Rafa Roundup: When Rafa met Joseph

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 18: Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates victory in his men's singles match against Andy Murray of Great Britain during day four of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena on November 18, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images


Nadal has now defeated Wawrinka and Murray in straight sets, making both opponents tap out mentally and emotionally in the second set.

Nadal has been missing from the top of the leaderboard in 2015, but his form here in the first two matches suggests he will be a force to be reckoned with in 2016.

Nadal’s energy, confidence, and patterns of play are rapidly returning to a level that can once again be the benchmark at the elite level of our sport.

As he moves into his 30s—he’ll turn the Big 3-0 next June—will we look back on Nadal’s 2015 the way we look back on Roger Federer’s 2010-2011 seasons: Not as a sign of immediate decline, but as the year when a great player learned to win without all the glorious physical gifts of youth?

If Rafa keeps executing his tactics—”to play very well,” as he said on Wednesday—as thoroughly as he did against Murray, the answer should be yes.

It’s hard to say whose group triumph is more improbable. Nadal, of course, has endured a far worse season than Federer but the Spaniard landed in the easier quartet. The Swiss has played well from start to finish in 2015 and has a chance of finishing the year ranked second, but he found himself in the same O2 pod as Djokovic–whom almost everyone expected to roll through the tournament as an undefeated champion.

When questioned about whether he sees himself capable of beating Novak Djokovic in the Masters, the world number 5 prefers to err on the side of caution: “It’s not for me to say whether I can beat Djokovic. He’s in another league. But what has become clear is that in recent tournaments I’m performing at a much higher level than I have been during the rest of the year, and at the sort of level I want to be at”.

PHOTOS: Rays of Sunshine Children’s Charity: When Rafa met Joseph

Thank you ‪#‎RafaelNadal‬ for making Joseph’s greatest ‪#‎wish‬ come true yesterday at the ‪#‎ATPWorldTour‬!




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