Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Rafa has done it!
I can only think of saluting Rafa as achieving a career grand slam in men's tennis is one hell of a task. In the open era, only Laver, Agassi, Fed and Rafa have done it and during Laver's time there were no hard-courts either. It has been a great metamorphosis for Rafa as critics called him a one trick pony, but now they have to eat their own words and have been made to look foolish as he has achieved a career grand slam.
It was about five years ago, when the lovable Aussie Pat Rafter said in a interview that look out for this new kid on the block Nadal as he has a huge forehand and can generate enormous top-spin. Since that interview, I have kept track of Rafa's career. He has improved his game beyond recognition and with him winning the US open, it is proved beyond doubt that he is an all court player. Here is a player, who didn't even had a decent back-hand, when he took Roger to four sets at Wimbledon in 06, but with time, he can hit cross-court winners of his back-hand, can play the slice back-hand, has improved his game at the net and even his serve has improved. Of course, he has a huge forehand and covers the court beautifully. In short, he is a complete player now. I also liked the fact that Rafa played just couple of tournaments going into the US open and he didn't even play the Davis cup. In 08, he was in great form too, but came into the US open looking fatigued as he had won the gold at Olympics and had played more tournaments. In 09, his troublesome knees didn't help him.Actually, if he works on his schedule by focusing mainly on the majors like Roger does, he can last a lot longer than many expect him to.
Critics though, won't like to be left behind as they would point out that he didn't play Roger, Murray, or the injured Del Potro, so his victory is hollow. My simple question is don't they have any other work? The fact is, top seeds can get easier draws. So, can I say let us not count Fed's victory at the Aussie open in 06? Fed. reaching the final at the French in 08? or even his French open victory in 09? In the 06 Australian open, the only seeds I can remember Fed. meeting were Davydenko and Kiefer, who was seeded only 21. I am not sure whether Baghdatis was seeded in that tournament. In 08 French open, the only seed he met was perhaps Gonzalez, who was seeded as low as 24 and in 09, he won the French open without beating the emperor of clay Rafa himself. Nadal in this US open atleast had to beat the number three seed Djokovic, who had just beaten Federer, beat the number eighth seed Verdasco, who surprised many including me by playing better than expected and also the 14th seed Youzhny. So, who else could have beaten him? Soderling? Murray? Berdych? or even Davydenko? I don't think Soderling played any better than Verdasco, Berdych and Davy aren't in good form and as as far as Murray is concerned, it isn't Rafa's fault that he lost to a player like Wawrinka. He surely can't play Del Potro as he is injured!
I would again like to salute Rafa on his stupendous achievement. I can't leave out his mentor Toni Nadal either as he has helped him to improve his game and Rafa has to surely thank Toni for changing him from a natural right-hander to a left-hander. As far as Djokovic is concerned, he tried his level best, but in the end just couldn't match Rafa's physical fitness, his all-round game and he is mentally one of the toughest players I have seen on a sporting field.