Nadal in 2012

by thriding

Since relatively early on in his career it has been clear that all of Nadal’s successes have been based around the annual clay court season. In some years there have been titles leading up to the clay portion, in other years the successes carry on after Roland Garros. With just two exceptions all his tournament wins have been part of a streak centred on the clay court victories.

One exception to this pattern was the 2010 US Open. Nadal had been in very fine form from Monte Carlo to Wimbledon and the impression at the time was that he was making an especial effort to take his springtime form right through to the end of the summer, and to make adjustments to his game to suit the US Open. 

In 2011 Nadal had his usual success in at Monte Carlo and Barcelona, neither of which Djokovic entered. After these came the two lost Masters finals in Madrid and Rome. Unfortunately for this particular narrative Federer took out Djokovic in the semifinal of the French Open, and an older story reappeared: Nadal beating Federer in a French Open final. This turn of events not only robbed us of a chance to see how whether the 2011 version of Djokovic could take all of Nadal’s titles away from him, but also left the question unanswered in Nadal’s mind.

In 2012 Nadal reasserted himself, helped both by work he had made on his game and by a couple of twists of fortune. Nonetheless in the final of this year’s French Open we saw a considerably more nervous version of Nadal than one we have become accustomed to. Although he battled through the match and beat Djokovic, it was in contrast to 2010, when he regained his French Open title in a more domineering style.

Nadal’s victories at slams other than Roland Garros seem to fall into a pattern of making an additional effort outside his clay court happiness, as if each time a project with a deliberate aim has been undertaken. One can contrast his disappointment after the 2007 Wimbledon final with several losses at the Australian and US Opens.

In 2012, Nadal perhaps laden with the ghosts of 2011, that sense of additional effort seemed needed just to achieve his traditional string of clay court success. Only hindsight is going to tell us if that is meaningful.

2005
  • Feb: Brazil, Acapulco 
  • Apr-Jun: Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome, Roland Garros
  • Jul: Bastad, Stuttgart
  • Aug-Oct: Montreal, Beijing, Madrid
2006
  • Mar: Dubai
  • Apr-Jun: Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome, Roland Garros
2007
  • Mar: Indian Wells
  • Apr-Jun: Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome, Roland Garros
  • Jul: Stuttgart
2008
  • Apr-Jun: Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Hamburg, Roland Garros
  • Jun-Jul: Queens, Wimbledon
  • Jul-Aug: Toronto, Olympics
2009
  • Feb-Mar: Australian Open, Indian Wells
  • Apr-May: Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome
2010
  • Apr-Jun: Monte Carlo, Rome, Madrid, Roland Garros
  • Jul: Wimbledon
  • Sep-Oct: US Open, Tokyo
2011
  • Apr-Jun: Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Roland Garros
2012
  • Apr-Jun: Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome, Roland Garros

These lists taken from Wikipedia’s Rafael Nadal’s career statistics page 

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