I’m still working through Rafa’s biography, but I know enough his life on and off the court to respect what he has brought to the sport. His prowess on clay makes him part of the ongoing G.O.A.T. debate, a winning record over the man who has won the most Grand Slam titles (Federer) and leads the active members in total Masters Series Titles. This season however, despite a successful defense of his Roland Garros’ title belonged to Novak Djokovic. If Nadal wants to reclaim the throne in men’s tennis, he’s going to have to make a few changes – I’m pleased to hear that he has declined Davis Cup ’12 to focus on the Olympics, but he also has to change up the first half of his schedule as well and play less on his beloved clay.
Both men looked tired near the end of the season, opening the door for Federer to squeeze in and setup a winning streak of his own to close out the year, however Nadal openly started talking about losing motivation and fatigue openly in the press. In my opinion, Nadal still plays quite a few tournaments and even though he typically takes a few weeks off after Wimbledon, I think he should consider tweaking the first half of the year as well. I do not mean to take anything from his Davis Cup win, but there were no Top 10 players there and I like his chances when they are not facing him on the other side of the net. Nadal played quite a few weeks leading up to the French Open and needs to figure out how to make that first half of the year work for him. Leaving the Davis Cup will free him up and give him room for the Olympics 2012, but he needs to work on a better plan if he is going to win the Year End Championships and additional US Open Titles. I get that the ATP Tour has quite a few mandatory tournaments, but Nadal will need to figure out how best to pick which ones to skip so he can conserve energy.
I know that 2009 was a tough year for him, dealing with injuries and the split of his parents – both would cause stress above the need to compete at the highest level. He responded by going on a terror and winning 3 slams in 2010 including the US Open to complete a career Grand Slam. It is going to take some give and take to rest his body and mind if he wants to win the Golden Slam in 2012.