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Played For and Got.

Posted by gauloises1 on March 21, 2011

Much to be said about tonight’s final between Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic, and indeed their respective semi-final victories over JMDP and Federer at Indian Wells. Unfortunately it’s late here and I have been beaten into submission by blueberry vodka this weekend, but I will say this …

Is there any doubt that Novak Djokovic is the best player in the world right now? He is 18-0 in ATP matches since the start of the season, he has just beaten Federer to reclaim the world no. 2 ranking, and in beating Nadal 46 63 62 today for the Indian Wells trophy, he has become just the third player to twice beat Federer and Nadal in the same tournament. And unlike Nalbandian and Davydenko, the other two members of that little club, the man has two Grand Slam titles. No other player has had a run like this in the Fedal era.

Today’s match was a strange one. Neither player was quite at their best and inevitably, Nadal’s kerplosion midway through the second set will garner a lot of attention. But you can’t consider it in isolation from the man on the other side of the net, and Djokovic simply kept getting better and better. In a battle of wills, it was Nadal who blinked and Djokovic who bore down relentlessly. How cool is that?

It won’t last, because form is evanescent, because the body and mind can only give so much, because there is Nadal to contend with and clay season is approaching fast. But right now, Djokovic is supreme.

It’s fun. 

12 Responses to “Played For and Got.”

  1. yellybean said

    del po and murray also beat rafa and fed in a tourney…also nole did that in 2007 too,so this is his second time 🙂

  2. Kat said

    I always like matches where you can kind of see the wheels turning in a player’s head, where they are constantly re-configuring the game plan. And this was one of those kinds of matches. After dropping the first set, Djokovic went out and switched up the strategy, hitting more to Nadal’s backhand and it eventually paid dividends. Also, it was interesting that Djokovic essentially beat Nadal from the baseline, just by basically outlasting him in the rallies.

    What was up with Rafa’s serve though? It makes me wonder if this “new and improved” 2010 US Open serve is going to eventually screw him over. If you alter your natural serving motion too much, you always run the risk of getting the “yips”, you know? I just wonder if he’s just off currently, or if he’s going through a Djokovic-esque 2009-early party of 2010 struggle with the serve.

  3. Kat said

    Anyway, about the semi-final, I think it was just too much pressure (or pression as JMDP likes to say ;)) too soon. With a three match win streak, a chance to get to the finals, and a quick 3-0 lead in the first set, riding on the line, I think it just got to him. You have nothing to lose, until you do. Even though he said he was “bitter” by the defeat, I thought it was evident from this match compared to Memphis/San Jose that the gap between his level and the Top-10 is lessening, and that can only be positive.

    Also – I was a little surprised with Rafa’s post match comments (re- the US Open loss to JMDP). Sure, he was responding to a journalist’s question – and I don’t necessarily dispute what he said, its just – why is Nadal the only one whose losses get mitigated b/c of his injuries? You never hear about Delpo losing that 5-setter against Cillic in 2010 b/c he basically lacked a wrist. You hear about Cillic winning. When Andy Murray lost to Cillic at the US Open in 2009 he was clutching his wrist and to me, it seemed like there was some sort of physical issue there. But we never heard about it. Was that because there was no injury, or was it because it wouldn’t have mattered even if there was?

    Don’t get me wrong – I like that Nadal is pretty open about his injuries. As a fan, I prefer that sort of communication. Its just, I tend to subscribe to what Carlos Moya once said – “Every player has, will and have had injuries all the time. If you want to be a tennis player, you must deal with injuries everyday.” It would be nice if we could discuss wins/losses without have to asterisk them for injuries all the time.

    • kmf said

      I agree, it seems like people accept Rafa’s injuries as ‘excuses’ for his losses way more than they do for other people. Usually journos say ‘if he’s playing, no complaining about being injured’. I guess it’s because Rafa doesn’t ‘complain’ so much as ‘point out’. But still – inconsistent much? Bothers me.

  4. irefusetotellyou said

    I’m sure there’s a lot to be said about Djoko and the match and wrists and blah blah blah but I FIND THIS PICTURE TO BE THE MOST PRESSING THING AT THE MOMENT:

    WHAT is going on here? Is he curling his tongue? Is he sticking it straight out? Why is it so huge and weird-looking!? Is Rafa really an alien? SOMEONE HELP ME FOR THE LOVE OF JESUS, IT IS CREEPING ME OUT!

  5. kmf said


    Totally agree!

    Also – I confess it’s somehow comforting to know that even Rafa has a breaking point…

    • kmf said

      Sorry – between the bracquets I mean to quote this from Gauloises’ writeup:
      ‘inevitably, Nadal’s kerplosion midway through the second set will garner a lot of attention. But you can’t consider it in isolation from the man on the other side of the net’

      forgot about that HTML tag thing…

  6. ariennalee said

    don’t know exactly why, but rafa’s loss here doesn’t particularly worry me. Nole was the better player all week, and Rafa does tend to have moody tournaments where he can’t quite find himself, only to come out swinging twice as hard a few weeks later. he’s a player who rolls with his emotion and I think it’s taking some time to settle into this high-pressure year. I’m excited to have 3 guys at the top, instead of two… would just love to see delpo firmly in place as the 4th on top of the mountain!

    speaking of which: I love your new moniker!

    • neilintoronto said

      I agree, so happy that Novak won, and my overall feeling is that they way he’s been playing, he was destined to win this tournament no matter who was across the net from him. I’m not reading much into Rafa’s loss, i put it down to Nole’s form, and perhaps Rafa stepped off the pedal a wee bit once he won the first set. Miami should be a great tournament!!!

  7. Bismarck said

    omg gaul, you watching eurosport´s new awesome show? mats´ point. MATS´ POINT!
    not to give away too much/mats, but there´s also a one-on-one interview mats is doing with a certain delpo.

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