Has Rafael Nadal's main competitor gotten less threatening?


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Has Rafael Nadal's main competitor gotten less threatening?

"Rafa is so ruthless," Tennis Channel's commentator Paul Annacone had said during the Rafael Nadal-Pablo Andujar match in Acapulco. Nadal had willfully put out a sweeping 6-3, 6-2 victory over his Spanish comrade.

But that isn't the only player that Rafael Nadal is supreme over. He has always been a part of the three to four main ATP players as they're all took a plummeting from matches lost, victories cleebrated and injuries endured.

Roger Federer, one of Nadal's main adversaries might be in the middle of doing a great fall out of contention. An ailing knee has taken down the Swiss giant and arthoscopic surgery has been the remedy to bring the third ranked player in the world back into fine form again.

But will it? The Swiss has played 'The Match for Africa', an event to raise money for his foundation having Rafael Nadal as his opponent but friend. They've played over dozens of matches together and been compared to each other on far too many basis.

But Federer's surgery will create a wide gap that might not come narrower again. Recuperation from the surgery had Federer miss Dubai, of which he won his 8th title last year. He will miss Indian Wells, Bogota, the Miami Open as well as the second grand slam of the year - The French Open.

Is this going past the point of 'no return' for Federer? Age and injuries tells the tale with most athletes and players, but the Swiss may be rehabbing and receiving therapies for an ailing knee, his career at ranking supreme may be crashing to a serious upheaval.

Meanwhile, Nadal is 'doing Nadal' and while still remaining healthy, has capitalized recently by overpowering Pablo Andujar in the first round of the Mexican Open at Acapulco. Nadal was defeated by Dominic Thiem in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in a 4-set battle, but that hasn't taken away his confidence on gaining extra victories.

He's won the U.S. Open and the Canadian Open along with the French and Rome. Last year at the Mexican Open he was taken down by Nick Kyrgios in 3 sets in the second round. On his loss at the beginning of the season to Thiem in the Australian quarters, Nadal was real with himself praising the Austrian saying "..great shots even from difficult positions...he was putting one ball in all the time...well done to him..."

Remaining optimistic and believing in himself is what Nadal has and says "I honestly didn't play a bad match...I needed a littl bit of determination in some moments..." He's younger, he's very quick," the Spaniard acknowledged smilingly.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal aren't younger and their head-to-head favors the Spaniard with a 24 to 16 ratio. It was always Federe-Nadal-Djokovic and then the rest fell into place. But now with Federer's surgery, recuperation time and missing of 4 to 5 tournaments, Nadal must feel a bit more having 'one up' on the Swiss.

Every player knows that coming back from one tournament after a break can be a bit compromising but 4 to 5 can be monumental. Nadal's pushing with a close lead to Novak Djokovic having a 26 to 29 ratio but who looks at the numbers.

It's the performances that speak for themselves. Roger Federer knows that 'it is what it is' and having a great recuperation and therapy will be good for the Swiss, but getting back to what he used to be is a bit 'dodgy'

Novak Djokovic knows that and Rafael Nadal does too. But getting on the court with self confidence and a performance record he has may have calmed Nadal down that one competitor might not be the fierce and dominating factor he used to be.