epa03671712 Novak Djokovic of Serbia returns to Rafael Nadal of Spain during their final of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters tournament in Roquebrune Cap Martin, France, 21 April 2013. EPA/GUILLAUME HORCAJUELO |
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic believes a difference in mental strength plays a pivotal role in separating the Big Four from the rest of the competition on the ATP World Tour. When Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal are all in action at the same tournament, one of the four has gone on to win the past 26 tournaments they’ve played dating back to Rome 2010.
“There is definitely a gap. The four players are the ones who are winning all the Grand Slams and major tournaments,” said Djokovic. “Men’s tennis is in a very high level; competition is getting stronger. But we cannot count out all the other players outside of the [Big] Four. Players like Ferrer, Berdych and Tsonga. These kind of players have shown in the past that they’re able to win against the [Big] Four.
“That’s why men’s tennis is now very interesting. I guess the experience that we have playing on a top level and winning that many major titles helps us get that necessary confidence and also I guess emotional stability in some crucial moments during the match.”
Djokovic is coming off his first triumph at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, where he overcame a right ankle injury sustained during the Davis Cup to dethrone eight-time defending champion Nadal. The Serb is optimistic about the progress his ankle has made ahead of his Mutua Madrid Open campaign.
“It’s better every day,” Djokovic said. “I’ve been doing a lot of work from the end of Monte-Carlo tournament till now in order to obviously get ready for Madrid. It’s a very big tournament that I like to play. Hopefully on Tuesday or Wednesday, whenever I play, it’s going to be perfectly fine.”
The top seed could meet Grigor Dimitrov in his Madrid opener, should the Bulgarian get past wild card Javier Marti.
“He has the capacity to play in a very, very high level because he’s very talented. He’s an all round player and he showed it,” said Djokovic. “With his style of the game, you think that he can play his best on the hard courts and the faster courts, but he showed in Monte-Carlo when he pushed Nadal to three sets, he can play equally well on clay.
“There is an altitude here of 500 [to] 600 meters, which helps the servers and more aggressive players. The ball travels through the air faster, so that can make Dimitrov very dangerous on this surface.”
Rafael Nadal's first-round singles match against Richard Gasquet is not on Monday's China Open schedule, but the world No. 2 will be back in action in a different capacity. After being sidelined for three months with a wrist injury, Nadal is teaming up with Pablo Andujar in the doubles draw and they will kick off their campaign against Tomas Berdych and John Isner.
We exaggerate, slightly, but in all likelihood, this will be the week the WTA Race ends. Beijing is worth 1000 points, and it's mandatory, meaning that it's worth about twice as much to the players as every other event. And with the top nine players, minus Li Na, qualifying for Singapore, and a big, big gap between #9 and #10, chances are very good that things will be over after this.
Two familiar foes with a long history will meet in the Red Rock Open Pro singles final on Sunday, as American Madison Brengle will take on Michelle Larcher De Brito of Portugal. Brengle, the No. 4 seed from Dover, Del., ended qualifier Kateryna Bondarenko’s run of six consecutive wins in Las Vegas in a powerful 6-4, 6-2 semifinal victory in the USTA Women’s $50,000 Pro Circuit event taking place at the Red Rock Country Club.
He's back! Yes, for the first time since Wimbledon, Rafael Nadal is playing tennis again. Always one of the best spots on the annual calendar, the Beijing-Tokyo week will be especially intriguing this time around. That’s because Nadal is returning to the court after being out of action for three months.