- The clay season may be a short-term fix for Rafael Nadal’s slump (via The Guardian)
After a quarter-final loss at Indian Wells and a third-round loss in Miami, Nadal has fallen to No 5 in this week’s ATP rankings, his worst in two years, having been passed by Andy Murray and supplanted in the top four by Kei Nishikori. Perhaps more tellingly, he is less than 200 points ahead of No6 Milos Raonic; Nadal has not been ranked outside the top-five since before winning his first French Open title, almost 10 years ago. … But Nadal’s struggles may also make life more difficult for Djokovic; if he is not ranked inside the top-four, Nadal could face Djokovic at the French Open as early as the quarter-finals (Djokovic is 0-6 against Nadal at the tournament).
- London Contenders Emerge In 2015 First Quarter (via ATP World Tour)
The Emirates ATP Race To London, which only reflects performances in 2015, determines qualification for the season-ending tournament at The O2, with the Top 8 qualifying for the Final Showdown, and is a predictor for the year-end Emirates ATP Rankings. Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic, who made their maiden voyages to London last year, round out the current Top 8, with two-time finalist Rafael Nadal a mere 165 points behind.
- Assessing the Spring Swing (via tennis.com)
I thought he had found his form during the South African clay season, but it went AWOL again in his wind-damaged defeat to Fernando Verdasco in Miami. That loss was one of several bad ones, often to fellow lefties, that have plagued him over the last year. With his 29th birthday on the horizon, Rafa may be more grateful than ever to be spending the next two months on clay.
Nadal’s level has improved month-to-month and things will pick up for Nadal when the tour turns to clay. But aside from his Buenos Aires title, he hasn’t been able to make much of an impact in 2015—yet.
“Not invited,” was Novak Djokovic’s reply on Sunday night, when asked if he would be attending the wedding of his old rival and near-exact contemporary Andy Murray. “But I wish him all the best.” … But none of these will appear on the guest list, and neither will Roger Federer. Even Rafael Nadal, who is Murray’s closest friend among his leading on-court rivals, will be in Monte Carlo preparing for his first European clay-court tournament.