MY TWO CENTS: His performance at the three Majors of this season gives us evidence of how much Nadal is struggling: at the Championships Wimbledon, Nadal lost to [RT102] Dustin Brown (GER) in round 64 in four sets; at Roland Garros, he lost to [RT1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) in the quarterfinals in straight sets; and at the Australian Open, he lost to [RT7] Tomas Berdych (CZE) in the quarterfinals in straight sets and the first two sets were 2-6 and 0-6.
His losses to Berdych and Brown were quite troubling. Prior to the Australian Open, Nadal had an eighteen match win streak against Berdych; thus to lose a set at 6-0 was the clearest indication of Nadal’s low level of confidence. Even knowing that he had beaten Berdych eighteen consecutive times, Nadal could not elevate his game to do so at the Australian Open. That was the moment I realized that Nadal’s game was in serious trouble.
Losing to Djokovic at Roland Garros was not as bad as it appeared. Their rivalry has always been intense and closely contested. Djokovic has improved every aspect of his game and he had defeated Nadal in some crucial matches on clay over the years; thus, I knew he would be extremely difficult for Nadal to defeat at this stage. However, fan that I am, I hoped that Nadal’s 14:5 advantage on clay would earn him at least a set and possibly force the match to a five sets thriller. Dreamer!
Sadly, losing to Brown at Wimbledon despite being another blow was not as significant when placed in perspective. Nadal has been struggling on grass for a while now. Brown also has the game to give Nadal fits on grass and he had won their only previous encounter. It was therefore not surprising to me that he defeated Nadal. A confident Nadal would have won that match, given the occasion. Nadal in his current state is very vulnerable on faster surfaces and particularly so to anyone who hits the ball with pace.
While at the gym this morning, an ESPN reporter asked the question, ” Is Nadal ready for the US Open?” To answer the question, as much of fan as I am of Nadal, he may be physically ready but his game is not.