Monday, May 3, 2010

King and Queen of Clay Win

With four French Open trophies each, Justine Henin and Rafael Nadal continue their clay domination by winning important tournaments this weekend. For Justine, third time was the charm as she won her first title in her third final since coming back from retirement. She did so by defeating three top 12 players including an in-form Samantha Stosur in the final of Stuttgart.

In the meantime in Rome, Nadal showed the rest of the ATP tour how it's done as he lost only one set the whole tournament to capture his 17th Masters trophy tying him with Andre Agassi for the record. Nadal will look to sweep the clay court Master tournaments and do one better than Agassi in Madrid next. Last year in Madrid, Nadal lost to Roger Federer, who then went on to win the French Open. Federer was ousted in Rome this year by Ernest Gulbis in the second round. Gulbis made good in his upset victory by reaching the semifinals and being the only player to take a set off Nadal.

It's difficult to see other contenders for the French Open crown this year when these two champions are playing. Can the defending champions Federer and Svetlana Kuznetsova reach the same pinnacle? What about former champions and finalists such as Serena Williams, Kim Clijsters, Robin Soderling, Ana Ivanovic, and Dinara Safina? How about in-form players such as Stosur, Flavia Pennetta, David Ferrer, Francesca Schiavone, Fernando Verdasco, and Novak Djokovic? The French Open begins in less than three weeks.

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