since all of them are so close together.
In terms of predictions, I have a few. Rafael Nadal seems like he’s in a position to have a monster clay court season. I have a few reasons to believe this. The obvious reason is that Nadal is the greatest clay courter of all time, so every clay court season is a great opportunity for him to bring home some hardware. Other obvious reasons being that both Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, the two guys who really dominated the clay last year, are both not in their top form, and it’s easier for me to imagine Nadal winning more than them right now because of that. The final reason I have is that Nadal has had the second best season so far this year, and the only guy who’s played better than him, Roger Federer, doesn’t seem to be playing in anything other than the French Open.
Federer, coming off a stunningly great start to his season, seems to not want to focus as much on clay this year. This makes sense, clay is probably his worst surface and he wants to focus on being ready for Wimbledon since that’s his best shot at another major right now. It’s unfortunate for us, the viewers, since his renewed rivalry with Rafael Nadal has been one of the most exciting storylines this year, and we may not get to see them face off on clay. However, I do expect a good showing from Federer at Roland Garros, and although many people fear him being rusty for it, I believe the rest will only help him. He came back from a six-month rehab and has gone 19-1 since. It makes all the sense in the world for him to rest considering his age and current position.
Right now I think the men’s game is the most open it has been in terms of parity in the last fifteen years. Now, with this season’s best player (Federer) out for the next few big tournaments, I think it’s a big opportunity for some lower ranked players. On the other hand, we could just see an absolutely dominant stretch from Nadal. It’s pretty tough to predict, but it’s really exciting, we’re entering the bulk of the ATP season. All our questions should be answered soon enough.