This is the default final as Nadal v Federer would have been, of course; we don’t want anyone to forget the dirty undergarments that was the 2017 U.S. Open draw. Anderson v Carreno Busta? Please don’t see this as unprovoked criticism, but we have to go out on a limb and say that Anderson, for the integrity of the tournament (sport), needs to win that match. That sounds harsh. Sorry.
I firmly believe in sports generally getting the narrative right. Sometimes a certain story or development can strike us as pretty unjust, or wrong, but in the long-run, the true champion usually prevails, even if we need a longer story-line.
Last year’s U.S. Open is a good example. I still thought somehow Novak would find a way, even though the collapse had already begun. His draw and his form had so much to be desired; and Stan was playing into his once-a-year major-winning form. The right story prevailed there, as most would agree. Sometimes we’re not sure how justice will prevail, how the deserved will find his well-earned bounty. In that final in 2016, Wawrinka’s victory looked and smelled right (I value the olfactory world).
Djokovic’s draw was a joke, and he was on fumes. Stan had to play well to even get there and upon reaching the final he partied like it was Jan 2014 or June 2015.
I see some similarity with this second SF match today. Am I talking about destiny? Maybe a little. But the facts speak for themselves, too, and complicate this discussion, as well.
When Nadal begins to exchange balls with Del Potro, he should be seeing a level of tennis he hasn’t seen yet. His draw has been a joke. That’s not his fault. But he hasn’t played anyone.
On that note alone, Nadal has to somehow find the ability to beat one of the top players in the world, whose self belief can be as big as his Argentinian heart, or FH. Nadal hasn’t been there. Taro Daniel, or Leo Mayer or even the Dog won’t move the needle. Nor will a 19 year-old Nadal fanboy.
Nadal will try to attack the BH, obviously. That will be even easier for him (compared to the right-handed Thiem or Federer) because his lefty FH can zero-in on that BH even more so, adding the Nadal spin and bounce for good measure.
That means Nadal has to have the leverage in these points, he has to dictate. He won’t reach the Delpo BH from 15 feet behind the BL. He has to be able to stand and exchange with a level that he has yet to see in NYC.
Del Potro has been playing at a higher level; he’s had to. Just in the last two matches, he played and beat the 6 and 3 seeds. He’s there already. His nerves and body and mind are engaged. Nadal has to engage that level, which he has not done in weeks.
The other point that the CCO (Chief Content Officer) of this blog advocates is that the hard courts crown a true HC champion. You know, if you’ve invested in this blog, that Nadal’s tennis is hit or miss on HC. If Del Potro is still playing at that level that we saw in the QF or in the last half of this R16 match, Nadal won’t be able to stay with the 2009 U.S. Open champ.
Nadal prefers the soft-hearted foe whom he can bully, or at least outlast. Emotion and momentum play huge rolls in the Spaniard’s tennis; he likes to finally get on top and pummel his victim. Guys like Novak, Stan and Juan (among a few others) don’t succumb so easily to the Spaniard’s bully tactics.
If Del Potro is playing with the same energy he had in the last two matches, he wins this.
The complication, of course, concerns the speed of the court and Juan’s fatigue. The court is still rewarding the big, flatter ball and I hope for the gentle giant’s cause that he can represent himself tonight.
He deserves this just as the sport does.
A Nadal win, which wouldn’t really surprise me, works because of his tremendous year and his incredible fight: no one can deny the guy’s desire to win tennis matches, especially one of this magnitude.
Good luck to all four men and may justice prevail. Ha.
A key to the Del Potro game here tonight is his ROS.
He shook Federer a few times with that shot.