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 Emilio Sanchez Vicario.
Sitting here in front of my computer, scanning 15 years of articles and blogs, reviewing my memory of TV and radio commentary and my awareness of Nadal as an amazing junior player, I realize this is the first time in almost two decades I write of a different Rafael Nadal. And it is the first time I don’t need adjectives to talk about Nadal’s many gestures and habits or speak with admiration. What I say may seem ordinary. I’m going to write about a normal person. Throughout his career, Nadal has been an example, a leader in everything he has done, a mirror to measure others, ourselves and himself. Now, it seems that for the first time Nada has forgotten much of what’s in that mirror – all that energy has evaporated and become vulnerable.
I’d like to talk about the reasons for this. Being away from the Tour I may miss some nuances. I can point to technical reasons, as some of his shots have changed due to difficulties of mobility or for tactical reasons. Since returning from his latest injury, Nadal has tried to be much more aggressive, matches were shorter and his superior endurance matters less. The result is that Nadal’s play allows his rivals to stick more to their game without getting as tired. This causes Nadal doubts that he never had, affecting his focus, the objective, the MENTAL aspect. It is as if he can’t accept the new situation, and the result is the opposite of what has happened throughout his life.
Look at what happened in New York at the US Open. He was up 2 sets in the match against Fabio Fognini, with breaks and advantages. Breaking three serves in the third, fourth and fifth set, and then losing. This is something that has never happened to him before. Critics are asking him to change his coach, skeptics say he should to quit, and the disbelievers say that Nadal will never be the same. My opinion is that he must face the why, what makes him doubt. He should sit down to think, dissecting the issues to the bone without any avoidance. No thinking about the past or in the future, or opponents’ games.
He needs to truly look himself in the mirror , to dissect where he is today in the present, what he doesn’t have that he used to have and all the things he has now that he didn’t have in skills, and then adjust the tactics and mental (CAN HE DO THAT?), that ANALYSIS and honest assessment in the PRESENT, without being encumbered by history and expectations, can he be so present and so brutally honest about that assessment , with his current team around him.
Because he is so about habit and family and loyalty and history, that perhaps he cannot , and perhaps without someone to help be PRESENT, those around him can’t do that with him.
They are about the history, they are his history and his family, for him personal and professional are the same in many of his people.
And they have expectations. They are an entourage. He carries them. He is responsible for their livelihood. This is always a problem when someone hits bumps who is the star, media, movies, sports, if he stop, what does everyone else do? So it’s a lot to carry when you need to be really selfish to have a good second act, to adapt, when they represent your history and have expectations of the future and you carry those with you.
The expectatives betray you and don’t let you think on your tools (TECHNICAL), in how to manage those (TACTICAL) in how much time you can use them (PHYSICAL) and the quality on how to use them (MENTAL).
Now, Rafa has the same problems as the rest of the humans. He has become normal and only the ones that manage to put together those four factors at the end become exceptional.