I've been reading around on the web after the Madrid final. Sports writers seem to think that Federer is very close to beating Rafa in RG.
Let's evaluate that claim with a few facts.
First of all, the Madrid surface and the conditions are nothing like those in Rolland Garros. Even if the difference is not meaningful enough to influence the results, it's clear that Rafa believes it is. Madrid clay courts are more like hard court because of heat and dryness.
Rafa was easily beating Federer on clay in 2005-2007, when Federer was in his prime and Rafa was half the player we know now. How can we forget RG 2008 straight set victory? This is Nadal's best year as a clay court season, even if we compare it with earlier year.
Federer's draw was composed of hard court specialists, a personal whipping boy Andy Roddick and previously Double-Bagelled Del Potro. Roddick only once reached beyond a second round of clay court in his earlier season.
Nadal played a four hour marathon against Djokovic, and then a final match the next day. Physical fatigue may or may not be an issue, but mental fatigue is another matter. After having saved three MPs against Djokovic and having come back from 0-4 against Verdasco, surely, the percentages were due for Nadal. Everyone has only so many slices of luck. It was not Fed's fault that Rafa played for four hours in the SF, but the fact remains that it probably won't be like this in Paris.
Given all this, I had assumed that Federer would win in Madrid, and he did. He is a great champion and we have a well regard for him. If he wins RG 2009, this will be his carer slam and he will equal Pete Sampras. He played well and displayed new tacticts, but to call him a favorite after a lone Madrid win (where the conditions and the draw favored him) is misguided.
So, is it actually right to write off Nadal from winning RG five consecutive times before the RG has even started?