PARIS -- Early in the clay-court season, Rafael Nadal was not playing like tennis royalty.
The King of Clay was bounced from the quarterfinals in Monte Carlo by David Ferrer, then Nicolas Almagro, of all people, in Barcelona. A walkover title in Madrid -- when Kei Nishikori bailed -- and a loss to Novak Djokovic in the Rome final did little to restore our faith.
And then Rafa arrived in Paris and the game changed.
He dropped the first set of the final to Djokovic -- and then ...