The clay-court season has offered few surprises so far for the men on tour.
Rafael Nadal has re-established his iron foothold on the red clay, offering his opponents a healthy dose of lethal backspin and Majorcan aggression. There is something about breathing red dust that instills Nadal with an air of invincibility few can overcome.
For the ladies, Queen Victoria Azarenka has bowed to few, trying to cement her grasp on the No. 1 ranking.
Losing only to Marion Bartoli at Indian Wells, Azarenka demonstrated no nervous tics or signs of relenting her perch at the top of the women’s game. That is, until she was buried under a siege of Russian ground strokes thrown at her by world No. 2 Maria Sharapova at Stuttgart.
Sharapova pulled the proverbial rug out from under Azarenka in Germany during the finals on Sunday, winning 6-1, 6-4.
The women’s top four players—Azarenka, Sharapova, Petra Kvitova and Agnieszka Radwanska appear to have established some sort of stability for the ladies, although certainly not on a par with the men’s top four—Novak Djokovic, Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray.
In a few weeks, both the men and the women will roll into Roland Garros for the second Grand Slam of the season.
Those at the top will continue to be favored to win, but there may be some surprises on the terre battue in Paris.