There are reasons why team sports have a preseason:
- To get players back in shape from the off-season.
- To implement and work on strategy.
- To get in “game shape” which is different than physical condition.
And yes of course they want to tryout and integrate new players. Generally the quality of play even from superstars is not what you get when players are in peak shape and forum.
In college football the long layoff between the last regular season game and the final bowl games, (this can be over a month), is often talked about as being too long and it’s potential effect on the quality of play.
In pro football where some teams get a bye week off and others don’t, the team with the week off sometimes comes out flat.
Rafael Nadal took seven months off the tour due to a knee injury. This is by far longer than any team sport off-season. He played against top players who were sharp and in form. (Roger Federer was said to have “tweaked” his back) Nadal won a big tournament and is 17 and 1 overall since his comeback.
For some perspective, imagine if Lebron James was hurt and missed more than half of an NBA season and in his first eighteen games back he scored over 40 points and led the Miami Heat to an 17-1 record. We’d make a big deal out of that.
However, they were allowed to work themselves into game shape through a preseason against players and teams that were coming off of long rests themselves. Further, whether it is returning from the off-season or recovering from injury you often hear analysts and experts say you cannot practice game speed.
Nadal is playing in big tournaments, with ranking, money and mano e mano ego on the line. He is playing against players who are in “game shape” while he is readjusting to game speed.
His fast start off of his return speaks to his dedication, desire, skill and mental toughness. All of which were required to come back this strong this fast.
In the next two months Nadal’s game needs to get sharper, but barring an injury setback, I have no doubt it will. The King of The Championships at Rolland Garros, (The French Open), will be ready in time to make him the favorite at the tournament he has owned.
With Novak Djokaovic in search of a career slam, Roger Federer still drinking from the fountain of youth, Andy Murray rising, and a handful of players like Juan Martin del Potro, Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and David Ferrer lurking… it should be a great tournament and rest of season in 2013. Glad Nadal is coming to the party, he makes a great field even better.