Nadal Defeats Del Potro to Claim 3rd Indian Wells Title

Hi folks, long time no post. I never got to making a post about the Indian Wells final. I was disappointed when Del Potro lost so I didn’t feel like making a post right after the match, and ever since I’ve been too busy. Now it is my off weekend again and I have some time to catch up with everything that’s been happening in the tennis world. Miami has been going on for the last week or so but let me just get back to that Indian Wells final for a second. Del Potro started out a bit slow as was expected after beating Murray and Djokovic in tough three setters. He got broken early on but soon found his rhythm and started ripping those monster ground strokes. He had Nadal running around the court like a headless chicken again and won 6 straight games if I remember correctly, going up a break in second set as well.

It looked like another US Open-like beating was on the cards again, but Del Potro’s tiredness coupled with Nadal’s superhuman and suspicious defensive capabilities started to tell. Nadal broke back and the momentum shifted once more. I thought the momentum might swing again in Del Potro’s favor in the third set but he was too tired. Nadal was playing unreal tennis but you could see Del Potro missing some shots from tiredness. The Nadal challenge proved to be one challenge too many for Del Potro on his quest to complete a fairy tale run. Beating Murray, Djokovic, and Nadal consecutively may just be an impossible task. I don’t think it has ever been done anyway. If one guy was capable of doing it it was Del Potro, because when he goes on a hot run he is extremely destructive. We already saw that at the US Open in 2009.

The fact that even him with his massive ground strokes could not put Nadal away is enough to raise suspicion already. And remember Nadal was only playing in his 4th tournament after an 8 month hiatus from the tour. He now has won the most titles of any player this year too, after a late start to the year. It’s just crazy how fast he has come back, like he wasn’t away from the tour at all. I think two things can be deducted here. First of all his injury doesn’t seem to have been very serious at all, and that his loss to Rosol at Wimbledon injured his pride more than anything. He didn’t have any problems with his injury during Indian Wells that’s for sure, covering the court like superman. The other thing that we can deduct is that the suspicion of doping increases. Nadal is now 26, the age where a baseline grinder like him no doubt starts to decline, yet he looks as fresh as a spring chicken.

Make no mistake, Nadal was right at the top of his game in Indian Wells. I would say his draw was moderately difficult. Gulbis was on fire so that was a pretty tough opponent who he grinded down in the 4th round. Then he had Roger who was not into the match, and then Berdych who he owns. In the final he had Del Potro who was tough but tired after a really tough draw. So credit to Nadal for winning the title. Even if he is doping then it’s still tough to do what he did. But on the other hand his draw was not nearly as difficult as Del Potro’s and therefor he got a tired Del Potro in the final as well. It’s hard for me to discuss Nadal because the suspicion of doping surrounding him is becoming stronger by the day. On the one hand I want to respect him for his achievements but on the other hand if he is doping then they are not that great.

He has this superhuman aura when he is on the tennis court and then there is all this weird off court stuff that happens, like leaving the tour for 8 months and then coming back as if he was never away. Or for instance developing a huge serve just for two weeks to win the US Open and complete the career grand slam, just to lose that serve right after the tournament again. Personally I think tennis is full of doping. I don’t trust people, especially when there are so many loopholes in the testing for doping and so much money involved. People are greedy and lust after fame and fortune, to the point that they would do anything to achieve that end. Nadal has the ideal personality for a doper as well. He is always going after the appearance fees at the cost of his health. I don’t doubt that he would damage his health in the long run to satisfy his superficial short term lust after fortune and fame.

I don’t buy his humbleness either. I think it is just a mask he puts on in front of the public to hide what it really behind it – an insatiable lust after fame and fortune. This can clearly be seen by the way he acts on the tennis court. His unsportsmanlike conduct is notorious. He is always trying to psyche or intimidate his opponents(the shoulder charge against Rosol at Wimbledon immediately comes to mind). I don’t trust someone who’s on court personality is so drastically different from his off court personality. It is just too much of a contradiction. I find it much easier to trust Roger for instance who is pretty consistent in his on and off court personalities. Roger may be arrogant, but it is the arrogance of honesty, of saying it as it is. As long as someone is honest their arrogance don’t bother me much because at least the person is real.

I much prefer that over someone who is falsely humble, which I believe Nadal is. I have said this before and I will say this again: I do not trust Nadal. Not for a second. If someone was to ask me whether I think Nadal is doping my answer would be: Without a shadow of a doubt. But since there is no concrete proof of it there is no point on dwelling on it. Every once in a while I will make a post where I can no longer ignore the obvious, but you will know that I rarely speak about it. It just makes Fedfans look bad, like we are looking for excuses. After the Fedal mach in Indian Wells I was criticizing Roger and didn’t say a word about the possibility of Nadal doping. Rather I was blaming Roger for his body language and lack of passion, even at the cost of my readers becoming furious at me. So no one can accuse me of looking for excuses.

But as you know I am not unnecessarily hard on Roger and will also look at the other side of the story. It’s not just a straight forward situation. I can try to blame Roger for his losses only so much until I can’t help noticing the suspicion about doping surrounding Nadal anymore. All this time I have tried to somehow overlook all the suspicion, but there comes a point when it just becomes too obvious. You have to remember that Nadal was an early bloomer. He turned pro in 2001 and has been around for a long time. And he plays the most taxing game style in the history of the sport. It simply defies belief how he retrieves time after time, year after year balls that are irretrievable for any other player. You would think that after 12 years on tour playing a brutally taxing game he would start to lose a step, but it never happened. In Indian Wells it was as if he stepped on a court for the first time.

Del Potro was hitting monstrous forehands but Nadal would grind down his will by retrieving the ball time and time again. Enough is enough folks. This is becoming laughable. I just can’t stand by and keep my mouth shut anymore. I was going to say something about Miami too but this has already turned out to be quite a long post and I will try to get in another post tomorrow as well. The final is being played tomorrow anyway between Murray and Ferrer, and if Murray wins he will overtake Roger in the rankings which I totally expect to happen.

Highlights:

Del Potro Stuns Djokovic, Berdych Expectedly Chokes to Nadal in Indian Wells

Hi guys, I’m spoiling you again this weekend. You may end up getting four posts out of me. I was hesitant to make this post because it would take attention away from my last post and there was such an important discussion going on there, but I will just sum it all up here in a few sentences. There is no place for blind, biased followers on this blog. Here you will only find the truth. Nothing more, nothing less. If you want to be biased and blindly worship then there is RF.com and I’m sure many other Federer blogs that would welcome you with open arms. Now lets move on. In my last post I said I was looking forward to a Djokodal final, but it wasn’t to be. Del Potro spoiled the party and I couldn’t be happier for him. I made a prediction some years back that he would win many slams, but since then he has been plagued by injuries and inconsistent results.

I liked both his game and him as a person. He is a humble and honest guy. His inconsistent results annoyed me however and made me believe he was a bit of a flash in the pan. But this week he has really proved that he’s still got it. He has beaten the two best players in the world in succession, both times coming back from a set down. It reminds me of that US Open he won where he beat the two best players in the world back then on his way to the title. In full flow he is just about unstoppable. He just crushes the ball and has the biggest forehand in the game. I watched both his last two matches and it was a revelation to see him basically hit the two best players in the world off the court. Against Murray he breezed through the last two sets 6-3, 6-1 after losing the first on a tie break, and against Djokovic he lost the first set 6-4, and then reversed that score in the next two sets.

Just unreal. In the 3rd set against Djokovic he was even 3-0 down, and showed tremendous fighting ability to come back and break Djokovic at 4-4. That was a terrific game full of drama. There were some grueling baseline rallies in this match and it was good to see Del Potro not tiring and being fully fit. Does he have enough left in the tank to beat Nadal? I guess we will find out. Nadal on the other hand won 6-4, 7-5 as expected against mental midget Berdych. Berdych was up 5-3 in the second set serving for the set but went ahead and dropped 4 consecutive games to lose the match. At 5-5 he missed a shocker of an overhead on break point to hand Nadal the break. I mean the guy just doesn’t have big mach temperament and I don’t see him ever winning a slam because of it. No doubt he has the game for it but he is just too mentally weak.

Now we have a Delpodal final instead of a Djokodal final and I am just as excited about it if not more so. We have seen many Djokodal finals and it is nice to have something fresh for a change. I am a little concerned about how much energy Delpo will have left after two very tough matches, but I think he may have one last push left. You get the feeling this is his week and he has a point to prove. Not that he hasn’t already done so, but he badly wants to go all the way. And he has already shown his fighting spirit. Combine that with the crowd support and the adrenaline kicks in and he can do this. Of course Nadal is on a mission of his own and wants to prove that he is back just as badly, but I think Delpo definitely has the game to dislodge Nadal. Nadal’s heavy topspin cross court won’t bother his two-handed backhand and at the same time he can rip those immensely powerful forehands to Nadal’s backhand.

He destroyed Nadal 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 back in that 2009 US Open semi-final, and although Nadal was clearly injured he almost certainly would have won anyway. It shows that he can overpower Nadal and boss him around from the back court. It will be a lot harder to do this time around, but no doubt he is one of the few guys who can really trouble Nadal. He just needs to serve big and rip those forehands. His backhand is strong too and it is important that he plays attacking tennis and move to the net when necessary as well. This is also a match up that I like. In fact any match up that involves Nadal and a player with a two handed backhand that doesn’t fear Nadal I find very interesting. No doubt Del Potro’s mental strength will be one of his biggest assets in this match as well. You can rest assured that he won’t choke like Berdych did.

Vamos Delpo!

Highlights:

The shocker smash from Berdych is at 9:48. Personally I can’t even see where the ball went. The sun was in his eyes and clearly he should have let it drop first. Enjoy.

Indian Wells QF: Nadal def Federer 6-4, 6-2

Hello folks. You are probably waiting to hear what I have to say about this match, and there is an awful lot to say. It is my off weekend so I will take my time too. In my last post I said I didn’t really know what to expect in this match. But in hindsight it was petty obvious what was going to happen here. I say that because when Nadal won his last clay event in such convincing fashion, I already had the thought that there was another shift of power happening in the Fedal saga. Nadal was on the rise, and Roger have been slumping. That is just the way it has always been with Fedal. When one falls the other rises. Last year at Indian Wells Roger won by the exact score that he lost here and not long after that Nadal took the fall at Wimbledon, while Roger won his 17th slam there. If you go back into their past you will find this scenario playing itself out time and time again.

With this win from Nadal his rise has sort of become official. He did well in the South-American clay events but had not yet proven himself in an event where all the top dogs were present. And Indian Wells was hard court as well. He had an impressive win over Gulbis who was on a 13-match winning streak. I knew this result spelled trouble. Nadal was looking like the old Nadal who always comes through in the tough matches. But now he was up against the defending champ and world #2. A win here would prove that he is well and truly back to his best. Personally I still held out some hope that Roger could win this. Obviously as a fan you are gonna believe in your player. But like I said in hindsight there could only really be one result here. With Nadal being on the rise and Roger falling, it was inevitable.

So in a sense that gives me peace because that explains a lot about what has been going on of late with Roger. I just could not figure out why he took such a dive after the Australian Open. He was in such great form there, playing like the Roger 3.0 we know. After Rotterdam I speculated about a back problem but I could not be sure. After Dubai I thought it was still a hangover from last year’s grueling season. Now I’m not saying these things doesn’t play a roll. They are all part of it. But the main thing is just the ebb and flow of the Fedal saga and the shifting of power. After all these years they are still right there at the top of the game and they affect each other deeply. Nadal’s hiatus from tennis since Wimbledon last year deeply affected Roger’s tennis. There is no denying it. When he lost in the second round it effectively opened the door for Roger to win the title.

It is just a big mental boost for Roger knowing that his nemesis is not in the draw anymore, and he took full advantage of that to win his 17th slam. It was like it was destined to be. At the US Open Roger lost to another player who I would rather call his bogey man than his nemesis. And then in Melbourne there was once again no Nadal and Roger played with a certain freedom and assurance. I think people underestimate the mental impact Nadal has on Roger. Nadal does not own Roger but it is pretty damn close. The only reason I say Nadal does not own him is because Roger has had some key wins over him, some of them which was petty damn routine as well. No doubt Nadal has the upper hand in the rivalry though, which now stands at 19-10. One more win for Nadal and Roger becomes his turkey, which is not exactly and honor.

So what I am getting at is that their fortunes keep fluctuating. I am not gonna go into the past now but for anyone who has followed tennis for some time this will be clear. Nadal is back with a bang now and don’t be surprised if he stays back for an extended period, while Roger doesn’t really shine during that period. That doesn’t mean Nadal will all of a sudden start winning slams again. Even though Fedal is still right at the top of the sport, they are not the dominant force they once were. There is a new dominance in town called Nolandy. So even though Nadal is back it doesn’t mean he will even win the French Open. He is definitely a very strong favorite to win a ridiculous 8th Roland Garros, but this may just be Djokovic’s year. In fact I think he is primed for it. After 2012 where he was under the pressure of expectation from 2011, he is now back to his devastating best.

He has not lost a match yet in 2013 and we could be looking at another long winning streak. I think he will be really targeting the French Open this year to try and complete the career slam. So I am quite looking forward to the clay court season for a change, where it will be interesting to see who gets the better of each other between Djokovic and Nadal. You better believe Nadal can’t wait to get back on his favorite European clay court swing, while Djokovic will be looking to turn around what happened last year as well. But let me get back to Fedal. Roger came out looking good and served some really nice aces. But at 3-3, after being up 40-15 on serve, he lost the plot and got broken. Really you should hold serve when you are 40-15 up, so those were ominous signs. Roger was a break point down at 3-5 again but fought back well to at least make Nadal serve for the set.

Nadal had no problem serving it out though. That was pretty much the end of that. Roger had come back from a set down against Nadal before(the Hamburg final comes to mind), but it was not gonna happen here. He was not mentally into this match. There were moments of attacking tennis where Roger took the initiative, but it was few and far between. Nadal broke to love in the first game of the second set just to make his dominance clear. He was doing his usual Superman-like defense which put Roger under loads of pressure. So just for fun he broke Roger in his next service game again to take a 3-0 lead, and it looked like there could be at least a bread stick in the making. But again Roger fought back admirably to break right back. He also held serve to remain in fighting distance and avoided the bakery products.

Nadal then reeled off the next 3 games to progress to the semis where he will meet Berdych. I think in the end Roger did well not to get humiliated, but he was thoroughly beaten nonetheless. Now I already know what has been on your mind the last few minutes as you have been reading though this post. Why did Ru-an not mention Roger’s injury?! Surely he is not overlooking that all important point?! And you are right; I am not overlooking it. I am fully aware that Roger was not feeling comfortable out there and that his injury affected his play. It was clear for everyone to see. But since he decided to play I have to treat this match as if he was 100%. To make excuses would be unfair to his opponent, no matter how much I may dislike his opponent. That is not my style anyway. If Roger did not feel physically ready he should not have played.

But he did it for the fans I hear you say. Fair enough point as well and that is admirable. But like I said I must report on this match as though Roger was fully fit. What else am I supposed to do? Say Roger was injured, that he did an admirable thing just to show up for the fans, and just keep worshiping him like he is God? I’m sorry, that is not my style either. I’d rather give credit to Nadal who played a terrific match and look if there were any areas where Roger could have improved. I am just not that biased as a fan where I just write the match off as though it counted for nothing because Roger was injured. That would be completely unfair to Nadal and I refuse to do it. And yes, there were areas where Roger could have improved. If you took a close look at the match you would have noticed that there were moments where Roger took the initiative and dominated the points.

So my question is; if he can do it on one or two points then why can’t he do it on other points too? Now notice his whole mental demeanor throughout the match and you will start seeing what I’m getting at. Without a doubt the injury affected his movement. I am not discounting that. But I felt he could have shown more positive body language and self-belief. Even after winning some points with beautiful attacking tennis he hung his head. What’s up with that? I think if you decide to play a match you should at least try and act like you are into it. Instead of fist pumping or an”Allez!” he hung his head after winning an important point. Everyone noticed the injury but did anyone notice the body language? I just felt that he could have at least acted like he is more into the match, and that would have helped in turn to forget about the injury.

Now I am also fully aware that I won’t be the most popular writer after saying these things, but that has never been my priority. My priority has always been to be objective and honest. I could easily have made a post saying yes Roger was injured and a hero for even playing, thereby saying what everyone wants to hear and being popular for it. But then I would have lied to myself and I just have  more integrity than that. If you say this match is all down to injury you are lying to yourself because we have seen plenty times where Roger was physically fine, and lost having the same negative demeanor against Nadal.  In the end I was not disappointed by this result, just a little disappointed with Roger’s demeanor. I know this is just the ebb and flow of the Fedal rivalry and this was bound to happen. I also know that Roger is still mentally good.

He is just not exceptional in that department like Nadal or Djokovic is. As far as talent goes I would give Roger 10/10, for physicality 9/10, and for mentality 8/10. And that is still good enough to be the GOAT. So I have nothing to complain about, but I am not gonna act like he is a perfect God who can never put a foot wrong either. That is just not me. I have said this many times and I will say this again; I am Roger’s biggest fan but also his toughest critic. Honesty is one of the reasons I like Roger and it is exactly because I am honest myself. Roger now goes on a two month break which should do him some good. I hope he comes back refreshed and makes a big impact. But I can see the clay court season being dominated by Djokovic and Nadal, with Roger and Murray playing second fiddle. The grass court season should be more interesting from a Roger point of view.

I am also not that disappointed that Roger lost because it looks like we will have another Djokodal final and I never get tired of that rivalry. It is even more interesting than the Fedal rivalry for me. In the Fedal rivalry Roger tends to lose and since the rise of Djokovic 2.0 he tends to be the winner in the Djokodal rivalry. I just love it when he beats Nadal, and since he is back close to 2011 form I can see him give Nadal some more good spankings in the coming months. This makes me excited for what lies ahead. I know some Fedfans are not excited by this, but fortunately I am not just a Fedfan but also a fan of tennis in general and I do enjoy watching other rivalries and matches too. Roger will still be around anyway, and he will rise again. He always does…

Highlights:

Presser: http://www.bnpparibasopen.com/News/Tennis/2013/Interview-Transcripts/Roger-Federer-Quarterfinals.aspx