It is accepted by most, except the die-hard fans of Rafa, that Rafael Nadal, compared to Roger Federer, has it easy at the ATP Finals in London, we will now analyze Rafael Nadal’s round-robin group with Grigor Dimitrov, Dominic Thiem, and David Goffin.
Goffin’s bad knee, Rafa’s bad knee, and the fast surface: Nadal shall conquer all
Rafael Nadal quit the Paris Masters with knee pain last week and has been treating his ailing knee since then.
The Nadal camp has released conflicting statements about the condition of Rafa’s knee. However, his coach Carlos Moya recently confirmed that the knee is fine.
“Rafa is fine, the knee is okay,” Moya said. “He only stopped to take no risks. Rafa will be competitive in London because it’s the only big tournament he hasn’t won.” However, there has been no unequivocal statement from Nadal himself, except that he’ll make the final decision to play the ATP Finals on Saturday.
Rafael Nadal has skipped this event five out of the thirteen times that he has qualified. Based on that history, and other past incidents, one can safely conclude that Nadal’s decision to play will depend primarily on his assessment of the speed of the court during his pre-tournament practice sessions, and the outcome of his first match with David Goffin. David Goffin has also been bothered by a bad knee lately, and Rafa is certain to have an edge in this battle of the cripples playing on one good leg and a bad knee. Nadal leads Goffin 6-0, therefore Nadal is more than likely to play the match against David Goffin, and then make the final decision.
This may seem unfair to ticket-buyers who purchased tickets in expectations of Rafa sightings, Nadal, however, is motivated by his benefit, or loss, in making such decisions.
Outcome: Rafael Nadal over David Goffin in straight sets.
Dominic Thiem has been languishing since the US Open
If I were Rafael Nadal, I’d certainly play Dominic Thiem, as that should be an easy match to win. Although Thiem has beaten Nadal twice, both those wins were on clay, and Thiem is probably more uncomfortable than Rafa on fast indoor courts. Moreover, Thiem’s results have been unbecoming of a top ten player, since his US Open loss, from two sets up, to Juan Martin Del Potro. Thiem has lost six of his last ten on hard courts, and those include losses against players such as Guido Pella, Steve Johnson, and Victor Troicki. If Rafael Nadal versus Domonic Thiem materializes, then we’d give Rafael Nadal a distinct advantage in that match, even with Rafa’s bad knee.
Outcome: Rafael Nadal over Dominic Thiem in straight sets.
Does Grigor Dimitrov have what it takes to beat Rafael Nadal?
The answer to that would be a resounding Yes. However, Grigor Dimitrov has lost his last three to Nadal in tightly contested three or five sets matches, and that realization will tend to creep into Dimitrov’s mind in those crucial 30-30, match-points, and break-points moments.
That realization will then result in those split-second doubts and transpire itself into a vicious circle of self-doubt and loss to Nadal. If Dimitrov can overcome that self-doubt which has been the Waterloo of many talented players, he’ll come close to fulfilling the promise that he showed in his earlier days. It is time for Dimitrov to assert his presence and become a winner instead of the perennial “also-ran” and “went down fighting.”
Outcome: Grigor Dimitrov over Rafael Nadal in three sets.
We expect Rafael Nadal and Grigor Dimitrov to be the semifinalists from the round-robin group, Pete Sampras.