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Old 05-18-2006, 12:25 PM   #4
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Default Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

And from Sports Insiders:
Quote:
Thursday, May 18, 2006

Joanne C. Gerstner: Moving the Needle

French Open might be a Slam dunk for No. 2 Nadal


Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Rafael Nadal of Spain might be ranked No. 2, but he is, by far, the best player in the French Open field.


Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Roger Federer is 38-0 with four title victories when he has not played Nadal this year. When Nadal is in the mix, Federer is 0-3.


The French Open begins in a little more than a week, and already this much is clear -- it's going to be Rafael Nadal's Grand Slam to lose.

He won the French in 2005, and has followed up by being the hottest clay player so far in 2006.

Nadal won an Open-era record-tying 53 straight matches on clay, showcasing his dirt-ball creativity and confidence.

Even world No. 1 Roger Federer, who lost the Rome final to Nadal last weekend, hasn't found a way to beat the crafty Spaniard. The two played an epic five-setter lasting more than five hours, with Nadal overcoming two Federer match points in the final set.

Nadal, who is ranked No. 2, is setting up to be the foil on all surfaces for Federer, as American Andy Roddick and Russian Marat Safin faded.

Federer is 38-0 with four title victories when he has not played Nadal this year. When Nadal is in the mix, Federer is 0-3.

Federer has only beaten Nadal once in six matches on clay, and there's little reason to think that could change in the near term.

What's scary about Nadal is he's only 19. He's just starting to gain confidence, the same way Federer slowly built his formidable game.

Nadal has won 16 ATP titles in his career, tying Bjorn Borg's mark for teen pro victories.

The French Open likely will prove to be another tough ride for the American men and women. There's something about the red clay that doesn't agree with the typical topspin-laden American game, especially against Spanish and South American players who spent their childhoods sliding around on the stuff.

Andre Agassi and Lindsay Davenport are out because of back injuries, Roddick isn't strong on clay, and the Williams sisters are injured and in questionable match shape.

The women's draw will likely shape up to be a battle between France's Amelie Mauresmo (barring another infamous mental meltdown), and oft-injured Belgians Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne. Russians Nadia Petrova and Maria Sharapova could challenge, too.

But watch the matches featuring Nadal and Federer. It's usually good stuff, elevated to brilliance when they're playing each other.
http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll.../1136/SPORTS07
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