I woke up, turned my computer on, and brought up the draw. I took out a piece of paper so I could go round by round and not see any spoilers. First round is Nieminen. Okay. Tricky match. Second round: Muller. Oh god. Another tough player. “Funny. He’s got two lefties right off the bat. I’m sure this means another lefty will be there.” That’s what I thought when I saw those two first two matches. Third round is Tomic. Nice. He was one of the three players I most wanted to see in that round. Now the toughest player for that round could be Kokkinakis. Fourth round I got just what I wanted: Kevin Anderson. Upon further inspection I see Gasquet. Don’t really want to play him being a Frenchmen, but whatever. Seems the first couple rounds will be tricky then it looks favorable for the third and fourth.
Now for the other half of the quarter. Oh there’s Dimitrov. He hasn’t been playing that well, but I consider him the toughest of the 9-12 seeds. Then I saw it and my heart sank. Rafael Nadal.
Instant frustration. There’s so many factors this impacts. Now Nole will have to win two more matches if he beats Nadal. For a man who’s been trying to do this for years, it just makes it tougher. After Nole beat Rafa in the Monte Carlo semifinal, he talked about how much it took out of him physically and emotionally to play the brand of tennis it takes to beat Nadal on clay. We saw it in the final. He played awful against Berdych and barely made it through. If he beats Rafa in the QF’s, chances are he won’t be at his best physically and emotionally for the SF against Andy Murray. Murray has the best path to the semifinals of anyone. I cannot see him not making it or being tested. He’ll be licking his chops for the winner of Nole-Rafa, who’ll be exhausted one way or another.
Just think of it this way. Nole wins a match he’s been trying to win for years and now he has to win two more. It’s always been about beating Rafa. Now it can’t be. If he beats Rafa he will be unable to release all those emotions. The tournament is not over yet. He needs two more wins. He’ll have to hold back and conserve as much energy as possible. It’s as if that moment has been stripped of us. It wouldn’t be as special if he beats anyone else in the final to win Roland Garros. As I said, it’s always been about Rafa.
Maybe it’s just a subplot. Really it’s about winning Roland Garros to complete the career slam, not beating Rafa. That should be the focus. It’d make it that much more special though with what we’ve endured on the way. The stress of it though. To beat Rafa then have to beat two other great players.
I’ve discovered how unlucky Nole is at Roland Garros in preparation of this year. 2011 we had the walkover quarterfinal and wasn’t sharp for the semis. In 2013 he drew Rafa. Rafa completely framed a ball on a pivotal point in the fifth set that landed in. He got some let cords. We had the net fiasco. In 2014 Nole got sick. Now we draw the toughest draw imaginable. It has never been in the cards it seemed. He gets dealt bad cards every hand.
Everyone may be focused on the match itself, but it’s a very important match for the rankings. Someone will lose a substantial amount of points. For Rafa it would mean losing 1,640 points, dropping him to tenth or worse in the rankings most likely. For Nole it would mean losing 840 points and with the draw Fed got, Fed could gain a substantial amount as well. It could be a big swing. Nole has a big lead in the rankings, but it’d be a hit. More than half Nole’s lead on Fed would be gone if Fed were to win the tournament. All because of a draw.
Let’s talk about that shall we? I understand that you earn your ranking, but Rafa missed many tournaments. It’s not like this ranking is justifiable. He missed some of the biggest tournaments in the world. Four or five I believe. He’s less than 1,000 points out of fourth. He’s won the trophy nine times. Obviously the seed and ranking aren’t telling of his ability.
That’s why I believe there should be a rule that if you meet in the finals the previous year, you will be put on opposite halves the following year. For instance in this circumstance, Nole was number one seed, so Rafa’s number would be taken out for the first two numbers drawn, then reentered for the last two to be drawn. They’d be on opposite halves and the tournament is not compromised. The points one player will lose are substantial and unfair. Especially in this circumstance being that Nole and Rafa are the two best clay court players in the world and they could meet in the quarterfinals.
I’ve seen some remarks onTwitter you’d expect to see after this. Dumb ones that make no sense. Like “no one will say he got a lucky draw.” That’s completely irrelevant. He’s shown he deserved this title the last three years. He’s never had any luck here, as I iliustrated earlier. If anything, the luck should’ve gone his way for once at Roland Garros, not against him for a fourth straight year. I just hope we get some luck and have it be the Tuesday quarterfinals, so there’s an extra day rest for the semis, for either player who wins.
But anyway were in it now. Can’t change anything. Just have to vent 😉 then learn to live with it. We can’t control it, so it’s best to just be as positive as possible and not focus on it. There’s still four matches to be played by each man before they could meet after all. Nothing’s guaranteed. All this could be for nothing, who knows. I just hope our worst nightmare of them all doesn’t occur. Whoever wins that match better win the whole damn thing.