‘Rafael Nadal was terrific’, says top journalist

Multiple semifinals at a Grand Slam are always an excellent indicator of an outstanding season. The most significant players of the Open Era have achieved it many times throughout their careers, with eight names topping the list. They have reached at least two Major semi-finals in seven seasons or more, raising the bar for youngsters aspiring to this achievement in years to come. Stefan Edberg has seven seasons with multiple Grand Prix semi-finals, followed by Pete Sampras who has eight. Andre Agassi and Ivan Lendl have nine, while Jimmy Connors is left alone in fourth place with 11. As always, the highest places in almost all the records related to major events are reserved for Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. The Swiss star tops the list with 14 seasons with multiple Major semi-finals, achieving it between 2004 and 2019. Roger only had two seasons without this feat during that period (2013 and 2018), and he still trails Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. Novak has been the most consistent player at the Majors since 2011. He failed to reach two Major semi-finals in 2009 and 2017 alone, and is looking for another good season to match Roger’s record. He will try to catch up with the Swiss for the remainder of the season if he advances to the semifinals of Wimbledon and the US Open, although he cannot compete in the United States due to current pandemic rules. Rafael Nadal has been a player to beat at the Majors this year, capturing two titles and pulling away from his closest rivals at the top. Thus, Nadal became the 13th player with multiple semi-finals in 13 different seasons, sharing second place with Djokovic and setting his sights on Federer’s record in 2023 if he remains competitive.

Steve Flink reflects on Rafa Nadal

While reflecting on the match on a recent podcast, sports journalist Steve Flink suggested that the body language and psyche of both players had flipped from their clash from last year, which Djokovic won. “That was almost a reversal of psyches this time. Last year, Novak was really enjoying himself. There were times he was smiling and there was a positive energy to him. Rafael Nadal was fretting a bit. This time, I thought that Djokovic seemed kind of negative, irked by the crowd while Rafa was terrific,” Flink said. Flink believes the fans could have seen an even bigger battle had the match gone the distance. “I had a feeling if we could have got to the fifth set, maybe both players would have really taken it up a notch and we could have had a spectacular battle. But it was not to be because Djokovic did not close it out when he had the chance,” said Flink.