Rafael Nadal was rendered something of an afterthought heading into the 2019 Wimbledon Men’s Tennis Tournament and it appears to have lit a fire under him. Nadal was given no respect by the Wimbledon seedings which had him seeded #3 in the tournament despite the fact that he’s ranked second in the world. For some reason, Wimbledon has their own scheme to devise seedings and their ‘special sauce’ resulted in world #3 ranked Roger Federer being seeded second for their tournament.
Nadal was none to happy about this but he’s been trying to take the high road with comments like:
“If everyone did it, I think it would be appropriate or correct. Either way, being second or third seed, I have to play at the best level to aspire to the things I aspire to.”
The #3 seed means that Nadal would potentially have to face world (and Wimbledon) #1 ranked Novak Djokovic in the semifinals. The result of this could potentially be to undermine the significance of the actual finals since most would view the Djokovic/Nadal semifinal battle as the de facto finals. At any rate, it’s almost a given that he’d have to deal with Djokovic at some point in his effort to win Wimbledon. Djokovic is well known as a monster on Wimbledon’s grass courts and is rightfully a -125 favorite to win the event. Nadal and Federer are the co-second choices at +350.
So far, Nadal has run roughshod over his competition at Wimbledon. He opened the tournament with a straight sets win against overmatched Japanese challenger Yuichi Sugita. His toughest test came in the second round when he needed four sets to dispatch tennis’ reigning ‘heel’ Nick Kyrgios. Kyrigios’ gameplan was apparently to try and disrupt Nadal with his ‘John McEnroe minus the talent’ antics. Nadal dropped the second set to Kyrigos who thought it prudent to hit a forehand shot right at his opponent in the third set. Nadal kept his cool and took the final two (admittedly closely contested) sets. For his part, Kyrigios refused to apologize for trying to smack Nadal with the tennis ball using the dubious logic that since the Spaniard wins all the time and has a ridiculous amount of money in the bank he had it coming–he even went ‘full douchebag’ and addressed the reporter who made the inquiry as ‘bro’:
“Why would I apologize? I mean, the dude has got how many Slams, how much money in the bank account? I think he can take a ball to the chest, bro. I’m not going to apologize to him at all.”
Nadal’s third round was far less eventful and a return to the level of dominance he showed in the opening match, this time beating capable French pro Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets. His fourth round matchup against Joao Sousa looks in many ways to be ‘deja vu all over again’ from his matchup against Tsonga. Sousa has a slightly better world ranking (#69) than Tsonga (#72). Sousa has played Nadal only twice in ATP competition and was dominated–Nadal held 95% of service games in those matches and in a total of five sets. Both events were on clay courts with Nadal dropping only a single game in three of the five sets head to head. Like Tsonga, Sousa is a capable pro but he’s up against one of the best in the business in what looks to be solid form.