Nadal uncharacteristically takes over two hours to win opening round match at Hamburg.
Posted by tennisplanet on May 14, 2008
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.