One thing you should have learned about Rafael Nadal by now is that you can never count him out. Rafa, as the circumstances have turned out, now has his best chance of winning the US Open, more than at any time in his career to date.
Lack of match play, time off the tour, tendinitis in both knees and the punishing hard courts all point towards Nadal not being able to survive. BUT, Nadal is an amazing athlete, great fighter and has plenty of motivation. Being off the tour with an injury may well be a blessing in disguise.
The Spaniard has had a break and played fewer matches in 2009, standing at 44 wins and 5 losses, for a total of 49 matches. In 2008 Rafa played 93 matches. “Competing at so many events might have harmed, especially at the end of the season, my physical condition, taking away the freshness needed to play at the top level,” Nadal said in November 2008. He is fresh in 2009.
Losing in the 4th round at Roland Garros must have lit a bonfire in the Mallorcan’s stomach. Being forced to pull out of Wimbledon after his victory in 2008 would have hurt. Federer cleaning up in Nadal’s absence must have The Bull chomping at the bit.
Nadal has never performed as well at the 4th and final slam each year. The Olympic champion’s results at the US Open indicate that he is constantly progressing and if the trend continues he will be playing off in the final in 2009. Once in the final he fights to the end, as we witnessed at Wimbledon 2008.
The Bull’s US Open record:
- 2003 – 2nd round;
- 2004 – 2nd round;
- 2005 – 3rd round;
- 2006 – 1/4 finals;
- 2007 – 4th round; and
- 2008 – semi finals.
To help his knees survive the hard court season Nadal would be well advised to work on becoming a more aggressive player. He needs to look to shorten the points and REALLY try to finish points off once he has the upper hand in a baseline exchange.
In fact, the former world No.1’s biggest adversary will be the hard courts and his knees. The hard courts cause the greatest strain on your lower body because the impact your legs have with this surface is harder than any other type of court.
Knee tendinitis is caused by inflammation in the patella tendon. There are reports that the former world No.1 has this condition in both knees and that the right knee is more severely affected. The pain from this condition can be severe.
The reigning Australian Open champion is scheduled to play his 1st event at the Montreal Masters in Canada commencing on August 8. This will be an interesting prelude going into this year’s US Open. How aggressively will he play? How well does he look after his knees?
Stay tuned to this tennis website for further updates about the 2009 US Open singles events. Click this link to see an index of all 2009 US Open posts -> US Open 2009: Aug 25 – Sep 14.
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photo credit: nicogenin