Rafael Nadal is making this look easy. The six-time French Open champion is breezing through this year's tournament at Roland Garros with an ease that suits his title as the "King of Clay." While his main rivals are struggling through multiple matches, Nadal has yet to even lose a set. Is a record seventh title here inevitable, or can one of his rivals regain their form to provide him a true test?
So far in his four matches this past week at Roland Garros, Nadal hasn't dropped a set. Not only that, but he's only dropped 19 games in those four matches. Today in just their respective quarterfinal matches, Novak Djokovic lost 22 games and Roger Federer lost 18 (counting tie-breakers as a game). They also lost two sets and were put under a great deal of pressure. In contrast, Nadal has barely broken a sweat.
Not that Nadal's superiority is such a surprise. After all, he's only lost one match here since he started playing in 2005. Can you think of another tennis player in history who dominated any one particular venue as much as Nadal dominates at Roland Garros? Pete Sampras winning seven titles at Wimbledon comes to mind, but Sampras' record was 63-7. Can anyone imagine Nadal losing seven times at the French Open?
Nadal's next opponent is fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro. This will be the third time that these two men have faced each other in the quarterfinals here with Nadal easily winning both times. Contrary to Djokovic and Federer, I expect Nadal to breeze through his match and make his way jauntily into the semi-finals. There he will face either No. 4 Andy Murray or No. 5 David Ferrer but it won't matter to Nadal. He's a man on a mission this year.
Ultimately, the only man who is capable of stopping Nadal is Nadal. In 2011 Nadal seemed to struggle at times mentally as a result of Djokovic's sudden dominance. The only Grand Slam that Nadal won was the French Open but he never had to play Djokovic there after Federer took care of that in the semi-finals. In 2012, however, Nadal seems to have regained the confidence that he displayed during his amazing 2010 season. Enjoy the show. We may never see a greater player at the French Open ever.
Julie is a featured tennis contributor for the Yahoo Contributor Network. She's followed tennis her entire life but feels that this particular time in tennis may be the best ever in the men's game.