For a tournament known for its classiness and association with Roger “Fed-Ex” Federer in the last few years, it sure comes as a surprise that there’s been more talk about off the court catfights between Williams and Sharapova, than the draw for Wimbledon itself. Wimbledon has never been about two tennis powers taking cheap shots at each other. The newspapers have been covering the exchange of insults between the two players. I find it a much-needed relief that Nadal’s exit from the first round by world number 135 Steve Darcis, has shifted the focus back on the tournament itself. It’s a shame that it’s taken the exit of a favourite to get everyone to realise we’re here for Federer’s effortless use of the backhand and to witness epic evening matches with Murray.
Before we all jump on the bandwagon of how Nadal’s career is over because his knee played up again, we should consider a few things. I am not saying that his injury might not have been a contributing factor to his defeat. The man has a chronic knee problem and so the chances of it flaring up are very likely. It doesn’t mean that it’s the only reason for why he was dumped out though. There’s a reason why Nadal has been termed the ‘King of Clay.’ Grass is not his favoured playing surface and he plays from the baseline, powering blistering forehands into ridiculous corners of the court.
The transition from clay to grass is always tricky for someone like him, especially when coming back after a seven month injury layoff. Yes, you could argue that he has notched up Wimbledon titles so it shouldn’t be any different. Then again, whenever he has entered the tournament, he has been in emphatic form, played consistently in ATP tournaments and made use of the Queen’s Club Championship – something he didn’t do this year. That has ultimately helped him adapt his style of play to grass again and familiarise himself with the playing surface.
Advantage goes to the top guns in the draw with the elimination of a top competitor. However, the fact remains that on his day Nadal can demolish anyone. It just so happens that today wasn’t his day. Whether his knee and grass are compatible, I leave you to speculate.