Six in a row for the Emperor of Monaco
The House of Grimaldi must be seriously concerned about the siege by a Spaniard who goes by the name of Rafael Nadal. He has held the principality in the grip of his spell, for six long years. Prince Albert, the Sovereign now, began his reign in the same year that the man from Majorca won his first title at Monte Carlo. Since then, he has amassed statistics that can shock and awe to anyone that cares to read.
Fernando Verdasco was a mere bystander who walked in the guise of an opponent. In fact, he was just an innocent trespasser who would be put in place with ruthless efficiency. Nadal made mince meat of his fellow countryman in just under an hour and a half.
This was Nadal’s 32 straight victory at the Monte Carlo Country Club. In a rather cruel reminder of his superiority on clay, he has won this ATP Masters title – dropping just 14 games in ten sets of authoritative, dominant and destructive clay court tennis. It is no wonder that some of his opponents here this week will see a psychologist enroute to their next tournament, to limit the damage.
Nadal is back and how? He was off the blocks and over even before the beleaguered Verdasco could find the measure of his ball toss. The only show of resistance from the lesser Spaniard came in the form of a stiff neck, and a call for help to ease his nerves as he lay sprawled on the clay while the trainer rubbed the back of his neck. By this time, he was already down five games. Nadal broke his opponent to love in the first game of the afternoon, before running away with the first six to hand Verdasco a bitter bagel.
Finally, Verdasco won his only game of the match in the first of the second set. Alas it turned out to be his only statement for the afternoon. Besides saying of course that – “If he plays like this, no one can beat him,” after a brief pause to catch his breath, he added – “He beat everyone in six years here and I’m just one of them.”
This is Nadal’s 16th Master Series title. He is tied second with Roger Federer, just one behind the all time leader Andre Agassi. If he continues to play the way he did here, that mark will be eclipsed before we reach Roland Garros.
For sheer domination, it is difficult to argue whether there has been a greater player in the history of tennis. It can be said with a degree of certainty that even his great contemporary Roger Federer has never come as close to dominating the game as the Spaniard has on clay.
Nadal did face a minor hiccup before wrapping up things for the evening. While serving up a set and 4-1 in the second, Verdasco made his last stand eking out six break points, but failing to convert any of these. Nadal came back to hold serve before breaking his opponent for the sixth time and rolling on his back with raised arms to celebrate an incredible sixth consecutive Monte Carlo Masters title.