Rafael Nadal eased past Nicolas Almagro to make it to the last-16 of the Italian Open on Tuesday when his opponent opted out of the match after sustaining a knee injury early in the first set. The Spaniard, who is the clear favourite to bag the tournament alongside being in one of the best forms of his life on clay this season, eased swiftly into a 3-0 lead before his Spanish compatriot Almagro injured his left knee with less than half an hour played.
The fourth seeded Nadal is now eyeing his record eighth Rome Title to go with his recent successes at Monte Carlo Open, Barcelona and Madrid. With Andy Murray out early and Novak Djokovic combating hard with his form, it should be an easy walk to the title for the King of Clay. He moved up a spot in the ranking to dismantle Roger Federer of the 4th position after claiming the title at Madrid.
With Nadal so dominant on clay, the American is going to face a tough test in an attempt to overthrow the King. Currently World No.14, Sock has had a decent year so far winning two tournaments, at Delrey Beach and Auckland respectively. He entered R16 beating the Czech, Jiri Vesely in a 3 set match 6-4, 3-6, 7-6, surely was made to sweat to get a win. His performances aren’t up to the mark lately if the stats are to be honored. He has lost 3 of his last 5 matches, which is quite disappointing for a player who preparing to lock horns with the King of Clay.
On the contrary Rafael is on a winning streak, thanks to his exponentially increasing confidence after bagging back to back titles. He is all geared up to face the American in what seems to be an easy match for him, bringing in positives from his last matches with his contrary. Of the 3 meeting meetings between the two, the Spaniard has triumphed in all 3 with his last win coming from this years Miami Open where Nadal eased past Sock in a dominating straight set win, 6-3 ,6-2.
Even though the results being obvious, the match will be one to see, keeping in mind the surprises we are getting this year in Rome. Nadal is surely the hot favourite to triumph and probably won’t find the match-up to be thick.