This was definitely not the first round robin match Rafa Nadal was after. However, I think it might have been just the one he needed.
Let's recap. Rafa hasn't played for about five weeks. Presumably he is carrying some kind of minor injury - he didn't play Paris, for one, and he always seems to be carrying an injury, also - and then... oh yeah. Five weeks. Rust city central. And he's playing Andy Roddick, to whom he has been a little vulnerable on hard courts in the past.
...oh, and he's just lost the first set. And it's a tiebreaker. And if he loses it, he loses the match.
A good solid three set slog, with the employment of some of his trademark iron mental toughness, sounds like just what the doctor ordered to me. Get the cobwebs out. Dust off the grit. Fight your way back from a bad position against a tough opponent and play your way into form. And you could see Rafa doing just that over the course of the match. He let that break go a little tamely in the first set and couldn't break Roddick's serve again. So he hung in there, gritted his teeth, and didn't let go. I'm sure he'd have preferred an easy win, but in the long run, I think this was just what he needed.
It was not, however, what Andy Roddick needed. I still think he has a good shot at qualifying for the semis, but he has to make sure he doesn't let this woulda shoulda coulda of a match get him down. He can definitely beat Berdych - he went down super easily today - and I'm reasonably confident he can also beat Djokovic. He's just got to hang tough, mental wise. And today wouldn't have helped. But he can do it.
4 weeks ago