Rafael Nadal Wins First Career French Open Five Setter [Video]
by Tom Gainey | May 24th, 2011, 3:58 pm

Rafael Nadal survived the toughest win of his career at the French Open today. The five-time Roland Garros champion was pushed to the very brink by John Isner before Nadal finally prevailed 64, 67, 67, 62, 64 in his first career five set match in Paris.

Tough, tough moments for me, no, because I only had one break point against during all the match,” Nadal said after the 4-hour marathon.

“I played too nervous, in my opinion,” Nadal said after the 4-hour marathon. “Without playing fantastic, but I never played fantastic the first round here, so wasn’t nothing unexpected. I was happy about how I was playing at the beginning. Having a tough opponent in front of them, winning set and break, I felt the match in the right position. But after that, you know, I lost that game. I didn’t play well the tiebreak, and I didn’t have chances to have the break.

When you play against these kind of players, the pressure is there all the time. You have to play all the time very safe. So I didn’t play free during all the match after the second set, no? So it was tough the rest of the match, and very happy to be through.”

The 6’10” Isner had his serve humming and Nadal was left frustrated much of the match.

“Probably Karlovic have a better serve than Isner,” Nadal said. “But with these balls, is more dangerous probably return the serve of Isner, because Karlovic have a little bit more flat serve so the bounces are not that crazy. And the second serve is clean.”

Rafa went on say he has no problems with the controversial new balls and adds that they are better for him in general.

Nadal, who is 39-1 career at the French Open, advances to meet his countryman Pablo Andujar on Thursday in the second round.

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9 Comments for Rafael Nadal Wins First Career French Open Five Setter [Video]

Casa de Rafa Says:

Vamos Rafa!

skeezerweezer Says:

Well there ya go,

The Balls tells the story at FO

The top player loves them.

The remaining top 4 don’t. Wait, one of them says it’s “frustrating”. Mmmmm… Ok.

And the women are getting “shoulder issues”.

What top player(s)( should have been playerS )tested this ball for approval?

Sounds like a mo money deal to me……

Despite the sarcasm, with these new balls, they put on an very entertaining match. Congrats Big John and Rafa?………Vaaamoooosss!

jane Says:

Here’s an article in which Nadal talks specifically about the ball change:


skeezerweezer Says:

jane thanks for that..:)

It explains a lot,,,, but then it doesn’t. It seems money & politics is at least some what involved. No article, official, player has explained the change of ball…like;

-Why did they have to change? What was wrong with the ball all these years? Was it faulty ball, is the past FOs nullified as a result? For what purpose? And who was involved in the change?

And now another player Almagro ( I know, he lost, maybe sour grapes ) is on board saying they are not good, too heavy.

Even Rafa, who is the only one who loves the ball ( duh ), says players are having shoulder issues as a result. Rafa; “Is something dangerous for the shoulders, you know, for everything.”

Rafa is sponsored by Babolot, new balls by Babolot. Dunlop protests the ball they have provided has been the same for years. Rafa says they were soft( Dunlop ) this year ( so…Nole beat Rafa on softer balls???? ). Really? Now you mention it? Funny, other players haven’t. Now we have “Rafa” balls, specifically made for Rafa’s topsin and high bounce. Might as well have your autograph on them too.

I am sure as the tourney plays out the players will adapt, they are pros, but WTF? Conspiracy afoot? For now too many questions and not enough answers….


Kimberly Says:

nadal’s balls were kicking up super high it looked. Believe it or not even with his crappy movement isner being 6″10 or so probably can handle that better then most. Or maybe i am just delusional.

Ben Pronin Says:

Kimberly, I thought that, too. And I actually think that helped Isner a lot, because his generally devastating kick serve was even more devastating today. A lot of people seem to be complaining about Nadal’s court positioning when returning serve but over the 5 sets it looked like Nadal tried every possible way to return serve and, to be fair, he was pretty successful overall (he got the W).

jane Says:

Makes sense Kimberly. So Isner may be the last one to really challenge Rafa since the high kick went right into his strike zone – unless some other tall guy can handle the bounce in a similar manner, or unless his opponents take those topspin shots on the rise, or finally, unless the weather shifts, dulling the bounce/kick of Rafa’s topspin.

Kimmi Says:

don’t worry people. nadal topspin only needs a good two handed backhand. one handed..no chance!

al Says:


“Rafa” balls, now that’s too funny! :)

Top story: Rafael Nadal Not Sure About Playing The US Open