Well, hasn't this year started off with a bang. Going into the Australian Open on the men's side there were two heavy favorites in Andy Murray and Roger Federer. Neither won the title and Murray got knocked out before the quarterfinals. Andy Roddick forced Novak Djokovic into submission as he retired in there quarterfinal match ( Djokovic quitting surprise, surprise) and to top it all off we got the first Spaniard ever to win the Australian Open in Rafael Nadal. Whether Nadal was in the final or not, I as well as many believe a Spaniard would have taken the title anyway. Fernando Verdasco was playing like a man on mission. He could not be stopped and the only reason he fell to Rafa was the conditioning. You cannot fault the man for that because nobody matches Rafa in conditioning. The only guy on tour who comes close is Andy Murray.
So in review what have we learned so far in the season and what can we look forward to. This rivalry between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer just might be the greatest in Sport. The quality of tennis that takes place when these two meet is unreal and not only that but you can almost feel the emotion and the drama of the match. It finally got to Federer in the Final as he just fell apart in the fifth set almost giving Nadal the title. But at the same token you cannot take anything away from Rafa. He swept through everybody leading up to his semi-final match against fellow Spaniard and friend Fernando Verdasco. He didn't give up a set to that point and it took all of his power to outlast Verdasco in a five set thriller that lasted more than five and half hours. Rafa then went out and outlasted Federer in another five set thriller that nearly lasted another five hours. After the win Nadal was very gracious as always saying Federer is still the best player of all time and that he will indeed surpass Pete Sampras record of fourteen grand slams. Federer's emotions got the best of him at the post-match ceremonies. But that just goes to show you he really wants the record. Now where do both go from hear? Barring Nadal getting hurt he will win the French Open once again as he is still the King of Clay. The question is will he see Federer in the Final? Its easy to see that Nadal is in Federer's head but can anybody else crack the Federer armor of invincibility? We'll have to wait and see.
As for the French Open and everybody else on tour. Jo-Wilified Tsonga had another impressive run at Aussie Open. He was ousted in the quarterfinals by Fernando Verdasco but Verdasco also took out Murray and pushed Nadal to the brink. Expect a big French Open for the charismatic Tsonga. Andy Murray, Andy Roddick, James Blake, and Novak Djokovic are still in the mix but don't expect anything more than the quarterfinals for any of them as clay isn't their best surface. Do not, I repeat do not be surprised to see Fernando Verdasco pull another huge upset and make the final at Roland Garros he is peaking right now and playing at his highest level. That's what everyone has to look out for in the coming weeks. That and vamos Rafa!!!