Will Rafael Nadal Get Beaten This Clay Season? I Say Yes
by Sean Randall | April 21st, 2011, 10:20 pm

No surprises, Rafael Nadal is looking his usual dominating self this week on the clay in Barcelona. Through his first two matches the World No. 1 and arguably the greatest clay court player in tennis history has lost just six games crushing Daniel Gimeno-Traver yesterday then pummeling Santiago Giraldo 6-3, 6-1 today.

Rafa’s next victim is Gael Monfils who better have his best pair of Nike’s on because he’s going to be doing a lot of running tomorrow in the quarterfinals.

Rounding out the quarters – Nadal oddly plays the first on – is David Ferrer against Jurgen Melzer, the underrated Ivan Dodig vs. Feliciano Lopez and new Top 10er Nicolas Alamgro against former No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero. So it’s a great line-up if you like clay court tennis. Today, Dodig had a good win over Milos Raonic while Almagro took down Nikolay Davydenko.

But back to Nadal and the question raised in the title, will the guy lose this season on the dirt?

To me, there are two maybe three guys who can beat Nadal right now on clay straight-up (i.e., no injuries, divorces, etc). Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin Del Potro and I’ll add Roger Federer, only because the Swiss has done it before.

The best way to take down Nadal is to get him after he played a lengthy match the day before, much like Federer did at Madrid (although tell that to Ferrer!). And for me, that’s the only way Federer beats him. At even strength, Nadal easily beats Federer right now on dirt. So Roger’s chances are really out of his hands.

As for Del Potro, he has the raw power to blow anyone off the court, any court, Nadal included. The question is is the Argentine who missed nine months last year back at full strength? No, especially not on clay which he hasn’t played on since 2009 – remember he missed the entire clay season last year.

Then again, in best-of-3 Del Potro could get hot enough too make this interesting but I just don’t think he can get his clay feet ready in time for Madrid or Rome or even progress in the draw far enough to meet Nadal.

And at the French, beating Nadal in best-of-five sets as I’ve said before is arguably the toughest thing to do in the sport, and I don’t think DelPo or anyone for that matter is capable of pulling that off sans some kind of ailment to Rafa.

Of course this leaves Mr. Djokovic. The undefeated Serb has yet to play match on the red and I have to wonder if this 3-4 week break maybe stops or drains the momentum he’s accrued during the first three months when players were lucky to get games let alone sets from Novak. That’s the downside and the real downside of rest. Sure it helps you recover but it can also stop your game in your tracks and bring you back down to earth.

Fortunately, Djokovic returns next week at his home event in Belgrade where he’ll have a good, home-cooked tournament with which to ease and get re-introduced to the clay season. And then onto Madrid and Rome where his real battles will take place.

If Novak can stay at the level he’s been at this year I think if he gets Nadal he’ll beat him, more likely at Rome than in front of Nadal’s faithful in Madrid. That said, part of me wonders if Nadal wins Barcelona, then wins Madrid if he even plays Rome. But we’ll have plenty of time to discuss that in the coming weeks.

Nadal hasn’t lost a clay match – 31 straight wins – since that shock loss to Robin Soderling back in 2009. He can’t keep winning on the surface, can he? At some point he’s going to get clipped again – a valiant Andy Murray had a chance last week – and I feel Novak gets him before the French.

Why? I just think Novak has the extra added confidence that will get him over the top should he meet Rafa in best-of-3. He’s been oh so close before and this year with his improved serve and new mental toughness it should give him that added edge. And if they do meet it will mean Novak’s playing well again – they can only meet in the final so Novak will have to have won 4-5 matches to reach that stage. And maybe there could be a hint at gamesmanship as well, something I will elaborate more on if we get another Nadal-Djokovic final.

Plus, if they meet in two finals – both Madrid and Rome – that gives Novak’s two cracks and he’ll get one of them!

As for Rafa, he’s playing well again but I just don’t think his serve is where it was six months ago. And more importantly, I wonder about those to crushing losses to Novak at Indian Wells and Miami – remember Rafa hunched over, out of breath in that Miami tiebreak? That looked like someone with no answers.

So I hate to bet against Rafa on the clay but I’m going do it this season and say he draws a Joker at some point in the Roland Garros lead-up. But hey Nadal fans, don’t worry, he’ll still win the French. Regardless, I think this clay season will be the most competitive we’ve seen since… well since Rafa came on to the circuit.


PISTA CENTRAL start 12:30 pm
[1] R Nadal (ESP) vs [7] G Monfils (FRA)
[6] J Melzer (AUT) vs [4] D Ferrer (ESP)
I Dodig (CRO) vs F Lopez (ESP)
[8] N Almagro (ESP) vs J Ferrero (ESP)

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142 Comments for Will Rafael Nadal Get Beaten This Clay Season? I Say Yes

Mitch Says:

Along the lines of Del Potro, I feel like Soderling or Berdych could take out Nadal if they can impose their games on him. Not likely, but certainly possible.

Ben Pronin Says:

Looks like I won’t be able to sleep until the next Nadal-Djokovic final because I’m dying to know about this gamesmanship you refer to.

Denise Says:

As the clay court season progresses Rafa will improve. He won Monte-Carlo playing his “B” Game, therefore I think it unlikely he will be beaten on clay anytime soon. Unless, of course injury plagues him as it did in the French when Soderling beat him. We shall see!

Sean Randall Says:

Ben, ha ha.

Mitch, Robin and Berd man really need Rafa to have a really, really bad day to win. And even on a bad day I think Rafa beats Berdych. Soderling has proven he can do it but Rafa’s just not going to let the Swede beat him ever again on the clay.

There are some other guys like Ferrer, Murray and Wawrinka who would have a chance if Rafa was really off his game.

Dino Says:

I agree with most of what you said, except the ending. Nadal is vulnerable in French against a hot Soderling again and you left Murray out from players who can beat him on clay. At the least he could be the player who set the stage for Nadal’s next opponent by giving him a run for his money, this is something Monfils can do tomorrow as well. Nadal is capable of concealing his injury. Remember he did not have any tapes on at FO 09 and next thing you know he is out of W too.
Djoker made a smart move by skipping MC and no he will not lose any momentum because of that.
We will have a much better idea after Madrid.

dari Says:

Hope Sean is right, Monte Carlo bored me.
Nico Almagro gets top ten next week.from barca results I think

dari Says:

Oh I thought you were saying nico is top ten now. Geeze, sorry long day.

skeezerweezer Says:


Great write and liked your take on the season. Pretty much spot on from this view also….

BTW, how do you play one match and your in the qtrs, two and your in the SEMIS!! lol….life is good.

Nick Says:

“Through his first two matches the World No. 1 and arguably the greatest clay court player in tennis history ”

arguably ? what is there to argue ? or is there anything else left to argue ? I mean is there any doubt at all that Nadal the greatest clay court player of all time and that includes Borg !

jane Says:

I think it is good that Nole has the Serbian Open to hone his clay chops on too, but I ain’t making no predictions re: Rafa being beaten on clay. I know you say Rome Sean, but it seems to me that thus far Rafa has looked slightly, ever so, slightly more vulnerable in Madrid. Anyhow… Looks like he is a shoe-in for Barcelona title.

The Canucks are really letting me down – UGH!

Tennis, save me from the hockey letdowns! :(

Lulu Iberica Says:

Dino, I thought perhaps Le Monf could give Rafa a tough match also, but 6-2, 6-2 for Rafa! I haven’t been watching Barcelona, but I’m hearing on fan sites that Rafa is moving and sliding better on the clay and his backhand has improved, though his serve is still not great. One ace, one df, 57% first serves are the stats from today, so I do think he is a bit vulnerable. I’m always nervous unless Rafa is totally dominating, but I’m never going to predict his being upset on clay.

I think Sean is right that Rafa won’t let Soda beat him on clay again, unless something is VERY wrong. As for the 31 (now 32) match winning streak, that’s not anywhere near 81, so who says it has to end soon? Also, it’s pretty amazing that Sean sees one guy with a good chance of beating Nadal at one or two Masters 1000s and 2 others with an outside chance, with Nadal winning MC, Barcelona, FO, and that is the MOST competitive season since Rafa’s emergence! Ha/ha! Viva Nadal!!!!

Lulu Iberica Says:

Hmmm… Barcelona matches presently suspended due to rain. Perhaps the forecast is why Rafa was “oddly” scheduled to play first. He’s done and resting while everyone else is waiting to play.

dari Says:

Maybe David will win this one?

Kimmi Says:

ferrer just hurt a leg..knee looks like. Not looking good. ferrer was running away with this match, Melzer just break back in the second set..

As for rafa getting beaten this clay season..i hope so. a challenging clay season will always be good to watch for us neutrals.

dari Says:

What an f*ing jinx. Mouth shut

Kimmi Says:

ferrer recovers! what injury? looks like he wins this in straights

Kimmi Says:

ferrer!!! i think it will be the final between ferrer and rafa again..

maybe this time rafa will be kind enough to give his friend the win lol!

Lulu Iberica Says:

dari, did you mean maybe David will this match, or the whole thing? He just won the match, but not likely to win the title. Anyone know what happened with his knee?

I was surprised F-Lo came back to win the 2nd set so definitively. Hope he wins. Then we’ll have all Spanish semis.

Tennis Vagabond Says:

I would not be surprised to see Ferrer beat Rafa. From the looks of things, he may get lots of cracks at it.
I would rate Nole and Ferrer as having the best shot (lets say, 3-1 odds against)
Then Fed (4-1 against)
then Sod, Berdych and DelPo (6-1 against).

When you look at it that way though, it also appears pretty fair odds that Rafa COULD go all the way again.

Anna Says:

Well this is rich. You’ve got to find someone to beat Nadal on clay or it’s just a gutted season. I wouldn’t count on Soderling for sure, he looked like he was in pain (is it the knee) throughout his one match at Barca and he’s playing again next week. Murray struggled with bum elbow (can he get through a draw) before even meeting Rafa. Berdych just flat out can’t cut it, and then there’s Novak. The last great white hope. Tell me, can you enjoy a match where Nole gets close, because that maybe all you get.

Kimmi Says:

ivan dodig seem to be crushing the spanish armada party

Kimmi Says:

dodig just crushed the party

dari Says:

Lulu, I did mean the tournament, but don’t worry, I won’t hold my breath. It’s just a shame that someone that good on clay has such a roadblock as Rafa! Nadal said it himself, David “deserves” one of these big clay titles.

jane Says:

Anna, for me it’s nothing against Rafa, but because he is so utterly dominant on this surface, I think people are just curious – who can stop him? So it becomes an issue of debate. I would like to see Nole get a win over Rafa on clay, admittedly, since he’s come so close, esp that marathon Madrid match in 09, and his h2h with Rafa on clay is so abysmal – but then…whose isn’t?! Only those who haven’t played him a lot. Be great to see Murray win, too. He showed at MC he can hang with Rafa, at least for a while.

But frankly, Rafa’s scorelines are looking dominant again – it’s tough to see anyone beating him. He handed La Monf his hat alright – “Outta here dude. This is my turf!” And it is. His.

Lulu Iberica Says:

dari, I like David, and I agree it would be nice to see him win an important tournament. If Djoker weren’t so on fire and scary at the moment, I wouldn’t mind seeing Ferrer beat Rafa at Barcelona or even Madrid.

I’m sorry Feli lost, but maybe Dodig will be an interesting match up for Rafa. According to the ATP website they’ve never met, and Dodig is a big server.

contador Says:

really. this is the time of year i have trouble remaining interested in tennis by the time the clay tourny final. whatever the tourny rafa is in. he turns 25. so it will be what? 1 or more years of utter clay domination? ( and i don’t dislike rafa. just want a competitive match for him )

i watched some matches today and listened to the spanish players interviews. it’s like they all concede and the best they hope is for 2nd to rafa. now ferrer is wearing strapping on a knee. forget it. no spaniard will beat rafa.

monte carlo best match was vs. murray.

almagro won’t trouble rafa. ferrero would rise to the occasion but he’s too old. barca is so rafa’s. not even worth watching the final.

it’s nole or muzza…maybe they can get a set, lol….that’s as good as it gets.

almagro disintegrates into head case fairly easily. i watched him at IW. JCF hanging in this 2nd set, calmly. but…against rafa nico will be pudding.

skeezerweezer Says:

^ Same here. It would be nice to see SOME competition on this surface, but Rafa is that good on it. Nobody has touched him overall and even made it consistently interesting but Fed, and we don’t have a young Fed anymore. Sure Rafa can be caught on a off day, but even his fans know that if he is healthy his chances of losing on Clay is .001 percent.

What Murray did in the second set in MC was “Zone” like. And a player is going to have to do that for the whole match. Even when Sod beat Rafa at 09 FO, he didn’t blow him off the court, per se. If you look back at that score, he didn’t get crushed in every set either. In fact, he(Rafa) won the first 6-2.

Rafa is THE beast on this surface, and remember Novak isn’t exactly crushing Rafa on HC either. Someone is going to have to smack him off this surface, and this poster doesn’t see that happening anytime soon.

I am not a Rafa fan per se, but you have to give Rafa his due on this surface, 9 out 10 times he his going to win on Clay, I am sure Rafa and his fans will take those odds every time and if he loses once in a great while, so?

Remember, Fed fans were enjoying the dominance whilst some other fans were getting bored with it all, and now the shoe is on the other foot….do I like it? No, don’t like Rafa’s playing style, but he is a good guy for the most part and is maturing well in his #1 ranking.

I am sure posters like Anna and Lulu and Kimberly love it. Fed has had his day and I thoroughly enjoyed it, maybe there is more to come. Novak is playing lights out and Murray looks like he can play again. JDP just needs to keep that wrist in check and he’ll be a force. But for now, on Clay, till further notice, IT”S RAFA TIME. It’s all good…

zola Says:

Delpo has never reched a master series final ( let alone RG) , so to say he can beat “ANYONE” onn clay is very premature.
Djoko has a better chance, but we have to see how he plays on clay. To me, he is Rafa’s most dangerous competitor on clay.

Up to this year, Roger was the 2nd best clay court player. He has won RG, two master series on clay anc had lost only to Rafa.

I think the coutcome of this clay season will be determined by Rafa himself. If he is healthy and on his game, he will win more titles.

dari Says:

Yes, Anna, I would be happy with just some “close” matches on clay with Rafa. We know the probable outcome, but give us some exciting tennis in the meantime. Like the Murray match.
Clay is already a little boring, then add to it that you know who the winner will be, snooze!
And I don’t blame ppl who got bored with fed winning like skeeze said, but at least it wasn’t on slow clay and you KNOW you got a show anyway the way roger plays :)

contador Says:

hey skeeze!

agreed. i’m happy for lulu, Kimberly, Zola…rafa fans dig it. this is great stuff for them.

but so true about murray and being in the “zone” to even manage getting a set.

meanwhile….i watch the early rounds of these clay tourneys and wonder if anyone is up to taking on rafa at RG. dodig did great to get by f-lo! hahahaha…

there will be some tennis in munich and serbia next week…oh, and estoril. then, game on in madrid. hm, who is picking against rafa…??? anyone? it’s all about who gets close.

jane Says:

“9 out 10 times he his going to win on Clay” – erm, 9.75 times out of 10? Seems that slim of odds to me.

When any player dominates for a while, be it on one surface or more, people start asking who is going to beat him. It’s normal. Rafa is amazing to watch on clay, imo; still remember how he played at F0 in 08. It was something to behold, when a player is just so far above the rest. But we have been watching him win basically everything on this surface (that he enters) for how many years now? 4? 5? And it still doesn’t look like anyone can beat him. Crazy!!

skeezerweezer Says:


JMDP; He did play Fed tough losing in 5 sets in the FO of 09 in the Semi’s, which Fed won ( the year Rafa didn’t). Getting to the Semi’s at FO is a feat in itself. So you have to tip the hat to him and at least say he is capable if he gets back to pre-wrist form….

zola Says:

Rafa’s dominance is partly because of his hard work to improve . This is something that needs to be appreciated. He has improves on his serve, volley, slice, forehand, backhand, everything , without changing his overall game. He plays on clay only 3 out of 12 months and yet he can come back and dominate agaian. Just because he is aware of the quality of the competition and tries to stay far above them.

Djoko and Murray have great chances against him but maybe not this year.

zola Says:

No doubt Delpo is a great player and will be even better. My objection was to saying he can beat “anyone” on clay. You can say that about Federer but not about Delpo. Not yet!

jane Says:

True (and hi!) zola: and it’s something to admire about Rafa all the time – the way he is willing to change, to evolve, to improve. His work ethic is excellent. I think he is an inspiration to players like Nole and Murray in this sense; they too are working to improve, in various areas.

contador Says:


it was last year at this time that i started playing the atp 1000 brackets. it was really to inject some life into my tennis habit and recall it was interesting too because gulbis had beaten federer.

and i did my best picking, too. all i did was pick the right spaniards. rafa is looking every bit as dominant but the competition in barcelona is not looking good.

looking around for a good tennis match this morning…ended up streaming challenger tennis from napoli ; ) thomas schoorel made it to the final. and thank god they corrected his height to 6’8″ from 7’3.” he’s good on clay for a giant. maybe better than debakker or haase?

contador Says:

and i see gulbis got a WC for serbian open. dear god. help him win a match or 2. i dread gulbis dropping to have to qualify again. and can’t imagine him sticking with tennis if he had to go back and play challengers.

dari Says:


zola Says:

Hi there Jane,

I think Novak is the closest person to win over Rafa right now. He always had the game but not the physical ability . It seems like he has grown in confidence and is much stronger physically. Again, I hope it is not this year, but it can happen.

Federer is not winning a lot, but when he is on his game, he can be dangerous as well, although it may not happen in RG ( I hope not!)

Murray, is a dilema. he is a great player, but not very consistent now. Same with Delpo, mainly because of he is still recovering from injury.

This is a comment from Moya (overall an intersting article on the same subject):

Will Djokovic, Federer or another player break the tradition of Nadal’s dominance of European courts? Moya is in no doubt. “I think Rafa will dominate the clay season, he might lose a match on his way to Paris, but I think once there, under normal circumstances, nobody can beat him [over the] best of five sets.” Over the next 10 weeks we’ll find out.


I love to watch Gulbis play, but like Monfils, his lack of discipline really hurts him.

contador Says:

dari…hi there.

ja. it was a typo. they had his height at 223cm or some such thing…last winter i think it was. i was following the dutichies. they had schoorel as tall as shaq!

zola Says:

yep! definitely a need for correction! from 6’8″ to 7’3″!! OMG!

dari Says:

hello to you, too contador.
speaking of gulbis, there was an article about him i saw a few days ago
nothing terribly exciting, id just never read an extended article with him in it. he’s pretty honest here about his… condition

Lulu Iberica Says:

Gah… I hate to get negative on my own all-time favorite player, but this


is ridiculous! Rafael, you are steamrolling the competition to the point everyone is bored with you winning, and you come out with this?!!! Are you SCARED of Novak? Just a little obvious, huh? You are the man who hunted and took down Federer, and now you are scared of the same happening to you? Quit whining and keep working!

Jeez… I will become a Delpo fan if Rafa keeps up with this attitude.

skeezerweezer Says:

Hi Contador :-)

Watching “Challengers” streamin? You’re a true tennis trooper :)

stu Says:

Gamesmanship? Oh please do tell, please!

stu Says:

Skeeze, in Rafa’s defense, he has been saying that for a while now, and I think Novak and co. are with him on this….

contador Says:

thanks for the link, dari.

gulbis, at only 22 and have to realize he’s not changing his perspective on tennis. tennis v party = party wins.

it’s too bad but the change for the better seen in early 2010 is already going, going and soon to be gone. he’ll lose the points he gained last spring. after that run….he ended it with a 1st round loss to benneteau at RG 2010, if i recall. he wasn’t in shape, again and pulled a hamstring. that was it for the rest of 2010 and he really hasn’t done much.

hey but the other 2 his age – there’s still hope for delpo and
maybe on grass, cilic. :/ bye, bye gulbis.

stu Says:

Oops sorry, I meant to address the above to Lulu! Get out of my brain Skeezerweezer!

Lulu Iberica Says:

Yes, just saw that he said the same thing in 2009. That could be a bad sign. Anyway, I still think it’s BS. It would be harder for new talent to break through, and I just think the rankings should change every year. Bringing this up now seems like a patently self-interested move. If Novak and others are in agreement, maybe they should mention it instead of the current no. 1, who is desperately defending his position!

dari Says:

i’ll hold off judgment on rafa till i read the whole interview, but two years would make it a little more boring for us, no? and static?
that’s what i love about tennis, constant competition and struggle. every week is a chance to make a move in the rankings.
i would have to read more about what the two year rankings would involve, but i think lower-ranked players would not appreciate it so much. if they have a hot stretch one year, they may not have much to show for it.
but this is coming from a guy who has managed to get to the top of this cut-throat system and he still wants a change?

Lulu Iberica Says:

Maybe making Armani underwear ads, meeting with royalty, etc, is finally getting to Rafa’s head!

dari Says:

i’m so roger-centric, forgive me. wonder what he says on the matter. he’s had a very long successful career and still going, always managed his schedule well.
anyway, the atp tour may need some changes, but i don’t think this is one of them.

Lizzie Says:

I agree that Soderling has been vastly underrated on the clay. He’s made the finals of the French the past two years, and he’s beaten Rafa and Roger in turn to do it. I think if Soderling is on the same side of the draw as Rafa, it should be an interesting semi, or even quarter now that Robin is number five again. Soderling’s won three titles this year, and he’s pretty fit, I think, so he should pose a threat.

That being said, I dunno if Robin really has the firepower to take down Rafa in the best of three. If they do meet on the clay, then you can bet that Rafa’s gonna be hungry for some revenge. If Soderling plays at his best, I think he’s a threat to Nadal, but if the serve isn’t working, or the forehand breaks down, then I think he’s done for. His mentality is going to be really important as well, because tennis is such a mental game. If Robin really thinks he can win, and makes a strong impression early on, to build his confidence, then I think he can go far.

That being said, I think the man of the hour (hell, the man of the year, really) is Novak Djokovic. He’s had the firepower for years, (even though the serve was iffy last year, he still played at a pretty high level), but now he has the mentality.

Lulu Iberica Says:

No forgiveness needed, dari. I would also like to know Roger’s opinion. I just don’t know what’s wrong with Rafa. I thought Tio Toni taught him tennis is only a game, not life and death, etc. With his on-court demeanor in IW and Miami, even a bit in MC, and now this, he seems desperate lately. I wonder if something is really wrong, or if he just feels tremendous pressure to continue his dominance. Someone on another forum pointed out important things at stake in the next few months: 1. 500 match wins w/his next winning match 2. If he wins Barcelona and 1st round at Madrid, will surpass Borg’s winning percentage (I didn’t calculate this for myself) 3. If he wins FO, will equal Borg’s 6 titles there 4. If he wins FO and Wimby, will equal Borg’s 11 slams and 3 Channel Slams. Now that I write it all out, I see how it could be incredibly daunting! Anyway, I just hope he gets back into the champion’s frame of mind!

dari Says:

rafa’s not my #1 tennis guy, so maybe i just don’t have the paranoia associated with being a huge fan of him, but does something even have to be wrong for him to be saying this?

dari Says:

and i meant paranoia for a fan of anyone, not just rafa, hehe.

skeezerweezer Says:

^ yeah I read the opinion from Rafa on the 2 yr deal, and I can’t conjure any positives for the ATP tour from him trying to push that. The whole tennis scene would change. Think of how hard it would be to knock someone out of the rankings? Why change now? For who’s purpose? This seems to be of a top guy looking downward at the field rather than most of the field looking up at #1, no?

I get the whole thing about playing too many tourneys and burn out, etc. If that is the case then adjust your schedule accordingly. But that is what players have had to do in the past to be #1 and maintain it, so why change now?

It impacts fans and past achievements already in place.

Additionally, this helps the second and third tier tennisplayers as all these tournaments they play gives them a chance to make a living. This could turn into a big point of discussion, maybe tennis x should do a looksy at this…??

My deeper suspicion is “follow the money”. Pre hidden signed agreements for cash to play tournaments, and then you got tired from winning some prior tourneys, but signed an agreement, and have to play. Or Exhibitions for money, WTF? And you get the bigger deals the longer you stay at #1..

Like to hear what everyone has to say on the matter, and I am sure our poster stat people will post with some numbers on the 2 yr ranking deal and it’s potential impact….

jane Says:

I’d think one year rolling ranking is enough. It is indeed tough to defend, and I once thought the ideal would just be a yearly race, so no rolling, but then, as others pointed out to me, number 1, 2, 3, would be a revolving door and lose its meaning altogether. One year, rolling, both protects the players’ spots, to a degree, and makes the top guys defend,, too. So it seems to make the best sense and be a good balance between protecting and defending. Two years would be too static, as dari says. As it is, the top four guys have been entrenched up there for a few years, and the top two, until recently, has almost always been Rafa and Roger. So I don’t get why Rafa is concerned. I haven’t read much on the proposed changes, though, admittedly. I think a bigger concern, which Rafa has also raised more than once, is the length of the off season. But I can see reasons both for and against lengthening thag, too.

Kimberly Says:

If Rafa plays his best on clay, he has no competition. His “a” game versus the “a” game of any other player is simply a different league.

However, Montecarlo he did not play his A game, maybe B- or C+. And at this level there are quite a few guys who would have a shot.

I haven’t seen any of his matches in Barcelona so I have no idea where his level his compared to last week. But frankly, other than Montecarlo 2010, I wasn’t overly impressed with any of his 2010 clay play, except maybe RG final v. soderling.

Of course I will cross my fingers, hope he can raise his level and win! Actually, could care less about the masters, just want RG. He should pull out of Madrid and just play Rome. But it won’t happen. He is on the same moronic path as 2009 which did in fact jeapordize RG. I don’t understand why he is doing this. Novaks schedule is much smarter.

Little Wing Says:

I dunno why people are getting so aggro at Rafa about the 2 yr ranking thing, he’s entitled to his opinion. RAfa knows about the pressure at the top of the game and I think he’s earned his place, look how long he was at No. 2 for? Eventually when he did get the No.1 ranking he got injured and lost it very quickly.

I agree with Stu that this isn’t the 1st time RAfa’s bought this up, he’s been talking about it for a while. If you look at it from a consistency standpoint, Rafa as well as Novak have been in the top positions of the ranking so long and why shouldn’t they be able to enjoy being NO.1 without the immediate pressure of holding onto it. Of course you don’t want some random player getting to No. 1 and then having crappy results but getting to hold onto the ranking.

I think Rafa mentioned that in golf they have a 2 year system but I’m not sure how it would work in tennis.

Anyway it’s highly unlikely it’ll happen.

grendel Says:

Looking at Nadal’s recent demolition of Monfils – one of the best claycourters around – I couldn’t help wondering: does this guy get bored? I mean, what’s the fun of all these easy victories? But perhaps Lulu is right, and he’s got the numbers bug. Got to surpass Borg at this, Borg at that, and (never let us forget) Borg at the other. With no pressure coming from his contemporaries, he has to erect a rivalry with someone from the distant past – unless it’s just his fans who do that. I doubt it, though. People like Nadal, Federer and so on thrive under pressure. That’s why this notion that Uncle Toni taught him that tennis is only a game etc strikes me as pr stuff, strictly for the birds. The great Liverpool football manager, Bill Shankly, when asked if football was a matter of life and death for him, reportedly replied, “oh, it’s far more important than that!” You can bet it is for Nadal, too, only whisper it quietly…

One man who does not thrive under pressure is Gulbis. I thought dari’s link was entertaining and illuminating. Gulbis says:” But I can’t really push myself to practise at the same level for a really long time.”

He admitted: “I’m a guy who goes up and down. I can’t really maintain things. If I start to win it’s good and I’m confident. But when I play badly, starting to win again is the biggest issue.” Later on, he wonders what he’d do with himself if he quit tennis – one of the options being to live on dad’s loot. The thing is, dad’s loot is obviously always there – apart from providing the loan of a private jet from time to time – to cover any extravagant spending sprees or whatever. No wonder he can’t “really maintain things”. He strikes me as a nice rich spoilt brat. Nothing wrong with that in itself. We don’t want just the earnest 18 hour day brigade. But these days, it just won’t cut the mustard if he has any serious ambitions.

Gulbis strikes me as the living advertisement of the fact that huge talent is not in itself either a guarantee of success or even that important. If Gulbis suddenly decides he wants to challenge the big boys, seriously,he’ll have to give daddy his marching orders and then knuckle down to two or three years of hard graft. Can’t see it somehow, can you?

stu Says:

“Gulbis strikes me as the living advertisement of the fact that huge talent is not in itself either a guarantee of success or even that important.”


dari Says:

glad you like the article grendel.
everything said i had heard for the most part, but out of his own mouth it was enlightening. c’mon gulbis, he’s still young

Colin Says:

Sean, “a valiant Murray had a chance last week” is not as complimentary as it looks at first sight. “Had a chance” rather implies he did have a chance and blew it. There was this little matter of a crocked elbow full of cortisone. As Murray himself said, when in the third set he began to feel the injury again, he panicked. That’s not the same as choking, or blowing a good chance.
To put his performance in the proper light, ask yourself how many people, when the match began and knowing of the imjury and his lack of match play, would have said he had any chance at all.

contador Says:

ha! grendel. no, i can’t imagine the gulbis situation ending any other way but in futility. the story is doomed looking at it from a tennis fan’s point of view.

from his own perspective? who knows. taking gulbis at his word, tennis is only a hobby and getting to the disco is more fascinating. and no possible way will treating tennis as a hobby get gulbis even a glance at a bigger prize than his del ray 250 trophy. he can also tell people later down the road that he once beat roger federer.

2010 his best year? the way he looked at IW, literally dragging his feet, even scowling at fans cheering him on i have to think, perhaps. i couldn’t figure out watching him play lu, how he won that match without lu choking. the last thing it appeared EG wanted to do was play djokovic the next match. i happened to be at that match too. by that time, i’m not cheering for gulbis. there was no point. i’m sure nole had a more challenging practice match.

Lulu Iberica Says:

I’m probably being too hard on Rafa, and obviously I know he’s not a saint, but what I love most about him is his fighting spirit, and lately that seems lacking. In the hardcourt Masters he displayed a lack of confidence, and he’s been having 2nd set dips even on clay, not capitalizing on BPs as much, etc. All this I could overlook, saying he’s just a little off his game, of course Djoker’s run would rattle anyone, etc. But this call for a 2 year ranking system seems cowardly. What would it look like if this year’s Super Bowl winner said the Super Bowl should only be played every two years? If Rafa is tired, he should change his schedule and skip Madrid. The thing about tennis not being life or death, I meant that it shouldn’t be so important to win that you’ll do anything, including being a poor sport, to stay on top. Obviously, tennis (and family) is Rafa’s life.

mary jordan Says:

Looking foewardx to your article after he wins all the clay tournaments…of course, that is not the way Bleacher report works…I have copies of all the Rafa won’t win the US Open in 2010…funny, no article saying. “oops, I was wrong”

contador Says:

rafa’s knees must be in good health, otherwise he wouldn’t push on with the schedule he has, would he?

but much of his competition is either on the downslope (federer), nursing some injury (murray), or on a long comeback (delpo). which leaves possibly novak djokovic as my biggest hope v rafa on clay and the most likely to beat rafa. but, like federer in madrid 2009, i think nole would need an “assist” from rafa having a tough match before they face. i guess rafa losing either madrid or less likely rome isn’t totally unimaginable. but rafa losing RG?

not this year. maybe next year? the player that beats him will likely be my hero….ah la how rafa was a hero for beating federer at wimbledon 08. nothing personal against rafa.


skeezer….a tennis trooper has to see and hear a tennis ball. however, switched streams from barcelona to napoli challenger rather than watch monfils suffer. schoorel v minar was 3 sets of good tennis. : ) the trouble is imagining either of them playing so well in a main draw atp match after going through qualifying.

it really is tough enough for guys to make it up the ranks. i don’t agree with changing the point system but i haven’t given it much thought.

Kimberly Says:

lulu-i disagree, in miami i think he showed amazing fighting spirit, yes he played a bad breaker but even triple match point (or 4 match points, he kept fighting. Djoko just did a little better. In IW he kind of looked as you described but Miami was a good effort. And on top of that to say one hour later, matches like this are the reason i play tennis etc. was commendable.

I think he’s awesome as ever, im just not thrilled with him doing something that it had appeared he had learned a lesson not to do.

Kimberly Says:

I mean, not to sound like Roger Federer, lets say he sweeps the clay and then loses RG. How ones clay season is really depends on their RG results.

I understand going for the 20th masters and the 7th in a row at MC for ones resume, but why to play a 500 tourney in the midst of 4 important events.

GUlbis is ridiculous.

Lulu Iberica Says:

Kimberly, I agree Miami was better and he fought to get to that 3rd set tiebreak, but there were times that I looked at him and thought, “Rafa is scared.” I’m not used to and don’t like seeing him look like that! I don’t mind about him playing Barcelona (being his home tournament and rather diminished field) and I thought like Contador that if he’s playing, all must be fine. But, if that is the case, why come out with this statement? Was he asked about it? Anyway, I think he should just manage his schedule and health (as every player must) and face all challengers like a man, and accept whatever comes. I hope it’s nothing but wins, but we shall see!

grendel Says:

contador – what’s in it for Gulbis? That’s hard to say. There have always been some players who were kind of happy-go-lucky, although there’s not nearly so much of that now. V.J.Armitraj, a sort of Indian playboy, came close to beating both Connors and Borg at Wimbledon in the 70’s. Like Gulbis, he had oodles of talent, like Gulbis he was essentially part time – but unlike Gulbis he didn’t break rackets. Not his style. He looked as if he was having fun, it really did seem to be just a game to him. A spot of Wimbledon here, a spot of Hollywood there (Bond movies, Star Trek).

Not sure you can sustain that attitude in these days of heavy professionalism, where money and success are the measure of everything (which is why uncle Toni’s comment about tennis being just a game is so absurdly disingenuous – this simply isn’t remotely true for people like Nadal).

You get the feeling Gulbis is caught between two worlds. Consider this comment, from dari’s link:”I think if I play my best tennis I can beat anybody. It’s not being too confident. I’m just realistic. Many players don’t like to play against me, maybe because of my game. I have a good serve, I play aggressive tennis and I don’t give players a lot of rhythm. If I’m at the top of my game and in top shape – it’s tough for them to get into the game.”

Leaving aside the element of braggadocio, that sounds like a man who is still ambitious, who hasn’t quite given up the idea of reaching the top. In a way, he is too talented for his own good. With less ability, he could have great fun playing club tennis, and meanwhile play the rich boy without worrying too much if he runs out of puff. As it is he is caught between two worlds. No wonder he doesn’t look as happy as VJ.

Anna Says:

I don’t think Rafa is desperate to break Borg’s record. He’s right on the cusp of doing so and he’s not yet 25. I don’t think there’s any chance that that’s not going to happen sooner than later.

The two year ranking system has been discussed for quite a while now, and if I’m not mistaken most of the top players, including Roger, are in favor. So don’t take this so hard Lulu. This isn’t something that Rafa thought up all by himself. Maybe they’re all bad sports, I don’t know.

Jane – At the beginning of the school year in 08 I complained mightily to our high school tennis coach about this upstart Nadal beating Fed at Wimbledon. He laughed and told me to get tennis channel and watch the clay season. I’ve been hooked since. Clay has become my favorite surface, simply because of the way points are constructed. It seems there’s more thinking, less reacting. Anyway, I’ve never for one minute thought that Roger, Nole, or Andy couldn’t beat Rafa. I don’t see that much seperating their game on any given day and that’s what keeps things interesting. If by hook or by crook Rafa can keep outplaying or outsmarting his opponents it’s great entertainment. I loved greatness when I saw it in Federer, and I love Nadal for the same reason. It’s history in the making. That said, I wouldn’t be sad to see Ferrer get a win, and the day will come for Nole and Murray, no doubt about it. Just hope it’s not this year.

Imus Says:

If Rafa loses this year on clay it will be because he was outplayed, not because of playing 5 tournaments. The reason he lost in 09 was the accumulation of Aus Open semi/final, Indian Wells against Nalbandian saving 6 match points and the 3 matches vs. Djoker on clay – especially the 4 hour Madrid semi. If he plays Blurray and Djoker back to back in Rome and Madrid, he might have trouble at RG. But I wouldn’t bet on it. Fed is toast, unfortunately for him.

BeBop4000 Says:

I find the title and gist of this article somewhat ridiculous ! Of course Rafa is going to lose sometime/somewhere on clay this year. Simple percentages say that the guy, no matter how marvelous he is on dirt, is going to have an off day, and catch another clay artist on a great day, and Rafa will go down.(I’m thinking Ferrer or another Spaniard or Italian). But Djokovic won’t be the one, and Roger won’t either. Del Potro might stand the best chance out of the three mentioned, but Rafa raises his game when facing top names, so it is more likely it will be a much lower ranked clay court specialist. As fabulous Rafa is, especially on clay, he is gonna go down, again, on mere percentages….having such an astonishing record on clay does not mean the guy won’t ever, ever lose on clay. C’mon…the guy ain’t Superman !

Kimmi Says:

Nadal has lost one or two matches on clay every year except last year. last year was a record, this was never done before.

can nadal do it again..maybe!

I think last year was a good year for nadal to do this since almost all top players were not at the top of their game. federer was struggling with confidence, nole had a serve problem. murray was depressed, delpo was injured etc

I think there is a better challenge this year..especially from nole. Murray has showed us something no-one expected. delpo is back etc

Lets wait and see..

Lulu Iberica Says:

Ok, I totally overreacted about the 2 year rankings system thing. I still disagree with Rafa, but after reading other articles, it seems this is not as self-interested a move as I thought.

Anna, re: Borg’s records, I don’t think Raf is desperate to break them, more like being on the cusp of breaking them might be overwhelming and lead to some additional nerves. Just a possibility.

Harsh Says:

Enjoyable read, but this type of’review’ is really a waste…all that you’re saying is that nobody can continue an endless run anywhere…statistically speaking…that’s the only logic that seems to support the argument. The rest is pure speculation with no technical analysis. Keep in mind Nadal’s game against both Murray and specially against Ferrer was below par – in that the length on the drives was short and poor. Murray is always a danger man for Nadal game type because he’s able to quell the topspin with his 2 handed backhand and stable forehand control (Murray’s got steadier hands than most others) and Murray is super fit too, so it’s always a counter punching endurance battle (similar with the new Djokovic). Once (and do we doubt it ?) Nadal gets better depth on his drives and varied direction, does anyone have a realistic chance this season to actually outlast and beat him ? The only chance some plyers might have is to stay close to him during matches by going on the offensive from the word go and see if they can sustain it. Other than that very slim probability assuming no injuries. Nadal posseses too many tools to excel on clay for someone to be an imposing threat. Just before the french open and too much tennis or high altitude etc might mean a blip or so but come Rolland Garros he should be in top gear. Who knows…We’ll see…

Skeezerweezer Says:

I would like to know where Fed says he favors a 2 yr ranking rule….

stu Says:

Blurray, LOL. I like Blandy better.

AllAboutRafa Says:

Rafa’s fine. He knew he needed extra work on his clay court game, and that’s why he kept Barca on the schedule. Judging from the results, he was right. His game has improved by leaps and bounds just in the few matches he’s played.

Who’s to say he won’t skip one of the other events before RG? We don’t really know that.

The bottom line: Rafa’s a beast on the clay, and anyone who beats him will have earned it, but at the same time, they’ll become a marked man in Rafa’s eyes. Just ask Soda Pop!

contador Says:


seems exactly what he’s saying, “caught between two worlds.” he doesn’t like tennis but what else is he going to do? he could go to school…nah. he could live off his parents money….or make his own money. how will he make his own money? time ticks away…the tennis option, at an atp level anyway, has an expiration date. though he’s only 22, he has to act on the tennis talent he has or it’s history. in the link dari posted, gulbis says he’s staying with tennis though he doesn’t like the traveling, the attention, ect. i’m not sure he can endure slipping down and having to qualify again or play challengers, which is where he’s headed if he keeps showing up for tournaments unprepared.

has to be confusing for him. he gets to the round at MC where he meets raonic and gulbis knows he “should” beat raonic but he couldn’t. he came unglued in the 1st set after the umpire made a call he didnt like. there he is, beaten by younger more ambitious talent. that’s not fun.

no, playing the atp tour can’t be much “fun” for him if he’s not content to lose. and lose he will without a different mind-set and work ethic. i don’t know how it was for the the indian player
whom you describe. but i think you have a point. times are very different. well, i’m the one who brought up gulbis. he’s really not worth the time writing about other than he got a WC into the serbian open and i wish him well.

rafa is the main point of the thread. what a contrasting story his is to that of gulbis. i may not be a big fan of rafa’s tennis but rafa as a person is someone to admire. that said, i also hope he gets some competition on clay other than breaking records and setting new records. or it’s another clay season where the winner is too predictable and the question is: who can take a set? can his next opponent take a set? dodig? rafa would have to have a really bad day. the suspense comes down to: how many games can dodig get? and the other semi is almagro v ferrer. is ferrer’s knee injured and how bad? an almagro-nadal final? almagro got tight playing ferrero today. i say injured ferrer would get more games than pudding head almagro. maybe i’m being harsh on nico but geez i watched him tank so bad at IW.

ah, they both played crap at IW after that final in acapulco. and neither spaniard can get a set from rafa. my guess.

time for bed. no more cranky posting…..lol…sorry ppl.

tennis coach Says:

I am certain it will be Novak Djokovic beating Rafa not once but twice on clay this year and taking 2 out of three clay tournaments. Mark my words.

Skeezerweezer Says:

This cracks me up, “courts can’t be too slow”, lol

Kimmi Says:

Ferrer to another final

gonzalowski Says:

Interview to australian Roy Emerson in Barcelona, 50 years after his first? victory in the open

gonzalowski Says:

Dodig playing well, hard hitting, has broken Rafa back, 2-2

Kimmi Says:

dodig breaks nadal..interesting!

Nina Says:

What fun is in there if we cannot hope for some real threat to rafa’s dominance on clay? I believe Djoko will be a real test and I think this time he can make it very competitive and maybe defeat Nadal in a final, probably Madrid. The French Open is a different story but if Nole got to semifinals last year playing without confidence and without serve, then I’m very curious to know what he can do this season. Surely he has to step it up. Besides Nole, Soderling, Delpo and maybe Murray can give him a scare… I’m counting Federer out, sadly.

Kimmi Says:

ok, the party is over for dodig..but he tried.

gonzalowski Says:

Nadal is a bit surprised by the croatian’s game, but at the end he reached first set 6-3 :-)

funches Says:

Good analysis as usual Sean, but you fell into the same trap others have fallen into (it must be hidden well). Murray did not have a chance to beat Nadal last week. Rafa destroyed him in the third set, losing 10 points. Never mind five sets. It’s impossible for almost anyone to last three sets with Rafa on clay.

Dkokovic has a decent shot to beat him. I’d put Ferrer second. Del Potro might do the Murray thing. Federer would be lucky to win five games total.

dari Says:

Wow skeeze I was just thinking about that last night- the appeal. thanks for posting. I wonder when an appeal has been successful.
anyway, Spain is looking weird at the moment- sitting at the top but still complaining.

dari Says:

Congratulations to Rafael Nadal 500 career wins!!!!
I’m gonna stop calling him a kid now. He is old tennis-wise!

Ardell YOung Says:

DelPetro and Djokovic have the best chance of beating Nadal on clay. The rest have no chance.

Nina Says:

Congrats Rafa for the 500 wins! Wow!

jane Says:

Yes, congrats to Rafa on 500 match wins – and at such a young age too.

tennisfansince76 Says:

will Nadal lose on Clay? sure he will just not today and probably not tomorrow.

Polo Says:

It is probably safer to say that Nadal will not lose on clay this year than to say that somebody will beat him.

Nina Says:

I’m really partial to Ferrer winning this after three failed finals. I don’t particularly favour one over the other, but just hearing David’s recent words after his dismissal of Almagro made me wish with all my heart that he wins this tournament. He basically said that Barcelona is the most important and iconic tournament for him, the one that he has wanted to win all his life and that winning here would indeed put the final flourish to his career. It sounded so now or never…
Vamos Ferrer, you deserve it!

Kimmi Says:

I am sure ferrer will be very happy to win Barcelona but winning Barcelona by beating rafa… on clay, it will be the biggest shock since soderling beat nadal at RG. The whole world will wonder if the king is dead?? rafa will not let that happen.

So, good luck ferrer, better try another year when rafa skips barcelona.

Anita Says:


Skeezerweezer Says:


Or they change Barcelona to indoor/hard, lol

contador Says:

Nina, i hadn’t heard ferrer say that. how sad! it’s impossible against rafa for him to win barcelona.

watching nadal his last 2 matches, i think it’s clear no one will beat nadal on clay this year.

i’m wondering if anyone can stop him on grass. or does he mow right through wimbledon again? i wouldn’t bet against it.

somebody will stop him from another us open, won’t they? he could pick up another 3 GS titles this year. just to make a fed fan feel the pain, the pain those had to suffer when federer was winning 2 and 3 slams / yr. it is monotonous when the one cleaning up trophies is not your favorite. oh well, suck it up, right? LOL…

skeezerweezer Says:

Hi contador,

I almost would go out on a limb a say Rafa will not win Wimby. From what I have seen on HC and some up and comers there is a lot more dangerous players that can hurt him on Grass. That said, there is some serious things they need to do before he sets one foot on the Hollowed grounds of Wimbledon if this prediction would hold water;

1) Check to make sure the Grass IS Grass, and make sure it is not Red Clay painted over with Green paint.
2)Make sure the balls are smaller, not bigger in size.
3) Change the color of the ball back to the original color, white ( may confuse him )
4) Make sure the grass is sprayed daily with oil
5) Change the rules so all coaches have to sit in the back row, or bleacher seats.
6)No water bottles allowed on the Grass, they must be on a table.
7)And finally, make this a righy only tournament, why do Leftys get to enter anyway. What’s up with that? :)

Kimmi Says:

tennis is “what have you done for me lately”

few weeks ago it was all about djoko…now it is all about rafa…ha-ha!

Contador – things are changing every week. we could be speaking about somebody else in few weeks time..who konow!! go fed! go muzza! go delpo!!

contador Says:

LOL! skeeze… wha..i see i’m not the only one going crazy.

Kimmi, you are right. it was about djoko. but that was hc. now it’s clay and grass… and we know what happened last year!

hey, estoril, munich and serbian open this week. and a couple players we haven’t seen playing for awhile like delpo playing…..just saying. (getting my mind off rafa taking the next 3 slams, lol…)

Kimmi Says:

delpo playing..i was wondering what is happening to delpo. i remember after miami he mentioned that he will take few days off, go see his doctor..check out his wrist to see if everything is OK coz he played a lot of matches after coming back.

Nice to see he is playing again. that means everything is ok. he needs more matches to sharpen up his game..go delpo!

Kimmi Says:

seeded 8 in estoril

dari Says:

Like many, I am looking forward to some clay tourneys where Rafa is not a shoe in this week.
Glad to see delpo and novak back!
I’m not gonna say anything about Rafa taking next three slams.
I think the water bottle rule would be the most effective, skeezer.
Go tennis!

dari Says:

I know kimmi, isn’t that exciting, a SEED for jaun Martin!

steve-o Says:

Don’t lose heart, Federer fans. He lost early in Monte Carlo in ’09 to Wawrinka, then to Djokovic in Rome, only to win the French Open that year.

This time he doesn’t have to worry about winning the career Slam for the sake of the record books; he can afford to keep his head down and work on his clay game without all the pressure of making history.

I hope Del Potro is playing Madrid. In my opinion he plays even better on clay than on hard courts, he has time to strike the ball a lot cleaner.

This clay season should be a lot more interesting than the last one. Federer, Djokovic, Del Potro are all in good shape now, when they weren’t last year.

Daniel Says:

I noted a fun stat/”fact”: Every year Nadal won French Open he beat Fed on clay before the final in Roland Garros at leats once on clay.
– RG semis 05′
– MC and Rome finals 06′
– MC finals 07′
– MC and Hamburg finals 08′
– Madrid finals 10′.
The sole year he didn’t won RG (2009) was the year he lost the only match he and Federer played on clay, Madrid 09′.

This means that if Nadal doesn’t beat Fed in Madrid or Rome, he will have to beat Fed in RG semis otherwise he won’t winning it! Hahahah:)

Fed only needs to avoid playing Nadal in this 2 tourneys and pray he is on the other half in RG. He may not win it, but Nadal won’t. LOL

Let’s see if this holds true on June 5th.

Daniel Says:

Maybe the pressure of making history gets to Nadal either. Take a look at his historic feets:

1 – When he went for his first RG – Wimby combo in 2006, failed. Only got it in the third attempt, 2008.
2 – When he was going for 5 straigh RG in 2009. He lost to Soderling and was injured.
3 – When he went for the career Slam in 2009 US Open, he lost to Delpo. In his second attempt at carrer Slam he got the 2010 US Open.
4 – First time in the finals of WTF and he lost to Federer in London 10′.

The only exception is the 2009 AO when he was the first Spaniard to win in Oz.

So, this shows that deep down the pressure gets to everybody, including Nadal and on Clay.

Now he will be going for 6 RG, a tie with Borg. Let’s see…

Sunder Says:

Beyond all commentaries, just let’s please the author of the article and pray for Nadal’s loss. That’s what he desires.

margot Says:

skeeze @9.07 “Hollowed ground” OMG are they tampering with the surface again….;)

WTF Says:

I think he’ll lose too, and it will happen in Madrid, either to Fed or Djokovic. He may end up playing them both back to back, and the semi finalist will push him to 3 sets, making him easy pickings for the finalist.

WTF Says:

I also think Nadal is stupid for playing Barca. He was able to do that in the past when he was younger and before his recurring knee problems flared up. Things are different now and he has to protect his health and fitness.

He’s become obsessed with staying #1 as happened to Federer. In the past he was modest about that, and more interested in winning big titles. That was a better mentality IMO.

Polo Says:

If Nadal is to lose on clay, it will not be to Federer. I want that to happen but I cannot see that happening. The only one who can possibly do it is Djokovic and I am saying that with not a lot of conviction.

Polo Says:

Why isn’t Tennis Channel showing the Barcelona finals live? I am very curious to find out who will win! Hehehe!

Huh Says:

I wont blame Nadal 4 wantin 2 hold on 2 his No.1 as long as he can, coz he cud earn it aftr doon xtraordinary hard work, he had to beat Federer enroute!!! It cudnt hv got mor dificult dan dat 4 any1! Thats y poor guy wants to hold on 2 his top slot. Besides who’d not want 2 b at d top 4evr!!! nobody’s a saint here! ;)

Polo Says:

That was hard to read, Huh.

dari Says:

Just figured out what “doon” means, Huh! ;-)

Huh Says:

Mind says Rafa wud go undefeatd on clay n gras in 2011 but heart says
Nole/DP wud win FO n Fed/Nole/Rod/Muzza/DP’ll win WIM.

Kimmi Says:

djoko not playing last week, by the end of today nadal will gain 1500 more points, while djoko has gained zero.

I am sure nadal and team were very happy when djoko announced he will not play MC. only about 1500 points will separate them on the race now. A great clay season should be able to catch djoko and possibly overtake.

Lets hope djoko can keep it up to make this fight more interesting.

Huh Says:

sory polo, i would write the full words then.

scineram Says:

Nadal gained nothing from Monte-Carlo.

grendel Says:

Not necessarily the case that Nadal played Barcelona for the sake of the points. One, there’s Barcelona itself – who knows what it means to him. Tenniswise, he wasn’t at his best at Monte, so perhaps he felt he needed the practice so he can sort out Djokovic at Madrid. He’s gonna badly want to beat Djokovic: a)he” want to pull rank on his only real threat at RG (apart from the famous A.N.Other), and also being beaten 3 times in a row by same player will be unacceptable to a man who lives to win.

Daniel: some interesting correlations, they can be questioned though. 1)Arguably, it was winning Wimbledon, not the combo, which was the difficulty. 2) Did he lose because of the pressure of going for the 5th straight? Maybe, but maybe he just had an off day, Sod played unexpectedly well and so on 3)You could say Delpo offered much stronger competition than Djokovic did – and of course there was that abdominal tear. 4)Was it pressure that made him succomb to Fed at WTF – or just the fact that Fed was on fire on a surface which absolutely suited him and absolutely did not suit Nadal?

That said, all your points are interesting and may be valid.

skeezerweezer Says:

^ Precisely what made him soooo great. Clay he was a master, a given, but 5 consecutive Wimbys from a baseliner on the Grass of old, not the “pro baseliner” Grass of today. Imho will always be a phenomenal feat.

sheila Says:

2011-boring & predictable–nadal will win everything again. people bitched about federer winning everything when he was winning, well imho, nadal is even more dominant. there is absolutely no one who can take it to nadal on clay or in a best of 5. the guy is incredible. true, djokovic won him in miami & iw, but in a best of 5, i dont chim winning nadal. & murray, he had a good tournament in monte carlo, but lets c what he does in the upcoming tournaments. i love roger, but realistically he isnt winning the way he once did. on clay, even if he got 2 afinal against nadal, his 1handed backhand is a disadvantage. yawn, yawn, nadal will continue 2b #1 & win most of the important tournaments that remain.

Polo Says:

It seems like the only match worth watching now would be Nadal vs Djokovic. Nole is the now The Great Non-Spanish Hope to beat Nadal. And that is Hope with a capital H. A few matches on clay would set him back in his proper place, second. The Nadal machine appears to be getting finely tuned again to sweep the rest of the big tournaments.

dari Says:

yeah, barcelona only made rafa stronger. no harm evident yet and he’s moving sooo well. digging the slight scruff beard look.
time for the rest of the tour to step it up on clay and make it more interesting for the viewers.
dear daveed…

dari Says:

polo, are you a big nadal fan? is it even boring you a little?

Kimberly Says:

Dari, i’m a big Nadal fan…and no not bored, especially after the two losses in IW and Miami!

Polo Says:

Dari, I am not a big Nadal fan. But I do respect the guy. For me, the game has become rather boring, especially on clay, but I that is not Nadal’s fault. He just happens to be really good and nobody can give him a tough match except Djokovic. And I doubt if Djokovic will match up well with him on clay…or even grass. It remains to be seen. That is why I eagerly anticipate the next match between them. I am still a big Federer fan although I don’t kid myself by thinking that he could be a threat to Nadal…on any surface. No, not anymore.

dari Says:

i just meant on the clay,nothing boring about the hardcourt season, nadal or otherwise!
not really a question of respect, i and most tennis fans respect nadal. i was just wondering if even devout nadal fans are less than enthusiastic during the clay season where they know their guy will win.

dari Says:

actually i’m sure their enthusiastic! but is tennis less… riveting for them on the clay?

Polo Says:

For a Nadal fan, the clay season is fantastic and not at all boring. I bet it is exciting to see if Nadal can again sweep all the clay court tournaments he enters. If you are rooting for somebody else, it must be boring because you know your guy does not stand a chance.

WTF Says:

skeezerweezer Says:

“^ Precisely what made him soooo great. Clay he was a master, a given, but 5 consecutive Wimbys from a baseliner on the Grass of old, not the “pro baseliner” Grass of today. Imho will always be a phenomenal feat.”

The grass at Wimbledon hasn’t changed since 2001 which was before Fed won his first title there. Don’t kid yourself. Federer himself is a baseliner, so he is not disadvantaged by slower grass. He does go to the net more often than Nadal, but is no serve-volleyer.

Also, grendel, Barcelona does not mean much to Nadal. Barca is the capital of Catalonia, which is officially part of Spain, but Catalans have never considered themselves Spanish (and until a century ago weren’t). They resent and hate Spain and everything Spanish. It’s a hostility that has existed for a long time now. Nadal is also an unabashed Real Madrid fan, which is considered a massive insult for Catalans, despite the fact that his uncle played for Barcelona (Barca and Real have been bitter rivals for over a century).

Streaking Nadal, Djokovic Survive Upset Bids, Meet in Sunday Madrid Final; Will Novak Stay Perfect? Says:

[…] the start of the clay season I felt that Djokovic would get Nadal at least once on the clay. And as we saw again today, Nadal is attackable on the fast Madrid courts at the altitude. […]

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