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The Year So Far In Review : Rafael Nadal

September 30, 2009

If I thought I would have trouble writing about the emotional rollarcoaster of a year that was Dinara Safina’s, then I was positively dreading typing this one.

Rafael Nadal started the year with a bang. He was the world number one, looking like he would not be giving it up for a long time to come. There was extreme hype surronding him, some going so far as to suggest that it would be he, not Federer, who would pass Sampras’s Grand Slam record. Nadal took out the Australian Open to snag his first hard court Slam, beating Federer in the fifth.

By the time Roland Garros rolled around, Nadal looked every inch the favourite. He had taken five titles, three of which were 1000s and the other the Open. Only an observant skeptic, pointing to the state of his knees during the Rotterdam tournament and his withdrawl from Dubai, might doubt his ability to defend his crown.

Elena Dementieva was such a skeptic, and her views, at first mocked and scorned, were vindicated as Nadal crashed out to Robin Soderling in the forth round. The tennis world was absolutely shocked.

More disappointment for Nadal and his fans followed. Rafael Nadal did not defend his titles at Queens or Wimbledon, pulling out of both tournaments. Rafael’s knees had gone through alot since he began winning left right and centre in 2008, it seemed they couldn’t keep up with the rest of him.

Nadal returned to play in Toronto, losing to a much-improved Juan Martin del Potro in the quater finals. His ranking dropped to three, and he lost in the Cincinnati semi finals to Djokovic.

Early in the year, fans were hoping Nadal could complete the career slam at the US Open. By the time August rolled around, those hopes had dimmed. Nadal reached the semi finals, equalling his 2008 performance, losing to eventual champion, del Potro.

Nadal struggled with an abdomen injury, (and Lord knows what else), during the US Open. Following that, he withdrew from Davis Cup and the Thailand Open. His presence in Shanghai is very much hoped for, but remains uncertain.

It has been an absolutely heat breaking year for Rafael Nadal and his fans. A year which started with such promise hit the rocky road when it was supposed to get even better, at Roland Garros. Nadal has recovered somewhat since. His fans should not be disappointed with a semi final showing at the US Open, coming through a tough draw on his worst surface. He also surpassed Andy Murray at the Open, reclaiming the number two spot.

If Nadal can recover in time for the indoor season, and more importantly, the World Tour Finals, he can remind the tour exactly why he was a very dominant number one for a year, (just in case anyone has let it slip their mind). None of his drive or talent have diminished, Nadal’s own body remains his biggest obstacle.

Overall verdict : Successful, Heart-breaking, Turbulent… there is not one word to describe such a season. Perhaps ‘bipolar’ is the best way to sum it up.

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