Kolkata: Rafael Nadal has been left out of the Spanish squad that is going to face last year’s runners up Croatia in the first round of the Davis Cup. The reason for him to get dropped is the fact that he has been suffering from fatigue after the intensifying finale of the Australian Open, where the Spaniard lost in five sets to his old Swiss rival Roger Federer.
Feliciano Lopez has been called up by Spain as a replacement for Nadal, who wants to rest and get rid of his fatigue as soon as possible to join his nation for the rest of the rounds. Spain Davis Cup Captain Conchita Martinez said that “Rafa’s wear and tear in the last month has been very significant”. She also said, “He needs time to recover from his efforts and I’m certain that he will accompany us in the next rounds”.
While the above mentioned statement by Spain’s skipper may be a sigh of relief for the tennis fans, Feliciano Lopez knows that he has a tough task ahead of him. The 35-year old, who is currently ranked 33rd best in the world will have a lot of expectations to fulfill as he has taken the place of a player who is ranked 6th best in the world.
Nadal hasn’t really had a fruitful 2016 as he was side-lined for majority of the year due to his wrist injury. He himself didn’t believe that he would be able to play at his best level, but his confidence level and will power has pounced back after he made it to the finals of the Australian Open in Melbourne.
It can be said Federer had luck on his side this year as his fixture let him have an ample two day gap before playing the finale of the Australian Open. On the contrary, Nadal had only one day to recover from the long five-hour thriller, the one in which he narrowly edged over Bulgarian player Grigor Dimitrov to earn a spot in the finale.
Federer did manage to outplay his long term rival, but it was not at all an easy job for him to do so. The game never seemed to be one sided as Nadal put up a splendid performance despite his tiredness and mesmerised the audience with his smashes and back hand techniques. In the acceptance speech, Roger Federer quoted “Tennis is a tough sport, there’s no draws but if there was I would be happy to share it with Rafa tonight”. This statement itself accounts for the kind of performance that Rafael Nadal put up.
Though the ‘The King of Clay’ didn’t manage to win the Australian Open, everything looks good for the Spaniard. He looks confident, agile and fit as ever. Just a reminder, the French Open is coming up and Nadal has the most number of French Open Singles Titles (9). If he can keep this level of performance maintained, his chances of winning the 10th French Open title would be extremely high.
(with inputs from Hindustan Times)