TB Note: Although as today (November 4) Rafael Nadal has won three titles so far this season (Hamburg, Stuttgart and Buenos Aires), in addition to reaching the finals of Madrid, Beijing and Basel, and the semifinals in Shanghai, and achieve his qualification for the Masters, this session will mean for him the first since 2004 that has failed to win one Grand Slam title, and the first in which it has fallen to tenth place in the world rankings, the lowest of his story from the April 18, 2005 (11). There are many reasons that may have led to the decline of titles and classification. And this is the first comment then crush our analyst.
By Guillermo Vilas
It always attracted me to see Nadal play; he always plays to the maximum of his power, even when the match does not require it, he is there and throw his “bomb” over and over again, which certainly ran him. In my case, I played with great intensity, a similar style but not with that constant force. I always remained alert to increase shoots power and speed at the key moments of the game, because I never admitted to thinking about losing.
Nadal, at his big peaks, always strategically dominated his matches; He expected to discover the weakness of the rival to “drilling” there all the time. And he did it wonders.
As a clay player, at Roland Garros, for example –as Sampras in hard-, there were his rivals who had to adapt to him. Creating a good atmosphere which favored him: always being candidate, a great media noise generated about his chances in each tournament. And that, instead of press him, enhanced him.
I played years with a broken foot and it became part of my existence. I incorporated the pain to my game. With Nadal I think something similar happened, he resisted until his body already not let him to continue. When someone is on a roll of victories, comes the next tournament and the only thing you are looking for is to follow without changing anything. You can scope that it will be difficult, but you just think about continuing winning and there, we use the extra effort to not stop: “I am losing, but I do not want to lose “, and keep thinking and thinking… Those who take this course are very stubborn and tenacious. But beware, all that sacrifice at the end catch up with you.
Perhaps, Nadal is going through that stage – more or less – we crossed many in similar situations. If you always had a system, and suddenly, you must innovate because the weakness of your body, the rivals warn the fail and attack and it seems that the player is over…
Earlier this year, when I saw him play in Buenos Aires, I felt that he was attentive and looking again for the way, in that is relentless. However, there is no doubt that he was not the same, the ball stayed shorter and he was forced to additional efforts, consequence of the point lack of dominance. The movements of his body do not have the same fluency and he had to reformulate his pattern of life. At the end, all that influences the final result because, even though you’re well technique, you don’t win because what brought you to win now is not.
When the champion begins to lose, a kind of black cloud is created in his environment, such as interviews, that only ask what´s happens to you? why are you playing so badly? And you, however, considers that you are on the good way, or at least you are trying to be. In some ways, that can demoralize anyone, in Nadal is noticeable in the face when he is angry or the match is not going well.
Nadal could try a mixture of systems beyond his line, vary and dose, because he has talent and, on Spanish genes, there is that quality, as a “toreada”, almost a brand concept in Spanish tennis. He sometimes try to impose it, but stops and returns to his original standard. His rivals would also be complicated against him if he plays with less physical demand, not so to the limit of his physical. I see he is exploring a way to win in today’s conditions, and because he hits so strong and forced, becomes tired. Age, i do not believe that it is crucial now, but can add, and all those who play with such vehemence are afraid to break themselves.
Nor do I speak too much because I don´t know in depth the problems that had Nadal and not would be ethical for me to advise him. I see a person who search and search and want to finish the match as soon as possible. And he takes that pressure, simply because nobody plays like him.