So, a couple of interesting questions in Nadal's presser today (http://www.internazionalibnlditalia....l-Monday.aspx)
- really really bad paraphrased transcript that I've tried to amend a bit based on the actual video! (http://video.gazzetta.it/i-due-grand...cd39d854d7a7):
Q: Is it important to get into second place before Roland Garros.
NADAL: I don't know how things are in the race. I think I am third in the race - 100 points behind Roger. That's the most important thing for me. 100 points behind Roger, like 500 points or 550 behind Novak. My position is not bad. My position is the right one. I had a very good start of the season – 2 hard or 3 hard matches. Final of Australia – that makes a big difference - win or lose - it's 800 points and it's a grand slam. Semi finals in Miami I didn't play because of an injury of the knee and last week that we played in very strange conditions. That is a tournament that normally is you know favourable for my game. It's on clay so that's a big change. So these three facts probably that is why I today I am number 3 in the race and not number 2. I am happy I am in Rome to keep playing as I play – to arrive with number 2 or 3 isn't going to change my game. If you are number 2 or 3 then that doesn't change. You just have to win. You have to win in the semi finals – even if you are number 2 or 3 doesn't make a big difference and I want to keep playing and end the clay court season and start the grass court season.
Q: Rafa – you seem to track the rankings. You seem to know what points you have and what the other players have. Do also the other players do this?
NADAL: I think everybody follows. I don't know much about the entry – seriously but the race says what you have been doing during the season. When I start the season in January I see it like a league – a soccer league – you start and then you finish and the entry is there but the race is when you know how you are doing – but the race is the real points that you are playing …. That is the real thing that I follow. You start from zero and you finish at number 6 or number 5 and then you come back to zero again, that is my way of seeing sport.
I've seen pressers of his before where he's talked about the race ranking - even back in 06, 07 etc. where he'd say in Miami for example that he may be world no 2 but in the race he's only 5 etc... It's an interesting way of looking at it i.e. as a football league and the WTF is the last match of the season. With that mentality sometimes the "season" is effectively over in September, as has been the case the last few years as the no.1 is pretty much wrapped up. Could Nadal's mindset of each year being a race to no.1 explain his lack of motivation/energy at the end of the year? When he knows that no.1 has gone/he'll likely end no.2, then it's a bit like teams playing after the league has been lost - they don't have the same desire for it.
I definitely think a lot of Nadal's end of yr let down is mental in that aspect. It can't all be physical as he had a couple of weeks off before Australia (after Davis Cup) and was mentally fresh again. Think it's the "fresh start" of the new year that gives him energy again. Under this philosophy you would think Nadal might value year end no.1 more than overall no.1 which isn't so good for him... It also doesn't help him as by viewing it that way he doesn't perform to his best in tournaments where he could pick up more points which would help him in the following season (e.g. how Fed did it last year - might have ended 3rd but still fought hard and is reaping benefits now....).
Do we think a lot of players on tour have this mentality?