Such has been Rafael Nadal's form in the ongoing clay court season that the Spaniard is deemed as the favourite, irrespective of the opponent on the red surface. And when an in-form player like Nadal is set to face the 73rd ranked Nicolas Almagro in the second round of the ongoing Rome Masters (Italian Open), there are no prizes for guessing who is the hot favourite.
There is a lot to rave about Nadal this season. During the hard court season, Nadal played some brilliant tennis, but he did not win any title despite coming close several times.
He has carried that form onto the clay courts, a surface that has always been his favourite, and the results are there for everyone to see. No one has defeated the former world number one on clay in 2017, and he has won three titles so far.
That is incredible dominance, despite the fact that he may be the best clay court player ever. One of the best things about Nadal is his playing style against everyone. He comes hard, involves himself in great rallies and wins some astonishing points against all of them.
The formula against Almagro should remain the same in the second round of the Rome Masters (Italian Open) as well.
If one looks at Nadal's head-to-head record against Almagro, the Spaniard has dominated his fellow countryman by miles. They have played 15 times, and Nadal lost just once in 2014. The last time Nadal met Almagro was at the Rio Olympics, where the former world number one won in straight sets.
However, Nadal is not someone who will take Almagro lightly, and his objective of dominating his opponent will not change.
Almago comes into this match with some confidence as he beat Andreas Seppi in the first round after qualifying for the Rome Masters. Almagro knows that this clash against Nadal is going to be his toughest test on clay.
The qualifier can take his game to another level when he comes against world-class players as one had witnessed in the Madrid Masters, where he stretched Novak Djokovic to three sets.
Though Almagro lost, he needs to come up with such quality tennis when he faces Nadal now.
Where to watch
Rafael Nadal vs match is tentatively scheduled for 2 pm local time, 5.30 pm IST start.