Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Is Nadal done! Will Real Roger Stand up! Will Murray take over!

Postmortems are always ugly but someone's gotta do it and much as I dislike scraping fresh wounds, I think sometimes we need to do it so we can be healthier.

So I looked at some of Nadal's comments, after his US Open loss to Andy Murray and have to say that, to me they were almost Rogeresque! Let me explain what I mean.

For many months now, Roger would make comments after tournaments that I thought were kind of partial denials of reality - for example his comments after the French Open and before the Wimbledon that he was still the favorite to win Wimbledon and that grass was his best surface. While the comment was partially correct, it ignored the fact that other contenders specially Nadal was snapping at his heels - grass or no grass. Sure enough, Nadal did a Roger at Wimbledon and won the title. No denying that Roger played extremely well but no denying the end result either. I kept feeling that Roger was reluctant to acknowledge that his crown was in danger - that unlike any other time in the past four years, he was being chased very closely by Nadal and maybe a bunch of others.

Coming back to Nadal - Even though a good number of predictions were that Nadal will win USO, my reading after watching him in initial matches, was that Nadal's busy and demanding season was taking its toll on his body and he was surviving the USO matches plainly on skills and will power and not on stamina.

And now after the USO, asked if he might cut his schedule next year to avoid the match fatigue, Nadal said that "playing so many events is what enabled him to become the world No.1."

"If you want to be in the top position, do you think you have any chance if you play less? No," he said.

As you may know, next on Nadal's agenda is the Davis Cup semi-final and then the Masters Series event at Shanghai.

I think this is a potentially dangerous line of thought and a risky way of going into the next season considering that Davis cup starts within next 9 days and even though the Masters Events thankfully starts a month later, on November 9, it is still, way too short a period to recover from grueling matches. Is Nadal cutting it too fine physically, because the Australian Open then starts on January 19th.

Maybe I'm getting paranoid for nothing, after-all Nadal is supremely fit looking athlete but something to me is not right in this picture. I would rather have him skip the Davis Cup (or maybe just be a reserve for the Davis Cup), take longer rest and then go to Masters in Shanghai.

Even some of the other comments he made like, ""You know how important it was for me to win Wimbledon after two years playing the finals," Nadal said. "For sure after Wimbledon I had the big goal - Number One and Olympics and finals US Open", appear to me as unlike Nadal. Is he already sounding like Roger! Your call!

Moving on to Roger- He's the US Open Champion and winner of 13 slams and I hate to write anything that takes away from his achievements but I've got to say that even though he won the match from Andy Murray, he didn't convince me that he will rule the courts the way he used to. Many are predicting that this is the return of the old Roger - the invincible, but I'm going to wait & watch. He showed the glimpses of his old self when Andy was making mistakes but not when Andy was firing back. To me that is the difference between old and current Roger. Old Roger would make the best look like ordinary and the current Roger makes ordinary look like good! Great player no doubt but old Roger, not yet.
I do hope that he gets to at least 15 slam titles so we can wait, pant , anticipate to see if there will be a successor to his crown. To me he can easily go beyond 15 too but only if the old Roger resurrects.

Andy "Muzza" Murray - watching him up close during the US Semis and in practice matches made me think that this man could very well may displace Djokovic from # 3 position in next 6 months or so. Its not only his tenacity and good play, the man can think on his feet and play deceptive shots to fool opponents. He can cover the ground well from coast to coast and his shot arsenal is getting wider too - we have all seen him hit those running cross court forehands that are tough to handle and are winning shots more than ever before.

Djokovic - I like him but I am getting the feel that he will really have to step it up. I will keenly follow how he performs at Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai. I do want him to do those impersonations of other players. This man is genuine fun.

May the Best Player take it all.

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