Rafa Nadal will look to continue his imperious form in Rome for the Italian Open after three tournament wins in three weeks.
The Spaniard, now 31, looks almost back to his best on the clay he loves so much, and as he heads into the final event before the French Open – he is understandably very happy with life.
It was speculated that after a run of 15 matches without defeat, Nadal would be tempted to give the event in Rome a miss, but he wants to keep his run going.
“If I don’t go to Italy, it doesn’t guarantee that I will be better shape in Roland Garros,” he said.
“Not going doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be in good shape in Roland Garros. No matter what you choose, no matter what you do… I try to go day by day. Last year perhaps I made a few mistakes. I made a mistake going to Rome. But I think I wasn’t wrong last year because my wrist was injured here, then I went to Barcelona to have a checkup.
“They said everything was fine, my wrist was fine. They said I could go to Rome. After that, I think it was a bad decision. I think today the decision is completely different, the situation is different. I don’t have any problems, any injuries. It’s a very important clay tournament. I’m playing with a lot of joy. I think what is logical is to go to Rome, try to give 100%. After that, I think I have a few days to rest.”
World number one Andy Murray is again looking for a good run after bowing out early than he wanted in Spain last week and he is the defending champion in Rome.
“If you perform well, the conditions can suit your game, you can have a good run. Hopefully I can do that,” said Murray.
Novak Djokovic lines up as number two seed in Rome to Murray, with Roger Federer not playing again until the French Open – and the Serb – like Murray – is looking for some better form, although he was happy to make the semi-finals in Madrid.
“I have to move on, semi-finals is a good result. Hopefully I’ll have another good result in Rome.”
Federer aside the only other top-two players in the world not in Rome are Gael Monfils and his French compatriot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
We spoke to William Hill’s Rupert Adams about the betting on the action in Rome.
“Off the little money we have taken up until now, most of it to be fair has been on Nadal We have taken 27k on it and 20k is on Nadal who is now Evens,” he told TheGamblingTimes.com.
“There has been absolutely no interest on Murray and Djokovic
“he only outsider we have taken any money for is Pablo Carreno Busta at 150/1 who is having his best ever year, getting to the semi in Indian Wells and winning Estoril.
“Other than that with Murray and Djokovic seemingly unfit / unmotivated / out of form and Federer having missed out all the warm ups it’s difficult to see who’s going to stop Nadal although we believe he is still not at his best.”