Steve Tignor has given out his quarterly grades. Rafa gets a B:
I wrote at the start of the year that Nadal would need one match, or one tournament, that will let him flip the switch on his confidence. Once he got it, he’d be as tough to beat as ever. So far this season, just when you think he’s about to have that tournament—in Doha, in Indian Wells, in Key Biscayne—he loses a lead and a match that appears to be his. The downside is that over the last year a lot more guys have had success attacking Nadal—Roddick was the latest example—and Nadal has had more trouble finding a way to counter those attacks, to come up with the one key return or pass that clinches a win. He’s playing well, at times as well as ever. But has just enough of his old aura of indomitable tenacity worn off that the next tier of players now feel they can beat him when it’s tight? Or has he done enough to get his game in order so he can flip the switch once again on clay? If you believe in history, you have to go with the latter. B
Fingers crossed, Steve, fingers crossed.