I can't help but feel like Nadal playing in SA was a huge mistake. What did he have to win playing these MM events? You said it - nothing. He could have just waited until that exho and played it to get into some form for IW. Then he could have seriously started his comeback in the clay season and play 4 clay events before RG.
He would have been on familiar ground there and his record over there would have helped protect him. No ways he loses the Zeballos at MC for instance. Now he has gone somewhere he has never gone before and losing to Zeballos is hurting is aura on clay big time. I know Nadal is not known for wise scheduling but this take the cake. It's almost like he is trying to lose. What gives?
No, it's the surface he is good at and comfortable on (clay), and the fields are the kind of average to weak opponents he needs to start with so he can work on knocking the rust off his game and building some confidence again (movement and otherwise).
Plus it helps him as a "brand ambassador" going to SA, where he hasn't spent much time in the past, building fans and sponsorship stuff (all about the $$$).
I wasn't logical to expect him (if he was ready) to skip clay 250s/500s and just jump right in at say MC, where he might have had to play at top 20 guy by the quarters, and a top 10 guy in the semis, much harder.
On the brightside, he has only lost 1 match, after winning 3 others pretty comfortably, his game looks ok, he lost the final but he didn't get crushed, tight 3 set loss, all be it to Zeballos, though he is playing really well right now.
I really don't see a downside in this.. except maybe he should play 2 events instead of 3.. might be a tad too much tennis coming back.
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I don't see how it can be considered a mistake. Ferrer plays these events and he's at 4.
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I just think he needs time, he needs to get in shape and to have game time, he will win MC and RG not sure about Madrid and Rome.
I don't think it was a mistake even if he will lose everything until MC
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