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Nadal uncharacteristically takes over two hours to win opening round match at Hamburg.

Posted by tennisplanet on May 14, 2008

Rafael Nadal from Spain hits a ball during his second round match against Potito Starace from Italy at the ATP Masters Series tennis tournament in Hamburg, northern Germany, on Wednesday, May 14, 2008. Nadal won 6-4, 7-6.  

Scarface even had two freaking break points against him, converting both. Is this the first glimpse of a scenario that’s likely to produce a new champion at Roland Garros? It’s not that he was exhausted from playing so many events like last year. And even if he was, opening round is the last place for those signs to surface.

With a lot tougher opponent in Murray awaiting next, this is not the kind of match Nadal wants, going into the final tune up event for Roland Garros. The only logical explanation is that his blister has not healed completely to allow him to freely impose his physical game. If that really is true, it is only going to get worse. Then it’s just a matter of someone taking him out of his misery early so he can be totally fit for Roland Garros. The relinquishing of the No. 2 rank may not have to wait for that semifinal battle against Djokovic. It could happen NOW.

With Djokovic picking up where he left off at Rome, with an easy win in about an hour against a clay court specialist, Chela, is the inevitable getting moved up?

Nadal is clearly frustrated for a so many reasons. He failed to win a single title on hard courts this season, despite coming so close at Chennai and the AO, rise of Djokovic to challenge his rank, ATP altering the clay schedule, opening round loss at Rome are some factors fuelling his rage. As if all that was not enough to play havoc with him mentally, the blister shows up to even it up with his physical game.

If Nadal does not revert to his clay game in a hurry, Murray is very likely to finish the job in the third round. If it happens, both Federer and Djokovic will find themselves in the same boat they were in at Rome. Only this time, the title will be on the line since it will be the finals, barring any sore body parts.

If Nadal falters here, it will be his first step at the top of the slippery slope eventually taking him out of the top five by year end, for sure, if not the top ten. All blame will be laid at Barcelona and the bonehead decision despite enough evidence to the contrary.

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8 Responses to “Nadal uncharacteristically takes over two hours to win opening round match at Hamburg.”

  1. Sarah said

    Rafael time on the court this early in the tournament is a concern. I’m sure he concerned too. He will need to cut down on time on court; better yet get a retirement or two.
    Hopefully his decision to play doesn’t hurt his performance in the French.

    Good luck tomorrow Rafael, and I’m hoping you can beat Andy in about an hour.

  2. anna said

    Obviously you didn’t watch the two matches if you are putting Chela’s performance in the same “clay court specialist” category as that of Starace’s today on court. Starace played a marvelous match. He was firing on all cylinders. Whereas Chela looked like a “wet noodle” out there in comparison. I don’t think that Murray is up to the task of taking out Nadal. Nadal got off to a bit of a slow start in the beginning, but give credit to Starace he played magnificent but I am happy that Nadal was up to the challenge and came away with the win. Here’s hoping for a Federer/Nadal final again.

  3. Anand_101 said

    I think this meltdown was to be expected. You can’t keep numbing your injury and keep playing forever, especially when your style is takes so much running and effort each match. Same goes for Djoker and whatever pills he pops during matches for his nose / breathing. Ignore the body and pay day arrives sooner rather than later.

  4. Jenny said

    I go along with Anna. LOL ‘wet noodle’ summed up Chela’s performance perfectly today, he can play better than that. I agree Starace played brilliantly and he nearly took Rafael to a third set. Well done Rafael for getting through in 2.

  5. saras said

    TP…agree with you.
    Nadal, with his style of game, drains a lot out of him.The amount of beating the body takes,one can imagine.Not for too long, before his body is gives up.Unless Nadal makes some changes his game play ,as it has already been predicted, his reign at top will be in jeopardy.Djoker , as he gets older, his breathing is not going to get any better.Djoker may take over Nadal’s spot No. 2,but maintaining it is a whole different story.This shows how consistent Roger must have been to maintain his Apex spot.Roger ,still living with the after effect of MONO…has struggles of his own.Big IF..he overcomes that ,then he has a chance at RG.With his kind of play ,the smooth streamline flow of his movements Roger is for the long haul.,unless injury takes over him…Then there are few upcoming players…my reding is,Djoko spot will still be shaky at No.2,if he gets there.Lets not forget N.Davydenko, a quiet contender…no obvious medical condition yet.Sure is going to be interesting…The tennis is getting really a thrilling now…Good luck to all the wannabes’…Fans have a great exciting year ahead….Love it…

  6. chieko said

    I still hope for a Federer / Nadal final..Pleasssseee!

  7. cms said

    Sarah – “Djoker may take over Nadal’s spot No. 2,but maintaining it is a whole different story.”

    Exactly, I totally agree with you. He’s done a great job at keeping to number 3 for the last year, but the farther up you go, the harder it is to maintain. We’ll see.

  8. Sarah said

    Rafael cut down on his time on court. This match was 1 hour and 17 minutes. Congratulations, Rafael.

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