Rafael Nadal: Physically That Was The Toughest Match I’ve Ever Played, I Suffered But I Enjoyed It
by Staff | January 29th, 2012, 11:42 am

After a heartbreaking five set loss in 5:53 to Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open final, Rafael Nadal spoke to the media in Melbourne early Monday morning:

Q. How are you feeling physically?
RAFAEL NADAL: Fine. No, I’m tired, sure. Physically was the toughest match I ever played, if not the tougher. I am tired.

Q. Has this sunk in, the results, the magnitude of the match?
RAFAEL NADAL: Can you repeat?

Q. Has the results sunk in yet? How do you feel mentally as well as physically?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yes. No, no, no, nothing to do on that, no? Just accept.

I think we played a great tennis match. It was I think a very good show, my opinion. I enjoyed being part of this event and this match. That’s the true, no?

I wanted to win, but I am happy about how I did. I had my chances against the best player of the world today. I played one against one. For a long time I didn’t felt that I was playing in less advantage than him, you know.

I didn’t play at lower level than him for a long time, so that’s a very positive thing for me. I am very happy about my mentality tonight, the mentality worked like in my best moments.

So very happy about the beginning of the 2012 season. That’s all that I can say.

Yeah, I had big chance for the 52, yes. I had that easy passing shot with the backhand. I miss it, yes, but I was 43 Love40 in the fourth, too. Anything can happen when the match is there.

Important thing for me, during all 2011 I didn’t play much like this. I’m happy I am in the real right way.

Q. If the day before the championship someone would say you would play a fivehour53minute match in the final, would you have been completely surprised that you could even compete?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, seriously, 20 hours before the tournament start for me I was more worried and try to play the first round, try to play the tournament, because I had a really strange thing, as you know, the Sunday afternoon.

So that’s past. I was lucky. Recovery was fantastic. I had very good people around me here working for me, doctor, physio, so that helps a lot, no?

If you are alone here, you don’t have this team around, is impossible to recover that. But I am lucky that I have all of this team around me. Without them, probably I gonna be at home two weeks earlier, no?

So very happy for everything. Very happy with my level during both weeks. Is the moment when I realize the whole tournament did I well. I did a lot of very positive things, much more than in 2011 for the most of the time.

I played more aggressive. I played with more winners than ever. My serve worked well. The mentality and the passion was there another time better than probably never another time.

So that’s very positive aspects on whole game that I am very happy, no? So I just lost the final of a Grand Slam. I am not happy to lose the final, yes, but that’s one of the loses that I am more happy in my career.

Q. Did you feel at any time in the fifth set the match was in your control? Given that he had to play so long against Murray a couple nights ago, were you surprised that he could stay with you that long?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. I didn’t have any doubt that he would be ready for that, no? But the match under control when you’re in the fifth set, when you won the fourth like this, you don’t feel the match under control in that moment. You are worried in every point, no?

Well, with the 42 was advantage because I felt very well physically in the moment. I felt with very positive energy, and I played a fantastic first point of the 42 with the forehand winner down the line after he had that return.

Is something unbelievable how he returns, no? His return probably is one of the best of the history. That’s my opinion, no? I never played against a player who’s able to return like this. Almost every time.

It’s true I had big mistake with 3015. But it’s not moment to think about that. That’s another just moment in an almost sixhours match. Forget about that knowing that I really had real, very real chances to have the title and to win against a player who I lost six times last year.

But I didn’t. I never put him in this situation during 2011, all 2011, so that’s another positive thing for me. I didn’t have mental problems today against him. I had in 2011 all these mental problems. Today I didn’t have. I compete with normal conditions against him, no?

So that’s another positive thing. Probably never say that many positive things after I lose. (Laughter.)

Q. You always said that Roger is the greatest that ever played the game. How great now is Novak?
RAFAEL NADAL: Now he’s the best of the world. That’s how great it is. Five Grand Slams, so the history says that he has a part in the history today winning five Grand Slams, winning a lot of titles, No. 1 of the world.

We’ll see where he arrives.

Q. You have been a part of two of the real epic battles in tennis history, this and the 2008 Wimbledon final. Is that something that you’re proud of or a reason why you think you…
RAFAEL NADAL: A pleasure. That’s means that I did a lot of things well to compete against best players of the world and winning on them, losing on them, but always having tough matches. And final 2008 Wimbledon and this one was very special.

For me it was a little bit more special the 2008 (smiling). But I really understand that was a really special match, and probably a match that gonna be in my mind not because I lost, no, because the way that we played.

So that’s happy be part of these two great matches, my opinion.

Q. Where does that rate? How tough was that? Was that the toughest match? Toughest game you have been involved in? Where does it rank?
RAFAEL NADAL: I think it’s the longest one that I played ever.

Q. Are you going to watch it again on videotape?
RAFAEL NADAL: Too long. (Laughter.) Highlights only.

Q. When you’re in that match, did you ever look at the clock? Did you ever look at the clock during the match, at the time?
RAFAEL NADAL: The time? No, you watch, you look around and you see the watch, five hours, four hours, three hours, finally five hours, 30. Seems like never gonna finish, no?

But that’s nice be there fighting, you know, trying to go to the limit, bring your body to the limit of his chances. Something I really enjoy, and I always said is good suffer, enjoy  enjoy suffering, no?

So when you are fit, when you are, you know, with passion for the game, when you are ready to compete, you are able to suffer and enjoy suffering, no?

I don’t know if I express very well, but is something that maybe you understand. So today I had this feeling, and is a really good one. I enjoyed. I suffered during the match, but I enjoyed all the troubles that I had during all the match.

I enjoyed. I tried to be there, to find solutions all the time. I played a lot with my heart. I played a lot with my mind, and is something that is nice to be around and not just play tennis.

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92 Comments for Rafael Nadal: Physically That Was The Toughest Match I’ve Ever Played, I Suffered But I Enjoyed It

Mark Says:

A true sportsman through and through. Vamos Rafaaaa.

jane Says:

Great interview from Rafa; he sounds generally pleased and so he should be, because he competed extremely well. A few points here or there and he could have won.

“So that’s another positive thing. Probably never say that many positive things after I lose. (Laughter.)”

Interesting what he says re: Nole’s returns:

“Is something unbelievable how he returns, no? His return probably is one of the best of the history. That’s my opinion, no? I never played against a player who’s able to return like this. Almost every time.”

But I noticed Nole did not convert that many bps in this match compared to normal, which suggests Rafa fought them off and served effectively.

Kimberly Says:

did i ever tell you how much i love this guy. Kaiser better watch out.

alison hodge Says:

congrats jane i was at work,fortunatly many of the residents in the care home where i work had the match on,and i was able to sneak a peak every now and then,have it on record so ill watch it at some point when i have a bit more time,an absolute classic that deserved to go 5 sets,shame there has to be a looser in a match like this,such true grit,nole deserved the win,but great to here rafa staying so upbeat and phylosophical,after what must have been a heart breaking loss.

jane Says:

alison, it sounds funny to hear of people in the care home watching a nail-biter like that! :) Glad you got to see some of it. They are two incredible players. I laughed at Rafa’s “good morning” comment.

Nims Says:

What a wonderful ambassador of the game. Wish Rafa a good health so that he can compete post 30 the way Roger is doing now.

alison hodge Says:

jane believe me they love it,especially wimby when its on,was with one old girl who said i love sport but especially tennis,i kept popping in her room and she kept on saying to me what a fantastic match it was,and how do they manage to run around like that hour after hour,i know they earn alot of money,but they deserve every penny lol,about rafas good morning comment yeah loved it,and to think people say he hasnt got a soh,when he can be quite dry and witty sometimes.

skeezerweezer Says:

“Q. When you’re in that match, did you ever look at the clock? Did you ever look at the clock during the match, at the time?”

Rafa, answered that followed by imo was the best ever he has expressed. Well said, well thought out, and even admits he acknowledges he may not express himself well at times. Gotta finally give him props for not coming up with a vicarious excuse.

His description of suffering on the court and having the attitude of enjoying it, well, I get that. Good stuff and will lead him well into future encounters with Novak.

Rafa fans your man may have lost, but he is back to top Rafa form. This rivalry surpasses Fedal, after all, it is very close H2H matchup now over there 30 times they have played. And they are still many more meetings left I am sure before they are all done. For Tennis fans, lets hope Rafa wins a few against Nole or pretty soon you can’t call it a rivalry.

Congrats to all Rafa and Nole fans, but the biggest winner was Tennis. Thanks Nole and Rafa for comin in being prepared and giving a great show for everyone.

Ajet Says:

”I suffered during the match, but I enjoyed all the troubles that I had during all the match.”


Dory Says:

Well said skeezerweezer. :) This rivalry certainly surpasses Fedal as it is very competitive, even more physically demanding and balanced. DjokerNole will overtake Nadal this year I expect. Who would have thought we would see a greater rivalry than Fedal? Only thing is Fedal’s Grand Slam encounters are still higher (10) vs Djodal’s 4. Fedal gave rise to Djodal as Djoker admits.

Dory Says:

My bad Djodal’s Slam encounters are 8, not 4. Their Slam final encounters are 4.

Lulu Iberica Says:

What a wonderful interview from Rafa! I’m so glad he’s feeling that passion and fight of old! Vamos, Rafa! You are beautiful inside & out!

jamie Says:

Hi, ya’ll.

As predicted, Nole won the AO.

Predicting the winner of a slam is quite easy, actually. Nole had the best chart for the AO by far. You must have noticed that he didn’t win this AO as easy as he won in 2008 and 2011… He will continue winning titles until May, dominating and making tons of prize money. But after May he will enter a different period where he will still remain competitive but he will not win another slam this year….

What is complicated is predicting the slam finalist because sometimes a player with a very lousy chart can reach the final. Nadal has had very bad charts for the past 3 slams(Wimbledon, USO and AO) but he still made the finals but he was never winning not with a negative chart. For example, Del Potro had better charts at Wimbledon, USO and AO than Nadal but still Nadal went further. Neither of them had the winning chart for Wimbledon, USO or AO. Same can be said for Federer and Murray. None of these guys were winning the past 3 slams. Nole had the winning chart for the past 3 slams.

According to the psychic:

FO will be won by Nadal and could very likely be his last slam win.

Wimbledon and USO, Murray could end up winning both and becoming #1.

Federer will not win another slam in his career.

Del Potro will win another slam in 2013.

And Djokovic will not win another slam this year but will resume winning again on the biggest tennis stage in 2013.

alison hodge Says:

jamie why are you sending the same post on every thread?

alison hodge Says:

yeah lulu i agree rafa made me cry when reading this interview,beautiful like you say,really matured as a person as well as a player,he may have lost today but many people have taken him to there very hearts,vamos rafa.

Jul Says:

As a Nadal fan, I have to say I feel pumped. I don’t do what so many do–predict who will win what and how many times, because none of us know what the future holds and the confidence with which pundits count players in and out is pretty amazing to me. But what I saw today (and what was confirmed for me in the press conference above) is that 1. Djokovic has been evicted from Rafa’s head, and 2. Rafa has figured out what needs to be done to beat Djokovic, and indeed came close to doing it even without having perfected the strategy by any measure. For all of those reasons, I am very pumped. I know that there will be people out there who only look at the who won and continue with the tired narrative that Nadal can’t figure Djokovic out, but I think that’s just ignorance talking. But regardless, because it doesn’t matter what I or they think this means–the only thing that matters is what the players perceive this as meaning and Nadal’s takeaways from this are so positive, confidence-inducing and healthy that in the end, that’s all I need even if he decides to never play another tennis match again. And again I am forced to recall why it I am such a fan–sure, he is an exceptional (and in my eyes, lovely) player, but his total inability to ever give up, no matter how far behind he is (0-40, 4th set, and he pulls it out, are you kidding me?!?); his ever present grace; his healthy perspective that I frankly wish all of humanity would have; his humility and honesty; and the enthralling drive to continue to improve not marginally but wholesale, when basically all other elite players just tweak this or that and continue to coast….well, this man is an inspiration and a role model in and out of sports. Vamos Rafa–may you stay healthy and may you be happy, and don’t worry, some of us aren’t so blind as to write off the man who has made the finals of the last 4 Slams (and won one)!!!

Ajet Says:

yup, rafa lost match, but won hearts…

Steffianna Says:

That was one incredible match and my level of respect for Rafa Nadal has always been high but his dignity and grace are extraordinary and I want to say, incredible, incredible, incredible.
My friends and I had our private predictions and I said it would go to five sets but not the one I expected would win. djokovic has found his rhythm and Nadal with his new racquet will find his. I thought a whole number of the line calls were really off and for ND to have to use a challenge to prove the call was wrong as did murray is totally ridiculous. Get competent people out there or give the players more challenges to use. We are so lucky to have a chance to watch these special players in action.
Congratulations to them both for a job well done.

ashok Says:

hi Rafa you fought very well with great sportsmanship. you are in upper hand in the fifth set, well sports is sports anything can happen. i believe you got the magic behind novak and soon you will overcome it.All the best and hope you will ……

Kimberly Says:

watched the match again and Djokovic did not win because he is “in Rafa’s head”. He won because he outplayed him for part of the match, but in the fifth he won because he outlasted him. In fact its really Nadal mental stregnth that actually kept him in the match.

Out of the seven losses, three of them were competitive:
US Open

In all of the Djoker won by outlasting him. Rather than jump to the Ben Pronin accusatory bandwagon I think it is a credit Novak, as he think he has an extremely professional team dedicated to fitness, recovery, nutrition and how to achieve optimal function. Rafa has never dedicated such effort to this facet because he has never needed to, always naturally been the fittest, but perhaps he should look to this aspect of himself.

However, Rafa moving closer and closer. Could have won this match. Should have won the fifth in a way but then also should have lost the fourth. So it is what it is. Hopefully moving forward he can “protect the house” at Roland Garros.

Kimberly Says:

Jul—love your post. I kind of feel the same but I am still very sad.

mat4 Says:


There is nothing “superhuman” in their performance, and Ben could be quite wrong.

They took at least 3 hours and a half just to serve, then, there are pauses between the games, between the sets, pauses when somebody calls for hawk-eye… They didn’t play for more than an hour.

It is much, I admit, but I don’t find anything suspect in it.

mat4 Says:

Especially when it is clear they were barely standing at the end of the match.

mat4 Says:

The first time I calculated the effective time players were running and hitting the ball, I was quite surprised. Middleweight boxers in a 12 rounds fight do hit more at each other that tennisplayers hit the ball in a fivesetter.

I calculated last year the distance they were covering in a gruelling match disputed in five sets: about 6 to 7 miles, not more.

It all looks quite human.

Ajet Says:

one thing i would like to say here though:

in beginning of this match, djoke certainly wasn’t very fresh, while rafa very clearly was. if djoker had been fresh enough, then even i don’t think rafa’d have taken two sets from him. djoker wasn’t able to chase/hit firmly his shots to the best of his capacty. i thought at the eginning that freshness of rafa shouldn’t play a part in deterining outcome, but it did. djoker really looked vulnerable, otherwise he’d not squander so many BPs or made so many errors!

this match i see similar to the wim 08 final. that match was close due to rain interruption otherwise rafa’d have straight-setted him. similarly, the fact that djoker had less recovery time after a much more physically and emotionally draining semi, and add to that his pressure of defending the title, it all worked in favour of nadal to keep it closer, otherwise I don’t think nadal could’ve kept things this close. he would have most probably lost in 4 sets to djoker, to be honest. the fact that nadal couln’t beat even a fatigued djoker isn’t something to be too enthused about, if you’re a rafa fan.

Ajet Says:

in my previos post i men ”i thought at the beginning that freshness of rafa shouldn’t play a part in determining outcome, but it did.”

Right... Says:

Sorry, I don’t follow the logic of saying that Nadal looked fresher than Djokovic in the first set, therefore Djokovic was weaker than Nadal and if he hadn’t been, Djokovic would have won in 4, because you seem to forget that Djokovic more than managed to find freshness in sets 2 and 3 and then to also play a 5 set, super long match against Nadal. From that totally illogical assertion you then go on to argue that how Nadal played today was actually a bad sign. Good luck selling that to anyone who actually saw the match. Having a day off is typical and now that Djokovic has won I would have thought that this lame excuse would be gone. Apparently not. Djokovic played great and so did Nadal. Why not argue that if Nadal were fresher in 2 and 3 he would have beaten Djokovic? Fact is, tennis matches have shifts in momentum. To argue that Djokovic is not in good form is ludicrous–just as ludicrous as it is to argue that this match is a bad sign for Nadal.

Kimberly Says:

Ajet—on the other thread I was gracious but this is a rafa fan consolation thread. Zip it.I could say a million things back but I won’t.

The Heat just won and beat Chicago. At this point the way I see it by the post season there will be only one team in basketball. Utterly unbeatable. I expect Rafa to win the French Open and Lebron the championship ring within a week of each other. In fact, I’m sure of it.

Ben Pronin Says:

Kimberly, cmon. How much longer do we all have to live in denial?

skeezerweezer Says:


Congrats on winning the bracket challenge!


Kimberly Says:

hahahaha, skeezer, i just posted this on the other thread. Figured this is the depressed, bitter angry nadal fan thread.

skeezerweezer Says:


You know when Fed loses in a big match I am the same way(bitter angry depressed). At least you have the Heat to look forward too. Thanks again for putting together the bracket challenge :). It still..was a great match and Rafa got some good out of that match, trust me. Just got to give Nole his time and props to him. Looking forward to FO.

nutan Says:

Its really surprising to see how this lad takes defeat!His child-like speech and attitude win hearts. Rafa is truly a gentleman in the game. . A lovely human being. All our good wishes are with him:)

Rahul Says:

Usually I always hate the rival of my favourite player. So as a Federer supporter I should hate Rafa, moreso because of the thorn he’s become to Federer’s continued success. But in this case I can safely say that Rafa would have been my favourite if Roger had not been around.

People talk about showing character and fighting till the last point, but Rafa personifies this more than any player in tennis and perhaps all sport. When Rafa won the 4th it looked like he was defying fate, making impossible gets even at that stage. True champion and I hope he never loses heart.

Check out this interesting article I found by the Bryan bros on some of the top players..

Michael Says:


Yes Rafa is a true Champion and never loses heart. But the problem for him is the man on the other side of net namely Novak is made of steel. Nothing can break him. He will fight all the way to the last on court. Imagine this trailing 2-4 in the fifth set, any other player would have given up the match especially when it is against Rafa. But Novak is the exception and he fought till the last knowing well that he can outfox Rafa. That is the mark of a true Champion.

Skorocel Says:

Ajet: „the fact that nadal couln’t beat even a fatigued djoker isn’t something to be too enthused about, if you’re a rafa fan.“

That’s true. Especially when you see Nadal himself being tired (and maybe being tired even more than Djoker?) in the 5th… Isn’t that strange? A guy who tires out his opponents in the end gets tired? And what’s even stranger, a guy who makes his opponents to hit errors in the end hits more errors than his opponent…

Michael Says:


I do not agree that Nadal was more tired than Novak. He was looking relatively stronger towards the end. But what proved costly to Nadal was a passing shot he missed which could have taken him to 40-15 and may be from there go up to 5-2. He missed and now that is history. If it is a matter of ifs and buts, then Novak should have won that in four sets especially after those three break points in the fourth set, but he didn’t and the man who was returning pretty decently misread a return of second serve. All in all, Nadal need not feel ashamed with his performance. He delivered his best but was still found short. The only thing Nadal should be concerned about is that he had everything going for him including tight line calls where Novak was at the receiving end most of times, a weary Novak, two full days of rest and above all Novak not at his best, and despite all these he still failed to register a win. That should worry Nadal the most.

Rahul Says:


Of course Nole is a true champion, afterall he won at the end of the day proving that his position at the head of the rankings is more than justified. My post was focused on Rafa because after the last 6 finals he looked deflated and helpless against Nole. While previously it seemed that Nole could raise his level when required, yesterday the match looked even, which is quite a feat in itself.

Rahul Says:


The reason Nadal hit more errors was because he was playing a very aggressive game. Im not just talking about hitting winners and playing more flat, but also trying to play the ball deep so he controls the court position. This obviously is not Nadals game in normal circumstances. In the end he lost but if he wants to get back on top in that rivalry this is the way to go.

I still think Novaks game matches well with Rafas and therefore he will be the favourite whenever those 2 meet, but atleast this way Rafas in with a decent chance.

Michael Says:


Do you frankly believe that Nadal matched Novak yesterday ?? He was basically standing well over the baseline and playing a negative game. He was expecting errors from his opponent to gain cheap points. That was his plan right from the 1st set to 3rd set, but when he found that it was not working, he switched to aggressive mood from the 4th and 5th, where he seemingly performed much better. My point is why can’t Nadal have been aggressive right from the start ?? If then he could had a good chance to win.

Rahul Says:


Yes I think he did match Novak yesterday and I think the score reflects that as well. To be fair Novak was not at his very best but he was playing well enough.

I thought Rafa was aggressive from the start esp the 1st set. Im surprised you only felt that in the 4th and 5th. But one thing you should note is that when I say he was aggressive I mean relative to his game. He can only make tweaks to incorporate a certain strategy. I promise you though if you watch it again you will notice how Rafa was making a conscious effort to hit every ball deep even making unforced errors because of it.

Michael Says:


If you watch the third set yet again, you will understand the strength in my argument. Nadal was just clueless and I have never seen that in any of his grand slam matches except in the final set of US Open 2011 where too Nadal surrendered tamely despite knowing well that Novak had a back problem and was serving with half the speed. He had a strategy. Yes, but it was not executed well. He could have tried a few things to surprise Novak by coming to the net etc. But he played his traditional game which is no match for Novak’s belligerence.

Mark Says:

@Michael. This match demonstrated that Rafa can go toe to toe with the Serb and did not just roll over and die like he did in the last two finals. To my mind it just came down to luck in the end i.e. That missed backhand at 4-2. And don’t for one moment think that the Serb was wasted out there. He does this in EVERY single match he plays feigning fatigue and giving the impression that he is ready to drop dead. Look at the Murray match for example and his antics on court. Shameful for the no. 1 player in the world. It certainly works for him but for how long?

Ajet Says:


djoker’s job is to beat nadal and not pacify nadal’s fans by playing the good guy(like roger) to get his @$$ whopped by nadal!

grendel Says:

“To my mind it just came down to luck in the end i.e. That missed backhand at 4-2.”

That wasn’t luck, that was pressure, choking, call it what you will. Up to that point, Nadal had been in strong ascendancy. So shocked, I assume, was he by this piece of mental frailty that his game went away – he virtually handed it on a plate to Djokovic. Considerable irony here, when you think about it.

mrmilbury Says:

At last, Nadal feels the same sensations of Federer at the end of 2009 AO. He can play his best, he can put anything in the match, but Nole is his nemesis.
There is no match. For the first time there is a player able to crush Nadal from the baseline. Less errors, more firepower, best court geometry, and no weakness.
It’s a brutal tennis. More like boxe.

Right... Says:

@Mark: “This match demonstrated that Rafa can go toe to toe with the Serb and did not just roll over and die like he did in the last two finals. To my mind it just came down to luck in the end i.e. That missed backhand at 4-2. And don’t for one moment think that the Serb was wasted out there. He does this in EVERY single match he plays feigning fatigue and giving the impression that he is ready to drop dead.”

You are completely right, Mark. Let the Djokovic fans pretend that Nadal doesn’t stand a chance against Djokovic–it’s what they have to do to feel better about Novak coming so close to losing this time. It freaks them out. Just nod and smile…yep, Nadal didn’t come close to winning…yep, that one day of rest for Novak was so unfair and he looked like a sleeping baby out there…yep, Nadal hit a bunch of errors not because he’s playing more aggressively but because the same guy who won the game after being down 0-40 is a choker. Yep…yep…just nod and smile….

Ajet Says:


Keep smiling as much as you want, no nole fan must be crying either! ;)

Kimberly Says:

right—-ironically its not the Djokovic fans discrediting nadals performance. Its the federer fans.

Mark Says:

Hey all u Serbian fans a d Rafa haters – make hay while the sun shines. Lucky streaks don’t last forever. Talk to me when djokass’ luck runs out and he starts losing. Andy Murray is out for his blood as well. Happy times.

Mark Says:

Oh! Forgot to mention his cave-man celebration. Ripping shirt and chest thumping. He was criticized for his unorthodox celebrations on court by the great Roy Emerson last year. Very very classy no 1. Go blow a whistle djoker.

skeezerweezer Says:


Rafa has 10 Slams still, Novak 5. Rafa still has of now a way better Slam record. Its just Novaks time now and his fans are gonna talk smack about it. Rafa fans did the same when Rafa had his great run in 2010. Fed fans have been doin it ever since he surpassed Pete Sampras. All in all, its a great era for Tennis. Novak won’t last forever in his run, you are right. But for now it is what it is. ;). I am sure you will relish it when Rafa gets a win over Novak. It will happen.

Mark Says:

@Skeezerweezer. I agree with you. That is what I was trying to say. Djoker is havi g a lucky streak right now but won’t last forever. But as Kimberley very wisely commented earlier this a Rafa fan consolation thread so we could do without Rafa bashers at this time. Don’t need it. Vamos Rafaaaaa.

carlo Says:

5TH SET stats: from AO Open IBM SlamTracker:


Nadal 2; Djokovic 2

First Serve %:

Nadal 65%; Djokovic 54%

Double Fault:

Nadal 1; Djokovic 1

Win % on 1st serve:

Nadal 72%; Djokovic 68%

Win % on 2nd serve:

Nadal 38%; Djokovic 62%


Nadal 7; Djokovic 9

Unforced Errors:

Nadal 16; Djokovic 14

Receiving Points Won:

Nadal 12; Djokovic 15

Breakpoint Conversions:

Nadal 50%; Djokovic 50%

Net Approaches:

Nadal 66; Djokovic 75

Commentators on both AO Radio and ESPN2 thought Nadal not only had the momentum after the 4th set tie-break win going into the 5th but believed he would win based on all kinds of speculation including:
self-belief for Nadal,
his warrior spirit,
Rafa appearing “fresh”,
Djokovic physically looks tired,
Rafa serving a love game to go up 3-2,
crowd support on Rafa’s side,
Djokovic never having played back to back 5 set matches,
“unbelievable strength of will” from Rafa to break Djokovic and go up 4-2,
comme’s were repeating, Rafa needs just 2 service holds for the win,
Rafa sees the finish line,
Rafa getting stronger,
Rafa repeatedly is, “such a warrior”,
Djokovic is beat-up “looking tired or injured or both”,
Novak doesn’t have the strength…

But, Rafa serving with, “finish line in sight,” missed an easy backhand with all kinds of room at 15-30 and gave Nole 30-30; then, Rafa put a tentative forehand into the net to donate Djokovic a break point. Rafa couldn’t buy a 1st serve when it was clutch to do so, and proceeded to mishit a backhand badly, handing Djokovic the break back.

Often, it is difficult to sort what is really happening from the match commentary. But I believed a good percent of what they were observing about Nadal and more so, about Djokovic. One difference to me was Rafa appearing “fresh.” It was odd when, by no great tennis from Djokovic, Nadal handed back that break.

Rafa handing the break back gave Djokovic the energy to pull together his own serving, also to hold on in the rallies. But Djokovic did appear suffering after each and every point. For the most part, I doubt it was theatrics. The cross kissing, ect. may or maybe not necessary, I wouldn’t know. He did hold serve rather miraculously. And he was not serving easily or well. How can someone serve well when they do, in fact, appear to have very genuinely hit the wall? That wall when the body is refuses to respond? Djokovic got a little lucky v Rafa, or? help by Rafa from timely errors? and why the errors from Rafa when he had the lead and the finish line was in sight?

By 4-4 Rafa serving, I had questions about him mentally. Yet, still it was believable Rafa’d win and that Djokovic had physically been down for the count, on the ropes, Rafa winning this round, etc.

I am going to say there was Zero in Djokovic’s tank, ‘tank’ as in fuel tank, not the verb, ‘tank.’ No matter, Nole was able to calmly, confidently win enough points on Rafa’s serve. But why didn’t Rafa perform? Where was the clutch serving from him I’ve seen in other GS closing moments?

Djokovic was able to get the break for at least 2 reasons: 1) Rafa choking on serve. 2) his own return to a confident mindset after a big effort holding his own serve + sensing Rafa’s vulnerability. Djokovic has become a real predator when going for a GS title. Even when he appears mortally wounded, he’s sizing up his prey.

From there, the match was history. Djokovic held serve solidly (except one very exhausted DF) to make 5-5; and Nadal followed by getting broken on serve once more. 6-5 Djokovic serving – he blew through a *facepalm* moment after missing an easy overhead like it never happened – Supreme Djokovic Confidence. Rafa appeared the physically stronger but didn’t have an answer. “Appeared” is the key word, I think…

Both, were doubling over, visibly forcing themselves to hold upright posture after the match. Djokovic had a glazed look in his eyes that reminded me of someone close to fainting. Had the Kia Kings’ Speech gone on, they both might have sat on the ground. Thankfully – someone there was noticing what I was and got the chairs.

Thinking about Rafa’s condition during the ceremony, my opinion is that he might have been trying to appear stronger than he actually was in the 5th. The clever Djokovic knows him better than the match commentators or the fans, too. Unfortunately, I’m a fan who would notice a problem with Rafa’s grunting, trivial as it might be. The signature grunt half-way through the 5th was sometimes missing when he hit, and the sound was at times a throaty gurgle at best by 6-5; a sound I’d never heard Rafa make before. No winners were going to come off the Nadal racquet at that point. Nole definitely knew it. There was a reason he could brush off a couple mistakes serving for the Championship.

Federer really has something to envy about the way Djokovic reads and manages Nadal.

Anyways, all that said, Nadal must be credited for being very graceful in defeat. His eyes were genuinely smiling and he speaks with humility and charm; a truly charismatic champion – win or lose. Though not ready to say, “Vamos Rafa,” I wish him all the best next time.

(The above is patched together from my notes during and after the match – sorry so lengthy and unedited)

Obsession with the Fifth Set Continues…

Right... Says:

Kimberly, I don’t know the backgrounds of everyone so you may well be right. I have all the respect in the world for Federer and it’s sad that his fans (some) are so hungry for something unfortunate to Nadal that they’d try to delude themselves into believing that Nadal isn’t catching up to Djokovic. Guys, seriously, Nadal tends to beat Federer. You need to get over it. Doesn’t mean Federer isn’t awesome, it’s just the irony of life that potentially the greatest ever keeps getting beaten at Slams but someone. I can’t say I don’t empathize with them–it’s hard to watch someone lose fairly badly over and over, like Nadal last year to Djokovic. But still, one has to be a mature adult about it.

Kimberly Says:

Carlo—nice post. I am in much better mood today. Yesterday was rough!

carlo Says:

Thanks, Kimberly. Err, after I posted, when it popped up where it was (on which thread) I had been typing and pasting my notes, I must apologize. It was not at all intentional that I put it here, :/ :(

Nor do I mean to discuss speculation as to Rafa’s chances v Djokovic, next time they meet…here.

However, I do stand by my longest post ever – just wish I’d got the thread right.

I’m obsessed with the inner working of the 5th set – watching for the 4th or 5th time. Not a set I recommend for you, but the ceremony – Rafa was adorable, really. Shows his greatness – aside from tennis.

and for you, Vamos Rafa ;)

jane Says:

carlo, enjoyed that post. Adding to your fifth set comments and analysis, I really felt like Nole kind of “helped” Rafa get the break point (i.e., to 30-40) which he converted to go up 4-2. What I mean by this is that if you look at that game, when Nole is serving 2-3 and it’s 30 all, Nole has early control of the point – Rafa is pinned way back in the rally. Nole could’ve come forward, made a volley or drop shot or something, but instead he stayed back. Of course Rafa kept defending and defending everything, thus eventually, tired Nole made an error (FH wide I think). I can’t remember how Rafa ultimately converted that break point, i.e. whether it was on his own winner or drawing another error from Nole, but I just felt when I rewatched the match that Nole should have never lost that point at 30 all and that maybe he’d've gone on to hold that game. Anyhow hindsight and all…

carlo Says:

:O jane, I’m in the 4th set tie-break and about to rewatch the 5th set agian :O will be watching with your take on it in mind.

After reading some comments on another thread, I’ll also be looking at Rafa’s serve speed. It was up there visibly in the 1st set. How much did it slow? Djokovic had to know exactly what was up with Rafa and Rafa with Nole. It’s still surprising to me that Rafa didn’t hold and take off for the finish line being a break up… all the commentators thought he would. I thought he would too, watching with one eye, half awake, live.

jane Says:

“I thought he would too, watching with one eye, half awake, live.”

Yes me too. I thought it was over and was about to write congrats posts to Rafa and fans and go back to bed. Nole surprised me, and yet, not entirely. Maybe I didn’t go back to sleep because I know how much he has been fighting, hanging on even when all seems lost. Perhaps it started with that USO 2010 semifinal win over Fed?

carlo Says:

Firmly believe it did, jane – start with the confidence boost beating Federer US Open 2010. And I did feel even after Rafa beat Djokovic in that final, that Djokovic was on his way. It was similar to watching Federer v Rafa Wimbledon 07. You get the feeling… sometimes goosebumps or a pit in the stomach.

I have lots of feelings that are wrong too. Dimitrov making the AO quarters? Was I so impressing with Hopman Cup? lol, wut.

Michael Says:


Without luck you cannot win matches. How many matches Nadal has won with luck on his side ?? In the majors atleast I can cite the Australian Open 2009 as well as Wimbledon 2008. But remember in this marathon match, Nadal was indeed lucky that the match went to five sets as it should have been finished in four. Nadal was lucky when Novak had three break points on his serve as well as in the tie break when Novak made a silly mistake. Although the match was very close, to any neutral analyst Novak was clearly the better player who was taking the initiative in shot making. Nadal was just on the job of defending and was expecting that Novak will have a bad day and he can get cheap points out of it. When this strategy did not work, he went to the offensive in the 4th & 5th and ironically that is the stage where he played well matching with Novak. There is no need to pour vengeance on Novak just because he beats Nadal time and again. You talk about that feigning fatigue by Novak, but that should actually help the other player in the opposite end as an added incentive. I do not think Novak does it intentionally but even if he does logically it should help only the opposite player to be more aggressive. True Novak’s run will not last forever. But he has proved himself beating Nadal seven times consecutively and that too in three slam finals consecutively which has never happened before. He has won 5 majors and has left an indelible impression that he is a great player. Nothing can erase it. He is the only man who was able to challenge the legacy of Federer and Nadal and that is no mean achievement. Why can’t Novak celebrate his dream run by chest pumping ?? He has all the right. I also find it too irritating when Nadal bites the trophy but it is his prerogative.

Michael Says:


You missed the points won by Novak and Nadal
Novak – 193 and Nadal – 176. That tells us something as to who was dictating the match.

skeezerweezer Says:


Well I don’t believe Novaks run is Luck, although I do believe when you put in the hard work and preparation luck has a better chance falling on your side. Rafa has had plenty of that too. Fed as well. That said, I agree and acknowledge what you are sayin ;).

carlo Says:

Thank god, I haven’t been obsessed with the entire match, Michael. That would be a book. lol

Those are stats for my obsession, the 5th set. ;)

IBM Slam Tracker scoreboard breaks down each set stats but I couldn’t how to bring up the points per set.

It had the total points for the match as you point out. But as you probably know, Verdasco won more points than Nadal by ? (I don’t remember) in his 5 set battle with Nadal but lost the match, of course.

I keep getting interrupted trying to watch the 5th set again tonight – was curious to see if I could tell what jane was describing. Have to watch tomorrow, jane.

In any case, Nole certainly is interesting. After back to back 5 setters, the pressure of defending his title v a most worthy opponent, I liked him ripping off his shirt, lol that was good. cheers and goodnight.

Michael Says:


What was the point difference in Nadal-Verdasco match ??? Just interested to know.

The 5th set was very close and it is true that Nadal made some unforced errors to give the break back to Novak. But can you ever imagine Nadal committing unforced errors after making a break in the 5th set ?? It is the pressure of Novak which makes him do that but against other players he is just carefree including the Great Federer.

raulg Says:

“LONGEST FINAL GRAND SLAM MATCH EVER” thats the natural thing when the 2 longest waiting serving players of all time play each other for 5 sets.
i mean come on… i always start watching the tennis matches after 1 hour. with my DVR, i can skip the 2 minutes breaks, but this match i keep hitting the forward button between points and still waiting for the serve.
NUTSSS sometime they wait like a minute before serve, where in match with a regular guy they serve 15-20 seconds, both nadal and djokovic almost always past the 30 seconds.
example federer get an ace or winner serve and he serve again in less than 10 seconds, both nadal and djokovic even with aces and serve winners they wait near 30 seconds.
they even wait a lot of time for second serve.
JUST DO THE MATH almost 400 points where played, they take 20 seconds more than other players to serve, thats 2 hours of waiting for serve.
with the DVR you can see the full match in half the time, as i say the 2 most time taking between serves play each other for the first time 5 set, its normal, expected that it will be the longest match, but for actual game play is a lot less than many matches played before.

carlo Says:

Michael -

I was dreaming just a wee bit about Verdasco winning the total points but losing the match. But it was close, very close – point difference = 1 point in 5 sets!

But the way the match was played, Verdasco far more aggressive – he was the one I felt won the match, which doesn’t matter at all. Rafa won by that 1 measly point …but I think other matches have been won with a point deficit? I do recall AO commentators talking about that at the end of Verdasco-Nadal – or maybe I had one too many cocktails, lol.

Nadal-Verdasco AO 2009 match stats:


Verdasco, poor soul, has never been the same.

Well, I can’t sleep. That’s what happens after 2 weeks of staying up watching tennis.

Michael Says:


Verdasco is a player with potential. But hard luck is not on his side. That is the word with which one can describe his situation. I have seen him losing many matches from winning position. He will lead by two sets to nil and then go on to lose it. He is the perfect synonym of a choker. This has happened time and again for comfort and has killed his self-confidence for good. Now he is finding it difficult to even cross the initial stages of tournaments. Now coming to the Verdasco-Nadal match, I was privileged to watch that wonderful match and this was the one where Verdasco gave Nadal a run for his money and was slightly the better player on that day. Yet he lost once again despite playing his best. Perhaps Tennis Gods are not with Verdasco.

Skorocel Says:

carlo: „Unfortunately, I’m a fan who would notice a problem with Rafa’s grunting, trivial as it might be. The signature grunt half-way through the 5th was sometimes missing when he hit, and the sound was at times a throaty gurgle at best by 6-5; a sound I’d never heard Rafa make before.“

As trivial as it may look, I too noticed that „change“ in Nadal’s grunts. Can’t remember if I ever heard him groan like this, but to me it showed the signs of tiredness…


Michael: „Nadal was lucky when Novak had three break points on his serve as well as in the tie break when Novak made a silly mistake.“

If I remember it correctly, Nadal, in that particular game, won 5 points in a row (and thus the game), out of which I think 4 were clean winners. That’s not luck.


Michael: „I also find it too irritating when Nadal bites the trophy but it is his prerogative.“

I too, LOL ;-)

Nims Says:

I believe the points between Roger and Rafa was exactly the same in AO 09 final.

Mark Says:

@ Michael. You mention the words ‘Tennis Gods’. That is exactly what it is with the djokass. Tennis gods favour him at this time. Nothing more nothing less. They just might get fed up with his on court faking and his barbarian-like celebrations as well. WADA should ban the CVAC pod and then we will see how he copes with fatigue. Luck plays a big part in life and especially in sports.

Michael Says:


Luck plays a part everywhere. You have to live with it. Leave this Australian Open and let us go to Wimbledon and US Open where Novak dismantled Nadal in four sets. You tell me is that luck ? Nadal was simply outplayed. This happened even in the favourite court of Nadal at Madrid and Rome where Novak managed to win in straight sets. Time and again he has proved that he is a far better player. Regarding Novak’s feigning fatigue, I have already explained it. Novak has nothing to gain from it because such display of fatigue will only make his opponent more aggressive. But he nevertheless does it. Might be it is his habit. Why make a big fuss about it ? Nadal is taking so much time between serves. Is anybody making a big issue about it ??? You said it. Luck plays a big part in life and in sports. True. It is Novak’s side now and he deserves it in full measure.

Michael Says:


Nadal had an ace at the right time and that is luck. In all the other points his first serve clicked yet again. But one has got to admit that he got extremely lucky in the tie break when Novak mishit a shot at 5-3.

Mark Says:

@Michael. Yes let’s look forward to the French and Wimbledon. And regarding your comments about the Djokass dismantling Rafa here there and everywhere last year, that was then and this is 2012. Why do t u talk about Olympics 2008 when Rafa sent him packing in tears? Why don’t u talk about 2010 when Rafa sent him packing in Madrid saving 3(?) match points, again Djokass in tears. And also Monte Carlo and Rome in 2010. Djokass’ turn to turn the tables but enjoy it while u can. I think his run is over. He is going to be under tremendous pressure this year. Murray and Fed are on to him. VAMOS RAFAAA!!!!!!

carlo Says:

Nims, thank-you! It was that Fedal that Nadal had a deficit in the end but won. No wonder I Completely blocked out Fedal AO 09:


Skorocel – sort of nice to know someone else was noticing. It was very strange to hear Rafa with that gurgle grunt sound. Also watching him strike the ball and completely not hear a grunt. I thought it was telling about his fatigue too. It would be interesting to know if Djokovic noticed. :D

Somehow my 5th set recording got erased – hate that when it happens. But it’s probably on YouTube by now.

Michael – do you mean you were at AO 09 and had tickets to that semifinal? That would have been cool. And yeah. Verdasco has turned into a choker, as seen v Nadal every time they met after that semifinal. This year Verdasco goes out 1st round – at least he put up a fight, but for a fairly recent top ten, sad. He’s 28 years old and 2009 was probably his best year.

Time to try again to get an hour or two of sleep.

Mark Says:

@ Michael. Madrid 2009 not 2010

Michael Says:


Djokass’ turn to turn the tables but enjoy it while u can. I think his run is over. He is going to be under tremendous pressure this year. Murray and Fed are on to him

So you do not have confidence in Nadal to turn this head on and instead need to depend on only Murray and Federer to do the job. That is a bad advertisement for Nadal.

Where have I anywhere denied that Nadal had not beaten Novak in the past ? Yes, he has beaten Novak. But what is distressing for Nadal is that in the last 12 meetings between them, he could win only 2. That is really not anything to feel comfortable out. Novak has got the measure of Nadal. It is pain and clear.

You think the run is over for Novak and that is your assumption which might be right or wrong. But my feeling is that Novak will go on to complete the Grand slam this year by winning Roland Garros. His only problem is if he meets Roger at his best or Murray in the way. If Nadal is in the finals and he has to meet him, then Novak will have no problem in dislodging him yet again.

Michael Says:


That is one of the few occasions I managed to watch a match live with little help from my friend who accommodated me with a ticket. Accidentally I was in Melbourne at that time to see one of my relative residing there. What a match it turned out to be ?

Ajet Says:


djoker was before 2011, really a djok@$$-cum-chock@$$, no wonder nadal and fed used to dominate him. but now that same djok@$$ has turned into kick@$$ for both fed and rafa, that’s where the problem lies!

Mark Says:

@Michael. When I said Murray and Fed are on to the djokstrap I meant as well as Nadal. This is not an excuse but Nadal was not at his best in any one of the tournaments he played in 2011. ask the commies if u don’t believe me. He struggled for every single win, and djokasssss took advantage. Anyway new year and all that. One thing is for sure djokasssss will lose his no1 ranking this year.

Mark Says:

Hey Ajet. Thought u were a Fed fan. Now u r rooting for the djokasssss. Why? Because Rafa kicks Fed’s butt every time!it is funny how u stupid people blow with the wind!!!

Ajet Says:


and i thought you have brains, lol. coz it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why should a federer fan root for djoker against rafa in a slam final or why should a rafa fan root for federer in a semi against djoker if one of them has to meet nadal in slam final, lol! grow one up soon, to understand it, lol ;)

and it’s nice for jokers like you to bring lame excuses that nadal was playing below his average in 2011, lol! in fact he was playing much better than 2010, lol! the only reason nadal couldn’t win is he faced djoker in 2011, of whom he’s the b#### right now! you can talk of rafa kicking fed’s butt as much as you want right now, to console yourself, now that nadal’s bubble of mental toughness and gamewise superiority is well and truly burst, lol!

though a dumbo like you can’t understand why ardent fed fans should be rooting for djoker in slam finals when he faces nadal, at least i know that you suddenly are full of vitriolic outbursts against djoker accompanied by lame excuses about rafa’s form coz your butt and ego both must be hurting right now, ain’t it so ;)

Ajet Says:


i just love how some nadtards and rafa-worshippers suddenly pray for their much hated and much laughed at fedboy to beat djoker to reach slam final when nadal’s waiting! and oh, even murray becomes their absolute darling when he faces djoker these days in semi of slams, so that he emerges victor and gets his @$$ handed to him by nadal in finals, much like fed, lol ;)

i see you guys suddenly have much love lost for your previously dear djoker aka novak aka nole. you guys were full of love, appreciation and sympathy for him until USO 10. i know the reason for this suddence divorce of you guys from djoker though, ;) and i can’t blame you for it either, lol ;)

Mark Says:

@Ajet. You can rant and rave all you like. Makes no difference to me. It seems you r a very two-faced blogger. I find your posts extremely boring . Just one more thing VAMOS RAFAAA! Kick some butt in 2012 especially the classless barbarian!!! VAMOS!!

Ajet Says:


go and get yourself a life then! and to tell you the truth, your posts are as meaningless as your rantings against djoker. ask me how much I care for you or your posts! NIL of course! ;)

Michael Says:


Nadal has reached almost all the major and Masters finals in 2011 and you say he is not at his best. He was having the best of years which was only spoilt by Novak. What must be demoralizing for Rafa is that he was beaten in straight sets in Madrid and Rome and Clay is his favourite surface. You have to accept the fact that Rafa’s game is suiting Novak very much and whilst it looks deadly agains others, it looks pretty ordinary against Novak. Imagine the mindset of a player beaten seven times consecutively in all tour finals. That will have its negative effect. Although your wishlist is that Novak might be paid back in his own coin, yet so far I see no sign of it. Roger is ageing, Murray is a choker in majors and Nadal is helpless against Novak.

Mark Says:

@Michael. Don’t b repetitive. Rafa was beaten in Rome blah blah blah. This is a new year and tennis times can change pretty quickly as u will c this year. Who will prevail is a matter of conjecture. Rafa and Roger let their levels slip last year and Djokass pounced. Simple as that. History will not repeat itself.

alison hodge Says:

mark why is it so hard for you to give nole the credit he so richly deserves?hes worked hard for his success,rafas an amazing player,but this is noles time like it or not,ok it does not mean rafa wont win a slam ever again,nobodys saying that,by all means have your favourite but theres no need to belittle or discredit the achievements of others.

Mark Says:

@Alison Hofge. Don’t talk to me about belittling and discrediting djokass’ achievements or anyone else’s. This forum is full of Rafa haters who are constantly discrediting, belittling and disrespecting him. The man has won TEN grand slams, 19 Masters 1000 and 46 titles so far and he still does not receive any respect. Suddenly everybody is in love with the djokass. I can partly put it down to Fed fans here.

alison hodge Says:

mark yes i agree this forum has got its share of haters,not just for rafa,but for nole,murray and federer,it goes with the teritory im afraid get used to it,when going on a forum you and your favourite player are fare game for anyone,fortunatly there are many fare posters,fans of other players who do give rafa alot of credit,unfortunatly a haters a hater and nothing will change that,but its the age of the internet,not every comment is worth bothering with,just learn to rise above it.

Courbon Says:

To Mark and other Rafa fans:
Hi, I’m Serb,I support Djokovic but have tremendous respect for Rafa (comes as a such a nice guy and obviously great champion ) and Roger (probably the best ever ).The fact is this:
Djokovic is the best right now, Rafa may change that (or Murray, not likely Federe but who knows?) but nobody knows!So whats the point of all this war on the blog?Can’t you just enjoy tennis?And regarding the Djokovic being without class-I agree that Nadal and Federe have more class (we are from Balkans, rough place ) but I remember McEnroe being little w***er in his days and we love him now?Also, does everybody have to be the same?Lets have some Classles Serb wining…whats wrong with that?(By the way my friends worked with his team and Nole is actually very decent guy )Lets enjoy the tennis, thats why we are on this blog.Right?

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