In what was supposed to be a blockbuster men's final, Rafael Nadal made Roger Federer look average (at best) on Sunday, winning the Rome Masters in straight sets, 6-1, 6-3. It was Nadal's seventh title at this prestigious clay tournament.
The way Nadal has been playing lately, it seems impossible that he won't win the French Open this year—his eighth career title at Roland Garros and fourth in a row.
Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised by this result, as Nadal has been absolutely crushing opponents since returning to the ATP Tour after his seven-month injury layoff. Still, whenever a professional athlete rises so far above his/her opponents, we can't help but be amazed.
Since coming back to the tour in February, Nadal has only lost two matches in eight tournaments—both of which occurred in a final. He has six tournament wins thus far, three more than any other player on the men's tour.
His knees, which were seemingly ravaged before his seven-month hiatus, appear to be in better shape than ever before. Nadal is getting anywhere on the court he wants to, and his ability to scramble on clay surfaces is unparalleled.
Though David Ferrer and Ernests Gulbis managed to take Nadal to three sets in their quarterfinal and semifinal matches, the man known as "The King of Clay Courts" proved too difficult an opponent to defeat.
Even when Nadal isn't at the top of his game, he's a terror on clay surfaces.
His seven titles at Roland Garros are the most by any single player since Max Decugis won eight back in the early 1900s. At that time, however, the French Open wasn't a worldwide event and was only contested by club members.
Nadal is the most dominant clay tennis player in the modern era, and now that his health has returned he's unstoppable. He's simply overwhelming his opponents right now with his superior athleticism, speed and range.
Next stop, French Open victory No. 8 for Nadal in 2013.
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