Nadal, Serena ready for French Open challenge

Players to gear up with Rome Masters ahead of Grand Slam.


Afp May 13, 2013
Serena Williams is determined to make up for the disappointment of losing in the first round in Paris last year. PHOTO: AFP

MADRID: Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams firmed up their credentials as French Open favourites by sweeping to victory in Madrid.

Nadal eased to his fifth title in just seven tournaments since returning from a seven-month injury layoff due to tendinitis in his left knee as he beat Stanislas Wawrinka 6-2, 6-4 in little over an hour to claim his third title in the Spanish capital.

Having also won on the clay in Sao Paulo, Acapulco and Barcelona this season, the 11-time Grand Slam champion looks well set for a strong French Open campaign at Roland Garros.

“It’s true these last matches I have been able to reach that goal, that line, that place where I want to be playing, the kind of play that I’m aiming for,” said Nadal.



However, the world number five still refused to accept that he is the clear favourite for Roland Garros, which starts in two weeks, and insisted his mind is solely set on retaining his title in Rome this week.

“Next week, I will be in Rome and I will be thinking about Rome. I won’t be thinking Roland Garros.”

Meanwhile, Williams has a second title at Roland Garros firmly in her sights as she claimed a title on the red clay for the first time since that triumph 11 years ago with a 6-1, 6-4 win over world number two Maria Sharapova.

“This court definitely plays more like Roland Garros, so I think that’s a plus,” said Williams who has now 50 career titles. “It’s a little slower than it was last year and plays more like a true clay court so I think it’s great preparation.”

And the 15-time Grand Slam champion is determined to make up for the disappointment of losing in the first round in Paris last year.

“It is the ultimate challenge. Whether I reach it, I don’t know. I’m not going to put that pressure on myself.”

Published in The Express Tribune, May 14th, 2013.

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