Nadal, and mistakes from his past?
By James A. Crabtree
Is Rafa not learning from his mistakes?
Yes, he has been absurdly good since his return. Nobody prophesised such a success return, and in a word his reappearance been made us wonder if he made a secret deal with the tennis Gods.
But has it all been too much and too soon? Has he pushed his body too far, too quickly? Let’s face it, the amount of trophies he has been chomping down on he could have metal poisoning;)
Think back to the months following Wimbledon 2012, when we knew about the knee issue but we were certain it was a mental problem. Rewind back to January when everybody was asking every other Spaniard when Rafa was going to return. Think back to how we thought the King of Clay was all but done.
Then he announced a return to a little 250 clay tournament after pulling out of the Australian Open. And when he did return we didn’t think he would be the same player. Sceptics thought he would need to change his tactics, finish rallies quicker to rest his knee. Naysayers believed he needed to play closer to the baseline to minimise court coverage. Doubters whispered he wouldn’t have the willpower to overcome adversaries when going the distance and he had hit his expiry date.
Recall his first tournament, Vina del Mar, Chile; and that three set final loss to Horacio Zeballos. The Doubters, Sceptics and Naysayers aligned with their arms folded and smug grins across their chubby red faces. Nadal had lost, not to Djokovic or Murray or even Federer. He had lost to a mere mortal. He was indeed finished.
What followed next was not only contrary to the belief of the Doubters, Sceptics and Naysayers but also contrary to rational thought. He won a tournament. True, there were bumps along the way, it was just another 250 event in Sao Paulo, and he was pushed to three sets by non-household names Carlos Berlocq and Martin Alund. Nadal followed with another tournament win, this time Acapulco which included convincing wins against Nicolas Almagro and David Ferrer.
The Pessimists were still not convinced, “He can still play on clay, but the hard court is a different animal.”
What better way to silence the critics than with a win? Nadal did, this time on the hard courts of Indian Wells. The journey included a tough three sets with Ernests Gulbis and a reunion with Roger Federer, Tomas Berdych and Juan Martin Del Potro. This win was subsequently a reminder to all that Nadal can still beat anyone.
Nadal lost his next tournament in Monte Carlo, in the final to Djokovic, a place we all but thought he was forbidden to lose. Being a clay court tournament all the typical questions about injury, attitude and aptitude were again asked. By now Nadal had most certainly won a lot, but he had also played a lot.
The questions were however shrugged off quickly thanks to more critic silencing displays in Barcelona, Madrid and Rome where Nadal had been pushed in some instances but for the most been brutal. Once again the big names were no obstacle and again included wins over David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych and Roger Federer plus Stanislas Wawrinka, Milos Raonic, Nicolas Almagro and the troublesome Gulbis.
With all these conquests is there any reason to suspect that Nadal will not win his eighth Roland Garros title. Is it rude to even think otherwise? Or should he have taken it a little easier on himself. Should he have included more rest among his preparation? Or is Rafa basking in the tonic of his own victories yet to come? His season so far ‘has been dream,’ time will only tell if it will become ‘more than dream’.
The 3 worrying little details….
1. This season Nadal’s Fibonacci sequence is…
Runner up, Winner, Winner, Winner, Runner up, Winner, Winner, Winner…
2. Rafa has lost to Djokovic on clay this year.
3. Is Rafa’s 2013 French Open draw too easy?