I know Rafa Nadal has a habit of down playing his chances but lately the language he’s been using has been that of a man almost resigned to defeat. First he didn’t think the Rafa Slam was possible, then he doubted his chances on the American hard courts but said he had chances to do well (but note… not win), now he’s saying its unlikely he will win a seventh consecutive Monte Carlo title and proceed to sweep the clay courts clean. He seems to be talking himself down which seems a little crazy when your belief in you ability needs to be at its peak.
Rafa has also already started talking about Novak Djokovic as a likely successor to him as world number one. Roger Federer would rarely be heard talking like this. Rafa needs to be more aggressive in his attitude, stop showing Djokovic so much respect (however, he does deserve it) and start showing everyone why he’s number one – because he can win in high pressure moments like a third set tie break in a Miami final in a tournament he’s never won. I know Djokovic is playing amazingly good tennis but I expect a bit more from Rafa. Rafa is, after all, the King of Clay.
Hopefully he’ll pull himself together. Unless there is a physical problem we don’t know about there is no reason why Rafa should not realistically aim for triumph in Monte Carlo – especially with Novak Djokovic resting his weary wounded body.
“What I did last year, winning Monte-Carlo, Rome, Madrid and Roland Garros, was historic. I don’t think that I can do it this year. It didn’t happen in 50 or 60 years. So I guess I can’t do the same two times in a row.”
Interestingly Rafa also intends to play Barcelona this year as well. I think that the clay court season is already too jam packed and with so many titles defenses on the line skipping Barcelona again this year would have been a great permanent shift in his schedule…. I wait… But I, like Rafa, think we will see more variation in who takes home the big prizes this year.