Early in the US Open, Rafael Nadal had done a lot to prove that he should be considered one of the favorites to come home with the hardware.
After the collapse in his post-match press conference on Sunday, you have to be concerned that Nadal is not sound enough in mind or body to finish what he has started.
The concern isn't necessarily with the cramps themselves. Cramping, especially on a hot day like Sunday was, is nearly a part of life for tennis players. With limited water breaks, you have to know that it can happen.
What should worry Nadal and fans of his is that this is yet another physical ailment for the Spaniard. Nadal has been able to avoid the debilitating injuries that have plagued him in the past, but he has been nursing nagging foot and ankle injuries for much of the year.
In his match against David Nalbandian, he had to call a trainer to have something re-taped.
Those little strains and pulls don't make a huge difference in the early rounds, but as the tournament progresses, they become a bigger concern. Not only does the competition get better, but players are just putting more miles on their bodies at that point.
Also a concern is Nadal's frame of mind. When dealing with so many nuisances within one's body, it's hard not to worry that those injuries will be re-aggravated at some point. Will Nadal have the confidence to push his body to its limits if he is forced to?
He could have ended up with a much tougher draw, but Gilles Muller is no slouch. He is a big hitter who can force opponents to chase the ball around quite a bit. If Nadal isn't moving well, he will be pushed.
Nadal has to come out and play fast against Muller. Not only will that put pressure on the largely unproven Muller, but it will also give him peace of mind that his body is alright. Even if he gets past Muller with relative ease, his state of mind and body will remain a concern.
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