Nadal Continues Clay Season Domination with Madrid Title

Happy mother day to all the mothers out there. I haven’t been able to make posts this week due to exams and sickness but as you know I make updates to Facebook. Nadal continued his clean sweep of the clay court season today with a 7-6(8), 6-4 win over Thiem.

So congrats to him and to Thiem as well for another good week where he made his first Masters semi-final and final. He did very well in the final where he broke Nadal in the third game and came back from 3-5 in the tiebreak where he had two set points but in the end, Nadal had the edge.

This is Nadal’s 5th Madrid title. On his way to the title, he also won his first match against Djokovic after losing 15 consecutive sets and 7 matches to his nemesis, 6-2, 6-4. Unfortunately for Djokovic, Nishikori’s withdrawal in the quarterfinals didn’t help him at all.

After a promising 6-4, 7-5 victory over Lopez Djokovic was scheduled to play Nishikori in the quarterfinals who withdrew due to physical problems like so many times before. This meant an already heavily undercooked Djokovic had to sit the day out while Nadal could get into prime shape against Goffin.

Not that he needed to. He’d already won Monte Carlo and Barcelona as well as many more matches earlier this year. So the result was no surprise at all. It was not the conditions I hoped for as far as their first clay court meeting went.

Djokovic was always going to be the only one who really had a chance of stopping Nadal and blowing some life into this clay court season but Nishikori’s withdrawal may have ruined all chances of that happening.

It would have been better for Djokovic to play against Nishikori and lose than to lose 6-2, 6-4 to Nadal, but it was likely that he would have won and gotten another much-needed injection of confidence before facing Nadal.

Things just keep working against Djokovic and for Nadal. But that’s what momentum does. That’s why the past matters and why I said after Barcelona that I think Nadal will win the French Open. Djokovic still had a shot at stopping Nadal but the Nishikori episode makes it look like Nadal is truly destined to win a 10th French Open this year.

That said, Djokovic will take some positives from his week in Madrid and try to do one better again in Rome. That’s all he can do. Keep grinding away with blind faith that his luck will eventually turn again.

That’s all that anyone can do. This is just Federer and Nadal’s time after they did the same for a long time while Djokovic was dominating. Peaks and slumps are as sure to follow each other as night follows day. It’s a law of nature.

Fans will look for reasons and scapegoats like Pepe Imaz(who Djokovic has known for many years) ignoring the fact that the valley is as deep as the mountain is high and none had a higher peak than Djokovic did in 2015 and 2016.

It is no wonder then that he is currently in the deepest slump of his career. Just before that he had the highest peak of his career! But as long as he cares(which he clearly does) then as sure as night follows day he will get out of it again and reach another peak.

  • Highlights

 

Posted in Madrid.

15 Comments

  1. Are Rome and Madrid Draws Same For past Years Or it Is Just This Time?See Top Half Murray Is Getting Cakewalk Draw Everywhere

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes, Murray always gets a cakewalk draw but he is too bad to take advantage. If Djokovic got those draws he’d be back in form by now.

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  2. ‘Djokovic will take some positives from his week in Madrid and try to do one better again in Rome’. Good luck with that – have you seen the draw for Rome? I hope he can achieve something and improve his confidence.

    Sorry to hear you’ve been sick Ru-an, hope things are better now.

    I wanted to ask you if you really think this season is just a matter of ‘peaks and troughs’ or does it seem somewhat strange to you? Obviously I’m asking this with the awareness that Novak seems to have gone to hell in a handcart albeit hopefully temporarily, and this does cloud the issue.

    I’m copying here a reply I made recently to an old thread of yours I happened on, which began back in 2013, before I started streaming and watching more tennis, so I wasn’t really aware of much other than Wimbledon at the time. You may well trash my comment and I respect that, I just wanted to put forward a point of view.

    Lynsey Adams Reply:
    May 6th, 2017 at 10:33 am

    Isn’t it nothing short of miraculous how Federer has come back after 6 months out injured and is INSTANTLY Superman, winning just about everything this year. Just, well, amazing! What a guy! Faster, stronger and with all the stamina of a 22 year old. In fact with MORE stamina than most 22 year olds! A new man! I’m sure he will go on to win Wimbledon and the US Open, and probably be the Year End No1 this year, and Nadal (also out at the same time with what was described as a serious, possibly career ending wrist injury, but luckily was able to return for the Olympics 3 months later, just..wow…) will clean up the clay season in much the same way, including his 10th FO, as well as running Federer close for the other titles. I would bet my house on it if I had one. What a pair – it just shows you what can be achieved merely with hard work, talent and dedication.

    Federer puts his success down to ‘thinking young’, getting to grips with the bigger racquet and practising his backhand a lot, thus proving that you don’t need performance enhancing drugs in order to turn back time.

    If I didn’t know what great players and all round good guys they both are – and of course we know the ATP would be on to them in a nano-second if there was even a whisper of anything untoward, (as fair play is everything to them, never mind the power and the money and the dream ticket of that great pair being on top again) – I might almost question their dual miracle resurrection. But no, it isn’t possible. Not the two greatest players of all time.

    Hang on a minute, I think I just saw a pig flying past. :))

    Just interested to hear what your response would be.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    ‘Obviously I’m asking this with the awareness that Novak seems to have gone to hell in a handcart albeit hopefully temporarily, and this does cloud the issue.’

    Yes, it does cloud the issue imo. Novak’s steep fall is a direct result of his high peak in 2014-16. What he did during that time was astonishing and of course, fans was hoping it would continue but that’s not realistic. Same thing happened after 2011 although the peak didn’t last as long and the valley was not as deep but it was prolonged.

    Hopefully, this time it won’t last as long because it is so deep. I don’t think it will. It’s been a steep drop but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

    As far as the doping thing goes it is tempting to believe but since we have no proof I think it’s just a way for fans to vent their frustration. I happen to believe in ‘thinking young’ and the power of the mind so that isn’t proof to me that Federer is doping. If anything it is inspiring. If Djokovic goes on a similar run in his thirties and starts winning slams again are you going to say the same thing about him, or are you going to defend him?

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I will add that I was as shocked as you about Federer winning the AO and his tennis this year. I thought he was done winning slams after the 6 months out. The whole plot seemed ridiculous to me and had that feeling of ‘too good to be true’. So I totally understand where you are coming from. To be honest I am as confused as you. I don’t know what to make of it.

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    Sabine Reply:

    I have to say, I tend to agree with Linsey: there’s a strong whiff of “too good to be true” about Federer’s miraculous comeback after a 6 months lay-off. And while I don’t find Nadal’s dominance on clay very surprising, especially since his main rival on clay, Djokovic isn’t quite in form. I am also suspicious of his instant success on hard court after a long lay-off during the first quarter of the season. It would be more noticeable if his hard court success hadn’t been eclipsed by Federer.
    For most tennis fans Federer has been above any suspicions because of his exceptional talent and economic playing style. But even Federer isn’t ageless, and contrary to the perception of some fans he can’t turn water into wine. I talked to some sports doctors. They are very suspicious of the current situation. Fact is that for the majority of tennis fans Fedal sells much better than Murkovic. For over a decade Fedal and to a certain degree Rafole and Djokerer have been the best products men’s tennis had to offer reliably. It’s no secret that tv rates fell drastically when Nadal and Federer went AWOL last year. As soon as Nadal and Federer were back with a vengeance and renewed their rivalry the tv rates went sky high.
    Whether the secret of Fedal’s astonishing comeback is dirty or not, the tennis industry has no desire whatsoever to wake up sleeping dogs. If they discover something dirty, they would go down the drain like cycling.
    I can understand that Ruan doesn’t want to speculate in the absence of hard evidence. But since tennis’ anti-doping measures are woefully inadequate because for example there aren’t nearly enough out-of-competition tests, it’s fairly easy to cheat. Sharapova was only caught because she was so stupid and didn’t check for regulation changes. And Ruan said correctly that the tennis industry is a capitalist venture. It’s all about the money. Therefore the oraganizers and the players have the same monetary interests. The anti-doping measures should be conducted by a neutral agency. But that is not the case right now. A recipe for disaster…
    You won’t be able to spot today’s sophisticated doper by his conspicuos muscle mass. Power is important to a certain degree. But being too heavy isn’t an advantage. Modern doping is about speed, endurance, quick recovery, and anti aging. Fans of certain players should be aware that their beloved player might be into it as well. Anyone could do it. We should stop pointing at our favorite player’s rival because we are disgruntled that our beloved and admired player lost. Pointing out the supposed moral superiority of our favorite doesn’t work either. We don’t really know know the players intimately after all. And if a lot of players are doping they might not even feel very guilty. They might feel they have to do it in order to have a decent chance. That’s why it is so important to create tight controls.
    Sorry for being so pessimistic. But while there’s no hard evidence that the resurgence of Fedal isn’t quite as miraculous as it seems, the astonishing development of the 2017 season can be seen as circumstantial evidence that something is very wrong in the world of tennis. Many medical experts tend to agree. They have actually been pointing out for quite a while that something is wrong…
    I should point out that while I pointed mostly at Fedal because of their recent improbable heroics, I don’t exclude Djokovic or any other player for that matter from my suspicions. IMO the whole system is full of holes. When people talk about cycling they point mostly at the “wicked” Lance Armstrong and tend to forget that so-called decent guys like Tyler Hamilton and many other stars as well as journeymen have been into it, too.

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  3. ‘If Djokovic goes on a similar run in his thirties and starts winning slams again are you going to say the same thing about him, or are you going to defend him?’ I can’t deny the possibility has crossed my mind, unwillingly. That’s another reason why I despise the current situation, for sowing seeds of doubt in my mind where before there were none. I used to believe that tennis was one of the few relatively clean and honourable sports left. Naive or what?
    I can’t see into the future so don’t know what I would do if the scenario you suggest came to pass. At the moment it seems like an impossible dream. But so far for me there are two things to consider. One is that Novak unlike the other two has not to date had an extended time of months out ‘injured’ and returned to playing as ‘Miraculous Instant Superman’- and the second (probably more telling) is that he cannot possibly afford to do anything underhand because unlike the other two, were he to get found out there would definitely be no cover up – in fact the media and those ‘in charge’ would seize on the slightest opportunity to destroy him and his whole legacy and all his achievements would be dust. We know that the other two are totally bullet-proof – particularly Fed, who I have to admit I have never suspected before until now. The fans are delirious and blind with joy (and who can blame them after years of defeat), and hardly anybody who thinks otherwise dares to even ask questions, and those who should be policing it are enabling it, (IMO). So we will never ever know if the Miracle Resurrection is down to positive thinking and practicing his backhand, or something else.

    Sure I’m a die hard Novak fan, and it’s pretty miserable at the moment, but I don’t think I’m just looking for excuses. I admit that he isn’t exactly helping his own cause for whatever reason. I just feel that what Fed is doing isn’t physically humanly possible with all the ‘thinking young’ in the world. And there are always questions floating around the other one, who has also had a pretty miraculous resurrection this year, not for the first time. The rest of the year is a foregone conclusion – again just my opinion.

    I understand that anybody with an online presence and profile has to be very wary of saying anything controversial, but I’m just a nobody fan with no influence, whom nobody cares a damn about, and as such feel I must comment on what I see and how I feel about it – that is sick, disgusted and disillusioned.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Tennis may be a relatively clean sport. We haven’t really had solid proof to the contrary. The problem is the capitalist model and the poor doping controls. That is a recipe for disaster. Wherever wealth is concentrated you can be assured of corruption. The entire world is a model of an immense concentration of wealth and immense corruption. There isn’t really a reason to believe that tennis is somehow an exception.

    So yes it is frustrating if you are not a gullible tennis fan. But one should guard against double standards as a fan. I don’t buy into Federer or Nadal being favored at the cost of Djokovic. If one is doping, all is likely to be doping. Anyway, no one really knows what is going on. Everyone lives in their own private world and draw their own conclusions. Nothing really seems objective.

    Like you say, Novak has to take a big part of the blame because of how he handled things since the FO last year. But no one is perfect and it is all a learning process. Some things are just inevitable. No one controls everything and always make the right decisions or they would be a god. He is not the only guy out there either. There are other’s actions to consider.

    As for thinking young, I’d rather believe that than the doping explanation. It’s more inspiring and like I said I happen to believe in mind power. Humanity is still early in their evolution so people think it is mumbo jumbo but if you actually research the subject you come to realize it is a very real phenomenon and that the mind is enormously powerful.

    Finally, an online profile is important but it shouldn’t prevent people from calling it like it is. There are always going to be critics no matter what you say so you may as well say what you think. Mostly, people will just believe what they want to believe anyway but some people have open minds and to them you owe honesty.

    [Reply]

    Sabine Reply:

    Linsey, I don’t believe in the “think-young” mantra, either. It might help mentally and improve the tactical side of someone’s game – but it can’t rejuvenate your body. “Mind-over-matter” only carries you so far….
    While I agree with you that the authorities would probably treat Djokovic far less preferential than Fedal, and therefore he has probably to be more carefull, I don’t believe at all that he is above suspicion. Cheating is simply too easy under the current system :-(
    I don’t believe that tennis is comparatively clean. Why should it? There’s a lot of money at stake and, as I said, cheating isn’t very complicated. If you talk to doctors, you would be shocked about what’s technically easily possible while the risk of detection is low – especially if the authorities are willing to look the other way.

    [Reply]

    Lynsey Adams Reply:

    I do agree with what you say Sabine, and also your earlier longer well reasoned post. Money and power talks more loudly than anything, and it suits the purse holders to have a Fedal rivalry back at the forefront, which is IMO a massive pointer to the suspicion that this is all being stage managed with their approval, as much as it can be. (ie they can’t literally guarantee all Fedal finals, but where there is the money, the will and the means, they can make the probability much higher). Obviously with no hard evidence I have to add the rider that this is only a personal opinion. I feel really sad about the whole situation, and angry too, because it feels as though they think people are too stupid to notice or question anything that looks untoward, and they don’t care anyway, as we have to basically like it or lump it. The Fedal fans don’t care as long as their favourites have seemingly rolled back the years in spectacular fashion and are on top again. It’s a dream come true, and proof that their idols really are the greatest tennis players on earth.

    I still feel that most players have massively more to lose if they get caught than those we know are bullet proof, for whom it’s a win-win situation, but as you say, nobody is above suspicion.. It did cross my mind to wonder how long the Miracle Resurrection can go on before somebody HAS to ask questions – will we still be having this discussion about the same players in two years time? I won’t – I’ll be so bored I will have stopped watching! :-(

    [Reply]

    Sabine Reply:

    Thanks Linsey. I hate to be so negative, but the current development is patently absurd IMO.
    While it is correct that we have no hard evidence, the miracle resurrection of Fedal and Federer’s fairy tale 18th GS trophy, topped up by IW/Miami titles, seems to be strong circumstantial evidence that something is very off. I don’t believe in such improbable fairy tales. Don’t get me wrong: Federer and Nadal have been playing great lately. They earned their respective titles by winning their matches oncourt. No amount of doping or stage management can guarantee that. And chapeau to Fed for finally getting the best of his old nemesis by retooling his game. I can admire that. I can also admire Nadal’s trade mark grittiness and never-say-die mentality. In principle I don’t hate these exceptional players. But even Federer cannot walk on water, change water into wine or turn time around for that matter, although some of his fans readily believe in this Second Coming. And there’s the big problem: while Nadal and some other players have always been eyed with a certain amount of suspicion, Federer seems to be completely unassailable. And in a way that makes Nadal unassailable, too, at least for now, because logically you cannot selectively doubt Nadal’s 2017 successes without doubting Fed’s heroics, too!
    In the past tennis fans have made the big mistake of using doping accusations selectively for hitting out at players they don’t like. That prevents an honest assessment of the situation at most tennis sites. Most fans just want to enjoy the tennis and the successes of their favorite players, which is understandable of course. Talk about doping is either not tolerated and banned as being slanderous, or it’s always the other players, but certainly not their favorite, who are suspect of playing dirty. And most tennis journalists know better than asking too many critical questions. They may never be granted an interview again by the top players.
    Investigative journalism and insiders who were finally willing to talk and turn witness eventually brought down Lance Armstrong & Co and cycling as we knew it. Unfortunately it’s not very likely that the same will happen in tennis anytime soon. It’s much more difficult because the tennis players move in close knit private circles, which cannot be penetrated easily. There may be locker room talk but one can never be sure what happens behind closed doors. That was very different in cycling where whole teams were openly doping together which created plenty of witnesses.
    The only way to keep tennis reasonably clean is to implement a rigorous, effective and transparent testing regime without favoritism. The current system is laughably inadequate. If once in a while someone gets caught, it’s mostly due to incredible stupidity and/or negligence, as in Sharapova’s case.
    I could go on and on, but it’s too depressing. And most casual tennis fans are quite content with the status quo where fairy tales, which maintain the the popularity of tennis, are still possible :-(
    Sorry again for being so negative, I will shut up about it now. But since Linsey brought it up, I needed to express my distrust in the current developments.

    [Reply]

    Sabine Reply:

    I should add, that of course, as Ruan said, too, Djokivic’s and Murray’s respective slumps greatly facilitated Fedal’s resurgence. There are some parameters at play here which have nothing to do with suspected doping and/or stage management.

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  4. Hi Ru-an, It’s been a rather boring clay court season but here are my thoughts so far.
    1) I said previously that if Nadal beat Djokovic before the French that he would be my favorite, and he did. So he is my clear favorite as of now. I know that wasn’t the Djokovic of 2015-2016 but I don’t believe that mattered to Nadal. After losing 7 straight times to Novak, Nadal would have taken a win over him in any circumstances.
    2) Overall, I thought Novak’s tournament was a positive step forward. He made a Masters 1000 semi-final and he got a good idea of where his game stands at this moment. Honestly, if he cuts down on the unforced errors he’ll be just fine.
    3) I saw that Nishikori pulled out before the quarterfinal against Novak. I hate this for many different reasons but I don’t blame Kei. I do however, blame the ATP for allowing this too happen. After the end of the 2017 season they need to establish a rule that covers these situations. I would much rather have Novak play David Ferrer (he lost to nishikori in the previous round) than a walkover. If players are worried about injury then don’t play and potentially ruin a good tournament.
    4) I hope every top player watched the Madrid final because that form of Nadal wasn’t that great. Credit to him for finding a way to win but if Dominic Thiem could have finished a few more points at net this match could have at least gone 3 sets. Thiem missed 3 or 4 easy opportunities at net that I don’t believe an in form Novak or Federer would have missed. I’m not saying that they are going to beat Nadal but if Novak (Roger at the French) can learn from the Madrid final and apply it towards Rome and Rolland Garros then I like his chances.
    5) Lastly I want to talk about Nadal. He’s playing fantastic clay court tennis but i am concerned for his rest of 2017 season. He’s playing 5 clay court tournaments and 2 grass court tournaments this summer. That’s a lot of tennis for someone who is turning 32 years of age. That’s 7 tournaments in 11 or 12 weeks. Now I know that his entire season revolves around the clay court swing but i’m worried that he won’t have enough left for the rest of the year. Advantage: Roger, Novak, and HOPEFULLY Murray. (Murray has been a disappointment).

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Good thoughts as always, Styrre.
    1) For sure. Nadal is winning the FO and no one is stopping him 😴
    2) Agree but like you, I don’t think it will be enough to stop Nadal.
    3) Couldn’t agree more.
    4) This is the only point where I don’t necessarily agree. I don’t know if Nadal is playing at his previous best but he is close. That is still easily enough to beat anyone but in form Djokovic on clay. You mention that Thiem missed some volleys but I also saw him make some great volleys like the one where he broke serve and one in the tiebreak at 7-7. I think both Goffin and Thiem played very well and the fact that they still lost in straight sets tell you how well Nadal is playing.
    5) I don’t think Nadal is concerned about the rest of the year given his struggles the last couple of years. He was hardly concerned about it in his prime. It’s all about dominating clay and winning another FO for him which is why he is not in my top tier in the GOAT debate. His year has always been built around the clay court season and when we get to the indoor season he is usually a spent force and has never won a WTF. He has never defended a title off of clay either and he didn’t spend nearly the amount of time at #1 as Federer or Djokovic because he is so reliant on clay.

    [Reply]

    Sttyre Reply:

    I didn’t really explain myself well with #4. Nadal is playing great but his court positioning behind the baseline gives me reason that Novak or Roger could hurt him. Dominic Thiem hit many great shots that he could have followed behind and finished at net. But we all know that Thiem struggles with shot selection the most. Hopefully we get to see a Novak-Rafa rematch and see the adjustments that both make.

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