Rafael Nadal is having a rough go of it lately.
The Mallorcan matador fell with blisters in the second round of Rome, giving eventual champion Novak Djokovic a golden opportunity to leap frog into the no. 2 spot on his inevitable climb to the top...and Rafa knows it:
Djokovic is very close, there's no doubt about that. I think, no I'm certain, that the logical thing is that he goes past me here, gets to number two here or at Roland Garros or in Wimbledon. He's a great player and he's doing things very well. If I'm number three I'm number three. When it happens I just have to accept it and fight to get the position back.Do I hear a hint of resignation in his tone? Most likely.
To add clay to his wounds, the Spanish federation has decided to host the Davis Cup semifinal tie versus the US in Madrid, which sits at a high altitude making the court surface faster and allowing the ball to fly - never pleasant news for clay-loving ballers.
To say Rafa and his teammates are unhappy with federation president Pedro Munoz is an understatement:
We never had any problem with playing in Madrid. But we can't accept that the president told us 100 times that we were going to decide, and then we don't decide. What you can't do now is keep saying we're the clear favorites. We're not playing against number 50 and 60 in the world.I give Rafa a lot of credit for being so young but so vocal about these issues. But he seems more tense and anxious these days than ever before, taking the weight of the tennis world on his bronzed, muscular shoulders. But don't let his physical appearance fool you - the culmination of these moments won't be good for his game - mental, physical, or otherwise.
Roddick is at number six and Blake is at eight and they have the world's number one doubles team. It's going to be a very difficult tie and we'll do everything we can to win but it's going to be very open and anything can happen.
He might want to just focus on the ball right now.
(image via Getty)