A Thesis on Nadal plus Men’s Round Up

Sep 5, 2009

Is it just me, or did Nadal look like a different man? Call it admiration, call it fangirl-itis, call it whatever you will, but I am convinced that Rafael Nadal looks like a changed man. It’s not just the new hair and the bright lemon shirt (what is it with the Europeans and their Nu Rave colour obsessions?). He seemed athletic, concentrated, happy. Unless my eyes deceive me, he also looked thinner, and not in a bad way. Simply well-rested, as though he had been on a long holiday and had very carefully looked after himself the whole time.

That isn’t to say I now believe he will reach the finals. I think the Majorcan still has a long way to go before he reaches his original winning streak. But the issue over his knees appears to be very much ignored by Nadal, as he threw himself from one side of the court to the other with the accuracy and abandon he showed at the beginning of the year and all of last. His knees looked bionic, not tendinitis stricken. They’re all good signs, and I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point over the next year he hits that world no. 1 spot again.

Of course, it’s not like he doesn’t have competition. There’s a list a mile long of serious contenders for the US title: Andy Murray, Andy Roddick, Roger Federer, Juan del Potro….it just goes on and on.

His second round match, however, showed some of the cracks and strains that comes of being a player returning from an injury break. He struggled against Nicholas Kiefer, his form up-and-down. It got him through the match 6-0 3-6 6-3 6-4. Still, not a bad score line. But all it takes is for him to lose that little bit of vigour after coming back into the sport, and he could risk being pitched out.

Roger Federer brushed past Hewitt to get through the fourth round, despite some scary times in the opening set, which he lost 4-6. But this being Federer, he pulled stamina and some of his undeniable talent out of the bag and went on to win it 4-6 6-3 7-5 6-4. Lletyon Hewitt appeared to be overwhelming the Swiss world no. 1, but he just couldn’t keep up when Federer started to pull away. The Australian fans were supportive until the end, but even Aussie fans can be quietened by a undeniable loss.

Little blips appear to be in fashion in the top rankings right now; Andy Murray had some second set tremors against Paul Capedeville. Like Federer, Murray stepped things up a gear to win – with some impressive tennis – 6-2 3-6 6-0 6-2.

For every little blip over the past couple of days, there’s been a gladiatorial battle played out on the scorching courts at Flushing Meadows. One perfect example: Ivan Navarro of Spain’s match against American wildcard Tyler Dent. Navarro and Dent put each other through the wringer, and it was Dent who eventually got the upper hand and came out victorious. 6-4 5-7 6-7 7-5 7-6 (11-9). Just reading the scoreline makes you feel exhausted; what the two players had to go through seems unimaginable. Wildcard or no wildcard, Dent is a tricky customer and Murray will have to look out for that particular trait when they meet in their round three meet-up.

Also through are Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Gilles Simon, Marin Cilic, Juan Martin del Potro, Gael Monfils, Fernando Gonzales and Tomas Berdych.

As the numbers thin in New York, the attempts to figure out who will eventually be crowned Grand Slam champion at the end of the tournament are becoming more frantic. Still, I’ll leave that to those who enjoy predicting the future. I think I’ll just sit back and enjoy the last grand slam tennis of the season.


-          SophieG

Written by: SophieG

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