Are Nadal’s Days Numbered?

As tennis fans will know this era has seen one of the greatest rivalries of all time between the Swiss legend Roger Federer and the equally remarkable Spaniard Nadal.

Rafael Nadal powers have been waining over the last few years compounded by early exits from Wimbledon and not being able to win the 2015 French Open.

This year he has seen a resurgence and a return to the top four which 12 months ago would have been a dream for Nadal. His good clay season had not gone unnoticed until injury forced him to pull out of the French Open, even though the final look destined to be  Nadal-Djokovic showdown.

RAFA

Rafa Nadal will not play at Wimbledon due to a wrist problem.

Nadal’s injury has struggled so much with the injury sustained in Paris that that very same injury has seen him pull out of Wimbledon. The penultimate major of the year and could be crucial to the race to the play in the ATP Finals later this year following the conclusion of the US Open.

Nadal’s struggle with form does look to be in the past, but every time a player suffers an injury they are never quite the same player they were when they come back. Should the world number four’s most recent injury see a dip in his form is Nadal prepared to not be part of that elite group that rule the roost of men’s tennis and have done for years?

The rivalry that Nadal has between himself and Federer and also some of the epic battles he has endured against Djokovic and Murray will always be etched in our memories but it looks as though 2016 could the year we finally lose one of the greatest of all time.

Advertisements

Unstoppable Djokovic Claims French Crown

The Serbian champions has finally lifted the title that’s eluded him for so long, heartbreak against Wawrinka last year seemed to lift him this year. He has been unplayable for large parts of the year and Murray was shown this yesterday.

The British number one was sensational in the first set and pinned the world number one back with a powerful forehand defensive game. The second set was the complete reverse as Djokovic settled into his natural game.

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 16.00.07

Djokovic after winning the French Open for the first time in his career.

The Serb has a frighteningly quick stroke speed, something which Murray found hard to contain on the clay. A sublime performance at the net whilst also driving the Brit further and further behind the baseline let Djokovic own the court.

Murray is among the quickest players in the ATP tour but no amount of pace over the court was going to stop Djokovic powering to claim his first Roland Garros title.

For the neutral it was a wonderful performance from Djokovic and although Murray won the first set there was no denying that the Serb deserved the victory.

As we head towards the grass season it poses the question, who if anyone will stop Djokovic? Wimbledon looks to be a fascinating major to end the season on and there is one clear favourite of course.

If Djokovic keeps this level of his game up there will be no stopping him when the tennis world descends on London this summer.

Why Wawrinka Can Win Wimbledon

We have broken the Wimbledon men’s singles into the final 8, in that final 8 are the top 4 players with Djokovic, Murray, Federer and Wawrinka all playing tomorrow.

Wawrinka may be 4th in the world but with a French Open victory under his belt and that ability to rattle the best tennis player over the last 3 years which is undoubtedly the Serb, Novak Djokovic he has a real chance of winning his 1st Wimbledon title. Yes, grass is very different to the hard courts and clay that Wawrinka has won major titles on before but the grass doesn’t seem to be bothering the Swiss player so far this year. Djokovic and Murray both have been put under huge amounts of pressure.

Novak Djokovic after winning Wimbledon last year.

Novak Djokovic after winning Wimbledon last year.

Murray’s game against Italian Seppi was looking a very different game before the medical break taken by Murray after he lost 6 games in a row following Seppi’s earlier time-out. Djokovic was rattled by Kevin Anderson in his 4th round tie and looks like he could face some stiff competition if he does come up against Wawrinka in the semi-final.

The only other top player that hasn’t been rattled is his countryman and the greatest tennis player of his generation Roger Federer whose grace and air of authority make him a pleasure to watch every time he takes to the courts especially at Wimbledon a place that he loves and the crowds paying him back with a huge amount of support. John McEnroe said that wherever Federer goes it must be “like he’s in front of a home crowd.” Not a surprise when you see the mild mannered, polite gentleman talk to the media.

Federer practising during the 2012 Olympics.

Federer practising during the 2012 Olympics.

Wawrinka will fancy his chances and back himself to beat Djokovic again if he gets the chance, who’s to say they will both make the semi-finals. Nothing is guaranteed that is something we’ve certainly seen so far this year with the women’s draw as Jelena Jankovic knocked out holder Kvitova and Nadal being beaten in the second round.

Wawrinka is destined for greatness his win in Melbourne last year was the start of a surge from the Swiss player who has forced himself into the top 4 and is sure to be a contender at the US Open later this year and of course the ATP Finals at the O2 Arena in London in November. His victory in Paris showed his ability to beat players that would have been well fancied pre-match which saw him make history at Roland Garros. It wouldn’t be wise to bet against him now, in the form of his life and closing in on Federer as the Swiss number 1.

Wawrinka after his French Open win.

Wawrinka after his French Open win.

Wawrinka’s route to the final isn’t an easy having to face Gasquet and then either Djokovic or Cilic depending in that other quarter-final. However I am certain Wawrinka would rather face Djokovic than Federer or Murray who are in the other side of the draw. Wawrinka knows how to manipulate the Serb and really make him feel uncomfortable on court.

Wawrinka has a massive opportunity and this week could define his career over the next decade and which players dominate the majors over the coming years. It is a vital week not just for Wawrinka but the sport in general.