Is Rafael Nadal Unstoppable in Paris?

harry smithCorrespondent ISeptember 25, 2008

Many moons ago, there was a place called "Make Believe." It was a quiet place with not much going on...if you wanted it to be. In "Make Believe," you do as you please and it is utterly unpredictable. Maybe the most predictable place in the world is Roland Garros.

Rafael Nadal is the matador of spin and currently the King of Tennis. No matter how long that latter title lasts, he will in many people's eyes always be the King of Clay.

I am one of these people who believe every Slam event should be played on a different surface. The US Open and Australian Open are virtually the same. Wimbledon and The French Open stand out. Wimbledon is a grass event, but the French is played on clay.

Roger Federer's run as world No. 1 ran almost identically to his dominance at the only Grass GS. Rafa won four French Opens before he became world No. 1, but will his run as top dog end when his dominance in Paris does?

It's a tricky one. Rafael Nadal has the talent to be world No. 1 for as long as Federer was...but I don't think the other players will let him. Two Slams a year and a few tour titles should be enough to keep you at No. 1 yearly. As long as Rafa keeps winning the French, it's an easy spell at No. 1, right?...Wrong.

I know that Rafa won Wimbledon and he probably would have won the US if he hadn't played a trillion-odd matches, but he'll always have that problem. And if you ask me, Roger Federer is still a better grass court player than Rafa.

Now, that just leaves the Australian Open... the first Slam of the year. It's the bit of the season when the Gulbis's and the Del Potro's are all feeling it's their year. The expectation of greatness from these youngsters seems to affect Rafa the most.

Jo Wilfred-Tsonga, please step forward. He may be the only player to outhit Rafa Nadal all last year...and boom! Rafa's out down under.

Now it wouldn't surprise me to see Rafa take the first two slams next year...not one bit. I just feel that the want of the youngsters could ruin Rafa's chances. Damn those meddling kids!

So while Rafa is bang in line to be the greatest clay player ever, and to win three or four more French Opens, I don't feel that his No. 1 ranking will still be there when he lifts that final Roland Garros trophy aloft, on the famous red clay of Paris.

Over Hs