Slight deja vu for me again, I was made up for Rafa and gutted for Delpo just as I was with Sloane and Venus! Nadal didn’t do an awful lot wrong in the opening set against Delboy and lost it. The Argentine knew the backhand was going to be targeted and he was ready for it, he got the break early in the first and saw it out with a sea of forehand and backhand winners. Nadal is a master tactician though, he knew a change up was needed and gave Delboy a few different angles to look at. 9 Straight games took the Argentine out of the contest totally, he did regroup but found himself two sets to one down in the blink of an eye! The celebration from Nadal at the end of the third, a very pumped Ice Hockey style celebration, showed just how big he knew it was. Del Potro was never going to throw the towel in but when broken in the fourth, you knew there was no way back. Nadal has added a cheeky serve and volley play to his repertoire that is used as an element of surprise, at big moments, possibly when a little tight but with a high success rate nonetheless. Once again he raised his level during this contest and it sounds like the classic cliché but he really has got better with each match, just as you would expect from a champion!
Delboy has contributed so much to this fortnight and his match against Dominic Thiem will live long in the memory for many as will his victory over Federer. You can’t help thinking (again) had it not been for injuries and in particular the wrist just how many slams would he have won! Like Venus, he desperately deserves at least one more! If the body stays fit that should become a reality but it’s a big IF! Fingers crossed!
Nadal faces off against Kevin Anderson his pal, a player he has known since juniors. Anderson came from a set down to beat Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta, showing the usual determination and power in the process! Big Kev didn’t panic and eased his way into this one and once in control, he wasn’t going to let go of his stranglehold. He took a few off it by climbing into the stands after his 4 set victory, this must have felt like winning a slam though, it is a huge result! PCB had not dropped a set coming into the semi-final but his opponent is playing at a higher level than what he had previously dealt with! I am enjoying seeing Anderson pumped and the constant encouragement he gives himself certainly doesn’t look to be doing him any harm. Can he beat Rafa? He can, of course, anything is possible but it looks a big ask. The South African can just go out there with his game plan and give this a right go but Nadal looks so focused right now and the matchup isn’t kind as we can see from the 4-0 head to head. Having said that, you would expect this to be the case. Anderson is playing as well as he has so let’s see if he can hurt Rafa for a sustained period on Sunday. One person that won’t be taking it all for granted is Nadal!
Andy Del Potro