Will The King Of Clay Be Dethroned in 2012?

Apr 7, 2012

With the clay court season set to dominate both the ATP and WTA for the next two months it seems timely to start contemplating the many questions that the slippery red dirt surface may help us answer in the months of April and May. With all four Davis Cup quarterfinals currently being played on clay the surface will completely dominate mens tennis for the next two months, women’s tennis will also be inundated with the red dirt surface in April and May although this weeks opening clay court tournament on the WTA calendar in Charleston prefers the more envious colour of green for their clay courts.

The only tournament that will be played on anything but a clay court surface for the next two months will be the WTA tournament in Copenhagen, Denmark, the home of former women’s World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki, the WTA e-Boks Open in Denmark will be the only respite and hiatus that players will get from applying their trade on clay courts for the next two months.
All other tennis will be played on the red dirt with one notable exception being the ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Madrid, the Mutua Madrid Open will be played in early May and will revolutionise the red surface and become the first clay court tournament to adopt the colour blue, it is well known amongst tennis fans that blue courts provide better viewing for fans inside the stadium and also those at home watching on television.

The steady diet of clay court tennis will have all dirt baller fans salivating at the prospect of watching all the players apply their craft, us tennis fans will soon be witnessing an increase in drop shots and a significant number of players sliding into their shots as they adapt to the change in surface from the early hard court season. What will arguably have a larger number of tennis fans around the world even more excited is the numerous questions that we all have heading into what is often referred to as the “meaty” part of the tennis season, some of those questions could be as follows….who will be the surprise package on clay this year? Will the grind of the surface take it’s toll on players fitness levels?

Of course there will be numerous other questions that will be on the tip of the proverbial tongue also, some may indeed be answered and some may not, but the biggest question I, and probably many others, will look forward to having answered in the next few months is “Will The King Of Clay Be Dethroned in 2012?”
Rafael Nadal has become a clay court legend and is widely regarded by nearly all tennis fans as the greatest clay court tennis player to have ever laced up his Nike’s and do battle with his opponent on the red dirt surface regardless of whether it be in Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome or the “creme de la creme” of clay court tennis at Roland Garros.

Rafa is only 25 years of age but it seems as though the man from Mallorca has been gracing the clay court surfaces around the world all his life, when it comes to clay court tennis Rafa has redefined the term “dig deep” and when his back is against the wall on the red stuff we have all come to know and realise that just like the sun rises each morning, so too will Rafael Nadal on a clay court. However the 2011 tennis season saw current World No.1 Novak Djokovic reach new heights on clay and defeat Nadal at consecutive Masters 1000 tournaments in Madrid and Rome respectively, those two defeats followed two consecutive hard court Masters 1000 losses for Nadal at Indian Wells and Miami respectively and Djokovic then went on to topple Nadal at Wimbledon and the US Open to complete a stellar season in 2011.

There are two clay court tournaments in particular that Nadal has had a mortgage on throughout his illustrious tennis career, the Masters 1000 tournament in Monte Carlo and the French Open Grand Slam held in late May at Roland Garros, Rafa holds an incredible 45-1 record on the famous Grand Slam courts in Paris and a similarly impressive dossier of 39-1 at the Monte Carlo country club in Monaco. The real answer to the question of whether or not Nadal will lose his clay court crown in 2012 will, in my opinion, ultimately be decided on the outcome of these two tournaments, Djokovic is entered in the Monte Carlo Masters this year after choosing to bypass the event in 2011 and of course then we have the small matter of the battle on Court Philippe Chatrier to decide the 2012 French Open Champion.

If the two combatants should meet in the final at the Monte Carlo Masters in Monaco then we could possibly witness a dress rehearsal for the probable outcome on 10 June 2012 in Paris, both players will have history calling their name at Roland Garros, Nadal will equal Bjorn Borg’s modern era record of six French Open titles should he win and Djokovic will complete a much sought after career Grand Slam should he emerge victorious……Whatever eventuates, just the thought of such a titanic clash with the prospect of history being written at Roland Garros by either man certainly has me salivating.

Written by: Tono

(1) Comment

Adunar says:
Apr 7, 2012

As a matter of fact, Nadal has already equalled Bjorn Borg, he’s already got 6 French Open titles ;-) . He can overtake the Swede by taking the title. Seven titles at a GS is HUGE, it’s a record in fact, even Federer has never done it. And Djokovic can aim a “Nole Slam”, holding all 4 GS at one time and thus complete a Career Grand Slam.

I’m sure Roger doesn’t agree with them an Murray has improved so much on the red dirt, I think he can finally compete with those three guys for the title. And don’t forget that we might have a Novak-Rafa SF is Federer takes the n°2 ranking.

I think that the RG Champion could well clinch the year-end n°1 ranking. This GS is going to be decisive for the rest of the season.

For the surprises: John Isner impressed me a lot on clay. His game adapts pretty well on the surface and he might just cause a big upset. He almost took out Nadal in the 1st round last year…

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