By Philip James
The ease with which Rafa Nadal and Serena Williams captured the Italian Open titles today, you could be forgiven for thinking their names were on the trophy before the tournament even started last Sunday.
Williams seemed to hardly break a sweat en route to her 51st career title and second WTA Premier tournament in succession after winning in Madrid earlier this month.
The world number one dropped no sets and only fourteen games in her five matches in Rome with four the most that any opponent took off her (Laura Robson in round two and Victoria Azarenka in the final).
Rafa meanwhile was tested slightly more, dropping a set in his third round against Gulbis and quarter final with Ferrer.
Gulbis took the first set of their match 6-1 and came very close to inflicting Nadal’s first ever bagel on clay.
But after he had once again seen off the feisty Ferrer, with Djokovic already out no one else really challenged the king of clay.
Berdych could not follow up on his brilliant defeat of Djokovic, and Federer again showed that he does not really have the weapons to beat his nemesis on clay.
Nadal’s record against Federer now; 20 – 10, 13-2 on clay. The last time Federer got the better of the Spaniard on clay was in 2009, just before Robin Soderling ended Nadal’s unbeaten streak at Roland Garros; Nadal then took three months off to recover from injury.
Since that break, Nadal has only lost to three men on clay: Horacio Zeballos in February this year (in the final of Rafa’s first tournament back from injury), Fernando Verdasco in 2012 and Djokovic three times.
It seems that as long as Nadal is fit, only Novak has the weapons to trouble him on clay.
Williams and Nadal were not the only unstoppable forces in Rome as the Bryan brothers won their 6th title of the year.
The team of Bob and Mike already have over twice the team ranking points of their nearest rivals and could probably rest for the remainder of the year and still make the World Tour Finals in London.
The only final which saw an upset was the women’s number one seeds Errani and Vinci losing out on the title to Su-Wei Hsieh and Shuai Peng.
The biggest news for the British players was Andy Murray’s retirement during his second round match against Granollers; Andy will decide shortly if he will enter the French Open.
One silver lining for Andy followers is that he has stated he will prioritise being fit for Wimbledon and will not risk that for Roland Garros.
There were two Futures titles for Brits this week; Dan Evans in Sweden and David Rice in Greece.
While many rest up for the French Open there are Brits in top-flight action.
There is a full doubles line up for the men, featuring FleMarray, Delgado, Skupski, Inglot and J-Muzz, while Elena Baltacha has been given a wild card to the WTA Premier Brussels Open.