Milton Bot asks, what does Doha mean for:
Rafael Nadal? After pasting his early round opponents and speaking confidently of his play, Rafa fell in straight sets against Gael Monfils. This has, interestingly enough, been a pattern for the Spaniard in Australia the past two years.
He had not lost even a set going into his semi match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga last year and was then blown off the court, much as he had been by Fernando Gonzalez the year before.
Monfils, Jo-Willy and Gonzo are among the streakiest, heaviest hitters in our sport, and this makes Rafa’s predicament apparent: Someone catches a hot streak Down Under and Rafa’s patient, grinding game plays right into their hands.
Should they run into such a player in this year’s event, Rafa and Uncle Toni need to form a back-up plan for taking that kind of player out of his rhythm.
I think most players know that Rafa’s biggest weakness is strong (deep) hitters on hard courts and to me, that’s essentially what this post is saying. If the player can’t keep things together the whole match, Rafa can pull out a win. If they play amazing from start to finish (Tsonga in last year’s AO), Rafa needs a better, more aggressive plan 2. Rafa played amazing tennis in the first round of Doha – after that, his serve went a bit south and affected how aggressive he could play. His serve needs to be spot on at the AO, so let’s hope that Doha was the testing ground and AO will show the results.