Monday, 19 October 2009

Nikolay ‘Flatlines’ Nadal


davydenko_shanghai_3 (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Davydenko d. Nadal 7-6(7-3), 6-3

I dunno what 80s Horror/Sci-Fi enthusiast has been put in charge of the trophies during this Asian Swing, but this item of ‘silverware’ looks a little like what’s left of an unsuccessful fusion between Freddy Krueger’s claw and the Predator’s Dreadlocks.

Are all Masters ‘Shields’ to be themed like this?

davydenko_shanghai_2_vig  (Photo: AP)

Davydork almost turned in an appearance.

  nadal_shanghai_vig2  (Photo: AP)

…and Nadal sported that exact same WTF’ed look Djoko had on not 24 hours ago.

It goes without saying how chuffed I am with this result.

Not only does he deserve it, but it’s almost certain to ensure his appearance at London. Nik’s made the cut for the TMC these past four years, and the landscape would seem quite bereft without him; though in a less obvious way – like a DVD without Flemish subtitles.

The tennis itself didn’t quite reach the heights of yesterday’s Nikolay-Djoko semi but was entertaining enough all round, and as always, an absolute groundstroke clinic from Nik.

Is he still the best returner in the game, when he reaches these heights? Difficult to say. The game’s evolved from three or four years ago when even the stats showed that this unassuming Russian triumph of substance-over-charisma out-gunned everyone (including Big Swiss Cheese) in every returning category imaginable.

But did Nadal look vulnerable out there, or what?

We all know of Nadal’s well documented, troubled past with so called “flat-liners” (so called by no one else but me): flat-ballers with timing and hand-eye coordination proficient enough to take aim and hit the lines with a strike rate of above 50%.

“I have my chance in the first set and I am especially happy with one thing — it’s the first match after my injury comeback against one top player,” Nadal said. “I really felt I really have chances to win.

That’s the most positive thing for me, and I fight all the time with a positive attitude, no physical problems. So that’s very good news for me.”


Fair enough, and he is on an injury comeback. But let’s not forget that Nadal opened his account this year by winning two of the most prestigious hard court titles out there. Far be it from me to accuse Rafa of complacency, but I don’t think I could stomach making it it ‘ok’ again, for him to reach hard court finals he doesn’t win.

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