Nadal Nearly Stunned By Baby Fed In Monte Carlo, Tsonga Next; Djokovic Finding Groove?
by Sean Randall | April 19th, 2013, 2:37 pm

What a difference 24 hours makes. Yesterday weren’t we just predicting the end of Novak Djokovic and the full-on ascent of the mighty King of Clay, Rafael Nadal? And then today, how quickly things change.

This afternoon in Monte Carlo, Grigor Dimitrov proved the critics wrong, myself included, and showed why the 21-year-old is worth of the that Future of Tennis billing, stretching a misfiring Rafa to three sets in a tough 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 win for the Spaniard.

Nadal cruised early to a 6-2 first set bulge but then the errors really crept in. Dimitrov played blisteringly well, almost Federer-like at times in taking two breaks from the erratic Rafa to stun the crowd and grab the second.

With the tension rising (and Grigor playing on his girlfriend Maria Sharapova’s birthday!), both guys held in the third and even with Rafa still out of sorts, he never let the upstart Bulgarian see a break chance.

Nadal finally broke at 4-4 and served it out for his 45th straight win in Monte Carlo and his 18th in a row this season.

“I know that when you have these tough matches, it is decisive to keep fighting,” said Nadal. “If you keep fighting, you will lose some ones, but you will have a chance to win a lot of ones, too.

“I gave that fight. Finally he had his chance, and I had my one, and I converted. That’s it. I think I played better the last couple of games. Obviously I’m trying to find better rhythm all the time. In my opinion, I did it in the end. It was great.”

Dimitrov, who I doubted had the mettle to pull off such a shocker, still showed me a lot in the loss. And after a string of disappointing defeats to top players, this might have been the best loss of his career.

“It’s a tough loss,” said Dimitrov who turns 22 next month. “Of course, I think I gave everything I had today. I must say, all the credit to him. He’s an extraordinary player, extraordinary fighter. Today he obviously showed why he’s the best not only on that surface, I believe, but he’s one of the best out there.

“Even though I lost the first set, I didn’t lose my composure on court, and that helped me win the second. Eventually when the third started, I felt quite comfortable playing. I actually started rallying with him much more from the baseline, which I think I shouldn’t have done that too much. It’s a good lesson to learn.”

A future Top 10, Top 5 for Grigor? Why not. He played some very impressive tennis today and that backhand I said would be a liability really held up well.

Nadal, who appeared very rattled at times, something we hardly ever see from him on a clay court, moves on the meet JW Tsonga tomorrow in the semifinals. Tsonga edged Stan Wawrinka in three sets 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 to reach his first semifinal in Monte Carlo, and his first at a Masters since 2011.

After a disappointing 2012, under new coach Roger Rasheed perhaps JW is making some real strides this year. Let’s see. Rafa, though, has won seven of their 10 meetings and I think after the scare today, Uncle Toni will have his protege back in form.

“It’s an incredible challenge,” said Tsonga who celebrated his 28th birthday on Wednesday. “He won eight times here. Anything I might achieve will be just a bonus for me. I have no longer any pain in my legs because I know I’m going to play a player that’s a lot better than I am on clay. But I do have some weapons. I have everything to win and nothing to lose.”

In the second semifinal tomorrow, it’s top seed Djokovic against the surprising semifinal Fabio Fognini.

Djokovic brushed aside reports of a dislocated bone in his ankle by “elevating” to his game to its highest level of the week, trouncing Jarkko Nieminen 6-4, 6-3. It still wasn’t anywhere near Novak’s best performance – he was broken three times – but after all the talk and doubt this week, he and his fans have to feel some modicum of relief with the result.

“It was great,” said Djokovic. “Very solid from the back of the court. Played with the right intensity from the start of the match till the end. That’s a big step forward for me today comparing to the first two matches in every sense. I finally got a great feel on the clay. Hopefully I can maintain that level tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, Faux-nini reached his first career Masters semifinal by dashing the hopes of Frenchmen Richard Gasquet 7-6, 6-2. I had said yesterday that with Djokovic a question mark, what a great opportunity this was for Gasquet. But once again Richard disappoints.

That said all credit to the Italian drama king. He played pretty well today and at 25 maybe he’s got a big run in him.

“This is one of the best performances ever for me,” continued the Italian. “It’s my first semifinal at a Masters 1000. I have another opportunity to play with a great player here in the center court in front of so many people, special friends and family.”

Fognini and Djokovic have four times and the Serb has won all of them (recall they missed that French Open QF from a few years ago). So if the ankle isn’t a concern – it doesn’t seem to be based on today’s performance – Novak should get through.

“I played another time I think a really good match with a fantastic player,” said Fognini. “I mean, he is Top 10 and has won so many tournaments. Now I just have to say I’m really happy. It’s my first semi-final in Monte Carlo, my home. I’m so happy.”

So any chance we won’t get our dream final? If Novak’s ankle is in bad shape, Fognini is quite the shotmaker and after finally beating some top players, I actually think he could do it. But that’s only if Djokovic’s injury is an issue.

“I have to be prepared for quality rallies,” said Djokovic. “He’s a player who has won against some top players here, a player who feels good. He is going to have nothing to lose and will be motivated to play well in front of his Italian supporters that are many here.”

As for Rafa, Tsonga has beaten him before and he has no fear of the big stage. Plus, few guys can red-line like the Frenchman. But I still have to think Rafa and his team will get his game in order following today’s dangerous duel.

Tennis Channel will have live coverage of both semifinals starting at 7am ET with Rafa the 10am with Novak.


COURT CENTRAL start 11:00 am
J Benneteau (FRA) / N Zimonjic (SRB) vs D Marrero (ESP) / F Verdasco (ESP) – Possible Court Change

Not Before 1:00 PM
[3] R Nadal (ESP) vs [6] J Tsonga (FRA)

Not Before 3:00 PM
[1] N Djokovic (SRB) vs F Fognini (ITA)
[1] B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) vs M Raonic (CAN) / B Tomic (AUS)

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Andy Murray: I’ve Been Flat Since Davis Cup And I Don’t Know Why
Rafael Nadal v Stan Wawrinka, Roger Federer v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga In Friday Monte Carlo QF Play

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192 Comments for Nadal Nearly Stunned By Baby Fed In Monte Carlo, Tsonga Next; Djokovic Finding Groove?

Steve 27 Says:

How long are you going to call him baby Federer?

Sean Randall Says:

Steve27, me? Until he’s 23 or he wins a Major, whichever comes first. Then he becomes “Teen Fed”.

Steve 27 Says:

Haha, Good one Sean.

Brando Says:

LOL Sean, Dimitrov is talented but: almost 22 and still zero career titles!

How many world top 5 player’s have that stat at such age?

jane Says:

I believe it was one year ago today that Nole’s grandfather, with whom he was very close, passed away, so he dedicated today’s win to his memory and posted a sweet picture on FB.

jane Says:

“Faux-nini” ? LOL! I thought it was FFF (Fabulous Fabio Fognini) or else “The Fog”. First time I read “faux-nini” :)

skeezer Says:

Congrats to baby Fed’s effort. Keep it up!

alison Says:

Its been a great week at MC,some fantastic matches,and some shock results,Grigor has had a stellar weekmade a breakthrough beating some very talented players,im sure he is destined for great things,but the star of the week for me has been the lovely Fabio especially after today when he beat Gasquet and Berdych earlier in the week so comprehensivly,the delight and the smile on his face was an absolute joy to behold,whatever happens tomorrow against Nole hes had a tournament to be proud of,well done Fabio :-))..

Kimmi Says:

Great job Grigor. Hope he can keep it up and beat one of the big guys soon

Alok Says:

Too bad for Gasquet, but great for Fabio the Fabulouzz. Hopefully, he’ll be able to go one step further tomorrow. should be a good one.

Humble Rafa Says:

I was stunned by the baby goat played. I like to own goats, but those baby goats scare me.

jane Says:

Just read that it is Maria Sharapova’s 26th birthday today; perhaps Grigor was trying to win big for her? hee hee J/K. ;)

roy Says:

dimitrov has been playing well for a while and has a great serve. but let’s be real too. nadal was spraying the ball and looking ordinary for the whole middle portion of the match. around a 2:1 error ratio from what i recall. many top 20 players in form could have taken it to three and made it close under those circumstances.

jane Says:

roy, quite possibly: I did read he was making strange errors but didn’t see the match.

Michael Says:

Baby Federer played the match of his life and came very near to dislodging the Mighty Nadal in Monte Carlo. I never thought that this match would be such a dog’s fight. What I anticipated was an easy two setter for Rafa. But Dmitrov proved me wrong and showed the way to other players that if you play your heart out you still have a change against the likes of invincible Rafa. Now Tsonga is in the semis and he is playing swashbuckling Tennis and I think if he plays to his strength he can give nightmares to Nadal even in this court. I expect a tough three setter but I expect Nadal to be through to the finals. As regards Novak, he is slowly getting to his groove but I am not sure about his physical fitness. If there is a man who can upset Nadal in Clay courts, it can only be Novak. He has the game, temperament and endurable will to conquer Rafa. He has proved that before and he is capable of proving it again. Only that he needs to execute his best Tennis that he is known for. I eagerly anticipate a Novak Vs Rafa final which could be very interesting and I hope that it doesn’t end like last year without a whimper of fight.

montecarlo Says:

I don’t know why everyone is so excited about Dimitrov giving a fight to Nadal? They played in 2009 too and that time too it was a very close affair(although it was on hardcourt) with Nadal winning 7-5,3-6,6-2. If I remember correctly Dimitrov had his chances in first set and could have won that match in straight sets. The point is Dimitrov always had the potential but until now he hasn’t shown that he can actually do it. And the way he was cramping after just 2 hours of play yesterday I can’t see him doing any better.

the DA Says:

@Jane – there’s finally a video clip of the infamous Harlem Shake moment at the MC players party:

Milos steals the limelight. Unfortunately, there’s only a tiny bit of Andy and I haven’t been able to locate Rafa. There’s a clamor for more footage following this snippet.

montecarlo Says:

And please stop calling him baby Federer. Baby Gasquet sounds more appropriate.

Alok Says:

Dimitrov will surely

a) Win a Grandslam
b) be no.1 at some point.

He definitely is baby Fed. Now, if sharapova stomps on his heart mercilessly, all bets are off!

Would be great to see a single hand backhander achieve success again!

nadalista Says:

montecarlo Says: @2:36am

“The point is Dimitrov always had the potential but until now he hasn’t shown that he can actually do it.”


Thank you for stating the obvious.

For all the positive comments, the unfortunate reality is: he lost. This trend to declare a close loss a transformative moment in a career needs to stop, imo. Beating Rafa in Monte Carlo would have been a transformative point in Dimitrov’s career. Losing to him in 3 sets is not.

Dimitrov lost his composure dismally this year when playing Rafa, Nole, Murray. He could have beaten all of them, instead he lost to all of them. No question, he has the game but let’s be honest: in this era, he is no spring chicken. He will be 22 soon. At his age, Federer had already dispatched Sampras at his temple, Wimbledon. That was a prestige win. ALL OF THE CURRENT GREATS HAD SUCH PRESTIGE WINS early on in their careers. Dimitrov has not managed a single one yet.And what’s he supposed to console himself with? That he came close……..oh, and that this time he cramped in the 3rd rather than the 2nd set.


Baby Fed needs to take a good look at his diet. This constant cramping in the 2nd and/or 3rd sets of matches is not just a fitness issue, although it is in the mix: hydration/electrolytes balance, and all that.

As Fedfans are oh so fond of reminding us: greatness is defined by how many Slams you win and until he shows he CAN compete over 5 sets, Dimitrov has no business being regarded as a contender.

nadalista Says:

…….and less, not more, sugarpova.

Alex Says:

Yes fitness is an issue, but I think Dimitrov needs to work on conserving energy.

The problem with the Nadal match is Demitrov chased down to meany balls. He also lunges for the ball like crazy sometimes- looks painful. Yes he needs to get more fit, he also needs to learn how to use his energy more efficiently IMO.

Alex Says:

True, other players are also getting premature praise though. To name one, what about Milos Roanic?

IMO hes been over-hyped from the start. People saying hes gonna win a slam soon wen his all court game is nonexistent!

If one big server can receive so much hype, I fully agree Demitrov should get more hype! hahaha.

Giles Says:
Another bit of hilarity. Tennis players react to Ernests Gulbis’ game penalty.

Alex Says:

Obviously fake but still very funny.

alison Says:

Good one Giles thankyou.

alison Says:

Alex these type of links are always only meant as spoofs.

Alex Says:

thx! :) haha, not so in touch with all these funny websites.

alison Says:

Jo has the loveliest smile,how could anybody not love Jo?

queen Says:

Nadalista, very nice post about Dimitrov. At 22 Fed was beating Sampras and Nadal was woopin Fed, and they already had GS in their pockets.

queen Says:

Jo is very cute!

nadalista Says:

@Alison, @queen..but Rafa has the loveliest tush yes, no?

queen Says:

Ha ha everything about Rafa is super lovely including tush:D He is and always be my second love Lol

nadalista Says:

Rafa pouring it on………..

Alex Says:

Unbelievable from Tsonga..

Remembering the time Fed was 5-1 up and lost the match.

queen Says:

Jo doesn’t make it easy…looks like he just woke up

the DA Says:

..pouring on the breaks for now.

nadalista Says:

Tsonga back in the hunt………

queen Says:

It is Rafa on clay so he will not lose…but wow Jo!

nadalista Says:

……..Rafa stops the bleeding, for now.

alison Says:

Nadalista haha Rafa has a lovely everything especially that part of his anatomy.

Green900 Says:

Nadal in 2 sets

nadalista Says:

In truth, that was some mighty fine aggressive tennis Jo-Willy played there…

alison Says:

Come on Rafa,no tie break purrlease,hate tie breaks they remind me of penalty shoot outs in football.

nadalista Says:

Tie break it is, @alison…………

Daniel Says:

Wow, 1-5 down and saved 4 match points. Amazing. Off course he was play all or nothing tennis.

He could still this tiebreak to force a decider just for the crazy audience.

alison Says:


Daniel Says:

I start watchin 3-1 second set and what I saw Tsl ga is coming a lot to the net when he is serving and having some success at it, folowing a good first set.

Nadal with a magic defense that went it wrong footing Tsonga.

nadalista Says:

queen, alison….we are in the final again!!

Daniel Says:

Tsonga brain faring 1 BH dtl out of time and another strange slice shot.
Finally a Nadal forehand point to close the match.

The final with Djoker should be a cracker. He lost a set to Dimitrov and was 1-5 with Tsonga after 5-1. He won in the end and knows was tested twice.

I only wanted to see this third set to see Nadal reaction. I think it never happened in MC, he being with a comandong lead and lose a set.

9th straight final in MC, just remarkable!! Amazing how year after year, his level doesn’t decrease.

the DA Says:

You can always count on Jo Willy to play 1 or 2 brainfart points in a TB. Nadal was always going to win. However, he’s not looking so invincible as usual these last two matches. Now let’s see how Nole deals with these windy conditions.

Giles Says:

Vamos King! One more!!! :-)))))

Giles Says:

Joker doesn’t like windy! Lol

queen Says:

Nadalista, YES we r!!!

alison Says:

Assuming Daniel that is that Novak actually makes the final,maybe FFF will have something to say about that?

nadalista Says:

RT @pmouratoglou: “After a great comeback, #jotsonga can have regrets in this tie break. Made unforced errors without intention. Good tournament though. ”

Ahem…….I think the kind thing to say about this tweet is: lost in translation. Does one ever make an intentional UE?

Daniel Says:


An intentional UE is when you really go
for the shot and miss. You risk consciously.

What Tsonga did was bizarre mistakes. Go for a change in direction BH not in position instead of going cross court deep and then another bizarre BH slice as ig he was out of position again or not with the right footing. Thise 2 points in a row killed any momentum he had and Nadal playing to his BH payed off.

Theee was another stat that Tsonga was winnig none second serve at all. And those were 2 second serves points.

Brando Says:

Excellent, excellent, excellent match by Rafa.

First of all, BAR 5 games in the 2nd set there it was one way traffic except for one game in the first set, were Rafa in composed fashion handled 2 BP’s.

Now those 5 games:

On Jo’s serve he did not miss a single first serve during that period- insane serving!

Yet, Rafa still got some look in’s- taking it 30 and even having 3 MP’s.

Really pleased how he was returning there facing fireball’s from Jo.

Then on his own serve, bar 2 unusual error’s by Rafa he did not play bad at all.

Unlike yesterday, here Rafa actually played very well and consistently under pressure in these 5 games.

What was the issue was ….. TSONGA.

Jo was playing pressure free, shackles off tennis. He was playing amazingly well, going for high risk shots- and they were coming off.

As the commentator said, in his mind the match was over: so he had nothing to lose. Why not play some shots with the crowd behind his back?

He went to the net a unbelievable 35 times- winning 25 points!

Ultra aggressive!

The good thing for Rafa is neither Novak or Fabio are anywhere near as talented as Tsonga or Grigor at the net.

So all in all: Tsonga played fabulously for 5 games like we know he can- and whenever ANY player get’s on a hot streak there isn’t much ANYONE can do on any surface in the face of it.

You just have to see if you can ride it out.

And this is what pleased me about Rafa here:

Under real pressure, with the opponent firing on all cylinders- Rafa stayed consistent, kept great depth on his shots, the FH/ BH stayed strong and he hit some amazing winner’s when he went for them.

The way he stepped up in the TB under tremendous pressure: crowd supporting their country man rooting for a 3rd set, opponent on fire- was just brilliant stuff from Rafa.

He held his nerve well there IMO.


Much, much, much improved by Rafa.

He was tested here- and you rather be tested than not going into a possible tough final.

Yet, he was serve was fabulously strong- 1st and 2nd serve- under tricky, windy conditions.

The UE’s for the match was just 12- much, much improved than the 36 the day before.

The FH/ BH was consistent, strong and with depth- and the winner’s counted reflected this: 20 plus in just 2 sets!

Overall all fabulous stuff from Rafa, he is battle hardened by 2 tough matches from highly talented player’s and he got better from the last match to this one.

As a fan, IMO he is looking good when he and most folks recognize: he can actually play much better tennis!

That’s a brilliant position to be on- onwards and upwards I say.


Daniel Says:


Djoko only loses this match if he breaks his ankle:)

nadalista Says:

Thanks @daniel, never looked at it that way. Makes sense.

Alok Says:

Great win from Nadal! Not playing his best tennis but still in the final! Nadal on clay is out of this world! I doubt Nadal will lose on clay even when he is 40!

As awesome as Fed/Sampras are on Grass, Nadal on clay has to be the most dominant tennis of all time. Privilege to watch the dude ply his craft on the red stuff!

Alok Says:

Daniel @ 917:

Are you sure it is not broken already? ;)

Alok Says:

Congrats to Rafa fans and here is a quote from seinfeld:

” Remember! they won! you just watched” that is what I am reminded whenever I see fans celebrating. Ofcourse I am guilty of doing that too at times. [specfically when I watch Roger/pats/celtics/red sox/american olympics team do well]

Giles Says:

Brando. I posted on another thread that Neil Harman is doing a stint on Rafa entitled “10 years of Rafael Nadal power” which will be published in the Sunday Times tomorrow. I am sure you are interested.

Brando Says:


Thanks for the head’s up regarding that. Now knowing of it, I certainly am! :-)

Brando Says:

Mark Petchey spot on here:

Surprising at how Djokovic look’s to his team for encouragement and support with fist pumps when he as Fabio playing poorly here.


Brando Says:

WOW is Fabio piling up the UE’s here- some ridiculous one’s so far.

Brando Says:

This is a dead match here TBH- absolutely one way traffic.

Brando Says:

LOL, Fabio wins 2 points…. due to 2 UE from Novak.

Brando Says:

Brilliant, brilliant rally win from Fabio here.

The first point he has actually won on merit so far in this set.

Brando Says:

The silence in the stadium sums up the match: in attendance of a funeral here.

Brando Says:

LOL, Fognini with a DTL return winner.

Brando Says:

And now DF by Fabio. Yikes.

Brando Says:

Petchey is right:

Dismal and tame from Fognini here.

No fight. Very, very disapointing effort here.

Brando Says:

2nd serve, and Fabio dumps the return into the net. Poor stuff.

jane Says:

Thanks for posting that DA; Milos is something else. Never expected to see him quite so animated. :)

I read that Fabio was born just 2 days after Nole. Close in age these 2. Fabio wasn’t at his foggy best today.

Ajde Nole – defending points from last year. Good job.

Daniel, not sure if we can expect a cracker, but hope so.

Brando Says:

Apt end: a Fabio error.

And he gets booed off court- no surprise there.

Brando Says:

Poor stats:

50% first serve in, 25% points won 2nd serve, and a colosaal 26 UE’s in just 2 sets!

Shameful Fabio!

Brando Says:

Barry Cowan is right:

No belief, mentally checked out and no desire to play by Fabio.

queen Says:

What the hell was that? I am so not excited about tomorrow.

Wog boy Says:

Pretty nice and tidy match by No1e. Well, it is for Rafa to lose it tomorrow. It is his teritoty. No1e defended final from last year and anything extra is bonus.
Ajde Nole :))

skeezer Says:


its Clay.

Alok Says:

so King of Clay against Queen of Drama! can nole win both the Oscar for best performance in a lead role AND the MC title at the same time? LOL!

Fabio had a mental meltdown. Oh well, it was a great run while it lasted. If he keeps this up, he can be real dangerous in familiar conditions, come Rome!

Kudos to fabio. now there’s a player with Charisma! no pretension, no clown-work. Go Fabio!

Brando Says:


Sorry but Fabio should hang his head in shame- his performance was nothing less than abject and shameful.

I don’t endorse crowd booing but here I can completely understand them doing so.

And TBH: it robbed Novak of a match.

If Fabio offered this effort for a practise session Novak would say ‘no thanks’ as it was such a dismal performance.

It’s shameful really: since how often is Fabio ever going to get to a SF in a MS?

Ngentot Says:


You were wrong for two things:
1. It’s King of Clay against King of Tennis.
2. Fabio will never be relevant anywhere.

alison Says:

Ngentot Fabio became very relevant this week,beating 3 top 10 ten players was always going to be a tough ask though,but he beat 2 so i believe hes on the right track,however thats JMO.

jane Says:

Brando, Fabio played a poor first set at IW versus Nole too, and then he turned it on and won set 2 and made set 3 somewhat competitive. I expected similar from him today, but he wasn’t able to bring it for whatever reason.

At least Nole served well and defended points from last year,so trying to see the bright side.

skeezer Says:


Do you know Tennis?

Fab beat Birdy and Gas B2B, a great achievement for his caliber. Ever thought he was just spent from his run?



Love how you “speak” for Nole.


Nole will never overtake the King of Drama in dramaness, Rafa, Queen of Clay.


Milan Says:

Weather forecast for the final: rain and mild wind (6 mph)

Bad news for Nadal fans, as we know what happened last year at the French Open Final when balls were rain-soaked.

alison Says:

I agree Brando it was a match if you can call it that was very unenspiring,i was looking forward to an open and cracking contest after Fabios wins against Berdych and Gasquet,its not Novaks fault but Fabio didnt seem to care if he was there or not,surely if you are going to get beaten at least make it a contest the way Jo did against Rafa,and Dimitrov did yesterday.

Wog boy Says:

I am pretty sure Nole has to do something with not allowing Fognini to play the game that suits him as Berdych and Gasquet did. Once Fognini realized that Nole is not dropping his guard, Fognini dropped his, as simple as that, but I can understand disapointment of some people. At the end of the day Fognini is #30…something and Nole is #1, that is the difference.

nadalista Says:

@skeezer, are you saying if it was hard court tennis, Fabio would have put in a better performance?

jane Says:

I do think Nole was on top of the returns like neither Berd or Gasquet generally are and that can put pressure on a server.

jamie Says:

Nadal wins the final.

alison Says:

All in all Novaks had quite a tough week,the odds look stacked against him to even play,and he seems to have found his range,congrats to him on reaching the MC final for the 2nd year in a row.

skeezer Says:


No. Mistaken hashtag. Leftover from response to queen.:(

Alex Says:

Djokovic Wins the Final. You heard it here first!

Alok Says:


Be realistic now. Fabio has over-achieved by making this semi-final. It’s not like he has nadal’s credentials on clay. Even murray got creamed 1 and 2 this week, didn’t he?

Could Fabio have done better? YES! but unfortunately the dude is no fedal [remember even the big ones have their off-days. fed = rg 2008 and rafa WTF 2011] so, easy on Fabulous Fabio!

In what universe is a guy with 6slams the king of tennis ahead of 2 guys who have 17/11 slams for a total of 28 slams between them? It must be in the dimwit nole world!

Brando Says:


No disrespect to Nole, and yes kudos to him for winning: he played tidy and nice as WB said, and I agree he did.

But seriously: Fabio was mega disappointing here.

Going into this match my thoughts were:

I think Novak will win here, but Fabio according to the guys seems to be on form.

He’ll be a good test, and it would be a good chance to size up Novak’s game here.

Boy was i disappointed!

You couldn’t tell anything about Novak here as Fabio took all the headlines!

And not the kind he wants to remember here.

Regarding Novak:

IMHO the big issue was his fitness.

Well he answered that by finishing the Querrey match and now Youzhny, Monaco, Niemenen and Fognini here.

No issue for him playing the final.


So form:

Now seeing as his fitness wasn’t an issue to stop him competing I ask a simple question:

Was he EVER not going to defend RU points v Youzhny, Monaco, Niemenen and Fognini?

LOL- that was a juicy, gimme lead up to a final for anyone and anywhere.

I mean:

– YOUZHNY: World no. 27, age 30, weakest surface is clay and 6-7 for the year.

A gimme!

– MONACO: World no. 20, no major weapons to speak off and 5-7 for the year.

A gimme!

– NIEMENEN: World no. 49, age 31 and completely shattered from the Delpo match.

A gimme!

– FOGNINI: World no. 32, 9-9 for the year and COMPLETELY SHAMEFUL performance.

A complete gimme!

I’m sorry but:

IMHO, that is a juicy draw.

And considering his ankle is fine enough to play he was always going to get to the final with that competition.


LOL, who cannot serve well under no pressure from the other side of the net?

My take:

Glad the ankle’s fine.

Well done to him for defending RU points.

The rest?

I have seen him play much better, and I doubt he has ever had a gift of a route to a final than that one!

queen Says:

Thanks Jaime I always believed your predictions.

Brando Says:


Do you know how to be anything other than a hypocritical, double standard ensuing, Rafa obsessed diva on here?

He was tired.

Oh- how wonderful.

I am sure Novak was feeling fresh as a daisy too considering the amount he had played recently right?

I look forward to you offering Rafa such reason’s in the future!

jane Says:

Brando the draw was much tougher originally, with Delpo, Berd, Reeshard – all of whom can play quite well on clay – and if they had all come through I honestly don’t know if Nole would have done so. But they all lost. Actually I thought Youz gave the toughest test to Nole in some ways, but they always have had tight matches. I don’t really know what to expect tomorrow: could be a wash out like last year, could be a good match. Hoping for the latter of course. But either way, I am pleased with Nole defending his points, regardless of who he played to do so. He came through who was in front of him. It’s all he can do.

Wog boy Says:


I am watching it again now, from the word go Nole was sharp and focused and didn’t drop focus a tiny bit, on the contrary, as match was progressing he was tightening the screw. Fognini just couldn’t keep up. Nole’s serve was accurate, return was deep and coming back with interest to Fognini and most importantly he kept pressure on Fognini by moving him from one corner to another without let down.
Fognini probably was thinking, it is OK, I made SF, my home town,San Remo, is only half an hour away from MC so I might as well go home and celebrate with a good wine and Italian food:) He is lucky he is not from southern part of Italy, they wouldn’t let him come back home. Northerners are placid people.

Brando Says:


Completely agree!

I’m sorry but:

When the opponent tosses the ball up and just manages a MERE 50% first serves in, that too on clay, and that too playing absolutely dismal according ALL OBSERVERS and even get’s booed off court then:

I am sorry- but if that was Rafa instead of Novak I would be gutted that my guy didn’t get a decent match under his belt!

Heck it wasn’t anything more than a glorified practise session- and even then a one way traffic one!


He was tidy, played cleanly took care of business.

Fabio took care of the rest for him.

Simple as that!

nadalista Says:

Overcast conditions tomorrow will favour Novak. He has been playing himself into form. Early tournament hiccups had more to do with transitioning from hard to clay, than fitness issues.

It will be a test, it will not be pretty, am picking Rafa (there’s news!) to get the job done……..


Brando Says:


No disrespect- but all that matter’s is WHO you play, not who you might play.

I’m calling thing’s on who he played here- simple as that.

And defending the RU points- well it’s least he can do in face of that opposition.

Anything less would be a colossal disappointment from the World n.1 and a clay expert!

It’s as simple as that IMO!

Ben Pronin Says:

On the bright side, looked like Novak served well. 70% first serves in, 3 aces, no doubles. He’s done worse.

Didn’t see the match though. Sounds like both went about as expected as possible. Assuming both are fit, should be a good match. They played a close one here back in 2009 that went 3.

Can’t be worse than last year, either. I feel like after beating Nadal so many times, considering beat him once takes such a tremendous effort, Djokovic was just mentally spent while facing him and didn’t bother fighting. And after having lost so many times and getting to play him in his absolute favorite domain, Nadal amped up the intensity to its max and showed Djokovic who’s boss [on clay]. But then the matches got progressively better in Rome and Paris. So I’d expect Novak to put up a good fight tomorrow and the match to resemble 09 more than last year.

But this is even more interesting given the circumstances. Wonder how Nole feels going into this match after Rafa’s long layoff. Relishing opportunity? Or worried about maintaining any semblance of control? I think Nadal is licking his chops for sure.

jane Says:

nadalista, yes the surface and altitude transition was part of it, though I do think he was being cautious at first in his movements (due to the sprain). I have missed Rafa’s matches because they’ve all been at 4:00 am or earlier my time, but it looks like he played well today.

I don’t expect Nole to win; he hasn’t in his other 2 tries here. But I am proud of him for reaching the final. Ajde Nole!

Queen Says:

Ngentot Says:

You were wrong for two things:
1. It’s King of Clay against King of Tennis.
2. Fabio will never be relevant anywhere.

Who r u calling King of Tennis? The Serb? Ha ha…great joke. I think u meant current #1? Are u trying to undermine Fed and Nadal’s achievements? The Serb has a loooong way to go before he takes over the tennis thorone. So please do not call him King of Tennis cuz HE IS NOT.

skeezer Says:

Didn’t say he was tired. You did. I said he was spent. You chose to give him an excuse by saying he was not gving a effort. I just offered an alternative reason.

Are you talking about giving excuses before and after you play, win or lose? Totally different animal, and Fab doesn’t have a history of doing that,

Has far as offering Rafa excuses, no thank you. He does that very well by himself.

Brando Says:


I am not concerned at all.

Weather conditions?


1- First of all, just proves how much opponent’s need when they start looking at weather reports when facing Rafa.

2- It was expected to be worse today. Saturday was the worst forecast- Rafa didn’t mind it.

3- He played friday and today under dubious weather: so he has had good time facing such conditons.

4- His FH, top spin and quality of tennis seemed very high to me today- so I am not worried on that front.

5- Novak struggles more in windy condition’s- so it’s NOT just a issue for one guy.


Not fussed at all.

This is a really, really good challenge for Rafa- and IMO a fantastic one.

Novak hasn’t done anything special v YOUZHNY, MONACO, NIEMENEN or FOGNINI- juicy opponents for anyone of the top 3 clay players in the world!

And Rafa has seen the best from Novak in the past:

He knows what to expect, he knows what he has to do and he knows that he can do it.

I am GLAD that Rafa got tested by highly talented opponent’s such as DIMITROV and TSONGA.

He got challenged, he came through it, and he’ll be battle hardened for it.

He got asked some serious question’s by his opponents and he answered them really well.


IF Rafa play’s his best, the rest will take care of itself!

Relax- forgot the opponent, the weather and just hope Rafa will perform his best.

Certainly today was a fantastic match and challenge for him!


nadalista Says:

Well, one cannot control the weather, whatever happens in that respect, happens. I just hope it does not rain so the court turns into a muddy bog. That would be a shame, for both players and spectators alike. These 2 can put on some sumptuous rallies but the conditions have to be right for that and we do want to be entertained!


the DA Says:

hehe..Rafa in his presser when asked if he was happy to play Nole replied: “No. I want to play against another player that is easier.” I’m sure it was done with a twinkle in his eye.

nadalista Says:

@Brando, thank you for the confidence infusion……



jane Says:

nadalista, we do want to be entertained indeed. Hope it’s not too one-sided like last year. Looks like some Nole and Rafa fans getting along just fine. ;)

skeezer Says:

Lol thanks for thar. Of course he wants to play anyone other than Nole. Whens Fed when you need em?

Brando Says:

@Ben Pronin:

‘ I think Nadal is licking his chops for sure.’:

My sentiment’s exactly!

IF anything- i think Rafa is welcoming this challenge and look’s forward to it greatly.

– he has played Novak more than anyone, so he knows what he can do
– he knows what works against him since he has beat him more than anyone
– he knows what to do at MC v Novak
– he knows what he himself is capable of on clay

Rafa, if you think about it, has been lucky to have been tested and faced arguably the better opponent’s in the last 2 matches, DIMITROV and TSONGA, than Novak has.

Certainly the challenge they poised tested him alot more than anything NIEMENEN or FOGNINI would have presented.

Time will tell, but he’s in decent nick IMO is Rafa.

Alok Says:

“IF Rafa play’s his best, the rest will take care of itself!”

Amen to that. That is all there is. This match is on rafa’s racquet. His record on clay totally dwarfs nole’s record. Look at the numbers.

Brando Says:


No worries.

And yes the ONLY thing i wish for the weather is:

No rain.

That’s just bad all round.

I doubt ANYONE would want that.

All the rest is fine as at the end of the day:

1- One can do ZERO about it

2- Rafa has played under tough conditions multiple times in his career

3- The weather will NOT solely be an issue for Rafa- I doubt Novak want’s windy conditions either

4- Rafa has faced Novak in such condtions- no surprise there

5- He faced tough conditions- that are forecast to be tougher than tomorrow- v DIMITIROV and TSONGA.

And guess what?

He came through them especially today, as a long standing Rafa fan, it seemed to make NO DIFFERENCE to to the quality of his tennis.

Relax i say:

This is an excellent challenge for Rafa, and should he play his best hopefully then the rest shall take care of itself!

Brando Says:

@the DA:

LOL, I bet he also said that with a smile! ;-)

IMHO: I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if Rafa was secretly hoping, wishing to meet Novak here.

Why not?

He was sooner or later going to face him anyhow, more than likely if Rafa was ever to contender major title matches.

So, IMO this is a welcome challenge for him- I think he looks forward to it greatly and will relish it.

Brando Says:


Yep, I agree.

Rafa doesn’t need to be concerned about Novak or the weather, nor should his fans.

The ONLY concern is:

Hopefully Rafa play’s his best.

IF does that- the rest shall take care of itself.


Giles Says:

@Jamie. Thanks

nadalista Says:

RT @NeilHarmanTimes: “Nadal, asked which was the most memorable of his matches against Djokovic, chooses the 2012 Australian final [which he lost] ”

If Rafa is referencing THAT bruising encounter, then it tells me he is expecting a bruiser, and the fact that he says it was the most memorable of his matches with Novak (in spite of losing) tells me that loss is etched somewhere he wants erased…….

Ladies and gentlemen, fasten your seat belts!


Tennis Vagabond Says:

What Rafa has done since his injury is simply unreal. What an athlete!

Brando Says:


That match was the most memorable though in terms of a spectacle.

Novak summed it best:

There was NO LOSER in this one as both of us (him and Rafa) were deserving of the win.

And it was true since it was unbelievably close.

Definitely memorable for the crowd, fans of both player’s and it goes down in tennis history as one of the toughest on court battles ever.

A legendary match.

For Rafa though, that match is a positive one since other than the result, EVERYTHING was a major plus for him:

He was toe to toe, on a level standing with Novak at his best slam, best tourny.

That was a HUGE PLUS for Rafa a colossal mental boost.

And he even admitted to this after wards:

He LOVED that match as he was so competitive in it v his biggest rival on his home turf.

It was ONLY upwards from then on for since, if he was ONLY a mere 2 game’s from beating him on his turf:

then what can he do elsewhere to him when conditions would favour Rafa more?

It showed him that he can more than handle Novak, and what works against him.

And the ATP record book does indicate, that maybe Rafa knows more than most what work’s against him!

Brando Says:

@Tennis Vegabond:

I completely agree- it’s a phenomenal achievement and a huge testament to what a physical specimen Rafa is as an athlete.

The BEST thing for me about it all is, not the results but when he said this:

EVERY DAY is a treat for me from here forth as I get the pleasure of playing the game I love.

That tells me that he is buzzing from just being on the court- he just loves it out there.

THAT is a major thing: it makes everything else become easier to deal with as you are just loving being out there no matter what!

jane Says:

It was an amazing match in many ways: exhausting but so many twists and turns until the very end, including in the ceremony where they both needed chairs.

Giles Says:

“I’m not getting out there against Nadal to play my best, I’m getting out there to win”. Djokovic
I wonder what happened with the dislocated bone in his ankle? I guess he located it!! Lol

Steve 27 Says:

Nadal in two sets. And I anticipate a large amount of negative gestures by the Serbian when things did not got well.

the DA Says:

@Jane – did you miss the link up thread to the Harlem Shake performance? Just in case:

Milos is at the forefront (and might surprise you). It only shows a glimpse of Rafa and Andy at the end. Hoping someone comes up with more video.

jane Says:

the DA, I did comment on it above – thanks again for posting it, and yes, Mios, what the heck!? I was surprised by his zaniness. Never saw that side of him before. :)

Alok Says:

LOL Giles! mystery of the disappearing ankle bone has been solved just in time! do you think this guy can walk on water? :)

nadalista Says:

RT @NeilHarmanTimes: “The ultimate tennis test – The Fed on grass, Djoko on hard courts, no says No.1, it is Nadal on clay. Hold on to your hats tomorrow people”

Alok Says:


Stop talking about serbians. Your hatred for nole/Serbians is obvious and it is ruining this site.

[it’s not me saying it, just a matter of time before the “gang” is informed of your post and they start circling around you like a pack of hyenas! then again, maybe not you have a good amount of rafa fans around so, the “gang” will find it hard to corner you!]

Humble Rafa Says:

Shriekapova is 26..Wow. She is actually getting older every day. Hard to believe. Nothing that good make up can’t fix, still it’s worth knowing it happens.

the DA Says:

@Jane – sorry, I missed it. Maybe Milos needs to incorporate a little of that zaniness into his game ;)

Alok Says:

Djoko on hard courts? Am I mistaken or do fed/sampras/agassi have 9/7/6 slams on that surface which is more than djoko has?

the DA Says:

The clueless one doesn’t understand that Harman is referring to current players. Par for the course.

Humble Rafa Says:

I am not feeling too good about my game. To be honest, I would rather not face the Egg Lover tomorrow. My long lost nightmares about him are slowly coming back. But it is still clay, and I am still the King.

I am not a fan of rivalry on clay. I prefer beat downs.

jane Says:

I thought Andy might take a wild card into Barcelona, but I guess not.

Alok Says:

Oh right! Fed is only playing on grass and retired from hardcourts!

Dum gets dummer!

the DA Says:

“Dum gets dummer!”

Oh the irony. Priceless.

Educate yourself:

queen Says:

Steve 27 Says:
Nadal in two sets. And I anticipate a large amount of negative gestures by the Serbian when things did not got well.

Yea, he looks like he talks to God everytime something goes wrong and raising his serbian hands to Heaven LOL Well God will NOT help him tomorrow.

queen Says:

You know what Rosol means in Polish…chicken broth… hahahah

the DA Says:

^ When you learn the difference between “current” and “career”, get back to me. Have a nice day.

jane Says:

DA, you must’ve meant to put up this one, in which Nole’s career stats on hard courts top Agassi and Sampras’ not to mention Lavers and J-Mac’s. Only Fed,Lendl and Connors have higher career indexes atm.

Alok Says:

I think you need to get yourself truckloads of common-sense and intelligence, but I am not holding my breath.

Alok Says:


Dont bother, the guy is even more conceited than nole fans that nole is the GOAT of hardcourts.

GOAT on Grass = Federer
GOAT on Clay = Nadal
GOAT on hardcourts = Federer, unless you have lived under a rock the last decade.

jane Says:

What “guy” – who said Nole is “GOAT of hard courts”?

I presume you won’t be watching the clay final tomorrow since you find it “dreary looking to the eye”, so maybe we won’t have to read your inane posts.

Carry on smartly as someone used to say! Have a nice day.

Alok Says:


As I mentioned Rafa is a magician on clay. So sure I will watch.

Who said Djokovic is better than federer on hardcourts? the guy whoz behind you were busy kissing, Jane!

I guess you dont read posts and just jump in to post when one of your friends emails for help!

Alok Says:

Let’s hope rafa brings the curtain down on the greatest broadway show of all-time:

Dislocated ankle Drama queen

the DA Says:

@Jane – no, while that is an impressive stat, I meant current. The angry ewok doesn’t seem to know how to discern “current” from “career”.

Margot Says:

That’s brilliant of Nole. And very happy to see Andy in at 10 too. Hope he ends his career a lot higher.

the DA Says:

@Jane, Margot – don’t you just love the sudden transformation into being a Rafa fan? It’s so precious.

jane Says:

Yes, I see DA. Current on hard, Nole is at the top, Andy is second. And you didn’t say he was the “GOAT of hard courts”, which of course would mean “all time”; I can read what you said.

margot, Yes Andy M is top 10 – awesome! Already beating players like Roddick and Becker in the career index. Nice. :)

Margot Says:

@ the DA
Nothing short of miraculous, I’d say…..

jane Says:

DA, lol, yes.

Alok Says:

DeuceBigelow aka Margot:

I know the venom you and DA spew on novak on the other site.

Don’t worry Jane is not smart enough to figure out the filth you post against novak on other sites. She is cunning but not smart like you two. *WINK*

Margot Says:

Alok/scoretracker/von /whoever/whatever
Now that’s just naughty porky pies and you should be ashamed.
BTW Have never “spewed venon” about any player current or retired. Lol have u been taking lessons in hyperbole? Dislike some players’ styles of course but restrict “spewing hatred” lol can hardly type that phrase for laughing, for Pol Pot/Hiter/Idi Amin etc etc
Did your “conversion” take place on the road to Damascus btw like St Paul?

Alok Says:

Oh Mrs. Cunning, I thought you had moved on? LOL!

Can understand your frustration that nadal fans dont support the attention-deprived souls like you and djokovic. boo hoo!

Steve 27 Says:

Until now:
Best in grass: Federer
Best in clay: Nadal
Best in hardcourt: Federer
Best in carpet: Mc Enroe
Best in outdoor: Nadal
Best in indoor: Mc Enroe

jane Says:

Don’t worry Margot. I know you don’t “spew venom” ha ha. Why bother? It’s just tennis.

the DA Says:

@Jane – lol. Good find. The past never lies. Giles should read that to remind him who he’s dealing with.

@margot – What site is ewok referring to?

Alok Says:

Well said steve 27. You sure drama-queenovic and dour-man from dunblane don’t figure in that list?

Tennis-experts DA,Jane or Margot are convinced otherwise. they insist drama-queen/dour-man should top all lists!

Alok Says:

Margot, save your lies for egg-head like Jane to not see your hatred for novak on the other site. I know better!

Margot Says:

@ the DA
Shhhhhh, I cannot tell…..I will be struck down…rendered dumb…forced to admit to unspeakable things…’s the very dark side….oh go on then. it’s tennistalk!
If u pop over be sure to chat to zare, my good “virtual” friend and Nole supporter on there.

jane Says:

Funny – someone named “El Mago” used that *WINK* not too long ago. Must be just a coincidence. LOL!

the DA Says:

@Steve 27 – that a CAREER list not a CURRENT (i.e. active players) list.

@Margot – oh there! I used to lurk but wasn’t ever tempted to sign up. Too much squabbling (which this site is starting to resemble more and more). Coincidence?

Alok Says:

Oh Ok Jane! now I am El Mago? your stupidity is infinite! Keep going!

too bad, it still doesn’t change the fact that nole is behind rafa and federer in achievements on a tennis court.

as far as drama/drag queens go, Novak is the queen! no debates!

jane Says:

Who knows who or what you are. I think Brando had a good name for you here:

the DA Says:

Nah, Nole’s drag isn’t as good as his this pic demonstrates:

jane Says:

LOL the DA. I agree: his tennis is better. ;)

BadaBing Says:

Alok@April 20th, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Alok, nice diversion attempt. Steve is not Von. According to people on here–You are.

Alok Says:

Oh cunning one, the lengths to which you stoop! keep the hatred spewing. I am glad everyone can see your true colors.

jane Says:

LOL – Who’s spewing?

Alok Says:

Badabing. We can have a bet. Like I mentioned one of you djokovic fans lost a bet to me. You can check with Jane on that. as usual she was a coward enough to let guy take the fall.

Alok Says:

As ugly as he is, i think his drag is not as dragging or dour as his or the dour-man’s tennis. #fact!

jane Says:

Whose true colours?

racquet Says:

@ margot

omg. Alok is Scoretracker? That totally makes sense. So many meltdowns at tennistalk.

BadaBing Says:

Can anyone on here tell me why Von needs so many screen names? Long Live the King, Alok, El Mago, Scoretracker and probably dozens more.

I think she has serious borderline personality disorder and insomnia as she never sleeps. Her posts went on all night long even though she claims to live in NY.

the DA Says:

@BadaBing – who knows? There’s certainly a lot of misplaced anger. As for the all nighters, maybe too much of what the series ‘Breaking Bad’ is all about?

Ben Pronin Says:

Sampras is by far the greatest indoor/fast court player. Stats be damned!

Ben Pronin Says:

Von/Alok, whatever your name is. Who’s number 1? Who’s the king? Same answer: Novak Djokovic. Get over it. You’re just mad he went on to be more successful than Roddick.

BadaBing Says:

Von’s in a state of shock and denial. Yes, she needs to get over it. Who knows? Roddick might try for a comeback.

Ben Pronin Says:

Roddick should get his own talk show. On Tennis Channel, at least. Or like a podcast. His game wasn’t what it used to be in the last few months leading to his retirement, but his wit will never fade.

BadaBing Says:

That would be perfect for him. After he takes time for himself he might consider that.

jane Says:

BadaBing just saw your question @ 1:52 – I don’t know the answer though, of course. However, the strange thing is that some of those posters whom you mention use the same phrases, like “spew venom”, “cast aspersions”, “drip drip drip” “little gang” “back scratcher” “panties in a knot” “grandma” etc. Not sure why. 0_o

Steve 27 Says:

Sampras is by far the greatest indoor/fast court player. Stats be damned!

Mc Enroe was better than Pistol Pete in indoor conditions.
McEnroe won 51 indoor titles, Sampras won 23.
Mc Enroe won 3 Masters and 5 WCT Finals.
Sampras won 5 Masters and 2 Grand Slam Cup.
Mc Enroe has the best carpet court career match winning percentage: 84.18% (411–65) of any player.
Sampras has 77% in carpet.
For quality and quantity, the Brat is the best player in the open era in indoor conditions.

Julia Says:

Stats be damned? Shows that Ben won’t be impartial no matter what facts he is presented with. Wouldn’t be the first time, lol.

montecarlo Says:

Just want to bump this once again.

baby gasquet got schooled by Robredo today.

Top story: Djokovic Blown Out By Sonego In Vienna Stunner; Rublev Tops Thiem