In one of the biggest upsets of the season so far, Juan Martin del Potro upended top baller Rafael Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (3) in Miami after being down 0-3 and two breaks in the deciding set. He snapped a 4-match losing streak to the Spanish steamroller and will now face Andy Murray for a spot in Sunday's final.
In his post-match presser, Rafa admitted he wasn't at his best the entire tourney but didn't feel J. Martin played at his top level either during the match:
I think he didn't play one of his best matches, no? That's what I feel. I don't know. You can ask him later maybe. But I think he played well. His level is 7 of the world, no, so he's very good. I think he didn't play an unbelievable match, but I didn't play on my best level today.
Unsuprisingly, J. Martin took an entirely different view of the match when asked about Rafa's comments:
I played unbelievable. I beat the No. 1 of the world. If you don't play unbelievable, you cannot beat him. I'm happy, but tomorrow I will play again, so I hthink in the next match.Hmmm - did Rafa have a bite of sour grapes here? It seems the Matador was definitely unsettled by this loss to J. Martin based on his reaction to the loss. Why would he need to make comments about the Argentine's level of play especially after losing to him? A simple, "He was the better baller today - period" would suffice.
The 22-year old, though, wasn't at his best in Miami and showed clear signs, especially in this match, of mental fatigue. The World No.1 has been playing tons this year and winning so a break is in order.
In any case, a huge congrats to J. Martin who had never even won a set off Rafa. He stayed mentally tough when down two breaks in the decider and took the match by serving big, hitting out and coming in to knock off volleys (and suprisingly well, I might add.) The Argentine giant was the better baller in the clutch and, in my opinion, played an unbelievable match.
I mean, like J. Martin said, how else does one defeat Rafa?
UPDATE: Is there personal turmoil bothering the World No.1 right now too? There are rumors surfacing that all might not be well at home. Here's what he said at the end of his presser -
Q. Are you mystified or puzzled by how you played during this tournament, or do youTENNIS' Peter Bodo also made reference to these rumors -
understand why you didn't play well and know what to do next?
RAFAEL NADAL: Always is a reason because you are not playing at your level during the tournament. No, I am calm. I am happy about myself, about everything this year, yeah. I don't know. Always is a reason, but it's personal.
There are rumblings that there's a bit of turmoil in Nadal's life at the moment, and if you read the end of his presser closely you'll get a hint it may be true. For that reason, I'll tell you that I've heard some rumors here at Key Biscayne, but nothing I can confirm or share - other than to say the issue isn't career threatening or health-related. I don't mean to be coy, but that's all I have to say about it, and I suppose that if there's any substance to the rumors, it will be confirmed - sooner rather than later.Stay tuned.
(images via getty)