kefuoe made sure I knew about this article in ATP’s Deuce online magazine.
Rafael Nadal is a man accustomed to getting what he wants or, more to the point, taking what he earns.
“Earns” is right.
But what about the five losses in five years: Can any lessons be gleaned from Nadal’s defeats? In trying to identify a game plan to beat the Spaniard, it could be argued that other factors had as much, or more, to do with the five losses than did the play or tactics of the winner.
In other words, the losses had more to do with Rafa’s his mental/physical/emotional state and court conditions than the tactics of his opponents.
Indeed it is. A few players have shown the ability to truly compete with Nadal on clay in short bursts – perhaps for five or six games or even for long enough to eke out a set like Djokovic did in Monte-Carlo – but almost always Nadal pulls away when that intensity inevitably begins to wane. Djokovic’s heroic performance in the epic Madrid semi-final is a glaring exception and one that may give his fellow players hope. But how many players honestly believe they can win three sets against Nadal at Roland Garros, where the clay king has never been taken to a fifth set?