One year ago Rafael Nadal was still nursing a horrific injury. Did you except him to return in the fashion that he did? No, I didn’t either.
The Spaniard’s comeback simply cannot be underestimated. It is a monumental effort from him and his team. I believe he ran out of steam on a less than comfortable surface in the Tour Finals finale against Novak Djokovic, but he’s allowed to do that after the year he had – right?
Let’s put Nadal’s consistent form into perspective. In a year there are 9 Masters titles. This year he won 5 of them, with Djokovic winning 3 and Andy Murray winning 1. Additionally, he can boast a record of 2 Slams from 3 played in the year. A victory at the US Open showcased that he is far from a one-surface man; the Wimbledon early exit is thought to be due to a minor knee niggle.
Towards the back end of the exuberating season, Nole was very potent and managed to knock Rafa off his perch having beat him to a couple of titles. After the US Open I was convinced that Nadal was far ahead of his Serbian counterpart; how wrong was I? Djokovic managed to show that there is such dexterity between the pair and he isn’t going to keel over easily. The most amazing thing about their rivalry is not only that they get the best out of each other but they also make each other go away and alter elements of their game to compete at a higher level.
This rivalry will be fascinating in 2014, there’s no doubt about that.
I fancy a fit Rafa to remain there or thereabouts throughout the year. Going into the campaign as the world number 1 and having no points to defend at the Australian Open, expect him to remain top dog for a little longer. However, the Aussie Open champion of the past 3 years won’t rest until he is the number 1 again and a winner of the French Open.
Look back at the pair’s four best meetings of the year.
The Monte Carlo Masters final presented something of a surprise:
A Roland Garros semi proved to be very frustrating for Djokovic:
The pair met under the lights of Arthur Ashe in a New York showdown:
Djokovic had the ascendancy in the latter stages of the season:
– Nathan Morley