Hey all, I don't often post about non Federer related matches but I thought the Indian Wells final deserved a quick post as Rafael Nadal made the perfect comeback to Masters 1000 tournament play defeating Juan Martin Del Potro 4-6 6-3 6-4.
I watched both Nadal's semi final against big time choker Tomáš Berdych where he wasn't overly impressive and then the final where he played unreal to defeat Juan Martin Del Potro in a crazy match. In the end I suppose it's quite pleasing that Roger lost to the eventual winner of the tournament but looking ahead to the rest of the year Nadal is a scary prospect.
Nadal = Superman
It's hard to describe this guy, I mean he is just unreal. He takes 7 months off with dodgy knees that are supposedly career threatening and then comes back and plays at a ridiculous level in the final to move 1 clear of Roger again in all time Masters 1000 victories.
It's not like he just played great in the final either, he was back at his prime level if not better. He was facing the biggest hitter in the game who was playing out of his skin for most of the match but still hung in there to win in the end.
The way Del Potro was playing he'd have beaten anyone in the world that day all but Nadal. I have no doubts he'd have beaten Roger here as he was back at his 2009 level. His groundstrokes were bombs, yet they kept coming back.
The problem for Del Potro here was you have to win the point about ten times over before you count Nadal out which makes it almost impossible to keep up for an extended period.
If it was a one set shootout Del Potro wins every day, but Nadal just wore him down and tired him out. Del Potro's exploits against Murray and Djokovic won't have helped his cause either but he was at top level for most of the match and it still wasn't enough.
Nadal's court coverage is ridiculous, he is an out and out road runner, tracking down balls for fun time and time again coming up with ridiculous shots to stay in the point. Let's be clear Del Potro outplayed him with power hitting for a set and a half but he couldn't sustain that level whereas Nadal just got better and better as the match wore on.
Del Potro was in scary form in the first set after going down a break early to turn it around and take it 6-4. He even went up a break in the second set but you just can never count Nadal out, he is just too good mentally and physically for almost everyone. Probably the only guy that is capable of beating him in this kinda form these days is Djokovic. Which says a lot about him too.
I'd just like to say before anyone launches into a tirade and starts making excuses for Roger or slating Nadal calling him a doper in the comments, please don't as that debate has been had to death. Let me just clear a few things up:
- Am I a Nadal fan? No, I do not like him but I can't argue with his clutchness and physical capabilities.
- Is he doping? Potentially, but it is completely unproven so we need to leave that debate for now.
The fact is you have to pay a little bit of respect to Nadal for what he has done here. He's been out for ages and is the first person in 2013 to win three titles and is currently 17-1 for the season. Quite scary when you think about it.
Loads of armchair tennis fans started writing him off after losing to Zeballos in his first tournament back, saying he's done. But then he destroys his whipping boy Ferrer in Acapulco and wipes the floor with the field in Indian Wells. Like him or not, the guy has a big match temperament and is physically superman. He runs all day and plays every point like his life depends on it, it's hard to fathom really, it almost blows my mind.
Like I said, we have to leave the doping debate for another day, to be honest it makes a lot of Federer fans look bad continually bringing it up, it's as though they are searching for excuses which I'm a little bored of. Roger never made excuses so neither should his fans.
Besides, as my friend Ru-an said, if Nadal is doping then karma will catch up with him, look what happened with Lance Armstrong. So with no evidence it's by the by. All we know is Nadal is back and he's playing scary tennis again.
And regardless, it's quite clear that Roger isn't the 2nd best player in the world on current form, can he get back there? Yes. But fan excuses don't help. We know he has a bad back but his attitude and mental walkabouts have cost him lately too, not just injury. Hopefully this two month break does him good.
Quick Thoughts on Del Potro
I can't write this post without touching on Del Potro, simply the final wouldn't have been what it was without him. I'd say that when he is firing on all cylinders he's probably the best player in the world. Just he suffers from two things – he's not the most consistent and his fitness isn't the greatest.
If he were to sort those things out then I have no doubts he'll blow everyone off court including Nadal like he managed to do for 1 1/2 sets yesterday.
He's in a good position here too, because both those things can be sorted out with hard work and practice. It's not like his forehand has a stupid technical flaw or he has a lack of talent. He has all those things in abundance along with the biggest game in the sport right now.
It's almost up to him whether or not he wins multiple slams now, the jury is still out somewhat as he's still Masters 1000 less and of course he has to stay injury free which hasn't been easy for him but on his day Del Potro is a force to be reckoned with.
What Does This Mean for Federer?
It's almost scary if you're a Federer fan here, ask yourself this, what happens if he meets Nadal in a slam?
Roger messed up plenty of times in his prime in slams against Nadal by being stubborn so how does he possibly handle the resurgent Nadal who is now back to his best and almost better than ever?
He hasn't beaten Nadal in a slam since 2007 anyway so it doesn't bode well that's for sure. I almost hate the prospect of them meeting as the outcome is almost guaranteed. Nadal is the ultimate machine on court, he epitomises clutchness whereas Fed has a habit of choking against him.
He is the anti-Federer when you think about it. Harsh reality and no doubt some Fed fans won't like it but I don't see him beating Dull in a slam again. You just have to be realistic.
Before you give me a list of reasons Roger can beat him in a slam, I'm not saying it's impossible Roger can win over 5 sets against him but it's highly unlikely on any surface. Especially if Nadal is at full fitness.
There is maybe only way Roger beats him and that's if he plays like Goderer for 5 sets; nothing more, nothing less. Whether or not Roger can get to that level against Nadal is the question. I have a feeling we'll find out sooner rather than later.