Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Rafael Nadal - The Invincible. A review of 2010

Courtesy: Yahoo

Years go by but never look alike. After a 2009 that was owned by Roger Federer, 2010 was without doubt all about Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard won back the number one spot in the most beautiful way after winning three out of the four Grand Slams on offer.

Behind those two, the outsiders started to confirm the hopes put in them. After Djokovic, Murray and Del Potro, it was Soderling who began to suggest he could come in between those two giants.

Rafa enjoyed an outstanding year. Injured for six months in 2009, he had to retire during the Australian Open against Andy Murray because of another knee injury. He came back for the American tour, but he really began to rediscover his game by the time the clay season started.

He won every event he played, achieving a never seen before feat by winning the four main events on clay in the same season: Monte-Carlo, Rome Madrid and Roland Garros. It's also worth noting that he only lost 14 games in Monte-Carlo, an average of 2.8 games lost per match.

In fine form and totally relaxed after the clay season, he doubled the stakes by winning Wimbledon. In September, he triumphed at the US Open for the first time, largely because he was able to adjust his game to the surface due to a better use of flat shots and a new-found quality serve -a result of a recent technical work.

Then in December, he capped his success by reaching the Masters Cup final, one of his first really great performances indoors.

What strikes me about the Majorcan is his ability to continually adjust to the situation in order to win. He wins the French Open by defending a lot and mainly because of his physical strength, his heavy topspin and his talent for not making unforced errors.

At Wimbledon, he succeeds by becoming far more offensive and he uses the slice on his serve very well. And then at the US Open, he finds more speed on his serve, plays faster and with fewer effects. He also gets to the net more often.

Nadal manages to keep all those abilities which give him his strength, but he also has one of the most important things in that sport in order to win: the ability to adjust.

This ability is enhanced by an extraordinary culture of winning, like a second nature. Because of that, he always ends up finding answers to all kind of situations.

In 2011, unless he gets injured, it would be unusual not to find him in the last four of every Grand Slam - and winning some of them. The Spaniard gained a great deal of confidence last year; he proved a lot of things to himself and he also understood how important it was to pick a lighter schedule.

Even if he's the kind of player whose needs to play and win a lot, he can often rely on his amazing fitness and his fighting spirit to avoid an early fall at Grand Slams. The further he goes in an event, the better he becomes.

Actually his worst enemy is himself with this plethora of matches. But with his increasing maturity, he now understands better those issues and so deals with them better. He's more serene and that leads to him making better choices. That is why we can imagine him achieving as much as in 2011 as the previous year.

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