Nadal Survives the Gulbis Gauntlet, Will Face Ferrer in Rome Final
by Sean Randall | May 1st, 2010, 5:55 pm
  • 125 Comments

Full credit to Ernests Gulbis who did just about everything right but win today in a loss to Rafael Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 at the Rome Semifinals.

Gulbis, who was playing his first career ATP Tennis Masters semifinal, had some serious odds against him just to win games let alone sets against the streaking Nadal. But despite a shaky, error-filled first set, Gulbis stuck to the gameplan of pounding serves, pounding forehands and keeping Nadal off balance and out of his comfort zone (the baseline) with drop shots.

It’s a gameplan that’s well known against Nadal but few have ever executed as well or as smartly as the 21-year-old Gulbis did today. It was beautiful to watch and really, it’s hard to fault Gulbis for any part of his performance. He did exactly what you have to do for a guy like him to beat Nadal on clay.

Gulbis served nearly 80% first serves (and he’s just spinning it in either!) for the match and he took chances when he could blasting 50 winners. But with the winners came the errors and Gulbis maybe just made one too many in the end allowing Nadal to sneak away with his toughest clay win of the season.

“It was a really tough match. I think I played worse than I played in the last few days,” said Nadal who broke Gulbis twice, in the opening game of the match and in the final game. “Gulbis – his serve was unbelievable. I had a break in the first game of the match and then I got another one in the last game but all the time he was serving at 200, 210, 215 – very difficult to return. In the end I won the match but it was difficult in the third set and he was playing well from the baseline. I was happy that I won in the first set because that gave me much more confidence to win the third set.”

Nadal’s been upset at his play all week, however today I agree that he didn’t play his best. Sure, Gulbis deserves some of the credit but I’ve never seen Nadal miss so many simple shots, especially off his sturdy backhand.

If fact, with Nadal’s miscues and the way Gulbis was playing and the numbers he was putting up, it’s a wonder how Nadal managed to win! But in the final game with Gulbis serving 4-5 to stay in the match Nadal tidied up his game at the right moment and broke Ernests at love.

That said, if Rafa continues to make errors his opponent tomorrow, countryman David Ferrer, is liable to take advantage. Ferrer overcame a 5-1 first set deficit to another Spanish lefty, Fernando Verdasco, to pull out a 7-5, 6-3 win.

Said Ferrer, “I’m happy because I’m playing very good this season and I think this match was a bit strange. The first set was a bit difficult but it was the same for him and he gave me some opportunities that I played and so, in the second set, I played more relaxed and it was easier.”

Added Verdasco, “Until 5-1 things were going okay for me and also he wasn’t playing his best and made some mistakes. Later, perhaps he saw that I was tired, not from 5-1 but since I got up this morning. He started to play better and became more solid on the court, and what happened, happened.”

Verdasco was understandably gassed from all the tennis he’s played including a 3-hour, 18-minute slugfest yesterday against Novak Djokovic.

Nadal and Ferrer have played 13 times and Rafa’s won 10 of them including six straight. If he plays like he should he’ll make it 11 and tie Andre Agassi for the most Tennis Masters titles with 17. If he starts spraying balls and donating backhands to the net, Ferrer will have a chance to pounce. Otherwise Rafa should come away with a comfortable win.

“We know each other and we have played each other many times,” said Nadal, looking ahead to the final. “He was playing well today and he had a very good victory and I’m happy for him because he deserves to be in the final after Barcelona and Monte Carlo. I will play my best tennis and this type of match you can only win if you play your best and this is what I’m going to try and do tomorrow. If not, it’s going to be impossible to win.”

As for Gulbis, quite a memorable week. The kid was trying to become the first player to ever beat Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at the same clay event, and he very nearly pulled it off. The question now becomes will Gulbis build on his week or will he fall away? I hope he continues to improve and toughens up mentally because he’s fun to watch. His game as we’ve known for quite some time is absolutely massive, it’s just a matter of getting it right between the ears.

So I’m not ready to put him as a guy who’s going to win big titles or contend for Slams just yet, but come Paris he’s going to be one dangerous guy to deal with for someone in the Top 10 four weekends from now. Can’t wait.

CENTER COURT start 1:30 pm
J Isner (USA) / S Querrey (USA) vs [2] B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA)

Not Before 4:00 PM
[3] R Nadal (ESP) vs [13] D Ferrer (ESP)


Also Check Out:
Verdasco, Gulbis Showdown Friday in Barcelona
Nadal Survives Gulbis Gaunlet, Ferrer Next; Federer, Djokovic, Sharapova, Serena Roll On In Rome
Nadal Takes Wawrinka to the Bakery, Will Gulbis Be Next? Verdasco v. Ferrer Also in Rome SF
Venus Survives 3-set Scare in Opener at WTA Rome
Federer Opens Clay Campaign v. Gulbis in Rome; Djokovic, Murray Also in Action

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125 Comments for Nadal Survives the Gulbis Gauntlet, Will Face Ferrer in Rome Final

Ben Pronin Says:

Sean, the score for Nadal and Gulbis was 6-4 3-6 6-4 for Nadal.


contador Says:

” I hope he continues to improve and toughens up mentally because he’s fun to watch. His game as we’ve known for quite some time is absolutely massive, it’s just a matter of getting it right between the ears.”

100% agree, Sean.

and ernests is fun to listen to and watch in an interview, if i could only find one. anyone have a link?

he tells it as it is with wit and expressions; very entertaining.


Kimmi Says:

so far this clay season is all about the spaniards. Can somebody else crash the party in Madrid final…C’MON!!


Kimmi Says:

“It was a really tough match. I think I played worse than I played in the last few days,” said Nadal

I think it was an opponent that made him play worse. His previous opponents did not give him enough pressure, so it was easy for him to play his best tennis..

I remember federer saying something similar few years back that he will try to keep it close and see how rafa will react. But unfortunately for him, he couldn’t.


NELTA Says:

Exactly Kimmi. When Gulbis is on he has the type of game that can make Nadal uncomfortable and cause the “bad” play. The match reminded me of when he played Lubicic in IW and Roddick in Miami. Nadal started strong, but then the pressure started getting to him in the 2nd set after losing a few big points. Gulbis doesn’t have the experience of those guys and of course the clay means you have to come up with something a little extra special to beat him. I think Nadal wore out Gulbis with some of those lengthy rallies and by the end of the match Gulbis tried to end points too quickly by going for drop shots or winners from bad positions on the court. He was lucky not to lose that final set 6-1 as Nadal had a bunch of break points he failed to convert.
Nadal would much rather play a Ferrer, Ferrero or Verdasco on clay even though that is their best surface.

One other thing I noticed is Gulbis likes to take a lot of time between points so it doesn’t bother him when Nadal slows things down on his own serve. They both play at about the same pace.


Voicemale1 Says:

The pressure when it mattered most got to Gulbis, not Nadal. The 10th game of the 3rd Set had Nadal leading 5-4, having clawed out of 15-30 in the 9th game to hold. Gulbis now serving to stay in the match, crumbled mentally; Nadal broke him at Love to take the match. The two drop shots from Gulbis were so horrible and born of such shaky nerves that he should have just given Nadal the 0-30 advantage without having to play the point. It was Gulbis who blinked. It was exactly the same kind of nerves he had trying to close out the Federer match, blowing 6 Match Points with errors which were almost embarrassing. It’s not exactly a compliment to Federer he couldn’t use his world of experience to take the match away from someone who was clearly crapping his pants.

That’s why a win like this for Nadal is the kind that will almost get him back to where he was in 2008. He held his nerve and his ground in the face of the kind of game that sent him home last year at The French – and survived it. No wonder he was jumping around all over the court when it was over. He knows he had to come through a match like this one to get his mind back. If he wins the whole thing tomorrow, the rest of the guys will know he is just about all the way back.


Ben Pronin Says:

Voicemale, how far back to 08 are you referring? In 08, Nadal was unbeatable on all surfaces. There was never a doubt (in my mind) that Nadal would dominate the clay court season, even if he hadn’t won a title in 11 months. But 50 winners would have won Gulbis the match on a hard court. But if you’re concerned about whether Nadal will be able to win the FO, there’s nothing to be worried about. He’s probably going to win Madrid, too, and do a sweep of all the big events on clay in one year, a tremendous historic feat.


funches Says:

A lot of talk everywhere about how Gulbis deserved to win the match or Nadal was fortunate to win the match, but when I look at the stats, Rafa had six break points to Gulbis’s one in the third set BEFORE he broke Gulbis at love to close out the match.

All credit to Gulbis for a terrific performance, but this is the classic case of expectations coloring the viewing of a match. Nadal controlled the third set, barely losing points on his serve after the first game. He deserved to win.

I’m not sure anyone will have a better winners to unforced errors ratio on clay than Gulbis did today, and he still lost.

I’m not sure Rafa will win Madrid because the surface plays more like a hard court, but he ain’t losing to Ferrer tomorrow or in Paris.


Skorocel Says:

„Gulbis served nearly 80% first serves (and he’s just spinning it in either!) for the match and he took chances when he could blasting 50 winners.“

Goes to show how inhumanly you have to play against Nadal on clay – and still lose…


Skorocel Says:

„I was happy that I won in the first set because that gave me much more confidence to win the third set.“

Love this mindset of Nadal. And this is exactly why he’s such a champion. When a player wins the 1st set & then loses the 2nd, quite often, the momentum is with the opponent, but not with Nadal. The guy, instead of surrendering, tries even harder and focuses even more in the 3rd, and in 9 out of 10 cases does EVEN BETTER than he did in the 1st set.


Voicemale1 Says:

Ben:

I’ll never understand why you want to parse what I or anyone else writes on this board. It’s as though you feel a need to inject your own opinions into what someone else has written. Why? Why all the ankle biting? It’s as though you feel every post you parse, dissect and respond to has to be “corrected” by your insights into what they write.

All I said was it was what Nadal needed this win today mentally. And when you’re Top 5, it’s all about how you mind is working that keeps you there, not the sheer number of your stats. Gulbis hit 50 Winners in a match and went home a loser. Nadal held his nerve when it mattered most, and that’s what made the difference. Who cares about what you think about what might have happened on a hard court? And what kind of nonsense is that anyway? Isn’t 50 Winners the same on any surface? You wanna try to persuade us that somehow 50 Winners on one surface is “less” than 50 Winners on another? This is sheer nonsense. I know you don’t like Nadal as a player, but seriously…is it necessary to always attempt to undermine him with as bizarre a stretch as your “50 Winners on a Hard Court” fluff?


O-Kerr Says:

Gulbis is non-stop fun.
When asked about the fact that Azarenka, Hantuchova and Oudin were watching his match today, a smile broke out. “Who was watching me play today? I’m becoming popular with the girls now! I’m flying home tonight and there in Latvia it is Saturday night…! (laughter) Vika is just an old friend and I think she likes the way I’m playing. I think she might want to learn something from me!”


O-Kerr Says:

Another best from Gulbis today
“I hope I’ll be in form for the French Open and Wimbledon and I hope I don’t have to play against the top players right away because it’s the first matches which are the toughest ones,” he said of the forthcoming European Grand Slams. “I think I have a good chance in these tournaments if I’m stable enough, if I don’t go out of my mind and if I don’t take a holiday when I shouldn’t be taking one.”


Ben Pronin Says:

My, my, aren’t you a testy one, Voicemale.

Funches, I agree with you. As well as Gulbis played, Nadal really buckled down that third set and had 4 or 5 break points in that one game that Gulbis clawed his way out of. But how often do you see Nadal have to buckle down on clay? Or play a third set?


Kimmi Says:

O-kerr, nice quotes from gulbis haha!


Von Says:

Tomorrow an American doubles team WILL win the doubles title at Rome. Will it be in the form of the Twin Towers, the Bryan Bros., or the two tall drinks of water, Querrey and Isner? (I’m so happy to see Querrey and Isner venturing out on the clay.) I would like to see the TV hierarchy consider doubles to be of some importance in the media world, and allot them air time. As it stands, those of us who like doubles are relegated to watching live-scores.
___________________
Skeezer: Let’s hear it for doubles, and do something about the situation will ya.


Tom Gainey Says:

How awesome that the entire US Davis Cup team will play for the Rome doubles title. Hilarious!


Von Says:

Mucho kudos to Querrey and Isner! Now that they are officially on the DC team they are doing their utmost to round out their CV/game by making a concerted effort to play on clay. They are sending Captain McEnroe a message that he made the right decision by using them as replacements for Roddick and Blake, and that they could be future replacements for the Bryan Bros., or in the event one of the twins is sick and/or injured. I’m so proud of them.


jane Says:

Yes, Querrey and Isner are turning out to be quite the dynamic duo in doubles. Good for them. I believe the ATP site mentioned free live streaming for the doubles final between them and the Bryans so most should be able to see it.


contador Says:

O-Kerr, Kimmi-

did you guys read this one?

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/SPORTS/Tennis/Top-Stories/Rich-kid-Gulbis-eases-towards-big-time/articleshow/5882276.cms

sort of written as if cherry-picked to showcase ernie as the spoiled brat.

hey he can’t help it. not his fault he was born rich. he admits he has no clue how wealthy his dad is. again, ernie just telling it as it is.

i’m so happy ernie is coming to realize he likes to play tennis or he likes something about winning matches….lol… the girls. hahahaa

whatever it takes, i say. he so much fun to watch when he’s put even what? he hooked up with gumy last fall after the US Open and 9 months later we see a fitter gulbis with some desire to win matches and play tennis not as a “hobby.”

it’s great. i’ll take whatever he gives. he could be doing absolutely nothing at all. i’m really happy he’s giving tennis a serious shot, such a talent and entertainer. not the greatest role model maybe but they all can’t be like federer and nadal.

imagine if gulbis put the hours and effort into his training and loved tennis like they do.

what about hypnotizing him?….”ernie, you do love tennis, you are a tennis freak, you are a tennis freak and will be until we tell you to stop.”

Puhleeze Erno, don’t party too long, okay? Madrid is coming up fast and your fans want to see more of you! Encore Erno, Encore! on to Madrid!

somebody get a message to him, please.


jane Says:

Thanks for posting the link contador; it’s great to read a little press about Gulbis, and to hear his intelligent, articulate interview quips. Looking forward, mostly, to seeing him play more tennis!


contador Says:

jane-

i have to ferret and google and youtube to fit all the pieces together. it’s a hobby, not my job. i am glad you read it. i thought it must be a cut and paste job of the cockiest soundings bits to many who would read those gulbis quotes about his father, mother, sisters, brother…

but the written words lack the humorous tone and delivery, so i never make a judgement. erno is being erno; colorful personality.


Lisa Farley Says:

I think I like you Gulbi locks!


margot Says:

Actually, I think “Lion” would be a good nick-name for ernie. Not just his hair but the way he serves and hit so hard and then a nano second later there he is sleeping off a really good night out in Latvia….
von: don’t worry about Andy R not having enough match play, look what he accomplished last year just after getting married! Happiness seems to suit Andy.


Von Says:

I read the following article on Djokovic, which somehow doesn’t make sense to me with respect to his conclusion, that had it not been for Nadal and Federer, he would have probably been one of the the best clay-courters in the world.

Then, going by by that rationalization, how is it that players viz., Verdasco, who’s beaten Djoko twice, over the past two weeks, and Kohlschreiber at the FO, in ’09, can beat him so very convincingly. Federer and Nadal didn’t factor into those matches.

I don’t know what to think, but to reiterate, Djoko’s logic makes absolutely no sense to me.

Here’s the link:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/SPORTS/Tennis/Top-Stories/Djokovic-rues-Federer-Nadal-claycourt-domination/articleshow/5875066.cms

And the following is what Djoko stated in the above-mentioned article re Federer and Nadal:

“And while he is not considered a clay specialist, Djokovic said that’s only because there are two other players out there who are outstanding on the surface.

“I don’t think I have had decent result, I think I have had great results in the past couple of years (on clay), especially in 2009 when I won a couple of events,” he said.

“I played the final (here) against Rafa and in the French Open I played twice the semi-finals and quarters and I lost all of those to Nadal.

“If I didn’t have such strong opponents as Nadal and Federer, I would probably have been one of the best players in the world on this surface in the last couple of years. That is a fact.


Von Says:

margot: I’m not worried about Roddick on clay, but come Wimby, I’ll be on pins and needles. I’d love to see him win Wimby, and if, and when, he does that, I’ll be fine if he decides to hang up his racquet shortly thereafter.

One thing I don’t want for him to do, is fall out of the top ten and become a journeyman, waiting around just to win another GS. I would rather see him retire.


Von Says:

margot: Lions are supposed to be the King of the jungle — the leaders. I believe that designation is more suitable to Federer. And, considering Fed’s sign is Leo the Lion, then that name is more befitting to him, don’t you think?. Anyway, just saying …


Ezorra Says:

Gulbis is definitely my new favorite player after Nadal and Berdych. I’m eager to know how he would strategize his plan to boost up his career. He’s unique and very special. Like Kimo said in other thread, he got this raw talent that even Nadal (IMO) doesn’t has. From my observation, some of other players that might have this special gift would be Federer and Djokovic whereas players like Nadal and Roddick have to work harder to become a better player. That said he should change his mind setting re how he sees the importance of practice because if he keeps that belief, I’m sure it will bring him nowhere in this business… He said in his PC (btw, thanks contador for the link);

“…It is just the match and also luck. I don’t think it’s a matter of practice. I reached the semis, I earned it and I played well. It’s up to everyone themselves how much they practice and how much time they spend on the court…”


Von Says:

Ezorra: I asked Lion to return tomorrow just so Nadal could win, as you seem to think when he’s around, it brings Rafa goodluck. LOOL


Ezorra Says:

Von, I wasn’t trying to be funny. I was serious ;). I think he is Nadal’s lady luck. LOL…


Von Says:

Ezorra: I read you as being serious, and it’s why I aked him in my post to please come back, as I’d like to see Nadal win.


Ezorra Says:

Thanks for your support Von. I know you have fine relationship with Lion which is good for you. I’m trying to have one but it is not easy at all considering his constant efforts to attack Nadal fans by using name calling and whatnot which have made things become more difficult to deal with. (Calling Voicemale as ‘rafatard’ is one of the most unacceptable statements I’ve ever read here in Tennis-X.)

Re today’s match against Ferrer, I, like the rest of others here, predict that Nadal will win this one. However, based on his yesterday’s performance against Gulbis, I believe anything can happen in Madrid and FO.

Again, thank you for your support.


Mindy Says:

Sean,

I read your so-called take on the semifinal match between Rafa and Gulbis with disbelief. So in your exalted opinion, Gulbis deserved to win over Rafa! Well, I think the same thing could be said about Roddick and his fans thinking he deserved to win at Wimbledon last year. I think the same could be said about Fed fans thinking he deserved to win the 2008 Wimbledon. I am just wondering who died and made you God? It’s not about deserving to win, it’s about winning! Period.

You know full well that if it was Fed who won this match, then you would have been overflowing with fulsome praise about the Maestro once again amazingly kicking it into another gear and snatching victory from defeat! Please note: I mean no offense to Fed fans with this statement. I am merely addressing Sean’s blatant bias in his blog.

However, given the fact that it was Rafa who was the Houdini who worked his magic act and used his bag of tricks, i.e. smarts, savvy and experience as well as sheer force of will, heart, guts and courage, then we must be subjected to your self-indulgent prattling about how unfair it was for Gulbis to lose. That’s life or the sport of tennis if you will! The one who plays the best is not always the winner. Many times matches are won on the intangibles. That’s what you saw today. You devoted most of your blog to the wonders of Gulbis. But I saw another story, one that you did not bother to see.

The story for me was the comeback of a great champion. It was the redemption of Rafa. This is a young man who was being written off all over the place just a few months ago. After his untimely exit from this year’s AO due to another knee injury, many were writing his epitaph. Rafa was finished, beat up, knees were gone, used up, over the hill, insert whatever expression you want. I have read them all. He was consigned to the dust bin of history. It was only a matter of time before his early retirement.

Rafa got the big monkey off his back with his great win at MC, ending an eleven month title drought. I guess no one told Rafa his career is over. He never gave up, never quit, never stopped fighting, despite the disappointing losses. In the tough moments of matches, his fierce will to win and mental toughness wasn’t there. He always folded in the crucial moments – against Davy when he had match point, against Murray when he gave back a break of serve and failed to break later on, before he had to retire injured; against Ljuby when he had the match in his grasp; against Roddick when he seemed in complete control. He couldn’t get through the critical moments in matches. He lost his concentration, the doubts seemed to haunt him every time.

In his match with Gulbis, this time finally he did it! He made it through a match against a young kid with nothing to lose who was playing some brilliant tennis. Rafa wasn’t playing his best, but he hung in there and kept trying to get a break in that third set. He stayed tough. He wouldn’t fold this time. I might turn your argument about Rafa being lucky, all the way around and say that it was Gulbis who was the lucky one. Rafa had break points earlier in the third set, but Gulbis managed to escape. Who was lucky? Then after Rafa held at 5-4, I saw him screaming out loud and stomping off the court. He had that look in his eye, a look that I have not too often until recently – no way was he going to lose this match! He took control in that last game and capitalized on the drop shots that Gulbis tried. Gulbis was the one who blinked first. When it counted, when the match was on the line, despite so much brilliant play, Gulbis came up short. He made the mistakes when the match was on the line. Not Rafa! This was perhaps Rafa’s biggest test and he passed with flying colors! This time he didn’t fold, he didn’t cave, he kept on fighting and got the win. This is going to give Rafa that last bit of confidence and belief. He needed a test like this. I knew it was coming, but I wasn’t sure when or where it would happen. I thought that Gulbis might stretch Rafa to three sets. I wondered last night what would happen. Now I have my answer and so does Rafa. That’s why he literally jumped for joy.

That was the story I saw today. Gulbis can become a good player with some hard work, practice and commitment. Relying on natural talent won’t get it done. Fed was born with great natural talent, but he didn’t coast on it. He showed a work ethic and set a standard of perseverance and dedication that has helped him to break records and win 19 grand slams. If Gulbis wants to succeed, he will have to earn it.

It’s too bad that you missed the real story in this match. You don’t see Rafa. You don’t “get” Rafa. Too bad. You have missed a lot.


Mindy Says:

Sorry, I was a bit too generous when I mentioned the number of grand slams Fed has won. Although it might please his fans, who I am sure are hoping for more. It is 16 grand slams to date! :)


madmax Says:

Mindy,

You havent read “all” of them, that would be impossible! I think you make a lot of valid points, but you are so excitable! The turning point in the match (if you can call it that), were some “messy” drop shots from Gulbis, rafa capitalised on those shots. But it was very close, and Gulbis could , if he hadnt been so inexperienced, have pushed it to a tiebreaker. It was an awesome match, but you are right, rafa, as always, showed who was boss.

I did think there needed to be some kind of appreciation of Gulbis’ talents though, and perhaps that is what Sean was trying to do?

I just hope the final today isnt a straights sets boredeom fest. At least Ferrer, put up some kind of fight today!

And as for the writing off of rafa, fed fans have been used to that now for 2 years, with federer and it has started up again already. (did it ever go away?).

Federer will go beyond 19 slams.


margot Says:

von: you are right, none of us wants to see our favourite players turn into “journeymen.” It would be brilliant for Roddick to win Wimbledon this year so if my Andy can’t, I’ll keep my fingers crossed for yours.
Ernie not a lion? You wait till he starts properly roaring!


J Says:

Mindy, well said!

Gulbis played very well no doubt and is definitely on a roll right now. His post-match comments while entertaining give me the feeling that perhaps he’s not quite ready to buckle down and dedicate to the game of tennis. Just a feeling and for his sake I hope I’m wrong.

But what a match for Rafa. He could very easily have lost this match, for awhile there it looked like nothing he did would work against Gulbis. But he got a grip and knuckled down and like Mindy said, he absolutely refused to lose this match. In that third set, there was a grim determination about the way he played, he was NOT going to lose, whatever it took. That attitude is what Rafa has been missing so far this year and the win yesterday was massive in that regard. Sometimes, champions have to knuckle down and grind out a victory. Rafa has shown that he is able to do that once again and in my mind, that has proved to me that he really is truly *back*.

Well done to Gulbis but a big well done to Rafa for pulling out that win. I don’t know if anybody else on the tour right now could have done the same thing.


felix Says:

Yes, Nadal played excellent and with the last 5-6 poor games of federer I see no chance of him winning RG this year. Than again, he has proved me wrong quite a number of times, and I hope he shall do so again.

On a side note, I noticed that gulbis’s comments after the matches are quite conceided and annoying. He hasn’t said a single word about how well Nadal played (or any of the players whom he played with this tournament) but only mentioned “Im happy with my game, I think he was frightened of my forehand. I mean trouble for the top players”. and about federer “I think he was not happy to see me in the draw…”

Arrogane little infant.


Lion Says:

The story of yesterday’s match was that the match was on Gulbis’ racquet. rafatards are obviously oblivious to that, but that is the story.

Whether rafatards like it or not, attacking players like tsonga, soderling, delpotro, berdych, gulbis, djokovic, federer, roddick, pretty much hold their fate in their own hands when playing counterpunchers like nadal. When their game is on, nothing much nadal can do, as evidenced by the crushings he gets from them. Gulbis is the story of Rome, not nadal. He was playing Nadal on nadal’s best surface. I am sure Nadal would have been toast on any other surface other than clay – maybe even would have got hammered like he routinely does on hardcourts by the likes i mentioned above.

Attacking game played to the same level as a defensive game will trump defense on hardcourts, carpet and grass. On clay, from the times of chang and bruguera, counterpunchers will get the better.

The biggest example was the nadal-roddick match in miami, where andy started unleashing that forehand and nadal was like a deer caught in the headlights.

This april-may part of the year is like a full-moon for rafatards. Their insanity reaches a peak….. but stick around for the next part, when nadal and rafatards will be brought to their knees.

Zinaldo, you there bro? Ezorra, you think zinaldo is nadal’s lucky charm too? LOL


Lion Says:

Von :

Federer is the Lion. Well said. sorry margot, as a federer fan, lion, king and suprman are taken. LOL

You want cub for ernie? :) He can be the lion once Roger retires.


Lion Says:

not to mention, magician, maestro, genius, artist, matador, darth vader.


Lion Says:

Here’s one for rafatards :

El itchy butto :)

You are welcome guys. enjoy the rome final… LOL


Ezorra Says:

Lion is here! Yeaaa… Nadal WILL WIN today. Thanks bro! :)


Jurasick Says:

I don’t much care for Nadal’s “intensity” and “focus”. That jumping around the court after winning was in poor taste. I can still see him do it right after he won the last point. But to go to his chair, drop off his racquet and then come out to the court to do his “histrionics” was pure showing off. Sorry, not my cuppa.


NELTA Says:

Voicemale1 Says:
The pressure when it mattered most got to Gulbis, not Nadal.
- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -
I disagree. Nadal was winning the majority of points in that 3rd set because Gulbis was tired, not because of pressure. I could see it in his footwork. He only won 26 points in that final set and if not for some big serves and Nadal not taking the bull by the horns it would have been 6-2 or 6-1. If Gulbis was the one that had a bunch of break chances and couldn’t convert then you might have a point(like taking so many match points to win against Fed). Nadal dominated the 3rd set in points won and break opportunities, but it was a bit out of character for the scoreboard to only show 6-4.

I agree that this is a great win. Nadal fans wan’t the bagels and breadsticks, but this is much better for him. Winning some close matches will serve him well when the situation presents itself at the FO.


Daniel Says:

Lion, You are killing me! LOL


Daniel Says:

El itchy butto :)

This one was one of the most creative words I have ever read on tennis-x. Just priceless!

I know it is offensive to Nadal fans, but you gotta give credit to lion. :)


Rsutherland Says:

My name is Rsutherland and I am a Rafatard!


Daniel Says:

I think Nadal has the best shot for a clay sweep this year. Cjange his schedule to have a week off between torunament is the way to go. In Madrid, it all depends on his draw and if Fed will show to play. He was the only one stop Nadal in 2007 Hamburg and 2009 Madrid, so I think he is the only who can try to beat Nadal in Madrid. Djoko is not the same clay court as last season. He won’t stand a chance against Nadal, so for him is better to avoid him right now.

RG, as last year porve it, will remain in doubt untill he actually wins it again. The oressure will be all on him and Fed.


funches Says:

Re: the post on yesterday’s match being like the Federer-Roddick Wimbledon final

Roddick did deserve to beat Federer. He had all those chances to go up two sets to love, blew one with a easy miss and never was broken until the final game of the fifth set.

True, his weaknesses kept him from winning – return of serve, bad volley error at the wrong time – but he was a point away from a commanding lead (two sets to none or a break in the fifth) about six times.

Gulbis took Nadal to the third set. That’s all, nothing more.

The scoreline was very similar to Rafa’s semifinal win over Davydenko three years ago. Federer and Coria came much closer to beating Rafa in the 2005 and 2006 Italian Open finals. Rafa has won a very tight match in Rome every year he has won it except for 2009. Yesterday proved that he is capable of losing to a huge hitter serving out of his mind and playing as well as he can possibly play and having zero mental letdowns (Gulbis had one in the final game). In other words, it proved nothing we already didn’t know.


Von Says:

Lion: Can I ask you a favour? Please be nice to the Nadal fans today — I know you can be gracious, but you’re just being wicked.

I’m not a fan per se, but a convert, who admires his strength of character and his desire to improve on any weaknesses he may have, thereby becoming a great player. That said, if I ask you pretty please, would you be nice to me and the Rafa fans, by allowing us to enjoy this day. Thanks Lion.


Von Says:

funches @ 10:12 am, Ditto, that’s how I saw the match. That type of match will only make Nadal more determined to work any any perceived deficiencies he might have vs. Gulbis.. and, when next they play, I think will be more prepared.

I’m not making excuses for Rafa, but he appeared to be having one of those days where a player is not feeling sick, but kinda out of sorts, and displaying some feelings of fear of the unknown, considering they hadnpt played for quite a while. Anyway, I hope today will be a better day, as he’s very familiar with Ferrer’s game.


Von Says:

Rsutherland, nice to see you here gracing us with your presence. do you think Rafa’s oven is all fired up to the right temperature? I have a yen for a donut.

Enjoy the match everyone!


NELTA Says:

Ferrer is hanging in there. Fought off some break points. Up 3-2 on serve. He’s already tried 4 drop shots all off the backhand and won 2 of them. I don’t think he has a drop shot off the forehand.


Karthick Says:

Can any one please post the link for watching the finals online..


Von Says:

NELTA: That game lasted 9 mins. 35 secs, nd it was the drop shot that turned things around for David. this match, thus far, seems pretty competitive.


Von Says:

Karthick: ADTHE.net or fromsport.com


Von Says:

sorry ATDHE.net


NELTA Says:

Nadal just played a really good service game. 4-4 now. I think this is where he makes his move and breaks.


NELTA Says:

Play just suspended due to rain


Von Says:

Rain delay.


Von Says:

NELTA; That break will have to wait until play resumes. OY.


Kimmi Says:

the rain won’t help ferrer for sure. when they return the court will be pretty slow, adv. nadal even more. poor ferrer, even the gods are not on his side.


Tom Gainey Says:

Rain! At least the Bryans got their win, their 60th!

I just passed some bad news about Del Potro:

http://www.tennis-x.com/xblog/2010-05-02/4059.php


Karthick Says:

Von, Thanks.. ATDHE.net is not working but fromspot worked… Thanks a lot…


Ben Pronin Says:

Von, what I don’t get about Djokovic’s statements is that he already is one of the best clay courters. Top 5 for sure. He’s just not the best. If you took Nadal and Federer out of the equation (particularly Nadal) and had Djokovic winning several more Masters, even losing once in a while to Kohls or Verdasco wouldn’t take away from him. And I don’t think it does, either way. Verdasco is having a good year, but he still has a lot to prove. Kohls is a giant killer who fades in and out. Djokovic is quite accomplished on the surface. I don’t get why he has to put himself down and play this pity game. That’s what holds him back.


Rsutherland Says:

Hi Von – sorry I did not respond earlier…am getting dressed to play a concert this afternoon… been peeking in on the match a bit – Ferrer looks to be holding his own. Thanks to the rain, I will not see it – on to a soiree of Herbert, Lehar and Romberg…Cheers!


Kimmi Says:

henin stosur in stuttgart. great match. hope henin gets her first title.


NELTA Says:

That could have been Ferrer’s only chance. After the rain delay he had 0-30 on Rafa’s serve and dumped a 2nd serve forehand return in the net then hit a feeble slice backhand in the net.


Von Says:

Ben: According to Djoko he grew up on clay, and that makes him in a way, equal in skills to Fed and Nadal, who also grew up on clay.

As I stated, I don’t understand his logic, and I believe he is his worst enemy. I also agree with you that it’s his mindset that’s holding him back.

It’s almost as though on one hand, he is desperately trying to convince himself that Fed and Nadal are responsible for his losses and seeming lack of success and/or recognition. And, then on the other hand, he admits:

“I don’t think I have had decent result, I think I have had great results in the past couple of years (on clay), especially in 2009 when I won a couple of events,” he said.

It’s a puzzlement to me as to why he’s adopted the negative mindset and seemingly throwing a pity party.


Von Says:

Karthick: You’re welcome! I prefer Fromsport to ATDHE, because there are several channels available from which to choose and/or watch.


skeezerweezer Says:

Nice camera angle as he walks off confidently towards his chair and gets a nice “dig in” after winning the first. Don’t they they have clothes to fix that? C’mon!
Vamos Rafa!


Von Says:

Rsutherland: Herbert, Lehar and Romberg is great stuff on the genteel side of life. I guess you’ll be playing in a salon to an audience of “Who’s Who”, on the social calendar. How Lovely, and enjoy your day!! But, sorry you have to miss watching your fave play.

Onto tennis, the match has resumed and Nadal won the first set 7-5. I don’t see this as a walk in the park for Nadal because I think Ferrer absolutely wants to win this one. Here’s hoping Rafa can pull out the win.


Von Says:

skeezer: Are you watching? you’re very quiet.


Polo Says:

Djokovic’s comments about clay and where he stands underscores by belief that he, among the top players is the most immature. He is like a kid whose candy was snatched away from him so he cries and cries and will never stop crying until somebody hears and takes pity on him.


skeezerweezer Says:

Hi Von!,

I turned it on and just caught the ending of the first and the camera angle “incident”, lol. Off to play tennis myself, nice day in Cali :)…have fun everyone….


Von Says:

Skeezer: Enjoy your day time off with the gang. Remember to: “put the *petal* to the metal”. LOOL


jane Says:

Rafa’s gets the early break in the second set – woot! I admire David’s fight but want to see Rafa get his 17th MS title and tie Andre.


Kimmi Says:

Djoko is still one of the best players on clay. In the past 2 or 3 years, he has beaten everybody else except Nadal in masters and federer was just good at RG even though they never played each other there.

This year without verdasco, i bet he would have been in the finals of both MC and Rome…unfortunately for him verdasco is growing a lot of confidence over him. So if he can avoid verdasco in madrid and FO..who knows how far he can go…

I agree with ben that verdasco has a lot to prove, lets hope he still has it in the tank to play well in madrid and FO.


margot Says:

Hey, Rafa’s used the rainbreak to change his T- shirt for the photoshot at the top of this article. He was wearing an altogether more risque one earlier on….


jane Says:

Kimmi, funches recently posted Djoko’s stats, I think it was during Monte Carlo, and he was like 35-2 on clay versus everyone but Nadal. I guess that’s changed to 39-4 now. : / You’re right about Verdasco though; he’s just become a wonderful player this season: 2 titles already, one on hard, one on clay. Lovely for him. And you. :)


jane Says:

LOL margot – wish I’d've seen the earlier risque photo.


Polo Says:

In spite of Nadal’s difficulty with Gulbis yesterday, I still do not see anybody with a realistic chance against him at the French Open.

Djokovic, can add to his boo-hoo list the name of Verdasco. If he does not stop crying over spilt milk, more names will continue to be added to that list.


Von Says:

Polo: Also, Kohlschreiber, should be added to that list. He beat Djoko at the FO in ’09. somehow, Kohls seems to be forgotten.


Kimmi Says:

Henin won in stuttgart, yay! happy for her, she gets her first title. I don’t think she is playing rome, I have not seen her name on the draw.


Polo Says:

Von, thanks. The boo-hoo list just keeps growing as we speak.


jane Says:

Yes, good for Henin and with a broken finger no less hey? I know it was on her opposite hand, but still. Her first title since her return and it seems appropriate that it’s on clay.


Kimmi Says:

I don’t think kohls is a big threat to djoko as nadal, federer and verdasco are. I think a lot at RG last year was a one off as soderling to nadal. I could be wrong but just saying….


Kimmi Says:

s/b I think the loss at RG…..


montecarlo Says:

@ Von, kimmi and others. I am sure you people must have already seen this video but lemme post it again.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SdfhhYJsJ8

This shows how positive Djokovic used to be in his early days. He had the belief (may be sort of over confidence that he can beat Nadal on clay). slowly that confidence has faded away. Chief reason for this is because he has been beaten by Nadal too many times on clay courts. sometimes matches have been close but Djokovic never managed to get the job done. His famous quote after madrid semi last year (Next time I will try to take two racquets on match point) shows how desperate he really was.

This is what Nadal has done to Federer in the past as well. so in a way its really a bad thing to be No. 2 in every clay tournament behind Nadal because slowly but surely it crushes you mentally by giving you the feeling of deja vu..so near yet so far.


Kimmi Says:

jane: do you know the 35-2 stats was since when? That is very good stats..he is right, definetly one to beat on this surface. If it wasn’t for Nadal or maybe federer, I think he would have won the RG. I know I said “would” but that is a fact.


Polo Says:

But “would haves” never happened. The same way Federer would have had at least 2 calendar slams if not for Nadal. Nadal would have been number one for many years by now if not for Federer. The difference between Nadal, Federer and Djokovic is that Federer and Nadal do not dwell too long or lament on the would haves. They learn from it then move on. Djokovic, on the otherhand, gets stuck on them and fails to move forward.


jane Says:

montecarlo, I think that shows how Nadal has come a long way too; he looks so young there! Djoko was uber-naive in that interview, just 19 in 2006 but still. LOL. : ) Ah well, I love him. : ) I believe he is currently trying to find a balance between the over-confidence he had before (when he was often called cocky) and the insecurity he has now (i.e., the “boo-hoo” list stuff). He’s changed a lot since I started following him in 2007, going through a lot of ups and downs and I think too many changes perhaps on/off the court. And likely he will continue to change. I hope he finds a place wherein he is comfortable with himself and his talent. I don’t think he is there yet. But in my opinion he is the type of person who is trying to improve and learn, which is good. Some people mature more quickly than others, and of course this has a lot to do with the people they have around them, their support system, etc, as well as who they are inside. Anyhow, thanks for posting that throw back to 4 years ago.

——————————————-

Kimmi, I think funches said it was in the last two years, since 2007? I’ll see if I can find his post.


Von Says:

NELTA: Thanks for the YouTube clip. Rafa’s reaction was priceless.

I agree that Djokovic had belief by what he was saying, word of mouth, but did he have that belief in his heart? And, if he indeed believed Nadal was beatable, he certainly had many chances to beat him, but he couldn’t and/or didn’t.

At this point, I can’t help but introduce the topic of Roddick vs. Federer. If anyone should be crushed mentally, it’s Roddick. Yet, he gets up after each loss and starts all over again. I remember Roddick stating, when asked by the reporters what he thinks he could do to Federer in order to obtain a win, and his answer (not verbatim) punch him out.

The 35-2 Djokovic stat is not against *everyone*, it’s against those players Djoko has faced thus far on clay. There are many clay-courters he’s not faced, but he eventually will face them, and that stat could change either way.


jane Says:

Kimmi,

Here’s funches’ post; he doesn’t give a specific date:

“Djokovic is 35-2 in his last 37 clay court matches not involving Rafa. ‘ That’s right, 35-2.”

http://www.tennis-x.com/xblog/2010-04-14/3911.php


Polo Says:

I agree, NELTA, if there is anyone who should be crying over the would haves, it should be Roddick. He would have wom more Wimbledons or ranked number one for more than what he got but for the other guy, Federer. But you don’t hear Roddick lamenting that nor showing any signs of felling sorry for himself. He just keeps getting up and trying hard to be ready just in case another opportunity presents itself. For resilience and perseverance, I rank Roddick among the top, maybe even the top one. I hope he gets his reward one of these days. And even if it does not happen, Roddick does not look like he will feel bitter about it. That tells me the kind of character this man has.


Kimmi Says:

Thanks jane, last 37 clay court matches, That is probably the last 2 years (not counting this year ofcourse). Those two losses came from Kohl and federer I believe.


Polo Says:

Oops! My bad. My remark was really in response to Von’s.


Kimmi Says:

Von, I think it was montecarlo who post the youtube link not NELTA. Anyways, thanks for the link montecarlo.


Von Says:

OOOPS, sorry montecarlo. Thanks for the YouTube link. It seems that Polo and myself are needful of glasses. LOL.

Kimmi: thanks for pointing out the oversight.


jane Says:

It’s now after 8:00 pm in Rome so unless they can get out on the court in the next hour (or two at most), it’s not looking too likely that they’ll finished the final tonight. Too bad.


NELTA Says:

It looks like they just resumed play. The scoreboard says 3-1. I think it was 2-1 when play was suspensed.


NELTA Says:

typo, meant suspended.


jane Says:

Yep, back on. Thanks NELTA.


Polo Says:

Thanks NELTA for the notification.


Kimmi Says:

ferrer is just beating himself right now…

Congtats Nadal for his 17th masters..


Von Says:

Nadal is now leading 5-2 in the second set. Hopefully, he can finish the game before the rain strts again.


jane Says:

Congrats to Nadal; if he wins Madrid, he’ll break the most MS titles won and he’s a mere 23! Wow! Rafa fans, ENJOY!

Good run for Ferrer – his first MS finals appearance.


Von Says:

finally, nadal is the Champion in Rome once again. He’s now tied with Agassi for 17 MS titles. Whappa!!

CONGRATS TO NADAL FANS!!


rose Says:

congrats to nadal for his 17th masters..agassi did it when he was 30 something and nadal just accomplished it at 23 y/o..outstanding. he is for sure the true kind of clay.


Polo Says:

Congratulations to Nadal. And to all his fans, more reason to be proud of your man.


madmax Says:

ditto polo. I couldnt get livestream here in the UK, it kept cutting out and for some reason was not on skysports (rugby instead). So i will watch the re-run tonight at 10 pm when they are showing it!

Enjoy your celebrations rafa fans – he has defended his 1,000 points! Kudos to rafa, after too long in the darkness. what a relief for him.


skeezerweezer Says:

Congrats to Rafa fans :)

Von,

“At this point, I can’t help but introduce the topic of Roddick vs. Federer. If anyone should be crushed mentally, it’s Roddick. Yet, he gets up after each loss and starts all over again. I remember Roddick stating, when asked by the reporters what he thinks he could do to Federer in order to obtain a win, and his answer (not verbatim) punch him out.”

Polo,

“But you don’t hear Roddick lamenting that nor showing any signs of felling sorry for himself. He just keeps getting up and trying hard to be ready just in case another opportunity presents itself. For resilience and perseverance, I rank Roddick among the top, maybe even the top one. I hope he gets his reward one of these days. And even if it does not happen, Roddick does not look like he will feel bitter about it. That tells me the kind of character this man has.”

My 2 bits on Roddick. He is NO WHINER OR EXCUSE MAKER like other players. His interviews are frank, to the point, and tells ya how he really feels. When he gets beat he says it like it is, he got beat and he is not happy about it. He is one of the few players on tour that “Man” it up. And the really cool thing is, like Von has mentioned, he keeps comin back for more ass kickin or kickin ass. That is a mans man, not someone who sulks when they lose, or lose a point, with a scowled face and fists pumps when he wins a point.

Roddick may not go down in the history records of tennis, but I am glad I was around to see him, I think he is a great contribution to the game.

“It’s not how many times you get knocked down that matters but how many times you get up that matters in life”

Out…..


skeezerweezer Says:

Von,

BTW my tennis today was great. I played singles, tough match, but I made some spectacular serves, drop volleys, lobs and passing shots. Quite frankly, not to be too modest I was, well… “on” and “in a zone” :).

When we finished I went up to shake hands with the 5 year old girl I played who just starting playing last week, and told her “Nice Game”

Out..


Mindy Says:

madmax,

I don’t know what you mean by “excitable”. Do you mean like when you tell people to leave or just shut up? You mean that kind of “excitable”?


Anna Says:

rsutherland – I thought your post was hilarious.
By the way, My name is Anna and I am a rafatard!!!

Great post Mindy. I doubt that Sean reflects much on opportunities lost, especially when it comes to Rafa. Regarding Madmax, I believe it was just last week that she deemed me “excitable” as well.
Nice of her to keep us informed.

Skeezer – Love Roddick. He’s got all the good qualities (and a few of the bad) of the all-American boy. It’s great to see the resurgence of his game. Would love to see Nadal win FO and Wimbly this year, but I would share Wimbly if it meant giving Andy the win.


Lion Says:

Daniel:

Thanks. good that you have a sense of humour and more importantly a functional brain, unlike rafatards.

Von:

The day rafatards like anna and mindy stop posting crap about other players and bloggers who give credit to other players, i promise you i will be nice. You can see rafatards begging for people to crap and spit on them and rafa. They get what they ask.

count me in the roddick supporters. I will be rooting for him to r@pe nadal wimbledon onwards. I am going to watch that miami semi-final tape again. Those last 2 sets, nadal really looks like a total rafatard. I don’t know who I am complimenting, but either the rafatards or nadal should be happy.

Come on ATP, let the nadal r@pe-fest begin from madrid onwards, like last year :)


Lion Says:

Oops! Where are my manners! sorry nadal fans, i did not wish rafa.

Congrats El itchy butto! You are the pick-@ss-oh of tennis. A real painter on a clay court. keep picking dude. I mean titles, not your you-know-what!


Rsutherland Says:

Lion – I want to personally thank you. Your ugliness about Nadal and his fans (including myself) has made me reflect on my own sardonic cynicism about a few other players. It is rather petty, isn’t it, You have made me in my rafatardiness a better tennis fan. Cheers!!!


Rsutherland Says:

Oh and about ‘el butto’ unless you have absolutely no sense of beauty, you will not get why ‘el butto’ – itchy and all is quite beloved by scores of people with a true sense of beauty – for instance; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaKvTLYW6-U&feature=related


Ezorra Says:

My name is Ezorra and I like to eat egg tart!!!


Ezorra Says:

Jane, THANK YOU… burp…


Anna Says:

To the powers that be on this sight – The use of the word “rape-fest” is offensive anyway you cut it. Others have asked that you not allow Lion to post, and I’d like to add my name to that list. His posts are offensive anyway you slice them and I hope you’ll consider a reprieve from his nastiness. If using “rape-fest” isn’t overstepping boundaries I don’t know what is.


Mindy Says:

I find myself to be in agreement with Anna. There is a line that has to be drawn when it comes to language and that line has been crossed by Lion. Any Rafa fan who dares to come on this forum to express their feelings, does so at the risk of being subjected to hatespeak of the very worst kind.

To repeatedly use the word “rape” or “rape-fest” is particularly offensive to women. The fact that this word was used in a post directly attacking both Anna and myself makes it particularly egregious.

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