Winning at Monte Carlo is Bad News for the Men's Draw

Mark Eckhart Jr.Correspondent IApril 20, 2009

MONTE CARLO, MONACO - APRIL 19:  Rafael Nadal (l) of Spain holds the winners trophy alongside Prince Albert II of Monaco (r) after his 6-3,2-6,6-1 victory in the final match against Novak Djokovic of Serbia during day seven of the ATP Masters Series at the Monte Carlo Country Club on April 19, 2009 in Monte Carlo,Monaco.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Rafael has left Monte Carlo the last five years with the same thing in common, and that spells doom for the field at Roland Garros. 

He's left there with he winner's trophy.

There arguably hasn't been a more dominant clay court player in this era than Rafa Nadal. He's now the five-time defending champion at Monte Carlo, and heads into The French Open in May with his undefeated streak on the red clay intact, standing at 28-0 and four consecutive French Open championships.

Nadal will be looking to make it five in a row, just as Federer was able to do on his best surface at Wimbledon, where last summer Nadal dethroned him.

Since the end of the 2008 French Open Nadal is an astounding 150-14 on the red clay around the world, which is roughly a 91 percent wining percentage and wins most of those matches is dominant fashion.

The road to the Grand Slam at Roland Garros has always gone through Roger Federer, whether in the semifinals, or the final itself, but we haven't been accustomed to seeing the brilliant tennis that results in epic five set matches between these two because Nadal has made these matches anything but competitive.

Every year since 2005, Nadal progressively takes it to Federer with a higher level of intensity that shouldn't be possible for an athlete to have.

Nadal knows that he has to be at the top of his game every time he meets Federer on the court because at any time one man can bring another gear that we have never seen before, and produces tennis at the highest quality.

Gracious in victory and defeat, Nadal has openly admitted the huge amount of respect he has for Federer, and that makes their battles that much greater.

Nadal's first few trips to the French open final weren't the dominant performances we have been accustomed to seeing out of the world No.1. In 2005, he defeated Mariano Puerta 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-1, 7-5. In 2006 he defeated Roger Federer for the first time in the French Open final 1-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6(4).

In their second meeting in the 2007 final, Nadal won 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. In 2008, Nadal dismantled Federer like the tennis world has ever seen. He made Federer look human and absolutely had his way with the top player in the world winning 6-1, 6-3, 6-0.

There's no reason to believe that Nadal won't make it five in a row next month at Roland Garros, but will Federer or the competition but up a stronger fight, or will it be business as usual for the world No. 1.

Djokovic gave himself a glimmer of hope because he did take a set off of Nadal in the final at Monte Carlo, but that was a best of three match.Nadal is arguably the best conditioned player on the tour, and even if somebody can take a match to a fifth set against Nadal on clay is one thing. Finding the energy to win that deciding set is another.

Rafael Nadal has had one constant his entire career, his dominance on clay.

There's nobody that will be able to change that in 2009.