If Hewitt had followed my game plan, Australia probably beats Spain in the SF. And if Spain’s Captain Roig had included my in-put in his ATP Cup Final match strategy, we might have had a different result in that tie, as well.
Nadal received a hard court tennis lesson yesterday from Djokovic, and then claimed “fatigue” as he sat-out the deciding doubles match. No one is saying much about this, but that’s pretty tough to watch, to fathom. Nadal leading his team valiantly throughout the tournament goes into the fetal position at the most important part of the competition.
Nadal is a solid doubles partner; Spain could have done more, perhaps, in that all-deciding rubber. His straight-set loss to Novak in the second singles match seems to be the real decider.
Granted, Nadal did have a ton of court-time on his legs, his schedule actually more taxing than Djokovic’s, but this was simply a scheduling issue; Spain played more consecutive days down the stretch and Nadal needing a bit more time to get through some of his matches added-up.
But this is international competition, the esteemed ATP Cup!
“Fuck it — we won the Davis Cup Finals in November and that’s the real international team competition,” Nadal was perhaps heard uttering.
I agree with him. But not an ideal way to end this here tournament.
How does this affect his preparation and confidence for Melbourne? Of course, the draw is so important, so we’ll have to wait. But if Novak gets to the final again at his favorite major, tough to see anyone able to overcome that kind of hard court mastery.
Although Nadal didn’t have much in his exchange with the Serb yesterday, we did get a chance to see Novak’s business-end quality, reaching that ridiculous level on the biggest stage, where he’s lethal from either wing, his serve is tip-top and the ROS just crushes opponents’ will to compete. I still think he could help himself by coming forward a bit more, but when his game (especially the BH) is that dialed-in, who cares.
The first set was a tremendous example of general depth of shot comparison. Nadal’s strokes were hitting the service line, Djokovic’s flirting with the BL. We also had the more specific analysis mid match of player court position when hitting their shot. Novak in a Federer-like position, was on the BL or inside the court. In contrast, Nadal was seen drifting back, or staying there from his ROS position.
Nadal looked pretty unenthused throughout until he made a little push in that second set to get to a TB. Not a good surface for Nadal against Djokovic. One of the commentators even pointed-out that Djokovic, by the numbers, is more dominant against Nadal on hard courts than Nadal is against Djokovic on the red dirt. Novak’s superiority on hard courts got a big boost of publicity yesterday.
I won’t overlook another important factor in play with the Djoker: Novak seems to love playing both Nadal and Federer in those big matches. Just the way it is, as if that younger sibling has come-of-age and really taking-it to his elders (Nadal not that much older, but you get the point).
We’re on to Melbourne.
I’ll post a write-up on the year — looking ahead, particularly at the big 3 (like I said I would about a month ago).
I bring this to your attention because this important to address (keep-up the good work, Greta) and because I am now working with urgency on getting this bloody ebook finished. You know: HRFRT.
Seems like ole Rog is really mucking-up the place. 😀