Although he was minutely challenged by Ernests Gulbis of Latvia and fellow countryman David Ferrer, Nadal hit another level in the semifinals and finals.
Facing Tomas Berdych after Ferrer, Nadal won in straights sets 6-2 and 6-4, which set up a bout with Roger Federer. There, he continued to smash and swept Federer 6-1 and 6-3 for the win.
Despite Federer's age (31), along with his obviously declining play in recent years, this is still a remarkable victory for Nadal. The Swiss continues to be one of the best around. So, any time he gets rolled we can only appreciate the production of that particular opponent—in this case, Nadal.
Refusing to drop a set against Berdych and Federer is simply quite impressive, even for Nadal. For his sake, the guy also enters this season's Roland Garros with incredible momentum. As Kevin Mitchell of the Guardian writes, even Nadal sounded a bit struck by his performance:
Nadal said: "If anyone had told me [that] when I came back I would win six titles, I would have told them they were crazy. It has exceeded my wildest dreams." The No. 5 seed was diplomatic when asked if he was surprised at the ease of the win. "It was surprising. I cannot expect to win against Roger 6-1, 6-3."
Regarding the French Open, Nadal looks for his fourth consecutive title and eighth in nine years. Even better, his confidence leading in with consistent play has been much better than the top competition.
Novak Djokovic was upset in Round 2 of Madrid and then failed to put Berdych away in Italy's quarterfinals.
The Briton will make a decision about his participation at Roland Garros on Wednesday after talking to specialists.
Murray endured a miserable 26th birthday as a lower-back problem forced him out of his second-round tie.
Now mesh all that with Nadal's three wins over Ferrer this year, as well as the convincing victories over Berdych and Federer. Only Djokovic appears to be the best of competition on clay, as evidenced by defeating Nadal in Monaco.
That said, the tides have since turned and Nadal is on the upswing. Include his win over Djokovic during last year's French Open in four sets, and this is Rafa's tournament to lose.
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