Unlike the WTA Tour, in which in every tournament springs a different winner and a different surprise, the 2018 ATP clay swing looks similar to its 2017 edition. There seems to be an obvious predictability. Last year, Rafael Nadal was the favorite and he delivered up to this promise.
Tenth victory in Monte Carlo, tenth victory in Barcelona, victory in Madrid, and tenth historic victory at the French Open. They were tournaments full of meaning, but not always up to the situation. The exception was the victory of Alexander Zverev in Rome, in the final against Novak Djokovic.
In three months, the only hours of excitement were given to us by the semi-final in Paris between Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka, which was won by the Swiss. For the rest, the French tournament was one of the most commonplace editions we have seen.
And this year? Not many playing variables are available. Nadal is still the favorite for the whole season on the red dirt. There do not seem to be any opponents on the horizon who can put him in difficulty. Djokovic is still far-removed from the player who ruled the court until his win at the 2016 French Open.
Just last week, in the Davis Cup quarter-final, Zverev was defeated by the Spaniard in their singles rubber. Lastly, Roger Federer and Andy Murray will be out until June. There could be a younger opponent like Borna Coric or Hyeon Chung who could trouble Nadal, of course.
But could they overthrow the man's aura which has so clearly been established in all these years? In my personal opinion, the overall impression is that the clay swing is just a passing session, waiting for the return of Federer and the beginning of the grass swing.
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