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In just two words, Nadal's 2011 so far can be defined: Novak Djokovic.
Five losses in five finals this year to the current world No. 1, Serbian Novak Djokovic, cost Nadal his status as number one player in the world, his status as the undisputed king of clay, and his all so important confidence.
There is only so much a guy can take—and Nadal's two losses to Djokovic in Indian Wells and Miami were the final straw. At that point, right there and then when Djokovic converted match point, Nadal was done for.
To be honest, if Nadal met Djokovic right now, I would have no doubt he would lose. Such is the spell that Nadal has been cast under. He lost his Wimbledon title with a whimper, he lost his clay court titles desperately and, to add salt to his wounds, tennis is going to be played for the next four months on his least favorite surface. Just brilliant.
Nadal will have been recuperating and working to redefine his game over the last five weeks—if ever there was a time to rise to display his oft-spoken about mental strength, now is that time.
Improvements are needed—come rain or sunshine, they will be needed.