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Why They'll Win, Why They Won't: Rafael Nadal

Saturday, August 24, 2013 /by

Nadal arrives at the 2013 US Open with impressive records of 15-0 on hard courts and 15-1 against Top 10 opponents this season. Fresh off winning back-to-back hard-court titles in successive weeks for the first time in his career, Rafa is on the best hard-court roll of his career while his top rivals are reeling a bit. The 2010 US Open champion has re-tooled his hard-court game: He’s stepping closer to the baseline, adjusting his return positioning depending on his opponent and is playing with more aggression, actively seeking to step into the court and take command of critical points. He has reached the finals in 11 of 12 tournaments, is 45-1 when winning the first set this season and looks hungry after a shocking Wimbledon first-round exit. It would not be at all surprising to see him chomping on US Open silverware on the final Monday.

Why He’ll Win: He is undefeated on hard courts this year and has dominated Top 10 foes in 2013. Nadal’s creaky knees have yet to slow him in long battles: He has never lost a five-setter in New York.

Why He Won’t: The fast track and low bounce of the Flushing Meadows courts can diminish the effectiveness of his topspin. If Nadal loses depth on his drives, he can be vulnerable.

Bottom Line: Nadal is moving well, serving accurately and playing with aggression and confidence. He has reached the US Open final in his last two appearances and is a threat to do so again.

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