[CR4] Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. [CR30] Fabio Fognini (ITA)
Nadal is no longer the “king of clay” and today was more evidence that he has for the moment at least, lost his way. It is very sad to watch him struggle this much and he is such a great competitor you cannot help but feel for him. Fognini was always a threat; however, Nadal at his best had never lost to Fognini until this year. Nadal has now lost two consecutive clay court encounters to him and that is cause for concern. On clay, Nadal was expected to be able to elevate his game; yet, that has not been the case. Despite forcing the second set to a tiebreaker, Nadal could not avoid the defeat because Fognini stayed focused and confident. He won in straight sets, 6-4, 7-6(6), sending the message to the other players that Nadal is no longer dominant on any surface.
Does Nadal have any chance of re-grouping before the French Open? Before this recent loss to Fognini, I still believed he could turn things around; however, as great a fan as I am of Nadal, I have to face the reality of the overwhelming evidence and no longer deny that the battle he is facing may require much more time to overcome. Unfortunately, he may not get back to a level worthy of challenging for the French Open this year; however, more unsettling is the thought that he may never get back to the level he once was. Yet, that is the thing about confidence; it can disappear for months and then suddenly it re-appears. Dare we hold on to hope for Nadal’s resurgence?