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Nadal Finds Form In Monte Carlo, Djokovic Still Hunting

April 19, 2010

Rafael Nadal pummeled compatriot Fernando Verdasco on his way to a record-breaking sixth Monte Carlo title yesterday. He was a completely different player to the man we have seen struggle on the hard courts. Nadal made few errors, was aggressive, hit some spectacular shots, and his forehand and backhand were as good as they have always been on the dirt. Nadal showed that no matter how he fares on hard courts, it has nothing to do with how he plays when the clay season rolls around. He was brimming with confidence and focus, not once letting Verdasco back into the match. As he won he fell on the ground in relief and tears overcame him. For someone who doesn’t often cry, it was obvious that winning Monte Carlo after such a long break between trophies meant so much to him. Nadal has once again ensured that he is the favourite for every clay court tournament he enters. He will try for another sixth straight title in Barcelona this week.

Whilst Nadal has already turned his season around in just one tournament, Novak Djokovic is still struggling. For a while there though it looked like he too was back. He took out Wawrinka and Nalbandian on his run to the semi-finals where he was the hot favourite over Verdasco. Unfortunately, the Djokovic that walked out to face Verdasco was nothing like the one that had played all tournament. He struggled on serve, he couldn’t find a way to be aggressive, and he hit error after error. He showed barely any frustration as he sunk to a 6-2 6-2 loss, once again raising questions about his desire to win. In his press conference Djokovic admitted that he was disappointed and that he didn’t play well, but said overall it was a positive tournament for him. He has just dumped Todd Martin as assistant coach so perhaps it is just a matter of time until Djokovic sorts things out in his head. It was also questioned whether Djokovic was sick, he certainly lacked energy on court, and he replied that he had some problems with allergies but didn’t want to make any excuses. Who knows what to think of that. For now, Djokovic still looks like one of the best clay courters  but is apparently still not quite there mentally or physically. Hopefully it is only a matter of time before Djokovic rises to challenge Nadal like he did in 2009. Nadal is certainly up for it.

Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates his victory against Fernando  Verdasco of Spain after the final match in the Monte Carlo Masters  tennis tournament in Monaco April 18, 2010.

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