The Season is almost over, coming to an end at the Year Ending Championships at London. The draw has been seen, analyzed and bookies have quoted the odds. But no one really can predict with any measure of confidence who will emerge as the winner.
The Fall season is the silly season of tennis. After the US Open, most of the top tennis players are, as one writer put it, the " walking injured". They somehow drag themselves through the rest of the season. This is the ideal time for the lesser players to defeat the top stars. This year, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez beat Nadal in Bangkok. Last year, Julien Benneteau beat Federer at Paris in the second round. It is the silly season.
There was a time when the Masters Cup had a glitter. But today the Year ending Championships have lost much of their sheen. Perhaps it is because, coming as it does at the end of a gruelling season, the top stars cannot motivate themselves enough to make surprise winners unlikely. When the eight best players in the world stagger into the last tournament, it is perhaps fitness which decides the winner.
But this year, things are a little different. Rafael Nadal has declared that he wants to win the Year Ending Championships. The tennis world has taken note. The last time he declared his intention of winning anything, which was the US Open, not many thought he had a chance, at least not this year. His performance in the run up to the last slam of the year did not lead to anyone thinking he was the favorite for the title. Then there he was, lifting the trophy at the end of the fortnight.
So this time, even though indoor hardcourt is his worst surface, nobody is ruling out his chances. His performances in the past haven't been too encouraging. His performance there last year was abysmal. Not only did he not win a single match, he did not win a single set. As his Uncle Toni put it, he was the last among the eight. But, if he wants to win it, can anybody be foolhardy enough to say he cannot?
Nadal's statement of intent should have galvanized the other players. If the World's number one player wants to win it, then its value has definitely gone up. Also, some may get the chance to revenge themselves on him for earlier depriving them of glory in Grand Slam finals.Some of the players also have something to prove. Federer wants to prove he is still a force. Murray wants to redeem himself in the eyes of his countrymen. Soderling and Berdych want to solidify their claims to being Slam material.
On class, past performance and current form, Federer is the favorite as he scores high on all three measures. Nadal scores high on class but low on past performance and current form. Two weeks ago he withdrew from Paris Masters with shoulder tendonitis. The only reason we think he may win is because he said he wants to.
But the most important question is not who would win. The question which most intrigues the observers is, will Rafael Nadal win it or not?