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That impossible backhand did everything Nadal is back – big-time

By the way Rafael Nadal brought down The Fed (6-1, 6-3) in the Rome final makes you wonder what is best for the Swiss genius and lovers of the perfection he once displayed. This would of course be unfair as what was demonstrated here was the Spaniard at his most sublime – the treatment metered out was identical to that given to the opponents of Federer in the run up to the final – that effortless grace – there were flashes of it in the final but Nadal was just too good.

Let us celebrate Nadal’s brilliance in Rome – including THAT shot to go 5-1 up in the second.

That impossible backhand did everything. It was out then it came back in. It was round the net and over all in one glorious fraction of a second. It was a winner to defy physics  and it would have been a winner against anyone.

Nadal is back – big-time. Nearly everyone is tipping him to win Roland Garros. I’m going to go against the flow. True, Rafa at his very best on clay beats Novak Djokovic at his very best on clay.

But despite wiping the floor with a poor Federer in Rome – and in spite of that wondrous shot – I’m not yet convinced that Nadal IS back to his very best on clay.

I know that sounds crazy as he keeps picking up titles; but if you are prepared to consider such a notion, it begs another question: is Rafa Nadal’s best tennis on clay in 2013 good enough to beat Novak’s best tennis on clay in 2013? Remember Monte Carlo? Remember how Djokovic completely bossed Nadal there?

Perhaps Nadal has come up a level since then. If so, most of the experts will be right and Nadal will triumph at the French Open.
But I believe Djokovic will come back up a level for the Grand Slam event – and give Nadal much more trouble than many expect.
Another epic clash is on the cards. Djokovic in five sets for me. Whatever happens I can’t wait.

So what about Wimbledon? Federer will want to show he is still the main man there; Andy Murray will be desperate to win the tournament for the very first time. Nadal will believe he has every chance of winning another title at Wimbledon.

But I’m going for Djokovic to do the double and win Wimbledon too. It is a very big ask, I know. Am I placing too much faith in Novak? Maybe. But if he is fit, focused and playing at his brutal best, there is no one who can take him – not even Nadal.

I can’t wait to see what happens. The beauty of the next few weeks is that none of us really knows which of these gladiators will prevail. It’s going to be an incredible summer come what may.