Thursday, August 18, 2011
CINCY MASTERS: Nadal vs Verdasco is a match we could all forget...
I am also not trying to be mean because I know it was exceptionally hot but surely they are used to this, no? Or maybe not because some moments of this match could only be explained if some sort of heat stroke were involved!
Rafael Nadal's 3+ hour grind against Fernando Verdasco is a match we can all choose to forget, saving that space in our brains for something a little prettier.
It's no secret Nadal is having confidence issues, simply because he's repeated it countless times in his press conferences over the past two weeks, but it's astounding how that dip in confidence has disintegrated almost every element of his game.
In his match against Benneteau on Wednesday, I thought his forehand was the main problem, but I realized against Verdasco that the movement itself was a disaster, his serve was predictable and ineffective, his net approaches were misguided and any sort of consistency was thrown out the window.
He'd pull off two aces to save two break points, which is grand, but then he'd serve like crap and hand over another break to Verdasco, who in the meantime was committing a truckload of errors and seemed to have a phobia from actually holding a lead throughout the match. Seriously Fernando, what's up with that? The rule is break then consolidate... Spitting on the baseline after you lost was no class act either, by the way!
Verdasco took the initiative in the first two sets and always broke first but followed that with some dismal displays of tennis to allow Nadal back in the game every single time.
I'm not even going to talk about the final set tiebreak where the world No21 again had the win at his fingertips but in the end all I could see is a match that had a combined unforced error count from both lefty Spaniards of 100. That says it all I think!
Besides Nadal's 41 errors, the world No2 seemed pretty slow in reacting to some of Verdasco's deep shots. He kept getting caught on the back foot and seemed understandably miserable throughout with barely any "vamosing" going on...
Next up for Rafa is Mardy Fish (Friday 1pm Cincy time, 8pm Cairo time) and considering the American made three back-to-back finals winning in Atlanta and finishing runner-up in LA and Montreal, Fish is currently the polar opposite of Rafa, at least in terms of state of mind.
I think if Rafa were playing anyone else today other than Verdasco, the 25-year-old would've lost in straights.. possibly even 2 and 2.
Those short shots will not go unpunished against Fish tomorrow and Rafa needs to find a solution between tonight and tomorrow.
I don't care if he loses but I care if his shots are lacking depth and his forehand is on vacation! Even worse, it's scary that he looks like he's not going for his shots showing hints of hesitation at every opportunity.
I'm not saying there is a crisis; everyone has rough patches and Rafa is no exception, but the last time he had a lapse was when his parents were getting divorced and he had tendinitis. Now he is fit and his only problem was losing to Novak Djokovic (like everybody else on Tour) a few times.
The US Open is 10 days away and all I want is to see Rafa in good shape just to give Djokovic a run for his money. It really is no fun when there's no fight at the top!