Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Rafael Nadal - 10/10

They say outstanding athletes are the best of connivers, as they keep that last ounce of energy for that penultimate moment to nudge ahead of their rivals. In modern world of tennis, one man who has cultivated this habit of going for a surprise kill, when he looks somewhat bogged down, is Rafael Nadal. The year 2010 certainly belongs to Rafael Nadal, so lets' scrutinize some of the details to find out the champion behind this modest Spaniard.
May 13, 2010 - 05901903 date 13 05 2010 Copyright imago Michael Cullen Madrid Spain 13th May 2010 Rafael Nadal ESP in Action Against John Isner USA during The 3rd Round Mens Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open Tennis Tournament AT The Caja Magica Madrid Spain PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxIRL Tennis men ATP Tour Madrid Open premiumd Single cheering happiness Vdig 2010 Square premiumd.
In the mid 90s, when Sampras-Agassi rivalry was at its peak, many tennis experts said that they might not see something of this sort in the near future. In the dawn of the new millennium, Federer took the centre-stage and gradually ushered a new era of dominance and elegant tennis. Still, we were missing something, until a maverick-looking boy from Mallorca, Spain started producing sparkling wins on red soil and surged forth to evolve as the utmost hurdle in Federer’s progress. Yes, we are lucky to live an era, as we have a great opportunity to witness these two grand ambassadors (Nadal-Federer) of tennis in action against each other. Tennis achieves its sublime form, when these two take on each other. Before the arrival of Nadal on a big stage, no one was looking near to Federer’s finesse. And, now after the end of the 2010 ATP World Tour season, Nadal is comfortably placed on the numero uno position and Federer has a lot to think about before starting the 2011 ATP season. 

We all know that champions are made of different stuff. And, there is one factor that separates them from other players, who can be at par with them, in terms of skills, is their insatiable urge to improve and spirited nature that make all the difference in those stiff contests, where a single mistake can cost you a life-time opportunity. Well, World No. 1 Rafael Nadal who unsettled all the tennis ratings since his arrival on the big screen, suddenly met with a halt in 2009 due to agonising knees, but he made a brilliant comeback in 2010 to complete his career slam and also reaffirmed his authority on red-soil by winning all three clay-court Masters Tournament.

It is fascinating to observe that Nadal has evolved from a clay-court specialist to a torrent force on all the surfaces in a well-planned manner. The Spaniard can challenge and pull out a victory against the best in business – on any given day. Obviously, Federer is the only contender, who looks to pose problems for the Spaniard at this moment.  Nadal’s willingness to learn is remarkable and the Spaniard plays his heart out every time, he sprints from one part of the court to another – to earn a point. In 2010, Nadal adorned his resume with impressive records by winning three Majors and also ascended to the ATP’s top ranking by beating all types of opponents on all surfaces.
Let’s take a look on his best performances in finals in 2010:

Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters final, Nadal def. Verdasco 6-0 6-1
Rome Masters final, Nadal def. David Ferrer 7-5 6-2
Madrid Masters final, Nadal def. Roger Federer 6-4 7-6 (5)
Roland Garros final, Nadal def. Robin Soderling 6-4 6-2 6-4
Wimbledon final, Nadal def. Tomas Berdych 6-3 7-5 6-4
US Open final, Nadal def. Novak Djokovic 6-4 5-7 6-4 6-2
Japan Open final, Nadal def. Gael Monfils 6-1 7-5 
Nadal’s charisma, playfulness and urgency do make him look like an innocent assassin, who cannot hurt you, but can certainly kill you. The 24 year old Nadal did something in 25 years that nobody did, as the Spaniard clinched Grand Slams on clay and Grass and pulled the “summer double” twice in three years. Interestingly, before 2010 Nadal had never reached the final of the U.S. Open and this year he went all the way to clinch the title at Flushing Meadows. With this title, Nadal completed his “career Grand Slam.”

After the completion of the 2010 Australian Open,04247621 date 28 01 2009 Copyright imago EPAL Pictures Rafael Nadal Spain cheering PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxSUIxAUT Vdig vertical Close Highlight premiumd Australian Open 2009 Grand Slam ATP Tour Melbourne happiness Tennis men Singles Single optimistic Action shot Highlight Human Beings Photo via Newscom many tennis pundits asserted that Roger Federer is once again looking invincible and he is still there to rule. But, now that 2010 ATP Season has been officially finished, the same pundits are talking about the Nadal-Federer rivalry. Though, Federer did salvage pride in the end by winning the ATP World Tour Finals in London, Nadal ruled the greater part of the 2010.

The past decade witnessed the graceful and elegant tennis of Federer, until Nadal took the centre-stage to bring in exuberance, raw power and toil. In the end, numbers do come handy to present the broader part of a picture. Though, Federer has mustered 19 Grand Slam titles, Nadal fares better in their duels, as the Spaniard leads the head-to-head record with a 14-8 wins over the Swiss Ace. Many say that Nadal is blessed with a tremendous forehand, but we should not forget that the Spaniard, who was early known for his clay-court precincts, has also cultivated new skills in a shorter span of time and now he has become one of the most destructive volleyers in the world. Yes, Nadal is 24 and he is certainly on the peak of his physical abilities, but the Spaniard has shown that he can manipulate shots like Federer by playing those drop-volleys and well-timed lobs on both sides of the court.

For tennis analysts, Nadal is not a big server, but he can tackle any vicious serve as he can instantly swaps his defence into offense to surprise his opponent. Well, you need to be extra agile and pro-active to cause problems for the Spaniard, as he can whistle away those forehands on both the sides of the court and run like a rabbit to retrieve almost un-playable shots. Interestingly, Nadal has always shown that he can even use his weakness against you by reading the lethal serves quickly and chuck back quick shots with additional force to make it unplayable for you. The Spaniard plays as good as the event is and you can expect the best of him in Grand Slams.

Before the start of the 2011 season, there are all sorts of talks regarding Rafa-Federer rivalry, but the forthcoming Australian Open will be keenly followed by all those, who have already hyped it throughout the world as the “Rafa Slam.” Nine Slams already under his belt, Nadal is certainly looking better and fitter to win his fourth straight major in 2011.

Courtesy: Tennis Earth

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