Nadal vs Anderson, Spain vs South Africa, Financialization vs Financialization: The Round of 16 at the Australian Open

Tonight’s 10PM first men’s round of 16 match features a contest many of us in the tennis world have been waiting for: the late 1990s-2000s economy of financialization as it spectacularly unfolded in Spain and South Africa. The match is 3rd up on Rod Laver Arena tonight, with a likely 10PM EST coin toss. Bell Coin Index will be tweeting macro-economic indicators. Nadal is the heavy favorite, despite a thus-far uneven performance down under. An easy first round win over Mikhail Yhouzny, a five-set belabored second round win over Tim Smeczyk, and an easy third round win over Dudi Sela. But, like Spain’s economy, the last few years haven’t been easy for Nadal: wrist, back, appendicitis, and don’t forget the knees which for a long part of his career have been like real estate construction along Spain’s Costa del Sol, just waiting to collapse. Each year, it seems, brings a new ailment to this player that many consider the most competitive tennis has ever known.

His opponent, the 16th ranked Kevin Anderson’s knees may be somewhat better, but South Africa’s economy has been on its own troubled ride for some time now. The Monthly Review has a useful summary of the issues that bookend the chart of South Africa’s GDP below, and that may be of interest to some (more daring) Bell Coin Index investors: “In reality, no other emerging market suffered as many currency crashes (15 percent in nominal terms) over the last two decades: in 1996, 1998, 2001, 2006, and 2008. By early 2009, The Economist ranked South Africa as the most “risky” of seventeen emerging markets, in large part because corporate/white power had generated an enormous balance of payment deficits, thanks to outflows of profits/dividends to London/Melbourne financial headquarters.” Well, now Anderson—sponsored by Dunlap and Lotto—has come to Melbourne himself. We can expect him in London in June for Wimbledon.

While his ranking has continued to climb and South Africa’s GDP has improved in the past three quarters, he’s never beaten a top ten player in a grand slam. A tall, rail thin player with a booming serve, he has to hope for the Nadal to have an off night, and he’s had many as of late. Anderson has applied for permanent residency in the United States and, like so many in professional tennis, he frequently resides in Floria (probably not for tax reasons, unlike Canada’s Milos Raonic who now dwells in Monte Carlo). Perhaps he is ready to leave South African turbulence behind for the now-consistent 2.5%+ GDP growth of the US. Either way, he has his work cut out for him tonight.

Anderson’s Five Year Ranking, courtesy of ATP

Nadal, meanwhile, has spoken, of briefly, of “la crisis” as it effects his friends and home country, and he has put millions of dollars into the Dominican Republic in the form of real estate, but that can hardly tell us how he’s feeling tonight or what his chances against Anderson are.

South African GDP during Anderson’s ATP years

Nadal has spent six years now, shuttling between a 1, 2, and 3 world ranking—which also describes the growth rate +/- of the Spanish economy since Nadal turned pro in 2001.

Spanish Economic Growth, 2001–2014

Tonight’s match could be intriguing. Anderson and Nadal have played once before, with Nadal pulling out a straight sets victory. Like Spain, is Nadal slowly returning to form? Or is this European weak link waiting to be foreclosed? Both Spain and South Africa offer cautionary lessons for investors. But both Nadal and Anderson are playing to win. Spain has a service economy, but Anderson has a powerful serve and has done well historically against lefties. Still, who doesn’t pick the Euro over the Rand?

The Bell Coin Index Predictions:

Nadal in 4; 6–4, 6–7 (4), 6–3, 6–2.

Spanish GDP 2015: 1.4%

South African GDP 2015: 3.5%