Nadal and My Stream-of-Consciousness

I’m in the business of trying to explain myself. That’s how this works, this blog at least.
My last post was all over the place, but still an impressive piece of stream-of- consciousness. No? Well, let’s just agree to disagree on that one. 😀

Thanks again to Wilfried for his article on top players’ connections to Paris-Bercy. As I said a few weeks back, I would like to build a little staff of contributors that will only add depth to this greatest tennis blog on the planet. I like the idea of variety since this could discourage you all from getting, perhaps, too tired of my crazy (genius) tennis imagination 😉

We need blogs like this one here more than we can imagine, I’m afraid. Obviously, I write about tennis, but you’ll probably see a move to address more topics and conversations as this lovely world of ours continues to seemingly spin out of control.

On and off the tennis court, what in the hell is going-on?

To stay off-court for a second here (pardon the social commentary), the “world” and its mainstream media are ill, have been plagued with greed and other deadly sins (hence the importance of “other” media even if many social media are, in fact, obnoxious and, as we’re learning more and more, actually a terribly effective sociopolitical tool used against our better judgment, both personally and politically).

America, my home, seems to be leading the way on this theme park-like ride of crazy and reckless political and social themes. I am ashamed of so much of this recent political swill that we’ve all been forced to consume. Politics, from my limited perspective, has always been a corrupt kind of incomprehensible world of people pursuing power often saying almost anything to get votes, more power, attention, people scared, sympathetic, etc. At this point, people are angry, confused, defensive and scared.

With my little voice, I apologize, on behalf of my America. At the same time, we’re definitely not alone in running this horror show, but we have, for awhile, maintained a strong leadership position in this very threatening government-by-the-financially-powerful (which seems inherently greedy and disinterested in living and breathing species and their environments – schools, the actual environment, food, etc.).

To be fair, the system is really the issue, so even Trump, in my humble opinion, in the end, signifies just our latest messenger, or by-product (the horror). In other words, the illness is much bigger than the clown-like, narcissistic orange man who sits in the White House. But enough of this dreary and depressing discourse that almost no matter what you or I say, or how we say it becomes, for readers, a kind of diatribe rife with personal politics, ideology and defensive dialogue disguised as thoughtful debate.

Back to tennis.

Nadal is out in Paris due to injury, the right knee still the issue.
Yes, the old right knee, the one I documented here in Shangahi:

After Shanghai, he didn’t play Basel because of the knee. The knee appears to be what’s kept him out of finishing Paris (unless he suspected the draw would finish him off).

What about London? Curious why not, if the knee was that bad, sit-out Paris and give himself over three weeks of rest to prepare for what is the WTF, where the best-of-the-best square-off. We can defend Nadal until we’re blue and long in the tooth, but this decision to play Paris and put London in total jeopardy (not sure how he can conceivably play London if the knee is that bad that he can’t play a qualifier in Paris QF) seems a bit suspicious.

You can hear the voices: Is he dodging Federer?

Given he only needed one win at either Paris or London to consolidate the YE #1, is that what he did in Paris? I guess that’s a smart move if he’s too hurt to play a single full tournament. Consolidate #1 and call it a year. This has to be what he’s considering at this point. Why even go to London at this point?

How you feel about this set of circumstances depends on who you are. Some will find his move here practical; even the likes of Guy Forget think Nadal was professional in his decision to play Paris (at least a couple of rounds). Some will consider the #1 well-earned, the fruit of a remarkable year of tennis from AO through to the USO, winning 2 of 3 majors, making the final in a third, dominating clay, in the end doing enough to accumulate the most points needed to reach YE #1.

Others will call him out and say he got lucky and that this effort here, skipping Basel, bowing-out of Paris and skipping London is not a very stout representation of world #1.

Hopefully, you consider both viewpoints, and the several in-between, that your position is thoughtful and complicated because this situation is pretty complicated.

#1 is a huge achievement. Nadal and everyone around the sport knows this.

Despite however I feel about the knee and his finding #1 almost by default (although I will clarify Federer’s role in this in a minute), I have to eat a little crow on Nadal and say to everyone out there that apparently ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.

Are you familiar with my criticism of Nadal? About a year prior to that criticism, my critique of the flawed Fedal H2H hit the newsstands.

Referring here to the articles in which I explained my coined “Nadalism,” I was very tough on Rafa. These were penned in the winter of 2016, where he was still struggling to even be taken seriously on the tennis court of the time. 2015 represents a really low point for the Spaniard, so I had all of that informing these February articles/posts. He was embarrassing. Here’s a quick glance at his 2015, but remember that these numbers, like most statistical analysis, often do not tell even half the story; the eye test almost always proves to be the best discovery. His shot from both sides was short, impotent and his usual on-court aura of intimidation and confidence, gone.

Of course, I remember having a similar thought in 2012 about Rafa: he’s done.

And then we recall 2013.

But 2015 and 2016 were bad and given that the guy was getting into his 30s, I had had enough of the ever-injured, always volatile, always clay Rafael Nadal.

So, I have to be absolutely humbled by the tennis of 2017, no? Yes and no. The resurgence of Fedal has been quite the narrative, one that I have documented consistently on this old blog (#2017Fedal). His Australian Open run was truly incredible and he had the break on Federer in the 5th. He seemed to “normalize” a bit after that on the spring hard courts, leading into clay. And then, of course, he went berserk. We know how this season has panned-out for Nadal. We will always look amazed at his USO draw. But that’s not his fault. The numbers don’t lie.

Watching his run unfold throughout the year, I am not that shocked by #1. Watching the tennis in real time, we were able to see the campaign unfold before our very eyes.

Taking a step back, however, and not hiding from anything I’ve said on these pages of this blog, I am quite shocked how the tennis gods facilitated the rise of a 31 year old Nadal to #1 in the world. I have to acknowledge my very critical commentary on the crafty lefty. Even if you aren’t going to call me out, there you have it.

But as the season winds-down, we also have to acknowledge that this hasn’t ended all that great for the Spaniard (how in the hell do I say THAT after he reaches YE #1 for a 4th time in 2017, tying Johnny Mac, Lendl, and Novak. Remarkable stuff!).

Word is he’s probably not even playing London. We’re still in the land of speculation, but that’s almost certain to materialize in the next few days. More hard courts, along with the top eight players on tour, including one very hungry and motivated five-time WTF champ.

I stand by my assertion that we will know who is truly POY after Paris and London. Roger got that disturbing Basel title out-of-the way and has skipped Paris to prepare for London. Why? Because the WTF is the fifth major, folks. WTFs and YE #1s are practically a combined reward for a season’s dominance.

As I’ve said, Nadal is the player of the year as we speak. Points, No. 1, two majors, a third final. . .tough to argue.

But if Federer wins the WTF, his case will be equally impressive. Look at WTF and YE #1s. They’re quite the parallel, practically synonymous. I thought Nadal would be healthy enough for this ever-important end-of-the-year test after his self-inflicted right knee injury in Shanghai 😉  I thought he’d make London a priority.

At the same time, he’s still #1. . .

To be continued. . . tomorrow, where we qualify 2017, aka the Murkovic disappearance and ATP field implosion, and how a 36 year-old ended-up really playing like a 36 year-old, including his God-forsaken racquet!

Stay-tuned. We have a lot of work to do!

2 comments

  1. Wise words matt, and not just about the tennis. I only once spent any extended time in the US: in 1995, in the state of Virginia. As it happens the big controversy in those parts back then also was over confederate statues. The issue was whether there was space in the rogue’s gallery of monument avenue, richmond for a great human being and a great champion: Arthur Ashe. Yeah America’s not in a good state at the moment (though not alone there by any stretch). But there are enough good americans to set that right so good luck with that!

What say you?