[CR4] Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. [CR54] Steve Johnson (USA)
You can beat Nadal more frequently on the forehand side because with his current struggles, he has not been defending that side as well. If you can get the ball to his forehand with pace and placement, more than likely you will win the majority of points; however, doing so consistently is still not that easy for many of his opponents. One of the reasons Nadal was successful in the past was his ability to grind out rallies and wear his opponents down. Now, he seems to be struggling not only mentally but also physically. As he continues to wrestle with doubts, his court position has suffered, he has more questionable shot selections, the pace of his strokes has decreased significantly and there is a decrease in the depth on many of his shots.
I am well aware of the many obstacles a player faces each time he or she steps on court against an opponent; some are easier to overcome than others. As we continue to watch Nadal navigate this period of low self-confidence, we are reminded that many of these obstacles are intangibles. No match is easy for Nadal during this time of self-doubt and the situation gets even more difficult when his opponent is confident and has a few weapons. Nadal’s opponents now actually have more belief that they can not only compete with him but they can defeat him. As he continues to try to find his way through this frustrating time, he has to stay focused on the little positives in each match. Today was not “A” quality tennis from Nadal; however, it was good enough for the 6-4, 6-3 victory. Is it good enough to get to the final? One step at a time.