On Wednesday, April 23, ESPN detailed Rafael Nadal’s most recent struggles at the Barcelona Open tennis 2014 tournament, as he labored to eliminate fellow Spaniard Albert Ramos. Now in the third round, “Rafa” will face Ivan Dodig in a match that will be streaming live and free on ESPN3, and has a TV scheduled start time of 1 p.m. EST (12 p.m. CST/11 a.m. CST/10 a.m. PST) on Tennis Channel.
The red clay of the main court at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain, will be the site for then fourth meeting between the Spaniard and the Croatian. In spite of his latest woes, tennis oddsmakers have penciled-in Rafael Nadal as a mammoth -4000 favorite over Ivan Dodig, while the OVER/UNDER is set at a combined 18 games total.
But not everyone is sold on the idea that the 13-time Grand Slam champion is still the “King of Clay” as the ATP Tour continues to build momentum towards the French Open. As the 27-year-old from Mallorca goes for his ninth Barcelona Open tennis title, an April 23, 2014, LA Times report raises the following question: “How Much Longer Will Rafael Nadal Extend Clay-Court Dominance?”
Much of the criticism comes after Nadal was stunningly sent home in the quarterfinals of this year’s Monte Carlo. The report alleges that immediately following the loss, “Rafa” and his camp got together to start ironing some things out, like his forehand, for example.
“After losing in the Monte Carlo I wanted to raise my game here,” he said following his 7-6(2), 6-4 victory over Ramos. "It just took a while.”
In order to accomplish this, Nadal will face an opponent that has already beaten him once in three occasions. Looking to win two of their last three matches won’t be easy, as Dodig will have to defy some serious odds to get the job done.
Is Rafael Nadal’s clay-court reign coming to an end? Don’t miss this afternoon’s classic battle between the heavily favored Spaniard versus the hungry underdog Croatian. Click on the link provided above to watch ESPN3’s free live stream online, or simply tune to Tennis Channel’s (DirecTV channel 217) continuous daylong coverage of the 2014 Barcelona Open tennis tournament.