No one can take Nadal’s legacy away. What he accomplished is out of this world. He is so spectacular and he gives his heart out on the court. Got to love his spirit.
But we have to admit that Tennis is in a transition now. The elite is wounded, most of the biggest players are inured or semi-injured. The young players just started to make their mark in the game, kind of shy, and besides that there are a handful of players who are able to make great tournaments now and then and cause problems for the elite. And Nadal takes advantage to the fullest for this conjuncture. That’s a great quality itself.
I don’t really think that much anymore about the GOAT title, in the wider context of the phenomenon it doesn’t matter that much. It matters for the individual who will do it. For now it’s Federer, but don’t forget that a while now Sampras’s records seemed out of reach. The legacy, greatness and memories that these players leave behind is mesmerizing.
In the second round of China Open, Nadal gave a Tennis lesson to the young Russian, Khachanov, closing the match 6-3, 6-3. The dominance was just amazing. Rafa was hitting from any angle and had loads of confidence. He was even coming to the net, him being a defensive player, and searching always for the lines. El Toro was taking the ball fast and Karen had little time to react. Before realizing what happened, Nadal claimed the victory. The Next Gen star was simply overwhelmed.
Then Nadal took his form in the next round, to advance to the Semi-Final. He met a big server, John Isner. Rafa had a lot of issues with big servers this year. The American never beat Rafa in an official match. And the King of clay would not allow this to change. Isner managed to defeat Nadal in the exhibition tournament, Laver Cup, but was outplayed in this one. Unlike in the Laver Cup, Isner didn’t show patience or inspiration. Even though he played well, couldn’t read the Spaniard’s game.
John was coming to the net often, to take the time from the World number 1, but Nadal brings his A game to the table when he is cornered. He managed to send passing shots and to win great rallies. Nadal overpowered Isner to grab the win, 6-4, 7-6 (0).
Grigor Dimitrov is offering moments to remember in this event. His match with Del Potro was a classic. He had to constantly battle to stay or get ahead in the match. The Bulgarian was fully stretched to reach the Argentinian’s forehands and attacking game. It was a close call, but baby Federer would show a lot of maturity and patience. He focused during the big points and was better physically. He claimed the match, 7-6 (6), 7-5.
Grigor went in the Quarters with a lot of confidence, but with fatigue as well. He started the match with Bautista Agut in control, wining the first set 7-6 (5). But in the second, the Spaniard started to come in front and the Bulgarian didn’t have enough time to react, losing 4-6. But he recovered in the decider, claiming it clearly, 6-2.
Elsewhere, Zverev gave Italian Fognini a dominance lesson, claiming the match from the second round 6-4, 6-2. Even though Fabio gave his best, he couldn’t keep up. Was one of those matches when even though one player give his best, the other is just too good.
Darcis eneded his spectacular time in China with a disappointing outcome, retiring with a neck injury. So unfortunate. Nick Kyrgios was ahead, 6-0, 3-0, before the Belgian was forced to retire.