Every time Nadal gets bageled it is a newsworthy event. But this final was newsworthy anyway. It was yet another chance for Nadal to defend his first title off clay, and he failed yet again. Murray on the other hand had lost his last five matches to Nadal, and one more loss would have made him Nadal’s turkey(10 match deficit in h2h). So there was a lot to play for. Given what was at stake for Nadal, I thought he was probably the favorite, but I did not count out Murray since these were faster courts and he had been playing very well of late. He won the event in Bangkok and in the semis of Tokyo he destroyed Ferrer 6-2, 6-3. Murray lost the first set and it looked like Nadal would have his way with him once more. But when Murray got the second break in the second set it looked like he was getting on a bit of a roll.
In the third set he allowed Nadal only four points, bageling him in the process. Four points? That’s not even enough to win Nadal a game! I watched from midway through the second set and I must say Murray played some amazing tennis. This is what Murray can do when he is on. He is a very talented player, but he’s problem lies in the mental department. Some people says he needs to get a better forehand, but this match makes it clear that the forehand is good enough. What is stopping Murray from winning a slam is the mental department. We have seen Murray put in this kind of performance at Masters Series level, but never quite at the slams. This performance really means nothing to me. Until Murray is able to put in this kind of performance at slam level there is no reason for his fans to get excited.
Murray has proved himself at the level below slams and the Masters Cup and we all know it is about winning a slam for him. This result is nothing new. In fact he has already bageled Nadal in the final of Rotterdam. Last year he destroyed Roger in the final of Shanghai, yet when the Masters Cup rolled around Roger reversed the result. We have seen Murray do this time and time again but failing at slam level. So I really see no reason that this result changes anything. He was overdue a win against Nadal and showed what he is capable of. But that is as far as it goes. Next time they meet at a slam you will probably see Nadal destroy him again, like he did at three of the slams this year. But at least Murray denied Nadal his first title defense off clay which I like, and he didn’t become his turkey, which at least doesn’t allow Nadal to own him completely.
Nadal has now lost 8 of his last 11 finals. He has also been bageled in a final on each surface:
Hard: Tokyo 2011 (Murray), Chennai 2008 (Youzhny)
Indoor Hard: Paris 2007 (Nalbandian), Rotterdam 2009 (Murray)
Grass: Wimbledon 2006 (Federer)
Clay: Hamburg 2007 (Federer)
Nice to see Roger have bageled him twice, one of them on clay. That was in the Hamburg final and reminds of the Tokyo final because Roger won that match 2-6-6-2, 6-0. Nadal on the other hand has only bageled Roger once on his worst surface when Roger was having his worst season due to mono. All these times that Nadal has eaten bagels, not to mention the times he has been destroyed by guys like Del Potro, Tsonga, and Gonzalez in slams, is another reason he can’t be GOAT. And these things are all happening in Nadal’s prime. Nadal is currently in his prime and is still being fed bagels by Murray. I don’t remember Roger ever getting bageled in his prime outside of that match against Nadal, which was outside his prime anyway. I don’t remember him ever getting destroyed in a grand slam either.
Whenever he lost it was a very close match. These are just one of the many reasons that Nadal does not have that GOAT aura about him. And of course the fact that he has never defended a title off clay shows once again that he remains ultimately a clay court specialist. Does this loss to Murray show that Nadal is becoming more vulnerable after all the losses to Djokovic? I wouldn’t bet on it. Nadal still played a good event and easily beat Fish in the semis after losing to him in Cincy. I would like to believe that all these final losses is signs of decline from Nadal, but really there is no reason to think so. He has still been the second best player by far this season. The indoor season is Nadal’s worst part of the season and he won’t be putting too much emphasis on it. What happens next year will give us a better idea of where Nadal’s career is heading.
This coming week is the Masters Series event in Shanghai, and Djokovic have withdrawn from it as well. I think that is a smart move from Djokovic after all the tennis he has played this year and he will be back in Basel with Roger. This mean Nadal and Murray will be the main favorites in Shanghai again. I wouldn’t mind seeing Nadal and Murray in the final again and Murray giving Nadal another beating. Well it is still another three weeks before Basel. It has been a long break for Roger but I will try to make some more posts to keep you guys entertained. I hope this one helped a bit.