P1011037 One of the most striking observations so far in the first week of the French Open is the play of seven-time champ Rafa Nadal which is far off from his highest level. Nadal has lost the first sets in both of his matches so far to Daniel Brands and Martin Klizan, hardly regarded as clay court juggernauts. Sure, Nadal recovered and adjusted and swept the following three sets in both matches but his play has been spotty and erratic. He's missing second serve returns on key points. He's allowing players like Klizan and Brands to take control of baseline points. He just does not look like the Real Rafa. Maybe it's those darn pink shorts. To my eyes, it's clear: the aura of invincibilty of Nadal on clay is missing.Also strange is Rafa's body language, he has shown too many flash looks of despair and what the heck is happening? to his coach and box. The King of Clay, when he really was the King of Clay, seldom showed so much vulnerability. On paper, yes, Rafa is still considered the King of Clay but I think Novak Djokovic, by virtue of his dominant win over Rafa in Monte Carlo has regained the mental edge on Rafa, which he established in 2011 from beating Rafa seven times in a row.Something is bothering and worrying Rafa and I believe it is the play of Novak Djokovic that is in the back of his mind and creating the unrest. To lose to a man seven times in a row is hard to forget. And to lose eight straight games to Djokovic, as he did in last year's final before the drizzles stopped the match, is also hard to forget. Rafa knows more than anyone how lethal Djokovic is on clay, though the Serbian does not yet have the French Open title yet to show for it.Surely, Nadal, as smart as he is, knows it's inevitable that he will face Djokovic in the semis, and that the last time they met on clay in Monte Carlo, a disastrous straight set loss for Nadal, must still be lingering in his psyche. Yes, I know it's still early in the tournament and Nadal maybe hasn't settled into his A game yet, but these two matches are the worst I've ever seen him play at Roland Garros since the Soderling shocker. And Brands and Klizan are far from Soderling's calibre, if you know what I mean.P1011037