Monday Net Post

by: Peter Bodo | May 03, 2009

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86359343 By TW Contributing Editor, Ed McGrogan

Last Week's Tournaments

Internazionali BNL d'Italia (ATP - Clay - Rome, Italy)

Singles Bracket
- Rafael Nadal def. Novak Djokovic
Doubles Bracket
- Daniel Nestor/Nenad Zimonjic def. Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan

Grand Prix SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem (WTA - Clay - Fes, Morocco)

Singles & Doubles Brackets
- Anabel Medina Garrigues def. Ekaterina Makarova
- Alisa Kleybanova/Ekaterina Makarova def. Sorana Cirstea/Maria Kirilenko

Grand Prix SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem (WTA - Clay - Fes, Morocco)

Singles & Doubles Brackets
- Svetlana Kuznetsova def. Dinara Safina
- Bethanie Mattek-Sands/Nadia Petrova def. Gisela Dulko/Flavia Pennetta

McGrogan's Heroes

ATP - Rafael Nadal

In 2009, Rafael Nadal has won every clay-court tournament he's entered, dropping just one set in the process. He's also given himself a greater cushion atop the world rankings by winning the Australian Open and Indian Wells, two prestigious hard-court tournaments. And he's made us rethink his position in the game both today, and beyond.

But Nadal hasn't done one thing. He hasn't won Roland Garros.

Yet, of course. And there's no reason to think that he won't win his fifth straight title. But until he does, Nadal hasn't won the year's second major, contrary to what many suggest -- that the Coupe des Mousquetaires is his, without any questions asked.

I'm not questioning Nadal's ability to win the French again this year -- if the last three weeks have taught us anything, it's that Nadal is just as strong on clay as he's ever been. But I do think that, eventually, Nadal is going to start feeling the pressure that he has to win the French Open every time. How can he not, when every tennis fan on the planet expects nothing less than a trip up the podium on the final Sunday?

This is not a man who's somehow immune to pressure. Remember the fourth set tiebreaker in last year's Wimbledon final? Leading 5-2, Nadal couldn't put Roger Federer away; he even threw in a double fault after serving like a homing missile (towards Federer's backhand) for the entire match. On clay, in Sunday's Rome final against Novak Djokovic, Nadal twice served for the first set, and twice he was broken, due to a combination of the Serb's first strikes and the Spaniard's mishits.

It's true, and should be noted, that Nadal overcame both of these slip-ups to win in the end. That's a testament to his unrivaled mental strength, which he'll need a few weeks from now in Paris. Because as the last two years have shown, winning a major for a fifth consecutive time is no easy task (just in case you didn't know). In the 2007 Wimbledon final, the four-time defending champion Federer was pushed to a fifth set for the first time during his reign (by Nadal). And at last year's U.S. Open, Federer narrowly escaped his fourth-round match against Igor Andreev, also of the five-set variety. Federer ended up winning both tournaments in the end. Will Nadal face a similar challenge this year? I wouldn't rule it out.

Now, it may just be a statistical oddity that Federer's fifth title at Wimbledon and the U.S Open was the hardest to win, but I think there's more to it. First, the pressure surely mounted on Federer (and should with Nadal) to win "his" title once again, whether it's for the second straight time, or the fifth. And second, every opponent that Nadal faces wants to be the one who dethrones the king and gets the accolades. Tennis editors are probably already thinking about their headline for Nadal's fifth straight French Open win, but they're also thinking about what they'll write if the unthinkable happens -- Nadal loses at Roland Garros.

To Rafa supporters who are coming off a three-week high: sorry if I just painted a gloomy picture. But I do think that Nadal will face a new kind pressure soon in Paris. The good news for you fans? I think he'll handle it well.

WTA - Svetlana Kuznetsova

I hope this post-match quote from Dinara Safina, who lost in the Stuttgart final to Svetlana Kuznetsova, was lost in translation:

"She played very well and I didn't feel very well today. But I am still No. 1."

Whatever you say, Dinara. The world No. 1 has now lost her past three tournament finals -- but that's only half of the drought Kuznetsova experienced heading into last week's Porsche Grand Prix. She ended her six-match skid with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Safina on Sunday.

Kuznetsova, now ranked No. 8 in the world, also scored straight-set wins over Elena Dementieva, the tournament's second seed, and Gisela Dulko, who's played fairly well this season.

Being that Kuznetsova won the Porsche Grand Prix, she walked away with a new ride for her efforts. I bet it's fully loaded, with Kuz control...

Next Week's Tournaments

(TV Schedule)

BMW Open (ATP - Clay - Munich, Germany)

Singles Bracket
Doubles Bracket

Estoril Open (ATP - Clay - Estoril, Portugal)

Singles Bracket
Doubles Bracket

Serbia Open (ATP - Clay - Belgrade, Serbia)

Singles Bracket
Doubles Bracket

Estoril Open (WTA - Clay - Estoril, Portugal)

Singles & Doubles Brackets

Internazionali BNL d'Italia (WTA - Clay - Stuttgart, Germany)

Singles & Doubles Brackets

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