Congratulations to Alexander Zverev for his 2nd Madrid Masters 1000 title. The German had already lifted the trophy in 2018. If that is not a sign that the conditions of play in the Spanish capital suit him perfectly. But his win should not be limited only to the particular playing conditions of this tournament.
Yesterday’s win, was Zverev’s 15th title, 6 of which were on clay. Amongst those is the Rome 1000 event conquered in 2017. His road to the 2021 Madrid title was everything but a walk in the park. Before overcoming Matteo Berrettini in the final (who was on a 8 match winning streak coming into the final, with a win on « the beast » Aslan Karatsev), Zverev needed to beat, amongst others, Kei Nishikori, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem. Therefore it is fair to say that he won with pazazz, and that he automatically becomes a contender for Roland-Garros.
So? Where is the logic?
But (because there is always a but) with regards to the chances of my champ Rafa in Roland-Garros : no worries over here ! Of course Madrid is a mega important stage of the spring clay court season, as is Monte-Carlo and Rome. However keep in mind that Rafael Nadal has his eyes on the prize. For him, as well as for Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer whether it’s a 250, 500 or 1000 event, it doesn’t make much of a difference. It’s all the same and doesn’t mean much anymore. Rafael Nadal, if one doesn’t count Slams or Olympics, is at 66 titles, of which 35 are Masters 1000! It is therefore safe to say that his focus remains on the majors.
Now it is time to explain why I am not worried about Rafa’s chances of capturing a 14th French Open title. Just writing the number 14 feels weird. Since 2005, Nadal has always won Roland-Garros, except in 2009, 2015 and 2016. Those same years in Madrid were 2 losses in the final and one in the semis. Is there therefore a correlation between Madrid and Paris results? It would seem that way. Except that in 2011, 2012, 2018 and 2019 Nadal did not lift the trophy in the Caja Magica. So? Where is the logic? There is none. The Madrid Masters 1000 is not a tournament were Rafa traditionally performs well.
Nadal needs to put the nail in the coffin while he still can
French daily sports newspaper « L’Equipe » headlined « Rafael Nadal no longer sovereign on his clay, 3 weeks before Roland Garros ». That is just an attempt to sell paper. The reality is elsewhere. Rafa is no longer 25. his days as a professional tennis player are coming to an end. He doesn’t have much to prove (understatement). But the paradox is that his main challenge remains ahead of him. His Grand Slam count is at 20, tied with Federer. He needs to reach 21. He knows that there is no better place than Paris to do that. He also knows that Novak Djokovic is at a close 18, and that he will probably outlast both Nadal and Federer as a pro. Therefore the Serb’s chances of ending the 3 man race alone and in front are solid. That is why Nadal needs to put the nail in the coffin while he still can.
The Spaniard also seems to be fit.
For all of those reasons you’ll find no worries over here. Rafa will be the favorite in Paris, and will, in my opinion, lift his 14th « Coupe des Mousquetaires ». Back in the days of the Decima, I had predicted 15. So next year the Decimaquinta ?
More information about