Rafael Nadal: I’m Feeling Better But Not Perfect Yet

by Tom Gainey | January 14th, 2011, 11:53 pm

Rafael Nadal goes for a fourth straight Grand Slam title starting Monday at the Australian Open. Will Nadal get his “Rafa Slam” and make history?

In Melbourne today, a less than 100% Nadal spoke about his health, history and more to the assembled press in Melbourne:

Q. Could you let us know how you feel and how much practice you’ve been able to get in since you arrived in Melbourne?

RAFAEL NADAL: I’m feeling better. I think not perfect yet. But, yeah, seems like after what I had in Doha, when I practicing, I feel a little bit more tired than usual and sweating more than ever.

But the true is I’m better than few days ago. So that’s very positive. I hope not going to be a problem for next Monday or Tuesday. I don’t know yet.

So happy I am able to practice every day normal time. So is nothing special. I practiced like I did all my life.

Q. You said you didn’t have a long break. Does it feel like the beginning or the end of the season, this tournament?

RAFAEL NADAL: For sure the beginning. We’re in 2011. 2010 is past. For me is the beginning for sure, no? I didn’t stop. But this year everything starts another time. So very happy to be here in Australia another time. Always very good news be here.

Yeah, is true, I didn’t have a break. So hopefully if I have a good result here, I gonna have a few weeks after here.

Q. Do you feel any extra pressure going for the four slams in a row?

RAFAEL NADAL: For sure, no. That’s true, maybe I only going to have this opportunity in my career. But not for that reason I going have the pression. The pression is like every Grand Slam, you want to play well in the important tournaments. And for me, have the fourth or not is something that is not in my mind.

What is in my mind is try to play well, try to start the season playing well another time, and we will see what’s going on. It’s very difficult to think about that when we didn’t start the tournament, playing a very difficult tournament like this one.

Q. How do you explain that it hasn’t happened for such a long time?

RAFAEL NADAL: I think is almost impossible. Is very, very difficult, no? The tennis is a very competitive sport and is not a lot of difference between players. So a lot of matches decides in a few balls. So for that reason is very difficult to have one player winning everything. That’s the true.

So I think that’s the reason.

Q. Can you tell us how special it would be, regardless, to be able to take out the four?

RAFAEL NADAL: I think is better if we continue with another questions because for me, seriously, I can’t answer this question because I didn’t imagine (laughter).

I think if that’s happen, for sure for me I gonna be more happy to win in Australia because is the Australian Open more than is because the fourth in a row. That’s hundred percent true.

Q. When Federer was in here earlier, he said you should be the favorite for the tournament because you won the last three Grand Slams. Do you feel the same way?

RAFAEL NADAL: No. For sure no. Yeah, every tournament is completely different. I gonna try my best to play well. And we will see what’s going on, no?

But I feel if I play at my best level, I can have a chance to be in the second week, and there we will see what’s happen, no? Every match will be really difficult, so I have to be ready for everything.

But I for sure am feeling less favorite than him and not more favorite than Djokovic, Murray, Soderling, these kind of players, no? So that’s true. That’s what I think.

Q. How is it possible that two players are dominating the circuit as you and Roger have the last years?

RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. I don’t know. Well, he made a little bit more than me. That’s the true. But I don’t know. I think that’s difficult. That’s something gonna be not easy to repeat, but I don’t know how is the tournaments. But in more than 20 Grand Slams, only two or three players won a Grand Slams, I think that’s impossible to continue like this. I think that’s not going to continue like this. We will see what’s happen, no?

But there is a lot of good players, a lot of young players, and every year is more and more difficult.

Q. Your fellow No. 1 on the women’s tour, Caroline Wozniacki, is coming into her first tournament as No. 1. Can you talk about the pressures coming into the first Grand Slam as No. 1?

RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t think she need my advice, no? But at the same time, seriously, for me doesn’t matter if I’m No. 1, No. 2 or No. 5. When you arrive for play a tournament, the goal is to play well and try to play a good tournament, have a good result, and if is possible win. Doesn’t matter if you are No. 1 or No. 5, the pressure is the same because in the end your goal is the same if you are No. 1 or if you are No. 5.

Q. Do you see her winning a Grand Slam in the very near future?

RAFAEL NADAL: I thought he [sic] will have a very good chance last year in the US Open. Was playing really well. Finally he [sic] lost in semifinals. Well see.

She is No. 1 of the world. For sure the No. 1 of the world has chances to win the important tournaments.

Q. You’ve won the US Open. Can you talk a little bit about the difference in conditions between this hard court tournament to the US Open and how do you play it differently tactically, or are they the same?

RAFAEL NADAL: I play what I can. Every tournament is different. In every tournament you have different feelings. Even during the tournament you can change a little bit because your feelings are changing, no? So US Open was a really special tournament for me last year.

In general, the conditions of Australia are a little bit more easy for me than US Open. The history says me that. The ball here is getting little bit more topspin, is a little bit slower. But seriously I start to think for me is better have faster courts or slower courts?

Q. A couple of quite famous players this year have changed their racquet, have gone to a new company. You’ve always been with the same racquet people. How big a gamble is it to change your racquet?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I have the option to do it a few years ago. But seriously I think is something difficult to do and is important decision because, yeah, maybe you win more money with another things, with a company, but if you lose little bit of your feeling and you lose little bit more than before, you are less happy than before. And is more important be happy than the money in general. That’s what I feel.

Q. Rafa, Novak said after the US Open last year that he was really impressed how much you improved your serve. Is there a particular area in your game you look to improve this year?

RAFAEL NADAL: Always everything. But the serve, still to improve a lot. I think I am serving better, but never going to be enough, my serve.

Everything. You can play more aggressive. You can play more inside the court. You can go more times to the net. You can return little bit more aggressive. You can play longer. You can play more close to the lines.

In tennis you can improve all your career. So is something that I always tried when I wake up every morning and I go to practice. My goal is improve, not go to practice. That’s why I am here, no? If someday I lost this feeling, maybe I don’t gonna come back to this tournament.

Q. Rafael, away from the tennis, not at the tennis courts, what is different about the Australian Open for you, outside the tennis?

RAFAEL NADAL: I think the Australian Open probably is the easier Grand Slam for the players. The facilities are better than the rest of the tournament because you have everything very close, the hotel. The tournament always is improving, is creating new areas for the players. That’s fantastic, no?

I think is a tournament is improving more every year. So just we can say thanks to the tournament. Seriously, for me, with me, the organization, the director of tournament was always fantastic. Just can say thanks very much because the support, they make me feel like home. Is one of the tournaments that I am always very happy to be back.

Q. You mentioned about your desire to keep improving all the time. Do you think because you and Roger have that mentality, you are taking men’s tennis higher with you as well, that everybody now has to improve to even get close to you?

RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. I think every player improves normally because the player practice and the player keep improving I think all the career. So is important to know what you need to improve and how you gonna improve.

So I think the important thing is keep focus, keeping have the right illusion and motivation to improve your tennis even if you are on the top. And I think that’s why Roger is on the top for long, long time, no? Is almost 10 years in the top of the rankings. That’s why I think he improved a lot these years.

And myself I think, too. I can lose much more, and I can play a bad season this year. But I don’t have any doubt because, win or lose, not depends only about how you play, depends about how you are mentally. Is a lot of facts can change between win or lose, no?

But I (indiscernible) I am better player this one than three or four years ago. So that’s something that is important personal satisfaction. That’s why I am practicing every day.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

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64 Comments for Rafael Nadal: I’m Feeling Better But Not Perfect Yet

DC Says:

I’m sick & tired of Nadal being sick & tired.

CD Says:

typical Federeeeeeeeeeeeesian

margot Says:

DC :)

RSP Says:

“And we will see what’s going on, no?
But I feel if I play at my best level, I can have a chance to be in the second week, and there we will see what’s happen, no?”

The whole world and its uncle knows that he is not losing before the second week, whom is he trying to kid?

margot Says:

But Fed said, NOT about Rafa, “I played him several times, I beat him several times” Hmm…..
Kimo made the point very amusingly, you have a choice between false modesty/delightful humility or
unbearable smugness/delightful honesty…. depending, as with everything, on your point of view

Gannu Says:

Sick and tired of this a$$ picker… pray that he loses in first round.. excuses galore….really shameful to have aplayer like him… a sore loser

Thangs Says:

Gannu is the sore loser…his crying comments during US open final proves that..Grow up!

Gannu Says:

thangs if your sick then stop playing… and if you play dont say that i am sick.. just shut up and go away…I hate when people bring injury as excuses… federer never ever has done that… he only said after he lost again djoko 1 month later that he had mono….. Nadal just has excuses every time he loses.. and the most famous one is being tired.. come on give me a break… retire from teniss if u dont have stamina…does federe ever say he is tired and hene he lost the match…enuff of this nadal… its high time that the true no1 gets back his rightful status

Zizu Says:

“federer never ever has done that… he only said after he lost again djoko 1 month later that he had mono…..”

And after he lost against Berdych at Wimbledon, immediately after the match, that he had aches & pains in his legs…

Juiz Says:

Both Federer and Nadal in the past have given reason for seemingly poor results and performance. The ones quick enough to interpret such remarks as excuses for losing are most likely fanboys and haters.

And yet for this case when Nadal was asked about his condition, a response other then being 100% would warrant as an excuse should he lose. Nadal to me doesn’t seem to be a liar.

grendel Says:

There was the famous Harry Hopman quote, something like “if you’re injured, don’t play. If you play, you’re not injured” – and this sentiment lies behind a lot of the criticisms of Nadal and Federer in particular, though others too.

But times have changed. Hopman coached in the days of innocence, when the financial rewards were reasonable, where tennis players were just tennis players (and footballers just footballers, not saints, devils or roving ambassodars for some feckless government), and there weren’t these endless, endless interviews, videos, exhos, and all the paraphernalia.

Federer and Nadal in particular are, well not exactly victims, you’re not going to shed tears for them, but they are creatures of circumstance outside their control. No doubt this is true of all of us, but it is magnified a millionfold in the case of sportstars.

So is Nadal “falsely modest” or “humble”?Actually, I’d say bit of both. The “falsely modest bit” is partly strategic (take pressure off), partly pre-emptive (you heard it from me first) but to a large extent it’s a way of coping with these interminable, contrived dialogues. And who is to blame for these? Why, you and I, dear poster! We like our super star gossip, we demand it, are ratty and desolate when it is not immediately on hand.

Likewise, Federer is a bit bigheaded (wouldn’t you be with his attributes? Be reasonable!)but he is also indeed refreshingly honest. More so than Nadal, certainly, but that I think is because he seems to rather relish the interview circuit – he seems sometimes like a big puppy dog jumping around wagging his tail and shoving his nose eagerly into your hand, eyes hopeful – and so he is able to be himself to a degree. I get the feeling Nadal performs at the pressy etc out of duty rather than desire. I suspect if it were up to him, he would happily abandon the whole farrago – which doesn’t tie in readily with the notion that he is keen to propagate some myths about himself.

Of course, the whole business of injury is an incredibly difficult one to deal with, because the response is bound to polarise the eagerly awaiting audience, ready to pounce on the least hint of excuse, either hotly proclaiming justification or contemptuously nodding as if all their darkest forebodings had been confirmed. The situation is particularly awkward for some one who is prone to injury.

I doubt if there is a solution to all this, because the whole situation – it’s a circus, make no mistake – is entirely unatural. We’re all addicted, of course, certainly I am, but every now and then it doesn’t do any harm to take a little reality check. And then, back to the fray……

dari Says:

Whatever you say, Rafael…
Grendel- love your fed puppy image.
I recall more a lot of responses from roger that reflect the attitude ” well, you asked me, didn’t you?” in some of his more smug replies. I’m sure as an elite athlete you’re always thinking of the image you’re making with your statements, but I think rafa, more so than most, keeps this in consideration. It’s more calculated, and less conversational overall. And just when I think he is relaxing and being more honest, you get gems like this. ” FOR SURE, I am not the favorite” ?! Really Rafa, as the #1 player in the world, the fiercest competitor in tennis, and the winner of the last three majors convincingly doesn’t put you ahead?
In fed’s interview, sure he puts the favorite title on Rafa, but he admits how he could be considered fave as the defending champ. Rafa puts himself below a number of players and names them! It’s incredible that he will dodge the “favorite” title so!
I guess my question is, does he really believe what he is saying? I think the diversion to humility is so automatic now that he probably does.

Mg Mg Says:

Fed vs Berdy 2010 Wimbledon
Federer had said: ‘I’ve been feeling bad for the last two, three matches. I am struggling with a little bit of a back and a leg issue.’
He claimed his back and right leg problems began at a tournament in Halle, Germany, last month, where he lost the final to Lleyton Hewitt.
‘That never quite really went away,’ he said. ‘It came back a little bit after the first-round match and then went away again and just kept creeping back sometimes during the matches.
‘When you’re hurting, it’s a combination of many things. You just don’t feel as comfortable. You can’t concentrate.’

‘I don’t know if he is just looking for excuses,’ said the 24-year-old Czech.

Skeezerweezer Says:

So Fed complained made an excuse for an injury like……..once? Point is here is it is not a habitual thing

Mg Mg Says:

Nice post Grandel.

Mg Mg Says:

I am just a big tennis fan. I love both Fed and Rafa but some Fed fans are a little extreme. Fed, Rafa, Novak and Andy Murray are all my favorites.

Lulu Iberica Says:

Gannu, you are getting me all riled up with your a** picker comments. I don’t usually make negative comments about your beloved “feddy bear,” but you are sorely tempting me right now! Anyway, yes I think Rafa does routinely underplay his own chances, but I think that’s largely a coping strategy and has allowed him to achieve more than he might have otherwise. I think he knows anything CAN happen, so he takes all opponents seriously. I mean, even the world no. 1 can have a bad day, and no. 73 could play the match of his life and cause an upset. Not likely, but possible. I think Nadal really believes that he is NOT the most naturally talented player, and that only hard work and mental fortitude allows him to stay on top, whereas Federer is quite aware of his own superiority, and delights in it. As someone who hates braggadoccio, I prefer Rafa’s approach. I’m sure some of his humility is manufactured, but I also don’t believe he walks around thinking, “Who’s the man, baby? Yeah, that’s right — I’m the man!” Both Rafa and Rog are good guys, and good for the sport. Still, Vamos, Rafa!

jane Says:

I like Lulu & grendel’s posts , looking at the nuances and realities of being Rafa and Fed, their different personalities and approaches to the media circus. We’re so critical, easy to be from our vantage point, but it must be repetitive all those “sit downs” and questions. Ego comes into play too, of course; these *are* competitive athletes after all.

Match Point Says:

To some of diehard Federer fans above, Gannu et all.

I myself am a diehard fan of Federer, and want him to acheive greater heights that no one else can reach. But, that doesn’t make Nadal a lousy player or preson.

Nadal is a great champion and a big asset to the game of tennis. No one else is as mentally tough as he is and has the fighting spirit that he has.

As much as I want Federer to win, I do not hate Nadal. I accept that he is as great a player as Federer is, may be less talented not so much fun to watch.

After all it’s just a game. Grow up.

leo vixen Says:

I completely agree with Match Point, but in the reverse fashion. I am a Nadal fan and feel the same way you do. I do not hate Roger and I acknowledge that he is far more naturally gifted and talented, but I love Nadal’s fighting spirit, his brutal game, his mental strength, and the fact that he knows he has to work much harder than most to be where he is. I think Nadal is more fun to watch, but I always root for Federer over everyone else except for Nadal. Both are amazing players with different styles and seem to get along much better with each other than their fans do and are more mature than most of you out there. It is just a game.

margot Says:

…grendel morphed into dim wit, morphed into dunbar, morphed into grendel, morphed into dim wit….

Skeezerweezer Says:

The name changes, but is always true to himself :).

steve-o Says:

Most of the greatest champions–Sampras, Federer, Serena Williams–accept that being number one isn’t all roses and sunshine. It means lots of headaches: increased media attention and questions, heightened expectations, other players all gunning for you.

All of those champions have accepted the burdens that go with the top spot as the price they pay for being there. That is an expression of humility: they acknowledge that their great success imposes responsibilities on them, responsibilities which they are obligated to meet, even if they don’t always like them. They acknowledge that they are part of a community.

Billie Jean King famously summed this up as “Pressure is a privilege,” and most of those champions lived (and live) by that coda.

Nadal has an opposite view. He wants all the good stuff, but doesn’t want to have to pay anything for it.

He wants all the pressure to be on everyone else, even as he wins everything in sight. The winner of three straight majors, the world #1 by a wide margin, and a past winner of the tournament–this guy isn’t the favorite? Pray tell me, then, who is, and why?

That IS colossal arrogance–he’s proclaiming, whether consciously or not, that he’s so exceptional that he doesn’t owe any obligations to the tennis community. That all the burdens that go with the top spot are just too much bother for him, so he shouldn’t have to deal with it at all. It smacks of entitlement.

He doesn’t like being the favorite? Well, that’s just too bad. If you want to be the champ, you want to make history, you want the adulation of multitudes (and I have no doubt that he enjoys that as much as anyone) you have to be willing to accept the pressures and responsibilities that come with all that.

You can’t just take the good and leave the bad for others. That’s the way a child thinks.

If the pressure is really so much of a burden to him, there’s a very easy way for him to be rid of it–stop winning so much. But somehow I don’t think he would be very happy with that option.

skeezerweezer Says:


THAT was a very interesting post. Respect.

dari Says:

thanks, steve-o for that post.
well-articulated, i think it just cleared up my hangover.
im almost shaking my head at that nadal now…

jane Says:

Personally, i see Rafa & Fed as co-favorites to win the AO with a slight edge to Fed: i have a few reasons for that. 1) they have both won this event before, but i believe fed has won it 4 times, including last year 2) rafa won almost all the slams last year, but fed ended the year on a high with a title at the wtf, including over rafa, and with his new coach clearly making a difference 3) fed just won doha. Rafa is getting over a virus. And forgive me, but i do think this could affect him (?). Last year when fed got his lung infection, he went into a bit of a tail spin after winning the AO, these kinds of things can throw off preparation, momentum,etc. That said, i dont think it could have been too serious as rafa went on to win in doubkes at doha. So he is still co-fave with Roger in my mind, with a slight edge to fed

jane Says:

Tignor’s latest is about Fedal Oz pressers; thought some of you fed or rafa fans might find it interesting; he starts with fed then moves onto rafa:


skeezerweezer Says:

Thanks Jane and the article backed Steve_O’s point about Rafa..interesting…..

jane Says:

You’re welcome skeeze; actually i thought Tignor was more neutral than steve- o. ;) The way he ended it, certainly. But it was interesting to hear about how they “root for each other”. Nadal does like to play down his chances. Fed does sound philisophical. I dont see nadal as not giving back to the tennis community though. It seems like he does. But he also seems more uncomfortable with the spotlight, like maybe a lendl or something, just different types of personalities, is all. Both with their own strengths and weaknesses.

skeezerweezer Says:

Yeah Rafa gives back for sure….and they are buddies no doubt. They have proven to have a special relationship. Some fans have a hard time with it me thinks but they won’t come out of the closet to say it :).

There was a “part” of the article that Tignor was writing about that validated steve-O’s point, that was what I was referring too earlier :)

jane Says:

Yep I caught that bit too skeeze, about how Rafa started his presser. The fan “closet”, lol. :) Okay, I am going to go try that draw thingy, this time on the desktop because I have had back luck on the ipad.

skeezerweezer Says:


Good luck with that. Hewitt/Nalby? Let me know. I know your going for a NolAndy or AnNole.

grendel Says:

“He and Nadal will both have more time off after this than they did after the World Tour Finals.”

don’t know Nadal’s schedule, but Federer is due to play 3 tourneys on the hard (including Dubai) and 2 on the clay before the French. That does seem quite sparse?

You know, Federer can be disingenuous too. I’m not saying this in an attempt to gain kudos for objectivity or some rubbish like that – as has been suggested before. I just find hagiography tiresome, wherever it may fall. And unfair, in a way, because it sets subject to it up for a fall. It’s natural to talk bullshit from time to time.

For instance, Federer claimed he wanted Nadal to win against Djokovic in USO final because he was the better player. What morally correct claptrap. Of course, Federer wanted Nadal to lose, simply in the interests of protecting his own slam record. That’s normal. And now we are told Federer is “excited” to see if Nadal can get the Rafaslam. Who’d have thought Tignor (a perceptive chappie generally) could be so naive? Federer absolutely does NOT want Nadal to get the grandslam he was unable to get himself. Alright, I don’t strictly know, I’m not privy to the inside of Federer’s head – but come on, this is one of the greatest competitors the world has ever seen. He likes his records, wants to keep them, and will fight ferociously in their defence. That is why the rivalry continues to be compelling.

People go on about the mutual respect between Fed and Nadal. Of course, who could doubt it? But this sort of tip-toing around each other that both of them are doing these days, at pressers and so on, is frankly borderline laughable. The real business is on the court. That’s where the reality is, that’s where you can see the truth, and not one fraction of a nanometre is given – and that’s as it should be.

Doesn’t mean they can’t be civil afterwards, of course.

steve-o Says:

@jane: You give some good reasons why Federer should be given a solid chance of winning.

But I have to say there is a pattern with Nadal: claimed injury/illness followed by superlative performances in big tournaments.

Last year he said he had knee trouble during Queens, and during the early rounds in Wimbledon, only to win Wimbledon by crushing three top-ten players with the loss of one set; claimed not to have been able to practice his serve at Toronto when he lost to Murray, but served so well that he dropped a total of one set at USO (supposedly his worst surface); claimed shoulder tendinitis as a reason for dropping out of Paris, before producing a serving clinic against Murray at WTF.

The fact that he lost at Doha means very little. During last year, save for the clay-court season, he failed to win any of the smaller titles/Masters series in the run-up to the majors. At the time people also said that they weren’t sure he would be able to do well at the Grand Slams, given his sub-par results in the lesser tournaments. He proved them completely wrong. So his loss in Doha doesn’t augur very much, I think.

He just doesn’t seem to be able to face the pressure head-on without that hedge of injury or illness.

Why would a champion tennis player cry out on camera to the whole world, as Nadal did at Doha, that he’s so sick that his game is deserting him? That’s showing weakness to your opponents, inviting them to destroy you. In such a competitive sport as tennis, that’s foolish. It’s the sort of mistake only a rookie would make, and Nadal is no rookie.

However, if you want to lower expectations before the most important tournament of your career, and lull your opponents into being complacent, then you just might do that.

If he was so sick that his fitness was in jeopardy, they’d have never let him on-court against Davydenko. Nor would they have let him play doubles, as you point out. I therefore have to believe that this illness was minor.

And when Nadal was asked, he says that Federer is the favorite (“I’m less favorite than him”) and he himself is in the mix with Soderling, Murray, and Djokovic. Who really believes that? Two of those guys have never won a major, nor even a set in a major final, and Nadal schooled Djokovic at USO. If he were being honest, he’d at least have to put himself above those guys, but he didn’t.

Federer may be defending champ, but 1) he hasn’t made a major final in nearly a year, 2) he hasn’t defended a major title since winning USO in 2008; 3) he has only defended an AO title once, in 2007. He had the chance in 2005 and 2008 and fell short of the final each time, 4) his winning smaller titles isn’t a guarantee of success at the majors, because he won Cincinnati but lost in the SF at USO.

jane Says:

Skeeze, i went with Hewitt becuase of the way Ferrer beat Nalby, because Hew looked good versus Nole at Hopman, and because it’s Hew’s home mate. :) but of course that match is a crapshoot. Yes, of course i picked a Nolandy final. Unabashedly.

Steve-o, grendel, you both make some valid points about competitiveness and chances. Of course rafa’s chances are better than noles, murrays and sodas. And of course they say stuff and may feel differently deep down, though we dont know for sure. They do exchange letters afterall!

steve-o Says:

@grendel: You’ve returned to using your original name, why the change?

You paint a, and Federer is certainly no saint. But I don’t think Federer roots for others to lose just for his records to be preserved. If anyone is to beat the best, he wants it to be him. He doesn’t want anyone else doing it for him. That is pure pride.

Hence his phrasing “If I get a chance, I hope I can stop him, obviously.” If he loses early, he isn’t going to hope some lesser player can do the job he couldn’t do. He wants the glory all for himself. That’s selfish, and totally understandable. If not him to take it, then he wants the next best man around to get it–and that’s Nadal.

Because he’s a great competitor, he wants to always be the one in the thick of the action. What does it matter to him, ultimately, if someone else helps preserve his records by beating Nadal? He didn’t have anything do with that. For him to have to rely on others to beat Nadal, that’s a tacit admission of inadequacy. It’s HIS record, not someone else’s. HE wants to be the one defending it.

This is a man who went without a coach or manager for two years, while winning Grand Slams. He never looks at his box and trusts his own eyes over the Hawkeye replay system. He is fiercely independent and doesn’t like to rely on anyone else if he can help it. Someone like that is not going to hope others can do his dirty work for him, so to speak.

So I think what he says about being excited about Nadal winning four straight majors is consistent with his enormous competitive drive and pride.

Lulu Iberica Says:

Steve-o, I personally don’t think champions “owe” it to the fans to take on some enormous burden of expectations, thinking they MUST win everything. I suppose such a burden is what led to Federer’s, “God, it’s killing me,” admission when he lost the 2009 AO. As a die-hard Rafa fan, of course I want him to give his all, but I don’t want him to have a breakdown over any one result. These are athletes we’re talking about, not presidents or prime ministers. Now, those are the people who I really wish would feel the pressure to perform! Anyhow, I really never consider Rafa the favorite in a hard court slam. In this case, Fed is the defending champ, 4 time winner, and he’s been playing incredibly. He whipped Rafa at WTF, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he did it here. Murrray really SHOULD have a good chance to beat Rafa here, and if he performs poorly it will probably be due to his usual mental midgetry. I know I’m biased, but yeah, for me, everytime Raf wins a hard court title he has overcome a major hurdle, climbed a mountain. Now, RG I expect him to win. I think Wimby I expect him to win. AO and USO are just icing on the cake for me. But I like a lotta extra icing!

Lulu Iberica Says:

Hmmm… the more I think about this… Nobody gives a player the no. 1 ranking. They earn it by winning the most and at the biggest tournaments. The only thing a player has to do to “deserve” the ranking is to win and to not cheat. If a few other players put as much heart and soul into their game as Rafa does into his, he probably wouldn’t be no. 1. So, because Andy M is a video game zombie with no confidence, and Roger had back problems/decided to become a father/refused to adapt his game for so long, and Djoker has allergies/screwed up his serve/takes mental walkabouts, Nadal is supposed to bear the weight of the world on his shoulders? If he went around spouting, “I am the greatest,” a la Ali, then, yeah, he’d better back it up, but he’s never said any such thing. He only says if he does his best in every competition, he has a chance to win. Obviously understated, and obviously true.

Lulu Iberica Says:

Didn’t mean to be harsh on the top guys in the above post — I like ’em all, especially Djoker. I just think Rafa was so dominant in 2010 partly because others were not performing up to their potential, while Rafa was.

margot Says:

lulu: if you must ….. actually Andy’s hobbies are playing 5 a side when he can, following boxing and fantasy football. Ali is one of his heroes.
jane: HATE to promote “Daily Mail on line” but really nice interview with Andy, asked what he’d save from a burning house, replied it’d have to be two things, gf and dog, “one on each shoulder” :) Well, Kim and Maggie both tiny!

jane Says:

Awww that’s sweet and Andy has priorities straight. :) Will look for it. Posted a link to you on the old lengthy thread to Bodo’s blog at tennis.com re: Andy’s chances of winning a slam this year: doesn’t think AO is the one but says good things about his career and maturity.

margot Says:

jane, thanx for that, just read it. Never heard the word “outlier” b4. Can, I assume it’s a baseball term? There’s a live interview on the beeb as well, in one of them he talks, with gr8 honesty, about his feelings after last year’s defeat. Don’t think that enormous let down would happen again. I think he’s growing in maturity and that will help his game.
BTW lots of appreciative comments about Vera’s coach, asking what his draw is like….we are not alone ;)

steve-o Says:

@Lulu: Nadal won USO–his “worst” major–with the loss of only one set. His serve was broken only twice before the final. Federer was never that dominant at USO even in his salad days.

I didn’t see that that victory posed such a “huge obstacle” to Nadal. So I don’t see why winning this AO should be any more difficult for him, especially since he’s playing better than he did when he won it last time.

Even coming into the French Open last year, after sweeping all three clay Masters, he said something like “I was the favorite last year and look what happened.” That’s absolutely ridiculous. He won four straight times. If he’s not the favorite there, then who is?

It’s not the fans he owes an obligation to, but the other players, and to the media. It’s not fair to just take the glory and the honors and say, “Others should take all the crap that comes with winning, instead of me. Let the media hassle and pressure everyone else, let Federer be the target that all the other players are gunning for, but just leave me alone even as I make history.” That’s not how a champion should behave. At least that’s my feeling.

I am sure that if he hoists the trophy, he won’t be asking the media to leave him alone and bother Federer instead. So why does he get to do that now?

It has nothing to do with the desire to win, which I assume is as intense in Nadal as any other great player.

You seem to think that win is the end of it and then there’s no more to do. I don’t see it that way. Professional tennis isn’t done in a vacuum. You don’t just rack up the trophies and then get to do whatever you please. It’s a communal activity as well as a profession. You give up a bit of your privacy and your freedom by being so successful, just as leaders in other areas of life are supposed to give up certain freedoms, and are forced to meet certain responsibilities, in exchange for their higher status.

By completing the Career Slam, and placing himself in a position to make history by taking four majors in a row, he has opened himself up to even more questioning and pressure. Doesn’t matter that he didn’t call himself the greatest–he brought this on himself by his actions, by winning. It’s not his choice to make.

I also object to your implication that other players don’t work as hard as Nadal and that’s why they’re not as good. Nadal has physical attributes that other players do not have: strength and stamina. And no matter how hard Djokovic and Murray work, they’re never going to have that.

There is no question Nadal works hard, but you have no basis whatsoever to claim that other top players don’t work as hard, just because they don’t win as much, or to suggest that he wins because he’s morally superior, more virtuous than others.

His winning is not proof of his virtue; it is proof of his ability to win, nothing more.

Winning doesn’t have much to do with virtue, no matter how much Toni Nadal likes to go on about how it was more important for him to raise Nadal to be virtuous rather than successful.

It’s just too easy to translate what you’re saying into the equation: virtue = worldly success. And that’s a very pernicious lie. Because if you look at many of the most successful people, they really had to do a lot of very immoral things to get there.

grendel Says:

Steve-o: @your first q. – oh, I dunno – identity crisis?

you make a well constructed argument, as usual, but I’m not quite convinced. In the best of all possible worlds, such and such follows – for instance, Fed achieves everything off his own bat without any help from others. That leaves out the role of chance which, to say the least, has a big say in things. It gives – and it takes away, and Fed can hardly be unaware of this, since he has been both victim and gainer.

Federer is definitely a tennis geek – but he is human. His response to whether he would watch the Nadal/Djokovic US final? “no, I think I’ll go shopping with my kids”. Understandably ungeeky behaviour. Nor can I quite see Federer watching Nadal attempting to overtake his records, when he is not in a position to do anything about it, in the hope that Nadal will succeed. Sampras tried that trick, and I didn’t believe it for one second.

Federer did look subdued, or contained, in his interview. I do suspect he sees the coming battle to be as important as any he has undertaken, in terms of his legacy. And I think the public senses that, too, which is why I think jane is quite wrong to think people want something new . Some people do, obviously the fans of the other top players, but my guess would be that the overwhelming majority of neutral tennis spectators will want to see a fedal final. The drama is not yet played out. And it has been an incomparable drama. So it is natural, even if you are not a fan, to be highly curious about the endgame. If that takes another year or two – and it may be less – so be it. You cannot contrive such dramas and when, rarely, they present themselves, people are drawn in and fascinated. Most people, that is.

Steve-o, you have given compelling reasons why you think Nadal should be regarded as favourite. But you don’t actually say what your own hunch is. After all, these things are not entirely rational. So, who’s going to win?

margot Says:

grendel, watched a youtube wherein ex top players gave their opinion, to a man said over 3, Fed; over 5 Rafa.

jane Says:

Grendel, ” which is why I think jane is quite wrong to think people want something new . Some people do, obviously the fans of the other top players”

You already said this on the other thread, now you are saying it again. Well i feel differently. I feel the drama is repetitive.

Where, please find it and quote me, did i say “people want something new”? My point has always been that i do! And i have also said that a variety of winners would make a variety of fans happy. This is true. Americans woudl be thrilled if roddick won, britsh / scottish fans for Murray. Serbia and Nole fans would rejoice over a repeat. Not everyone wants a nadal and fed final. You can think what you like but must you repeat that i am “wrong”? It is just my opinion grendel.

Last year before the WTF even Johnny Mac, who greatly admires both Fed and RAfa, said he thinks it would be “good for tennis” if someone like Murray or Djoko or Soda would rise up and take a big title. To me it would be too; it would add new character to the drama. It would e refreshing to see a new winner on the stage. That is just my thought is all.

jane Says:

margot, do not know etymology of “outliers” – i suppose it could be baseball, but usually i think of outfielders with baseball. Anyhow, if you think murray would not react so badly to another final loss to fed then i wont be concerned. I hope one day to watch him win wimbledon, maybe this year, as to me he is most exciting to watch on grass.

jane Says:

Here is the video where J-Mac say it would be “important for tennis” to see one of the other guys step and win major titles:


skeezerweezer Says:

“His response to whether he would watch the Nadal/Djokovic US final? “no, I think I’ll go shopping with my kids”. ”

This reminds me, he did the right thing and shame on the media for making this anymore that it was. Does Nole/Murray/Nadal have kids? Frankly, I don’t know how he does it now with a family. Watch a tennis match or spend time with the kids after it being all about me for two weeks?

They have a thing that is called DVR and I am sure Fed got around to watching it.

dari Says:

Jane/margot I heard this term first in scientific data. Where you have a set of data points that are all reasonably close to each other then you have one that is really far out there and usually signifies some error in your process.
Haha saying these things in terms of Andy M is pretty funny, I don’t know what the writer was saying about andy, but it is kinda of statistically odd that he is so talented and beats Rafa and rog in smaller tournaments but can’t make it happen enough to win a major.

skeezerweezer Says:


I think Rafa himself said that 2-3 guys have won the last 20 slams, so I can see that if you are not a Rafa/Fed fan this whole thing is getting old and it would be nice to see someone new. I understand that. I think you will see that sooner rather than later, hang in there :)

jane Says:

dari, thanks for clarifying where that term comes from. Hopefully Andy M will be an in-lier soon. ;)

Btw, just read an article about Fed’s tremendous & dedicated following, but it is also very complimentary of his game: you might get a kick out of it


grendel Says:

Well, if you’re not wrong,jane, perhaps I am. Because the impression I have received is that you think people in general (“a variety of fans” as you put it above) want something fresh. If I am mistaken about that, and you were genuinely only referring to yourself, my apologies. I genuinely didn’t notice that you meant “yourself” – otherwise, I wouldn’t have commented. After all, people can want any number of things which are not to one’s own taste – thank god for that!

I do think there is room for doubt in the way you express yourself, which carries a strong message imo. For example “Americans woudl be thrilled if roddick won, britsh / scottish fans for Murray.” Some Americans, some British. Also, of course, people can feel ambiguous, pulled in more than one direction. The ordinary American patriot who is not a Roddick fan as such but would welcome an American victory might also be enthralled with the Fed/Nadal psychodrama.

At the end of the day, you think the “drama is repetitive”, I think if it was repetitive, it wouldn’t have been much of a drama in the first place. These are polar differences, though both perfectly valid points of view. But I should have paid more attention to your exact wording.

jane Says:

Let me qualify then, grendel. Surely some fans out there – even besides me- would find it refreshing to see a new slam final and winner. but i was not saying “people” in general want something new. But how can i be “wrong” in saying some people do, that there is a variety of tennis fans, and that some of them (some british, some americans, etc) would be pleased to see someone else win?

And more semantics: are drama and repetition really mutually exclusive? Maybe. But i can think of the drama of family arguments, they may be repetitive (i.e., not that same old argument!) and yet still dramatic. Yes? I think so.

Anyhow i just think it is not “wrong” to think a new winner may be refreshing, nor even to suggest that some fans in some places maybe even feel the same. But not people in general. I am sure the majority want fedal and they will probably get what they want. I am used to waiting and hoping for a change.

I just wanted to clarify those two things: that i didnt mean “people” in general; that i don’t think my view is “wrong” per se. I know there are even others who post here who would be happy to see a different drama play out.

skeezerweezer Says:

I would like to see a jane vs grendal final myself. Rafa/Fed are booorrring! Move over guys…

jane Says:

Lol skeeze. I think people would be screaming “sherrrrt up you two and hit the freakin ball…” :)

I think often it is all circular but words words words. They make us flustered.

margot Says:

jane, I agree with everything you said at 12.22. re changes at the top. In fact if I could look in a crystal ball and see Rog/Raf at every slam final for the next year, I would probably stop watching.
Umm, yes I did say Andy could cope with another Fed beating better, but I personally would rather he lost earlier….not too early of course ;) It’s a bit of a poisoned chalice that one.
dari: thanx for explanation, Bodo was saying pretty much that.

grendel Says:

“But how can i be “wrong” in saying some people do,……” Of course, you can’t.

I’m not sure about the family argument. Surely what makes it dramatic despite the repetition is the very real pain and sometimes worse which may be entailed.

Thes things are finally balanced, but fortunately biology steps in and calls a halt. Of course many people share your point of view and, in the nature of things, more and more will do as the years pass by if Federer and Nadal are still at it. Indeed, I might even switch sides myself….

Lulu Iberica Says:

Steve-o, I will reply further at another time, but in regard to Rafa’s virtue, I don’t have any reason to believe he is any more or less virtuous than any other player. I certainly do not believe virtue necessarily leads to success, or that successful people are necessarily virtuous. One need only look at the banking industry for proof of that!

Skeezerweezer Says:

Where did virtuous come from? Start with reality. Does anyone here think Rafa is telling the TRUTH when asked about who the favorite is and who has a better shot than him after winning 3 consecutive Slams? Your kidding right?

Lulu Iberica Says:

Ok, Steve, I was probably harsh in what I said about Murray, Djoko, etc, but seriously, are you going to tell me that these guys have lived up to their full potential, considering their tennis skills? To me, this has nothing to do with being a good person or not, but I just don’t like to see players who have the technical ability to win not win because of mental or fitness issues. Maybe you’re right and Nadal is simply physically tougher than they can possibly be, and therefore, should always be expected to beat them. Still, why should Rafa always be expected to beat Fed? Do you believe Fed is too old, or that Rafa is now the superior player on every surface?

I admitted before that Rafa does underplay his chances, and if he claims not to be the fave at RG, that is certainly ridiculous. Still, Rafa’s statement “I was the favorite last year and look what happened,” only validates his point of view: even the greatest can be toppled at any moment. I just don’t agree with you that the no. 1 player has some obligation to take on some burden imposed by the media, or anyone. No, it’s not just about winning, but Rafa, like other top players, fulfills his responsibilities by promoting the sport, raising money for charity, generally giving his opponents credit, etc. I guess we have to agree to disagree. If I were no 1 at anything, and thought “I’m no.1 and everybody expects me to win, so I’d better not screw up!” I’m sure I’d lose straightaway!

Lulu Iberica Says:

Forgot to mention, re: USO, no Raf was not seriously challenged, but he did the work before the tournament to get that good! Obviously 2, 3 years ago he couldn’t have won it! Furthermore, Murray’s early exit surely aided his smooth path to the final.

Lulu Iberica Says:

Skeezer, Steve-o felt I was claiming Rafa is more virtuous than other players, which I was not. As to favorites, Cahill I think it was, just said bookmakers have Rafa and Rog as co-favorites. I personally give a slight edge to Fed, based on recent results and past AO performance, but I would certainly not be surprised if Rafa wins.

skeezerweezer Says:


Ok thanks Lulu. Good luck to your Fav :-)

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