Anyone who witnessed Rafael Nadal annihilating Robin Soderling would agree that Rafa was out for vengeance yesterday.
For those who do not know, Rafa and Robin have a bit of bad blood between them. It all started at Wimbledon in 2007, when they had an epic five-setter. At the beginning of the final set, Soderling did something he should have never done—he took the "mickey" out of Nadal for picking his pants. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwvgnYDTTQ0)
I think everyone will agree that Soderling was way out of line. Respect is a must in Rafa’s way of life, and by disrespecting him, on centre court as well, Soderling did not act wisely.
Yesterday was their first meeting since then. Soderling made a bright start by breaking Rafa in his very first service game. And how did Rafa respond? By winning 12 straight games! The final score was 6-1, 6-0.
If you are thinking that the match wasn’t competitive enough, let me tell you that you are grossly mistaken.
Soderling played absolutely lightning tennis for most of the match, but Rafael was special yesterday. If he is scary when he is form, he is positively ominous if he is out for revenge.
He tore Soderling’s heart out. It was classic Rafa—he ran everything down and made Soderling scamper from side to side continuously. There was never any doubt in the viewer's mind about who was going to win those gruelling rallies. Rafa didn’t even look close to missing.
By the end of the match he had produced a lethal display of spellbinding tennis.
What’s worse, he made sure that Soderling would think of this match and shudder. He would never be able to console himself by saying, "If I played a little better it could have been a different result." The truth is he couldn’t have played any better than he did, and still he managed to only win one game.
He had opportunities all right, but Nadal made sure he couldn’t capitalise on them. Not even once. No wonder Robin exited the stadium as soon as was humanly possible with the remaining dregs of his confidence and pride.
Rafa’s eyes shone with startling intensity last night. Not only did he look threatening, his focus and efficiency was almost eerie. I have never seen him play with this kind of purpose before. The destruction of Robin Soderling was completely merciless and almost sadistic.
The message was loud and clear; whatever you do, do not mess with me, or I will hunt you down and hand you the humiliation of a lifetime.