Although the scorelines were a bit similar, the impressive play by Rafael Nadal and Sam Stosur in winning each of their respective finals today was very much the same as both issued “Serena-like” beatdowns of their opponents. Although the clay court season is still young, both players sent a message that they could be the ones to beat at Roland Garros in May.
As expected all week, Nadal easily won his sixth consecutive Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters title as he defeated fellow countryman Fernando Verdasco 6-0, 6-1 in just under 90 minutes. This is Nadal’s first title win since Madrid last year and he looked very relieved to finally have that losing streak off of his back. Having only dropped fourteen games the entire tournament, Nadal’s fine form gave notice to the rest of the ATP that he will be the man to beat in Paris.
Somewhat unexpected, but just as convincing, was Sam Stosur’s title run at the Family Circle Cup in Charleston. Taking on Vera Zvonareva in the final, Stosur played lights out tennis from all sides of the court hitting 26 forehand winners. Stosur jumped out to a 6-0, 3-0 lead until an angry Zvonareva smashed her racquet into pieces during her service game. The Russian fueled her emotion into finally holding serve and then breaking Stosur in a later game. But Stosur, who had the words “attitude” and “composure” written on her wristbands found both as she resumed her attack and sealed the victory with another forehand winner.
With the win, Stosur earns her second career title and will be back in the top 10 on Monday. Though some may have thought her semifinal run at the French Open was a bit of a fluke, she’s certainly proved that she’s a contender for the title again this year. As she said in a recent interview with Matt Cronin, “If I don’t think I can go into Roland Garros and do well, I shouldn’t even be there.”
Well said, Sam.