Rafa Nadal: Very good, or very bad

Nadal IW 15 TR MALT0432

From the ATP World Tour Finals at LondonRafael Nadal is very intense. Obviously, he has not had a terrific year, not even close. He knew coming into 2015 that his body was pretty much done and he was in a fair amount of pain from wear and tear in the second half of 2014, But in January 2015, he was ready to go and he was hoping that he would be 100 percent.

But his recovery has been much longer than expected. The best news is he has been able to play all year. The bad news is that not only has the 14-time Grand Slam champion has not won a major, when he has not even reached to the semifinal. And how about this? At the ATP World Tour Masters 1000s, he did manage to reach the final at Madrid in 2015, but he has won 27 Masters 1000s since he began back in 2005, which has been quite a feat, so not winning at all this season, which has unglued him mentally.

“I think that I am playing in the toughest surface for me to play, indoor, and in the worst part of the season always for me, these last tournaments of the year,” Nadal said of the 02 Arena in London. “If I am able to play well here, I think that’s great news because that can be a good chance to start next year again with positive feelings,” he said.

But here is the good news: he has been pretty consistent this fall, reaching the final of Beijing, taking down Fabio Fognini in the semis (the Italian had stunned Nadal in five set at the US Open) and then falling against Novak Djokovic. He beat Stan Wawrinka in Shanghai in the quarters before going down against Jo Tsonga. In Basel, he beat Marin Cilic and Richard Gasquet before he fell against Roger Federer in the semis. In Paris, Wawrinka got his revenge and beat him in the quarters. For Nadal, at least he has been grinding, which is a positive. He is vulnerable, but he is not giving up.

“Then the results on Beijing, Shanghai, Basel, Paris confirms that I am playing much better, no? So happy for that,” Nadal said. “As I said in Beijing, my main goal is try to start next year with my level, with the level that I want to be. I am working to make that happen.”

On Monday, Nadal took out Wawrinka 6-3 6-2. He did not have to play fantastic, as the Swiss was way off, but he was directed, crushing his famous forehand. His serve isn’t massive andhis backhand is still landing too short. But, he still doesn’t believe that he can dominate with his volleys.

However, he is getting closer and closer, which is why he is ranked No. 5. That is not horrible at all.

Maybe in 2016, he will be ready to rumble again

“I don’t know what’s going on next year, but for sure the end of the season helps,” said Nadal. “The way I am playing at the end of this season helps to try to start the next year with a different energy than what I started last year. It’s obvious that I am working hard.”

However, Nadal has said that he doesn’t like the surface on the ATP Finals. Exactly what type of serves, who knows? Is it too fast? Too medium? Too slow?

“I never say that is fast here. Here everybody is saying that it’s slow. The court is not fast. The court is okay. But it’s obvious that I am playing against the best players of the world. I only won the first match. That’s important for me. I never say that is fast here. Here everybody is saying that it’s slow. It’s not that I’m saying it’s fast,” Nadal said.

The odd thing is that Nadal has won just about everything. He has won Australia, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open. He has also pocketed Indian Wells, Monte Carlo, Madrid, Rome, Canada, Cincinnati, Tokyo (a 500) and Beijing (also a 500), among others. Without a doubt, Nadal can win on every surface if he is playing his absolute best.

But the reality is that after the US Open, or the summer overall, he has historically declined in the fall. He rarely went deep from October-November, but in 2013, he was on fire, reaching the ATP World Tour Finals. Maybe he is ready to pounce. On Wednesday, he wiped out Murray 64 61. Now, you are talking






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