Nadal Struggles Continue In Rome As Father Federer Falls; 7 Thoughts On The Clay Season
by Sean Randall | May 14th, 2014, 8:41 pm
  • 117 Comments

We are a little less than a month away from the crowning the 2014 French Open champion, and for the first time in what seems like a lifetime the case can be made it’s a wide open field in Paris. That’s because the “King of Clay” himself, Rafael Nadal, continues to languish on his favorite surface.

Today, after getting gifted a Madrid title by the improving Kei Nishiori, Nadal was pushed again in his Rome opener by Gilles Simon before prevailing 7-6, 6-7, 6-2 in a 3-hour, 18-minute marathon of a match.

On hardcourts, Simon can and often does pose problems for the top players, but as a counter puncher on clay against someone like Nadal it shouldn’t be this tight of a match. But such is life these days for Rafa.

“The conditions were difficult, it was very cold and the ball didn’t bounce a lot,” said Nadal who has won the Fori Italico seven times. “It was a tough moment in the second set, but this was the first match on clay where I had to suffer, mentally and physically. I was not playing bad and I am happy to have dealt with that kind of anxiety.

“I look forward to playing the third set because these are the matches that give me more satisfaction, the ones that test you very deeply. I did it and I am very happy.”

Satisfaction? Getting broken not once but twice serving for the first set shouldn’t give anyone satisfaction.

Anyway, on to some thoughts.

1. Nadal’s Issues
Nadal is still trying to find that range that we saw from him last year when he returned from knee injury to dominate the tour. Nearing his 28th birthday and with his body more prone than ever to breakdown, we may never see that “peak” level from him again. To me, since his US Open win he just hasn’t been the same guy. The back injury suffered at the Australian certainly didn’t help any and maybe the long 2013 season which included that lucrative exo series really didn’t allow his body time to heal and recharge, and now he’s running on low gas.

Simply put, the confidence isn’t there, the depth of shot isn’t there and he doesn’t seem to be serving well, especially on the second, as he normally does.

And we are now in mid-May and Nadal has a total of TWO wins over top 10 players this season (Roger Federer in Australia and Tomas Berdych last week in Madrid). That’s well below where he should be.

Still, as I’ve said Rafa has the luxury of time with two weeks before the French and really almost three before he starts playing seeds there. And in Paris, it will be best-of-5 which will make it that much more difficult for anyone to author an upset over the 8-time champ. But more than ever, they rest of players have to finally be feeling some hope.

2. The Djokovic Wrist
Speaking of hope, Novak Djokovic has to be absolutely gripping over the timing of this right wrist problem. With Rafa reeling what a chance for the Serb to finally win in Paris. Oh but that wrist. He says it’s OK but is it really? This week will be a huge marker for where the wrist is. Any sign of issue and you can probably kiss his French Open chances goodbye.

In Paris the matches are much longer, the conditions – rain and cold – can be much heavier and those facts will escalate the odds of another flare up. Or is it 100% healed? I don’t know and he might not either, but that uncertainty has to weigh on his mind.

Djokovic also says tennis will take a backseat once the baby comes at the end of the year, so might that mean this is his last best chance to win the French?

3. Father Federer
One way to get out of diaper duty for a new father is to go back to work, and that’s what Roger Federer did this week by playing Rome. Unfortunately for Roger, a finalist in Rome last year, his “vacation” away from his four kids abruptly ended today by the cool hand of Jeremy Chardy who saved a matchpoint in a third set tiebreak win.

Kudos to Chardy for pulling out the remarkable pass down matchpoint and I thought Federer played well at times despite the breezy conditions, though in the end the errors caught up to him.

Roger now goes into Paris on a 2-match losing streak but thanks to Lenny, Leo and co. who be by his side at the French, he’ll get over those losses quickly.

4. Outside The Big Three, Wawrinka Leads
For Paris I won’t put Andy Murray in the top tier of contenders, but the Scot joins a deep and growing “B” list of players who can do damage on the red brick of Roland Garros. Tomas Berdych has been playing well. So too has 2013 finalist David Ferrer, Grigor Dimitrov, Tommy Haas, Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori, Ernests Gulbis, JW Tsonga and there are others who could sneak into the last eight.

The pack is of course lead by Stan Wawrinka who if he goes deep in Rome could rise up to the “A” level. Stan, however, has a very tough draw in Rome with Tommy Haas tomorrow, then potentially in order Berdych, Nadal and Djokovic. But the way he played in Monte Carlo and how he looked at the start of the season, navigating that treacherous road is what’s required if want to join the elite.

5. Sharapova’s Fight
Every time she gets down she gets back up to win. That’s been the MO for Maria Sharapova lately who was even down an early break today to Monica Puig before winning in straights. The Russian has won all 12 matches on clay this year with titles in Stuttgart and Madrid, and looks like a semifinal lock in Paris if and only if she and her No. 7 ranking can avoid her nemesis Serena in the quarters. Because despite all her success on clay, Maria’s doing it without beating Serena. And until she beats her main rival, all the numbers and title are nice, but we know who the boss really is. So I’d love to see the two meet this week in the Rome semis on Saturday.

6. Victoria Azarenka MIA
Remember her? Is she still playing tennis? The former No. 1 has played in one match (1st round loss to Lauren Davis at Indian Wells) since her Australian Open loss.

7. Murray’s Coaching Search
It’s been almost two months since Andy Murray and Ivan Lendl ended what was a very fruitful partnership. With Murray turning 27 tomorrow and with Wimbledon just around the corner, might there be a coaching announcement forthcoming?

As for tomorrow in Rome, it’s a very busy day with Nadal, Djokovic, Wawrinka, Sharapova and Serena all on center court.

THURSDAY ROME SCHEDULE
CENTRALE start 12:00 noon
ATP – [3] S Wawrinka (SUI) vs [15] T Haas (GER)

Not Before 2:00 pm
WTA – [11] A Ivanovic (SRB) vs [8] M Sharapova (RUS)

Not Before 4:00 pm
[1] R Nadal (ESP) vs [14] M Youzhny (RUS)

Not Before 7:30 pm
WTA – [1] S Williams (USA) vs V Lepchenko (USA)

Not Before 9:00 pm
ATP – P Kohlschreiber (GER) vs [2] N Djokovic (SRB)

GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
WTA – S Stosur (AUS) vs [2] N Li (CHN)

Not Before 12:00 noon
[8] M Raonic (CAN) vs [11] J Tsonga (FRA)
[PR] J Melzer (AUT) vs [7] A Murray (GBR)

Not Before 4:00 pm
WTA – [6] J Jankovic (SRB) or S Kuznetsova (RUS) vs [12] F Pennetta (ITA)

Not Before 7:00 pm
ATP – [5] D Ferrer (ESP) vs E Gulbis (LAT)


Also Check Out:
Federer Falls Off Again in SF Loss to Djokovic at Rome
Roger Federer: I Couldn’t Be Happier, The Boys And Mirka Are Healthy, It’s A Great Time In Our Lives
Watch Jeremy Chardy Hit This Incredible Winner Down Matchpoint Against Roger Federer [Video]
Nadal, Djokovic Escape Again In Rome, Can The Young Guns Dimitrov And Raonic Spoil A 1-2 Final?
Federer Opens Clay Campaign v. Gulbis in Rome; Djokovic, Murray Also in Action

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117 Comments for Nadal Struggles Continue In Rome As Father Federer Falls; 7 Thoughts On The Clay Season

skeezer Says:

“The conditions were difficult, it was very cold and the ball didn’t bounce a lot,”
Ahhhh, now you need the ball to bounce high?
Wonder if Rafa can win a title with the ball bouncing normal? Haven’t seen it.

#excuseswhenyouwin


andrea Says:

well, good for fed for coming out anyway….it’s all gravy at this point.

congrats to chardy for a well deserved win.

nadal just isn’t finding his groove this season on clay. usually he mows over everyone. but as i said before the season started, it was all getting too predictable on clay. nice to have some other faces on the podium.

and of course…..way to go habs!


mem Says:

you guys write a lot about tennis, but your insight is very limited.

“satisfaction” means different things to different people. “satisfaction” to sean randall as it relates to the match probably means the joy that comes from winning in straights without any drama or difficulty. “satisfaction” to a player like nadal who has admitted to struggling with confidence means something much more profound. I would say that the satisfaction that nadal is referring to comes from the fact that he dug down deep after losing control of the match; he was still mentally able to fight and believe in the victory; he was able to pull out a win when he could just as easily lost against an inspired player as did he against almagro in Barcelona. his joy comes from not giving in, but finding the will to fight with the right attitude to eventually triumph. you guys will never understand the mind of champion because champions simply do not think like losers. what nadal is saying may sound absurb to someone like sean randall and others who are sitting on the couch or in front of a computer, but to nadal it is a another step in the building of his confidence. when one’s confidence has reached a low point, they cannot rebuilt it by taking one huge step, but by taking small steps. nadal knows this better than any player I know. he is a realist! his situation is what it is, so now he has to fight his way back; that means that some of his wins will not be pretty, but a win is win. that is the reality, but then, most you don’t live in reality.

stay strong rafa, im very proud of you, wishing you all the best, a step at a time!


Jf Says:

Well said Mem.
There you go again Skeezer, with the nit picking. Players in all sports speak and give their opinion on their respective sport, just as Nadal did. He is struggling, he knows it, you know it everyone can see it. As fan it is troubling but what can you do..


mem Says:

” cannot rebuild”


skeezer Says:

“you guys write a lot about tennis, but your insight is very limited.”
Why read the rest? I didn’t. When one accuses everyones insight is “limited” then why give them credence?
#lookinthemirror

No Rafa fan speaks for Rafa. Including and mostly the infactuated no matter what rafafanatic.
Rafa speaks for himself, not some wannabe infactuated in love no matter what fan.
And results, tough or easy, speak for themselves and give factual insight to there current perfomance. In the end, for all players, wins and losses speak for themselves. Fact is this season ob Clay is not one of his best by far. Other players have taken note. This RG will be interesting indeed, the cracks in rhe supposed indestructable armour are there.


mem Says:

thanks JF!

nadal will be just fine! he has faced challenges before; this is just another one; its the nature of the sport. for those nadal fans who buy into all the negativism and find themselves believing what they read and hear as opposed to believing in rafa and what he has already proven to us time and time again, then i say, they are weak; so he doesn’t need them anyway. as for me, I don’t need a bunch of people to help me believe in rafa. my loyalty is unshakeable!

enjoy the rest of the tournament!


Nirmal Kumar Says:

I was not sure why Roger wanted to play in Rome, and In don’t think he is going to spend sleepless nights losing this match.

But for Rafa, he should get a breather in the next two matches. Simon is a very tough guy to play, irrespective of the surface.


Jose Felciano Says:

Fed should have stayed home…he’s out of practice and distracted, and belongs home with his wife.

but we are reminded that the top 50 are solid players, and the top 4 have have various signs of weakness


Michael Says:

Losing to Chardy after winning the first set 6-1 would be demoralizing for Roger. But, he definitely didn’t deserve to win the match considering the UEs coming from his racquet which made life easier for Chardy. Nevertheless, Roger was in two minds about playing Rome and in his thoughts it would be the sight of his new borns which would be reverberating instead of Tennis. He was probably in a hurry and may be, he would have heaved a sigh of relief that he would be back in union with his charming new born twins.


Michael Says:

It is obvious that Rafa is not in the best of form and he is experiencing a slump. But can we write him off ? Definitely not. Rafa always has this capacity to bounce back in style. Recently, we all know the spectactular comeback he made by winning tourneys in succession on his return to the tour after an injury and so you can always expect him to be back in business. But this dip in Rafa’s form would encourage players like Novak, Wawrinka to fancy their prospects at Rolland Garros. I hope Novak is fully fit to take this opportunity hands down and win his first Rolland Garros title which would enable him to complete the coveted Calendar slam and join the list of illustrious Greats of the sport.


gonzalowski Says:

If I’m not wrong, Ferrer would reach atp nº4 (instead of Fed) if he gets SF; Ferrer (5030) would sum up 180pts, Fed (5715) is going to lose 555 pts. Ferru needs to beat Djokovic (presumably) in QF.

Nadal has said that there are things remaining at him from Austrlia (at his head?). I thought about it when part of Rome crowd whistled to him for asking the referee about two Simon’s balls in a row.
This part of the crowd are stupid to me.


gonzalowski Says:

Forgot a little smiley at the end of my comment

:)


Giles Says:

Hey @mem. Good to see you back. Great posts from you as usual.


Giles Says:

As for Simon he is one tuff opponent when he is on his game. He played inspired tennis last night . Result stands, Rafa won but not without a great fight. I remember fed saying of Simon “I don’t want to see him in my draw again”, yes, that’s how tough he can be.
Vamos Rafa!
Onto the next round!


Hippy Chic Says:

Granted Rafa isnt at his best right now,will it change who knows?i dont know if losing this week means its dtetrimental to his chances at RG in two weeks?but i do know best of 5 sets is a very different animal to best of 3 sets,and to beat Rafa in best of 5 on clay will still take some doing,im not saying other players cannot/will not beat him,as only time will tell,just difficult regardless of his CC form this season,my two cents?


Hippy Chic Says:

Michael you forget Stan beat both Rafa and Novak at the AO,and also won MC only a few weeks ago,so in the event of Rafa not winning the FO i wouldnt automatically say Novak is a shoo,granted Rafas form on clay has been patchy to say the very least,but Stan has won a title on clay this season where Novak hasnt,although the important one is RG so when we get to that then all bets are off?


Nirmal Kumar Says:

I agree with HC. That too with Novak’s wrist, it’s even more unpredictable if Rafa has to lose early. Which I still doubt.

I still believe, even if Rafa loses early in Rome, he would get through FO.


wilfried Says:

Nadal struggled with G.Simon, sure, but who doesn’t when Gilles is playing well? Even Federer struggles with his game every time he has to face him.
Youzny’s style of game won’t trouble Nadal as much I think. I‘m already looking forward to an eventual contest between R. Nadal and Andy Murray, which I think can reveal us more about which way they’re going.
Wawrinka may pack as well. Just lost from Haas.


Hippy Chic Says:

Wilfred going by Andy and Rafas form this year,both blowing hot and cold,i certainly wouldnt bet my house on either man making it that far,sufice to say this years CC season has been very unpredictable….


the DA Says:

Great win for Haas but Wawa had 40 UFEs which didn’t help. Why didn’t Stan shake the umpires hand? There were no bad calls that I noticed? I think success has gone to his head a little. #attitude


Giles Says:

Happy Birthday Andy Murray. 27 today.


Gordon Says:

Raonic has a big win over Tsonga on clay.

What is significant is Tsonga was +5 compare to Raonic’s +4 when subtracting DFs from aces.

Raonic is starting to elevate other parts of his game. He is no longer just a huge server.


the DA Says:

Andy coped well with a white hot Melzer, saving 5 BPs in one game. It looks like Jojo was never away. Wins the first set 7-6.


Hippy Chic Says:

A Very Happy 27th Birthday to Andy Murray :))….


Margot Says:

Well played Andy. What a difference a year makes.
He’ll really be able to celebrate his birthday tonight!
Come on!


the DA Says:

A much better birthday this year as Andy beats Melzer in straight sets. That was a good clay win. Melzer was playing great until the latter stage of the 2nd set. Plus, it was good lefty practice – not that it help much I fear.


Colin Says:

Meltzer played some terrific tennis, particularly with his drop shots, but when it came to the crunch he couldn’t build on the good play, and seemed to lose heart somewhat in the first set tiebreak, and at the end of the match.

Assuming Rafa wins today (and one can’t assume much these days), I wouldn’t write off Andy’s chances against Mister Topspin. I think he has a very fair chance.


Hippy Chic Says:

Colin with the way Rafas playing i wouldnt count on him even making it to face Murray,that said i would give Murray a very good chance assuming he does,i dont really know whats the most annoying thing really this week,the windy conditions or the way Rafas actually playing,never have i seen him miss so many forehands and BP opotunities?


Hippy Chic Says:

Another equally annoying thing is seeing him get a break of serve,only to see him give it right back serving for the set today,and serving for the match yesterday….


skeezer Says:

The ball is bouncing high today, what is todays excuse?


Salleh Ahmed Says:

nadal has lost at least one set in his last three clay matches

king nadal is no longer under us


Hippy Chic Says:

No excuses the better player is winning the match so far,Rafas not the player he was which happens to all players eventually,nothing lasts forever….


the DA Says:

Okay there is definitely a mental issue at the moment. It’s bizarro territory to see some of these misses by Rafa. Then again, no player has ever dominated on a surface for 10 years straight like Rafa has. A dip or fatigue has to come in at some point. Still wouldn’t bet against him at RG/best of 5.


Salleh Ahmed Says:

nadal is lucky that he has won madrid

he should have lost all his matches in this clay court campaign


skeezer Says:

Well its official, the wind blew one of Rafa’s water bottles over from its exact placement. He is doomed.


RZ Says:

The draw seemed like it would be an easy road for the top 4 seeds, but #s 3 and 4 are out already, and #1 has been struggling.

I expect all to do better at RG.


Salleh Ahmed Says:

but most of these players usually choke against nadal

so there is still a chance


Hippy Chic Says:

He hasnt held serve once i dont think with any conviction?


tramlines Says:

Nadal is still the clear favourite in Paris but I would definitely take the field against him if I were to place a wager at this point. He is in a dark place lately.

So much clichéd and hackeyed digs at Nadal and Federer. I don’t understand the motivation and the passive agressiveness towards these two great men of the game. Quite tiresome.


Hippy Chic Says:

Should Rafa come through this match,and im still not totally convinced,then Murray stands a good chance IMO,i would be happy either way,my only dissapointment would be that its not a final between my two favorites?….


youyong Says:

tramlines Says:

“So much clichéd and hackeyed digs at Nadal and Federer. I don’t understand the motivation and the passive agressiveness towards these two great men of the game. Quite tiresome.”

I agree. So much hate here exhibited by some. But just as there is free speech, we have the choice to not let these haters bother us. ;)


Hippy Chic Says:

Tramlines damn straight i dont understand the negativity towards the players from the two fan groups either,as they ar both amazing players?


youyong Says:

Hippy Chic Says:

“Should Rafa come through this match,and im still not totally convinced,then Murray stands a good chance IMO,i would be happy either way,my only dissapointment would be that its not a final between my two favorites?….”

My sentiments too. Today’s match isn’t about Youzhny playing super well but Nadal’s collapse when he was serving for the 1st set, followed by uncharacteristically poor play up till the first 2 games of the 2nd set.

At this point in time, I don’t dare to predict he will win this match even though he is playing well again. He seems to have a lot of problem closing matches recently.


Hippy Chic Says:

Youyong agree with what your saying,he hasnt held serve with any conviction,or broke serve with any conviction,right now i would love just one easy service game,unusual to say the very least….


Salleh Ahmed Says:

Why always these kind of players choke against nadal but doenst choke against federer?

nishikori, gasquet,gulbis,etc.


SG1 Says:

It is likely that Rafa isn’t a 100%. It doesn’t take long for physical issues to manifest themselves into mental ones as well. Having a knee problem is one thing. Rafa has learned to adapt to it, treat and rest it when necessary. A back problem is a whole different kettle of fish. It affects every single thing a player does. Given that Rafa is such a physical player, it is particularly rough on his game. Even if he is healed up, there are some mental scars he has to deal with. I don’t think he is broken up over, by his standards, a lousy clay court season. I think he would be upset if he lost at RG. Perhaps he’s trying to temper his game a little and save up for the upcoming slam. This seems un-Rafa-like but this has been a strange year.


Salleh Ahmed Says:

i will watch gulbis and ferrer now

after federer went out gulbis is my only hope left


Salleh Ahmed Says:

at least almagro didnt choke

and ferrer

nadal should be beaten frquently now


volley Says:

poor skeezer. he must be beside himself now that nadal will not lose.


the DA Says:

NID. Settle down Rafa fans ;p


Giles Says:

Vamos Champ!
Good luck for tomorrow!
#Braveheart


Patson Says:

@skeezer

Sorry that Fed lost. Hopefully you’ll put your weight behind my man i.e Nole.


Salleh Ahmed Says:

oh gulbis cant cope with ferrer


Hippy Chic Says:

The DA im glad you thought so lol,anyway looking forward to his match up with Andy,at least i can relax with that one,ill be happy with whomever wins :))….


the DA Says:

Most Fed fans seem to put their weight behind Nole when Roger loses or is absent.


Salleh Ahmed Says:

gulbis is so frustrating to watch

one week superb another flop


Humble Rafa Says:

@skeezer

Sorry that Fed lost. Hopefully you’ll put your weight behind my man

Selfish people watch only for themselves. When the Arrogant One loses, they all go back into the black hole where they live and never come back until another set of twins are born or he wins something worth mentioning.


Hippy Chic Says:

^Ooh I think thats a bit bellow the belt^.


Humble Rafa Says:

I am playing at the junior level. My opponents are playing at the amateur junior level.


Salleh Ahmed Says:

ferrer is bringing everything back

and gulbis had break points in nearly every service game from ferrer


Hippy Chic Says:

Such is life….


Salleh Ahmed Says:

and then you wonder why ferrer has never beaten federer????????????


Giles Says:

The Latvian #1 being schooled by the Spanish #2.


Salleh Ahmed Says:

and sky commentators prasing ferrer like he is a one of the best clay courtes ever and federer is nothing wtf


Giles Says:

SA. But fed is not playing. He was knocked out remember??


JF Says:

Salleh- David Ferrer might indeed be one of the best clayers. Just like in the NBA where because of Jordan and the Bulls, many other greats fell short of wining a title. That doesn’t take away from the fact that they were still great, (Karl Malone, Barkely, Ewing.. to name a few).


Rafa better than roger Says:

Languishing Rafa? Very funny. Who lost in the first match by languishing in the second and third sets?

Well, Roger of course!

Satisfaction???

Roger not broken in first set but LOST.

Rafa won! Lol!!

The author is a comedian.


Rafa better than roger Says:

A typical pedestrian article of knocking down the winner (Rafa)
since his idol Federer is a loser in the first match.

Predict roger will lose early at French Open too.

In contrast, Rafa is a great problem solver not only of the opponent but also of the adverse playing conditions.


Daniel Says:

Djokovic seems not to see the balll. He shanked 4 balls already. Very strange beggining.


Rafa better than roger Says:

This is a course of determining the author’s bias.

The title – could have been,

“Federer sent home early, while Rafa outlasts and wins two 3-setters”


the DA Says:

Nole down 2 breaks. Welcome to the bizarro season of the ATP in 2014.


Tennis Fanatic Says:

It’s been interesting to see Nadal’s struggles on clay this year, but I think they’ve mostly come about due to other players seeing his losses to Ferrer and Almagro and gaining belief that they can actually give him a match, rather than there being anything particularly off with Rafa’s game. He’s still going to be comfortable favourite to win again at Garros.


Okiegal Says:

1st set to PK……but I don’t think that will last long!! Nole will come back with a vengeance……Me thinks!!


Hippy Chic Says:

Seemed like Nole also struggled to begin with,of the top guys Andy is the player thats looked the best this far,and on his worst surface too,i never thought i would be saying that oh the irony?


Gordon Says:

I watched Rafa lose the first set (the wind was crazy in Rome) and then I had to run errands.

To find out if Nadal came through, one only has to come in here and if certain blathering trolls are still pontificating with accelerated heartbeats, metaphorically wishing they could no longer be barren and could give birth to Rafa’s bay-bee (and those are the guys!) I can assume Nadal won.


Giles Says:

This guy @Gordon is a joker for sure. Thinks he’s funny!!
#Troll


skeezer Says:

@Gordon
Too good ;)


Steve 27 Says:

what is happening to Rafa is natural and like any great player is going through a phase of doubts, moments of inattention and falls and downs. It’s not the end yet. He still has some good years of high competitive level.
Read this article which explains what happened to the great players of our era:
http://www.tennisfrontier.com/blogs/el-dude/rafael-nadal-from-peak-to-plateau/


Okiegal Says:

Balls bouncing high on the center court of Rome……Roger bouncing boys in Switzerland!! tee hee!!


Steve 27 Says:

Okiegal, today I think Thunders and KD win the series and will face the Spurs. I think is the only team that has the game to beat Miami and Lebron James.
Vamos!


Steve 27 Says:

The Spurs is the only team that has the game to beat Miami and Lebron James.
Sorry for the Thunders, But I much prefer Duncan and cia.


Kimberly Says:

I agree with Steve 27. I am hoping the thunder come through!


Rafa better than roger Says:

It is very evident that roger not Rafa is in a slump. Losing in the first match, 1 title, no factor in slams is better than 3 titles and finalist in Aussie(brave to play injured and putting it on the line)???

Nadal is doing a lot of problem solving not in practice courts but in big matches. It is by design. Remember he was a genius playing clay then mastered grass then hard courts including indoor. So, Rafa is trying plays for all courts. However, he should have another coach. A new set of eyes aside from uncle Toni since Rafa keeps going to old strategy instead of the us open and cincy wins. Possibly a hybrid strategy in clay.
Rafa is not worried because even if it is a 3-setter he automatically knows he will win the 3rd set.

Rafa may yet amaze us with a French wimby us treble again!!


TennisVagabond.com Says:

The numbers don’t lie, it is Rafa’s worst pre-French clay campaign in ten years.
That doesn’t mean he’s fallen from #1 on clay.
Far from it. Wawrinka’s loss today only highlights that Rafa is still favourite, with only Novak in his rear view mirror.
But somethings changed.
Previous years, Rafa was the favourite against the field.
Now he is just the favourite.
He’s in a better place than Fed, Wawrinka, Ferrer, Dmitrov, Nishikori and even Novak.
He’s just not in as good a place as he has been every other year for ten years.
Rafa fans can gloat that he’s still the favourite, all true, but you’d have to be blind to believe his dominance on clay was near Peak Rafa.


TennisVagabond.com Says:

And Another Match For Meelosh.
Big win. Symbolic, a player on his way out of top-ten making way for one on his way in.
I love Tsonga’s game, but he’s had years to kick at the can they call “Slam Finals” and he just hasn’t settled in there.
Contrarywise, AGFMeelosh needs these kinds of wins to cement himself as a contender, or risk sliding back compared to Kei and Grigor. To do this on clay is fantastic. He has a very winnable match against Chardy, and then BANG, a Canuck could be in a clay Masters semis.
The Habs rising tide raises all boats!


Okiegal Says:

@Steve 27

I hope u r right……I’m waiting patiently for the tip off! I was so upset when they lost that one in LA and then low and behold they won the next one exactly the same way……being behind the whole night and winning in the last minute. I will agree that the Clippers got a sucky call, but that’s the sport, no?? LOL. Can’t wait….b-ball at 9:30 and Rafa/Andy tomorrow at noon!
C’mon Thunder and I’ll stir up the lightening in Ada, OK!!

VAMOS RAFA!!

STEVE 27…..I read your post again and I doubt my guys can beat Miami, I’m hoping for a miracle…..but got to win this series first!!


Steve 27 Says:

Tv, do you know ho many male tennis players won Australia, Wimbledon and UO 2 times after 26 years old in the Open Era?
AO: Rosewall and Lendl 2 times and Agassi 3 times
W: Laver, Sampras and Federer 2 times
UO: Connors 2 times
do you know, until now, how many male tennis players won RG 2 times after 26 years old? None, but there is a spanish player who can win a second RG after 26.
So, is idiotic and simplistic say the obvious thing. You can wide your thoughts and analyze why is so difficul to dominate clay after 27 years old.
You can dominate hc and grass for a few years more, See Laver, Sampras and even Federer on grass, and see Agassi, Lendl or Connors in hc. To dominate clay after 27 is almost impossible and cant be denied. See the link I put, Nadal is not on decline, he has a few more years to play in a high level. Is not the end yet for him. Like the greatest champions in the sport, he can adapt at the circumstances and take advantage of the best possible (the experience of multiple battles) his passion with tennis.


Okiegal Says:

I read on another link wherein a reporter noted to Rafa that it’s unusual for him to struggle so early in clay court tournaments……Rafa’s reply….”Get used to it, because with the years it is normal thing and in the end everybody suffers. It’s part of the sport. It’s part of the careers of everybody”.

AP comtennis.com Rafa says: “At this age, Borg was doing other things. It’s not possible to win for 10 years with easy scores and easy matches. At the same time, I’m sure I can do much better than I am
doing.”

I guess this is his perspective on all of the tough matches he has been having lately. Makes perfect sense to me. Age catches up with all of us at some point. If he chooses to play on, like Fed is doing, he too will lose, regardless of the surface, imo.


Hippy Chic Says:

Agree with many of the above posts,Rafas almost 28 and no spring chicken in terms of tennis anymore,hes usually so dominant especially on clay,but this year hes struggling more against players whom he usually handles easily.
This happens to all players eventually,so its hardly exclusive when it comes to Rafa.
Hes achieved so much in his career especially on clay,that people will see any defeat or chinks in his armour as detrimental to his career.
When push comes to shove,Rafa may win or loose here in Rome and then at the FO time will tell?but its not as if hes anything to be ashamed of holding the record at RG,MC,Barcelona,Madrid,Rome it will be some time before any player surpasses those records if ever?KING OF CLAY YOU BETCHA….


Okiegal Says:

@Chic

Great post above……..you are so right! Those records will be hard to surpass, for sure. Who can get despondent over a loss here in there, he has been so dominant on the red dirt for so long……eventually it has to come to an end.

Vamos Rafa…….from your #1 fan in OKLAHOMA! Bite the trophy on more time!!


Gordon Says:

The proof is in the Grand Slam pudding. Anyone thinking Nadal is in decline should wait until he is not hoisting (and biting) the men’s singles trophy. Until that happens losing a few sets here and there is not overly significant.


Gordon Says:

The proof is in the Grand Slam pudding. Anyone thinking Nadal is in decline should wait until he is not hoisting (and biting) the men’s singles trophy at Roland Garros. Until that happens losing a few sets here and there is not overly significant.


Hippy Chic Says:

Okiegal thanks,other Rafa fans can be happy and jump for joy,about a trophy he may or may not win if they wish their perogative,i will wait and see what unfolds,im not arrogant enough to expect my favorite to win the thing every year especially when every Tom,Dick and Harry has beaten him lately when they seldom did before,so i sure as hell wont be tying myself up in Knots fretting about it….


tramlines Says:

Name me one past player who was “in decline” while No. 1 and leading the Race to London (or equivalent).

He’s good but you shouldn’t give Nadal so much credit.


TennisVagabond.com Says:

Tramlines, ROger Federer two years ago.

Agree with Hippy Chick. Rafa’s records will never be broken. Even Borg never came close to dominating all clay tournaments. No one has dominated as many events as long as Rafa has.


Hippy Chic Says:

Tennis Vagabond thankyou,your a genius as a poster,you always understand how to put things into perspective,enough said….


Okiegal Says:

@Chic

Rafa isn’t arrogant enough either to think he will hoist every trophy……a humble sort, that
guy!!


Okiegal Says:

David is hanging in there with Novak. Great match, so far!


JF Says:

David broke back!! awesome


Hippy Chic Says:

Great match surprised Daveed managed to keep it so close,TBH i expected him to get a beatdown from Nole….


Hippy Chic Says:

Novak was taking his irritations out on those ball kids,i know i will be heckled for saying this but how rude was that,and yeah,yeah,yeah i know Rafa does it??


courbon Says:

@ Hippy: Everybody are rude sometimes, Novak no exception.( apart from me, I’m always polite! (-:)


Ben Pronin Says:

Caught the last few games. Those were some of the best rallies I’ve ever seen. Simply wow.

Wrist injury? What wrist injury?


Hippy Chic Says:

Courbon lol yeah true,and your the exception to the rule,im a headcase must be a Yorkshire thing,your a gentleman must be a French thing ;-))


Margot Says:

Nole looked pretty good to me against the brick wall…no sign of wrist injury troubles, which is good.
Of course Andy is in with a shout tonight, but all realistic fans must agree it’s not a very loud one…He’s hardly played any clay matches and only last week was abysmal. And I think Rafa will raise his game.
Just hope Andy puts up a good fight and gets some good RG practise, which is what he wants/needs.
Come on, day after Birthday Boy!


Okiegal Says:

Nole was whacking the ball pretty hard, so it seemed to me. I wonder if he had an injection? I hope not. I think when players have a niggle, they get an injection more often than not….but we don’t hear about all of them. Wa Wa said his back was giving him problems also…..I guess that was the reason for his loss. I wondered why he got beat and then the back was mentioned. Those dang injuries ruin everything!! Get healthy everyone before the Frenchie!!


Hippy Chic Says:

Courbon i will have to record tonights match between my two favorites Rafa and Andy,as hubbys favorite football team York City FC are playing Fleetwood Town in the second division plays off,for a chance of promotion to division one….


courbon Says:

@ Hippy: You must be joking!!French are rude! No, even being Serb, my manners got polish 20 years living in England-but south England ( Wimbledon, Richmond, Cotswold’s ) not North England for sure!I heard in Yorkshire they eat fried Mars bars and they keep kids quiet with teaser guns… even Serbia is more civilised. (-:


courbon Says:

@ Hippy: Fleetwood Town????I assume there official anthem is some song from Fleetwood Mac?


courbon Says:

And my Serbs girls are through semis!!


Hippy Chic Says:

Courbon French rude well your not,mind you i dont actually know any French people TBH,i think we are all guilty of that sometimes,i was born and bred in North Yorkshire in a place called Harrogate,and we do sell deep fried mars bars in our local fish and chip shpos although ive never actually had one,dont fancy it TBH,anyway as well as been a LVC fan im a die hard York City Fan whom play Fleetwood Town tonight,to my knowledge they dont have a Fleetwood Mac theme song,leastb i dont think that they do?must say i love that group….


courbon Says:

@ Hippy; Actually I find Yorkshire quite pretty ( countryside ) and some towns are bit rough but all in all-just provoking.Nothing against Northeners, swear God!Most tennis players I’v seen being rude once or twice but generally they are polite bunch. Imagine Joe Barton playing tennis?? He would smack kid and kick him in the stomach, probably!
Fried Mars bars are tasty (I tried one for curiosity ) but you certainly getting cardiovascular problems after eating that!!
Ok, for pure solidarity reasons I will support York city tonight ( while watching Pretty boy and Ginger Boy playing )


Hippy Chic Says:

Thanks Courbon although they are facing a 1-0 deficit so they have to work hard to turn this around,as for the pretty boy and the ginger boy well on this occasion i will be happy with whatever the outcome,with me favouring Rafa but only marginally….


Hippy Chic Says:

^lol Joey Barton playing tennis,now he was a headcase,although quite passive when you compare him with Vinny Jones,ill never forget him grabbing Gazza by the wotsits….^


courbon Says:

@ Vinny was animal…


Nitesh Says:

Nadal’s desire to win is exceptional

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