September 01, 2009
The biggest stories so far at the U.S. Open are the ones that didn't happen. Both Dinara Safina and Venus Williams came back from early deficits to avoid monumental upsets, which leaves the early brackets as chalky as you could expect as we end day two. Thus, the biggest news at Flushing Meadow isn't something that happened on the court, but in the barber's chair.
Yes, Rafael Nadal got a haircut.
The six-time Grand Slam champ arrived at the practice courts yesterday with a new, shorter 'do. It's a much cleaner look (with his shoulder-length locks, it perpetually looked like Nadal was auditioning for the "before" portion of an Herbal Essence commercial), but isn't so drastic that it will cause women to jump off the Nadal train to become fans of Troy Polamalu. It may cause some people to confuse Rafa with Roger Federer though.
Take a look at Nadal's new style and compare it to that of Federer's:
That looks almost exactly the same. It's like he went in and asked for the "Rog". What's next, moving to Switzerland, having twins and crying on the court after losses?
Federer also cut his hair a few years back (remember that hideous ponytail he used to sport?) and it had little effect on his game. But recent history is littered with stars who went from long hair to short and experienced a Samson-like drop-off in their production. Remember Felicity? You don't? Exactly. And let's not even mention two well-coiffed titans of the music industry, Michael Bolton and Yanni. When their locks draped down to their backs, the easy-listening giants were selling out arenas and drawing women fans in flocks with their raw, animal magnetism and smooth, non-threatening tunes. After they cut their hair, bubkus.
Maybe Nadal is trying to do the opposite with his cut, hoping it will bust him out of his slump. After all, 14 years ago, a hair cut worked wonders for Andre Agassi.