Every spring, the tennis world turns to the clay courts and Rafael Nadal begins to dominate the sport. However, this year will present a massive challenge for the 26-year-old Spaniard, who is currently ranked number 5 in the world. After overcoming a series of obstacles with a recurring knee injury since last July, Nadal has returned to the court in roaring fashion, winning several South American clay court tournaments and the hard court BNP Paribas Open in California
If Nadal’s knee can hold up through the spring, he could potentially win the Barcelona Open in his home country, the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters, and the highly coveted French Open Grand Slam event that finishes in early June. Although most people would scoff at the notion of any one player winning 3 straight professional tournaments, this feat would be nothing new for Nadal, and only slightly more impressive due to his return from injury.
First up is the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters in mid April. Nadal has won this tournament in each of the past 8 years, but will face heavy competition from Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, and David Ferrer. Djokovic, the world number 1, has been playing in top form but has been held from winning this event twice in the final match, both times falling to Nadal.
Then comes the Barcelona Open, which Nadal has won 7 of the past 8 years. The only year he didn’t win was because he chose not to play. David Ferrer, the world number 4, has lost 4 times in the final match, to Nadal each time and surely is out for revenge!
Clay season wraps up with the French Open, a Grand Slam that Nadal has won 7 of the 8 past years. With everyone in the mix for the prestigious event, it will be a true test of Nadal’s recovery and ability to continue his dominant form. Will he re-conquer the clay courts? Clay season will tell!