Rafael Nadal Sees Novak Djokovic as Future No. 1 [Video]
by Tom Gainey | April 6th, 2011, 10:44 am

Rafael Nadal arrived back in home of Palma de Mallorca Tuesday afternoon where he was greeted by autograph seekers and the media.

Nadal, who lost to Novak Djokovic in the Miami Sony Ericsson Open final, talked about his upcoming schedule, the clay season and Djokovic and his chances for No. 1,

The World No. 1 plans to play Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid and Rome before his French Open defense.

After the Sunday final, Nadal talked about Novak’s potential rise to No. 1:

“I think he’s going to be No. 1. I don’t feel he’s breathing on my neck. I don’t know what’s the expression in English. The thing is, that’s part of sport. We will see at the end of the season who’s No. 1, who’s No. 2, and who’s No. 20. That’s tennis. For me, be No. 1 is a goal, but not. That’s always difficult to say, because you are No. 1 or you are not No. 1. It’s difficult for me to say my goal is be No. 1. My goal is be competitive in every tournament. If I do that, I going to have my chance to be No. 1. He won two tournaments in a row right now, very big tournaments and one Grand Slam. Normal thing is he will be No. 1 in the next month, month and a half, two months. I don’t know. Depends on my results on clay. For sure he will be there, no? I going to fight for me. If I am solid, if I play a very good clay court season, we will see what’s going on after.”

Nadal will be joined by Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray at the Rolex Monte Carlo which begins next week on the red clay.

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121 Comments for Rafael Nadal Sees Novak Djokovic as Future No. 1 [Video]

sheila Says:

still dont c djokovic taking over #1 ranking. yes, hes playing gr8, but in a best of 5, i dont c anyone beating nadal. on clay, i certainly dont c anyone beating nadal. let nadal winning record on clay speak 4 itself. this is in no way any disrespect 2 djokovics claycourt game, but nadal, imho, is in a league of his own. amateur prediction 4 rest of season: nadal wins fo & wimbledon(although i would love 2c roger take it) & a final in uso btwn nadal & djokovic, w/nadal pulling it out. best of 3 is a lot different than best of 5. used 2b federer in a best of 5 couldnt be beaten, but w/his results of late, thats not a probability. federer is “one” of the gr8 players of all time & no one can take his record away from him, although of late, so many people r putting him down because hes no longer winning consistently. shame how we 4get what he has accomplished & so many commentators & critics r quick 2 name djokovic the new king of tennis. yes he is on a very hot streak, but until ic his record comparable 2 nadals or federers, i dont c him in their league yet.

Cindy Brady Says:

I have a question for everyone:

Federer/nadal/djokovic play about 15 common tournaments a year (4GS, 9MS last year they made it 8, 1 WTF, and let us say 1dubai or doha kind of tournament)

of those 15 common tournaments, they play 4tournaments on clay which works out to about 27%. yet, nadal has played around 50% of his H2H with federer/djokovic on clay. isn’t it obvious that nadal’s relative lack of versatility on all tennis surfaces and federer/djokovic’s all-surface mastery (relative again) is hurting them in those H2Hs?

if you actually look into the sampras-agassi H2Hs, here i looked at their GS h2hs and sampras has a 7-3 advantage. but the dude played 7 matches on faster courts of wimbledon/us open and only 3 on slower courts of ao/fo. and her it is total black and white. Sampras won all the 7 on faster courts and lost all the 3 on slower courts!

looking at above 2stats, it tells me it is better to be a rather less versatile champ than having the versatility like federer/djokovic and agassi and coming off 2nd best in H2Hs.

It is funny that, if sampras played in the same era as nadal he might have a much better H2H than federer/djokovic. (or may be much worse – depending on if they played in 90s, when the conditions were faster or in the 2000s, when the courts have been slowed down!)

tennis_fan Says:

I just can’t agree any more to what sheila has said.. ‘Exactly’ my thoughts with respect to her entire post..
The key point is that 5-setters are way different than 3-setters. Besides, on clay, its really tough for anyone to beat Nadal – 3 sets or 5 sets.. Of course, as the ever-humble Nadal is quick to point out, he’s not gonna win Monte-Carlo 10 times in a row, so eventually it will get tougher even on clay and thats the beauty of the sport – it refines the sport and the best have to be better than the best..

With Federer too, i think he’s right up there too; maybe mentally the media has ruffled him a bit, but am sure he will get in the thick of things and challege the top 2 again..

Djokovic is indeed on a hot streak, and really playing some fantastic tennis – no doubts – seeing Nadal bent over hands on his knees in an extremely close Sony Ericsson final says a lot abt Djokovic’s form..

But “we’ll see whats going on”!! Men’s tennis is only going to get more interesting :)

tennis_fan Says:


27% is an improper statistic.
Grand Slams are 2000 points each
Thus, French Open = 2000
3 Master’s ATP clay tournaments, which Nadal plays – 1000 each (Monte Carlo, Madrid, Rome)

So clay is more than 5000 points- huge, not just 27%.. Its based on “POINTS” not just tournaments.

And when u say – “Nadal’s relative lack of versatility” – which planet are u living in? I mean he is the world #1 for more than 40 weeks, he has won all 4 grand slams – which just a mere handful of people have ever done – he would’ve been the 3rd or so human in the open era to win a calendar slam since the 50’s, if he’d won the Autralian Open 2011 ..

Rafa is reaching the finals of hard court tournaments – he is more than 3000 points ahead of the world #2. And to call such a player in a fierce and heavily competitive men’s tennis is just being not knowledgable about men’s tennis.

When its being world #1 – u just have to be superior in every darn surface out there – thats pretty much the bottomline!

skeezerweezer Says:

^ I believe CB threw in Surface “era’s” in the last half of his write also which is meaningful and very significant. No doubt on todays surfaces Rafa doesn’t need to prove to anybody he can play however.

I do think if you put Rafa in Pete’s era Pete (and Fed) would dominate. Novak might fair better. Rafa’s toughest surfaces are fast slick stuff, where he doesn’t have time to wind it up. Although Rafa has proven to adapt, I just don’t see that he could change his swing. Courts have slowed way down since then overall, and his swing is tailor made for it. ….imo

It’s funny though if Rafa played back in Pete’s day….he would have won 16 GS titles…all on Clay…lol….NOBODY would touch him….

Hypnos Says:


Back in Pete’s day, they didn’t have Luxilon — not sure Nadal would have had the same advantage.

And in this era, Sampras would have adapted to the slow courts and Luxilon — I’m guessing he’d look a bit like Nalbandian.

Fritz Says:

I think you misunderstood the media. No one is naming Djokovic the new king of tennis. It is way to early to do that.

“shame how we 4get what he has accomplished & so many commentators & critics r quick 2 name djokovic the new king of tennis. yes he is on a very hot streak, but until ic his record comparable 2 nadals or federers, i dont c him in their league yet.”

It is inevitable that we will stop talking about Federer as he gradually drops from the Top 10. Following your logic, we should still be talking about Laver and Sampras on daily basis because of their accomplishments. It is normal to be talking about the current events, and right now it is Novak/Nadal rivalry or Novak winning streak, with all due respect to Laver, Sampras and Federer.

Fritz Says:

Interesting debate going on Bodo’s blog on ESPN site – some Fed and Rafa’s fans are claiming that Novak is taking PEDs. According to them, that is the only explanation of his winning streak.


Hypnos Says:

Or maybe Djokovic is taking the same EPO that Nadal has been taking all along

Dan Says:

Yes, Rafa has a TON of points to defend between now and the USO. However, does anyone doubt that he won’t win 1 of the MS on clay and FO? Plus, he’s playing the 500 tourney in Barcelona which he didn’t last year. And he can make up points at Queens, Toronto, and Cinci. He needs to lose early in the tourneys he won last year and Nole needs to do really well (finals and/or win) for him to pass Rafa and maintain that lead through the fall when, Rafa has one more MS 1000 tourney to play in that he has no points from.

Fritz Says:

After reading most of the comments, looks like sour grapes from Fed and Rafa’s fans, mostly Rafa’s though, which I found surprising…

Dan Says:

Fritz, huge Rafa fan here. I LOVE that Nole has stepped it up big time. I’ve been calling him chokevich for years. The reason I started rooting for Nadal was because I was tired of Federer just rolling to Pete’s record. I grew up watching Pete have to claw his way to 14. I like seeing a young kid just step up and say “no mas.”. It provided a rivalry and great entertainment. Just the same, I want to see Nadal work his way into the teens having to fight against not only a potential Goat in Fed but also greatness from Nole and Murray and Delpo.

johhny Says:

Novak is being hated just b/c he plays great tennis and achieves results. Is this his fault, should he just let Federer and Nadal be #1 and #2 for the sake of not being hated? Will tards of all colors understand this is not the reason to hate Novak!! His universal right is to play tennis and compete for the highest ranking.

Nobody is coronating Novak as #1 yet, media and experts are speculating based on his current performance and trying to extrapolate the future rankings. This is what media and pundits do, you are good everyone talks about you, you are not good, everybody forgets you. It is not that Novak wasn’t in the same situation himself; it was claimed until recently he was going to fall out of the top 10 in 2010! Murray was the one who got proclaimed by non-biased british media as the future #1, and look at the situation we have now?

So what if Federer had so many records in the past? Is that the factor that will affect the future rankings? Yes, he may win 1 or 2 GSs more, or he may not win a single GS at all. If he wins, everybody will start talking about how Federer is great and will celebrate his masterclass ability to recapture #1 ranking. This is the ways thing are.

So cool off and let the future tell us how present looks like.

billyboy512 Says:

I love rafa…”breathing on my neck”…I may wanna play tennis like Djokovic, but I wanna BE Rafa.

billyboy512 Says:

PS…what’s up with the funk/trunk time lag?

Swiss Maestro Says:

Djokovic is being hated because of

a) his own cocky nature

b) his boorish parents

c) his highly jingoistic serbian fans.

Swiss Maestro Says:

cindy brady :

great post. it is sad that most tennis writers are too dumb that they have not noticed such an obvious trend.

i think it is like dentists, you only become a dentist because you aren’t too smart to become a doc.

stu Says:

SM, when was the last time you heard a pip or squeak from Novak’s parents? And why hate a player because of his fans?!

sheila Says:

fritz says that i misunderstand the media. well, in all the articles of read, they very easily dismiss federer. yes, federer is not quite in his prime as he once was, but in most of the articles ive read he has been dismissed as not even being in contention for another major. it is djokovics time & certainly nadals, but federer is still an active player, still #3 in the world. i dont hate djokovich though i do agree w/ swiss maestro that his parents are not very likeable (ie. ao when tsonga & djokovic were in final, plus djokovics mother saying federer-the king- as she put it, was dead)horrible thing for a parent of a tennis star 2say. u dont hear nadal or federers parents making rude remarks like that. anyway, i wish all the players luck, but i do hope roger can win another wimbledon

dari Says:

I don’t like the red sox because of their fans. Just wanted to point that out. But in all seriousness, I’m with stu on both counts.

Skeezerweezer Says:


Yeah would have been fun to see what Sampras would have done w/ Luxilon :), but don’t think he could hang with the surfaces of today. Sampy couldn’t make a dent back on the slow stuff (eg; Clay)back in the day, no? Maybe he’d do ok on some HC today, but they are mostly slower.

Fritz Says:

Swiss Maestro, it’s funny but your nick is fairly jingoistic itself.

Isn’t it the case of snail calling turtle slow?

dari Says:

Serious question: is it really possible that these top player are taking PED’s and not getting.caught? Or just insane people.entertaining the idea? Cause I don’t consider it a possibility, even those mega man muscles from nadal- I still think no way.
Am I being naive?

dari Says:

Nice Fritz. I will have to use that- pot calling kettle was getting old :)

stu Says:

dari, this PED topic is starting to worry me a bit. it is a possibility that Novak’s new witch doctor has concocted something that’s not on the banned substances list yet. OTOH, apart from improved stamina in the sun, and a working serve, both of which could be attributed to better training, I don’t think Nole is playing too differently from last year….

dari Says:

I don’t think novak is taking drugs, and I hope not! I don’t even wanna think about the witch doctor!
But that is just the thing, he is not doing anything dramatically different, same style, same everything- just BETTER.

mat4 Says:

I drop from time to time to a certain site where PED in tennis is the topic (THASP). But sometimes, comments are made without insight.

About Nole and his new found stamina: unfortunately, Bodo is not right in his article. Djokovic changed his coach two years ago already, and his matches on clay in spring 2009 showed a great improvement in endurance (remember Madrid?). Then, just like Rafa, he is making big pauses before serving, and that also should be kept in mind.

He still has breathing problems – he was playing in slow motion against Fish, and his tennis under the sun is much weaker than in the evening (Dubai semi against Berdych, than final against Fed: just compare). Everything was visible in the third set of that match against Rafa: his reflexes were slow, and he made an unusual low % of returns. He couldn’t serve above 125 mph, and his % of first serves was 40%.

Then, he is still losing much weight in his tournaments: just compare his look at the AO with his look at Miami.

What about the length of his encounters? Most of the time, he played less than an hour, except in the semi and the final. He also played less tournaments than many (so he didn’t have to travel and change time zones). I don’t see that his timetable was particularly difficult.

If there can be doubt about Djokovic using EPO, then no player is above doubt.

Kimberly Says:

My husband is under the presumption that they ALL are using. Guilty until proven innocent. He even thinks fed. But that would be really sad but I guess its possible.

Kimberly Says:

Btw, bracket people, my small son joined and is quite excited so when you see some crazy uninformed picks like fish in semis of a clay court from colin5 that is why. He is very excited. Then again, Margot got points from her romantic sounding name pick so maybe he will win.

dari Says:

If fed is using, he needs to get some new sh_t. no six pack and the left arm is puny, forgot to take the drugs last Friday.

Kimberly Says:

Someone made a joke during one tourney that if fed is using it appears it is the recreational variety.

Skeezerweezer Says:

Fed using? Thats the laugh of the day, lol. Show me a pic of a guy who has taken PEDs and looks like that.

Fritz Says:

Skeeze, I couldn’t resist showing this, however I am 99% sure Federer is not using PEDs.

Fritz Says:

My level of confidence in not taking PEDs for other players:
99% sure for Djokovic and Murray, 95% sure for Tsonga and Nadal, 82% sure for Roddick, and 0% sure for US tennis player Wayne Odesnik.

Skeezerweezer Says:


Ok ok good one, lol. But his clothes hide is WWF physique. Seen Fed without a shirt?

dari Says:

82% roddick?! I guess that explains why he blasted odesnik so. JUST kidding

Kimberly Says:

Many guys who are using are not bulky. The cyclists that use are rail thin. Listen, I prefer to put my head in the sand and believe none of them use.

But fed used to play five set matches and barely sweat. That was kaisers thing with fed. Nadal was more obvious. As I said, he thinks they are all using.

The reality is probably more use than we think. And in the WTA as well.

The most obvious suspects would be players who suddenly have a late career dramatic performance increase in stregnth and stamina.

Miki Says:

I don’t think any of the top guys would use anything illegal, I guess they are using legal supplements, but anything more is just too much risk for their careers. Even if you have great results, imagine getting caught, you’d probably lose all the fans and the media judgement would be too heavy too bear. And they have a better chance giving their best then relying on a drug. I mean, using it wouldn’t make them great, it’s their skill and will to prove themselves, rather than just going for the score. It’s like videogames, you can cheat but it’s much more satisfying to earn the prize with you own effort. And I believe they are routinely checked, if there is something undetectable, then every player out there is a possible suspect. There are a lot more guys that have great endurance and strength, but don’t have the game. Djokovic didn’t become better over night, he was good before, he just wasn’t as tough and confident as now. And he has that new fitness coach, well not really new, but improvements don’t come easily, I guess the hard work finally pays off for Djokovic.

Skeezerweezer Says:

That is not necessarily true regarding a late career dramatic performance. Look at the guilty players in Tennis. Depends on which category PEDs u are talking about equating to bulk size vs stamina.

Skeezerweezer Says:

In IW, Novak had by far the hardest longest workouts, so he is putting in the work. We can speculate all we want, but me thinks its only going to create negativity. Until something happens(if), why not sit back and enjoy a great year in Tennis? We have been fairly a clean sport compared to others….

jane Says:

I agree with mat4 and dari’s posts; Nole is playing the same game. But because he was without a first serve, more or less, for at least half of last season, he had to become better in all other areas, including, and especially, the return, but also the second serve and the forehand. He had to grind out many of his wins. Even in his loss to Rafa in the USO final, he faced 29 Break Points!! In four sets!!! That’s a lot of service pressure, coupled with the fact that Rafa was serving out of his mind. But now that Nole is getting some easier first serve points, and his second serve has become enough of a weapon to keep him secure when his first serve goes off, he’s winning more. It follows. And let’s don’t undersell confidence! Winning begets more of the same.

That said, what mat4 pointed out re: the tougher matches in sun – the weight loss, the drop in power – still stands somewhat; there have still been signs of it this season, even on his streak. Also, as mat4 said, Djoko changed his personal trainer before the 2009 clay season, choosing the “iron man” Muster’s old trainer, with the intent of improving his fitness & endurance. It has really shown. The holistic doctor was brought on, I am guessing (don’t know this for sure), for two reasons: breathing/heat issues & perhaps also psychological ones, the two may even be related (at least in part), as Colin intimated the other day.

Kimberly Says:

There is a website called tennishasatreroidproblem.com. Haven’t been on it fornawhile and I thought the guy was an extremist nut. He didn’t mention fed or Novak.

Basically the guy had it in for nadal, verdasco, monfils, Sam stosur, and safina. I think he even contacted nadals hairdresser to try and get a hair sample.

Kimberly Says:

I’m sure Ben pronin has sone thoughts on the PED topic. I remember he was in the same camp as my husband.

skeezerweezer Says:

“….nadals hairdresser to try and get a hair sample”?? WTF? Too funny…lol

I’ll check it out thanks K

Ben Pronin Says:

Glad this was brought up. I’ve been watching Djokovic very carefully over the last few months.

Why he’s not on PEDs: Drop shots, lobs, volleys. All much improved shots that PEDs have no effect on. New service motion, same deal. His great returning can be credited to his lack of serve last year, causing him to become somewhat of a return specialist, and obviously that he’s not gonna just drop his great return game now that he IS serving well.

Why he is on PEDs: It’s true, he plays worse in the heat and takes a lot of times between points. But one thing that’s bugging me is how he didn’t seem tired after beating Nadal. You’d think he’d have fallen over or at least bent down when celebrating, but he kept standing like it was no problem. After 3.5 hours of play in that heat, especially considering how the match played, the first thing Nadal did was collapse into his chair.

But again, he really isn’t spending much time on the court. Also the way he runs things down, yeah he gets a lot of balls back but look at how he gets them. He just lobs them back usually. He’s not hitting some sort of ridiculous 100mph winners from 20 feet outside of the court. And the crazy winners he does get on the stretch, well, he’s always been extremely flexible. It’s something that’s always been fairly unique to him.

I do kind of agree that everyone is guilty until proven innocent, especially in today’s world (this applies to all sports, not just tennis). But like if everyone’s doing it then it’s an even playing field. Not really my problem if they wanna harm their bodies. My biggest beef is that I don’t think it’s fair to the young kids idolizing these players hoping to one day play like them and then having to make the choice of doping and becoming good or not doping and basically losing out on their dreams. It should never come to that, and it might already have.

The comments on THASP are just ridiculous nowadays. As far as they’re concerned, no one is allowed to play great tennis without doping. And yet they always find reasons for why Federer “obviously” isn’t doping, even though he was the most consistently great player ever. So what gives?

Either way, as fans, we can either accept that they’re doping and ignore it, we can act naive and pretend it doesn’t exist, or we can stop watching the sport all together. The fourth and most impossible option is trying to actively change the practices, but that’s unfortunately very unlikely. If I ever figure out how to make an impact, I sure as hell will, but for now I’ll stick with enjoying doped up athletes. They’re still fun to watch.

dari Says:

The website is really called that?!
Won’t be going there.
Good point by Ben that many of his improvements involve court mapping and touch shots- that’s a great PED that we could probably use in our day jobs- very mental and focus-oriented.

Nina Says:

All this PED issue is bullshit, I don’t believe any of it. It has been said about Nadal for ages… Why? Because he was threatening Fed’s dominance then… Now Djokovic steps it up and he’s also on PEDs? Meh!

I think it’s very sad that fans have to make suspicions like these that hurt the sport ultimately. I’m one of those that think everyone is innocent until proved otherwise. These accusations have no evidence and that is very dangerous.

Agree that Novak’s game is his old one, he just has better mentality and preparation. He has improved some small things… better forehand, better second serve, he got the old serve back… and somehow I still think he played better in 2008.

Eric Says:

There’s no way any of these guys are taking PEDs. The ATP has random, unannounced testing (remember the big furor over this?), so if they were endemic to the tennis circuit people would be caught using them all the time. (Unless they’re doing straight blood doping, which would be extremely stupid and wouldn’t help them play anyway.)

More to the point, tennis isn’t cycling, or even baseball — as Ben rightly observes, PEDs wouldn’t even help with (say) drop shots, volleying,… the list goes on.

So basically… when has a tennis player ever been caught doping? Wayne Odesnik doesn’t count. Why would it even be sometime we suspect until proven otherwise? Kind of a sad commentary on the world of (other) sport(s) that doping springs to mind when we think of excellence.

Kimberly Says:

The drug testing by ITF is a joke.

My husband is particularly suspicious of any player from Spain, not cause of rafa but said too good in too many sports and their cyclists keep getting busted, figures thentesting in that sport is tougher.

Cynical view.

Kimberly Says:

Eric, peteer Korda and Greg rudeski were both caught. And korda was tiny.

skeezerweezer Says:

PEDs surely won’t take away your skill, but enhance it? Don’t know. Consider this. You can execute a drop shot before PED. But late in a match, let say, with PEDs, you can get to a ball with the added strengh and stamina you wouldn’t have had, thus having more time to execute the dropshot, making it more likely to happen than not, no?

In otherwords, if you have already the talent and skill, but ADDED strengh and stamina, it doesn’t give you more of an advantage?

( BTW I am in no way segwaying my PED discussion into PED accusations, not interested )

Kimberly Says:

The way I think it goes, is to accuse everyone or no one. Certainly not a particular individual with no evidence. We can have discussion without specific accusation, yes?

Kimberly Says:

I guess my husband is singling out a country, not an individual. I know many people who think the same of Argentina.

Mila Says:

Wow, now when Novak dominates the sport, the issue of doping gets raised again! I find it grotesque but, as I’ve stated before, I’d enjoy every moment of this, and indeed I do.

This obviously comes from the Fed and Rafa fandom, when it cannot be dismissed as an accidental win(s), due to Fed’s mono or Rafa’s knee injuries, it has to be dope. Of course, because it is IMPOSSIBLE that Novak is better – he must have cheated.

I love it!

I am waiting for explanations next week when Nole wins at MC, or some other clay tournament – will it be help from aliens or from Nikola Tesla’s death ray prototype…

He should be strapped to the ground and all of his bodily fluids taken and examined in various labs, and if nothing is found, frozen for the next 50 years just in case new tests have been developed.

So grotesque that it becomes hilarious and enjoyable for Nole’s fans at the same time. If there was ever your typical normal looking lanky flexible not pumped-up athlete, that would be Novak!

However, as someone pointed out, all this sour grapes from Rafa and Fed fandom is ultimately hurting tennis, and that is very very regrettable.

For all sorry losers sneakingly implying that Nole is doping, I say prepare truckload of excuses and accusations during summer season – you’ll need them! I suggest the question for the press conference following one of his upcoming Grand Slam wins:

“Novak, is it true that you use PEDs, and why do you do it? It is unfair to Fed and Rafa, because they do not do it, which makes you the cheater and moral midget compared to those two real champions. Can you explain it, please?”

I would love to hear Nole answering that. Would (you guessed it) enjoy every second of it!

Ben Pronin Says:

Skeeze, that’s exactly right. I don’t know why people think doping is unnecessary in tennis. There is no sport where you don’t benefit from enhanced endurance. Tennis is no exception, not even a little. And I agree with Kimberly, Spain is involved with a lot of suspicious activity. Not so much on the tennis front but cycling is just a mess. And I’m suspicious of everyone, from Federer to Blake.

On a lighter note… I mentioned how when Djokovic retrieves balls he usually lobs. This is in contrast to Nadal, who usually gets some sort of action on the ball. Maybe Nadal is a little faster than Djokovic, but one of the things that I’ve been noticing is how early Nadal prepares. A lot of people say Nadal isn’t so good on faster surfaces because of his large swing but I wouldn’t be so sure. He gets his racket back so unbelievably early that, even though his swing appears big, he doesn’t have all that much trouble timing shots. I remember several drop shots Nadal had to run down against Djokovic and, starting from the baseline (or wherever Nadal was) he’s already got his racket back and ready to go as he’s running. Another player with fantastically early racket preparation is Tomas Berdych. Another thing that’s often said about Nadal is that his technique is unorthodox but if you want to see some textbook fundamentals of tennis, Nadal is the man to watch.

WTF Says:

“of those 15 common tournaments, they play 4tournaments on clay which works out to about 27%. yet, nadal has played around 50% of his H2H with federer/djokovic on clay. isn’t it obvious that nadal’s relative lack of versatility on all tennis surfaces and federer/djokovic’s all-surface mastery (relative again) is hurting them in those H2Hs?”

I can only giggle at this. When you talk about tennis surfaces, keep in mind there are only two surfaces really. Clay and hard. The grass season is only two tournaments long, so to say they never clash on that surface is a bit unfair.

As for Nadal’s lack of “all-surface” mastery. This is the hilarious part. He owns each of the four majors and completed his collection far earlier in his career than Federer did. Not bad for someone lacking in all-surface mastery. His H2H against Fed on hard courts is tied at 4-4. I think that says it all about all surface mastery. If Fed was much better on those surfaces than Nadal, you would expect a H2H more in the favor of Fed.

ND only has Aussie open titles. Never even made a final at Wimb or the French. Nadal has at least made 4 Wimb finals and beaten Fed there. A bit disappointing for an all surface master, no?

“I do think if you put Rafa in Pete’s era Pete (and Fed) would dominate. Novak might fair better. Rafa’s toughest surfaces are fast slick stuff, where he doesn’t have time to wind it up. Although Rafa has proven to adapt, I just don’t see that he could change his swing. Courts have slowed way down since then overall, and his swing is tailor made for it. ….imo ”

This gets mentioned alot. The slowing of the surfaces suiting his game. However, I don’t think it’s a fair point to make, and it works both ways. Nadal can only play on whatever surface they give him. He doesn’t choose the speed of the surfaces. He adapts his game to whatever surface he plays on. If the surfaces were faster when he was learning his craft, do you expect him to play the exact same game, or would have have moulded his game to suit the faster surfaces?

Would he be as successful if he played in Pete’s era with faster surfaces? Perhaps not. But you could also argue the reverse. If Pete grew up on today’s surfaces, he likewise would not have near 14 slams either would he? However, no one ever raises this point. Pete gets a free pass on his inability to play on slower surfaces.

I also don’t think it’s fair to directly compare surfaces. The courts back then may have been faster, but the balls used were not the same either. It’s a pretty clear fact that today’s players are stronger, faster, and fitter than they were back then and their rackets and strings allow the ball to be struck with much more pace than was possible back then, which would somewhat have counteracted the pace of the court. Serve speed records keep getting broken after all, despite being on slower surfaces.

Just to reiterate, if Pete was playing in this era of tennis, he would not have anywhere near 14 slams. But this is often overlooked. Whenever Nadal’s (or even Federer’s) achievements are criticized in this perspective as not being doable in an earlier generation, it is only fair to level the same argument against Pete’s achievements not being doable in today’s era either. The important thing is that a player doesn’t get to dictate the conditions they play on. They can only adapt to what they’ve been given, and that is the best you can expect them to do.

Skeezerweezer Says:

“Wow, now when Novak dominates the sport, the issue of doping gets raised again”

Mila if you were here before same thing came up with Rafa. I believe USO? It was bad timing. And it is unfortunate timing for your fav, I will not disagree, and I wish it was brought up in fairer circumstances. Novak has worked very hard, this poster saw it up close. He deserves his shining moment just like Fed and Rafa.

I for one and not trying to segway ones discussion into he dopes she dopes whatever, It’s the subject matter itself that is interesting and worthy discussion.

Believe it or not it is posters like us that, if discussed and questioned about PEDS for ALL, will make media, officials and players know we care.
And that will make a difference, maybe, for the game, imo. If you don’t care, then say so. Some don’t. It’s Ok. Opinions matter, well, most.

And maybe this discussion belongs in a “General” thread about PEDS…….Ben?

Ben Pronin Says:

If you mean writing an article that just focuses on PEDs, I’m not allowed :D

WTF Says:

I don’t buy into any PED talk.

“Guilty until proven innocent” is untenable and Ben Pronin should know this. There’s a reason why this isn’t used in court trials. It’s IMPOSSIBLE to prove a negative.

Can you prove you AREN’T an alien using a very clever and advanced human disguise? You could claim that you aren’t, but if the aliens are very advanced and their tech is thousands of years ahead of ours, then it would easily be plausible that you could be an alien in disguise. How would you go about proving that you aren’t?

Bitter Accuser: You’re on PED.
Player: No I’m not.
BA: Your performances this season are far greater than in the past.
P: I worked very hard! I improved a lot physically!
BA: Not buying it. You’re on drugs.
P: I swear to god I’m not!
BA: Prove it.
P: Fine. Test me. Take my urine samples.
BA: It came out negative.
P: See? I’m innocent.
BA: No. It’s possible and likely you are using some very advanced drugs that simply aren’t traceable. Until you can prove you aren’t, we’re going to assume you’re guilty.

How would you go about proving that you aren’t using undetectable drugs? These magical drugs that do their work but are so good that they leave no traces behind and no one can ever develop a testing technique that can find them.

Absolutely unreasonable to shift the burden of proof onto the accused. And that is why you don’t have law courts where the defendent has the burden of proof. Else it would be easy to just pin unprovable accusations on anyone.

Ben Pronin Says:

Is Barry Bonds innocent?

Ben Pronin Says:

Is Barry Bonds innocent?

Kimberly Says:

As an athlete and a fan of many sports I find the discussion interesting. I think if it is done without pointing fingers its useful. I admit, bt appearances my boy Rafa would appear most likely to use mil a, so no slight to novak. (from Spain, bulky, high endurance). I think ifwww generalize a discussion that could it be had without offense.

I always drink green tea from starbucks, no added water no sugar and take aspirin before an important tennis match or gym workout. My husband takes creatine. We drink whey protein. Half of my gym takes stuff. Not of of it bulking, HGH being the biggest choice.

Apparently some of the girlfriends and or wives of the user athletes end up using too and Hollywood stars, to enhance their physique. But I will exclude Mirka from this group (sorry could not resist)

WTF Says:

I have no idea who Barry Bonds is so I can’t comment. Individuals can be guilty of using. But until they are caught, it isn’t fair to assume that they are.

Magical phlebotinum powered drugs are too easy to make up.

My point stands that it is unfair to take a guilty-until-proven-innocent stance on anything, even if the associated party ends up being found guilty. Unless they are performing superhuman feats that are obviously not doable through hard work and training, we can only assume they are innocent until proven guilty.

I would also like to see these magical undetectable drugs tested in the labs and the findings published. If they exist, then we should be able to get samples of them, and the entire WADA anti doping process would need to be addressed and overhauled. The current system obviously would not be adequate in dealing with magical drugs and a discussion would need to be had about what to do about these undetectable drugs.

In this case, unless they find magical detection kits, the only way they could address this is by making them legal for everyone to use. They still haven’t done this, so I’m of the opinion that they don’t exist. If they do I would really like to see a study and report on them.

Kimberly Says:

How can u not know Barry Bonds?

Kimberly Says:

Most of my friends that are ex pro athletes all say they used at one point in time or another. And in high school many athletes were using. Anyone read jose conseco’s book?

Mila Says:

I have no problem with any discussion, but you’ve got to admit that timing of this doping discussion stinks of anti-Novak sentiment.

If it looks like a duck, if it walks like a duck, if it quacks like a duck…

I couldn’t help but notice it is so well timed to be just an accidental spur-of-the-moment discussion.

Someone out there is very unhappy with the current pecking order in men tennis. Of course this is just my opinion.

Ben Pronin Says:

Has anyone taken a look at the ATP calendar recently? It’s bloody ridiculous. If I was a top player I’d be complaining right about now. How can you have 2 Masters event back-to-back only ONE week before the French? Is the calendar made by monkeys?

We’re not in a court of law. Based on the phenomenal feats of athleticism we’ve grown so accustomed to, you have to be suspicious. Even if you don’t think it’s true, you shouldn’t be so quick to give them the benefit of the doubt. And let me clarify that if player X says the reason he’s playing so well and has become so fit is because he’s been working really hard doesn’t mean he’s not using not is he lying. PEDs help you work even HARDER than you normally would be capable of.

Doping has been around since at least the 80s and athletes are about 100x stronger now than they were back then. I know there are a lot of legal supplements out there, but they’re not nearly as effective as illegal ones. And when you can afford the best of the best, regardless of the legality, then why wouldn’t you do it if you know you can get away with it?

Kimberly Says:

Mil a, it was done on the eve of the USO final and actually times after. When it was first done I took it badly as a slight on Rafa because of the timing as a slight on Rafa. But now I don’t think its personal against any player. I think there are a few of us here that are generally interested in the topic.

I think in reality, its probably an all or nothing proposition. They all do it or very few (in all sports at least a small percentage use, I will put money on that) either way, the playing field is even so nobody is really getting any advantage.

Kimberly Says:

And I think the WTA has its share of users as well.

dari Says:

Don’t get too upset, Mila. With the Barry bonds business, many of the big boys off court this week, and novak playing insane tennis, the topic rolled around.
I could live without talking about it again for a while.

Mila Says:

“And when you can afford the best of the best, regardless of the legality, then why wouldn’t you do it if you know you can get away with it?”

No Ben, you wouldn’t, unless you want to end up like your (and mine) compatriots Floyd Landis, Barry Bonds, Marion Jones, and finally the most relevant Wayne Odesnik.

You’re somehow pinpointing Spain, but I’d say that US of A is probably the world leader in this.

Ben Pronin Says:

I don’t know about that. At least in the US, athletes are somewhat persecuted. Are you aware of the Contador fiasco in Spain? Even government officials back him. It’s a little ridiculous.

Here’s the thing though, Barry Bonds will still go down as one of the best baseball players ever. His records will remain the best until beaten. And while he’s being tried, he’s going to walk off with minimal punishment, if any and no one really cares. We know he doped and we accept it.

Keep in mind Odesnik was caught by airport security in Australia, not by WADA, the ITF, or the ATP. We all know about Agassi’s crystal meth cover up while he was ranked outside the top 100. What makes you think they’re not going to cover up numbers 1-100 in the world, if they’re even being caught at all?

Kimberly Says:

Although sharp ova would be of the PDDs not PEDS==== performance decreasing drugs.

Kimberly Says:

I know a few NCAA footballeers and NFL players who have point blank told me they used. Never caught.

Spain you have an entire country dominating world sports, soccer, cycling, tennis. That is where the suspicion comes.

dari Says:

Kimberly, I read something in the SI tennis mailbag about a successful and “towering” female player lying about her age.
I assumed it was Maria, have you ever heard this rumor? I had not ever.

Kimberly Says:

No, poor Maria.

And the heat just lost. Thank god my son is sleeping. But he will check the espn.com on the iPad the moment he wakes.

dari Says:

R Sweeting beats S Querrey again!
Surely Sam is not a clay star, but sweeting seems to have found a good match up for himself.

Kimberly Says:

Sam is just spiraling. And I think Sam won a clay tourney last year. I think I remember him and rafa were two of three players to win titles on all three surfaces. Cant think of who the third was.

But back to the point, since Wimbledon querrey has been kind of dismal. Really should have wom the Miami match with troicki. Supposable he was talking to himself really funny on the court.

A Sony Ericsson wrap up, some of my girlfriends who went to the tourney who are marginal fans and more interested in watching men than tennis were all unanimous that feliciano lopez is the ATP hottie.

billyboy512 Says:

Y’all are whack jobs here. Sheesh. Conspiritorial Glenn Beckers.

dari Says:

I thought it was good of sam to beat verdasco, but then had bad loss against injured Robredo. he is all over the place.
Cannot think of a third person for three surfaces, but there aren’t many grass tournaments so it would have to be mardy fish or who won Newport-no, hewitt who won halle- no, cant think of anybody else/other grass tourneys.
As for f. Lopez. I dont usually like ’em that pretty, but he is somethin special.

Skeezerweezer Says:


Barry Bonds is the current Home Run King of Baseball, like Fed is of GS titles, so yeah, it’s relevant in all sports. He is on trial for perjury, although it looks like he will be cleared, we will see. Regardless of your opinion it is very relevant because IF used they can create a proven significant advantage. There is no argument about that.

Regarding your argument of surfaces you again are lost as you want to reflect to Rafa’s accomplishments and today. There is no argument there. He has done it.

Rafa has proven to “adapt”. Uh ..yeah on todays slower surfaces, so??

If the argument of surfaces then and now are included, then Fed should remain supreme. Playing and making records prior and after he has done.

In the end, we are talking for fun and “what ifs” scenarios in surfaces, racket technology and strings ( don’t forget that ) and current high tech nutrition and fitness. Itis extremely hard to compare, there you are right, but fun to consider, imo.

Your last paragraph I totally agree :)

dari Says:

Watching novak on tc on clay- the 2008 Rome final. Besides the missed dropshot I just saw, he looks good. Going to the net a lot- and winning there. And no doubt he has improved- I just can’t see nadal sweeping clay with this guy in the draws.

margot Says:

Hmm, when I joined tennisx, about 3 years ago I think, there was endless, endless talk about Rafa on drugs, suddenly it’s Nole, bit of a coincidence. If there are wonder drugs out there, that can’t be detected by frequent dope tests, then I’d assume the majority take them and it evens out anyway, doesn’t it?
I’d like to think NO tennis player takes anything, but that seems a tad unlikely.
kimberly: please thank your son for the tip about Mardy. I need all the help I can get ;) Also can we add Andy to your list of players on PDDs? Andy is so contrary, I could well believe it :)
grendel: from previous, that article by Simon, ace quote.. it is “very important that he is not being annoyed by who is around him.” Nearly choked on my coffee :)
Come on guys, living across the pond I had no idea who the heck is Billy Bond.

jane Says:

WTF @ 10:00 pm – enjoyable post. You paint a Kafkaesque scenario, always frightening because so sideways and irrational. Somehow, aliens are a good metaphor too since we’ve already heard tell of inhuman blood flow in the veins!

margot Says:

PS my vote goes to Deliciano too, drop dead gorgeous, but unfortunately he know it……;)

Hypnos Says:


So we should stop doping controls, let the athletes level the playing field themselves?

margot Says:

Hypnos: undecided because 1) I do think it’s all a bit of a farce but 2) while laws can never stop deviant behaviour completely, they do at least put up some sort of a boundary.
drugs tend to polarise opinion, but many double standards here as everywhere eg valium used massively to dope people who should be angry about their lives, heroin such a chic drug, don’t u know? etc etc

mat4 Says:

Kimberly: I also think that, if a top tennis player is using PEDs, all are.

Ben: In Europe, baseball is an exotic sport, just like football (we call it sometimes “american football”, “rugby”…). So don’t be surprised if we don’t know how Barry Bond is. We like Ronaldo, Messi, Zidane etc.

mat4 Says:

… who Barry Bond is…

mat4 Says:

About serving: if the final in Miami had been played between Federer and Fish, I think that it would have lasted 2 hours, if we have in mind that Rafa and Nole are using about 10 seconds more for every serve.

Vox Says:

Ok, so first of all, I don’t think that any of top players is using anything… I still believe in talent and hard work…
Why was Rafa bent over knees and Nole was not? Pure physics… Rafa has more mass to pull around, he has 5 kg more than Nole… or 6.25% more body mass… and is shorter than Nole or Federer. It means that it is harder (need more energy) for him to accelerate, stop or change direction… harder on joints too… And he don’t need all that upper or lower :))) body mass… So it’s tiring him… Nole and Federer are similarly built… Big servers are tall and extremely thin, so you don’t need mass to serve big, look at Del Po :)))… So if they were doing push ups, Rafa would have won, in tennis, he lost power and match to Nole :))).
I’m big Rafa fan and even bigger Nole fan… I always believed in him, but he he had real health issues.
Now for SHEILA: Talking about Noles mum? Yes she did say that… But it is odd that you have forgotten that Federer before that said that Nole is faking his health problems on two occasions… Do you call that competitive behavior? I don’t… It was when I saw trough that guy :))). He is a sportsmen, and Noles mum is just… mum :)))… Don’t be sorry for Federer, he had that coming long time ago… He deserved it, and he knows it :)))

Little Wing Says:


Agree with you regarding Madrid and Rome back to back, that’s just nuts, doesn’t the ATP see this?

mat4 Says:

Vox: Rafa has 10 kg more than Nole.

Ben: I have rewatched the match. Djokovic looked already tired in the second set.

Kimberly Says:

Margot, lol about the PDDs. My son is very excited. Skeezeer even left him a message on the bracket site which he found and had me help him read. He is a new reader.

Kimberly Says:

oh does Deliciano know it, i sw hm and Verdasco walk out to play their dubs match together, you could tell they both really thought they were hot sh-t.

I wonder if anyone knows a link to the banned substances. I’m curious to know where they draw the line.

Little Wing Says:

Deliciano doesn’t do it for me, he’s kinda freaky lookin’ and not in a good way.

Dory Says:

Seriously WTF what wrong with all of you guys?????????? How can you imagine for even a moment if any of them is taking PEDs? Don’t they have rigorous doping tests? Whoever started this topic has failed despite his best efforts to taint the player whom they hate? Seriously, even if you are exclusively a Nadal, RF or Nole fan, you DON’T HAVE TO hate the others.

stu Says:

Dory, It was just a discussion by posters on another blog that we just continued here. I don’t think anyone is trying to implicate Novak, we’re just discussing whether it’s possible that tennis is not as clean as it seems…

Dory Says:

What information does any of you on how or what testing the ATP and ITF perform to even remotely consider the possibility that they’re ALL using? All of them are NOT guilty until proven otherwise.

margot Says:

Dory, I think the testing is a very imprecise science. When Rusedski was accused apparently that year 43 others also tested positive. I don’t know the ins and outs but I also think ATP ended up with big egg on their faces because Greg was cleared. Turned out the substance found was part of something ATP allowed.
Very complicated topic and arouses strong feelings. From you who doesn’t think anyone does to kimberly’s Kaiser who thinks everyone does. I expect most folk are, like me, somewhere in the middle.
In fact there’s only one player, female, whose body shape is to me quite weird, but I’m not fanning any flames by saying who ;)

skeezerweezer Says:


If your taking the “ALL” out of my earlier post (don’t know for sure) it was meant this way;

That if we talk about a discussion re; PEDS, it should be about the whole Tennis Tour, not singling out players(imo). Feelings get hurt, defamation comes out, etc etc etc.

There is some validity in it, as SOME players have been caught, so the effort as value. Or does it?

After reading posts, this is exactly where it’s goin(singling out players), not my intentions, so I digress and am out on the subject.

Anyone who wants to read further and the hows, whos, etc. it’s all here what the current system is;



dari Says:

margot, you’ve probably read, but here are some words straight from horses mouth, regarding the andYM coaching

Kimberly Says:

I’m not pointing fingers or saying names, but in my opinion there are WtA players that are clearly using. In fact in my opinion it’s so obvious it’s laughable in some cases.

There are limits to muscle a female body can build.

grendel Says:

She was 13, a slim lass with an obsession for shot putting, when she got the call from Dynamo Sports Club in East Berlin. “Come and see us”, they said. So she went and saw them.

They watched her for a couple of years before deciding she had what it took. That’s when they introduced her to the blue pills, sparkling and inoffensive looking, a bit like smarties. “They’re vitamins,” they assured her. “They’ll keep you well”. So she took the blue pills.

Then everything started to change. Hair sprouted in all sorts of unexpected places,like her belly, her face expanded like a balloon and she found she had muscles she could have wept for before. Trouble was, though, she felt funny a lot of the time, and different types of funny too. She’d feel sad, so sad, it wasn’t even sad, it was a dense black misery which crushed down on her. And then, just like that, anger would displace this toad like mood and she’d be screaming with a rage which bore within it the burden of being unintelligible even to herself, especially to herself. Meanwhile, she oscillated between violent sexual longings and aversion to any thought of being touched. Her voice dropped half an octave.

It’s alright, they assured her and her parents. It’s just the age and the extra training, this always happens, it’ll soon go away. And besides. The parents understood the “besides” even if she didn’t. Besides, we are an organ of State Power, we exist only to serve the People. So that was alright. Take more pills, they said, not less.

So she took more pills. And as she felt worse and worse, in body and in mind, her shot putting skills increased until finally she won the gold medal at the European Championships. Four years later, at the age of 24, Heidi Krieger retired, a woman broken in spirit, suffering from a debilitating knee pain – and confused about her sexual identity.

Three years later she had a sex-change operation. “I had no sympathy with my body” he said later,”it had changed beyond all recognition. It was as though they had killed Heidi. Becoming Andreas was the next logical step”.

A few years prior to Heidi’s ordeal, one of East Germany’s best swimmers put on 15 kilos in just a few weeks after ingesting the blue pills. Ute Krause thought she’d been eating too much, and became bulemic. “I felt like I was living in somebody elses’ body” she said. She attempted suicide, but apparently, waking up in a pool of vomit persuaded her to chuck the sport in. She became a trainee nurse. In May 2000, attending the trial of Hoppner and Ewald (who had been in charge of the doping program) Ute Krause and Andreas Kreiger caught each others’ eyes and fell in love. “I immediately clicked with Andreas…We talked and talked. I knew he was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with”.

After living together for 8 years, they were married. Andreas takes particular pleasure in constantly referring to Ute as “his wife”. It is she who, as a qualified nurse, administers the male hormones Andreas/Heidi will need to take for the rest of his life.

Meanwhile, Hoppner and Ewald were found guilty but received derisory sentences (probation only). But consider: had these servants of the state not inflicted their program of terror on young Heidi, she/he would never have met the love of her/his life.

Kimberly Says:


Polo Says:


jane Says:

Holy crow grendel!! I had to google your story just to make sure it wasn’t fiction. To see this transformation with my own eyes. Reality really is stranger than fiction. Wow.

dari Says:

I wanted to double check, too, but by the end I knew it was true. You wrote it well, grendel.

dari Says:

My bud just signed up for the draw challenge after less convincing than expected! name is AKB- something.
He plays tennis, but doesnt watch a ton. His dad is German and his mom is Spanish, expect those nations to be represented in his draw.
MC here we come.

jane Says:

dari when is sign up for MC due by? Or is the draw even out? Sorry, have been snowed under so am out of the loop.

dari Says:

draw is out on… saturday, then i guess its due early monday AM since tourney starts then. you will have to do some time math and watch the countdown on the site.
i hope you are ok in the snow :) geeze, its april!

dari Says:

actually it looks like a short window, jane, as the first matches are played on sunday! ATP will tell us soon how long we have.

dari Says:

what a tough swing of tennis- IW, miami, Monte carlo! i am tired and i am just a spectator. cheers to the boys for fighting week after week.

jane Says:

Thanks dari… Arent u a student? U must b “snowed under” too?:) I have so much marking…arrrgh.

margot Says:

dari that interview with Andy is gr8 isn’t it? What I was so surprised at, is that he’s only been watching videos of himself over the past 3-4 months! Holy Moly what on earth have Miles and Alex been doing???
If your “bud” picks only Spanish players at MC he should do very well indeed ;)

jane Says:

^margot, like the pic of Murray on the lawns. Got the impression he has watch vids of himself in the past, but for some reason he and his team lapsed in the last year or two. I am glad he is taking his time, waiting to find the right coach. And I agree that whomever he hires should be there with him, able to travel and able to understand him on and off the court.

chrisJ Says:

I can’t believe how everyone is so oblivious to the reason why Nole is succeeding this year as opposed to 2009 and 2010..well he changed his racquet this year and it’s provided him so much improved control and power compared to the old Head racquet. It plays similar to his old Wilson racquet he used to dominate early in 2008 and really the way I look at it was that 2009-2010 were great “learning experiences” for Nole as he learned to return better, move better and physically endure longer in tough matches. It’s not complicated, yet I feel like nobody but myself can see it.

Little Wing Says:

Nole out of MC citing knee injury.

dari Says:

Oh, that kind of snow, Jane! Just took a test today so the snow pile is clearing. Good luck with yours!

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