A Few Good Men
March 17, 2013 § Leave a comment
While some people dream of success, Rafael Nadal stays awake to achieve it. A true champion, his comeback has been a relentless, audacious display of self-belief and all those lost months, can finally be put behind him.Nearly a year without any hard court action, everybody just presumed that Rafa would be headed home after Acapulco. After all, here was a surface he had vehemently chastised..But to the delight of his fans, and the disdain of the tennis world, Rafa let his “heart” take him to his first hard court of the season. And besides, in his own words, Rafa had nothing to lose, just everything to win, after being out of competition for 7 months. We rarely see the homebody say that he would rather have an early exit, than to go back home and wait for the European Clay Season. It was smart of him, to use actual matches as practice, against the best-of-the-best, to feel the competition and thrive at the highest level. And today, he is in his fourth final since his comeback last month. His de-seeding of top seeds started in Brazil with Chardy, followed by Almagro in Acapulco, and an unforgettable, thrashing of David Ferrer, to lift his second singles trophy. Indian Wells, was the meeting of the “fab 4” after nearly a year, and everybody had warm words of welcome for Rafa. Tournament owner, Larry Ellison, being a fan of Rafa, the person, and the player, attended every match of his with “smells like teen spirit” enthusiasm. Rafa’s comeback was further consolidated, with his win over Roger Federer. In the semis today, the fatigue of playing Gulbis and Federer, had him move around the court with caution, but overall his errors were numbered. And winners ,inspired. Tomas Berdych kept Rafa on his toes, with his in form winning streak, which was to come to an end very soon.
Novak, all smily, entered the near packed stadium, with a fired up Argentine, on his heels, for the second semi final match of the afternoon. It was one of those one-sided matches, one, Novak Robotic, could win with his eyes shut. Call it fatigue from playing back-to-back since December, or that Del Guapo was on fire, it was one of the best matches of 2013. The relentless Argentine refused to budge, and the smouldering celsius, added more fuel to his fire, as he matched Djokovic stroke to stroke. The punishing sun of California, was not easy to battle, as both players were out of breath and had ice towels around their necks during breaks and change-overs. The heat was bothering Juan Martin, more, as opposed to Novak, but instead of choking, he more than held his own, as Novak’s unforced errors egged him on. He didn’t lose faith after Novak clinched the first set 6-4. It is commendable, his return after 3-0 down in the second set. We were treated to classic volleys, scintillating slices, and a mentality, that got Del Guapo his U.S. Open Trophy all those years ago. Just like Rafa, he was sidelined with injury, and although he is still trying to find his U.S.Open Championship form, it is safe to say, that he is as close as can possibly be. He beat both Andy and Novak, in back to back matches, and has had a tremendous opening of the 2013 season with a win at Rotterdam.
Who would have thought, that the BNP Paribas Showdown in New York, would actually pan out to be a real showdown? 🙂
The hot desert air, and high bouncing courts have favoured Rafa, and it helps that he has a head to head advantage over Del Potro (7-3).
Rafa has won consecutive matches against the inspired Argentine; his only losses coming in 2009. His most memorable win coming at Davis Cup 🙂 But there is no room for complacency here, nor is it the time to pick favorites. Rafa needs to get into his best attacking self, and tire out Delpo, because at one point, his back-to-back 5 hour matches with Andy and Novak is going to bother him. Rafa needs early breaks and needs to hold, because the spirited Delpo, is known to bounce back from the dead ( read: 3-0 down today against Djokovic, a set down against Murray). Rafa should flatten out his shots, and make Delpo run around, because Delpo has the same game plan, as was evident at that exhibition in MSG. If Rafa mixes up his shots, and avoids going into longish rallies and can avoid over-topping, he has a real chance. On the other hand, Delpo is going to use his towering height to full effect, as was witnessed in his match with Djokovic tonight. They were just running from one side to the other, and Delpo was coming out on top, when engaged in long rallies. It will be an interesting match-up and promises to be a scorcher. Win or lose, all that matters is that Rafa is happy, and he’s more than happy all right! He’s had a dream comeback, something he did not expect to happen just one month into his return. #HappyRafa