Rafael Nadal: “Today I Was Ready to Beat the No. 5 of the World” [Video]
by Tom Gainey | June 1st, 2011, 6:33 pm

Playing some of the best tennis we’ve seen from him all year, Rafael Nadal resurrected his King of Clay status by thumping the dangerous Robin Soderling 64 61 76(3) to advance to the French Open semifinals.

“I said two days ago today I am not playing enough good to win Roland Garros,” Nadal said. “We will see in two days. That’s what I said. And today I played better. Much better, in my opinion.”

Nadal lost to Soderling in 2009, his only defeat ever at Roland Garros, but since has won two straight over the Swede including a win last year in the final and he played well today.

“To me he played a good match,” Soderling said. “As usual, he didn’t miss much, and I think he served pretty well also during the conditions, which were not easy. So I think I think he should be pretty happy with his match.”

Added Nadal, “Today I was ready to beat the No. 5 of the world and two times finalist in this tournament. We will see what’s going on next round.”

And in that next round Nadal will play Scot Andy Murray who defeated Juan Ignacio Chela in straight sets.

“Play against Andy always is a big challenge, because you know how good is he, and his talent is difficult to compare with a lot of players, in my opinion,” Rafa said. “Yeah, he has all the shots. He can defend very well; he can attack very well, he runs fantastic. The only thing that you can beat him is playing at very, very high level. It not gonna be impossible. That’s what I gonna try.”

Nadal leads Murray 10-4 including all three meetings on clay.

Nadal also commented on the blockbuster Roger Federer-Novak Djokovic semifinal, succinctly calling it, “the best player of the world today against the best player of the history.”

If you are a Rafael Nadal fan you have to be encouraged.

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26 Comments for Rafael Nadal: “Today I Was Ready to Beat the No. 5 of the World” [Video]

rogerafa Says:

Nadal looked very good today. This clay season, he has not played the way he can even though he has lost only to Djokovic. His intensity today was good and he seemed to be getting his movement back. He is still far from his rampaging best and this fact has, and will, hurt him against a seemingly unstoppable Djokovic. Nadal will have to either find his best form or hope for a dip in Djokovic’s level if he wants to avoid a third straight loss on clay. I hope both bring a very high level on Sunday. It has been a while since we saw a great RG final.

Kimmi Says:

rogerafa – sounds like you don`t give fed and murray a chance.

rogerafa Says:

Kimmi, I am just being realistic. That is all. Nadal, despite looking less than stellar all season, should easily get past an injured Murray. Djokovic has shown no signs of any dip in his form and has looked as good as he has at any point in his career. Federer’s movement is just not good enough now to keep up with the Djok ground stokes on both wings. Djok can hurt Federer on both the bh and the fh sides. He always had a solid bh and his bh dtl is a great weapon. He also seems to have improved his fh with respect to the variety of shots he can hit with it. I suspect Djok will keep pounding the Federer bh to take him out of position and open the court for either the dtl bh or the cross court fh. Given the angles Djok can generate on both sides and the unbelievable power and consistency of his ground strokes, I think it will be very tough for Federer. Djok returns so well and puts the server under so much pressure that there is simply no respite unless you have a deadly serve, and, on clay, he will find it even easier to return Federer’s serve. Federer isn’t exactly the quickest server around. He relies on placement and I think Djok has started reading his serve after so many matches with him. Of course, Federer’s perennial problem of the high-bouncing ball on the bh side will ensure a fair number of UEs too. The only way Federer would have hoped to beat Djokovic was to outlast Djok in a marathon. Now, I am not sure that Djok lacks anything even in that department. His endurance levels appear to have improved dramatically although we are yet to see the evidence in a long five-setter.

Simply put, it will take a monumental effort to beat Djok in this kind of form and I am not sure even Nadal can do it unless he finds his very best form or wins a battle of attrition.

dari Says:

rogerafa-duh, all signs point to novak rafa final, but let em play the match, alright?!
chances are you are right skipping to the final, but what fun is that!

Kimmi Says:

rogerafa – great post and it is so true. unfortunately i have to agree with you here. all those reasons you mentioned, movement, return of serve, backhand….the list goes on.

but we just have to wait and see. thats why they play the match.

fed is afraid Says:

how ill rafa handle losing to novak five times
in a row? he already looks whipped.

Kimmi Says:

fed is afraid – we all suggested you change the name. i think it is time!

rogerafa Says:

dari, of course they have to play the match first. I have no power to stop them playing:) Every player, no matter how great a player he is, has to first get past the semi before playing the final. For all we know, it could end up being a Nolandy, Fedandy or Fedal final.

Kimmi Says:

OK, its ladies day tomorrow. go Li Na and Go bartoli. first time slam winner pleeeease!

jane Says:

Wow rogerafa, your 8:57 post made me tres happy. :) I hope Nole can capitalize on how well he has been playing. Fed is always tough to beat, and he has played well this FO.

dari Says:

all good rogerafa, just a loose typing moment there. “duh” is not good internet communication vocabulary.
nonetheless, your words, as rafa would say “are the TRUE”

jane Says:

Kimmi, I totally apprecite your point about a new ladies’ slam winner, and all the emotions it evokes too. But I want to see a Frannie vs. Sharpie final with Maria getting the career slam. If it doesn’t work out that way, then I don’t care too much one way of the other. If not Masha, then let the best lady win.

dari Says:

i am somehow FEELING bartoli, she is moving way better than anybody says she ever could and is HITTING the ball.
i was really hoping vika would come through on her good form in early rounds, but li was hitting hard and was much more competition that anything aza had faced in earlier rounds.
i guess bottom line, all the ladies semi’s would be great stories, and maria after the surgery almost feels like a new GS winner.
love title defenders, especially one like schiavone, such great variety.
the way li shows up at majors is amazing, and what a win for her whole country.
can’t complain no matter what.
and i can come close to saying that on the men’s side, too. if everybody plays well, then i will be able to say that, looking back.

Kimmi Says:

it will also be great if we get five set thrillers on both mens semi.

Kimberly Says:

Barroom and her father are the worst. Anyone but her. Or Petkovic, thankfully Maria took care of business there.

Maria can take this thing down. Shes got her hot new jersey nets fiancee cheering her on!

As for the men I think both matches can go either way when you are dealing with such high caliber players the margins are very small.

Kimberly Says:

Bartoli darn autocorrect

Kimberly Says:

Schiavone seems nice and is a fighter, nA li is awesoe but come on, its maria!!!!!! My fav!!!! Just love her game!!!!! (when its on of course) its nice to see a come back the melanie oudin fiasco was probably one of the worst displays in professional tennis, it would be great to see her back at the top.

I have heard from several accounts that bartoli is a terrible person and that her father is even worse.

dari Says:

yeah, they give everybody the creeps, certainly. and up until a month ago i couldn’t watch her serve. can’t deny the tennis i have seen though, just can’t

jane Says:

I kind of like “Barroom” Bartoli Kimberly :)

rogerafa Says:

jane, Federer’s form so far at FO this year is more or less irrelevant from now on. Djokovic is a big step up in class and, at the moment, one could say that he is in a class of his own. This is not surprising at all. Really good players can get too hot to handle sometimes. Federer and Nadal have shown very high levels at different times in their careers. It is Djokovic’s time now. Everything seems to be clicking for him. No aspect of his game is an area of any concern at the moment.

I am actually surprised that there is so much hype about his semi with Federer given the way their past three matches have gone. The loss of half a step really hurts Federer against the better movers and his game depends so much on timing that his shots don’t have the same potency if he can’t get into good positions to hit them. He appears to lose his focus more frequently than he used to. Again, nothing surprising about it. He is no spring chicken and has nothing really left to accomplish. Besides he is a father which can make a huge difference. His hunger and focus, therefore, can’t be expected to match those of a Djokovic for example. Sure, Federer can still put on a show on a given day but the probabilities keep diminishing as he ages and much younger and hungrier rivals take over.

Dory Says:

rogerafa, you express exactly how I felt about their matchup! Djoko’s gonna win this FO!

joe w Says:

shaza in 3
cesca in 2
nadal in 3
fed in 5

bartoli go home. typing on a kindle. considering smoke signals.

Michael Says:

The way Nadal played against Soderling yesterday gave us a glimpse as to why he is called the “Greatest Clay Court player the game has seen”. His retrieving ability were really amazing, incredible (I have no words to say) and some of the Soderling shots which were speeding like a bullet were returned with interest. Thus for every Soderling shot, Nadal had an answer. What would have been clean winners against others were not enough to penetrate Nadal’s defence. It seems Nadal has returned back to form and according to me only one man can stop him at the moment and it is none other than Novak Djokovic. I do not think Murray or even Federer have a chance against Nadal given his level of play today. Nadal fears Djokovic who is not over awed by his aura and domination.

andrea Says:

interesting that when soderling dispatched nadal (09) and fed (10) at the FO, both of those days were low barometer, damp days, producing heavy balls.

what great semis. fed has a chance to win this thing, but i have less confidence in him being able to beat nadal in the final. if he were to face murray and win, murray would be crestfallen….losing 3 straight GS finals to fed. if fed could actually beat nadal in a final here, it would be really special.

nadal definitely has something to prove – namely that his last 4 beatdowns (2 on clay) by novak – can be reversed in a grinding 5 set environment.

anyway you look at, semis and final on the men’s side should produce some good stuff.

i got a free ticket to the first stanely cup finals game last night! 8 rows from the ice. closest i have ever been. could have sold it and booked a one week hawaii vacation, given what they were selling for, but this was once i a lifetime. and we won. yay!

Kimberly Says:

andrea i hope you had fun! Still hoping for my Miami Heat tickets tonight but not looking good unless I want to pay out the wazoo!

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