Quotable Quotes: Here’s to confidence. Not.


REUTERS: At the U.S. Open, you have the chance of becoming only the seventh man ever to win all four grand slams. Do you think about that at all? Does that weigh on your mind, the possibility and what that would mean for you?

NADAL: “Not right now, no. Right now I am only thinking of my knees and am trying to find my best performance as soon as possible.”

REUTERS. You are obviously thinking of short term goals right now, but getting back to the number one spot, is that a long term goal for you?

NADAL: “No, not right now. I was very happy to be number one for almost a year. But, no my goal is to be competitive, to try and win important tournaments. That’s my goal and if it’s like this then I am going to have my chances to be number one another time but my important goal is to try to perform well to win important tournaments, not to be number one.”

 

 

 

The tennis media has been quick to play down Rafa’s chances at the US Open, and for the large part – they’re right. Rafa does come into the Open with the least amount of momentum. Not to mention his myriad of problems – knees, parents, Gasquet first round, Murray/Del Potro, Tsonga, sleeves, drink bottles …

But I’m going to be a bit of a contrarian here and point out a few things do work in his favour:

 

  • Flying under the radar: we know that Rafa works the best when he sees himself as the second man, the hunter and not the hunted. Even when he was beating the crap out of everyone, he conceded that Federer was the better player. Not the kind of thing you would ever catch Federer (or the other two clowns in the Big Four) saying. But it seems to be the way for Rafa to take some pressure off himself. If he wanted less media hype and more room to focus on his game going into the Open, he’s found himself in the perfect situation. 
  • Rafa’s game was coming together in Cincinnati: no need for the fact that he lost to Djokovic to obliterate Rafa’s performance in Cincy. The match against Berdych was almost vintage Nadal, if Nadal’s game could ever be described as vintage. Considering Nadal lost to  Djokovic at the same tournament by almost the same score line last year, and then went on to take the Olympics by storm, the loss probably wasn’t as significant for Rafa as the win was for Djokovic on the other side of the net.
  • Career slam motivation: Roger Federer won the French Open. Who saw that coming? With the way Federer was playing against Acasuso and Haas? With the way he played through the first half of the year? But sometimes, the sight of a carrot dangling just around the corner is enough to pull a champ through. Who knows? Lady Luck might smile on Rafa this time – a few upsets here and there would help, starting with Tsonga and Murray. But once Rafa escapes Week 1 unharmed, the second week of slams should be familiar territory for him. In a best of five setting, I still like his chances.
  • ‘A little too fresh’ was Rafa’s response to the issue of being ‘fresh’ at the Open. But just to state the obvious – for once in his career, Rafa’s well-rested, and has had a chance to recover from his early season burn out. We’ll let the results decide where to draw the fine line between ‘fresh’ and ‘too fresh’. With a quarterfinal in Montreal and a semi in Cincy, who knows? He might be just fresh enough.
  • Stranger things have happened this year: so why the hell not? Slam-wise, this whole year has been totally wacky. A win in New York would 1) shut up the bandwagoning critics, 2) add more fuel to the GOAT debate, without which the realm of tennis would not be the same, 3) and reinforce Rafa’s place in history as, not just one of the more accomplished players out there, but also possibly the most resilient. Sounds like the perfect plot for the tale-spinning mainstream media, and the Tennis Gods like their little plots. Doncha think? 

 

All this aside, Rafa is not my pick for the US Open, but there is a case to be made that his chances are not as slim as one would make them out to be. They’re about as good as Federer’s chances of winning Roland Garros was back in May. And look what’s happened since then. 

Matadors, beware the wounded bull.

 

xx doots

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13 responses to “Quotable Quotes: Here’s to confidence. Not.”

  1. evie says :

    Rafa is not the second, or even third, person most likely to win USO. Fed’s chances at RG were never worse than third, even by the most brutal pundits.

    I actually think people are giving Rafa a better shot at making it to the second week than he has.

    • dootsiez says :

      For me, Rafa’s more likely to fall during the first week than the second. Once he’s into the second week, he should have more wind under his wings. It’s the first week that worries me.

      But of course, being in a best of 5 setting benefits Rafa. I can totally see some lower ranked player taking two sets off Nadal and then having Rafa come back and win it in 5.

  2. Brenden says :

    Good stuff. I like were Rafa’s head is at. People talking about Rafa not making the 2nd week are severely underestimating him. I think Rafa is always a threat.

    However, I must disagree with the last part. Rafa’s chances of winning the US Open are much slimmer than Roger’s were of winning the French.

    Unless your name was Rafa Nadal, you were going to lose to Roger at Rolland Garros (I still think the case can be made that Roger is one of the best clay-courters ever.)

    Roger was/is much better on clay than Rafa on hard court. Besides, Roger had just beaten Rafa on clay before the French.

    I think those two factors made Roger a bigger favorite for the French than Rafa should be for the US Open…

    • dootsiez says :

      Brenden, I agree with you that Roger was at least the second (maybe the third) favourite at Roland Garros. But the way I conceptualised it was

      US Open chances:
      Federer: 25%
      Murray: 25%
      Rafa: 15%
      Djoko: 15%
      Del Potro: 10%
      Roddick: 10%

      The other guys – Tsonga, Soderling, Verdasco – their chances are basically negligible.

      For the French open, I had Rafa with a 80% chance of winning, and Federer/Djokovic each with 10. Didn’t think it could be done.

      I guess I’ve just been reading the media’s draw analyses, and getting annoyed at the fact that people have already pencilled in Federer and Murray for the finals. It’s just not that easy. Can’t imagine the backlash should either of them fail to make the final.

      • Brenden says :

        I agree, Dootz. The media’s analysis of the US Open draw tends to be overly-simplistic.

        They seem to forget that all kinds of crazy stuff can happen with pros at this level (Roddick pushing Roger to 14-all in the 5th at Wimby, Tsonga coming back 20 breaks down in Montreal!, Soderling walking all over Rafa in the French, etc…)

        But wow! You have Roger and Murray at even money to win the US Open?! A one in four chance each?! No. Way. !!!

        Maybe it’s just me, but i really don’t see Murray as being *that* formidable yet. Not in majors. Again, maybe it’s because I’m such a huge fan of Federer, coupled with the fact that Murray seems to be the one guy Fed doesn’t respect – or even feign respect for. But I just don’t see him as major-threat.

        I know, I know. He’s super-talented, and super-young too. But to me, he’s just a guy who can win three set matches on raw talent alone. He caught Roger flat-footed in a few three set matches and frustrated him. That “losing streak” that Roger had to Murray was such a media construct!

        But in five set, major tournaments, I see him as a just another uber-talented ATP pro who is just as likely to make a run as he is to get curb-stomped. Remember how Murray was the “chosen one” at Wimby? Then Stanislas Wawrinka nearly bounced him right off centre court. Then Roddick finished the job – quite easily, too!

        Maybe I should stop, I feel like I’m rambling! I guess my point is, I just don’t understand how Murray got elevated to this level without doing…..anything! Why is this guy #2?! Why did Johnny-Mac call it for Murray?! Why do writers love him so much? Why don’t majors count for more in the rankings?

        Whew. I feel better, already!

      • dootsiez says :

        Hehehe Brenden, the reason why I have Murray as equal fave with Federer is that Murray’s tennis is basically “almost there”. Whatever my objections towards Murray, I don’t doubt that he has a slam in him, and for him to go for a year without a slam after making the final at the USO last year would be a little disappointing and unexpected. We’re at the stage where I expect him to just “bring it” at the Open and fight like hell to win the last slam of the year. He has the game to do it, and I suspect also the heart.

        Besides, Murray won Montreal, and made the semi at Cincy. Just because he lost doesn’t change the fact that he has won the majority of his encounters with Federer. If Murray’s serve shows up in NY, he’s going to be pretty hard to beat.

        On the other hand, you gotta think that Federer’s AMAZING summer has to catch up on him at some point. 6 US Opens in a row just sounds too mind-boggling to be true. Although … we are talking about a guy with 15 slams here. Most things are too out-of-this-world to be true when it comes to him.

        Maybe I wouldn’t put them even on 25/25. Federer probably has the edge at a slam level. But I don’t think Murray and Federer are that far apart in terms of odds, certainly nothing like the bookies’ odds which has Federer as a firm favourite.

  3. roadrunnerz says :

    I’d never discount Rafa at a slam. But I think in order for it to happen someone needs to take out Murray for him…if someone does (ahem, Delpoop), all bets are on!

    • dootsiez says :

      I dunno – I see Rafa as more likely to survive Murray than del Poop. del Poop will take it to Rafa. While Murray will just rally go on and on into his old age, and Rafa will get so annoyed that he’ll decide to end all the points instead!😛

  4. tennisfan says :

    Seriously I can’t believe that everyone is buying Nadal’s ****, he sang a similar tune before the Australian Open and we all remember how that turned out. Frankly he is seriously underplaying his chances and I would not be surprised if he won the darn thing. He’s not the favourite but the fact he is the won the other hard court slam and IW has got to count for something. He’s also got a pretty easy draw, so he should make it to the semi’s without too much trouble. The fact he has played less tennis may help him to overcome Murray or Delpo. Nadal likes to be seen as the underdog, he needs to be seen as the underdog despite the fact he is anything but. It’s nothing more than gamesmanship.

    • dootsiez says :

      Apart from the fact that I don’t think it’s gamesmanship, but just the way Rafa thinks, I agree with you. Rafa’s hard court results this year have been very impressive, and the biggest names in his draw – Tsonga and Gonzo – are pretty streaky. You can imagine either of them taking out Rafa, but at the same time, you can image either of them losing Round 3 as well. I think Rafa’s not to confident right now, but as always, by week 2, dynamics change.

  5. SJ says :

    Nadal is so winning the US open, he’s going to ruin Federer making history yet again….then he’s going to apologize for it…

    • Alex says :

      I don’t think Roger will be denied winning a record 6-in a row of any slam. He knows this is a once in a lifetime shot and he won’t blow it.

    • dootsiez says :

      ^ that’s what I said before Wimbledon. It’s never that easy.

      SJ, I wouldnt call it “ruining Federer’s history”, history was never de facto Federer’s. He has to go and earn it.

      Besides, I’m in the school that thinks having Rafa around helps Roger’s career rather than stops it.🙂

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