RafaLint: October 15th

 Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Rafa will play Wawrinka in the Shanghai quarterfinal at 3:30 pm local time. (Or way too soon for me to get any sleep first.)


Non-deep thoughts:

During this year as everyone’s been saying, “It’s not just confidence, he’s playing like crap, he’s moving slower, yadda.” I kept thinking that yeah, he is doing all those things, but it’s due to a lack of confidence. I kept remembering a Tignor article about how much Rafa’s game is defined by confidence. Today, I finally searched for it. Needless to say, this struck a chord with me when I read it, and I still find it to be true.

A Player to Watch – by Steve Tignor

Nadal is, more than any other Hall of Fame player I’ve seen, a creature of confidence.

Of course, Nadal isn’t the only tennis player who lives on confidence, and it’s obvious that you have to feel pretty good about your game to go for an inside-out forehand winner down break point in the fifth set of the Wimbledon final. But confidence means even more to Nadal than it does to just about everyone else. Even his resourcefulness, his on-court intelligence and thinking process, are dependent on it. By the end of 2009, when Nadal had no belief in himself whatsoever, it wasn’t just that he’d stopped hitting the ball well. What was strange was that he wasn’t using all of his mental and strategic resources to try to turn matches around. At the final event in London, where he lost six straight sets, Nadal did little more than get to the ball and hit it back over the net. Like I said, it’s hard to think of other players of his stature whose level—whose belief, mood, even the effectiveness of his signature shots—varies so wildly.

(In my searching, I ran across another old favorite of Tignor’s – how can I not love an article that uses Rafa’s eyebrows as a metaphor for his game? And how perfect is the expression “aggressive concern” for his eyebrows, game and on-court demeanor?)


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