The 2010 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters men’s singles final was played on Court Central in front of a packed stadium of 10,800 people at the Monte-Carlo Country Club on Sunday 18 April. In an all-Spanish affair between two left-handers, the No.2 seed Rafael Nadal was up against No.6 seed Fernando Verdasco, who was playing in his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final.
The 1.88m Verdasco made a big break through on the clay courts at the Monte-Carlo Country Club. The 2009 Australian Open semi finalist made it past the quarter final stage of a Masters 1000 tournament for the 1st time in 10 attempts. Verdasco had made 9 quarter finals in Masters 1000 events without being able to win through to the semi finals. Unfortunately for the 26 year old, his 10th chance against Nadal was not his first victory over the 4-time Roland Garros champion. Verdasco earned 600 ATP ranking points as the runner-up, which helped him to move up 3 spots to World No.9.
Nadal won his 6th Monte-Carlo singles title in a row and if that is not impressive enough, he also only lost 14 games for the whole tournament, smashing his previous record of only losing 24 games on the way to taking out the 2007 title. As mentioned in our preview, “Monte-Carlo 2010 Men’s Final Preview” the former World No.1 appears to be reaching new heights, seems to be faster on the clay than in the past and he seems to have the ball on a string. All you can say after Nadal’s performance in Monte-Carlo is Vamos Rafa! Rafa is pictured above in his full Vamos salute.
The 1.85m 6-time Grand Slam singles champion has drawn even with Roger Federer, who has also won 16 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles. Nadal at just 23 years of age is just one title away from equalling Andre Agassi’s record 17 Masters titles. Agassi’s record does not look as though it will last long, especially with another 2 Masters 1000 tournaments to be played on clay courts in the coming month – Rome then Madrid.
Nadal proved to be far too strong for Verdasco taking the match 6-0, 6-1 in 85 minutes. The King of Clay was asked whether it was his forehand or his court movement that was the key to being successful on clay, but he said, “No, I think is more important than the surface is the tactic on court. You have more chances. You can attack, you can defend. Is important to be very regular. Is very important don’t have a lot of mistakes. No mistakes when you are offensive and no mistakes when you are defensive. So that’s the key, no, and know how to play.”
Given Nadal’s success on clay he is obviously a great tactician, despite the fact that he does not really get credit for it. Most of the attention is given to his forehand and his court movement and coverage. In the final, Nadal did a great job of totally disarming Verdasco’s major strength – his power forehand. Nadal prevented Verdasco from getting set up for his forehand and especially preventing him for hitting his forehand from an attacking court position. Nadal managed this by hitting with a lot of arc on the trajectory of his forehand and therefore a higher bounce up at his opponent. He combined this with taking the pace out of his shots so that Verdasco did not have power to work with.
One of the main reasons while the final had such a one-sided score line was because Nadal’s above mentioned ploy meant that Verdasco had to generate his own power and really force the ball to try to hurt Nadal. Unfortunately the position Verdasco was hitting from was so deep in the court that he was playing a high risk shot PLUS Nadal created such a large distance between himself and where Verdasco made contact with the ball that Nadal could run down his opponent’s shot anyway.
In his post match interview Verdasco reflected on what happened, “I think that he had unbelievable day and he played really good. He didn’t let me attack him so good, with balls really high and deep. And then I also didn’t have maybe a good day, no, because I was trying to force and making more mistakes than usual.”
As mentioned in the final preview, it was critical for the 1.88m Verdasco to try to play aggressively in order to control the points so as to put Nadal on the defensive. By doing so he could create opportunities to finish off points from an attacking court position. After the 2009 Australian Open semi finalist defeated World No.2 Novak Djokovic in such convincing fashion in the Monte-Carlo semi final, Verdasco was very clear as to what tactic worked so well. It seemed that the stage was set for an interesting final.
Even in his interview after beating Djokovic for the first time in their past 6 matches, Verdasco knew what worked so well for him, “Of course, try to take my forehand as much as I can, try to play deep and high for him to don’t make him play easy and inside the court, and move him, no, move him a lot, try to put the points hard and make like long rallies.”
Unfortunately Verdasco did not stick to his game plan and was unable to work out how to counter what Nadal was doing. So in the end Rafa dominated and is now a perfect 10-0 against Verdasco. Nadal earned 1,000 points and seems to be making some tough decisions to ensure he can have a very successful clay court season. Nadal pulled out his home tournament in Barcelona to rest, in order to be better prepared for the Rome Open and Roland Garros. At the moment, he may even skip the Madrid Open as well in order to go full tilt in Paris for his 5th Roland Garros championship.
Stay tuned to this tennis website as we cover the next major tennis tournaments for the women and the men. For further information about the Monte-Carlo Open click this link -> Monte-Carlo 2010: April 10-18.
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