(Rafa and Rome: Two great tastes that taste great together!)
It's been a very rainy week here in NYC. It's been SEVERAL rainy weeks here in NYC, to be honest. Luckily, the weekends have been gorgeous, but the weekdays have been downpours. One thing that made this past Monday a little less soggy and gloomy was the fact that Our Hero, Rafael Nadal, won the Rome Masters Event over his most-recent greatest rival Novak Djokovic. Such news was brighter than sunshine!
Rafa took the championship match 7-5, 6-3. It was sweet revenge as Novak beat Rafa here last year. The win did a number of other things as well. It further reversed the trend of Rafa losing Finals to Novak. After having a dismaying 0-7 Final Record against Novak spanning back from 2011 (and including three Grand Slam Finals) Rafa has now beaten Novak 2 Finals in a row - Monte Carlo and Rome. Monte Carlo was an important test for Rafa, to be sure, but Novak was so emotionally and physically drained from the passing of his beloved grandfather, it wasn't the best indicator of what their match up on clay would look like in 2012. This convincing win gives Rafa the edge again on red clay. Physically and mentally he looks fantastic and is definitely in prime position to win his 7th French Open in the coming two weeks.
It also bumped Rafa back up to No. 2 in the rankings, after Federer briefly climbed past him for winning Madrid last week on the blue clay. That will put him back as the No. 2 seed at the French. Open. Having him be the third seed when he's won the tournament 6 out of the last 7 years would be sorta absurd.
Winning the Rome Masters also makes Rafa the most winningest player at Masters 1000 events, now having won 21 tournaments - 1 more than Federer. He's cut into Novak's lead in the points race to No. 1 as well. He won't be able to overtake him at Rolland Garros, since Rafa won last year and has to win to defend all his points. Unless Novak falls unexpectedly early, he will probably retain all his points from the tournament this year as well as a former semi-finalist.
Still this has been a very good week to be a Rafa fan, basking in the glory of his victory as the heavens upon up around us. I wish him so much success next week in Paris. I hope he makes history winning his 7th trophy there. VAMOS!