Sunday, 14 August 2011

Rafael Nadal - Is The Schedule To Blame?

I find it hard to believe that the string of monumental upsets at the ongoing Rogers Cup tournaments in Montreal and Canada are simply a product of circumstance. On the men’s side, three of the most consistent tennis players in history all fell prior to the quarterfinals of the Canadian Masters.

In the ATP 1000 Masters Series, the last time one of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Andy Murray failed to make it to the final was in Miami in 2010. In fact, this marks the first time in their careers that Federer, Nadal, and Murray were all ousted before the quarterfinals of a Masters Series tournament.

On the women’s side, eight out of the top 10 seeds have been ousted prior to the quarterfinals in Toronto. Caroline Wozniacki, Kim Clijsters, Vera Zvonareva, Maria Sharapova, Li Na, Petra Kvitova, Francesca Schiavone, and Marion Bartoli were all eliminated in surprising fashion.

What is to blame for the sudden rash of upsets? The wind, for one, is partially to blame. Players have struggled with their ball toss and at times have dealt with balls sailing too long or too short depending upon the direction of the wind.

But the common theme that seems to surface is that having a long layoff without competitive tennis can make the best players in the world suffer from rust. Tennis is such a fine-tuned finesse game that taking time off can cause the best of players to struggle.

After spending nearly seven straight months playing in big tournaments including the first three legs of the Grand Slam tournaments, the players took a much needed break from the game that more or less goes year round.

If you look at what the players are saying, you can see that many of them were just too rusty.

After her loss to Galina Voskoboeva, Sharapova indicated that she was rusty but had no excuses.

“I guess you could say [I felt rusty] because I haven’t played too many matches since Wimbledon, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter,” Sharapova said. “If you come in thinking that, even in a situation where you don’t feel you’re playing great or something’s not working, I can’t go into a match having that attitude. You always have to be positive.”

Li Na shared a similar sentiment, indicating that making the transition from grass to hard-courts felt awkward.

“Always tough after break and come back for the first match, because I have six or seven weeks didn’t play tournament,” Na said. “So beginning of the match I even didn’t know what I should do on the court, not like during the clay court season. I know exactly if I hit the ball next here, I come back, what I should do. But I was feeling I’m like junior on the court.”

Petra Kvitova, who won Wimbledon, got trounced in her match against Andrea Petkovic.

“It was windy again like it was yesterday, and my game wasn’t so good,” Kvitova said. “I did many, many mistakes on the forehand…I went at home after Wimbledon for two weeks, I was traveling around Czech, and I had some interviews. Then I had fitness preparation in the mountains in Slovak, and after that I played 12 days, 14 days tennis…I have to play more matches.”

So what is the right mental approach at this point? For Federer, there is an importance on not worrying too much about the upcoming U.S. Open for right now.

“I feel good physically,” Federer said. “New York is in one month. It’s far away. For the time being, the focus is here, not elsewhere. But if you want to talk about the U.S. Open, I can tell you I feel good mentally and I’m playing well, if that’s the goal for everybody else, but it’s not mine right now.”

What do you think players can do to avoid ring rust?

Courtesy: 10Balls

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