Wertheim: "how many times Nadal has won the year-end shebang? (Hint: zero, because his body can't last the entire season, and durability is part of "greatness.")"
One of the biggest myths about Nadal is
that his body is not durable and cannot last the entire season... and
therefore he cannot show up or win the World Tour Finals year-end
championships. This indoor championship is not just historically the
fifth most signficant title in tennis (only after the four majors), it
is the ultimate gladiatorial battle between the world very best players.
Winnig the year-end championship thus validates the champion's
greatness and domination over the year's very best players.
excuse for Nadal fails the smell test. The facts indicate that the more
logical reason why Nadal hasn't won it is because he is relatively
incompetent on indoor hardcourts and uses 'injury' excuses to avoid this
major event and downplay his losses. The facts are:
truth, Nadal has been a highly durable player. Nadal has already played
750 matches, the sixth most career matches among all active players. The
top five players on the list are all at least 31 years old: Nadal just
needs 71 more matches to tie Tommy Haas for second place! Nadal is very
durable when he chooses to be: his 'lack of durability' rarely appears
during the clay season (except when he loses, and then he uses injury as
Yet, despite his continual whining about being injured, Nadal has never
had surgery for any injury in his career (unlike many other more
seriously-injured players), indicating that none of his injuries and
injury breaks have been really that serious. It's more plausible to
consider that, since 2005, the very smart Team Nadal has been making
Nadal take preventative shut-downs during undesirable periods of the
season (on surfaces he is likely to incur losses). If Nadal had showed
up for more indoor events -- like Federer did for clay events -- Rafa
might have lost more matches to Federer.
(c) Nadal's World Tour
Finals win-loss record is an abysmal 9-10 (47%) -- and that's when he
showed up most-prepared to compete. Nadal was absent in three different
years -- had he showed up he probably would have had even more losses
against the world's top 8 players who were mostly hardcourt specialists.
Nadal's worst surface is indoor hardcourt: deducting Nadal's 9 indoor
clay wins, his indoor hardcourt/carpet win-loss is ony 47-29 or 61.8%
for around 60th place in the ATP era. The more versatile Federer's worst
surface clay is still 77%, good for 11th in ATP era (Federer has
reached 23 clay finals, winning 10 clay titles).
(e) How can
Nadal qualify for greatness if he is relatively incompetent on indoor
hardcourts? All the GOATs in tennis history were great indoor players,
and tennis the game has its roots from the indoor game played centuries
ago. Even clay king Bjorn Borg found a way to win 23 hardcourt/carpet
titles, including three (3) year-end championships. Nadal's lack of
success on indoor hardcourts is a red flag on his GOAT aspirations.
2008 Fall, Nadal skipped the World Tour Finals (Tennis Masters Cup) in
Shanghai citing fatigue. One week later he skipped the Davis Cup Finals
in Argentina claiming his knees were injured.
- Nadal cited
fatigue as his reason for skipping the 2008 WTF. Yet in his previous two
indoor tournaments in October (Paris Masters, Madrid Masters were his
only events after the 2008 US Open) he played doubles with Juan Monaco
and Carlos Moya each time -- so obviously he wasn't that tired, or he
would not have played doubles both times. Perhaps the real reason he
stayed away from was that -- after losing to Gilles Simon in Madrid and
Davydenko in Paris -- then No. 1 Nadal realized he had lost form since
the 2008 Olympics and was likely to fail at the World tour Finals. So he
stayed away rather than risk 2 to 3 losses in the WTF round robin
tarnishing his image of invulnerability. [Compare Nadal's attitude with
Federer, who has played two away Davis Cup ties in Australia which is a
much longer travel distance: days after losing a heart-breaking US Open
semifinal to Djokovic in 2011, Federer traveled to Sydney to battle
Hewitt and Tomic on Australian grass in the middle of the hardcourt
- in his entire career, Nadal has never ever bothered to
travel for an away Davis Cup tie outside Europe, not even for critical
ties against USA or the DC Finals. After claiming to be fatigued one
week before the WTF, Nadal later claimed his knees were injured so he
couldn't fly to Argentina to play the Davis Cup Finals. Meanwhile, on
the eve of the Davis Cup Finals, Davis was seen vigorously playing water
sports (water skiiing, doughnut boat, etc.) in a luxury Mauritious
resort (see link for photos). Obviously his 'injured knees' were not so
injured that it immediately required intensive treatment and rehab.
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