Daily Bagel: Can Rafael Nadal finally conquer the fall season?

Wednesday October 2nd, 2013


The Daily Bagel is your dose of the interesting reporting, writing and quipping from around the Internet.

• Video: WTA players look back at Steffi Graf's Golden Slam season in 1988.

• After an incredible stretch this year, can Rafael Nadal finally conquer Asia and the fall season? Kamakshi Tandon breaks down just how difficult this part of the calendar has historically been for him.

Nadal has won each major at least once but never captured the World Tour Finals, going 9-10 at the year-ending event. He has won a record 26 Masters tournaments, but none at Shanghai or the Paris Indoors, the two Masters events currently held in the fall.

Of his 60 career singles titles, only one has been on indoor hard courts -- the Madrid Masters in 2005, when he was a teenager. (Shanghai since has taken its place on the calendar.) And the only other time Nadal won a tournament after the U.S. Open was 2010, when he took the title at Tokyo.

• Serena Williams will try to defend her title at the Brisbane International in January.

• John Tomic has been banned from the 2014 Australian Open.

• Remembering David Nalbandian's career is a complicated exercise, writes Steve Tignor.

As far as Nalby’s talent went, yes, he had it, but no, he never made the most of it. He reached match point against Andy Roddick in the U.S. Open semifinals in 2003. Three years later, he was up 4-2 in the fifth set against Marcos Baghdatis in the semifinals of the Australian Open. Both times he was on the brink; both times he lost. He'll go down as one of the best players never to win a major.

At the end of 2007, Nalbandian showed the world exactly how good he could be by tearing through that season’s last two Masters events. In Madrid, he beat Nadal, Djokovic, and Federer in succession for the title. Two weeks later at Bercy, he beat Federer and Nadal in straight sets, again for the title, and bageled Rafa in the second set for good measure (see the highlights of that match above). Going into 2008, naturally, expectations for Nalbandian were sky high. How did he respond? He failed to get out of the third round at any of the Grand Slams that year. While he was certainly injury prone, few would disagree that Nalby, who sported a permanent spare tire and seemed as passionate about rally-car racing as he was about tennis, was an underachiever. It wasn’t for nothing that he was handed one of tennis’s more memorable, and less flattering, nicknames: Fat Dave.

• Viktor Troicki is feeling confident in his appeal of his 18-month suspension for avoiding a drug test. He's set to appear before the Court of Arbitration for Sport next week.

• With her 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-3 victory against Sara Errani at the China Open, Petra Kvitova has won 23 three-set matches this season, the most since 2000. She also has a shot to break the record for the most three-setters played in a season since 2005. The record is 36 and she's already played 34. There's a reason we call her "P3tra".

• Despite her three-set prowess, Kvitova isn't keen on the women playing best-of-five matches. Venus Williams and Angelique Kerber are up for it, though.

• The Australian Open has announced a $2.8 million prize money increase to set its total compensation at $31 million in 2014. That's the third-largest purse, behind Wimbledon's and the U.S. Open's.

all-you-can-eat cookie buffet
SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide — from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Grant Wahl, Andy Staples and more — delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.