Well, that was quite a match!
Yes, I know that Gastón lost, but even so I´m feeling positive. This tournament marked Gastón´s return to his best tennis. In my opinion, that first set showed the world´s two best players on clay. It was magnificent tennis.
But between the two, one of them deserves to win, and that is Nadal. Gastón has the most beautiful tennis, but Nadal´s attitude plus accuracy are hard to beat. When Gastón hit winners, he not only answered them but also converted them into winners of his own! To play against someone like that Gastón had to take risks and many became UEs, although in fact they were forced by the quality of his rival.
I think a major factor was that in the last two sets Gastón´s first serves weren´t working, and his second serves permitted Nadal to take control of the game. But mainly it was a question of physical and mental stamina.
The 1:19 of that first set, played all-out as if it was the end of the world, took its toll on Gastón, whereas Nadal is indestructible. The score doesn´t reflect what really went on in that court, because Nadal had to sweat blood in each point, although in the end he always managed to win them.
I felt that in their handshake they were both recognizing that they´d been part of a memorable match, and the crowd applauded Gastón when he walked off court.
He didn´t look upset either!
Afterwards Gastón said “Nadal was simply magnificent. I played my best match of the week and even so it wasn´t enough. I had a great first set, but to beat Nadal one has to continue playing just as hard during the whole match”.
El Mundo, of Spain, in between lavish praise for Nadal, talks about Gastón´s tennis in the first set: “Gaudio is one of the major talents of the circuit… Those magical backhands, his determined approaches to the net, the lobs, the dropshots, the smashes and all his strokes of genius…”
And now Gastón is on his way home to BA, and he won´t defend either Barcelona or Estoril. Well, that seems to be the condition he´s imposed upon himself to continue playing without going mad in the process: to take a rest even if it means abandoning valuable points…
I hope his short holidays with the people he loves will allow him to forget about his responsibilities for a bit, recharge batteries and get into good shape for what comes next. A friend of his mother´s told me the family were very happy with his new-found confidence! Let´s hope it´s here to stay!!!