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Beat Nadal on clay? You cannot be serious

John McEnroe says it will take a superhuman effort from Novak Djokovic to upstage Rafael Nadal.

While Djokovic has already defeated Nadal in the past three grand slam finals – on hard courts and grass – to be on the cusp of a mighty majors sweep, McEnroe, like most others, believes the Spaniard is nigh impossible to bring down on clay.

After he pummelled 10th seed Nicolas Almagro 7-6 6-2 6-3 in the quarter-finals before destroying sixth seed David Ferrer 6-2 6-2 6-12 in the semis, McEnroe said: “Almagro … is a guy that’s won like 11, 12, clay court titles, won them all on clay. The guy’s a very, very good clay-court player.

“I don’t think he’s ever played better than he played – and he still can’t win a set. Like how discouraging it is to play Nadal on this surface?”

“Every surface is tough, but here … I know when Borg played in my day he was like the human backboard. He was faster than everyone, fitter than everyone and you couldn’t get a ball by the guy. I saw guys get exhausted in the first set. Like best clay court players in the world – [Harold] Solomon was like David Ferrer [and he would] cramp in the first set.

“It’s like the same thing when you play Nadal.”

Nadal’s imperious game had McEnroe drooling before the 26-year-old’s bid to surpass Bjorn Borg’s six titles at Roland Garros.

“Ah, God, I have seen him a thousand times. I just watch this guy and it’s hard to even know where to begin to pick one thing,” the former world No.1 said when asked what he most admired about Nadal’s play.

“The way he’s improved his game, like his serve, the parts of his game where he can move forward, his volley, the defensive ability he’s got to track down balls and just make you play extra shots.

“And the way he sort of slides into balls and puts away a shot – shots that seem like impossible when I was playing – it was unheard of.”

McEnroe also believes Nadal’s intensity sets him apart.

“This guy, he comes to play every match,” he said.

“This is a guy that just doesn’t give it away. Every single match – I see that guy four, five hours before the match – he’s in the locker room. I mean, the preparation is amazing.

“You’d think once in a while [he might think] ‘maybe I won’t tape this finger for the practise or I don’t need to do that for that 20, 30-minute hit.

“He’s so well prepared. It’s going to be unbelievably tough to beat this guy.”

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Posted by on Jun 10 2012. Filed under Sports News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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