Quick Nadal v Del Potro Preview

US-Open-2017-851366

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.

PS
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.

PPS
A key to the Del Potro game here tonight is his ROS.
He shook Federer a few times with that shot.

11 comments

  1. Missed the match, but from the score, I think what I feared came true: Delpo gassed out after 2 draining matches, and his BH got exposed. So after all, it was preordained that Nadal win this USO. Anderson will be such a cakewalk slam final opponent.

    Trivia: is this the first time someone winning a slam without having to play a single top 20 player?

    1. Watch the replay. The BH was not the issue. But Nadal just had all day, sat 15+ feet behind the BL on ROS, and spun his way to a dominant win. Too bad DP couldn’t back up the first set. It was ominous for Nadal early. But . . .

      Probably yes on the trivia.

  2. What a shame, I was rooting badly for DP, it would have been poetic had he won his second USO. Alas the tennis gods have decided that this year was going to be the year of Fedal.

    I remain critical of Federer’s WB Victory, because I still believe that he was basically uncontested throughout the tournament. Sad to see the same is indeed happening at this year’s USO for Nadal. DP is a quality opponent, but as Matt observes, we must acknowledge that Nadal has found a way to exploit his weaknesses, DP nowadays just can’t keep physically up with the Spaniard. If we had seen the 2009 SF where Nadal comfortably just returned the balls for DP to smash them down the line, this was Nadal correcting his approach and tiring the giant out rather than playing to his strengths like in 2009.

    Anderson will have to play out of this world to fend off a hungry and physically fit Nadal who in Slam final is nigh impossible to stop. Unless he has finds the right weapons to stop him. Let us hope for a competitive match, on paper it seems like a guaranteed Nadal victory, but nothing in life is certain other than servitude and death under my tyrannical rule.

    1. Out of his skin? Anderson will have to play his best ever match, and not choke against a top player – for once.

      How even Anderson is even going to consistently ace Nadal when he’s standing 18-20 feet behind the baseline on the return, I have no idea.

  3. Anderson has saved this tournament from the final it deserved: nadal v busta. His reward will be a routine defeat by a rampant rafa. The spaniard has been playing like a drain for a month but when he needed to he was able to turn it on. Delpo wasn’t able to hit through him and didn’t have the wheels or the gas to stay in the rallies. Agree about the lack of competition for fedal. The Aus open was a classic but the FO, WB and US have been coronations. The fedal duopoly is better than the murkovic borefest that 2017 could have been. But even the biggest roger and rafa fans must regret the lack of competition. There is some light on the horizon in the shape of zverev, el shapo and rublev. Hopefully they’ll turn out to have more game and more spine than the failed generation. I’d like to suggest that predicting a successful GS run by dimitrov be made a punishable crime. Caligula can decide on the appropriate punishment. Sorry for Delpo, he deserved better. But deserve’s got nothing to do with it.

    1. Zverev, Shapstick, Rublev. . . I don’t see any of these “talents” who can stay 5 sets with the legends. I suspect Murray and Djokovic, especially the latter, will come back roaring in 2017, refreshed and frothing at the abundant opportunities.

      Think of the gap between the rest of the tour and even an aging Fedal. It’s enormous. These legends can go ahead and take long breaks and still go deep into these majors and scare people for years.

      Nadal rampant like this is just bizarre. It’s less skill than it is heart and fear: he is a frankenstein, as I’ve argued, built to destroy; he’s as scared as his victims. Standing 20 feet deep and spinning the crap out of shots to players’ weaknesses or this or that idiosyncratic volatility held together by his uncle’s rage. . . bizarre.

      And none of these middle to lower class players can do a thing about it. Next year will be Nole and Muzzard, a little Stan and a few other wild cards. Fed and Nadal will be lurking as well.

      Not sure what the Dimitrov reference is to: me? I wanted Nadal’s draw to come to life even a little. Picking the Bulgarian? No. Just wanting some competitive balance. This major has been awful. We needed bodies, anyone, to make this even interesting.

      And Caligula will be too busy celebrating his muse’s victory to be called upon for such council. Don’t let the graying King fool you.

      1. TBH the tour is jaundiced at the moment. If Federer and Nadal retire soon, it’ll be very close the state of the WTA.

        Let me go out on a limb and say that next year will be Djokovic’s. It just has to be.

      2. Absolutely agree that zverev and the others are not competitive yet in BO5. The hope is that when they mature physically they will turn out better than the failed generation. But it’s just a hope. I agree about the state of the field at present and suspect you’re right about djokovic next year. The (opaque I see) dimitrov point was that it’s the hope that really kills. His run in aus was an unexpected joy but if we vest our hopes in the Bulgarian (even based on sound analysis of his form) he has shown again and again that he will disappoint us. Would have loved to see a USO rematch of the aus clash with nadal and the bulgarian looked great in his win in cinci. So the comment didn’t relate to your as ever shrewd analysis. I suggested caligula to devise a punishment because he’s a sadistic madman.

  4. Matt, is this allowed in tennis:

    If Nadal is going to receive KA’s serve standing in Manhattan – would it be possible to dink a little underarm/and or disguise a normal serve shot? One that barely clears the tape landing in the service box to keep him guessing?

What say you?