Tired Rafael Nadal Says He’s “Encouraged” By His Performance In Rome, Should He Be?
by Tom Gainey | May 18th, 2014, 6:59 pm

Rafael Nadal’s toughest clay season yet continued today in a loss to rival Novak Djokovic 46, 63, 63 in the final at the ATP Rome Masters 1000.

Nadal concludes his clay lead-up with just one European title in Madrid where he drew a timely retirement from Kei Nishikori. Otherwise, the Spaniard suffered stunning losses to countrymen Nicolas Almagro and David Ferrer before falling today for the fourth straight time to Djokovic.

On the eve of his French Open title defense, Nadal remains upbeat.

“I felt that Novak was pushing me and has a great talent to play inside the lines,” said Nadal. “I think this week is important for me. I have won 600 points. I was able to play in another final here. I was able to compete well against one of the best players of the moment. I arrive to Roland Garros now more encouraged that what I did a few weeks ago.

“I played three very tough matches this week and it was very hard mentally, as well as physically,” said Nadal. “I was a little bit tired.”

Nadal still had three titles on the season – equal to Djokovic’s – but the World No. 1 hasn’t beaten a Top 5 player this year and has only one victory over the group in the last seven months (David Ferrer at London).

Next week Nadal begins his quest for a ninth French Open in Paris where he’ll be the top seed for a third time. But is their cause for concern for the King of Clay?

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54 Comments for Tired Rafael Nadal Says He’s “Encouraged” By His Performance In Rome, Should He Be?

skeezer Says:

Should he be?
Yep, if he meets a healthy Novak!

Bad Knee Rules Says:

“I played three very tough matches this week and it was very hard mentally, as well as physically,” said Nadal. “I was a little bit tired.”

Really? What about Dimitrov giving you day off before the final and Novak battling Raonic for a three hours?
What a load of crap, it has to be something, knee, back, virus, diarrhea, tired, you name it.

TennisVagabond.com Says:

I only saw the third set. I’ve seen Rafa look tired a number of times, usually against Novak. But this was one of very few times I’ve seen him play tired, giving up on balls in a most un-Rafa like manner. Maybe more a confidence than a fitness issue.
Still, he’s right: compared to pre-Madrid, he’s moving in the right direction. He’s shown himself near-equal to Novak on clay three setters, and that’s about as good as he’s been for the last couple years. He’s won the French, what, twice under similar context? So, yes, it’s a loss, but this Sunday he has to be feeling better about his level than a few weeks ago after the Almagro loss.

Colin Says:

The score given in the first sentence of the article is not that of Rafa’s loss, it’s Nole’s winning score.

skeezer Says:

Saw the 2nd and 3rd. Rafa turned up the heat after he broke Nole back in the 3rd. He didn’t look tired at all. What he did look like was resigned after Nole had the resolve to break back. I hope these 2 meet in the RG final, that should be worth watching!

Peep Says:

They didn’t show the trophy ceremony on tennis channel. Does anyone have a link?

TennisVagabond.com Says:

Skeeze, this may be strange but I’m excited for ANY possible RG pairing. Its all good! Wawrinka, Fed, Nishikori, Murray– how fun would it be to get an upset win from one of them over (Rafa/Novak) and then face the other in the final?
Or, to form, we get Rafa/ Novak. Its al good.

TennisVagabond.com Says:

I take it back. I do not need to see Rafa vs Ferrer final, or Novak vs Murray. Those are two match ups I don’t enjoy.

Kimberly Says:

@tennis vagabond—-I think a lot of people do not want to see nadal federer. I would be very surprised if the final is not nadal djokovic. Barring injury or a once in a lifetime performance by someone else I just don’t see anyone else who can maintain the level if tennis in a best of five scenario to take either of them out at the moment.

roy Says:

”but the World No. 1 hasn’t beaten a Top 5 player this year and has only one victory over the group in the last seven months (David Ferrer at London).”

oh, the brilliant unbiased articles continue!
so federer suddenly isn’t a top player coz he’d dipped outside the top 5 for a moment?
where is he ranked now, idiot?
nadal beat federer at the AO in a 5 set match. federer is a big 4 player who plays his best tennis at slams.
your purposeful distortions are laughable.

”Really? What about Dimitrov giving you day off before the final and Novak battling Raonic for a three hours?”

you really are a fool. firstly, playing short points against the biggest server for 3 hours is about the easiest 3 hours on tour.

secondly, nadal won madrid, while djoker didn’t play, making nadal obviously more jaded physically. if you honestly don’t believe backing up masters wins isn’t incredibly tough physically, listen to every interview ever done on the topic.

anyway, i wish all the federer fanatics luck come RG. i hope your man djokovic takes the crown!

Jose Felciano Says:

This was a great match, and a continuation of their story, which is an up and down battle.

Consistency 2003-2014 = …….

Bad Knee Rules Says:

you really are a fool. firstly, playing short points against the biggest server for 3 hours is about the easiest 3 hours on tour.

Fail. If the points were short the match wouldn’t have lasted three hours. Nadal and Novak aren’t big servers, they’re more base line players. Their three set match lasted just over two hours, no?
That’s okay, I understand you. Fourth final in a row, twelve finals total – it’s hard to take. You’re not thinking clearly. Settle down, take your medicine, and check this link:

“After spending a combined 10 hours on court through four matches this week, Nadal showed no signs of fatigue, using his cat-like agility and injecting his trademark topspin pace to snatch a double break lead at 4-1. Djokovic misfired on seven unforced errors on his preferred backhand wing through the first five games.”


skeezer Says:

Keep livin the imaginary dream of;
its all every other players fault but your Love Rafael Nadal’s.
#howdidNadalwinMadrid? Lol

Susan Says:

Nadal did beat Federer at AO and that would count as a top player in anyone’s mind. He did win more then 1 clay tournament (Madrid) because he won a tournie in SA. But Nadal’s level has been lower.

Djokovic was the better player today with the win and statistics to prove it.

montecarlo Says:

All those dismissing Rafa should consider the fact that he still leads 2014 Race points so according to points he is the best player of 2014 so far. Djokovic is around 600 points behind and skipped only Madrid due to injury.

Although Rafa’s clay season hasn’t been even close to his best years.

In this final he forced djokovic to three sets after losing last three matches in straight sets. And when Rafa used attacking mindset he looked better than djokovic in patches. He will definitely feel encouraged about it. His return game has been ok, he just needs to work a little on his serve and he should be fine for French Open. This match was kinda like AO Final which Rafa lost but it gave him belief that he can compete with djokovic.

Okiegal Says:

I think everyone knows that Novak earned the win….he was the better player today and he may beat him again should they meet at the FO. If he does, so be it…….but Rafa will always be the King of Clay.

P.S. I am glad that Novak is healthy again. We need for all the players to be in fine tune for the French Open. I will be glad when DelPo is back in competition again too…..miss the Gentle Giant.

Michael Says:

Even a Master Series final appearance is considered as downhill for Rafa. And that signifies the height of his greatness. Relatively speaking, this year has been quite mediocre for Rafa as far as his clay court performance is concerned. He escaped against Nishikori by the skin of his teeth and by virtue of a retirment when it seemed that Nishikori was just running away with the match and earlier, he had reverses against Ferrer and Almagro, players you would expect him to normally beat hands down. However,at Rome, he seemed to have discoverd his form when he unwittingly ran against Novak in the finals who with his authoritative play tamed him down. Now, should Rafa be encouraged with this performance or not ? I would partly say Yes as well as No. Yes, in the sense he has made another Master series finals and has really played well to reach that stage. No, because, he was beaten by a rampaging Novak and outplayed from the back of the court. So, that should not certainly be good augury for him ahead of Rolland Garros, a tournament Novak is ambitious to win for long and he thinks this year may be his after this moral boosting win.

Hippy Chic Says:

Michael making a final is a downgrade?err what no player can be expected to win everything all the time surely?he has still been there or there abouts?why cant you just enjoy Novaks win without putting Rafa down?

Okiegal Says:


I too think this is probably Novak’s year for the FO win. He is playing lights out for sure. Rafa is definitely having his problems. His slow starts worry me. Andy thumped him bad that first set and how he recovered from that I’ll never know. Maybe in the 5 set format he just gets more comfortable. Something good always happens for him at Roland Garros……..8 trophies….wow!!
We will see….but eventually that run will end, it always does…..but his prowess on clay is OTT, as Hippy Chic would say. Looking forward to this next slam, should be exciting!!

Hippy Chic Says:

Its not as if Rafa cant or wont beat Novak,its just that Novak is a better player than the guys like Ferrer,Almagro,Nishikori who cannot stick with Rafa in best of 5 sets,Novak is the only player who can stick with Rafa and force him to change his game,Rafa did beat Novak in GS twice last year and 1 on HCs too which is what counts,and what all players really want not Masters titles,will it happen again this year who knows,but come RG in a best of 5 all will be forgoton and we start again, all bets are off?

Hippy Chic Says:

Anyway if he feels encouraged by his week in Rome,then im encouraged by his encouragement lol….

Okiegal Says:


You are right, we can’t expect the King of Clay to win every title. The head to head between these two is so close……22-19 in favor of Rafa. So their matches could go either way. Rafa made Novak look like a mediocre player at the USO and then Novak took it to Rafa after that. I do think Rafa is getting into that mental block thing again, at least that is what he said in a presser. He needs to work that out for sure before the French Open……hopefully he can. We will see!!

metan Says:

Whoever said that Radar was not tired or he just resigned against Nole, they all need NEW 3D TV , Sharp 85 is great as well panasonic. so you all can have a better vision and will provide better judgment for Rafa. I tell you once again truly truly Rafa was tired and exhausted, emotional and physical. I saw with my very own eyes. Rant is over. Now time to do meditation in Assisi and Medjugorje. See you all in Paris.

metan Says:

Sorry, I meant RAFA NOT RADAR, EH.


To all Rafa fans. He is getting better now compared to few weeks ago. I smell good stuff coming in in Paris. Cheer up everybody. 😜😄♥♡

Michael Says:


I think you have not understood my post properly. I did not by any stretch of imagination consider a Master Series final as down hill for Rafa. According to me, it is a significant achievement. I meant that in terms of perception by a majority of journalists and commentators who are keen on pulling Rafa down with his relatively mediocre show. Hope, I have clarified my post.

Perfect fan Says:

“A tense-but-exciting match, beautiful atmosphere, heavy grunts from two tennis gladiators, baseline battle at its very best punched with some exotic volleys and drop shots”….WOW! what else can a tennis fan ask for :)

I absolutely loved and relished this match without thinking too much abt the result or what the result could bode at RG.

But my pick for RG still stands….Rafa. But that doesn’t mean, I dnt want nole to win. I’ll love Nole to prove me wrong and win RG, but somehow I feel he is still not ready to dismantle Rafa from his throne.

I m restless for the battle royale. Bring it on ;)

Michael Says:


I agree with most part of your post. But as you rightly said, things may be quite different in a five set format and Rafa is a different animal at Rolland Garros. Imagine, last year’s semi-finals, when Novak was just sailing through, we had an indefatigable Rafa who just didn’t give an inch and kept fighting on. Infact, that was one of the best Rafa played in the fifth set at Rolland Garros which saw him through. Therefore, the battle is stil wide open despite Novak’s win at Rome. However, with this morale boosting win, Novak will have all the confidence. Will that be enough ? Time will tell. Nevertheless, I feel that Rolland Garros needs a new Champion badly. Rafa has made it literally monotonous with his histronics.

Okiegal Says:


I guess non Rafa fans would think Roland Garros has been monotonous for the last few years……but I am chomping at the bits for a 9th title……rather selfish of me, I know. If someone different could take the title, it would be Novak.

Giles Says:

Rafa has played 10 matches in 12 days and 3 very tuff matches on consecutive days and nobody thinks he was fatigued? Pfffft. Rafa said he is feeling better about his chances at RG and that is good enough for me.
Vamos Rafa
Stay Healthy Champ!

Ngentot Says:


The reason why Nadal is leading 2014 race points is because he played more tournaments (3 more tournaments) than Novak.

mat4 Says:

After some times, I watched again a lot of tennis. A few notes:

1. Raonic played his best tennis EVER in that semi against Novak. It seems that the slow clay allows him to be on the ball regularly, since he is a bit slow. Clearly, in the third set, he looked tired. But he has a clear pattern of play (big serve, big FH, a lot of power).

2. Murray confirmed something I believe for years: that he is able to win against anybody on any surface, on clay too. I think that it is in his mind, but he could be a real contender in RG. He can beat Novak, he is close to Rafa (a question of self-belief). It is all in his head, now.

3. Rafa is back in form. His matches against Murray, Dimitrov and Djokovic showed that he is at his best again. When you read his interviews, you get the impression that he is a youngster ranked 20, waiting for a big result. But Rafa is no 1, indisputed no 1 on clay, and the big favourite for RG. The key for him, there, will be not to play against Djokovic. It has become the kind of match-up just like between Rafa and Roger. Novak is aware of that, the last few times he played without tension, pressure, and his matches against Rafa look more and more like a done thing.

But Novak has to face a lot of potentially dangerous players for him before a hypothetical final, players that Rafa would beat without a sweat. And let’s not forget that he could be very nervous: not only he hasn’t won RG, but he hasn’t won a GS for a year and a half.

Dimitrov will be an excellent player. His problem is that he plays without plan, just relying on his shotmaking.

Polo Says:

^^ Like, Mat4. Excellent observation and analysis.

Giles Says:

Ngentot. Rafa did not play 3 more tourneys than joker. He played 2 more. Are you forgetting Dubai??

Ben Pronin Says:

“oh, the brilliant unbiased articles continue!
so federer suddenly isn’t a top player coz he’d dipped outside the top 5 for a moment?
where is he ranked now, idiot?
nadal beat federer at the AO in a 5 set match. federer is a big 4 player who plays his best tennis at slams.
your purposeful distortions are laughable.”

Someone sounds upset. It doesn’t matter where Federer is ranked now, it only matters where he was ranked during the match. Tsonga was in the top 10 when Federer beat him in Australia so that counts as a top 10 win, even though he’s now ranked 14. It is what it is, no need to get your panties in a bunch.

Michael Says:


All I want is an entertaining and gripping final and that is possible only in this match up between Rafa vs Novak. Their matches are always pompous shows which bring in a lot of curiosity, surprise, excitement, entertainment and glamour. May the best man win. However, I hope Novak lifts his first Rolland Garros title.

Michael Says:

Mat 4 – Great post !! Keep it up !! Made interesting reading and it was sensible analysis.

RZ Says:

I still think that Rafa’s clay “struggles” make it more likely that he’ll win the FO (I know it’s counter-intuitive thinking, but sports has a way of working out like that). But I’m concerned that he keeps talking about being tired. He’s played less tennis this season so far than he had in previous years when the played the full clay court season, and he would never mention being tired until after the FO. And he hasn’t hit the best of 5 format yet.

kriyuk Says:

Time to get those Goku’s peanut

Giles Says:

Surely meant he is “tired” after playing two consecutive weeks of tuff matches. Anyone would be unless you are joker sitting in his “Pod”!!!

Giles Says:

“Nadal’s winning % during his “slump” is still better than career average of every active player”.
Vamos Rafa!

skeezer Says:

Keep digging for those desperate nuggets, Giles.
He lost Rome. Get over it.

skeezer Says:

My Letter to Nole for RG,

Please bring the following shots into RG:
-FH with the crazy angle ( the one that opens the court up )
And don’t forget these:
-Stay healthy
-Bring your “A” service game
-Bring good Luck, its always a good thing ;)

Okiegal Says:

How many matches did Rafa play in how many days? Yeah, I would think any human would be tired……just a wee little bit, imo. But as always, Rafa gets lambasted for whatever he says.

Whatever happens at FO, it’s all gravy from here on out. Nothing more to prove…….


Wilfried Says:

Djokovic’s level in the second and third set(s) of the Rome final was simply too good for NAdal (who couldn’t find an adequate answer to Djokovic’s attacking game).
It makes Djokovic – in my mind – the clear favorite against Nadal, and in extension also the favorite to win Roland Garros this year.
I think it’s his time to conquer Paris, and I think the french crowd won’t mind.

Hippy Chic Says:

IMO Novak is the only player that can go toe to toe with Rafa,the thing is as Mat4 and Michael said Novak is vulnerable against Murray,Wawarinka and Federer,so the draw will be interesting to see who is in whos half?

Giles Says:

Hey skeezer. TBH I did not expect Rafa to win Rome and therefore I am not disappointed that he didn’t. He has SEVEN Rome titles already so that’s absolutely fine. You see the point is Rafa doesn’t have a POD to snuggle into to recoup, unlike joker. He played 10 matches in 12 days while joker was nursing his fake wrist injury. So it’s all good.
Last year was massacre in Rome. Nice match to cherish. Who did Rafa play? Oh yes, it was fed. Lol
How come you’re not cheering your fave? You really are the pits. Fed is still an active player and you couldn’t wait to jump ship. Says a lot about you.
Now go feed your cats. Hope they spit and scratch you. You deserve it!

Daniel Says:

Agree re draw, For Djokovic the best would be Nadal having Murray in his quarter and Wawa semis. Djoko having Berdych or Raonic in his quarter and Fed in semis. Maybe Fed after babies is not caring to much for RG and if reaches semis will possible be tired and not committed well enough, it will all depend on his form. Think he will test his game bt already consider an inroad for Wimbledon. But Djoko could have Wawa in his side as well whilhe Wawa could lose earlier. Wawa is hot and cold, but I kind of sense a trend with him latelly: great in AO; bad for a few tourneys in US (injured back); great in MC; bad in a few tourneys (Madrid and Rome) and now is RG time and maybe he will peak yet again. He has the game for clay and with advantage of being seeded third first time in a Slam in his career he will get some easy matches to get his groove going. For Djokovic the best would be avoid Murray and Wawa and have Fed. Murray is the one who sell most competitive to Djokovic this last matches. Won 2 Slams out of last 3 they played. But, as Djoko can be upset by one of these, 3, they all can go down to other playres as well. The only thing I truly believe is Djoko wil ot lose to any of this players and Nadal when it comes to best of 5 as well. Fed can’t beat Nadal on clay best of five, the only one s other than Djoko are maybe, a big maybe, Wawa or Murray. Which are all the reaming Slams winners (apart from Hewitt). The only ones with the mental attitude to do it. Who knows an upset may be looming but I hardly believe in it.

Think we are getting the final we want in come 3 Sundays from now.

calmdonplease Says:

`I think it’s his time to conquer Paris, and I think the french crowd won’t mind..`

I thought the crowd were more behind Andy than Nadal in Rome too.
If you are not a Rafan it can be quite tiring watching him win everything on clay. Not that it’s Rafa’s fault being the greatest clay courter ever. But sport like life requires an element of suspense and unpredictability to be truly exciting & rewarding.

skeezer Says:

Do you have proof Novak is still using a Pod? If so, post it. If not, quit the false accusations.
Even if by chance he is, it has not been deemed illegal as of yet.
Any other false hope of cheating you want to lay on Nole? Best to look at your favs record of these kind of things before you rant on others.

Re; Fed. We have had this discussion, in depth. I love Tennis, not one guy. I love Feds style, and Novaks technically the best built GS machine I have ever seen since Borg and Agassi. So what is your problem now?

Okiegal Says:

What’s a pod?? I have been hearing about this pod thing for awhile now. Could someone explain this in say 20 words or less? I’m very curious. Also, why is Novak called the egg lover? I’ve been wondering what’s up with that. I would love an explanation.

mat4 Says:


The pod is a device Novak admitted to have used, similar to the hypo/hyperbarric tents everybody of them use. It’s “the egg” just like Rafa’s is “pure air” or something like that.

Okiegal Says:


Thanks for taking the time to explain this device to me. I will Google it and can probably find out more. I did not know that there was the possibility of the device becoming illegal. Thanks again for the info.

Kathy Says:

mat4 Says:


“The pod is a device Novak admitted to have used, similar to the hypo/hyperbarric tents everybody of them use.” It’s “the egg” just like Rafa’s is “pure air” or something like that.

There is no comparison between the two devices. “the egg” mimics high altitude training.

Hypobaric Therapy

However, in high altitude, the level of oxygen is lower. When athletes train at higher elevations, the body becomes stressed from a lower amount of oxygen. In response to this stress, the body produces more red blood cells. This increase in blood cell production then increases the amount of red blood cells in the body. When the athlete then returns to lower altitude conditions, the body is then able to function for longer because of the increased oxygen being transported throughout the body.

In the case of Phelps, he has been using a personal hypobaric chamber for sleep. He is currently sleeping every night at an altitude level of 8,000 feet and has been doing so for almost a year. This has boosted his body’s ability to produce red blood cells and allow him to perform better and heal quicker after intense training.

This may sound very similar to blood doping (the process where athletes use medication or blood procedures to increase the red blood cells), the World Anti-Doping Agency ruled in 2006 that these chambers do enhance performance and violate the spirit of the sport. However, they did not include it in their list of banned substances so it is currently legal for athletes to use.

The device used by Nadal does what it says, it delivers pure air.
Breath healthy, live healthy
The first portable space in which it is possible to breathe 99.995% pure air in continuous regeneration -free from contaminating particles and bacteriological and allergenic agents- with gas pollutant reduction to comfort levels.

Okiegal Says:


Thank you so much for taking the time explaining this. I have read about this so much on here but really didn’t understand the whole thing….yeah, appreciate it. This helps me a lot. This is very interesting and I will read up on it more.

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