Rafael Nadal Fights Off Nishikori, Blisters, Broken Shoelaces And Time Violations
by Tom Gainey | January 20th, 2014, 7:36 am

Rafael Nadal had a lot working against him today but the World No. 1 stayed perfect on the year with a tough 76, 75, 76 win over Kei Nishikori.

The 24-year-old Nishikori broke Nadal four times and led up a break in the final set before succumbing to Nadal’s relentless pressure.

Nadal, though, wasn’t just fighting Kei. He was also hit with multiple time violations for going over 20 seconds to serve, he had blister issues with his heavily taped left hand and he even had to run to the locker room to repair a broken shoelace!

After the win, his ninth of the year setting him up for a date with Grigor Dimitrov on Wednesday, the 2009 Australian Open champion addressed the media about his adventurous 3-hour, 16-minute match.

Q. Each set took more than one hour. How difficult was it to keep your concentration against Kei?
RAFAEL NADAL: I think the concentration for me was okay the whole match. I think I played very focused, fighting for every ball.

Kei played fantastic match, in my opinion. Just a few mistakes in some moments that was tough ones. But for the rest, he played very aggressive, he went for the shots. He came on court with determination to take the ball very early and go for the winners.

He really had the right feelings to do it. So just was a tough match, a very important win. Very happy.

Q. The game looked a lot closer than the scoreboard suggested. Is that how it felt out there?
RAFAEL NADAL: 3 hours 16, the score says that the match was very tough. Is true that it was in three sets. I felt like I won in three sets today because every set was very tough.

But playing for every set more than one hour is because the match was very close. He was playing great. Was a lot of tough points. I had to run a lot.

Q. Is that the sort of workout you wanted for the first day of the second week?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t prepare. I looking forward to play my best and try to win every day. I go on court trying to play my best every day, trying to play aggressive. Sometimes works better, sometimes works a little bit worst.

Today, were much different conditions than few days ago with playing night session. So was windy. The feeling was not the same. Was little bit worst, my feeling.

He was able to play more inside. I think I played a little bit too short. The other day I was able to hit longer and to take advantage with my shots. Today I didn’t make it.

I think he was in a better position on the points than me more times. So that’s something that cannot happen. But is true that is tough to change that when the opponent is decided to hit winners from everywhere.

Q. Last time you played Kei in French Open was way easier than this time. Was it the difference in surface?
RAFAEL NADAL: Always it’s tough against him in every surface. He’s a very complete player. He’s very quick. He’s able to do the most difficult thing in tennis, that’s taking the ball early and changing the directions. He’s able to do it easy, so…

Kei is a potential top 10 player. So that’s the real thing. Is a great victory for me. Is true that is difficult to compare clay with hard. In clay, playing on clay is a little bit more difficult than play the way he did today.

For example, you play that inside. You are not hitting every ball perfect, you will be in trouble, because your position, you know, you’re going to be inside and the opponent will have a chance to hit higher, longer. So will be tough.

Playing on clay is more difficult play that aggressive game because the ball have higher bounces and is more difficult to play that inside.

Q. If you could change the rule for the time between points, how would you change it?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t want to change no one rule. Just I accept that sometimes I was slow. I respect that.

But what I think, in my opinion, is not right, you know. In that game I think I played a very, very tough point with the 15 All or something like this. So I runned for every ball, crazy point, and then I was back.

It was on deuce. The negative thing in my opinion is not the warning. The negative thing is the moment, 4 All, deuce. You can choose another moment to do it, not that one.

Another thing is she didn’t advise me before the second warning that I was still going slow. So normal thing, if the referee, you know, is interesting on help little bit the player, the normal thing is say, Rafa, you are going too slow. So I try to go quicker, before the second warning.

But she didn’t make it. She is able to not doing. The rule says you can do it. But, in my opinion, that goes against the show. But that’s fine. If she wants to do it that way, she did. She did, and that’s why we are talking that here.

Q. Maybe after really long points or if it is very hot, do you think it would be appropriate to make a little more time?
RAFAEL NADAL: The word is not rules or not rules. The word is understand the game. That’s all. We need referees who understand the game. The rules cannot go against the good show. That’s all.

If you are playing with 40 degrees, you cannot expect to have 20 seconds recover, 25 seconds recover. If you are playing crazy rallies, you cannot have 25 seconds recover because then you will not have more rallies because the players cannot have it. So that goes against the fans, against the show.

But I repeat: nothing against the rules. I accept the rules. Sometimes I am wrong. Sometimes I am too slow and I accept that. I respect the decision of the referee even if I am not happy for that, because was not the right moment to do it, in my opinion, before an advise. But she did. That’s all.

I going to try to go quicker for the future. But is important to have people on the chair that really understand the game and people who manage this sport who understand the game, and that’s it.

Because, if not, every time with Hawk Eye, the referee just start watching the watch, 25 seconds, then warning, so then we don’t need any more referees. We only need lines. That’s fine.

Because if not, the referees don’t need to do all the rules. That is my feeling. We are making the referees worse than before with all the things that we are making for them easier.

Q. How is your hand doing?
RAFAEL NADAL: So so. (Showing hand with blister).

Q. Is that one of the worst blisters you’ve ever had?
RAFAEL NADAL: The problem is not the blister. The problem is the place. Is very difficult to cover that blister here. Is not painful, but I cannot play without that cover today.

Is a little bit hard because with that cover, is true, that you can imagine that is something that I didn’t use never. I used one time in my career, or twice. Is different than the ones I am using every day, that I already feel the ball, feel the racquet with all that. That’s something new. The feeling on the racquet is a little bit more difficult.

Q. Is that why you didn’t manage to push as deep as you usually do?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. I didn’t push as deep as I am not usually do. I do when I am playing well. When I am not playing that well, I run and I fight for every point as I did today.

But, no, because some days you play better, some days you play not that good. I didn’t play bad today, but I didn’t play as good as I did two days ago.

But the victory of today has much more value than the victory of two days ago. Because when you are playing that good, the normal thing is win. When you are playing normal and the opponent is a good one, you are able to keep winning, that’s have much more value.

Q. You didn’t bring a second pair of shoes to the court?
RAFAEL NADAL: I never bring second pair of shoes on the court. I have in the locker room. I never break my shoes on the court. I didn’t break my shoes, I break my lace, something that never happen in the past for me.

No, no reason to bring another shoes. I have another one in the locker, but Nike shoes are very good. Never break (smiling).

Q. You make dozens of routines before each serve. Why don’t you do this during practice sessions?
RAFAEL NADAL: Because I am not that focused.

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26 Comments for Rafael Nadal Fights Off Nishikori, Blisters, Broken Shoelaces And Time Violations

dr snuggles Says:

The timing of the time violation call is simple. If you break the rule now, you will be warned now. Nevermind the heat Rafa, the same rule applies to everyone. Stop the excuses. Why are you always try to bend it the way you feel it would suit you.

Tennis Vagabond Says:

“But the victory of today has much more value than the victory of two days ago. Because when you are playing that good, the normal thing is win. When you are playing normal and the opponent is a good one, you are able to keep winning, that’s have much more value.”
A great quote that illustrates Rafa’s attitude. Rafa may not think he played great, but I disagree.

Giles Says:

Vamos Champ!
Into the quarters.
Stay Healthy!

Nirmal kumar Says:

Except Novak, no one in the draw is capable of beating Rafa. Amazed with the improvement he has done on this serve. It’s a perfect tactic to go down the line against Novak towards his FH. I expect Rafa to take the AO quite comfortably this time if he can serve consistently well.

gonzalowski Says:

Nice reading. But, these “multiple time violations”… were in fact 2 ??
Have seen this blister, it’s 1€-coin size!

gonzalowski Says:

Nadal has said that he thinks he’ll be using a bandage for that blister for the rest of the tourney, with the consequent losing of sensibility in the game.
He’d need 5 days to fully recover it.

kjb Says:


There was also a on court coaching violation.

Polo Says:

Roger played very well against Tsonga. He looks capable of beating Murray especially since Andy has just come back from back surgery. Unfortunately, that is most likely as far as he can go. Nadal is waiting on the wings to ambush him again. Federer’s only hope is if some miracle happens and Dimitrov beats Nadal.

hawkeye Says:

Wawa 7:1 dog.
Rafa 10:1 fav.
Muzza/Fed Evens (fed slight favourite)

pigoonse Says:

Dimitrov winning is a real iffy situation. If Nadal’s blister worsens or if Nadal is bothered by something and can’t focus…if, if, if.

Really can’t see past Nadal and Djokovic for the final.

Okiegal Says:

All of you tennis gurus out there……When does the time count start?? I don’t think I have ever heard. Does it start immediately when they get out of the chair or after they get the balls?? Just curious. Regarding on court coaching there is no one that looks at their box as much as Andy or Novak….don’t know if they are getting signals or what…..could be. Who knows. Roger is the only player that I don’t see do it.

VAMOS RAFA………speed it up, my man!!

skeezer Says:

“Blisters, Broken Shoelaces And Time Violations”

Now this is a player to cheer for, love, and believe anything he says. What a guy, what a professional. If he wins, you know he won’t say cause its his blisters, shoelaces, or time violations(NOT!) But if he loses? LMAO.

……………………….fill in the excuse blanks….not hard.

Humble Rafa Says:

What the umpires are doing with regard to time violations is a crime against humanity.

How is any man supposed to wipe his face, check his butt, bounce the ball in such short time.


Margot Says:

Lol. Ivan’s expression doesn’t change, win or lose, from the start of the match to the end. Might have seen a smile after Wimbledon, dunno. Really difficult to see how Andy is getting any coaching. Perhaps, if Ivan moves his towel to the left????
He must be some poker player.

Hippy Chic Says:

Okiegal like you i dont have an issue with Rafa been called for time violations,and i do hope he speeds it up as i would be gutted to see him lose a crucial big point,however i do have an issue when its only Rafa that gets called out for it,yes he does it yes its wrong but hes not exactly alone Maria,Serena,Berdych,Novak etc,and Novak,Andy,Wozniaki are all notorious for looking to their boxes for coaching,like you im also curious about the time and when it actually starts,strange that its been disscussed on the Roger Federer thread though,i thought people would be delighted he played so well and would be actually talking about that?but hey whatever.

Okiegal Says:


Before I even get on a TX thread……..I know what the topic will be……Rafa this and Rafa that….funny about how the non-Rafa fans are absolutely obsessed with him. I really am astounded by it all.

Regarding time violations I think the umpires should call it the first time they do it…..right from the get go. They let it go on and then call it at a crucial time. They need to tell them when it starts. The lady officials were on a mission! That Eva is a grouch, me thinks! . LOL


You are right, Ivan is the most stoic person I’ve ever seen. But I do like Andy he is fun to watch. My fav after Rafa.

Joker breaks Stan……just as I knew he would. I was hoping to see a 5 setter today, but Novak is in the zone and has been for a while.

Vamos Rafa!!

Hippy Chic Says:

I actually like Delpo and i know how much he is loved by most people on this very forum,but i was interested to see there was no comments about his 8 minute toilet break,and bending down and tying his shoelaces when Bautista Agut was about to serve,in fact the latter did much complaining to the umpire and was so p*ssed off about it he didnt even apologize to Delpo when he won a point after tickling the net,i missed the handshake at the end of the match to see the reaction between the two players.

Giles Says:

It’s funny that most of these players are guilty of misdemeanors but it is only Rafa that gets the focus of attention on that score. Why is he the only one targeted?

Okiegal Says:


I remember the time Del Po got into with Andy…..talking about Judy. I couldn’t believe it. Guess they all have their grouchy moments.But you’re so right, nothing was said about the 8 min break he took. If you know who would have done that….it would have made headlines!

I was reminded tonight why I’m not a fan of Novak…..the big shirt rip off!! Also beating on his chest like King Kong…..but he is an awesome tennis player, a little arrogant for my taste.

Wow! Stan and Novak are going at it in this 2nd set.

Margot Says:

@Hippy Chick
It would’ve been v. unfair if JMDP had won after that 8 minute toilet br8, but as he didn’t it worked out OK
He’s sooo slow between points he drives me nuts anyway.

Hippy Chic Says:

Okiegal you will at least see a four set,Stan just took the second set,i have nothing against Novak but his matches are much more entertaining when hes pushed,Courbon says the same about Rafa on clay,so theres no double standard,and i agree with you in that the umpires should make a stand straight away,Eva has always been quite strict on that score,shes had her run ins with Serena a few times i remember against Kim at the USO in 2010 and also Sam when she shouted come on in the middle of a point in the 2011 final,im with Giles in that although i think Rafa does bend the rule on time between points,people seem to make an issue when its him,but simply brush it under the carpet when everyone else does it,like Delpo the other day case in point hmmmm.

Hippy Chic Says:

Margot thanks,Delpo is like a tortoise between points,and a hare when playing points,i like him and his game,but i dont like some of the things he does,yet god forbid we should call out any player thats not named Rafa for doing exactly the same thing.

Hippy Chic Says:

Okiegal you have got your wish,Stan is two sets to one up now,Novak will have to do this in 5 sets,the match has now got very interesting.

Okiegal Says:


I agree 100%……Rafa does push the envelope on time and the on court coaching thing….Uncle Tonya fault, but he’s not the only one….just saying.

Stan got the second set! Wow. I’m surprised.

Hippy Chic Says:

Okiegal i like Novak but ive never been a fan,actually shock horror i was a Federer fan before Rafa came on the seen,but i just loved the way Rafa was the only player that managed to challenge that domination and get under his skin,before that i was a fan of Pat and Andre and always enjoyed that particular match up,was dissapointed he couldnt crack the case against Goran in that fantastic Wimbledon final all those years ago,was never a fan of Sampras his style of play always left me a bit cold great serve though.

gonzalowski Says:

Xisca not coming to Australia = suspicious blister appearence ???

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