Nadal vs. Federer Italian Open 2013: Victory Sets Up Rafa for French Open Win

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Nadal vs. Federer Italian Open 2013: Victory Sets Up Rafa for French Open Win
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Rafael Nadal's smashing performance over Roger Federer in the Italian Open is just a prelude to the 2013 French Open.

The Rome Masters is now Nadal's third consecutive victory, his sixth this season, and he has reached the finals in every tournament.

Talk about consistency.

His recent dominant run alone gives him a favorable advantage entering Roland Garros.

Wiping Federer off the court, though, after doing the same to Tomas Berdych in Italy's semifinals is straight up impressive. Now, factor in Nadal's dominance over the years at the French Open, and there is every reason to expect he'll win it again.

Peter Bodo of ESPN.com discussed Nadal's convincing victory leading into the clay Grand Slam:

So, here we are on the brink of the French Open, and it sure looks like the same view we’ve had for every year but one since 2005 (Nadal is 52-1 at Roland Garros with seven titles in eight tries).

“I don’t want to think about Roland Garros yet,” Nadal said Sunday. “Let me enjoy this victory." 

I have a funny feeling that the way Nadal is playing, nobody else wants to think about Roland Garros, either.

Simply put, no one else has performed at Nadal's level recently.

Although Novak Djokovic took the victory over him in Monaco, Nadal has polished off his game quite well since. On the flip side, Djokovic and the rest of the top competition have not met expectations by comparison and enter France desperately needing to respond.

Julian Finney/Getty Images

On Monday, Nadal leap-frogged fellow countryman David Ferrer for the No. 4 ranking on ATPWorldTour.com. Federer remains behind Andy Murray, while Djokovic still holds true at No. 1.

That said, Federer could potentially increase his ranking in France. Murray's withdrawal from the Italian Open in Round 2 may force him to miss this year's Roland Garros. According to BBC Sport, Murray's mother, Judy, commented on the situation:

"Obviously, the goal is to be in peak condition for Wimbledon," said Judy.

"It's not so easy on the clay. There is a lot more twisting and turning. He needs to be cautious, and I'm sure Wimbledon will be his priority."

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Murray's potential absence would only make things easier for Nadal. And after dismantling Federer for another clay-court victory, Djokovic remains the best of competition by a wide-margin.

Ferrer hasn't fared well versus Nadal, and the same can be said for Berdych.

Regardless of whom Nadal faces, though, that challenger will be at a disadvantage. Nadal is simply rolling right now and everything is pointing toward another French Open title.

Having won it three-straight seasons, taking a fourth-consecutive title will vault him higher into the rankings. That would make things extremely interesting with Wimbledon on deck.

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