Sports

Rafael Nadal Fighting Back

Rafael Nadal Fighting Back

rafael nadal fighting back 2015Rafael Nadal, following what has been a precedent-setting season for all the wrong reasons, appears to be rediscovering some of his touch. The Spaniard has only contested two ATP events and a Davis Cup match since exiting from the 2015 US Open early. However, the results of those matches suggest that he may be a major factor at the upcoming ATP World Tour Finals (November 15th to 22nd).

Last week in Beijing, Rafa cruised through the first four rounds of the 500-series event with only one lost set ahead of the final. Nadal’s string of victories in China included straight-set wins over both Canada’s Vasek Pospisil and Italy’s Fabio Fognini. Importantly, the latter is the player that eliminated the former World No. 1 from the Flushing Meadows draw, perhaps the strongest evidence that there is something in Nadal’s game now that had not been present just a handful of weeks back.

So far this week, at ATP Shanghai, Nadal has shown that, at this point in his career, he is once again capable of putting back-to-back tournaments together in back-to-back weeks. That is generally a very difficult feat on the ATP Tour, one that only the very best players usually accomplish.

In Shanghai, a Masters Series 1000 event, Nadal has thus far defeated Ivo Karlovic, Milos Raonic, and Stan Wawrinka. The Spaniard has Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Head-to-head: Nadal 8-3) to best in the semifinal to set up what would likely be a championship showdown against Novak Djokovic, a semifinalist in Shanghai who himself still needs to beat Andy Murray to make the final.

ATP staff, writing at ATPWorldTour.com, have noted Nadal’s improved play, citing the win over Wawrinka in particular:

Rafael Nadal’s growing confidence was clear for all to see as the Spaniard dismissed Stan Wawrinka 6-2, 6-1 on Friday to reach the semi-finals of the Shanghai Rolex Masters and claim his 300th win at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 level.”

In watching Nadal play against Wawrinka, I noted that there certainly was a razor sharpness to Rafa’s ball striking. Part of that, I think, is actually due to the Swiss player being below par ever since Roland Garros. Even with both the Flushing Meadows deep run and with the title in Tokyo, Wawrinka still has not beaten a Top Ten player in months. I think the Swiss No. 2 is less motivated following his achievement in Roland Garros, and the best players will expose that in both Paris and London over the next months.

But there is also something extra in Nadal’s game right now that has not been there in 2015. Nadal had not yet qualified for the ATP World Tour finals at the start of Shanghai, but that qualification appears to be imminent. I have him as a second favorite to win the year-end event at this point, behind only Djokovic, with my complete list of favorites below.

1. Djokovic
2. Nadal
3. Roger Federer
4. Kei Nishikori
5. Andy Murray
6. Tomas Berdych
7. Wawrinka
8. David Ferrer

Click to add a comment
Sports
@GrandSlambert77

Shane is a sports writer with a big interest in tennis, but he's also a noted writer about travel and fiction. Plus he can handle long walks in the cold Canadian tundra!

More in Sports

dwyane wade gets over on lebron james twice in one night 2016 images

Dwyane Wade gets over on LeBron James twice in one night

Chris MauriceDecember 4, 2016
Tampa Bay Lightning sinking fast without Steven Stamkos 2016 images

Tampa Bay Lightning sinking fast without Steven Stamkos

Shane LambertDecember 4, 2016
milos raonic moving on from coach carlos moya 2016 images

Milos Raonic moving on from coach Carlos Moya

Shane LambertDecember 2, 2016
gerald mccoy feeling handcuffed by nfl and roger goodell 2016 images

Gerald McCoy feeling handcuffed by NFL and Roger Goodell

Chris MauriceDecember 2, 2016
Serena Williams, Nick Kyrgios make Singapore Slammers faves in IPTL 2016 images

Serena Williams, Nick Kyrgios make Singapore Slammers faves in IPTL

Shane LambertDecember 1, 2016
john wall demarcus cousins nba indecision 2016 images

John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins NBA indecision

Chris MauriceNovember 30, 2016
Week 12 NFL Winners and Losers drew brees big winner 2016 images

Week 12 NFL Winners and Losers: Drew Brees big winner

Shane MclendonNovember 29, 2016
Trigger happy Florida Panthers sack Gerard Gallant 2016 images

Trigger-happy Florida Panthers sack Gerard Gallant

Shane LambertNovember 28, 2016
DICK’s Sporting Goods Jersey Report a Must for Anyone Calling Themselves a Real NFL fan 2016 images

DICK’s Sporting Goods Jersey Report a Must for Anyone Calling Themselves a Real NFL fan

Curt JohnsonNovember 28, 2016

Subscribe to our Daily Newsletter

You will only receive one per day. You'll also get a free THE WALKING DEAD graphic novel with your subscription