The Spanish inquisition is back on. For Rafael Nadal has delved into his kitbag and discovered the ravages of his lost youth. Watch the French Open if you want proof. Such does his Tennis hand land multiple blows to bloodied opponents that he is now cemented in the psyche of World Tennis as the greatest clay courter of all time. Yes, even better than Bjorn Borg.
Strike a blow, beat them down, knock them out - Lo. Relentless in his crusade, genius flows through his arteries. Those arterial routes are showing themselves at Roland Garros - Lo. For, come Sunday, two semi-finals down and fate has greeted the Spaniard with a potentially epic clash against World number two, Novak Djockovic, in a Final showdown.
Three setters are his favoured delicacy. Not for him to waste time on five sets -such inadequacy. Well, not usually, anyway. Occasionally he will relent and allow an underling one set. It's not that it overly pleases him, but that's what you get when presiding over a hard earned kingdom; The rats of servitude getting notions above their station in life.
Of course struggles reside.
Every so often it isn't just a set they sneak. No, they launch a full scale invasion. There are many battles in what is at times a long and arduous war. Only this last few months those incursions have become numerous as the pests of wannabe stardom seek out their own niche in the world. First, Djockovic attacked. Two times he has downed Nadal and one of those was on enemy territory - Clay. To make matters worse, David Ferrer fired shots at Nadal in the Quarterfinal of the Monte Carlo Masters and won. It was one thing the talented Djockovic making inroads, but the journeyman Ferrer; That must have hurt.
But they never win the war.
He might have taken a pounding and his body often resembles an injury wreaked cavity of twenty-eight year old bones rattling around aimlessly while wondering where his next stride will miraculously appear from. That body, those muscles, twisted and rotated and saturated with the contortion of an unnaturally violent style of action packed ferocity. Heavily top spun forehands, heavily top spun backhands, just heavily top spun. All of which takes its toll on the body of this thirteen year veteran of the circuit.
Those old bones though are made to look youthful through the iron-willed desire presiding within. Initially a one trick wonder who could do no wrong on clay but could play little else, wanted it all. He practiced and he played and he strayed onto grass and hard courts and strived and finally arrived into the realms of all round success. Four years of gruelling graft and finally he broke Roger Federer's veneer of invincibility with a win in what was one of Wimbledon's greatest ever finals. And that's on grass. No not that kind, the real thing, he's legit. Never one to take short cuts, hard work and dedication were and are his drug of choice.
Everyone starts somewhere. Everyone at one stage or another are just a mere upstart. You see, what is now Nadal's wasn't always. Federer used to dominate all before him. Then when Federer was at his peak, someone better came along; Nadal. What used to belong to a Swiss now belongs to a Spaniard.
As you can see, this dynasty was not procured overnight. It was solidified over many a year. Initially the cost of this tournament was dirt cheap, but it soon became a valuable commodity. Now it has become so prosperous that his dominion over this empire has spread to the sum of eight titles. Sure, it has a leasehold to be paid in the form of beating seven foe each year. So much blood, sweat and tears and that is mainly his opposition, such is his dominance.
In a particularly ruthless mood this last fortnight, it has seen him garner six victories at the piffling cost of just one set lost. Such imperious form, even Andy Murray, in the semi-final, could only conjure up a measly six games.
Now it is the big one, up against Djockovic. He can smell the rich aromas of Grand Slam title number fourteen wafting his way in 2014. The topspin heavy ground-strokes of Nadal up against the flattened out shots of Djockovic. Two relentless retrievers defending and attacking and counter-attacking, such a heavenly encounter with two of the brightest stars battling it out for a spot in the sun.
In the end, on clay, it is always Nadal's way or the highway. Don't want to live under his rule, he will banish you from his long held territory - Lo.