Rafael Nadal and the return of his mental prowess

“If I’m not playing aggressive, then I’m dead. – Rafael Nadal quoted in an interview once and this could not be truer considering how he has been playing since the start of the tournament. Rafael Nadal has been hitting it out all across the court also exhibiting his banana shots and the much-feared topspin back.

Having won three of the five matches in straight sets with much aggression and dominance, Rafael Nadal has put up a sublime show of tennis so far. The only scare he faced was the match-up against Alexander Zverev, the teenager who pushed Nadal to a 5-setter only to end up losing the final set.

How Rafael Nadal decimated Milos Raonic

The match that many feared would take Rafael Nadal out of the tournament was the one against Milos Raonic in the Quarter Finals. However, the match turned out in a rather unexpected manner as Nadal pulled off a straight set victory against the Canadian. The first 6 games of the match were evenly distributed between none of them recording a break but Nadal broke Raonic’s serve to have a 4-3 lead and he did not let it go in vain.

In the second set, both of them put up an amazing show and held their serves all along which resulted in a tie-breaker. In the tiebreaker, Raonic had 4 set points but Nadal did not let him convert any. The Spaniard earned himself a set point at 7 all after forcing Milos to make an error on the backhand side and then took the opportunity to win the set. Forcing Nadal into a tie-break was probably the closest Raonic could get to winning as the former pretty much toyed with him mentally.

Though Raonic tried to overpower Nadal in the third set, he failed because his attacks were merely physical and he did not attempt to get into Nadal’s head, which in itself was a very tough task. Nadal had a 5-4 lead in the last set and at this point, Raonic was to serve to stay in the match. Not only did Nadal break Milos in the last game of the match, he did not let him win even a single point of the game in which he won the points with just a teeny bit of difficulty, if not none.

With this win, Rafael Nadal has entered the semi-finals at a slam event after Roland Garros 2014 where he emerged as the ultimate champion. In this quarter final against Raonic, nothing that his opponent did had an effect on him, neither the 14 aces nor the 39 winners that Milos hit. Nadal did not let Raonic convert any of the 4 break points that he had whereas he himself converted 2 of the 3 break points.Nadal’s service has always been an area of concern for him but in this tournament, he has improved in the department quite a lot and has won a minimum of 70-75% points on the first serve in all the matches. On returns, he has been standing way behind the baseline giving him a little more time to process his opponent’s serve. His shots seem to be quite balanced and deep as well.

Rafael Nadal all set for Grigor Dimitrov ?

Rafael Nadal’s opponent in the semi-finals is the 15th seed, Grigor Dimitrov. This Bulgarian player has shown really good form so far in the season and remains undefeated in his last 9 matches. In his quarterfinal match, he defeated Goffin in a 3 setter match with a scoreline of 6-3 6-2 6-4.

It is going to be a really thrilling and grueling and both are expected to give in more than what they can offer to keep the match on their side. Just like the quarter final match, Nadal might play the match mentally more and could attack Dimitrov’s mind. Dimitrov must keep his nerves in check on the crucial points because that’s when Nadal would put his mental prowess to use and manipulate him to cause errors.

This being said, the case of who is to win is out of question as of now, as both the players have been playing on a near-equal level. The audience is expecting a thriller from both of them and let’s just hope they do not fail to deliver it to us.

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