It is super hard to believe that it has been ten months since Rafa Nadal won a title. Anyone who watched him play against Jo-Willy today... well, the Rafa that turned up today is the fierce, true steely Rafa, Captain of the Fight or Die (mostly Fight) squad. I love that Rafa. That dude is fierce.
Since his defeat at Roland Garros, we've seen an awful lot of Shmafa, Rafa's evil twin. Shmafa is still a pretty rad player - he is still, I would say, top ten, and he still wins a lot of stuff, but he's not the dude that won four Roland Garroses in a row, that is for sure. He's the dude that exhibits a little uncertainty, maybe misses an easy shot at a routine moment... the dude that is a half, a quarter, an eighth of a step short of what he should be, and you can tell it frustrates him.
But there was no sign of Shmafa today. It was Rafa, the true, the original and the best, that whaled on Jo-Dub and totally beat him into submission. And as Rafa himself knows, it takes a lot to beat Jo-Dub down.
This probably isn't a popular sentiment, coming from someone so strongly aligned with Camp Fed, but I really hope Rafa cleans up here in Miami. I hope he wins and wins good and carries that momentum forward into the clay season and plays like a god. I hope we don't see Shmafa for a long, long time - because good as Shmafa is, tennis isn't tennis with Rafa.
Roger: older and not quite out
6 months ago