Strange Match From Nadal

07292015 RNbet-at-home Open, Hamburg

[CR10] Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. [CR26] Andreas Seppi (ITA)

Nadal got off to a very quick start as Seppi seemed mentally absent the first set. Things were moving along very nicely for Nadal and his fans until he failed to serve out the first set and got broken. Disturbing, but expected as Nadal seems to panic at unexpected moments in his matches lately. He bounced back immediately though and won the first set 6-1. Set two also was progressing nicely, Nadal had the early break and was serving to go up 3-0, when inexplicably he stopped play and stumbled over to his chair. A medical time out and a quick evaluation and the match resumed. Once again, Nadal served to close out the set/match at 5-1 and was broken. After an extended battle in the eight game, Nadal broke to win the match 6-1, 6-2. Questions remain about the medical time-out, was the issue physical or mental?

Nadal will get another opportunity to set things right in the final, when he faces Fognini. He has lost their last two encounters, which was not surprising, but still caught a few fans off guard. The first loss was very disconcerting as Nadal had won the first set very easily, 6-1. Now the mind, a powerful weapon that can be fragile at times, and which was once Nadal’s greatest strength has become the weakest link in his armor. Many of his opponents are aware of that and patiently wait for the opportunity to pounce. In order for Nadal to start to rebuild his confidence and re-establish his aura on the tennis court, he needs to defeat Fognini. It’s a hurdle that he has to overcome; will he be able to do so tomorrow in the final?

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