Monday, 29 March 2010

Miami: “Lazy Brilliance”

Nadal d. Nalbandian 6-7 (8), 6-2, 6-2

For a set and a half, it seemed like it was 2007 all over again, as Daveed caressed us with what Leif Shiras lovingly termed “lazy brilliance”.

That dreamy mix of flat ball striking and fairy-tale movement that leaves the court shimmering in his wake.

I suppose you can call it lazy: there’s certainly something casual and unassuming about the way in which he appears to expect brilliance. But the sight of Daveed making those silky smooth transitions into court seemingly drunk in a haze of his own brilliance usually spells trouble.

This time last year Nadal all but admitted to being in awe of his backhand – in fact he spent the best part of their encounter at IW last year avoiding it (let’s just say that play backfired even though he won the match).

He didn’t make the same mistake today, though appeared both shaken and vulnerable after losing that first set – that losing H2H surely playing on his mind in part.

It’s as well he held things together, as more and more of Nalbie’s brilliance gradually began to unravel before us. The trouble with naturally gifted players like Nalbie and Sveta is they don’t know when to stop demanding brilliance, lazily or otherwise.

Perhaps it was also his lack of match fitness (so widely prefigured) that came to the fore – that at least would appear to suggest he wouldn’t have survived his next match even if he found his way past Rafa.

I don’t care. This ranks amongst the best comebacks from hip-surgery I’ve ever been privy to – a scarred wasteland from which only the most battle-hardened even dare attempt to emerge.

He’s still only 28 – and there’s still a certain easy brilliance about him. Long may he laze in it.

Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

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