Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs.  Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER)
13:1 was their head-to-head in favor of Nadal, but after Kohlschreiber’s impressive first set it looked like he would get his second victory over Nadal. He came out full of confidence and blew Nadal off the court, winning the first set 6-0 in under 30 minutes. I was unprepared for the first set and apparently so was Nadal. Yet, there is no player on tour who fights harder than Nadal and even when he was not at his best, he never gave less than 100% effort. That’s one of the reasons I admire him so much. Nadal has talent, but his greatest weapon is his “never quit mentality” and that’s why he struggles so much when his confidence is low. It is difficult to play effectively when you have doubts, so it gets a little distracting in his head.
Nadal is also a smart tennis player, if he can make the adjustments to get the victory he will. I have seen him do so quite often over the years. He made the necessary adjustments in the second and third sets and with each winner, he grew in confidence. Kohlschreiber unfortunately is known for wilting when he has a lead and if you can weather his initial brilliant play, he will eventually trip up as the match progresses. Sadly, that’s exactly what happened in conjunction with Nadal’s brilliant play in the second and third sets. Why did Nadal struggle in the first set? He is prone to getting anxious and no doubt the fact that this was his 1000th match made him a little jittery. He regrouped nicely and came back firing on all cylinders to win 0-6, 6-2, 6-3. Next up is Nicolas Mahut (H2H 1:1).
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