I was watching a replay of the old Rome 2006 final. It was one of the classic 5-setters between Roger Federer andRafael Nadal, back when Nadal was still wearing piratas and playing from 6 feet behind the baseline. This match had it all! Accusations of cheating by Federer, stalling tactics by Nadal. Ah...the good old days.....
And it made me start thinking about Guillermo Coria...which isn’t as random as you’d think. Just one year prior, Coria was still a contender. In 2005, it was he who battled Nadal in the finals of Monte Carlo and Rome (and Beijing that year). It was he who took Nadal to 5 sets at the Rome Masters.
So what happened? My Tennistalk colleague, Ricky Dimon, has argued that Coria’s career was actually finished in 2004 after Gaston Gaudio came out of nowhere to upset Coria in the finals of the French Open. I disagree (as usual).
Sure, Coria was devastated that he lost to Gaudio. To say that the two men were not friends is like calling chocolate just a food – it’s a MASSIVE understatement. For Coria to lose to his enemy must have been a bitter pill to swallow. Still, I don’t think Coria’s career was officially over at that point. Why? Because I believe he still felt that he was the superior player.
I’m guessing that Coria was disgusted that he lost, but that he held the not-so-deeply hidden belief that he was the better player. No, I think that Rafael Nadal effectively ended Coria’s career.
Consider this. Coria still made the finals of 4 tournaments and actually won one of them in 2005. He played well enough to take a set off Nadal in Monte Carlo and a pair of sets in Rome. But the problem is that unlike the French Open final, there was no choking from Coria. He wasn’t beaten because he lost his nerve or because he was simply unable to close out the win.
He lost because Nadal was better. Every time. There was no fooling himself that he “could” have won. He had to come to terms with the fact that he had been replaced as the guy to beat on clay...and by a KID no less. I think Guillermo Coria was one of the first in the sport to recognize that Rafael Nadal was quite simply a clay court phenom. And after that, there was just no place left for the Argentine no-so-affectionately called The Weasel.
From the last time that he lost to Nadal in the Beijing final, Coria ceased to be a factor on the tennis court. Nadal squeezed him right out of the sport.
Sat 06/07 06:31
Tennistalk says farewell
Thu 06/06 04:05
Novak Djokovic's unsung hero
Tue 21/05 15:52
Another Federer and Nadal match disappoints
Fri 17/05 18:03
Bill Tilden and the effects of moral bankruptcy on a legacy
Tue 19/03 21:01
Professor Federer teaches us a thing or two
Mon 18/03 15:43
Nadal makes the cleverest comeback in tennis history
Fri 01/02 22:00
Nadal's return at Vina del Mar
Thu 15/11 16:54
Federer and company make no room at the top for youth
Tue 11/09 20:24
Murray joins the ranks of Grand Slam elite
Fri 17/08 19:45
There is something about Roger Federer
Mon 13/08 23:05
Tennistalk is in Cincinnati again
Tue 12/06 16:21
The French Open, Nadal's personal playground
Wed 09/05 14:58
Novak Djokovic takes up skating at the Madrid ice rink
Thu 29/03 14:30
Nadal and Spain give French TV a punch in the mouth
|1. Djokovic||12 500 pts|
|2. Murray||8 750 pts|
|3. Federer||8 670 pts|
|4. Ferrer||6 970 pts|
|5. Nadal||6 385 pts|
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