Year-End Review – The Clay Season: Nonstop Nadal
by Ben Pronin | November 27th, 2012, 12:48 pm

For some odd reason, a lot of people seemed to believe that in order for Rafael Nadal to be considered the best clay court player of all time he’d need to break Bjorn Borg’s record six French Open titles. I believe Nadal was already the best once he won his fourth. Not only did Nadal add that seventh clay major this past year, but he once again dominated on the red clay, collecting the Masters titles in Monte Carlo and Rome, winning the French Open, and even collecting a seventh title in Barcelona. His only loss came on the blue clay of Madrid to compatriot Fernando Verdasco (a match that Verdasco made nearly impossible to tank).

It looked like 2012 was following a pretty identical script to 2006-2008 in that Novak Djokovic, like Roger Federer before him, won the big hard court titles and managed to face Nadal in every clay court final possible. And unlike in 2011 where Djokovic scored two straight wins in Madrid and Rome, Nadal finally got his revenge, and snapped his seven match losing streak, turning away Novak three straight times.

Nadal has won Monte Carlo a record eight straight times, absolutely destroying Djokovic this time around. Sure you can say Djokovic was distracted by his grandfather’s death, but a lot of blame shouldn’t be put on that. Djokovic still battled through to make it to the final, including a rally against Tomas Berdych in the semifinals. And yet he couldn’t even hold serve in the second set against Nadal. It was clear he didn’t have the mental reserves this time around, but you have to give most of the credit to Nadal for righting the ship, especially after the gut-wrenching loss in Australia.

Barcelona was another formality for Nadal, although he was firmly challenged by the pesky David Ferrer. Ferrer was actually amazingly close to stealing the win in that final (as close as someone can get without winning a set, anyway) but could not hold it together mentally. Maybe someone could argue that Ferrer was actually Nadal’s toughest opponent on clay this year. He never dropped a set to his compatriot but Ferrer played a serious game that forced Nadal to dig deeper than he had against anyone else until probably the fourth set of the French Open final.

The most interesting part of this year’s clay season was the Masters event in Madrid. I can’t really say the blue clay was ready to be played on, but it was certainly there to be tried out. Andy Murray, not exactly a clay court stalwart, skipped the event entirely. I found this pretty odd since, seriously, it’s not like he was going to win the French no matter what kind of preparation he got. Nadal and Djokovic were absolutely blue in the face about the surface and tanked in the Round of 16 and Quarterfinals, respectively. This probably would’ve gone down to be a bigger statement had Federer not gone on to take the title.

And I’d like to take a moment to give Federer, and his opponent in the final, Berdych, some serious credit. We all know how amazing Nadal is on clay, and Djokovic isn’t a scrub on the surface either. But both players whined like crazy about this surface. As a fan, I loved it. It was something so amazingly different that really hit the nail on the head for me. And I thought it was disappointing that the top two players acted like such babies about it. Federer and Berdych, while I’m sure had their problems with it, put it aside and played some great tennis. The final was maybe one of the best matches of the year (it’s highly underrated). And this was on, apparently, a completely new surface that no other player had ever even seen before. It’s a shame that we won’t see more blue next year.

Back on the original red clay in Rome, Nadal and Djokovic once again faced off. This time, it looked like Djokovic was back to 2011 form but a bad call late in the first set all but sealed Nadal’s victory. And so we were off to the second major of the year, and there was so much mouth-watering history on the line that made it maybe the most intriguing major since Wimbledon in 2008.

Unfortunately, the quality of tennis wasn’t nearly as high. While Nadal played some of the best tennis of his career, it looked like Djokovic and Federer were trying to outdo each other in who can make it to the semis while playing their absolute worst. Both guys barely got through pretty easy draws with both of them being pushed to five sets in the quarterfinals. (I’d like to extend some love to Andres Seppi, who I met a few years ago. It’s nice to see him having a good year and giving Djokovic such a scare in a major). While the 2011 French Open semifinal between Djokovic and Federer was a match for the ages, their 2012 encounter was the opposite. Sloppy play on both sides and a disheartening double break lead blown by Federer saw Djokovic ease into the final after three subpar sets. On the other side, Nadal showed everyone who is boss by demolishing Ferrer, who was playing in his overdue first French semi.

As much as I’d like to see Federer add at least one more French Open (and maybe beat Nadal in the process) to his stellar resume, this was the final everyone wanted to see. The mouth-watering was at an all time high. Would Nadal be able to overcome his nemesis and win a record seventh French Open? Or would Djokovic be the first since Rod Laver to hold all four majors at once? Nadal got himself a two set and a break lead rather easily as Djokovic looked like he was battling inner demons more than Nadal. But then things got interesting as Djokovic reeled off seven straight games! Seven straight games, in the biggest clay court final there is, against the greatest clay court player of all time. Djokovic would go on to lose in the fourth set the following day due to a rain delay, but after that performance you’d have to think he knows he has what it takes to usurp Nadal from the ridiculously high perch he sits on at the French Open.

All in all, it was the same story, different year with regards to the clay court season. Enough can’t be said about how good Nadal is on clay. But who would have thought that after such a successful first half of the year, Nadal would only play four more matches.

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212 Comments for Year-End Review – The Clay Season: Nonstop Nadal

Cris Says:

If you insist, let me tell you that they were eight (8) straight games for Novak. According to the ATP’s Greg Sharko, it was the first time Nadal had ever lost eight consecutive games at the French Open.

best player ever Says:

best player ov all times

alison Says:

Looking forward to seeing Rafa back playing again,he had another fantastic CC season,more of the same would be great,but some titles off clay would be welcome too,still for some whatever this guy does will never be seen as good enough.

Brando Says:

Bottomline: rafa lost ONLY one set on red clay this season. Just the one. People, rather naturally, hold onto any glimmer of hope of someone possibly knocking the guy on his turf, but the reality is the same today as it has been for many long years now: rafa on his A game on clay> makes mince meat out of the competition! Fact!

Brando Says:

Nole, realistically speaking, is rafa’s ONLY true competition on clay.

‘you’d have to think he knows he has what it takes to’. Sure novak knows what he has to do in order to beat rafa- it is the following:

1- Be on his ABSOLUTE BEST FORM- anything less and he may as well give up on the idea. Note: His ONLY 2 wins came when he was on a unbeaten streak- perfect time for him to win one wasn’t it?

2- Hope rafa is NOT ON his A game: if the man from Spain is at his best on clay, then just forget about it! For example, he beat a nadal at Rome 2011 who was almost out in the FIRST ROUND to clay legend P LORENZI! LOL, hardly king of clay form from rafa @ the time!

3- Have favorable conditions: 1 of 2 wins on clay was at Madrid- a venue that even ROGER FEDERER himself says plays more like a HC. Yet, as we all know, RG and Madrid play completely differently. Further, when he won the 8 straight games- it didn’t exactly hurt that it was raining on the court and conditions were damp now did it?

4- Play NOTHING TO LOSE tennis: He won 8 games in a row when the match was virtually over- easy to go all guns blazing and swinging at everything in that situation isn’t it? It also helps to have rafa MORE CONCERNED WITH THE COURT CONDITIONS than with the opponent at the time!

So this is what Novak needs to do in order to pull off the win.

And I’m not making these points up- they can all be BACKED UP BY REALITY.

FACT IS: they call rafa the king of clay for a very good reason- and that is: when he is at his absolute best, no one comes close to matching him on the red stuff!

Don’t believe me? Check the record books!

alison Says:

Exactly Brando the trolls can say whatever they want about Rafa any other time,but on clay its like Teflon they wont be able to make any argument stick,hes the best player out there that there is on clay,end of.

roy Says:

djoker always pushed nadal on clay and had very close matches even before the wins of 2011.
these days he can probably play at around the same level as nadal on clay though not as consistently perhaps. the top level isn’t really much different though.
djoker will probably start splitting clay results with nadal in the coming years.
but given nadal’s utter domination in past years he’ll obviously go down as the clay king.

The Great Davy Says:

Pfft. All player sucks nowaday. There will never be epicer battle than NaDavy SF in Rome in the 2007, face it. I made Rafa get on his knees to thank His Great Davy for the sparing.

The Great Davy Says:

Epilogue: He’s knees did not survive that kneeling

jane Says:

True, Rafa is the King of Clay. I think he’s surpassed Borg because he’s equalled his FO court AND he has more masters plus that crazy 81 match winning streak on the surface, which trumps ANY players record on any surface.

Therefore, it’s interesting to note, as roy mentioned, that even in 2007, 2008, and 2009, etc, when Rafa was in excellent form, he was “challenged” in clay court matches by Fed and Nole (e.g., where they won sets by a healthy margin, Fed by 6-1 at FO in 2006, Nole by 6-2 at Hamburg and Monte Carlo in 2008, 09) and also Andy M at Monte Carlo in 2011.

However, it seems like the opponent can’t very often maintain that high form throughout a clay match versus Rafa in order to win it – especially a 5 setter. Rafa is just too tough. Nole and Fed both have a couple of wins, but they’ve faced Rafa many times on clay. So it does show what a Herculean task it seems to be to get by Rafa on clay. He’s still tops on that surface, no doubt about it.

jane Says:

*FO count.

Brando Says:


Excellent and fair post- as always.

Despite my earlier posts, without a shadow of doubt in my mind BOTH fed and nole are excellent clay court players, can beat and have beat rafa on clay. BUT, as you suggest, it is more easier said than done.

Let’s just look at the fact:

1- Between them they have beat rafa just FOUR times. That is a MERE 4/28 clay court matches. Rafa has 12 victories EACH against both of them and a combined win record of almost 86%.

2- 2 of those losses were in MADRID- a court that federer himself recently said plays like a HC. Due to the altitude, many see this as a faster court than say even MIAMI- a supposed outdoor HC. Hence, it goes without saying, you have a better chance of beating rafa here than elsewhere.

3- If one looks at the 2 fed win’s one realizes that in one of them (Hamburg) rafa still won a set 6-2, whilst in the other (Madrid) he still was competitive losing 6-4 6-4. Many believing that rafa was possibly hampered due to the record long match with Nole the day before. Who knows. Yet certainly fed beat rafa on surfaces and venues were his game is helped a bit by the conditions and he has a good record at those venues. Despite all of this, rafa is 2-1 v fed at madrid and 1-1 at Hamburg. Elsewhere he has a 100% record v fed.

4- Re Nole: one loss was at the clay court where rafa is most vulnerable, Madrid. Even here he still lost a respectable 7-5 6-4- losing by ONE mere break in both sets. He’s still 1-1 v nole at this venue. Then the one MOST RELEVANT loss was at Rome. Here too rafa lost 6-4 6-4, hardly a thrashing, and by ONE MERE break in both sets. He’s still 3-1 v nole here.

Throw in the FACT that nole was on an unbeaten run, an all time peak form, rafa’s close friend Seve Ballesteros had passed away during Madrid (rafa was crying publicly prior to the fed SF re this) and how he neraly went out FIRST ROUND in Rome to LORENZI- then we can all agree that MAYBE, just maybe, nole was at his best and rafa was not quite at his brilliant best.


In 5 sets rafa has a 100% record v BOTH, on traditional clay venues (MC, Rome, Barcelona) just ONE MERE LOSS v both (the above mentioned Rome Final).

Fact is rafa has VERY TOUGH matches v both fed and nole, BUT DEFINITELY they have their fair share of problems also v rafa on clay!

Brando Says:

Lol: nearly > neraly

Brando Says:


The above post was NOT one that was intended to discredit the wins of fed or nole- not at all.

They met on those occasion’s, they played tennis and rafa lost- fair and square!

It’s just to show that beating rafa on clay is not an easy task for these great players- and certainly it doesn’t hurt them to have certain things (conditions, their form, rafa’s form etc) aiding their cause- just as in ANY other case for ANY other player!

andrea Says:

i’m not one for the GOAT debate, but i’m totally on side for calling nadal king of clay! it was shocking even watching him lose to novak on clay in 2011. you get so used to him plowing through everyone.

Tz Says:

I’d love to see rafa win many more slams from 2013. There will be a time violation penalty. So, from next year, rafa won’t be allowed to take as much time as he used to take in a match. He usually takes a lot of time in between points especially when his opponent is causing him trouble. By doing this he keeps his mind in focus and try to make the opponent a bit impatient so that he might lose his rythm. I hope ATP will not change the WOULD BE APPLIED rule if some players start to complain about it. It was badly needed for the game. Feeling a bit sorry for old federer. Had that rule been made 5/6 years ago…..

Jonas K. Says:

What a concoction of exaggeration and wishful thinking.

And you’re talking as if Nadal is the only player who takes more than allowed time between points, or as if he’s the most serious offender.

Practically ALL players do that. For example, Djokovic and Del Potro sometimes take even longer time between points than Nadal and they do that more often on the average.

It is easier to list players that always strictly obey this particular rule – there are only a handful of them.

And precisely because practically all players sometimes take longer between points, ATP hasn’t been applying penalties.

It’s only seconds more, it’s sometimes and not every time, and it’s not the reason somebody wins or loses matches. It’s an irrelevant discussion, a non-issue.

This announced new strictness will also most probably flop, for the same reason – can’t penalize the vast majority all the time, it would block and impact matches worse than a few more seconds between points ever do.

Tz Says:

We’ll see if that rule is going to have an impact. I’ll wait till the AO

alison Says:

TZ as a Rafa fan i agree he does take too much time in between points,i wish he would be more like Roger whos so quick to get on with things,but its as Jonas K says hes not the only one at fault,however that does not make it right,as you say we will see how it affects the players come the AO.

alison Says:

Brando,Jane great posts,thanks for highlighting Rafas CC credentials which are just incredible,you both give Dave a run for his money when it comes to stats,you both really do your homework.

Tz Says:

its so nice for me to hear that a rafa fan admitting that she doesn’t appriciate rafa’s too much time taking in between points. I know that rafa is not the only one out there. Even my 2nd fave novak does waste time on court. Usually, novak drops the ball ten times for the first serve and 6-8 times for the 2nd. Believe me, I’ve counted it. Its disgusting. I think that this EXTRA TIME taken in between points help these players a lot. But unfortunately the legal time is only 20 seconds

Wog boy Says:


Is it 20 or 25 seconds, or ATP and ITF rules are not the same?

Colin Says:

It’s all very well proclaiming the dominance of Rafa on clay, based on his past exploits. The question for 2013 must be: will his knees last long enough for him even to reach the clay season? The hard-court pounding of the Australian Open could well put him back on crutches. Maybe it won’t happen in 2013, but to pretend it will not happen some time in the next few years is to ignore reality. The man is not a robot!

Tz Says:

@wog boy,

I saw Vijay Amritraj on Vijay’s View show during wimbledon. Someone asked him what was the time limit between two points and as far as i can remember he said it was 20 seconds (perhaps he might have said “20 to 25 seconds”. But all i can remember that he said it 20)

Wog boy Says:


You are not wrong, because when I went on ITF site it says 20 seconds, GS is under ITF , then I went on ATP site and it says 25 seconds. It could be for GS and DC matches (under ITF control) 20 seconds and for others ((under ATP control) 25 seconds. Just guessing, you can see yourself if you go on ATP or ITF sites. If that is the case then players have to keep switching from 20 to 25 seconds and back.

Tz Says:

Yes, then they’ll have to switch. I think ATP and ITF will do something about it if they are to strictly imply the new rule

El Says:

Well as a huge fan of Nadal I have to say that I am missing him terribly from the tour. Still love my tennis, but his passion and intensity on the court are unmatched.
If anybody isn’t in the know just how tough Nadal was in his prime, check out Madrid semi v. Novak 2009 before he pulled out suffering badly with his knees, he was practically crippled playing that clay run that year and yet from sheer will and passion he found his best tennis half way through onwards during that match, his incredible and has brought so much to the game, his absence is felt by all even Tim Henman said “we need Rafa back” and he is a huge Federer fan.
I would say the same probably if Fed were missing, together their presence makes tennis very special and has lead an example for others on the tour like no others.

Wog boy Says:


That is fine, but the question is does that rule aplies for GS matches since ATP is not in charge of it, as I said if you go on ITF site it says 20 seconds. We will find out at AO if they unified the rules. I know for example that ITF was more flexible than ATP about MTO and you can see that durung GS matches. The rules for MTO are/were not the same.
Thanks anyway, we will find out soon.

skeezer Says:

Re; new time rule. Its about friggin time!

At least they will give the refs more power and structure in enforcement. Can hardly wait , as the abuse of time has been rabid and used to gain an unfair advantage on the court.

Tz Says:

“the abuse of time has been rabid and used to gain an unfair advantage on the court”
i think that skeezer and i have similar views :)

alison Says:

Colin Rafas CC credentials are there for all to see,however no sensible Rafa fans are taking anything for granted on clay or otherwise,at the moment most of us are actually very cautious,are not expecting immediate success,and are just greatfull hes fit to play,no unrealistic expectations,the past is history the futures a mystery,none of us know what will happen to him or any other player in 2013,we will just have to wait and see what exactly unfolds,only time will tell.

Giles Says:

Rafa my champ, take all the time you need!! Lol

Brando Says:

“Rafa my champ, take all the time you need!! Lol” share the same thoughts, giles my good man! If your going to hand out a whooping best do it nice and slowly so that you can enjoy it. No need to rush the good things in life right?:-)

Dave Says:

alison: “Brando,Jane… you both give Dave a run for his money when it comes to stats,you both really do your homework.”

Hmmmmm. No.


skeezer Says:

‘take all the time you need!!”

Lets have no rules, Rafa is familiar with playing like that at times.

Dave Says:

skeezer: Here is an example of Nadal taking 54 seconds between his service points in an ATP Masters 1000 match, where the ATP rule is 25 seconds. This is not his worst violation even.

Someone did a spoof of this video, with a split screen showing Nadal taking 54 seconds without playing in one screen… and on the other screen was Federer winning an entire service game within those 54 seconds, lol.

If the Nadal-Djokovic Australian Open final was played according to the ITF’s 20 second time rule, the match would have been 70 to 90 minutes shorter. The Federer-Delpo Olympic semifinal was 3 games longer (58 games) and just 3 points shorter (366 points) — but the actual playing time was about the same because Federer and Delpo play much faster between points than Nadal and Djokovic. [Hmmm, if Federer had taken an extra 70 to 90 minutes to rest during his match with delpo, he would not have been so tired against Murray in the Olympics final).

This time wasting by Nadal and Djokovic gives them an unfair advantage over other players. It needs to stop. Everybody should play according to the same set of rules.

alison Says:

Dave agree fair enough on the above post on the time ruling,on the stats thing your a very clever and knowledgeable man,and i dont want to start a war of words with you,but you tend to do it from a Federer fan perspective which must be great for his fans,and believe me i do admire and appreciate that dont get me wrong, but from a Rafa fan point of view both Jane and Brando have over the months done stats on Rafas achievements which as a fan are very welcome to me,even if they are inferior to Roger,ok they may or may not be better at stats than you,but i enjoy their stats,and i enjoy yours too,no harm or foul,im just saying thats all,JMO.

Brando Says:

Who gives a monkeys how long nadal or djokovic take between a point?

1- Fans: If it grates you then do not watch them play- simple stuff! At least it means that you wont go moaning and groaning about it!

2- Players: Men’s tennis is a men’s game: you have a problem, speak to the umpire about it. If not- you stay silent. So far no player- as far as i know- has caused a big fuss over this.

3- Umpires: If a player is taking too long between points then speak up about it- enforce the law. Simple stuff!


There is no point moaning and groaning about how long a player takes between a point- ultimately they all put the ball in to play!

And IF certain set of fans do not like rafa or nole for taking long between the points then as mentioned before: just do not watch them play- as their fans do not have a major problem with this!

However, IF they entertain the idea that due to such small aspects their fav usually get a whooping from one or both of these 2, then LMFAO: they really need to come up with a better fairy tale that explains the losses their fav incurs at the hands of rafole!



Brando Says:

P.S: forgot to mention:


Ben Pronin Says:

1) Djokovic tends to play to his opponent. When he plays against Federer, he usually doesn’t take as much time in between points as he does when he plays Nadal.

2) Del Potro does not play fast, either. Maybe against Federer, but he is one of the biggest violator of this rule, too. So, David, spare us.

Giles Says:

Brando. Great post!!

Ben Pronin Says:

Brando – “Who gives a monkeys how long nadal or djokovic take between a point?”

Honestly, during the Australian Open I didn’t even notice until everyone was mentioning it after the match. Like I said, Djokovic plays to his opponent so it’s not as noticable (to me) when both players take roughly the same time.

However, I do care big time because I ended up losing a whole night of sleep for this match. And to find out about an hour and a half could have been shaved if they took the allotted amount of time between points upset me quite a bit. I was obviously rooting for Djokovic to win but when Nadal lost his break in the fifth set I was forced to accept that the match was never actually going to end and I may have started crying (I don’t remember, I was extremely tired).

allcourt Says:

What bothers the anti-Nadalites more than anything is that they know that even if Nadal was forced to stop picking at his pants and taking time between points, he’d still beat their favorites like drums!

Tz Says:

what u r trying to say is not fully agreeable. Specially, the first point u made. According to ur first point, I should not watch rafa’s matches as i don’t like to watch time wasting. Alright. No big deal. But when he plays federer? Should I stop watching my fave’s game? Definitely not. And this is the time when I have to tolerate the time wasting. I feel it disturbing, i feel it unfair.

And then u try to convince people its a small aspect of the game. Well its not small when u use 15 extra seconds when u r serving on break points. These extra time can help u focus a bit more, reshape ur mindset, get a better serve. And I think u know that my fav had lost many matches to RA FO LE by slight margins. Few points of the match can change the outcome of a match as u have seen it at the WTF final. So, don’t ignore the small facts just because they offend ur fave

alison Says:

This thread was supposed to be about congratulating Rafa on his CC achievements this year,now its turned into a topic on time violations,and as much as i agree about Rafa and Nole,i was just wondering if we could save that for another day,sorry just saying.

Brando Says:


Sorry kid- I ain’t your mother, so I ain’t going to sing you a nice lullaby that can help you accept the FACT that when your fav steps on the court more often than not he ends up the loser against rafa.

In past 2 years, more often than not he also is the loser against nole.


IF you think what what happens in between points is why your fav gets beat by rafole, then go ahead accept that fairy tale if it helps you accept the reality of the matter!

But don’t be offended IF others feel that you are CLUTCHING AT STRAWS and struggling to accept the FACT that when your fav is on court and rafa or nole are on the other side of the net: it usually means BAD NEWS for your guy!

And it ain’t because of violation of a 25 second break rule- LMFAO!


Tz Says:

I am not saying that the time taken in between points is the only reason that fed gets beaten by rafole. What’s irritating is that one player is respecting the law of the game and playing by the rules. But the other one is not. Unfair. Nonetheless, I’ll stick to the point that taking more time while serving on big (read break) points helps a lot. U can ask people who research about human psychology about it, i’m pretty sure that they’ll agree with me.

Having rafole was never a bad news for fed. Fed even beats them at 31 years of age. Such a shame! The only bad news for fed is RAFA ON CLAY which I think is the worst news for anyone. Outside clay, fed goes toe to toe with rafa. Even gives demolition (6-3,6-0) at 30! Bad news, huh! And the losing record against novak (my 2nd fave) in the past two years doesn’t hurt a bit. 25 against 31. Fed still served him a fresh and healthy bagel at cincy and gave a fright night at the WTF finals. Bad news, bad news!

Tz Says:

Nice to see that i’m writing a bit longer posts!

Giles Says:

Tz. In other words there is no such thing as a perfect life. As Brando said “DEAL WITH IT”. No offence. #JustSaying

Brando Says:

@tz: like I said kid- whatever lullaby helps you to accept reality then sing it to yourself!

Tz Says:

Skipping the topic?? Ur wish

Giles Says:

Brando. In the meantime @Dave is running riot again on the Whodunit thread talking about his second favourite topic –
Rafa’s knees! #HeHasNothingBetterToDo

skeezer Says:


re : 2:19 post

uh..come again?

This has nothing to do with “moaning and groaning”, nor “Who gives a monkeys how long nadal or djokovic take between a point”. Its about rules, and abiding by them. Obviously, the players, and the ATP council felt the existing rule does not give the Umpires proper tools to enforce the 20-25 sec rule. Now, for fairness to all, lets hope they USE it and ENFORCE it.

Dave posted a factual example for all to see… needs to get fixed or throw it out and let them pick there arse, nose, wipe with a towel 5 times, sway and hold, then freeze, spit, shake, waffle, shudder, ball bounce, ball bounce, ball bounce, ball bounce, wipe again, shave, shower, come back, and…………………….serve.

If this keeps up pretty soon we will be having the players dancing gangnam style in between points.

Think about it, why have they changed the rule in the first place?

madridisto Says:

The court that the Madrid Masters 1000 is played on at the Caja Magica is NOT a clay court. It is a cement court with a layer of pounded clay (no matter what colour) on top of it and, being completely enclosed in a boxlike structure, it plays like an indoor cement court, which proved ideal, as did the higher altitude of Madrid, for players like Berdych and Federer who rely on their big serve and on hitting winners rather than being involved in rallies of more than three strokes. They did not ‘master’ the blue clay better than others; they merely took advantage of very un-claylike conditions that suited their natural game down to the ground.

volley Says:

there’s an article in the SBNation today. it’s all about the character of the top 3. Nadal gets a glowing review, Fed and Nole less so. very interesting piece.

Alok Says:

@Brando, “And IF certain set of fans do not like rafa or nole for taking long between the points then as mentioned before: just do not watch them play- as their fans do not have a major problem with this!”

That’s not for you to decide and dictate what other fans should or shouldn’t do. Regardless of how much you KEEP SHOUTING FROM THE HILLS to get your points across.


WE ALL KNOW (you shout about it repeatedly) that rafa-is-the-best in your eyes, but it does not mean that everyone should wear your rose clored glasses because you do. You take those off and PUT ON miscroscopic lens when it’s Fed and other players WHOM YOU DISLIKE AND LOVE TO criticize EFFUSIVELY, as you’ve done above and elsewhere. NEED I SAY MORE?

The time rule is there for a purpose in almost every sport for many reasons. One of the most important is TV time. Sponsors frown upon over-extended aired matches because they have to pay huge amounts of $$. Also, fans who want to watch their faves (aside from Nadal and Djoker), play have to suffer through those long matches, which can put off our schedules. What’s enjoyment for the fans of those two players, is quite different for us non-fans.

Hence, you stating who gives a ‘monkeys”, doesn’t quite cut it. Fans who are reasonable understand the need for shortened points and less time-wasting.

@alison, I’m in agreement with much of what you say sometimes. However, your references to posters who are anti-Nadal defining them as trolls IMO, is unnecessary. What’s wrong with others stating an unfavorable opionion? Isn’t this a forum? Good and not so nice comments should be entertained IMO, or else we’d be talking and answering ourselves for lack of participation by others. Yes? No?

Alok Says:

Nothing’s wrong with Dave’s comments, except that he’s not wearing rose-colored glasses to suit some who post here, saying what they want to hear. He has equal rights to space the same AS ALL OF US, thus why the nit-picking and poking of fun at him/ He’s a lot more pleasant than many.

@Brando, Fed fans are not suffering from sour grapes syndrome, as you have diagnosed. We leave that for those whose faves do not have 17 GS titles next to their names. That’s always been the problem with anti-Fed fans, because those *sour grapes* are firmly stuck in their throats thus causing huge trachea problems.

alison Says:

Alok yeah i see where your coming from,objective critisism i dont have a problem with,disliking a player i dont have a problem with either,your right its a tennis forum,and there would be nothing to talk about if we all agreed on everything,its when it turns to name calling of fellow posters,thats whats out of order IMO,ive had my fair share of people calling me names,and all because i dared to have a difference of opinion,or dared to support my favorite players,my level of intelligence was questioned,i was told i was as dull as the British weather etc etc.

Alok Says:

@alison, it’s all a matter of interpretation. If a poster is not referring to you personally, then what’s wrong with them expressing their likes and/or dislikes of some players? I don’t see the need to refer to anti-Nadal posters as trolls, because it’s about Nadal not you. I hope you can see the difference. And, you have the right to defend yourself, which you always do, IMO.

Anyway, enough said by me on this topic.

alison Says:

Alok if your a Rafa fan it does not automatically make you a Fed hater,or jealous about his GS many of us are more than happy in fact im delighted with Rafas lot,all we ask is that the guy gets credit for what he has achieved rather than what he hasnt,ive read some nasty comments about the guy this year,he was called a hopeless cripple who belongs in a wheelchair,which actually brought me to tears,as i am someone who works looking after hopeless cripples in wheelchairs,someone who would pimp his mother if he was given enough money,now thats not what i would call objective critisism,its downright nasty and spitefull,Rafas not perfect but doesnt deserve that,thats what i would call trolling,not objective for me there lies a big difference.

alison Says:

Alok fair enough,but these posters were refering to me personally though.

Alok Says:

@alison, 6:41pm, that’s stuff you’ve read on other forums not here. I’ve not seen anyone say such since I’ve been reading (21 months) ago and now posting. That said, why not just deal with what you see written here, which you always do, and leave that other stuff behind from where it came.

Have a nice evening.

alison Says:

Alok no its not stuff ive read on other forums,and i dont tell lies,2 different posters said it a few months ago,and when i mentioned it,i was told dont preach to me Rafa will get what he deserves because of posters like Mark and Mem because of what they say about Roger,and while i dont condone nasty comments about Roger,theres still no need for that.

skeezer Says:


That was a trash link. The first comment on the article in response says it all;

“incredibly selective set of evidence… and very biased “journalism”

Articles written here and even on TT are of better quality.

The article, if you call it that, goes to great lengths to show youtube clip-pets to try to back up there reasoning, but there is none ( reasoning ) . It’s very obvious bias….although it does not surprise me you would post this, you cannot hide your secret love.

volley Says:

sorry skeezer but if you hold Cronin and Bodo in high regard, it doesn’t say much about the standards you demand of journalism.

”you cannot hide your secret love”

huh? this isn’t high school. the player I support isn’t in this article.

the DA Says:

@ volley

Thanks for the link. Fascinating character study. While biased there is much truth in it. I think she goes a little overboard with Nole. He has changed in the last two years.

Dono Says:

That article reeks of poor journalism. There is nothing wrong with prefering one player over the other, but she goes overboard. Potraying nadal as an uber good guy while djokovic and esp. fed are according to here very bad. Dissapointing.

Brando Says:


‘f this keeps up pretty soon we will be having the players dancing gangnam style in between points.’

Well considering that the gangnam video has had over 800 million hits on you tube i think the ATP should encourage it if anything- good publicity, I say! lol!

‘Think about it, why have they changed the rule in the first place?’

Rules follow more rules- BUT what’s the point if their not enforced?

They don’t mean anything at all in that sense.

Let’s just see if they enforce or change anything.

Me personally, I just don’t see any umpire dare challenge a big player on this front out on the court. Rules or no rules- time will tell…………

Alok Says:

@alison, sorry you had to read such stuff, but look upon the bright side it doesn’t happen all of the time.

skeezer Says:

trust me “Cronin and Bodo” were/are wayyy better than that piece of biased crap.. AND they have journalist credentials in the sport. Look it up…you may not like there style, but they have Tennis experience ( Bodo especially ) in the sport that few can match….except Sean Randall of course ;)

Polo Says:

The author of the article said it right at the beginning: “…I settled long ago on a favorite player. For me, that player is Nadal…”

She was true to her word and proceded to heap praises on Nadal’s character based on her perception: every word of Nadal uttered was a word of wisdom; every action, a heroic and magnanimous deed.

She had to provide contrast. Therefore, every action and every word from Federer and Djokovic had the be the unsavory opposite.

It was biased just as she had hinted in the beginning. She did not pretend that her article would be an objective evaluation of the character of the three players. It is nothing more than an article from a Nadal fan. It is neither better nor worse than any I have read here in our blogs.

Alok Says:

It’s just a woman who is suffering from girlie crush and fantasies of her dream guy.

Brando Says:


Time to address my favorite punch bag. Opening a nice can of whoop ass, and now dealing with your loose change posts:

1- ‘just like elsewhere. Need I say more?’: Yes, please do tell. Do tell when this case of paranoia of yours first began, when you started to think that I post elsewhere other than TX. Or is that maybe you are so fond of my posts and credit other folks post to me? In that case, I am touched sweetheart, but there is no need for such puppy love from you! Save it for others more deserving, they could do with your delusional enthusiasm!

(I recommend someone like Sienna or maybe trufan- they have an appreciation for such a poster!)

2- ‘That’s always been the problem with anti-Fed fans, because those *sour grapes* are firmly stuck in their throats thus causing huge trachea problems.’:

Really? You sure about that Alok?

Sweetheart please: Context- a blog review regarding rafa’s dominance on clay this year. Reality- a clutch of fed fans moaning, groaning, talking about players and their behinds, and then moaning some more about the time penalty!

Great example to show the lack sour grapes that you so proudly profuse about it isn’t it?

The more I read your posts, i think they sound like utter nonsense and defensive gibberish from a fed fan who clearly has his set to a certain paradigm that blames all the ills of this world to a certain Rafael Nadal!

Why? Since his narrow mind cannot accept the simple fact that rafa – fair and square- has more often than not whooped his fav’s behind.

Deal with it honey- as more than likely there shall be more of the same on that front!


Considering your affection for my posts (i hope you have not gone to the length of making a fan club out of it, since I really would be embarrassingly flattered in that case) I shall return your fondness for my posts by now addressing you, from here forth, in a cherished manner.

Considering the poor quality of your posts, to me from now on:

It’s NO LONGER ALOK (oh no kind sir) it’s just BOLLOCKS- as that’s what i think of your posts!

So well done to you BOLLOCKS you have more than earned this recognition!


Brando Says:



Keep posting that stuff- it’s brilliant! :-)

skeezer Says:


Keep in mind that is was ALREADY a rule, its just that a few knew they could get away with it…..hopefully that will change and we can all enjoy more tennis and less “tics”

Brando Says:


I know it was a rule before, so this coming in doesn’t really make much a difference.

Onus is on the umpires, quite simply put: have they got what it takes to lay down the law?


The superstars (rafa, nole, delpo etc) their the one’s who have the power when on court.

It’s not right- for sure!

But it is what it is- and I don’t see anything changing that reality just because of some new rule.

I’ll ask you a question:

Deep in 5th set of slam final, BP in a rafa v nole match, one of them takes close to a minute rather than 25 seconds between a point- do you HONESTLY see the umpire calling a fault?

I don’t- not UNLESS he wants a racquet shoved up where the sun doesn’t shine from!

Alok Says:


@Alok:”Time to address my favorite punch bag. Opening a nice can of whoop ass, and now dealing with your loose change posts:”

You must be having delusions, or have forgotten to take your meds. FYI, I’m not your punchbag, nor, will you be able to deliver a can of whoop ass ON ME, because I don’t have discussions with you, nor will I stoop to your CHILDISH level on anything. You write fro attention. I don’t indulge in belittling others as you seem to enjoy, which is more to convince yourself that you are making a point, anything else.

FYI, out of respect for myself, something you don’t have for your being, I won’t get into your stupid, childish name calling, and patronizing comments, e.g., kid, sweetheart, etc. Grow up. Plz don’t call me sweetheart. I’m not one of your little girl-friends.

Feel free to SHOUT a little LOUDER in the HOPE you are being recognized. i understand you need the attenti

Trolls take many forms on forums, e.g., those who have to write the most and make an idiot of themselves, using CAPS and engaging in put-downs of others to feel superior.ENJOY.

Brando Says:


‘FYI, out of respect for myself, something you don’t have for your being, I won’t get into your stupid, childish name calling, and patronizing comments’

LOL, love how you did that Bollocks.

Starting with a holier than thou opener about being self respectful and then following it up with some judgmental comments.


Tell me Bollocks: At what stage in your paranoia of me posting on other website did you adopt this pompous, self righteous attitude?


Alok Says:

“Sweetheart please: Context- a blog review regarding rafa’s dominance on clay this year. Reality- a clutch of fed fans moaning, groaning, talking about players and their behinds, and then moaning some more about the time penalty!”

Why don’t you garnish or grow a set, since youre definitely of the BULLOCKS group, and address those who refer to the above. Don’t try to sneak it in, but go to the source, but I suppose you need a set of the lost BULLOCKS to do that? chicken?

FYI, I don’t watch Nadal’s behind, because “Frankly Scarlet, I don’t give a damn”. Got it B., viz Bullocks!!

Alok Says:

“Starting with a holier than thou opener about being self respectful and then following it up with some judgmental comments”

What judgmental comments? None needed, since you’ve freely indulged and affirmed what I’ve said, you’re childish.

That’s it for me with you. It’s very obvious you’re needful of a good dose of attention, but do yourself a favor, find another source because you won’t get it from me.

Brando Says:


‘“Frankly Scarlet, I don’t give a damn”’

LOL sweetheart, quoting film lines doesn’t add inches to your argument if you know what i mean!

Very foolish of you to think as such!

I tell you what:

Seeing as you have great, grandiose delusions about me- and judging by your consistency in responding to every and each post I address to you Bollocks- I would add affection for my posts, I’ll cut you a deal.

Here it is now Bollocks, so pay attention:

1- YOU: Keep on looking at the clock, seeing rafa do whatever he does in between a point- he may tuck his pants, so please don’t jizz in your pants Bollocks as that really would create a mess! You could have fun with that!

2- ME: I’ll just relax, enjoy the match and the unfolding of the next inevitable whooping rafa hands out to your fav!

And then post match, please do excuse me if I happen to laugh at the posters who say: ‘ It was due to the time violation I tell you’!

Foolish and idiotic things such as saying that can make one laugh quite a lot: I trust that you shall entertain me in this regard when the time comes, right Bollocks?

Please do, it would be so out of character if you don’t amuse me in such a manner, Bollocks!

skeezer Says:

“Deep in 5th set of slam final, BP in a rafa v nole match, one of them takes close to a minute rather than 25 seconds between a point- do you HONESTLY see the umpire calling a fault?”

No, not if is a first offense. A warning, then a penalty. That is fair.

Foot faults are handled the same way.

skeezer Says:

“Foot faults are handled the same way.’

a redo here. I was trying to compare “code violations”( foot faults are a “fault” ), and the procedure is;

Point penalty
Game Penalty

Sidney Says:

I tend to side with Brando on this seemingly never-ending tussle with Alok and Skeezer, unfortunately. His points seem more based on facts.

Regarding volley’s linked article, I stopped reading it at the point where the author claimed she’s a Nadal fan. I was thankful for the warning. I wasn’t going to let myself go through what she had to say. Too long of an article for me. And I was pretty sure she wouldn’t have very glowing views of Roger.

Alok Says:

Hey Sidney, what tussles are you talking about that I’ve had with Brando? Show me where.

Today, on this thread was due to her derogatory comments knocking Fed and his fans (something she constantly does) and on another thread due to her krass comments about Dave and Fed.

I think you should have facts before you speak of something that has never transpired..

Most anti-Fed fans are of the opinion that Fed will receive a good beating from nadal, but they should wait and see before jumping to such conclusions. Also, it should be considered that Nadal might not go deep enough, as in wimbledon, to even meet Fed. Thus, who will be laughing first?

Alok Says:

Hey Sidney, what tussles are you talking about that I’ve had with Brando? Show me where.

I should have added,… show me where other than today. You’re going to need to show me the proof.

the DA Says:



@ Brando

Now now, go easy on the angry ewok. She tends to get very discombobulated during these tussles. She is incapable of having a straightforward conversation of more than 2/3 posts before losing it.

skeezer Says:


“His points seem more based on facts.”

What “facts”?

Alok Says:

Stalker DA runs true to form, as expected.LOL.

Look up bulocks ands bollocks. Too bad you both don’t know the difference. LOL.

FYI, name calling is proof positive your friend lost her cool, as is often the case.

Alok Says:

meant to write bullocks not bulocks.

jane Says:

Well, personally I think gangnam style between points would be kind of cool, ha ha! :)

That article volley posted made me sad. :'( For me, it’s quite a downer in it’s depiction of Nole.

Tennis Guy Says:

The thing with nadal is that he is willing to break rules to WIN. Such kind of a I will do anything to win attitude means, there is good reason to suspect him of doping and other illegal stuff. I am sure that is fine with all nadal’s fans, just like armstrong’s fans.

Most of the world in general doesn’t like people who try to break rules to achieve their goals.

Tz Says:

“FYI, name calling is proof positive your friend lost her cool, as is often the case”
So true, Alok!

alison Says:

Brando no offence i know your a diehard Rafa fan,but a tennis fan 1st and foremost,your usually very respectfull of other players Fed,Nole,Andy etc,as well as other posters,and ive always found you to be one of the fairest posters on this forum,dont get me wrong im not saying you have to agree with everyone,or like what everyone says,your always very polite and debate with a tongue in cheek style SOH,but i have to say these comments are most unlike you,completely out of character.

alison Says:

Jane it wasnt a glowing report about Roger either,it was completely Rafa biased,lets just say all the players have their faults,but on the other hand all are great champions,we should just remember that.

Brando Says:



Brando Says:

@the DA:

‘Now now, go easy on the angry ewok. She tends to get very discombobulated during these tussles. She is incapable of having a straightforward conversation of more than 2/3 posts before losing it.’

LMAO- ain’t that the truth!

Bullocks is precious, so i am treating her with the appropriate care and attention: which means none at all! :-)

Brando Says:


‘Well, personally I think gangnam style between points would be kind of cool, ha ha! :)’

If nole’s audtion in the China open was anything to go by, I’m all for it as a nice reliever after a tough, brutal point!

You know the type of point i am on about: between 2 amazing base liner’s, where a certain winner is not one due to some amazing defense which demands an even better shot for it to be a winner, usually in ensuing in a lot of awe moments during the often pulsating rally.

Some dislike it, but who cares about them as the overwhelming majority love it- i know you don’t mind these rallies, right Jane? :-)

Brando Says:


‘but i have to say these comments are most unlike you,completely out of character.’

They are indeed. In fact it’s the first time I have had to do this- such was the demand for it from the other side.

Dear Alison, your a treat of a poster and one that I am fond of. So seeing as those posts seem to offend you in some way, shape or form- i’ll refrain from blogging them from here forth- regardless of the request’s for them from the, shall we say, ‘need to be pleased as such’ side!

I was enjoying it to be honest with you, but for you i’ll let this bit of fun come to an end, at least from my side! :-)

alison Says:

Brando ok fair enough and thanks for the sweet words,i do enjoy your posts too,probably not so much during the last day,but your always fair,honest and balanced,and i have to say its rare to see you cross swords with many posters still nobodys perfect,i wasnt actually offended though,i just found it strange coming from you,please keep blogging,i know you will anyway, Rafa fans need you.

Brando Says:


‘please keep blogging,i know you will anyway, Rafa fans need you.’

WHAT? I was under the impression that rafa and his fans were the most adored on Tennis- X.

Is that not true?

I was under the impression that IF popularity was measure by the frequency in post’s referring to a certain player then rafa is the clear fav of Tennis-X: much adored and loved.

I mean the posts of sienna, trufan, Tz etc relating to rafa read like love letter’s written by admirer of the man- NOT intelligent critique of his game.

Does it not?

Oh well, since you ask Alison, i’ll stick around. I doubt rafa fans need me here though, I am sure he gets PLENTY of love from his more CLOSET ADMIRERS- we all know who they are! :-)

alison Says:

Brando lol.

Giles Says:

Brando. Rafa fans need you so please don’t desert us. As for your recent comments I must say I thoroughly enjoyed them. @ Alison. Don’t be a prude. Bollocks, bullocks – these words are used quite frequently!

gabsvamos Says:

I used to enjoy the comment pages on tennis-x sometimes more than the articles but today is the last straw for me. This thread is a volley of barrages between a few, somewhat immature posters who have far too long ago stopped discussing the article above and moved onto their own petty grievances with each other. I shall leave you all to get on with it and stay far away from this site.

jane Says:

Brando, Nole/Rafa matches have been thrilling since at least 2008, imo. They push each other hard, and as a result they’ll likely evolve once again.

alison, yeah, true.

Ben Pronin Says:

Completely agree with gabsvamos. Not trying to toot my own horn or anything but there’s a lot to be said about what Nadal did this year (positive stuff, I mean). I don’t understand how many times people need to voice their opinion on the time violation rules. You like it or you dislike it. Move on. This has become a serious epidemic on this site where every single comment page turns into the dumbest argument possible. And it’s pretty clear a lot of the best commentators have left (out of obvious annoyance).

Brando Says:


No worries, i’ll stick around- there’s too much fun here to say goodbye to! :-)

Tz Says:

And I apologize for bringing up the time violation thing here on this thread. Apologies to rafa. Apologies to brando. Apologies to all.

Actually i shouldn’t be on this blog since I’m not actually a true tennis fan. I like many sports but I’ve never played this game. I play badminton, but I never played tennis physically. All I have played is the pc version of the video game “VIRTUA TENNIS 2009” lol. So, my opinions aren’t worth anything here

i’d like to tell that i watched a tennis match for the first time in my life at the australian open 08 semifinals (on tv, not live). I kind of liked it. Then watched wimby final 08. I was getting into the game. Became a fan of federer. Started to love watching his game. Then became a regular tennis watcher. Started to understand the game gradually. Started to dream that maybe one day i will play this wonderful game, but I still haven’t played one single match as a tennis court is barely available in the region I live in. I’m almost 17 and I hope that maybe one day I’ll get the chance to play this amazing game. Then may be I will get some experience and then i might be able to post something with INTELLIGENT CRITIC. Thanks for reading this worthless post

Brando Says:


Very true.

I have long believed that nole’s dominance or should i say emergence as a serious force to be reckoned with shall be a good thing in the long haul for rafa.

Rafa, from the very start, is someone who loves competition, needs a benchmark to measure himself with, a target to pursue.

Nole provides him with all of those things.

He’s replaced federer as a measuring stick for rafa to see where his game is at and what he has to improve.

Despite the hurtful losses to nole, I always believed that they shall do nothing other than push rafa to further improve his game as opposed to stagnate- and certainly his performance this year, prior to injury, did show that he was changing for the better.

Rafa was being more aggressive, at least v nole, than before IMO. He was going for shots that in the past he may not have gone for.

For example, he was going for the FH DTL way more than i remember him doing so in the past.

He know’s he has to be more aggressive and I believe he is intent on being so. This, IMO, shall make him a better player and certainly for me has made him more enjoyable to watch.

His evolution as a player is still a fascinating aspect of his game IMO.

Nole can certainly be credited with this- as we all know: rafa just is not the type of guy to back away from a challenge no matter how tough or difficult!

Brando Says:

‘I don’t understand how many times people need to voice their opinion on the time violation rules. You like it or you dislike it. Move on. ‘

Brilliantly put!

Naysayer’s: TAKE NOTE!

Brando Says:


‘Apologies to brando.’

No need to apologies to me, since you haven’t done anything wrong as far as I am concerned.

Your post – to me- seemed a genuine and honest one: and such posts are NEVER worthless!

Look it’s human nature to not agree on every single thing- and it’s especially easy to disagree when it comes to tennis and talking about issues such as time violation.

So don’t take anything personally here just see it as fact of life: from time to time people may passionately disagree on things.

skeezer Says:


Your article in the “year in review” IMO should have had the new rule. It was an important issue that happened this year. In fact, it was posted on this thread by a Rafa supporter, if you want to point to a bickering start. These threads, for better or worse, grow into a lofe of there own at times. The new change goes in to effect in a month. It is an important subject matter, and fans have a right ro debate it. I agree it got very petty here, but that is not abnormal for Tennis X is it? you can always bring it up with the moderators.
Here is what the ATP said,

“There’s been a lot of discussion about the amount of time taken between points,” said ATP Executive Chairman and President Brad Drewett. “We believe this modification will give officials a useful tool and allow for more consistent enforcement of the current time violation rule.”

“….a lot of discussion”. Don’t tell me they are not concerned with the delay of game issue,” You yourself said you struggled as a fan watching the AO final.

IMO fans need to speak out publicly about it. If this isn’t the place, then where?

nadalista Says:


Well said!

Alok Says:

@Brando, I don’t appreciate you calling or referring to me Bollocks, and I’d like it stopped. I could offer up a few nice names for you, but I won’t sink to your low level. FYI, I’m a guy not a woman, and have stated such many times.

Your name-calling is inexcusable, and uncalled-for, but is re-inforced by some who clearly hate Fed, and Fed fans, which has given you the greenlight to offer up more nasty comments. It’s sick..

It appears that you feel you can intimidate others into keeping their mouths shut by shouting and ridiculing them. It’s too bad you don’t have the tools to handle a discussion in a better manner.

Alok Says:

@Ben: Why are you ridiculing the mention of the time rule? Didn’t you also state your disapproval of the time taken by some players between points? So, why the sudden turn-around? See, November 28th, 2012 at 2:57 pm

No one did anything wrong. I came in at the tail-end and got the nastiest tongue-lashing because I defended the sour grapes and other nasty comments from the Nadal fan, who was having an immature tirade going at Tz and others. I suppose you approve of it?

I’m sorry I messed up your thread as you were looking for the better commentators to participate, and little me is just inconsequential, since I’ve only been here a few months and don’t know much about tennis. I had had my fill of reading the tongue-lashing being handed out by shouting the Nadal fan, and felt I should say something. Little did I realize that you were looking for the better commentators to participate.

I’ll make you very happy by keeping off your article threads in the future. My apologies.

alison Says:

As people already know i dont condone everything Rafa says or does and i say that as a fan,he aint no angel by a long chalk,and to be fair this is the place to discuss it,but it should have been done on another thread at another time,people have made their points on the issue anyway,it was supposed to have been a thread for Rafa fans to come and congratulate Rafa on his achievements this year on clay,even if it is only clay,and just to say where are the posts congratulating Rafa for his achievements on clay?i was really looking forward to reading this thread,i mentioned this yesterday at 3.30pm,and my post fell on deaf ears,a dissapointing thread indeed rather pointless,will be glad to see it closed (sigh).

alison Says:

BTW congratulations to Rafa on cleaning up on clay once again this year,your record on this surface is fantastic,im looking forward to more of the same in the next year,and dare i say other surfaces too possibly?looking forward to seeing what your fellow players can come up with to challenge him on his favorite surface,looking forward to having him back playing vamos Rafa.

skeezer Says:


Yes, Congrats to Rafa on another stellar year on Clay. From all reports, he should be back next year in full force! Hope Unc Toni chooses his schedule better for his health, and that he stops playing doubs…..I mean why?

juljo724 Says:

skeezer wrote:
“IMO fans need to speak out publicly about it. If this isn’t the place, then where?”

How about asking the writers here to post an article about the time violations? An original thought if ever one.

If a blog was about fed’s accomplishments of a year, and most of the posts were from non-fed fans concentrating on what he did wrong, you can rest assured those posters would catch heck for that and posts full of stats would be repeated as nauseaum. Proves once again as I have said all along, this is clearly a fed-biased site.

alison Says:

Thanks Skeezer i agree with you on the doubles too,yeah why? as a fan i would love for him to lighten the load conciderably and concentrate on quality rather than quantity,take a leaf out of Rogers book,who has the shedual spot on,and reaches his peak for the majors,we will see,he needs to ease up to try to protect those knees,as long as next year is like 2010,meaning injury free is all i wish for.

Brando Says:


great 12.55 post. It’s unfortunate indeed re discussing time violation on a thread that was meant to celebrate a player’s achievement’s.

Brando Says:


Appreciate the kudos re rafa. Also valid point about doubles, I agree it’s pointless for rafa at this stage in his career to engage in.

Re Time violation: I don’t doubt the validity of the points you make regarding this, as a matter of fact i agree with all of them in the main, but honestly:

Tennis X should set up a different blog for that topic. I agree it’s a possible major new change in force, but it’s a bit out of place on this thread IMO.

Either way: what’s done is done, it’s all cool!

alison Says:

Thanks Brando to coin a phrase,im totally pissed off with this thread now,and will be glad to see it close,hardly any posts on Rafas CC achievements,only talk about time violations.

Brando Says:


Mmmmm….. I could, and quite easily so, just really tear to pieces some of your let’s be polite and say ‘observations’ in your 12.40 post.

However I am not going to, as I have promised Alison to take it easy on the more shall we say ‘fiery posts’.

So i’ll stop calling you Bollocks from here forth- and I suggest that you be wise and choose not to initiate another round of exchanges between ourselves- as by now it should be crystal clear to you how that ends.

Take the advice, it’s for your good.

Brando Says:


LOL, me too! I am a bit pissed off myself about this – BUT to be fair to others, this kind of thing happens virtually all the time.

Anytime there is a thread on non-active matches, let’s say roger does a commercial or novak does a charity fucntion or muzza gets a haircut- it just quickly tailspins into a back and forth exchange on a non-relevant matter on that thread.

This is the life us bloggers have to accept and get used to, unfortunately! :-(

Polo Says:

If anybody is at fault in this time violation brouhaha, it is the officiating that should be blamed. Don’t blame the players. They will do what they want to win if allowed to. If the umpires promulgate the rules, none of these arguments here would have happened.

Giles Says:

I don’t know why some posters are criticising the fact that Rafa plays doubles sometimes. For example he played and won Doha this year (?) with Marc Lopez who is a close friend and who he wanted to help out. On other occasions I am sure he plays, if only to get used to the surface. And last but not least where else would he be able to practice his volleying skills? Also doubles is hardly as strenuous as singles! #HeEnjoysDoubles

alison Says:

Giles you have a point,but for me i want for him to do better in singles,maybe add more GS somewhere other than clay,and im just worried that through playing doubles he may suffer from burnout,he needs to ease up on the amount he plays IMO.

juljo724 Says:

Giles,so true. Rafa has also said that it helps him more with his serve and is not as stressful.

skeezer Says:

Doubles ?

just more unnecessary use of his chronic knees. If u don’t get that, whatever’s.

alison Says:

Skeezer yeah cant disagree.

Giles Says:

Rafa puts more effort into one practice session than a complete doubles tourney!! So maybe he should stop practising as well???? #BadForKnees

alison Says:

Giles/Skeezer i dont know the answer TBH,whichever way you cut the only thing we all want is whatever is best for him and his knees,whatever that may be.

skeezer Says:

“…he should stop practising as well????”


In a weeks tourney, Rafa is already practicing in between matches. I’ve seen him in person do this. He works out hard on the court( Nole does this also ). Its a fact he has chronic knee issues and his camp has publicly said they are pulling back his scheduling next year. Do you think it is also neccesarry helpful for his knees during that week he plays mutiple doubles matches also? just sayin

Giles Says:

@skeezer. In view of what has transpired in the last 5 months re: the state of Rafa’s knees he will probably not play any doubles tourneys in 2013. Let’s wait and see.

Tennis Guy Says:

The thing with nadal is that he is willing to break rules to WIN. Such kind of a I will do anything to win attitude means, there is good reason to suspect him of doping and other illegal stuff. I am sure that is fine with all nadal’s fans, just like armstrong’s fans.

Most of the world in general doesn’t like people who try to break rules to achieve their goals.

The thing with Rafa is, he is disliked by a lot of people [possibly the most disliked of the top4]. Even in his own country, I am not sure the Madrid guys are happy with him. He has whined against them for ages. There was a davis cup match that rafa was not happy with. [This is a guy who never plays davis cup outside europe]. He has OCD and he likes to control people too much. If this guy had to play in the 90s with the fast surfaces, he would have been whining like all those clay courters bruguera, muster!

Ben Pronin Says:

“Most of the world in general doesn’t like people who try to break rules to achieve their goals.”

And yet most of the world is run by people who break the rules to achieve their goals…

Tennis Guy Says:

Another thing to add :

Very ironic that for a guy so controlling, he seems to hardly do anything with his own head. Toni is all over his life! Maybe that is where Rafa learnt to try and control other people.

Guess what? Other people actually have REAL personalities and are not willing to be puppets in someone’s hands!

Alok : I see that the hyenas are trying to drive away another Federer fan from this board. I hope Ben/Sean moderate you like they keep doing to most Federer/djokovic fans. I will give you a hint : “Follow the cunning one” – that is how you survive around here.

Most federer fans know who the cunning one is! I am sure all others do too.

sienna Says:

In dutch press rafa explained that he took and will take his time to stay with friends and family . that was his main reason not to play all these months .

Ofcourse his main reason was infact fear of losing.

after the Rosol echec he and T totally freaked out and got scared he could be pummeld all summer. Hence the time off till after the season .

Tennis Guy Says:

That’s the best you could come up with, Ben? Surely you can defend rafa better?

Tennis Guy Says:

Let me also add :

Rafa is the king of clay. No denying that. That doesn’t mean he should not be criticised for the stupid things he does and unless you are totally punch-drunk on rafa kool-aid, you can clearly see why this guy gets flogged a lot of times by players and spectators alike.

Think about this : Has a guy who dominated a grand slam been booed at the same venue he owns? [I can only think of Rafa and Roland Garros]

Tennis Guy Says:

To wind up my argument :

Rafa needs to take major flak for this time violation thing that has become an epidemic in ATP.

Think about Federer and Sampras generations or the Awesome Aussies of old : Can you mention anyone who cuts so many corners? [time violations, MTO abuse, on-court coaching, perennially looking at their box like they are babies in diapers [safin used to do, but it was not because he was looking for help, he was just a lovable whacko]

Rafa, did not uphold these Sportsmanship rules. He should take majority blame for the gamesmanship in tennis right now. Unfortunately younger guys like djokovic/murray/delpo have taken that route. but look at them behave themselves when they play Federer [ they keep the playing pace at a tolerable level and more importantly within rules, atleast they try.]

I hope the ATP comes down hard on such constant rule-breakers like rafa. Ultimately it is not about winning[ Most top guys enjoy a good share of winning]. It is about how you play! That is what separates humans from animals. A sense of fairness and justice.

If you think you can allow people to bend rules, I don’t see how different from Armstrong fans who argue that the guy is a saint and he has done the same thing others do.

alison Says:

Yet another thread has been turned into a warzone,just wondering whatever happened to people talking tennis?instead of trading personal insults,all getting rather personal,i used to love posting on this site not anymore,i think im calling it a day,its only a game after all,whatever happened to the days when people used to have a laugh and a joke,and respected each others opinions?so sad the way this forums gone just lately.

Tennis Guy Says:

Ofcourse Alison, It is all fun and frolic when brando, giles and others gang-up against fed fans like Alok and Dave, but should fed fans say anything reasonably bad about rafa, it is a warzone?

Get real!

Unfortunately, given Fed’s huge fan base, it is Fed against the rest. what were the numbers on the fan favorite award? Fed won 40% vote? anyone have the numbers?

You call Fed names, be ready to take it when others spot obvious fallacies in rafa!

Alok Says:

@Tennis Guy, thanks. I couldn’t have said it better.

Dave Says:

Pronin: “For some odd reason, a lot of people seemed to believe that in order for Rafael Nadal to be considered the best clay court player of all time he’d need to break Bjorn Borg’s record six French Open titles. I believe Nadal was already the best once he won his fourth.”

For some odder reason, a few people seem to believe that Nadal was the greatest clay court player of all time when he won his fourth French Open title in 2008. Given the context of Nadal’s success on red clay, prematurely anointing Nadal the best clay court player of all time — based on his clay results up to 2008 — insults other great clay court players. And it is ignorant of tennis history.

By 2008 Nadal had won 22 red clay titles. In the open era alone, six players had more clay titles than Nadal — Nastase (24), Orantes (28), Lendl (28), Borg (30), Muster (40), Vilas (45) – and we haven’t even counted the several players with more than 22 clay titles from the pre-open clay era between 1891 to April 1968 (both amateur and pro tournaments).

“Best of all time” does not start with the open era (Borg, Nadal, etc.). It starts with the pre-open era of clay events since the 1890s (e.g., French, Hamburg, Monte Carlo). So, let’s not forget Max DeCugis and his eight French championships, two Hamburg titles, one Monte Carlo title, etc. But let’s also not forget Ken Rosewall, who was considered the world’s best clay court player from 1958 to 1968. Rosewall probably would have won eight to ten French majors had he (a) not skipped the French championships in 1955 and 1956; (b) not been banned from playing the French major between 1957 and 1967 while he was a pro in the pre-open era (during which he won eight French Pro majors against the world’s best players, four of which were played on clay at Roland Garros); and (c) not skipped the French Open after 1969 (he could have beaten the French champions in 1970, 1971 and 1972 Kodes and Gimeono). Rosewall won about 40 clay titles between ages 18 and 40, including the 1953 French at age 18 and 1968 French at age 33. Link shows Rosewall won two clay titles at age 40 in 1975:

Nadal has benefitted from the decrease of competent clay courters over the past decade due to (a) the reduction in clay court events over the past dozen years (22 clay events this year) and (b) the loss of clay court specialists who have become all-surface players due to the homogenization of grass and hardcourt surfaces that have become slower and bouncier over the last ten years (the consequence is that they have become less potent on clay).

In the decades before 2000, there were more clay court specialists to challenge the best clay courters. Borg’s era had 33 to 40 clay events per year between 1975 to 1981. There were clay events throughout the year. Consequently there was a wider pool of competent clay court players: Guillermo Vilas, Ilie Nastase, Ivan Lendl, Manuel Orantes, Adriano Panatta, Harold Solomon, Vitas Gerulaitis, Jan Kodes, Eddie Dibbs, Tom Okker, José Luis Clerc, Hans Gildemeister, Jose Higueras, Raul Ramírez, Wojtek Fibak, Brian Gottfried, Víctor Pecci, Yannick Noah, Dick Stockton, Corrado Barazzutti, Jaime Fillol, Jimmy Connors, Ken Rosewall, Rod Laver, etc. For example, Illie Nastase’s 1973 clay results remain superior to Nadal’s best clay seasons; Guillermo Vilas won 45 clay titles; etc. Yet Borg lost the French Open only to only one player (Adriano Panatta, who went on to win the 1976 title). Nadal was lucky injuries kept him from playing the 2003 and 2004 French Opens, which he probably would have lost.

Nadal also benefited from the homogenization of red clay surfaces in the bigger clay events (the same red clay court construction techniques are being used in more clay events). Indeed, 78% of Nadal’s clay titles came on essentially the same type of red clay court: Monte Carlo (8), Barcelona (7), Rome (6) and French Open (7). After 2005, Nadal won only 3 clay titles outside of this cluster of four fundamental red events in Nadal’s schedule (2007 Stuttgart, 2008 Hamburg, 2010 Madrid). In other words, Nadal’s formula for winning was simple: he developed his game to win on a similar type of red clay court.

Thus Nadal’s petulant protests against the blue clay of Madrid were not surprising – blue clay was outside the rigid ‘formula’ he was programmed to win on. Nor was it surprising that Nadal has always struggled on Hamburg’s slower clay: in 2003 Rafa was booted out of the Hamburg R16 in 59 minutes by Gaston Gaudio and Nadal skipped the next three years (2004 to 2006); in 2007 and 2008 Nadale dropped sets in four matches (to Federer twice, Hewitt and Djokovic); in 2008 Hamburg final, after being down 1-5 in the first set to Federer, Nadal resorted to a familiar tactic – the famous Nadal medical timeout (this time for a 6 minute thigh massage). Nor is it surprising that Nadal has struggled to win Madrid on clay (Nadal has only one Madrid clay title compared to Federer’s two Madrid clay titles).

The past greats must have been laughing at the whining of Nadal and Djokovic over blue clay. Borg achieved his clay success on far more varied clay conditions than Nadal did. During Borg’s time, the red clay surfaces in European tournaments were different in construction, composition, grain size, speed, bounce than today’s more homogenous red clay. Borg also won titles on Har Tru clay in USA: he won three consecutive titles at Boston which was considered one of the most prestigious ‘Masters level’ events on the Grand Prix circuit i the 1970s (because Boston was the U.S. Pro Tennis Championship, which was one of the three pro majors from the pre-open era).

Since 2007 Nadal has benefited from first round byes and removal of best-of-five set finals in all ATP events outside the Grand Slams. Imagine if tournament conditions were not made easier for Nadal: how successful would Nadal have been if he had to keep playing an extra match in the first round as well as best of five set final in Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid/Hamburg, Rome and French Open? Despite the easier conditions after 2006, Nadal’s knees supposedly broke down during the 2007, 2009 and 2012 clay seasons! So had tournaments not become easier, Nadal’s injuries might have affected his clay success. On the other hand, Borg won 80% of all his clay titles (and 100% of his big clay titles) in best-of-five-set finals. Borg also won 97% of all his clay titles (and 100% of his big clay titles) without a bye in the first round (i.e., he had to play the first round). If Borg had the easier tournament conditions that Nadal enjoys, Bjorn probably would have been even more successful on clay.

After 2005, Nadal’s two month ATP clay season started with Monte Carlo and finished with the French Open (in 2007, he played Stuttgart after Wimbledon). Borg played more clay events outside Nadal’s ‘clay season’ (i.e., throughout the year) as well as more non-clay matches on highly varied surfaces (e.g., Borg won 23 indoor carpet / hardcourt titles) — so he inevitably had to adapt to more surface changes than Nadal does playing in more homogenized conditions (where hardcourts like Miami/IW and grasscourts like Wimbledon play almost as slow as clay courts)

Nadal arguably resorts to gamesmanship to win some of his clay matches. We know how slow Nadal plays between his service points, particularly when he is under pressure (the dubious view that umpires should control time violations is as silly as saying police are responsible for controlling murders, robberies and rapes not the violators who commit these crimes — as top ATP professionals, players like Nadal and Djokovic have a responsibility to comply with the rules of the game, not bend the rules to see how far they can get away with it — duh). Furthermore, Nadal has resorted to medical timeouts at dubious times during matches when he is under pressure. For example, at 2006 Monte Carlo final, Federer tied the match by winning the second set and then opened the third set by immediately breaking Nadal’s service game. What did Nadal do? Immediately take a timeout before Federer’s service game. The ploy worked, and Federer lost his serve to even the third set 1-1, eventually win the match. Borg and Rosewall never stooped to such gamesmanship to win matches. Honor and sportsmanship were much more important to players such as Borg, Rosewall and Federer.

So once we start looking at the big picture and at history, it’s clear that Nadal’s clay career up to 2008 does not justify proclaiming him the best clay courter ever.

Regardless, I’ve said before that Nadal’s seventh French Open qualifies him to be considered the greatest clay courter of all time — with some caveats.

alison Says:

Tennis Guy i dont and never have condoned any fans taking an unessassary pop at Roger,and i never blamed the Fed fans,as the two sets of fans are as bad as each other,this thread was supposed to have been about Rafas CC credentials,which granted its only clay,and its not as important to you as your not a fan,but as usual the two sets of fans turned it into a Fedal battle field about time violations,which could have been saved for another day,some fans really spoil this forum sometimes again both sets of fans not singling one set out,would sometimes be nice if people would just stick to the topic in question,i was looking forward to reading the posts on this thread,but its been spoilt by the usual bickering,would be nice if people just realized its only a game,thats all im saying.

alison Says:

Alok im sorry if i offended you with anything i have said,i dont set out to offend anyone,the only thing i have ever wanted to do is come here to talk tennis,i am just dissapointed with the way this thread went,not to mention this forum just lately,it may as well have been called a time violation thread pointless,time was when people used to come here to talk tennis,those days seem to be gone.

alison Says:

Dave regardless ive said before that Nadals seventh French Open qualifies him to be considered the greatest clay courter of all time-with some caveats,thanks Dave probably about the closest thing Rafa fans will get to a compliment from you,but im sure we will take it those stats dont lie,no offence and thanks again.

Giles Says:

@Tennis Guy. Your moniker says it all – yeah some guy from owners blowing hot air. No amount of hate you spew will deter the Rafa fans from their continued love, support and admiration for the Great Rafael Nadal as a person and a player. He is the best thing that happened to tennis and the worst thing that happened to Fed and his classless fans. With regard to French crowd booing him, I thought that was obvious. He is not French. The boo most of the non-French players especially if they are facing one of their own. Take Andy Murray as an example, as soon as he stepped onto court there they were booing. They have tried changing balls and such like in their feeble attempts at making life as difficult as possible for Rafa to win the FO but to no avail. @Dave. You continue to try to impress the Fed fans with your dressed up BS. Alas they rely on you so please don’t disappoint them. #VamosRafa

Giles Says:

^ not owners, nowhere

alison Says:

Tennis fan im not saying Rafa and his fans are perfect by a long chalk,but sometimes it can be a thread about Roger and his achievements,and the Fed fans certain ones anyway can be the 1st ones to bring Rafa into a discussion,start trash talking and another war of words starts between the two sets of fans,not always but sometimes,sorry just saying.

alison Says:

^Sorry post to Tennis Guy not tennis fan^.

skeezer Says:

“They have tried changing balls and such like in their feeble attempts at making life as difficult as possible for Rafa to win the FO but to no avail”


Giles Says:

^^^^ Forgot to add Uh?

Giles Says:

^^^^ And that is why it took Rafa 5 sets to beat Isner!!

skeezer Says:


That was Novak complaining, not Rafael Nadal, who is sponsored by Babolot.

Giles Says:

^^^^ Did you expect Rafa to complain publicly in view of Babolat being his sponsors?? Oh come on!

skeezer Says:

Here is your “isner” answer, note Rafa says the balls were better for him

To add, Isner beat Fed on Clay in DC, so yeah he’s no slouch on the stuff.

Ben Pronin Says:

Considering Nadal has only ever lost one 5 set match on clay, I don’t see how the switch to this format has really helped him. If anything, it’s hurt him. It’s easier for an opponent to stay hot over 2 sets than it is 3.

As for the surfaces being the same, I also don’t see how that helps Nadal. It’s the same for everyone. Federer, Djokovic, Ferrer, Monaco, Montanes, Ferrero, etc. Maybe it’s helped Nadal maintain his dominance, but it’s not like everyone else has an excuse to not be used to the surface. That’s part of what makes Nadal the best. And it’s utter dominance on the surface.

Since it’s arguable that he resorts to gamesmanship, I’m not going to consider it relevant. The matches have already been played, and won, so it doesn’t matter anymore.

But overall I don’t entirely disagree. Yes there were more specialists before and a lot more surface variety, but again I don’t see why that’s a knock against Nadal. It’s the same for everyone. But yeah his whining was laughable.

Also, despite whatever the factors, he is basically the sole reason Federer will be overlooked as one of the greats on clay. If not for Nadal, Federer would have 4-6 French Open titles of his own. Even without those, I put him in the top 5 all-time on clay. Despite only having a few titles on the surface. His consistency was only outmatched by Nadal’s.

And finally, I don’t care about the pre-Open era. Sure there were some greats but it’s not that impressive to win 8 French Opens when, as the defending champion, you only have to play the final. No one denies that the depth of the game today is far greater than ever before.

Sienna Says:

Nadal can never be considered greatest claycourt player.
There can be only 1 greatest of all time and today his name is called Roger Federer.

Tennis happens to be played at different surfaces but still there can be 1 GOAT. GOAT is not supposed to dominate all players on every surface.
Fed;s play and performances give him the title by a large enough margin to be considered goat by 99.8% of all people who ever in their live have heard about the sport of tennis.

He is GOAT on HC, Clay, Grass indoor outdoor. That title doesnt change hands by which tournment is played.

skeezer Says:


Roger is NOT The GOAT on Clay. Wtf?

alison Says:

Well said Skeezer thankyou.

Giles Says:

Sienna. Whatever turns you on!!! I know for a fact that Rafa does! #DreamOnBaby

alison Says:

Not to discredit Roger and all his achievements,which are fantastic and hes the greatest ever blah blah blah,but the CC records are for Rafa and Rafas fans to enjoy,the argument is like teflon,im afraid this is one argument that will not stick,whichever way you look at it,Rafa is better on clay than the current field including Fed,and its as simple as that,sorry sensible Fed fans no disrespect.

Wog boy Says:

I told you before, that weed that they serve in Amsterdam coffee shops with coffee is far to strong and it is scientifically proven that causes brain damage after prolonged use …

alison Says:

Wogboy only smoked it once,and i have to say it never did anything for me,yet my sig other said i had a smile across my face so wide,that it looked like id swallowed a banana sideways,never did again,never saw the appeal.

Brando Says:


Err, I’m only guessing here but: is it medication time by any chance?

jane Says:

ha ha, funny string of posts here! :)

courbon Says:

@dave-Dave, you can not compare the eras.If Roswell played.or was banned…if this, if that…If Borg was living in Majorca (like a Nadal) he would not win any tile because he would enjoy sun, beach and Mojitos.But coming from Sweden, what else to do, then some kind of sport (with all that cold…)…

courbon Says:

@Allison-common, you sound like a Clinton.’I only smoked once’…you are among friend here.You can tells us if you have a spliff…

courbon Says:

@Alliso-typing mistake-‘come on’ not ‘common’.

alison Says:

Hi Courbon lol,no honestly speaking,had a splif only once,and i couldnt stop coughing,and as i sat there i said this is doing nothing for me,even though my husband said yeah but you look like youve swallowed a banana sideways,and i kept on calling everybody man.

alison Says:

Jane great isnt it,just love it when its like this Nole maybe the funniest player on tour,but he has the best fans too,a nice change from yesterday,i was concidering calling it a day,but thanks to these more lighthearted comments,i have now had a change of heart.

Alok Says:

@alison: “Jane great isnt it,just love it when its like this”

Ok, it’s how you like it to be, but how does it relate to the thread’s topic? Is smoking weed and poking fun at another poster pertinent to Nadal’s clay prowess? I’m sorry but I don’t get it. In other words it’s OK if some stray from the topic, but it’s not OK for others to do so? I’m puzzled.

jane Says:

alison, well, while there’s no tennis, it can’t hurt to have some light-hearted banter methinks. Besides which, “a banana sideways” is a hilarious simile. Still chuckling. :)

courbon Says:

Ok.I’ll belive you…regarding the tread?Ufff…yes, Rafa is doping- time violator that is crap on clay.I’m so tired of this ever-forever story,that Nadal is crap bla, bla, bla…Anyway, I’m coming to Uk (London ) after Christmas which I’m looking foward-I like Christamas time in London (Lights,Regent street,I know its all tacky-but I like my Christmases to be tacky (corny -for American friends ).Go to party for NY Eve and have one puff (honestly!) of funny cigarettes…

Dave Says:

The untold story of 2012 clay season.

The first half of the season ended on June 30 with Nadal in the lead on the year to date rankings, largely due to his performance in the clay season.

Nadal should thank Federer big time for helping the Spaniard snap his ‘seven finals’ losing streak to Djokovic — including a record three consecutive Grand Slam finals losses – as well as helping him regain his dominance on the red clay. That’s because Federer was breathing down on Djokovic’s neck to regain the No. 1 rankings (given the points Federer had achieved in 2011 Fall as well as his year-to-date rankings lead after Indian Wells). Panicked by the thought of losing the No. 1 ranking, this pressurized Djokovic into making a big mistake: Djokovic took part in Monte Carlo hoping to gain some easy points to buffer his No. 1 ranking from Federer’s assault — instead of doing what he did in 2011 (i.e., skip MC and face Nadal in Madrid/Rome only when the Serb was trained and ready on clay). But Djokovic played Monte Carlo, which was Nadal’s favorite clay court event outside of the French Open. And Nadal adapts to clay from hardcourts faster than anyone else. To make matters worse, Djokovic had the far tougher path to the final (Berdych, Dolgopolov, Seppi) than Nadal (Wawrinka, Simon). Add the (legitimate) mental upset relating to the death of Djokovic’s grandfather – it all combined to make Djokovic vulnerable to Nadal. For once Novak had a legitimate excuse to withdraw from the final to attend his grandfather’s funeral (i.e., do to Rafa what Rafa did to Murray in Miami semifinal), but I suspect that Novak in his hubris presumed he could still beat Rafa on clay and, besides, Novak was desperate for the points to protect his No.1 ranking from Federer. But Rafa smelled blood and went for the kill, and Djokovic seemed to tank as the match wore on. It was arguably Novak’s biggest mistake of the season as his pathetic loss to Nadal re-ignited the Spaniard’s belief that he had finally turned the ship around and his hard work and new tactics were working. While Djokovic took time off to mourn and recover, what did the ‘maniac’ Nadal do? Train harder, of course. Djokovic was vulnerable but Nadal made sure he was prepared to execute.

Other than Nadal finally beating Djokovic, the only other significant thing about Nadal winning the Monte Carlo Masters — non-mandatory, least prestigious clay Masters, weakened field (missing five top 16 players, including Federer)– was that Rafa won this title a record eight times. This was a great achievement, but some hysterical writers proclaimed that Nadal had broken the all-time record for winning titles in a tournament. How ignorant can they be? The list of players who have won the most titles of a particular tournament includes:
11 titles: Jean Borotra, British Covered Court Championships (1926, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1935, 1938, 1948, 1949)
8 titles:
– James Cecil Parke, Irish Championship (1904, 1905, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913)
– Max Decugis, French Championship (1903, 1904, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1912, 1913, 1914)
– Pancho Gonzales, U.S. Pro Tennis Championships (1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1961)
– Ken Rosewall, French Pro Championship (1958, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966)
– Guillermo Vilas, Buenos Aires (1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1977[2], 1979, 1982)
– Rafael Nadal, Monte Carlo Masters (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012)

Winning Barcelona ATP 500 seven times is good, but Hamburg is arguably the more prestigious and older ATP 500 clay event – in the early 20th century Hamburg was considered equivalent to the other Grand Slam championships before it eventually became a Masters event. Ferrer played very well in Barcelona.

After all the brouhaha about the Madrid clue clay surface, apparently the ‘slippery’ problem was caused because the decision-makers tried too hard to create the best possible surface to avoid the problems that Monte Carlo and Barcelona had with their courts (which ironically had caused more injuries there) . As Pete Bodo summarized: “the main problem with the “slippery” courts was the ill-advised addition of salt to clay, which created a kind of super-hard shell on the individual (sand) granules. Moya insisted that those who played on the courts before they were treated with salt (a common practice to control the effects of humidity) all judged the court just fine.” And of course the blue clay courts had been fine because Madrid had used experts from Roland Garros and Monte Carlo to help them construct the courts. But the salt that worked at Roland Garros failed in the environmental conditions of Madrid. Had the Madrid courts been red clay and then salt was added, the slipperiness problem would have happened on Madrid red clay as well.

It’s ridiculous to say that Nadal tanked his loss in Madrid (though Djokovic probably tanked to Tipsarevic). It was a legitimate victory, unless you’re a fanboy of Nadal wearing rose colored glassses. And Fernando Verdasco was Nadal’s toughest opponent on clay this year. As hard as Nadal tried to avoid the embarrassment of losing to another Spaniard in the Spanish capital – after the humiliation of seeing the Madrid title go three times to Federer – Rafa was unable to beat Vernando in a see-saw 3-6, 6-3, 5-7 battle that lasted 190 minutes (Nadal’s second longest clay match next to the 229 minute FO final against Djokovic). In the end Verdasco outlasted Nadal 94-90 in terms of total points — clearly Nadal was trying to win, not tank and run off to the red clay of Rome. Nadal’s face at the end of the match told the story.

One of the most significant things about Federer’s victory at Madrid Masters – which had the highest prize money at any Masters event after Indian Wells (about the same as Miami) and probably the most TV coverage of three clay Masters events – is that Roger faced opponents with an average ranking of No. 12 (23, 18, 6, 8, 7) and crushed Davis Ferrer in just 82 minutes. No champion at any tournament in the regular season (outside of the WTF) faced a slate of opponents with such a low average ranking. Pretty impressive, given that Federer had returned to the tour after a hiatus of 6.5 weeks and was immediately subjected to the power game of Milos Raonic. What’s even more impressive is that Federer had a hip injury in Madrid – hip injuries tend to occur on slippery surfaces such as grass courts (and the blue clay). Instead of whining like a baby, Federer remained professional – a fact that was publicly appreciated by tournament manager Carlos Santana, who himself had played in far more varied clay conditions than we have nowadays (Santana won both the French Open and Wimbledon).

One of the most significant factors that affected the 2012 clay season is that Federer’s play and movement were compromised by a hip injury which contributed to his lackluster play at times and losses to Djokovic at Rome and Madrid – and helped enable the confrontations between Nadal and Djokovic at Rome and French Opens to happen. Swiss newspapers reported Federer’s hip injury from Madrid and Rome possibly affected him at the French Open (June 24 article was in Tages Anzeiger, Basel’s Basler Zeitung as well as several other Swiss newspapers). Federer’s biographer and Swiss tennis writer Rene Stauffer twittered on June 9 that Federer “Confirmed he had trouble with the hip in Madrid and Rome”. Unlike Nadal, Federer tends not to turn his injuries into a public soap opera so the mainstream tennis media outside Switzerland mostly did not report his injury. Both Djokovic and Nadal were fortunate that Federer was not healthy during the clay season, given the winning momentum he had built up over the previous eight months. After all, even though Nadal had won the 2011 French Open the year before, most felt the best player of that clay major was Federer. And an exhausted Federer came closer to beating Nadal in 2011 than a fresh Djokovic was in 2012.

More on the French Open final later…

And I haven’t forgotten Giles (whose repeated farting is no substitute for a compelling argument based on facts and logic) and others who posted to me. But first things first.

Ben Pronin Says:

I’m not going to comment on all of your opinions-laid-out-as-facts, but Nadal pretty clearly tanked in Madrid. Verdasco is just that bad that it made Nadal’s day unnecessarily difficult. I’m not wearing any glasses that make Nadal look rose colored or anything else positive, but it was pretty obvious he was tanking. Just re-watch the match to see how pathetic his attempts were to hit his forehand. The only other guy I can think of who’s that obvious is Dolgopolov. Tank job all the way.

Nadal Says:


I am wondering what do you think about Federers’ future from here on. Do you think he can win 1 more GS or two ? Or do you think it is all uphill for him from here on ?

U are more often than not correct in your analysis about long term, so enlighten us with what you think about the next year. May be tell us about all the top 4.

Thanks for all the great posts about me and my foes !.

I love it. And you are one of reasons I come here every now and then.

– Nadal.

skeezer Says:


Err… your “view” of the Rafa tank job is a fact, or an opinion-laid-out-as-fact? How about he just didn’t have the aquired skill to move on it? Thus, the result. Also, tell Verdasco his win was not in earnest!

alison Says:

Alok 5.56pm November 30th,no granted it didnt have anything to do with the thread topic i admit to that,i just answered Wogboys post,in a tongue in cheek type of way,as after the last couple of days,it was nice to bring some light relief to procedings is all,especially after all the tiresome bickering thats been going on the last couple of days,i always have a laugh and joke with Wogboy and Courbon,and Courbon doesnt post as much as some other fans,and i always enjoy his posts,the difference was 1 or 2 posts of light hearted banter,not a whole thread dominated by time violations,and i dont think i was poking fun at another poster,i was replying to Wogboys post,if you saw it that way im sorry,but that was not my intention honestly.

alison Says:

As Skeezer and Dave both said,Verdasco was the better player in Madrid,simple as that.

Sienna Says:

skeezer Says:

Roger is NOT The GOAT on Clay. Wtf?

November 30th, 2012 at 9:43 am

Skeezer, there is only GOAT of tennis andnot of clay or grass or HC.

Tennis is tennis and it happens to be played onseveral surfaces.

I mean it is not so difficult to compute a statement like that.

Therefor there can be 1 GOAT and lets face it that is Roger OR do you even try to diminish Roger for that title?

Once we have established Roger as GOAT and tennis cannot be devided into several GOATdomes then t is obvious that whenever Roger takes the field either be it on clay, grass or HC he is the GOAT.

Lets say that RAFA is a good warlord or kapitein maybe General but no GOAT nearby for Nadal.

Giles Says:

The only “tank job” this year was Fed v Nole in FO semis. Nadal v Ferrer was the first semi and Fed being aware that if he beat Nole he would have to face his nemesis in the final, opted for the easy option. #FACT

madmax Says:

Giles, you clearly are someone who likes to add fuel to the fire. Anyone that could seriously accuse federer of tanking is just grasping at straws. Tennis isn’t all about h2h. You win some and you lose some. Simple as that. Novak was the better player. Fed had his chances. Isn’t that always the case?

alison, please don’t apologise ever for your views. You are always a reasoned and calm poster here. Unlike the fanatic hater of fed, Giles.

Giles Says:

madmax. Nah, the only two fanatic haters are YOU AND DAVE!!

Giles Says:

“What did the ‘maniac’ Nadal do? Train harder” says Dave. How do you know? We’re you there? Any time Nadal wins you make an excuse for his opponent using the word “vulnerable”. Fed loses to Nadal – the same old Mono excuse. What Mono? Soderling has Mono – he is still out of the tour! BTW there is only one MANIAC around, and that is none other than YOU! #GetALife

Giles Says: Rafa has only played for half the year. Look at these stats!!

madmax Says:

Feel sorry for you Giles, you have to accuse Dave and others for expressing their reasoned views, backed up with facts and then you give a biased opinion and say it’s fact. Yeah right.

I get it. What pseudonymn are you playing with by the way? Or should I guess?

madmax Says:

alison Says:
As Skeezer and Dave both said,Verdasco was the better player in Madrid,simple as that.

December 1st, 2012 at 2:12 am

alison, don’t you think that nadal “tanked” the match? By giles’ reasoning, if someone loses then they have tanked.

Giles Says:

Madmax & Dave #Twopeasinapod!

madmax Says:

giles is a crazy one by miles.

Come up with something different giles will you? *yawn*

alison Says:

Madmax thanks for those kind words,i try to be a calm and reasoned poster,although it might not always come across that way to others,i got angry with the posts half way through this thread,as some posters had yet again turned it into another warzone,which i found dissapointing as it was supposed to have been about Rafas CC success this year,yet the time violation topic domitated this thread instead,then as Alok said i did the exact same thing myself by going of topic,with some tongue in cheek posts of my own,and i think Alok to be fair saw it as double standards,and to be fair he was right,thats the only reason i was apologizing.

jane Says:

madmax, I believe you said Nole is your second fave; do you find Dave’s posts about him reasoned? Just curious.

alison Says:

Madmax no tanking,i dont believe it,Verdasco was just the better player,and for me its as simple as that the winner wins the loser loses,ive never seen the point of making up excuses for defeats it changes nothing,i know certain people are comfortable believing their favs lost because of this,that or the other,not me its pointless IMO.

Giles Says:

Madmax. “Giles is a crazy one by miles”. Hahaha. With a moniker like “Madmax” I think you are the crazy one! #SelfProclaimed.

Gil R Gilbert Says:

always cool he is the best

alison Says:

Dave JMO but i dont think its Rafas fault,that Novak played in a tournament when he lost his grandfather,the only thing any player can do is try their best to beat whoever is stood at the other side of the net,OK Rafa benifited fair enough but thats not his fault,what else is he supposed to do?it means in some players eyes that Novak lost the match because he lost his grandfather,if he had won it means in some peoples eyes that he won in spite of losing his grandfather,you will probably rebutt my comments anyway, and fair enough if you do,ill just agree to disagree.

alison Says:

^Meant to say Rafa is in a loose/loose situation whichever way you cut it^.

Dave Says:

Ben Pronin tries to discredit my post on Madrid as “opinions-laid-out-as-facts” yet in the same breath reiterates his wild-speculations-laid-out-as-facts that Nadal tanked at Madrid. If Nadal’s “tank job all the way” was that “obvious” and “clear”, then (a) why did the ATP did not investigate Nadal for tanking and (b) why is Pronin probably the only writer to claim that Nadal tanked Madrid? The more obvious explanation is that Nadal simply had a hard time adapting to and feeling comfortable on surfaces/conditions outside the narrow spectrum he has practiced intensely for — while other players such as Verdasco, Federer, Berdych are simply more adaptable. After all, Nadal needs to put in a lot of hard practice before he wins tournaments outside red clay. Nadal lost his favorite hard court tournament (Indian Wells) to Federer because the “crazy wind” and cold weather reduced the effectiveness of his game. Nadal has complained before about Madrid’s altitude and red clay surface affecting his game. Nadal was not comfortable moving and setting up on the blue clay to hit his shots — and perhaps the unexpected slipping and sliding hurt his knees more. Furthermore, Nadal shot himself in the foot by whining so much about the blue clay — it reduced Nadal’s air of invincibility on this clay, revealed that Nadal was vulnerable and emboldened his opponents — this gave Verdasco belief on enough points to win the one extra break of serve that eventually decided the match. Ultimately, Nadal blew a 5-2, 15-0 lead on his serve in the third set when his game fell apart to lose five straight games and the match. There was no logical reason for Nadal (a) to look foolish by blowing such a big lead to lose the match and (b) to squander the ranking points he needed to catch up with Djokovic, with Novak and Federer in the other half.

Federer regained the No. 2 world ranking after winning Madrid, sending Nadal to No. 3 (where he could end up being on Djokovic’s half of the draw at the French Open).

However, due to his hip injury, Federer considered pulling out of Rome immediately after winning Madrid. Swiss sports journalist Christian Bürge tweeted his surprise: “Federer said he’s unsure if he’ll play Rome. I’m a bit surprised. Roland Garros without prep on red clay?” After winning his first round match at Rome against No. 38 Carlos Berloqc, Roger admitted he decided to play only after his warm up session that Wednesday morning hours before the match. Outside the Federer camp, no one realized Federer was playing with a hip injury (even though Federer occasionally grabbed his hip, e.g., during the Madrid final). It was only after his French Open ended that Federer admitted that he had a hip injury (e.g., Swiss tennis writer Rene Stauffer: “Confirmed he had trouble with the hip in Madrid and Rome”). Federer played efficiently and aggressively to crush Berlocq, former French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero (except for a hiccup in the second set) and No. 30 Andreas Seppi. But strained from winning Madrid days earlier and carryng a hip injury, Federer was in no shape to beat Djokovic. After losing the first set 2-6, Djokovic was cruising until he served for the match at 5-4 in the second set. With the sell-out crowd of 10,500 rapturiously encouraging Federer, Roger finally woke up to save match point and then broke Djokovic to draw even. For the next few games, until the tie-break, Djokovic’s face and game oozed with anxiety. Ultimately, Federer committed 42 unforced errors to Djokovic’s 20. Despite the loss, Federer headed into the French Open with 1,360 points from his 2012 clay season, considerably more than the 630 points he had from Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome in 2011. With Djokovic bleeding points from his 2012 clay campaign, Federer continued to gain ground on Djokovic in the rankings. Heavy rain postponned the final to Monday. Though Djokovic had as many breakpoint opportunities as Nadal (7 each), Rafa convertedd 4 while Novak seized just 1. Nadal regained the No. 2 ranking and seeding for the French Open.

At the French Open, Nadal was once again lucky to avoid Federer or Djokovic in his half. Djokovic could have easily been knocked out before the semifinal — Novak was down 0-2 sets to Seppi as well as down 1-2 sets to Tsonga — suggesting that he was feeling the presure of being No. 1 when he had something to lose against players he was supposed to beat. Meanwhile Federer dropped a set each to players like Ungur, Mahut and Goffin. In the quarterfinal, Roger was distracted by an untimely shout from a spectator and was down 0-2 sets to Del Potro, before crushing him in the final three sets (Federer-Delpo played only 273 total points over five sets, while Djokovic needed 350 points to overcome Seppi and 325 points to overcome Tsonga). My guess is that Federer’s sloppy play probably was due to his taking most of the week off after Rome to try to recover from his hip inury and so he came into the French Open looking rusty (Federer played much better in his early matches at Rome than he did in any match at the French Open, indicating a lack pof pre-tournament practice and preparation). In the semifinal, Djokovic was beatable: rusty Federer with a cold still managed to break Djokovic four times but sloppy play and giving up seven service breaks did Roger in. This year Federer was probably not disappointed with his semifinal loss as it enabled him to rest and play Halle to warm up for Wimbledon, while Djokovic and Nadal were stuck in a French Open match that finished on Monday.

At 2012 French Open final, despite the weather advantage, Djokovic was mostly rolled over by Nadal 4-6, 3-6, 6-2, 5-7 (39 games): Djokovic won only 116 of 241 total points played (their 229 minute match would have taken 199 minutes if Djokovic played at Federer’s quicker pace between service points). More importantly, Djokovic was 7/10 in breakpoints compared to Nadal’s 9/17. By the middle of the first set, Djokovic was headed for a pathetic straight-set loss against Nadal (a superior opponent on his favorite clay court) until incessant rain progressively weakened the potency of Nadal’s topspin and saved the flatter-hitting Serb. Rain had started to fall by the start of the second set. There was a half-hour rain delay at 4-6, 3-5 with Nadal in the lead. As play resumed, Nadal won the second set. But the dampness in the balls, court and air made life miserable for Nadal, giving Djokovic more and more confidence — that’s what enabled Djokovic to “reel off seven straight games” from Nadal from 2-2 in the third set. Nadal looked pathetic, ordinary and vulnerable with his topspin rendered impotent on clay, because Rafa does not have enough confidence/variety to execute a Plan B even on clay. Soderling, del Potro and Berdych, etc. probably could have reeled off several games from Nadal in those conditions. Once the match was postponed — and the fourth set was re-started initially without rain the next day — Nadal immediately overcame Djokovic’s 2-1 break advantage. It was quite pathetic that Djokovic immediately lost the first game (his service game) after having 18 hours to prepare his serve to re-start the fourth set. A shower and short rain delay towards the end of the fourth set were insufficient to stop Nadal from winning the set and match. Uncle Toni prepared Rafa well for Part Two of their match. [Despite Nadal later whinning that he played the French Open with anti-inflammatories, two days after the French Open final Nadal was ‘miraculously’ recovered enough to play both singles AND doubles at Halle, still running like a rabbit when he needed — indicating he was not seriously injured.]

Federer must have watched the Djokovic-Nadal French final wondering where was the rain in his five French Open matches against Rafa (or in any of their 14 clay matches) — cuz surely with rain reducing the potency, bounce and unpredictability of Nadal’s topspin on the clay, Federer probably would have won several of those clay matches against Rafa. At 2011 French Open final, Federer’s loss to Nadal 5-7, 6-7, 7-5, 1-6 (44 games) was more of a battle: Roger won 130 of 273 total points played (their 220 minute match would have taken 250 minutes if Federer played at Djokovic’s snail pace between service points) — and Federer was 5/15 in breakpoints compared to Nadal’s 7/15 (both players created equal number of breakpoint chances). Federer squandered setpoint in the first set. Soon after the fourth set started, Federer and Nadal were tied in total points won. Imagine if rain had started falling early in the second set of this match.

This clay season, Djokovic did not show he has what it takes to knock off Nadal from the 2013 French Open — without the help of incessant rain or another player taking out Nadal. The story of Djokovic’s failure against Nadal in the 2012 clay season was in the breakpoints: Djokovic-the-great-returner was a pathetic 9/18 in breakpoints from 2012 Monte Carlo, Rome and French Open, while Nadal was 28/32! At no point did Djokovic play like he did in 2011 Madrid (7-5, 6-4) and Rome (6-4, 6-4) to beat Nadal twice in straight sets on clay.

Despite his French semifinal loss and playing one less clay Masters, Federer was the only Big Four player who made more total points from his 2012 clay season (2,080 points) than his 2011 (1,830). Nadal won 4,590 points on 2012 clay compared to 4,700 on 2011 clay. Djokovic made 2,580 points on 2012 clay compared to 2,970 on 2011 clay. In any case, both Federer and Nadal left the French Open knowing that they could take the No. 1 ranking if they won Wimbledon and Djokovic lost at the semifinal (Federer) or quarterfinal (Nadal).

Murray’s 2012 clay season (720) was inferior to his 2011 (1,530) — even more disappointing given that his coach Ivan Lendl won three French Open titles from five finals and Murray had a weak draw of opponents in the French Open.


jane: do you not find Dave’s posts to be reasoned? Just curious.

madmax: Giles is a lost cause, but I admire your patience and quiet determination to try to win it over with reason.

alison: I did not say it’s Rafa’s fault that Novak played in a tournament when he lost his grandfather. But bottom line, death in a player’s family is a legitimate reason for poor performance — too bad for both players that it happened at Monte Carlo of all events. And I did say “Djokovic was vulnerable but Nadal made sure he was prepared to execute.”

skeezer Says:

Take away Rafa’s most formidable weapon, his FH, and he is the average Clark Kent. Take away Feds most formidable weapon, his serve, and he still can be formidable. Thus there in is the difference between being great and the greatest.

Alex Says:

Roger Federer is not the GOAT, because that does not exist. He is one of the very best, but that’s it. I know that his fans will never see it that way, but everybody can have his opinion. A lot of Fed fans see him as some sort of god, it’s a bit like a cult. I fear for these people when he retires.

skeezer Says:

^you have a right to “imo”. Try watching Tennis Channel’s 100 greatest of all time, and call Mr. Rod Laver, Unc Toni & Rafael Nadal and other greats past and present. They certainly have qualifications, whats yours?

alison Says:

Dave ok no problem.

Ben Pronin Says:

I’m not saying Nadal tanking is a fact, and I’m not laying it out as one. I just thought it was pretty obvious. Who cares if the ATP didn’t say anything? He’s Rafael Nadal, not Nikolay Davydenko.

Once again people don’t want to believe that Nadal, or any of the top guys, would dare tank a match. Just like no one wants to believe that there’s doping in the sport.

Dave, your point about Nadal not wanting to waste points makes sense, but I don’t think it applies. Nadal might skip Madrid this year completely just to show how mad he is that they dared to switch to blue clay in the first place. And it’s going to be red this year. Nadal has shown that he cares less about points and more about making sure everyone knows about his displeaseure with whatever he’s displeased with.

jamie Says:

LOL @ the OP. Olderer is not winning anymore RG or any slams.

As a matter of fact, Nole will end up with more RG titles than Olderer, showing who is the better claycourter. Nadal will win his last RG title in 2013. Nole will win RG in 2014 and 2015.

Nole is better on clay than Federer.

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