The men’s pro tennis tour has returned to the clay-court circuit, and that means Rafael Nadal is back in his comfort zone.
Nadal, who is now No. 3 in the world, showed again on Wednesday how impressive he can be on the slow stuff, taking apart Thiemo de Bakker 6-1, 6-0 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.
The day was not as kind to Andy Murray, the No. 4 player in the world, who lost on Wednesday to Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-2, 6-1. Murray was given a wild-card entry into the event, and probably wishes now he had not accepted it.
Meanwhile, Nadal, who had slipped as low as No. 4 in the world ranking last month, still looks like the king of clay courts and probably will be the favorite again at the French Open, which begins May 24.
Nadal had won the French four years in a row, before losing in the fourth round last year to Robin Soderling. But injuries prevented Nadal from being in peak playing form last year.
How Nadal performs in this prestigious tournament, which also featured Novak Djokovic as well as Murray, will indicate whether Nadal is still as dominant on the slow red clay as he has been in the past.
Nadal next plays Michael Berrer, and that match should not test him. However, this event offers some stiff competition. Nadal could play Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarterfinals before a possible match against Djokovic in the finals.
Roger Federer, the 2009 French Open champ, is not entered in this event.
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