Credit to Sports Illustrated
The clay court tournament in Barcelona has provided tennis analysts and enthusiasts with much to talk about.
Right at home and on their best surfaces, both Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer suffered surprisingly early losses.
Ferrer, the two seed, lost to Teymuraz Gabashvili on Wednesday in the 2nd round, 6-4; 6-2. Gabashvili is currently ranked 55th, but has a staggeringly bad career record of 75-136. Ouch.
Nadal didn’t fare all that much better. He squeaked by fellow Spaniard Albert Ramos 7-6;6-4 in the 2nd round, won 3 and 3 in the third round vs. Ivan Dodig, but then lost to Nicholas Almagro in 3 sets. Almagro is a solid player and was seeded 6th, but it is brow-raising to see Nadal lose on clay in his backyard. Not to mention the fact that he had a 41 match win streak at the tournament.
The loss has many wondering if there is something seriously up with Rafa or if it may be the start of his downfall. I think it may be jumping the gun to say that he is on the way down…but I don’t think it is a reach to say that he will not end the season at #1.
Furthermore, I also think that his game may not age as gracefully as Federer’s has. I don’t believe it would be accurate to say that he relies on his athleticism and conditioning to win, but they have been a significant advantage he has had over competitors during his meteoric rise to the top of the sport. It definitely leaves one to wonder how the rest of his career will play out. I expect him to remain a Top 5 caliber player for a while but it’ll be interesting to see what happens in the latter part of 2015 and in 2016.
Santiago Giraldo, the 65th ranked Colombian journeyman (also with a career below .500 record) took out Nicholas Almagro, 7-5; 6-3. Not sure if it more or less surprising following Almagro’s defeat of Nadal. Sometimes a big win like that can make a player lose a bit of focus in their next match against a less heralded player. Just goes to show that in tennis, if you are not playing well, there’s a chance that anybody can beat you.
Giraldo will be going up against Kei Nishikori in the finals. Nishikori defeated 9th seeded Ernests Gulbis 6-2 ; 6-4. Nishikori has been playing fantastic thus far this year and should be the overwhelming favorite to win the tournament. Giraldo should be pumped up to play for his first ever tournament victory so you never know, but I would be floored if Nishikori lost, or even if it went 3 sets.