Nil desperandum for Nadal
Despite being knocked out in the first round of the 2016 Australian Open, Rafael Nadal has not given up hope of making it back to the very top – and with good reason.
The tennis world was shocked on Tuesday down in Melbourne when Rafael Nadal was knocked out of the Australian Open in the first round, 7-6, 4-6, 3-6, 7-6, 6-2 at the hands of Fernando Verdasco. This was even more of an upset in that it was just the second time that he had been eliminated from a Grand Slam so early, the only previous occasion being against Steve Darcis at Wimbledon in 2013. Despite this setback so early in a major tournament, which will be tough both on the Spaniard and his legion of fans, he remains one of the top players in his sport. Reports of Rafael Nadal’s demise, which began to circulate after his loss to Verdasco, are certainly premature...
The Majorcan himself has definitely not laid any of his ambitions to rest, and when you bear in mind the mental fortitude that he has demonstrated throughout his (highly impressive) career, you can be sure that if anyone can climb their way back to the top, it is Rafa. After all, he has done it before.
King of the come-backs
Having already been forced to come back from a number of injuries, the 14-time Grand Slam-winner has proved time and again his strength of character and his unstinting determination when it comes to reclaiming his spot among the tennis elite.
In 2013 for example, shortly after bagging his eighth Roland-Garros crown, the Matador from Manacor came a cropper on the Wimbledon lawns in the above-mentioned opening-round match against Steve Darcis. It proved to be a storm in an English tea-cup, with Rafa then going on to win 22 matches in a row and lifting the trophies at the ATP Masters 1000 tournaments in Montreal and Cincinnati and at the US Open, where he defeated Novak Djokovic and finished the year as world No.1.
In 2014, after a poor start to the clay season by his usual standards with just two titles to his name (Rio De Janeiro and Madrid, with Kei Nishikori having to withdraw in the final of the latter), Nadal still showed everyone who was boss at the Porte d’Auteuil. He saw off the threat of Djokovic in the final in four sets, making it nine French Open titles in 10 years.
Carry on working hard in training
This time, the circumstances are a little different, but there is little doubt that Nadal will bounce back once again. After a tough year in 2015 where he failed to get past the quarter-finals of any of the Grand Slam tournaments for the first time since 2004, he has had to go back to basics. He seems short on confidence and also on depth of shot, though he recently said that he had felt really good in training and had seen the results in his opening matches of the season. And judging by what he himself said after his only match in Melbourne, he certainly will not be downhearted. "I’ve trained well and I was playing well," he said. "It’s tough to put all that effort in and to be knocked out of such an important tournament, but the only thing that I can do is carry on working hard in training, just like I’ve been doing for the past four or five months."
He may be on the right track, but Nadal needs time and to get a number of matches under his belt to regain the confidence he lost during his complicated 2015 season. He is determined and nothing if not a battler, and his focus will now turn to clay (most likely in Rio de Janeiro in mid-February) as he looks to reassert himself on his favourite surface. And who knows, maybe that will bring with it an historic tenth French Open title.