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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Rafael Nadal and his unprecedented experience in chaos

Rafael Nadal beams during his match against Taylor Fritz yesterday (Photo by Marco Bortorello/AFP via Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal has not won a single match since defeating Richard Gasquet in the third round of the US Open. We are talking about 4th September i.e. two months and 10 days back on Sunday. In any other circumstance, we would be talking about a player in decline, highly punished by injuries and with his head over Manacor and his newborn son. Now, one has to be very brave to admit all this: Nadal has four games left in the season. If he wins all four, he will end this season as the world number one.

It’s hard to summarize the ups and downs of Nadal’s year in a few lines, so perhaps the best summary is to document the chaos and constant surprises. Rafa ends 2021, for a change, injured. He missed the entire season prior to the US Open and spent the fall training and recovering. When he returned to the circuit in January at the age of 35 and a half, few believed in his chances. He didn’t even give himself as a favorite at all… But he won the Melbourne tournament and then came from two sets behind Medvedev to win his 21st Grand Slam in Australia., A shocking surprise.

Nadal’s series did not stop here: He rested for a month and won the Acapulco tournament, also on hard courts, without losing a set and against such rivals as Medvedev himself and Cameron Norrie. All this before landing in Indian Wells and making it to the semi-finals, where suddenly everything changed. That match against Carlos Alcaraz marked Rafa’s twentieth consecutive win to start the year, the best record of his entire career… But Manakor’s man didn’t seem comfortable serving and was intimidating against Kishor.

However, the next day, she took the court to play against Taylor Fritz in the final. In theory, there must have been a process for a player on such a streak of sporting successes. However, something was wrong. Nadal still didn’t serve well and showed unusual gestures of pain, He lost the match and subsequent tests showed that his Castilla was broken. I had to stop This thing had been going on for a little over a month, right before he returned to the clay court tour, But really that was the beginning of the end of the season.

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and that, Since that Indian Wells final (about eight months ago), Nadal has played only twenty-four matches. Three in a month, wow. The grassroots tour was a disaster: he could not play Monte Carlo, he did not reach Godot, he lost in the quarterfinals in Madrid and in the second round in Rome. No one knows how, in spite of everything, he was consumed by pain – this time in his leg – and, According to his own testimony, entered a state of not feeling his legs, if that were possible and not an exaggerationBy winning his thirteenth Roland Garros in June.

Nadal’s career was over at that point after just two months of being unbeatable tournament after tournament… but Rafa is Rafa. Within a few short weeks, he was kicking things off at Wimbledon. Not only that, but standing in the semifinals with an abdominal muscle strain that would have left either of us lying in bed and not hitting a hundred miles an hour. and winning matches up to five sets. Since then, I already say, small talk. They lost in the first round in Montreal, reached the round of 16 at the US Open and again did not win a match.

What do I mean by all this? That now it would be too easy to say: “Rafa is finished, his time has come, he will never win a big again, he will never be what he was” and all this and so on. But how do you say that, in November, to a man who had 20 straight wins in March and who has won four tournaments on the year, including two majors? It’s clear that Nadal has a problem, but I’m not sure it’s tennis’ problem. Suddenly, you are out of sync with your surroundings and everything is going an inch in the wrong direction. Separates initiative from defense, separates victory from defeat.

Nadal has gone through three serious injuries this year and became a father to his wife after a complicated pregnancy. He has accomplished all of the season’s objectives and has also seen how after nearly twenty years the media attention has shifted away from him and focused on a nineteen-year-old boy from Murcia. If you think about it, it is logical that you lose with the best of the best. And the general thing, let’s not kid ourselves, is that he comes to Auger Aliassime on Tuesdays and Caspar Rude on Thursdays.

But, I want to say that nothing has been normal in Rafa’s season and as a result, It’s been like this for the whole of June and nothing since November because it completes the cycle and in six days we have to talk about the new number one and its first final achievement After qualifying eighteen years. I don’t play it, it will just disappear. Let’s wait a bit and then draw conclusions. If a year like this demands anything, it is wisdom.

video | Nadal falls to Fritz in Turin

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