[CR3] Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. [CR7] Tomas Berdych (CZE)
There have always been players who have more weapons than Nadal; therefore, it is a testament of how great a competitor he is that he has outperformed so many of them. However, this 2-6, 0-6, 6-7(5) loss to Berdych is a very troubling result for the Spaniard. In the past, he has been able to come back from injuries; however, this is not a physical injury. He has suffered a traumatic mental blow and as determined a fighter as he is, he may not be able to recover that invincible aura he once had. It is the way that Nadal looks on court that’s concerning, he emanates fear, something we never saw from him. It’s expressed in his eyes, his court positioning, and it’s manifested in his poor execution of shots. You could depend on him to adjust his plan and find a way to win or at least make it a contest; however, now, you are no longer sure he can even hold his serve or stay in the rallies. Although the fight and the desire are still present, the battle is no longer only an external one. Nadal must now fight harder than he has ever done to regain his confidence. The unfortunate thing, that intangible advantage he once had against lesser ranked opponents is gone; players no longer fear his will. Without that edge, can he erase the belief that he is no longer a threat on court?
I admire Nadal and I am a big fan, but I am concerned about the manner in which he is losing and the message these losses are sending not only to his opponents, but to himself. I do not know the solution to this problem because Nadal gains his confidence by winning and if he is not winning, what then?