Special Thanks to Guest Contributor, PAULPOITIER
Well, while it was Nadal who played Sweeting, it was Sweeting who was sweating. Yet sweat seems to have become the new buzz word for the top two men in this year’s Australian. Having recently completed his match against Tommy Robredo – winning in 4 sets – Fed, whose previous match against Gilles Simon went to 5 sets, admitted that “it’s a lot of hard work. I’m sweating bullets right now.”
Meanwhile, on the other end of the draw, Nadal, having warded off the Australian wild card Bernard Tomic in what commentators are calling “a tricky three-set win,” acknowledged that, post-Doha flu, “my body is still not perfect. I am sweating more than usual.” Now, while many may disagree with the first part of Rafa’s statement, and while the Australian is notorious for its on-court heat (think of the recent dead spot discovered by Sharapova on court due to excessive heat under the court’s surface), an interesting reading could be produced of this year’s men’s tourney via this perspiratory trope. Many have previously noted that neither Fed nor Nadal ever “lost their cool”; that neither ever “broke into a sweat” (figuratively or otherwise); and that this grace under pressure (or, at least, lack of excessive perspiration) was directly linked to both men’s on-court success (if not also their noticeable absence from deodorant commercials).
Now that both men are acknowledging their increased sweat levels, an interesting question arises, namely: Can one directly link these acknowledgements to either man’s noticeable difficulties thus far in this year’s tourney? Granted, Nadal has yet to drop a set and Fed is the defending champ but, nevertheless, it seems both men are experiencing – or, at the very least, acknowledging – more difficulties than they have had in previous years. Yet this last point raises the equally interesting possibility (also as old as sweat), namely, are both men invoking increased perspiration in respective psych-out efforts? Are Roger and Rafa pointing out their abundant sweat as a form of macho discourse or, paradoxically, as a way of fooling the other into believing that either is not in top form? Either way, it seems, the result is to potentially increase either man’s perspiration. So perhaps one way of gauging both the physical fitness and psychological strategizing of either man is to see how many times both of them change their T-shirts while playing. Then again (to go back to the psych-out possibility), this could all just be a clever ruse, and a way –at least on Nadal’s part– to promote his body. Or, indeed, to get spectators to break out in a sweat (literally or otherwise).