Nadal – “I am off, my season has finished”

Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the ATP World Tour Finals in London.

The Spaniard skipped Paris before the season ender here in London but has called time on his tournament and of course his year.

15 minutes after finishing the match with Goffin he arrived in the press conference room to announce his season is over.

Nadal said

“I am off. My season has finished”

Pablo Carreno-Busta will now take his place at the World Tour Finals as an alternate.

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David’s Day in London!

A day he will never forget. Almost a year ago I wrote a piece about Goffin having a smaller taster of London last year and how he needs to build to be there again and what a start for the Belgian!

From the off David was going for it, we saw him pulling off the backhand down the line and really asking questions of the Spaniard’s serve. After getting the early break you could sense the nerves as he etched ahead and Nadal quickly levelled up for 3-3. At this point it was a crucial 20 minutes for both men and we entered a tie-break which swung both directions but it was the 7th seed who sealed.

The big question going into set two was could David keep it together?

To his credit he did keep it together until the latter stages of the second set which saw him lose out on an incredible four match points and before you know it was four set points down in the tie-break which a visibly tired Nadal took!

Goffin was the quicker out off the blocks against a Nadal who continued to struggle and gained a 4-1 lead which was cut to 4-3 but with his movement hampered but this knee injury it felt like we were delaying the inevitable as he won 7-6 6-7 6-4 against Rafael Nadal!

Well done David!

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No.1 in rankings but No.1 in London?

Rafael Nadal has given all indication that he will be playing in London. The world number one posted on social media photos of himself practicing but he may be the number one in the world but in London I don’t think he will come out on top.

Nadal has never been strong on an indoor hard court especially a slow one. Federer has won their last four meetings on an hard court as well. The court in London is pretty slow and for his game and his body it doesn’t suit. It makes it difficult to create that top spin he looks for on the forehand and if anything makes the backhand a little bit more effective with it being a flatter shot.

Rafa’s forehand works perfectly on a clay court as he can generate pace and spin off the court making it difficult to defend against but on these courts that don’t give away much you won’t get away with it.

Hard courts whether indoor or outdoor are high bouncing and you have to be ruthless. We saw in Shanghai not too long ago when Rafa played Roger that once he is exposed on the forehand and plays a short shot Federer was ready to pounce into the gap as seen below.

RN FH Height 1

If these finals were played on clay I’d no doubt in my mind that Rafa would win but he has never won the end of season finals and this with no Novak, Andy, Stan or Kei could be his best chance!

London calling!

In January you whisper about it, in June qualifiers begin and in October the race reaches it’s final sprint but now the marathon week is about to begin.

A season hit by injury for many top players saw some returning faces in Roger and Rafa and some new faces!

Rafael Nadal

We are unsure whether the world number one will participate. The knee injury has flared up and forced him out of Paris. No matter what does happen he will finish the year as number one. Inside hard courts have not been his strength over the years so I wouldn’t even have him down as the favourite.

Roger Federer

Missing Paris was a good decision, time to rest ahead of London and of course a stop in Glasgow for Andy Murray Live which ended up in him playing tennis in a kilt. He has to be the favourite. No one knows London like Roger.

Alex Zverev

Stepped it up ahead of the other younger players on the tour. Can show frustration at times but has his game settled. I haven’t seen too much of Alex on the indoor court but if it is another slow one in London he will rely on his variety to win matches. Getting out of the group will be key but will be tough.

Dominic Thiem

Second year running for Thiem who there are concerns about as he once again travelled week in week out playing 28 tournaments in 9 months. At some point the tennis will catch up and bother him long term, to cement his place as a contender cutting out unnecessary travelling and tournaments. The game is there but is the challenge?

Marin Cilic

Could be one to watch in London! Cilic has had some unusual results this year but he has played at a consistently good level and maybe doesn’t get the credit he deserves sometimes. With the serve, ground strokes and his improvement at the net will make him dangerous!

Grigor Dimitrov

Exceptional start to the year for Grigor. He was unplayable early on, it did fall apart a little but has been consistent throughout the season. He has grown up a lot on the court and his game is much better now! If he can settle then he can be dangerous on this O2 court.

David Goffin

One of my stories of the year. That freak injury at Roland Garros was tough for him physically and mentally but David is a fighter. If I compare the tennis he was playing during the clay court season with that of last year at the O2 when he had a brief cameo as an alternate and his game is much better and I think that cameo did him the world of good.

Jack Sock

Well, I’m not sure where to begin. With great respect Jack Sock an addition I would call a fish out of water. He has had good results this year but winning a Masters 1000 title has propelled him into the final position and qualifies and it is a great achievement personally for him but it does highlight the lack of quality outside the top players.

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Rafa’s thinking ‘long term’ but London looks unlikely!

No matter what happens over the next two weeks in Paris and London Rafael Nadal will finish the year as world number one however a title in Paris is off the cards and participation in London looks unlikely.

The Spaniard called a press conference this afternoon to announce that he has withdrawn from Paris and will take no part in the rest of the tournament when asked on London he replied with;

“I’m not thinking about London, I’m thinking long term, to be able to continue playing tennis”

Rafa said he is going to do his treatment on his knee and will do his best to try and play in London however you would expect him to still travel and do his recovery and training at the Tour Finals a tournament quite remarkably he has never won!

Now… if Nadal withdraws from London and Isner or Sock don’t win Paris then Del Potro would be in the draw, despite just over a week to go there is so much to be decided!

nadal

Federer storms past Nadal in Shanghai showdown!

Roger Federer has always dominated on an indoor hard court against Rafael Nadal leading the head to head at 5-1 indoors and has now extended this to 6-1 with a pretty easy dispatch of the world number one in Shanghai and he should have done better.

It took just 71 minutes for the Swiss star to see the Spaniard 6-4 6-3 extending his record of not losing to Nadal in all of their four meetings this season.

The tone of the match was set quite quickly and once that initial break was taken from Federer it never looked like changing.

Nadals game plan was quickly blown out of the water. The courts in Shanghai are quite fast and Nadal didn’t adapt to the expectancy of Federer matching his game to the court speed.

If you have watched Federer on a hard court these last two years you would have seen his style has sped up to stop opponents from dictating play and also to stop opponents moving him about.

Nadal was essentially a spectator there were too many times he was just stood there watching the ball go past. I think the tactics or lack of tactics were naive of Nadal and it makes the rest of the season interesting with Paris and London on the horizon both of which are an indoor tournament which Nadal hasn’t won.

The forehand is iconic but the backhand of Nadal has been brutally brilliant this year!

At the beginning of the year I asked the question whether Nadal could find his frightening best form once again and the rest of the tour is scared.

Nadal has been incredible this year and there are many factors. The serve has found that sharp swing on it again which good friend Carlos Moya has helped with. The forehand is the iconic shot in his game but he has found balance in the backhand.

The backhand of Rafa is a strong shot but the emphasis on it is greater now and it’s become a great strength. The way Rafa plays that two handed backhand whilst on the run with his neck tight to his body but still able to generate raw power is outstanding so lets take a look.

Rafa BH 1

You can see the power he produces through his knee being fully fit and able to produce these shots.

Variation is the other part of the backhand. We can see that stance he takes like playing the game stuck in the mud and when that ball comes up and Nadal is in this position below there is only thing going to happen…

rafa dtl

BAM! Down the line.

Another one is the slice, the slice keeps the rally going and you can below Dimitrov has done well but this defensive slice is deceptive.

rafa slice

Dimitrov see’s it as an opportunity and he is right to go to the net like a kid in the sweet shop but unless you get a killer touch the movement of Rafa will extend this rally. 7 seconds later they exchange 4 shots, Nadal’s at the net and won the point from that defensive position now that is impressive!

The final aspect of the backhand is the cross court one. So let’s take a look.

rafa cc

When that ball arrives in the backhand corner Nadal will more comfortably go for that flat backhand. He still sometimes does run around and play that forehand cross court and down the line but the neck mussels and that work again on the right foot allow him to push that power cross court and it such a flat and devastating shot that there is no interest to be gained on it as as the opponent you can just slide and try to extend and inevitably lost rally.

The backhand is so much stronger and the balance in his game has been key to his rise again. Nadal isn’t celebrating his win in Beijing to much and is already practicing in Shanghai.