Thanks. I have a lot of mixed feelings about the final.
On the one hand, I agree that it was fantastic the way Nadal adjusted his tactics.
But I almost felt that we may have seen the end of an era at the Open:
- Djokovic is hurt again, and the last time he had an arm injury, he was out for close to two years. He’s two years older, and dealing with another repetitive stress injury. As we’ve seen with Del Potro, injuries that are aggravated by hitting the ball make recovery more difficult.
- Federer is hurt again, and it looks like he will never be a factor at a Slam again outside of Wimbledon, which he could win next year of Djokovic is not there to stop him.
- Nadal had dropped only one set going into the final, played one tie breakers and 120 total games. Medvedev played the whole summer, needed the trainer in his match against Wawrinka, played an extra match, played 5 tie breakers, and a total of 196 games. And yet Nadal tried to end points faster, which is a sign he didn’t think he could outrun his opponent. Whether this is a sign that Nadal no longer has the stamina, or that he’s worried about sustaining injury, it could mean another extended absence from the tour.
- The way Medvedev played, as well as Thiem, Tsitsipas and Rublev this year, the Big 3 seem to no longer have that extra 1–3% edge over the other top players. While I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Big 3 dominated the Slams on their favorite surfaces next year, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them get shut out at the two hard court Slams — the surface and conditions are just too hard on aging bodies. (Remember, all of Rosewall’s success past the age of 35 came on grass)
The third thing I noticed was Nadal’s desperation to hold on. He kind of choked at the end of all three sets until he finally held serve to win the match.
I wonder if the proximity of passing Federer in Slams is going to finally weigh on him the way that Federer choked against Djokovic at Wimbledon.
We are seeing some of the greatest players of all time dealing with their own tennis mortality, and the only guy who ever seemed impervious to age and declining results was Connors.