According to my good friend Kieran (an otherwise sane and intelligent individual) in the Nadal knee thread, Rafael Nadal did not really try hard in the 2008 Madrid Masters semifinal against Simon. Can anyone - and I mean anyone - really agree that Nadal was not trying hard in that match? Can anyone say that he didn't show his usual desire to win?
If so, would anyone care to explain why he bothered to win the first set and make the second and third so difficult for Simon? Why not just hit a bunch of UFE's and walk off the court in under an hour? Nadal was up a break in the third for goodness sake.
For the record, this semifinal match against Simon in Madrid was one of the moments that really soured my attitude toward Nadal's game. I didn't post on tennis.com until 2009, so many people would not know this. I was rooting VERY HARD for Nadal to win that match. I really wanted to see Federer and Nadal play in the final, coming off of the Wimbledon epic and since they hadn't played in a hardcourt final in so long at the time. Unfortunately, it wasn't to be. Federer failed against Murray due to his flaws, and Nadal failed against Simon due to his flaws.
But again - I WAS ROOTING VERY HARD FOR NADAL IN THIS MATCH AND WANTED HIM TO WIN. But it was so painfully obvious what his deficiencies as a hardcourt player were in this match, to the point of causing me immense frustration. Nadal was absolutely bludgeoning the ball, but due to not hitting flat and not being highly adept at point construction, he couldn't hit through Simon. It was just plain as day. Look at it statistically, look at it by watching the highlights or a recording of the match itself. Despite having great footwork and court positioning, Nadal still could not hit through the court.
Would anyone seriously like to argue that Nadal was not trying hard in this match? Would anyone seriously like to argue that Nadal was not showing desire to win? Somehow Kieran is maintaining this idea.
(One wonders why we have a 3-part highlight package if Nadal didn't care about winning this match.)