Shanghai Rolex Masters, China
[CR4] Stan Wawrinka (SUI) vs. [CR7] Rafael Nadal (ESP)
It was a comprehensive victory for Nadal, 6-2 and 6-1. Dare we, his fans and the tennis world, believe that Nadal is finding his form late in the season? Or was Wawrinka completely flat because he had a hard fought and exhausting three set victory over Marin Cilic yesterday? Whatever the cause, this will do wonders for Nadal’s confidence because he still had to play to win. I have never seen Wawrinka play so poorly, so I have to believe that he was not feeling well physically. Inevitably, he was also not there mentally as he went for winner after winner without much conscious thought and with very slim possibility of his shots going in. He just barely managed to avoid the bagel in the second set and it appeared that once he was on the board, he just let the match go. There was no way he was going to come back from this and frankly, he did not even try.
These tournaments are not only mentally taxing, they are physically draining and with no day off for the body and mind to rest and recover, this is what can happen. However, the players should be accustomed to this and be physically fit enough to deal with the demands of daily play. Nadal missed a few easy shots, but it was not enough to derail him and in the end, it turned out to be a much easier match that even he anticipated. The three games won by Wawrinka were the fewest games allowed by Nadal in their fifteen encounters. Nadal will let us know tomorrow if he’s back when he meets Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semifinals. Nadal leads their head-to-head 8:3; however, they have not played each other since 2013. Their matches have been battles and I don’t expect tomorrow’s match to be any different. There is more at stake now and Nadal will want to secure the victory; needless to say, and so too will Tsonga. Who will prevail?