French Open 2018

‘It’s almost impossible to beat Rafa’: Del Potro backs Nadal to win 11th French Open title

The Argentine giant was expected to push Nadal to the limit in Friday’s semi-final but slumped to a 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 defeat.

Juan Martin del Potro believes it’s virtually impossible to defeat Rafael Nadal on clay and backed the Spaniard to claim an 11th French Open title in Sunday’s final against Dominic Thiem.

Argentine giant Del Potro was expected to push Nadal to the limit in Friday’s semi-final but slumped to a 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 defeat with the world No 1 reeling off 14 of the last 17 games.

On Sunday, he will face Thiem, who is playing in his first Slam final compared to Nadal’s 24th appearance.

“It is almost impossible to beat Rafa,” said Del Potro who had his chances but failed to convert any of his seven break points before his challenge petered out into weary hopelessness.

“He’s too strong. He’s improving his backhand a lot. That’s why he’s the No 1 and beating all the guys,” added Del Potro after his 10th defeat in 15 meetings with the 32-year-old Spaniard.

“He looks fresh. He is healthy. And the strength that he has and the mentality, everything is perfect, works perfect for him playing on clay.”

Should Nadal win on Sunday it will give him a 17th Grand Slam title, just three behind great rival Roger Federer.

It would also mean that the sport’s two greatest stars will have shared the last six majors, stretching back to Federer’s 2017 Australian Open triumph.

“If he continues with this desire, he can win many more times, like Federer for Wimbledon, and other major tournaments,” said Del Potro whose own Grand Slam collection remains stuck on one – his 2009 US Open breakthrough.

“Ten years ago, it was Rafa and Roger, and now it’s always the same. So they always win the big tournaments.

“It just speaks to their virtues in terms of tennis, physical and mental strength.”

At least Thiem can boast being the only man to have defeated Nadal on clay in the last two years.

He beat the Spaniard in the Madrid quarter-finals this year having won in the Rome last-eight in 2017.

The Austrian also came out on top on clay in three sets in the semi-finals in Buenos Aires in 2016.

However, Nadal leads their overall head-to-head 6-3 with all of their encounters coming on clay.

One of those was a 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 rout in the Roland Garros semi-finals 12 months ago.

At the French Open this year, Nadal has looked sluggish in the opening exchanges.

In the quarter-finals, he even dropped his first set in Paris since 2015 to Diego Schwartzman before sprinting to a four-set win.

“Rafa is playing every point better from the beginning until the last point of the match, and his intensity grows during the match,” explained Del Potro.

“It’s tough to be there all the time. I mean, not many players can beat him on clay. And I had my chances today, but I couldn’t play my best because of him. His game is too good for me.”

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

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This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.