Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NEW YORK — Mother Nature may have hurt Rafael Nadal’s chances at a U.S. Open repeat.
After Tuesday’s day and night sessions were cancelled because of rain, Nadal would now have to win four matches in five days to repeat, whereas Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic must only win three matches in five days — assuming the finals are held as scheduled on Sunday.
“Absolutely,” ESPN commentator Pam Shriver told SNY.tv Tuesday. “I don’t know if it’s because [Federer’s] got the 16 majors or he works the scheduling better, I always feel like he gets out in front.”
Djokovic and Federer both advanced to the quarterfinals with wins Monday and are scheduled to play again Wednesday.
Nadal, No. 4 Andy Murray and a pair of Americans, John Isner and Donald Young, were among those slated to play fourth-round matches Tuesday and the quarterfinals in their half of the draw would have been Thursday.
Now, Nadal and Murray are scheduled to play their fourth-round matches at 11 a.m. Wednesday. They would then have to turn around and play the quarters Thursday, while Federer and Djokovic rest.
The semis are slated for Saturday and the final Sunday.
That would mean two sets of back-to-back days for whoever comes out of Nadal’s half of the draw.
For the past three years, the men’s final was pushed to Monday because of rain, and we could be headed in that direction again. If so, that could benefit Nadal.
Nadal has already had a rough summer. He burned two fingers on a hot plate at a Japanese restaurant and then had to lay on the floor for eight minutes because of cramping after his third-round win Sunday.
“I feel like his body is not dealing with the conditions as well as it did in the past,” Shriver said. “I think it’s cause he’s a little stressed. He’s not flowing as easily.
“When you think about Rafa’s cramping situation and he hasn’t looked that comfortable all summer. I thought he was sweating a lot in Cincinnati and he had ice packs on on the change of ends when it wasn’t even that hot.”
Still, former pro Jose Luis Clerc, also working for ESPN, said he believes Nadal “has the best physical condition on the tour.”
Clerc said Nadal’s fate would depend “on how long is the matches.”
“For sure, in this moment, it’s not so easy for anybody because we are almost in quarterfinals and the semifinals,” he said. “To arrive the semifinals, you have to arrive really 100 percent. I don’t know if he can make it 100 percent.”
Federer, meantime, is 30 and must play No. 11 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarters after Tsonga upset him in that same round at Wimbledon.
If Federer wins, he might have to turn around and play Djokovic in the semis Saturday, and then potentially Nadal or Murray in the final Sunday.
The more rest he gets, presumably the better.
Despite not getting on court until near midnight Monday, Federer helped his cause by crushing Juan Monaco, 6-1, 6-2, 6-0 and getting off the court in 1 hour, 22 minutes.
“Everything’s back to normal,” Federer said of his schedule. “I know there’s actually a lot of rain coming [Tuesday], right? So that was more the part that worried me than actually maybe having to go on and off the court the whole night.”
Asked if he could win the Open for the sixth time and a 17th career major, Federer sounded confident.
“I think so,” he said. “I’m showing good form. So it’s up to me now to get on a good run for the end of the tournament.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.