Posted by gauloises1 on January 26, 2011
Or: I owe Ferru and possibly Slams an apology.
David Ferrer d. Rafael Nadal, 64 62 63
I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to be eating my shoes or my hat or my feet right now, but along with many of you, this was not the result I expected to wake up to after staying up late to catch Murray-Dolgopolov and assuming I could get my shuteye in during a routine Nadal win. Even when I got woken up by a text message saying “I’m really frightened for Murray now!”, I assumed the sender meant that Nadal had performed more terrifyingly than usual, and decided to snore some more. Once I finally woke up and saw the result, I decided to watch the match back to see what exactly happened.
I watched it and came to the following conclusion: well done Ferru. And well done Nadal.
As you have no doubt heard by now, Nadal was undoubtedly injured. I couldn’t see exactly what happened, but something happened to his left leg in the second game (clarified later as a muscle tear), and although he managed to regain the service break he’d lost, he called the trainer immediately. As he left the court for evaluation, he looked over to his box, raised his eyebrows, and shook his head. Serious, his face said. And Nadal can say more with his face than just about anyone.
From that point on, his movement was clearly somewhat compromised and the match was there to be taken. That’s not to downplay the achievement of David Ferrer, who played about as well as I’ve seen him. Put the vast majority of players on court with a Nadal who can still run, and still hit, and wants this win about as much as he’s ever wanted anything, and there’s a pretty good chance that Nadal will manage to gut it out. Ferrer shut his friend’s predicament out of his mind and shut Nadal ruthlessly out of the match, then paid tribute to him as a gentleman and a friend. It was about as impressive a display of tennis and sportsmanship as I’ve ever seen, a rare combination of competitive intensity and grace, and a second Slam semi-final is a just reward.
Also, he’s hot.
A clearly crushed Nadal refused to discuss the extent of his injury in his presser:
I had a problem during the match, in the very beginning. [...] After that, the match was almost over. So that’s what I can say. But you know what, for me is difficult come here and speak about. In Doha I wasn’t healthy. Today I have another problem. Seems like I always have problems when I lose, and I don’t want to have this image, no? I prefer don’t talk about that today. If you can respect that, will be a very nice thing for me. Thank you.
Of course, as Jon Wertheim puts it, “he can take the high road, but we can’t.” The speculation over the extent of Nadal’s injury and its possible effects is likely to rage for some time and unfortunately tends to overshadow Ferrer’s win. But the encouraging thing for Nadal fans is that … well … it’s not the knees. It’s not tendonitis, it’s not chronic. It’s really unfortunate, but if there’s anybody that can take this on the chin and come back, it’s Nadal. He’s done it before.
Ferrer meanwhile will play Andy Murray in the semifinals after Muzz beat Dolgopolov in a scrappy four-set performance. In the interests of not jinxing or giving myself a stress-induced heart-attack, I’m just going to sort of pretend Murray doesn’t exist for now. OK?