Rafael Nadal's Rome Masters Performance Spells Doom for Field at French Open

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistMay 19, 2013

ROME, ITALY - MAY 18:  Rafael Nadal of Spain in action during his semi final match against Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic on day seven of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia 2013 at the Foro Italico Tennis Centre on May 18, 2013 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Anyone hoping to put an end to Rafael Nadal's French Open dominance has to be disappointed with his Rome Masters performance. He appears ready to roll in Roland Garros once again.

Rafa will enter the tournament looking to win his fourth consecutive title and his eighth in last nine years. After dominating Tomas Berdych in the semifinals with a 6-2, 6-3 win that took just over an hour, it's clear he's playing in top form.

Here's why Nadal is nearly a lock before the draw for the French Open has even been announced.



He's Healthy

The incredible thing about Rafa's current form isn't the dominance. He's already known as the greatest clay-court player of all time and has owned the French Open for nearly a decade. It's the fact that he's at this point after a seven-month layoff.

Even as late as February CNN reported that Nadal's knees were still troubling him. For a 26-year-old tennis player that has plenty of wear and tear on him, that would usually be career-threatening news. Not for Rafa.

Not only has he dominated the Rome Masters, he's won five tournaments thus far in 2013. Considering he's already beaten the likes of David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on clay this year, he's more than ready to beat the best at Roland Garros.



Serious Contenders Have Questions

Even if knee issues linger for Rafa, he isn't the only one entering Roland Garros in less than ideal form.

No. 1 player in the world Novak Djokovic has been hobbled with an ankle injury. Even though he played through it, it was clear that he was not himself in a quarterfinals loss to Berdych in Rome.

In fact, as Christopher Clarey points out, all four of the major contenders have questions heading into the prestigious tournament.

With Rafa's health appearing to be a non-factor, he seems the most likely to overcome his issues to earn the title.



Clay Court Dominance

It seems redundant at this point, but Rafa is really good on clay. Since the Brazil Open he's only lost just one match on the surface, a 2-6, 6-7 loss to Djokovic in Monte Carlo. Overall, he's won over 92 percent of his matches on clay this year.

That winning percentage has only been better when he takes to the big stage. He's 52-1 in his career at the French Open.

With few competitors in top form and a history of dominance, fans can expect yet another French Open title for Nadal.