World No. 1 Rafael Nadal will begin his Rome campaign on Wednesday afternoon, as he is scheduled to take part in a second round match-up against France’s Gilles Simon. The two competitors have previously met on six occasions, with the Spaniard leading the head-to-head series 5-1.
While his 2013 season was a fantastic one, top seed Rafael Nadal has only managed to win three titles so far this season, losing in the finals of Australian Open, Indian Wells, Miami and Monte Carlo. His most recent loss was a historic upset in Barcelona, where he win streak snapped by Nicolas Almagro in the quarter-final round. He has not lost at that event since he was 15 years old. The clay-court king has since improved slightly to go on to win the Madrid Open title, even though he faced no significant competition until the final, which he won after Kei Nishikori retired with a hip injury.
This week, Nadal is looking to win his 28th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown.
“I think in Madrid I played better than I had the two previous weeks,” said Nadal on Tuesday. “It’s true that wasn’t the case in the final, but the quarter-finals (against Tomas Berdych) and semi-finals (against Roberto Bautista Agut) were two good matches against two good, in-form players. It was good for my confidence.”
While he is happy with his performance in Madrid, he is aware that the conditions in Rome is quite different, and he has begun adjusting to the changes.
“I practised yesterday a little bit later [in the day]. It’s true that the feeling is different than in Madrid,” continued Nadal. “Today it has been raining, so I haven’t been able to practise yet and it makes the conditions a little bit tougher. But I’ve always liked it here. I always play well at this tournament. I’m happy to be back in Rome.”
This marks the seventh time these two competitors will meet on the ATP World Tour, with Nadal leading the head-to-head series 5-1. Rafa has won their last three consecutive matches, but the last of which took place in 2012. They have only met once on clay but it was Nadal’s most dominant victory in the series. As the Spaniard continues to build confidence leading into the French Open, he will continue to dominate early encounters in each of the draws.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal in Straight Sets