Nadal’s heavy racket fails to click in Doha
DOHA THE BOLD racket gamble that Rafael Nadal took to be more dominant on the ATP Tour may take some more time before the Spaniard starts delivering the desired results.
The decision by his management team has, of course, been taken keeping the future in mind. But given the sensitivity Nadal has, the negative results that he suffers or may get during the early part of the season or till the time he gets fully familiar with his racket may go seriously against him, causing some heavy blows to his psyche.
There is however no doubt that Nadal and his game with the heavier racket head would undergo a litmus acid test this year. Even during the limited time in this season, whenever he needed to lift his game, he could not do so.
It is a part of the history now the way Nadal was outclassed by Novak Djokovic in the past season. He lost all six finals of the 2011 in which he faced against the Serbian star. In both the Wimbledon and US Open, Djokovic got the better of Nadal. Djokovic continued his dominance even in the unofficial 2012 Mudabala Tennis in Abu Dhabi, beating 6-3 6-2.
Though Nadal managed to gain some measures of confidence, beating Roger Federer in the third place play-off, the transition or the evolution Nadal was expecting did not seem to be happening as yet.
Another tough test for him came up in the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, in which Nadal has not been able to win the singles crown in five appearances. In his first match of the 2012 campaign, he was fluent but he dropped set before overcoming Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany.
Then he cruised past qualifier Denis Gremelmayr, another German.
He was up against seventh seed Mikhail Youzhny in the quarter-finals and needed one hour and 50 minutes to subdue the Russian by 6-4 6-4. Nadal had 8-4 edge over Youzhny before the match and in the past three years, he had lost only once – the Chennai Open final.
The bigger test came in the semi-finals and Gael Monfils, the world No 16 and fourth seed, who had beaten Nadal in the quarter-finals in 2009.
Monfils played well and fired more winners than Nadal, which was more due to the fact that the Spaniard was tentative and could not find the spots or force the pace in his shots he wanted.
After the loss, Nadal sounded satisfied with his preparations for the Australian Open. “I go to Australia very happy about what I did here. For sure, I would have loved to win today and the tournament.
“I’m not lying to you and my feeling is very positive. I think I played a great tournament, much better than I thought.
The only negative thing is that I lost. For the rest of things, I’m satisfied,”added the Spaniard.
“I played more aggressive than usual. Even if I knew that this was not the right thing to do, I still tried it. I needed to be a little more consistent on Friday but in general, I’m doing the things that I have to do to compete against the best players of the world and try to win important tournanents.”