This post is not about the World Tour Finals, beginning in a week.

I’m just taking a minute to share’s big headline today, this esteemed organization’s main page excitement!


You can’t make this up. He’s soured again a prestigious 1000 final four, protecting himself in more ways than one. Yet here, on the eve of the ATP Finals, a week out, we celebrate this weak announcement, bursting at the seams in all of it’s timely irony, that Nadal is, again, #1.

Happy Monday!

4 thoughts on “WTF

  1. Tony

    Matt: enjoying the blog and the pull-no-punches analysis. Because I know you enjoy a, shall we say, frank and open exchange of differing opinions, allow me to ask: what, exactly are you suggesting about Nadal, and — more importantly — what evidence do you have bolstering these insinuations?

    So, he’s faking injury to, what? — avoid playing Djokovic? They guy he has faced a mere 54 times in his career, in huge matches across every major championship venue? But he’s play acting about an abdominal strain — while in very good form, no less — to “protect himself”
    from a Masters 1000 semi? Huh?

    If you are arguing he was being overcautious, and should have played: 1) how do you know the extent of his injury? 2) why would he risk a more severe, fully debilitating problem while the year end #1 is still in the balance?

    Having read many of your excellent posts re: Fedalovic Trinity, I know you find Nadal’s game aesthetically displeasing and his OCD tics, his slow play, his baseline positioning infuriating. But the guy has always been a warrior — and has met the two imposters of victory and defeat with grace and class. Your suggestion that something “smells” and that Nadal has “soured” the year end calendar, smacks of tinfoil hattery. It can’t be that he’s legitimately injured? Only a naif or a hopeless fanboy would be gulled by this? Well, I’d say the burden of proof is on you. What really is the basis for this theory? Count me unpersuaded.

    Thanks again for the excellent and insightful writing. I will await your whithering retort.


    1. Tony,
      Thanks for the comment. This is always welcomed — and, indeed, I do really enjoy these kinds of discussions, especially the opportunity to exchange with other interested surveyors of the sport.

      The gist of your push back here sounds reminiscent of the discussions relating to accusations of drug use in the case of Nadal or other players/athletes. The defense for all such accusations remains (until this no longer works for a particular athlete) lack of proof; one of your lines is right out of this unfortunate and now pretty much buried debate: “what evidence do you have bolstering these insinuations?”

      For the steroid debate, for the defender of certain athletes, perhaps this kind of cross examination works (though we know with certainty that drug testing in the world of multi-billion dollar sports and multi-million dollar athletes is full of fraud and deceit).

      So, for starters, your line of questioning seems out-of-place. Wrong debate.

      Bottomline with Nadal is he has all kinds of complication with regards to his health and consistency; that’s just on the surface. That’s historical, which means there is proof.

      Do I have proof that he’s faking his abdominal strain? Of course not, but that’s not even the point.

      Yes, he’s a great champion, a guy who carries himself (especially off the court in front of a microphone) with class (and even some genuine candor on many occasions — the big 3 have all shown this, especially in recent years).

      But the injury bug is the stuff of legend, and that’s what’s probably my biggest question surrounding your comment. Questioning Nadal’s health is actually not unreasonable, at all.

      For one, this has been going-on (Nadal missing competition entirely or timely) his entire career. His recent runs at the USO have really helped his case here, but not having a Shanghai, Paris or WTF title shows that he still manages his schedule around a spring (clay) agenda, even as he’s become more of an all-surface player (see his IW w/d in March).

      Secondly, this kind of reasoning doesn’t seem to work: saying that Nadal won’t dodge Djokovic because he has already played Djokovic 54 times doesn’t make sense.

      One of my neighbors is doing some construction on his house, so several large trucks and such are going to-and-fro on a driveway shared by four houses. This will be, when all’s said and done, a 8-9 month (or more) project, which means a lot of wear-and-tear on said shared driveway.

      I asked him: are you going to perhaps (I made the suggestion, not the demand) going to look into repairing the driveway when you are finished, given the obvious wear-and-tear, given the extra-ordinary amount of heavy traffic on our normally minimally used driveway? This is not a reach on my part. The amount of abnormal traffic and wear-and-tear is undeniable.

      His response: it already has damage, already has wear-and-tear, so why should I fix it.

      That’s preposterous. Doesn’t make sense. An already damaged driveway does not preclude more damage occurring, especially given the current set of circumstances: rebuilding a giant house from the studs and using a shared driveway to complete this nearly year-long project.

      That’s laughable logic.

      Similarly, just because Nadal has played Djokovic many times through out their careers does not mean he will not choose to avoid playing him. Whether this actually happens is not even my point here: it’s your logic.

      Is there much at stake when the Big 3 play?

      Of course. This shouldn’t need explanation though I routinely do that here on this blog.

      These guys are playing for history. Period.

      Again, Nadal withdrawing at a 1000 SF occurred in IW this year, as well. I had a ticket for that match. He wanted to save himself for the clay. Fine. But this can be seen as reckless/irresponsible imho.

      Nadal is injury prone: maybe that’s all that is happening. If so, even that’s a problem. If you don’t think that’s a problem, you sound like a fanboy. This is a spectator sport. And this guy is an iffy proposition. There is proof of Nadal being an iffy proposition, throughout his career. Ask certain people who have attended ATP tournaments and paid hundreds and/or thousands of dollars for a chance to see the boys play, to see Nadal play.

      This is not some kind of one-off with Nadal, Tony. Sorry.

      This response hasn’t even gotten into this battle for #1.

      I can talk about that later.

      Let’s agree on this: it sucks that Nadal is injured.


      1. Tony

        Matt: I appreciate your perspective, and lest I descend into tedium (I know — too late!), let me finish with these observations:

        1) there is no dispute that Nadal has a history of injury, mostly with the knees, due to his physically demanding game.

        2) we can agree that these episodic and recurring ailments are unfortunate, and perhaps even annoying — certainly to paying fans who are deprived of seeing the best perform.

        3) Injuries, however, no matter how lamentable — particularly for the guy suffering them — are unforeseeable. There is no element of fault (unless one has not trained properly, hardly a failing of Nadal the Indefatigable) or intentionality. Yet your critique of Nadal assumed bad motive: dishonesty, pretext, lack of character, premeditation. There was talk of stinky doogans in trousers. That is a far cry from bemoaning: “It’s a shame Nadal cannot compete.” Indeed, it’s well beyond eye rolling over alleged fragility. (Query: it would be interesting to do a statistical analysis of whether Nadal’s time missed due to injury is truly excessive — without even controlling for variables like his gladiatorial style of play — or whether he is typical, but receives outsized notice due to his iconic stature within the sport.)

        My objection— which remains — was to the suggestion that there was something crooked and unethical (or perhaps entirely fictitious) about an abdominal strain. The evidence to suggest such a gambit is, in my view, entirely lacking and, moreover, the theory is wholly at odds with the competitive fury which has defined Nadal’s career.

        I, too, hope he is well, and can compete in top form in London.

        Best regards.


      2. I believe that if Federer is not his 2019 IW SF opponent (with Thiem and Raonic in the other SF), Nadal plays the SF.

        I also believe (maybe a bit less than the IW match) that if Djokovic is not in the Paris final, with only Shapo to beat, he plays the Paris SF.

        If you don’t think Nadal is careful and even clever with his schedule and with his “injury” management/prevention, you’re on a different planet from the one I’m on.

        As just one example (pretty sure this is accurate), Nadal was “injured” at the end of 2017, but only needed the points given to a Paris Masters QF birth to secure year-end #1. He got the points and withdrew from the quarters.

        If you think that’s just “smart,” you’re being naive.

        Nadal is certainly no dummy.

        To be clear, that kind of “vulturing” is unethical


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