Nadal Still the Man in Paris

by John on May 31, 2009

Three down and four to go for Numero Cinco. Rafael Nadal enters Week 2 at the French Open just as he did Week 1. That would be as the prohibitive favorite. The top-ranked Spaniard blitzed his first three opponents with the loss of nary a set, and has now won a record 31 straight matches on the terre battue in Paris. Bjorn Borg held the old record of 28 from 1978-81. Nadal plays Robin Soderling today in the fourth round in his quest for a fifth straight French Open crown. Nine of the top 10 men’s seeds remain, with only No. 4 Novak Djokovic out after his stunning loss to Philipp Kohlschreiber yesterday. If the seeds hold in the top half of the draw, Nadal would play No. 8 Fernando Verdasco in the quarterfinals and No. 3 Andy Murray in the semis. Verdasco has played flawlessly, winning his three matches in straight sets, while Murray has struggled a bit, dropping a set to Polito Starace and almost losing the third in a four-set win. Verdasco must first get past the always dangerous Nikolay Davydenko, seeded No. 10, and Murray needs to tame my dark-horse pick, No. 13 Marin Cilic, in matches later today. On the bottom half, No. 2 Roger Federer is tabbed to meet No. 6 Andy Roddick in the quarterfinals and No. 5 Juan Martin del Potro in the semis. Federer plays unseeded Tommy Haas in his fourth-round match on Monday. The Swiss Maestro was tested in his last two rounds – four-set victories over Jose Acasuso and Paul-Henri Mathieu. Both del Potro and Roddick haven’t dropped a set yet. Federer defeated Nadal to win the Madrid Masters two weeks ago and seems primed to meet his French Open nemesis in the final for the fourth straight year. Federer also lost to Nadal in the semis at Roland Garros in 2005 and has a lifetime 2-9 clay-court record against the Spaniard. Could this be the year Federer gets off the schneid and wins his first French Open? Somehow I just don’t see it. Nadal is still the Clay Master until proven otherwise.

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