Monday, June 24, 2013

Rafael Nadal: Grass not so green!

It's over for Rafael Nadal at this year's Wimbledon. Yes! It is gonna take time to sink in. First round loss for the reigning French Open Champion. He went out in the second round last year to Lukas Rosol, the bad knees came into picture soon after, but he couldn't even make it to the second round this year.

There is a certain Steve Darcis (no we don't need to know him; he's ranked 135 in the world....35 behind Lukas Rosol also) to credit for that who served and volleyed (yes, you heard it right...some crazy people still do that) Rafael Nadal out of the grass courts of Wimbledon. And he did it in some style 7-6, 7-6, 6-4....a straight set win over the two time Wimbledon champion.

Darcis went for his shots, even after he missed them, he served well and moved ahead to the net even when he was passed by Nadal. Simple game plan, extremely well executed. He also held his nerve quite remarkably as he saw three set points went by in the second set tiebreaker. Steve Darcis held his serve in the third with the prospect of causing the biggest upset of this century, yet not letting it mess with his head. 

And, for the people speculating on the reasons of Nadal's first round exit, i would like to give all the credit to Mr. Darcis for the way he played and held his nerve. But how can we complete any write up on Nadal without talking about his beloved knees. No we don't! He moved absolutely fine in the first two sets but yes, after the early break in the third set, he moved a bit hindered. That knee surely must have a nerve directly connected to Nadal's brain; maybe getting an 'upset alert'.

Nadal's is a great player, no doubt, with a troubled knee (factored in because of his grinding style of play), but giving the credit to the knee and talking too much about it after losses (Eg. Rosol, Soderling) does not do much good to his image. We'll see in the days to come, if all the blame will still be cast on to the poor knees. One has to feel for them, they take immense physical load and even the blame....phew!

Like i said, when i started writing about Wimbledon on this blog, Grass causes upsets. It suits attacking players. We have one.... a big one! The great prospect of a Roger-Rafa QF showdown is now 'poof' in the air but there is not much opening of the draw or anything. As long as the top three players are around in the draw, it's impossible for anybody else to rejoice.

Grass makes you look older and slower a bit earlier than the other surfaces; coz it's the fastest. When Sampras went out to a 19 year old Federer in 2001 at Wimbledon, his decline was registered. When Federer lost to Tomas Berdych at Wimbledon Quarter Finals in 2010, his decline was spoken of. Then Tsonga blasted off Federer next year making him look more vulnerable. Sampras never won Wimbledon after that loss to Federer; Federer has managed only one in three years after that Berdych loss.

Nadal has now had two upset losses here in two years. Is the curve bending downwards? We'll come to see that in the near future. But for sure that curve doesn't apply on the red clay. He can keep winning there for....what, another 8 years?

P.S. - Nobody will talk about it with so much focus on Nadal's shock exit but Mr. Defending Champ has romped off to a comfortable 6-3, 6-2, 6-0 win over Victor Hanescu. Ten years after his first Wimbledon crown, Roger Federer is still gunning for Major titles and at Wimbledon, he'll always have a chance. It's his territory!

And finally, adding this pic as an afterthought, since most people have never known how Steve Darcis looks like. He, after all, is the man of the moment :)

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