Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Can Rafa win all 4 in 2011?

Of course, Rafael Nadal has the capability of winning each major. As of September 7, 2010, he’s captured the singles titles of the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open at least once. However, winning all four majors in the same year is well nigh impossible for Nadal or any other male tennis player.

The top players’ off court commitments are too numerous, and their schedule balancing so delicate that the odds of winning that quartet within a calendar year are whittled down to nearly nil. Meanwhile, within those nine months spanning the Australian Open and the US Open, the chances that someone else will get hot, believe totally in himself, or just get plain lucky for two weeks increases the odds against any favorite.

As it stands now, whoever wins the Australian Open is instantly pressured from without and within, and the expectations only intensify geometrically as the year advances.

The term Grand Slam was nicked from the game of bridge well after Don Budge captured all four major titles in 1938. When he actually won the fourth and final singles championship at Forest Hills no one noticed it as any special feat, any more than the first horses who won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes were awarded the Triple Crown, until a journalist coined the term.

The last time a male player snagged all four successively was forty-one years ago in 1969, when Rod Laver swept all of them into his pocket, repeating what he did in 1962. That was at the dawn of the open era when three of those tournaments were contested on grass.

So the entire men’s list of tennis greats who have managed this incredible feat stands at two, and it’s very unlikely that it will ever become a crowd.

This paltry amount of Grand Slam champions is not due to any lack of ability or drive. It’s just due to the fact that almost everyone on the Tour is working hard, being coached proficiently, following a strict regime of both diet and exercise, and is just as hungry for each and every major singles title as the guy at the top of the heap.

An actual Grand Slam is so rare that the term itself, rather than withering from lack of use, has been continuously misapplied to each of the four historic and ranking point laden major championships that it’s become acceptable to all but the purists.

So, the bar is now so impossibly high that a career Grand Slam is considered the acme of tennis achievement. That list is not much longer, consisting of Andre Agassi, Roger Federer and, most recently, Rafael Nadal in the modern era.

2010 has been a year for Nadal to gather an impressive bouquet of titles since his volcanic re-emergence at Monte Carlo in April. However, it must be remembered that he retired from his quarter-final match at the Australian Open. He didn’t lose it; he quit because he couldn’t continue to play. He also failed to defend his Wimbledon title in 2009 because he was physically unable to do so.

Rafael Nadal is now at the top of his game, and his results since April have been stellar, but he still has not won every tournament he has entered. By the time 2011 begins, there’s just as a good a chance that Roger Federer could re-emerge with a new burst of energy. Novak Djokovic may capture his second major title, or Juan Martin Del Potro do the same.

Then there’s Andy Murray, whom the tennis prognosticators see as snagging a major title as well, not to mention some determined player lurking in the shadows and poised to flash into prominence.

In this day and age, it’s theoretically possible that a pig could be genetically altered with wings, and it might be able to fly. It’s just as likely that any male tennis player will win all four major singles titles and earn a legitimate Grand Slam, no matter who that player may be.

Courtesy: Sportingo

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