Wimbledon 2011: Why Rafael Nadal Failed to Live Up to Expectations
The millions of Rafael Nadal fans around the world will be wondering where their hero was on Centre Court today.
He wasn't dreadful, but this wasn't the all-powerful, triumphant, conquering superhero we're all so used to seeing in Grand Slam finals.
So what went wrong for Nadal at the Wimbledon final? Let's look at some of the factors.
Two Words: Novak Djokovic
First and foremost, the major reason Rafael Nadal didn't retain his Wimbledon title was Novak Djokovic.
The new world No. 1 has taken his ranking,—and now his championship—and it is thoroughly deserved.
Once the dominant rivalry in men's tennis was Roger Federer vs. Nadal; now it's Novak Djokovic vs. Nadal, and that means there's no shame in losing every so often.
The Clay Court Conqueror
Having said that, I suspect there may be psychological factors coming into play.
Djokovic has beaten Nadal on his favoured surface of clay so many times on the big occasions this year; why should he not beat him on the one he's had to work so hard to master?
Rafael Nadal's fitness, often a worry, may also have played a part in his defeat.
Nadal admitted earlier in the week that he thought he'd broken his foot, but it turned out to be a bruised tendon. When you think you've incurred a serious injury, it must be hard to put it entirely out of your head.
Two Final Words: Weak Play
All of that said, if you look at the bare facts, Nadal lost because of his unforced errors, double-faulting, weak forehand (from Rafa! Imagine!) and the returns into the net.
But as Djokovic said, he's had a good few days at the office; Nadal needs to think of this as simply a bad one. Enough time for him to come back and win in SW19 many more times in the future.