What Did We Learn From The US Open? Nadal Is Within Reach Of Federer’s 17
| September 10th, 2013, 10:49 am

By Matt McGladrigan
As we say goodbye to the Grand Slams for another year, two players remain standing after fifteen electrifying days of the finest tennis in New York. Two players that have done all this before. Who have both been in the form of their life this season and won most of the titles on offer. Who both won the French Open prior to Flushing Meadows. Who both went away with a check for $3.6 million. Two champions. As Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams steal the limelight once again, what have those fifteen days told us?

Rafa is on Fire
The Spaniard remains undefeated on hard courts in 2013, after battling past world number one Novak Djokovic in four sets to take his second US Open crown. And, really, does anyone look like beating him in this form? That was number 13 in terms of Grand Slams for Nadal and, at the young age of 27, Roger Federer’s total of 17 is surely within touching distance (especially with a good few titles at Roland Garros almost guaranteed). The knee problems of this time last year seem to be a distant memory now for Rafa.

Djokovic Struggling in the Biggest Matches
It was defeat in the New York final again for the Serbian top seed. Since his triumph in Australia right back in January, Djokovic has been defeated in a tight semi-final in Paris and then on Centre Court in July, in the final to Andy Murray. He seems to have lost that extra 5% that made him climb to the top of the rankings; the top guys can play him now, unlike in 2011. In the US Open final, apart from a set and a half, his groundstroke consistency let him down. He was missing backhands (particularly down the line) that he can’t miss, and wouldn’t have missed months ago. He wasn’t hitting the ball deep enough to pin Nadal back behind the baseline. The more tough losses the Serb faces, the lower his confidence when he comes out on the biggest stage. It looks like he’ll lose his number one ranking to Nadal at the end of the year and not even Novak can argue with that.

Serena and Azarenka – the Next Big Women’s Rivalry?
Over on the women’s side, these two are a long way ahead of the rest. The Belarusian is the only player that seems to match up at all against the American world number one. Again, she made her fight to take another US Open title. Ultimately, though, Serena was in about third gear and still managed to outlast Azarenka, who was playing close to her best. But the world’s top two look set to duel in many more major finals in the next few seasons, with there being no one else really to challenge. Sharapova has a terrible record against the 17-time Grand Slam champion and even Li Na, who was seemingly playing some fine tennis in the Big Apple, was brutally brushed aside by Williams. Azarenka needs to continue to work on her variety, on her movement and on her serve and she might well get even closer to the current queen of tennis.

Murray Won’t Be Allowed to Dominate
Djokovic dominated in 2011, 2012 was pretty equal with the four Grand Slams won by the ‘top four’ and 2013 has been mostly about Rafael Nadal, with Murray’s Wimbledon triumph sandwiched in between. Just when you think the Briton might be able to win a few majors in a row, back come Nadal or Djokovic. It’s been said many times before, but this is an exciting era for the ATP Tour, with those three jostling for position on the different surfaces. Wimbledon drained the energy out of Murray, as he looked weary at times in New York. After the last few events are done, he’ll head off to train and revitalize himself in Miami. Even now in September, you sense that winning in Melbourne might be in his thoughts already.

Wawrinka and Gasquet Have Stepped Up
Stanislas Wawrinka had an outstanding tournament. He stunningly dismantled the third seed Murray in straight sets with some powerful baseline play and great variety, volleying to great effect. Then, he pushed the eventual runner-up Djokovic all the way in the semi-finals, boosting his chances of making the World Tour Finals in London. Frenchman Richard Gasquet also made the semi-finals, beating David Ferrer in five sets, before Nadal was a step too far. He too, though, looked confident on court and showed his nerve in regrouping from squandering a two-set lead against Ferrer. Watch out for those two at the majors in 2014.

With the four major championships done and dusted, two pivotal Masters events remain on the calendar for the men. Shanghai and Paris (again) will welcome the world’s best with crucial ranking points up for grabs. Then, the top eight will go back to London, to descend upon the O2 Arena at the ATP World Tour Finals. The main question is: will Roger get there?

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133 Comments for What Did We Learn From The US Open? Nadal Is Within Reach Of Federer’s 17

Humble Rafa Says:

Humble Highness has been making the “17 is in play” argument for years now.

Polo Says:

Humble Rafa, last night’s was another test to your humility. You did well but how long can you hold?

Slice Tennis Says:

What Did We Learn From The US Open?

We learnt that Djokovic is the true successor of Federer.
Nole, Just like Federer:
– Makes all kinds of consecutive runs and gets thumped by a better player in the second weekend of grandslams.
– Beats the crap out of lower ranked players and looks majestic while doing so.
– Has a big mouth and hypes up his form.
– Gets thumped by Rafa frequently.

The only difference is that Djokovic is absolutely gracious in defeat.

Slice Tennis Says:

Rafael Nadal Says:
“So if somebody is playing very well, the chance against Federer to somebody win easier is higher than against Novak, because there is one clear way to win the points. Between Novak and me, every point is fighting, every point is long rally, every point is more strategy.”

I hope Fed fans do not see this statement by Rafa. They will get really pissed off. He is basically saying that beating Federer is physically and strategically easy.

andrea Says:

that really was some fine shot making from Nadal….he was bulleting the ball all over the place. yes, novak did as well. but it was some of the most determined, sustained, powerful and precise ball hitting i’ve seen from nadal in a while.

Sam Says:

I am a Rafa fan, but I’m also a realist. I would say Rafa as at best a 25% chance of passing Federer’s slam record.

5 grand slams is a LOT to win at 27 onwards. A complete and all time great tennis player like Djokovic has won just 6 slams in his career to date. That just puts it into perspective as to how difficult it is to win the grand slams.

SG1 Says:

I, like Sam, am a Rafa fan. In my mind, Rafa is an old 27. There’s a lot of mileage on his tires. This being said, it is possible that 17 is within reach. I don’t think he’ll get there but I think it’ll be close. Athletes can suddenly be over the hill. It happens. And it will eventually happen to Rafa.

I think we also learned that Nole’s very best tennis is a little better than Rafa’s. The difference being that Nole’s ups and downs are more pronounced than Rafa’s. Rafa plays at a constant level. Very little variation. His mental abilities are beyond belief. Rafa’s superior mental ability is what gives him the edge over everyone. Particularly in majors. In my mind, he is in the GOAT discussion, even if he isn’t neat 17 slams yet.

SG1 Says:


How could you be making the “17 is in play” argument for “years”? Your GOAT only reached 17 last year.

Humble Rafa Says:

17 was in play even when a certain player only had 16. Just saying.

SG1 Says:

Well HR, I tip my cap to your guy. He was tough as nails yesterday and was the best player in the tournament. He deserved the win and I was pulling for him.

If Rafa wins next year’s FO, that would give him 9. This seems like an unbreakable record. Even 8 seems unbreakable. Very few players have ever won 8 slams let alone winning the same slam 8 times.

2014 will be a very interesting year.

SG1 Says:

Pretty cool to be a living legend at 27. How can anything you do in the rest of your life compare?

jon jaravata Says:

It was a brave win for Rafa beating Nole for his 13th major, 10th title of the year finally figuring out how to play on the hardcourts. This year he could claim that he is the King of the hardcourts, too. I can’t wait for Australia. If he keeps his form, he should be a title contender. The French 2014 is in the bag. May be another wimbledon could be possible if he takes advantage of the 2 weeks between the French and the Wimbledon Championships. play a warm-up. Then if his knees would not bother him at all, he could defend the montreal, cincy, and the US Open next year. what i’m hinting is that he could win 2 out four next year. then he would just be 2 shy of Federer’s 17. I should say it came from his mouth yesterday after the the presser when he said it is impossible for him to win the Grand Slam for next year or for any year. However, he is assured of regaining the number one ranking for this year and Player of the year for 2013.

rainbowsnflowers Says:

so happy for Rafa
and Novak too
Everyone is so pleased and happy
Its wonderful!
congratulations Rafa
congratulations Novak
happy wonderful nice fluffy!

WTF Says:

“10th title of the year finally figuring out how to play on the hardcourts.”

Wat? Where have you been?

I think Rafa can hit 15 or 16. He is definitely in contention for AO ’14. He will be 27 and a half by then, but won’t have declined much from the form he’s in now, because honestly it’s not that far away. If he takes another FO, which he is favorite to do, that would be 15.

I think he has at least 2 French Opens left in him. Djoker is his only challenger there until some new blood comes along. If Djokovic does not find his form in May, it should be Rafa’s again.

So in conclusion, 15 or 16 is realistic for Rafa. 18 is unlikely. Fed won Wimby at 31.

WTF Says:

If Nadal makes the QF at Shanghai he is the new #1. If Djoker doesn’t defend his title, Rafa doesn’t even need to show up and he’ll be crowned #1.

Djokovic defends 1000 points there, and 500 points in Beijing, as well as 1500 points at WTF.

Nadal has no points to defend until Indian Wells in March (if you ignore the 250 and 500s he will likely skip next year).

The impressive thing about his big lead in 2013 race is that he has no points from AO and Wimb.

courbon Says:

@ SG1;Very true.

jamie Says:

I think Nadal will finish close to Federer but won’t reach 17. Deja vu like the Laver and Emerson rivalry. Emerson won one more slam than Laver but it is Laver who is considered the better player. Federer might end up with one or two more slams than Nadal but it will be Nadal who will be considered the better player because of the lopsided head to head in slams of 8-2!

madmax Says:

Slice Tennis Says:
What Did We Learn From The US Open?

We learnt that Djokovic is the true successor of Federer.
Nole, Just like Federer:
– Makes all kinds of consecutive runs and gets thumped by a better player in the second weekend of grandslams.
– Beats the crap out of lower ranked players and looks majestic while doing so.
– Has a big mouth and hypes up his form.
– Gets thumped by Rafa frequently.

Clearly a fed hater. The only big mouth around here Slice tennis is yourself. Clearly not read enough fed interviews, nor seen enough of his tennis to be so ungracious with your comments.

Novak is a gentleman as is Federer. It is you who is not.

queen Says:

Djokovic a true successor of Federer…hahaha

Polo Says:

What did we learn from the US Open?

That there are fans who won’t be happy with the mere fact that their man won. That there are fans who are less than gracious in victory than even the player who actually won. That there are people where victory is not enough, they have to insult others, too. That there are fans who their idol would certainly not be proud of.

Maybe I should not have said fans. I think there is only one person around here who fits those descriptions perfectly.

Hamza Says:

We should all be privileged to see these great players play ; Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, Delpo, Berdych and not to mention the rest of the top 20 players. The depth in men’s tennis is just amazing.

I’m a Nadal fan, always was, and always will be. But what will Nadal be without his great rivals ? To be the best, you have to beat the best and I’m glad he does that. I’m hoping 2014 sees a resurgent Federer. It does not befit a champion like him to just fade away. I truly believe Federer will feature in Grandslam finals in 2014. Whether he wins them or not is another question.

Hats off to these great warriors who’ve enriched my life. In their matches lie lessons for us which can help us in our own struggles.

simba Says:

What do we learn from USO? Fed can’t win without Ana Wintour in his guest box. Scratch that. He can’t win until he practices hard and forges a relentless competitive mind like Nadal.

Humble Rafa Says:

Well HR, I tip my cap to your guy.

Let’s not get any third parties involved here. You tip your hat to me, got it?

Okiegal Says:

@Hamza 5:30 post

Couldn’t have said it better myself……I always agree with your comments. If I didn’t know better I would think you were me!!! Great post….as usual. Rafa owned last night. His tenacity and focus at pressure times was amazing. I am in awe of his tennis mastery!!

Vamos Rafa……great win…..you da man!!

SG1 Says:

Sorry HR. You write English too well for me to buy into the third party deal, no? Like I said, your guy kicked butt. You should be happy enough with that. Your one loyal Rafa fan. I think you should get at least one of the replicas from Rafa’s trophy case.

The Great Davy Says:

I learned that with one match prize money, I can tank and have two week vacation in Maldives.

Dan Martin Says:

Here is my post-US Open power ranking http://tennisabides.com/2013/09/10/tennis-power-ranking-2013-mallorcan-conquistador/ Great accomplishment by Rafa and he has a lot of open water in front of him if he stays healthy

Michael Says:

True, Rafa is within striking distance of edging out Roger as the leader in amassing major titles. If he stays fit and healthy, it is inevitable and there can be no stopping him in my opinion as I see no player today who can pose a challenge to his dominance except Novak. Let me be honest. The top half are just clueless as to how to play and tackle his style of play. Whether it be Andy, Del Potro, Ferrer, Tsonga, Berdych, even Roger etc. Many might argue justifiably that Nadal’s game doesn’t have the grace, finesse, style and elegance of Roger. But the point is it works and that is what matters. He is the first player to have won atleast a major for nine consecutive years and that is a record which Roger was not able to do in his career. So, achieving 17 would be a mere formality if Rafa stays fit and healthy and that is a big “IF”. The coming Australian and French Open will give us an idea of how much majors Rafa can accumulate in his already stellar career.

John Dixon Says:

I watched the match and what struck me is that Djokovic, unlike any other player, was still able to take Nadal’s heavy ball early and move him around and actually dominate Nadal from the baseline and keep him on his heels, no small achievement. The problem is that Nadal is just so good at defense–gets even mis-hits back into the court because he has so much topspin–that Nole like so many other players against Nadal, just starts cracking physically and mentally, lets in too many unforced errors, and loses. Think of that critical point in the French Open when Nole ended up touching the net because Nadal got that one last shot in. In this finals, Djokovic had 46 winners, Nadal only 27. But here’s the real story. Nadal had only 20 unforced errors to Nole’s 54.

Jo Says:

No record is safe. Long time ago Rod Laver’s 12 remained unbroken for a very very long time. Until Pete Sampras break it in 1999. Pete made it 14 to make it safe and thought it would not be surpassed, and so he retired early. in 2004 we have witness that the great Federer could surpass the 14 by Sampras because not even Sampras did a 3 GS in a year. And now, Federer is not yet retired, and we are witnessing another great Rafa on the way to break the 17. If Rafa wants all time record, he would chase Steffi Graf’s 22 GS. And poor Steffi, nobody knows her 22 GS. All they know is Navratilova & Evert 18 & Serena’s 17.

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Jo, your history is skewed. it was Emerson who had 12 (earned mainly while his superiors were banned as pros), Laver had 11. And Sampras did not retire early at all, he played on in his thirties till he dropped out of the top ten, didn’t win a tournament for a year, and then won the US Open out of nowhere

hawkeye Says:

Prior to the ’02 USO, Sampras’ last tournament win of any kind was 2000 Wimby. He was 28 at the time and had just turned 31 when he won his last major.

josh Says:

Where are the Roger fans at? Rafa will go down as one of the greatest, if not THE greatest of all time. Winning that 3rd set was unbelievable, the mental toughness he showed was on a level never seen before.

Roger should be afraid for his GS record. In my opinion, if Nadal gets 15 or 16 grand slams, he should be considered the GOAT. If he wins the AO in January, with 14 GS, there’s no doubt he’ll reach 17.

What a crazy turn of events, when considering the love everybody has showered upon Federer. Yes, he’s definitely one of the greatest, but come on, Nadal has owned him throughout his career.

MMT Says:

“The problem is that Nadal is just so good at defense–gets even mis-hits back into the court because he has so much topspin–that Nole like so many other players against Nadal, just starts cracking physically and mentally, lets in too many unforced errors, and loses.”

Djokovic’s problem in the final was technical – specifically his poor volleying technique. Because of this he eschewed coming to net more often than he did, which forced him to try to out hit Nadal over and over again – hence the errors, and even when he did come to net, he made a number of costly errors.

If Djokovic improved his net game he would finish points more readily, rather than making errors on the 30th, 40th or 50th stroke of a rally (as ridiculously obvious as that sounds). I think this was already an objective of his, given how often he tried to force himself to net as it were (in the final and in previous rounds), but coming to net, in and of itself, is insufficient for this tactic to be successful – particularly against Nadal.

Otherwise, as your opponent keeps getting balls back high and deep, no matter how hard you hit it, eventually anyone will make an error trying to find that last additional inch of court to hit into.

the DA Says:

Interesting TV viewing figures for the finals. The women had more (19.3 million) compared to the men (11.7 million). That’s a drop from last year when Djokovic/Murray drew 16.2 million.

Slice Tennis Says:

josh Says:
“Where are the Roger fans at?”

Busy eating crow….

SG1 Says:

Makes you wonder if the women’s ratings are always higher or was it because there was an American in the final. I suspect the latter.

SG1 Says:


I don’t think that Nole’s loss can be attributed to poor volleying. In Nole’s 2011 campaign, he stayed back and dominated Nadal.

Nadal made an adjustment. I don’t ever remember Rafa hitting as many slice backhands in any match as he did against Novak. His slices landed really deep and with a lot of spin. This shot took away a lot of angles that Novak was used to seeing in the past. Rafa’s topspin can kick up, land short and create opportunities for opponent to create angles (which Novak is an expert at). By using the slice, he keeps the ball low and eliminates Novak’s chance to pull him off the court. Really smart.

Do I think that going to the net more often could help Novak against Rafa? Sure. But as someone said above, it’s not a matter of just getting to net. Novak has to get there in the right way. I’m interested to see what adjustments Nole will make going into next year. I’m sure he’ll have come surprises for Rafa. Nole is too good for this rivalry to get one sided forever. A lot of tough losses for Novak to digest this year. The AO, being his best tournament, may be a very strong barometer of where his game and mind are at.

SG1 Says:


I suspect that Nadal’s 8 FO’s (with more likely to come) will be safe for a very, very long time. Of course no record is completely safe but I suspect that the number of FO’s won by the end of Nadal’s career will be a DiMaggio type record. It believe it won’t be broken in our life time.

Brando Says:


I’m with you 100% re Rafa at FO.

I think Rafa has the ability and hopefully the chance to set a record at Rolland Garros that will transcend the sport and be like the DiMaggio type of record.

I hope he does it since it would be amazing if one day many years from now when folks ask:

Who are the athletes who truly did something unprecedented and monstrously amazing in their sport?

Someone mentions Pele winning 3 world cups, someone mentions DiMaggio, someone mentions Jordan ‘s wins in NBA and then someone utters:

What about that Rafael Nadal at the FO? Heard he was a beast on that court!

I would love it if that were to ever happen! :-)

j.kriek Says:

rafa 21 vs. federer 10
rafa 22 vs. djokovic 15
rafa 13 vs. murray 5

who is the best? pretty easy to figure out.

Polo Says:

Could the ratings discrepancy between the men’s and the women’s final be due to the days when they were held? Sunday vs Monday?

Tennis Vagabond Says:

MMT, if my grandmother were better at the net, and a few other things, she too would be a US Open champion.
But with the weapons Novak has actually demonstrated he has, his will was broken in the third set. The look on his face in the fourth was one we haven’t seen from him in a few years.

Margot Says:

@Michael 1.47
Last time Andy played Rafa, he beat him, playing “way out of his comfort zone” tennis.
I don’t think that makes him “clueless.”

Ben Pronin Says:

Polo, I think that’s the case.

Hamza Says:

@The Great Davy:

You’re still lucky Davy. You’ve got a beautiful wife :)

the DA Says:

“Could the ratings discrepancy between the men’s and the women’s final be due to the days when they were held?”

Could be. Last year there was also about 2 million more viewers for the women vs the men. I was just surprised that – despite also being held on a Monday – the men’s final had 5 million fewer viewers. And last year’s men’s final had the highest viewing figures since the 2007 final.

Steve 27 Says:

The 4 player with most finals in a GS in the open era:
Federer 23
Lendl 19
Sampras 18
Nadal 18

How many more gs did Federer, Sampras and Lendl won after Nadals age?

Federer won 4, Sampras won 3 and Lendl won 2. So, the reality is possibly Nadal will surpass Sampras. More than that is almost impossible to predict.

Ben Pronin Says:

DA, wasn’t the 07 final the last one that was on a Sunday?

Keep in mind the Sunday final (whether it’s men or women) follows football. The Monday final follows people coming home from work…

Brando Says:

Re Rafa v Andy:

It’s tough to say really how things would be on that front. I think to say Muzza is clueless v Rafa is quite disrespectful to Andy but also to Rafa: if he wins he beats a top player not Joe nobody (I doubt Michael means any offense at all though).

IMHO it’s almost impossible to predict going forward. Absurdly neither have played one another for 2 whole years now. Since their last meeting Andy quite obviously has changed. He’s a different beast all together now. But at the same time: Rafa has also improved himself.

Personally I see it as a 50/50 matchup:

– Andy would probably say Rafa is a tough match for him, possibly his toughest matchup.

-Rafa would likely say barring Nole that is the toughest match for him. Admittedly Andy is a friend of his but just look at how highly he speaks of Andy post USO win without any prompting (especially on Charlie Rose show): you could tell he rates Andy big time.

If I were to split the chance of a win right now i’d go:

– Clay: 70/30 in Rafa’s favor
– Grass and HC: 50/50

Their matches, IMHO, were always a lot closer than many realize and going forward they shall more than likely be so once again.

The difference is close to little at the top and Andy belongs at the top now with Rafole.

Seth Says:

Nadal’s 13 major titles are suspect, as is his penchant for routinely recovering from supposedly career-threatening injuries. Astonishing. Miraculous, even.

Seth Says:

Said it and I’m not backing down. Something is off.

Seth Says:

Recovering to be even stronger than ever on his worst surface, the surface most punishing to his ailing knees. Yeah, sure.

CurefortheItch Says:

Think it is really, really poor form to be insinuating things like Seth is. When I hear Rafa say that no one but his team knows what he’s been through over the last year (paraphrasing), and I see his tears of relief and joy and amazement at his triumph then I see armchair critics throwing nasty slurs and insinuations simply from a so-called gut feeling or a sense of something being “off”, it saddens me deeply. Such a crying shame that some feel the need to tear down and pull down those that they feel throw a spanner in the works for ‘their guy’. Because let’s face it, if Nadal wasn’t such a threat to Federer’s legacy, we’d be seeing a lot less of these “something is off” comments. A real crying shame.

Giles Says:

Yes @Seth, “something is off”. It’s YOU!!

Steve 27 Says:

Seth should be banner. You are classless man. Please, dont return again and give us a favor.

Steve 27 Says:


Ben Pronin Says:

Seth, keep on fighting the good fight.

Brando Says:

‘ if Nadal wasn’t such a threat to Federer’s legacy’:

pretty much the beginning and end of why some hate on the guy.

It’s just sad.

Rafa fans:

Just ignore such noise. It will always be there from those who dislike what reality presents to them.

Sirius Says:

>>If rafa wins 15 or 16 slams he’d be the GOAT<<

Why not make him now? His fans have been calling him the GOAT since his first slam i guess. Now he has accomplished 13 GS which is much less of an achievement compared to the 2008 olympic gold medal and his SOLO acts in winning 4 Davis Cups. I think the 2008 olympics singles gold medal was the best cause Rafa won it. Davis Cup is way too much better than GS cause SOMEONE FROM SWITZERLAND haven't won it. We get it. The GOAT is rafa, even without 13 slams, he's the best. Vamos!

Seth Says:

@Ben Pronin, will do.

James Says:

RT –
Matt Cronin @TennisReporters 5h
Important: Nadal vs Novak 2.8 rating highest 4 men’s final since 2007 (Fed v Noak), last time it took place on Sunday afternoon (4.2).

skeezer Says:



gonzalowski Says:

Haha, Ben Pronin, considering nowadays’ facts about Nadal/doping, your comments here are embarrasing;
you are a disgrace to this foro

metan Says:

Only Rogerfanatic who always talk about GOAT as if they all have huge Crystal ball to tell them for sure that there will be no one else in 50 years later to have 30 GS. LMAO!!! And then whenever Rafa wins the GS all the doping case pop in as if Roger is saint. Sour Grapes.!!!!

Do you ever heard the line little brother follows the footstep of big brother..

Seth Says:

They can ban me if they see fit to. I think it likely that Nadal is a cheat. His recovery this year from a career-threatening injury to hitherto unprecedented success on his worst surface, the surface by far the most punishing to his frail knees, is a bit too good to be believed. Something about this just isn’t credible.

George o Says:

Go to hell Seth!! Ur baseless accusations without substantiated proof.do us a favour would you, shut up!!!

Steve 27 Says:

seth, are you consuming meth?

Giles Says:

It’s the same old story, when Rafa wins the green-eyed monsters come up with drug allegations and are ever ready to post drug related articles similar to the one posted by Ben Pronin. Jealous much!! Why no accusations directed towards joker for his phenomenal 2011? From super weakling to superman!! Think about it!

Giles Says:

Aww, even grandma was nervous! :-)

gonzalowski Says:

Yeh, but with their baseless acusations, Seth and Ben are in fact giving credit to Rafa Goatness;
If they think Nadal has only been able to reach his achievements with the help of drugs, it’s like recognizing his greatness ;)

Michael Says:


Andy getting the better of Rafa is possible once in a while, but the question is can it be consistent ??

James Says:

Some of you haters like it or not, Rafa has always been an amazing tennis player right from his junior days. He was a child prodigy who’s actually lived up to his potential and more. He’s a freak of nature as JMac would say. The boy could practice tennis for 3-4 hours and then play a 1 hr or 2 soccer. He was that fit even in his early teenage years. Not a weakling that turned a superman for a season or two.

Ben Pronin Says:

Gonzalowski, it’s speculation based on history. If everyone had to have hard evidence to speculate anything then no one would ever investigate anything. We know that NOT failing a drug test doesn’t mean anything. Lance Armstrong went his entire career without a failed test. So did Alex Rodriguez. Were they clean?

James, no one is saying Nadal isn’t amazing at tennis. Have you seen his video against Gasquet? Nothing short of amazing from both guys. It’s his physicality that raises the questions. I also like the dig at Nole. That obviously strengthens your counter.

Giles, if I’m jealous of Nadal, shouldn’t I be jealous of Federer and Djokovic and Lebron and Kobe and Messi and Mayweather and Ovechkin and Brady and Manning (either one, really) and just about everyone else? If anything, shouldn’t I be less jealous of Nadal since he’s always dealing with “career threatening injuries”?

Polo Says:

This Nadal doping speculation is just that, speculation. Allow those who want to speculate speculate and those who want to counter this should also be allowed to do so. Does anybody here really know the incontrovertible answer? Everything so far is circumstantial and anecdotal.

Giles Says:

Ben Pronin. You tell me what is going on in that head of yours!

madmax Says:

Seth Says:
Nadal’s 13 major titles are suspect, as is his penchant for routinely recovering from supposedly career-threatening injuries. Astonishing. Miraculous, even.

September 11th, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Seth Says:
Said it and I’m not backing down. Something is off.

September 11th, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Seth Says:
Recovering to be even stronger than ever on his worst surface, the surface most punishing to his ailing knees. Yeah, sure.

September 11th, 2013 at 4:27 pm


What is it that bothers you about Nadal? Do you not think that he has a super harsh workout, remember the book, written by Agassi where he said his training schedule was, his words, ‘punishing’. His father used to make him hit a thousand balls a day from the ‘dragon’, hour upon hour, so much so that he thought he would drop.

I can imagine Uncle Toni being exactly the same as Agassi’s father. These type of men are brutal with their training regime.

Ben Pronin Says:

Not like Agassi wasn’t suspect.

hawkeye Says:

Seth is obviously a Federer fan which is why he is bothered by the GOAT.

Same as Ben.


Seth Says:


holdserve Says:

If not failing a drug test doesn’t prove somebody is clean then Fed, Nole, Muzz are all suspect. What is the logic for singling out Rafa?

If great performance is the reason for suspicion, surely Fed is most suspect, followed by Nole.

After failing to win slams despite great promise, Fed suddenly became tireless ( observers said he hardly appeared to breathe) after 2003.

Again starting end of 2011, Fed went on a hot tear till end 2012. Amazing for a plus 30 year old!
He was not even subjected to out of competition tests in 2012!
whereas Rafa has been continuously tested while out injured in 2012.

ITF has no tests for HGH and its tests for blood doping are useless. It is now planning to introduce the bio passport which has had good deterrent effect in cycling ( on blood doping)

Sudden transformation in stamina happened to Nole too. His 2011 was totally unreal.

So how does not failing doping tests prove Rafa is a cheat but not failing doping tests prove that Fed and Nole are not cheats?

As for muscles, Fed has as much muscles as Rafa. Same height and weight means same proportion of muscles. Also while Fed’s forearms are skinny, his shoulder and back are heavily muscled and so are his legs. Besides, even if you have never seen Fed, surely his powerful serve and forehand need powerful muscles. That’s a no brainer.
His sudden bursts of speed on court all require muscle strength. He is just as strong and powerful as any other top athlete. His shots and movement are powered by muscles, not magic.

WTF Says:

I finally saw the final. Djokovic was hitting so many errors, missing by a wide margin and these errors were coming on shots that he wasn’t pulling the trigger on. Just routine shots that he was missing.

He never tightened up his game in spite of hitting so many and being down 2 sets to 1. I felt that in the 4th set, he had mentally given up, after letting the 3rd get away. He felt that set should have been his and it was snatched from him undeservedly, and never got over the disappointment.

Basically, he stopped fighting. This isn’t anything like him at all. The AO final showed what a fighter he was, and so did the two semi finals against Federer where he had to save match points. This time he just meekly rolled over. Did not adjust his game when it wasn’t working. This was really disappointing to see.

SG1 Says:


The collapse in the 4th set was caused by disappointment but it was also caused by the realization that he’d have to get the better of Rafa in both the 4th and 5th sets. Rafa did to Nole what he has done to Federer so many times before. By battling for every point, Rafa lets you know that coming back will be arduous (mentally and physically). And after expending all that energy in set 4 and 5, there’s still not guarantee that you beat Nadal. That’s why he’s been nicknamed the Mallorcan Minotaur.

SG1 Says:

Nadal is both a physical and mental force of nature.

Steve 27 Says:

SG1, Nadal lost 6 1 two years ago against Djoker in the 4 set despite winning the the third in epic fashion.

WTF Says:

SG1, Nole knows that every game against Rafa is going to be physical. But when both are at their best, Nole is the superior player, so he knows he can beat Rafa. As for it going to require a monumental effort… I think Nole is very fit and capable of taking the punishment. From their meetings in 2011 onward, and namely the matches they played at the AO final and the two FO’s, the guy does not give up. He fights until the end.

AO final especially. Both were so tired in that 5th set. Rafa was first to break, and people thought it was all over. But he continued to fight, break back, and he turned out to be the fitter of the two. He could have done it again, but IMO he gave up, which is uncharacteristic of him.

madmax Says:


Was Agassi on drugs the whole of his career? After reading his book, I thought it was only towards the end of his career.

Holdserve, the very idea that Fed is on drugs is just pathetic. So leave it there will you.

WTF Says:

Ben Pronin Says:

“Gonzalowski, it’s speculation based on history. If everyone had to have hard evidence to speculate anything then no one would ever investigate anything.”

No one says you can’t investigate. That’s how you find evidence in the first place after all. But until you do, it’s a bit unfair to pass judgment. What happens if no evidence is ever found in 50 years later? Do you just say, he was a great cheat, or he was clean after all? What would he need to do to exonerate himself?

That’s the only question that matters. What would you accept as satsifactory proof of innocence?

In reality you can’t prove innocence. You can only prove guilt or fail to prove it. That is why the burden of proof is never on the defendant.

Does that mean he’s innocent? No. It only means he’s not guilty. The two are different things. Would it be practical to have a guilty-until-proven-innocent system of justice? Of course not. It’s impossible to prove innocence.

How would you prove that your glass doesn’t have undetectable substances? If they’re undetectable, they are indistinguishable from non-existent.

Ben Pronin Says:

Isn’t the burden of proof on the defendant in London?

Seth Says:

I said that I think it’s likely Nadal’s a doper. Of course, I’m not able to prove it with certainty. I still think it the most likely explanation for his rather unlikely career comebacks, his rather unlikely physique (he rarely lifts weights, by his own admission), and his rather unlikely stamina.

Maybe Djokovic is a doper, too, I don’t know. He seems less suspect than Nadal under the criteria I’ve identified.

hawkeye Says:

Anyone with a winning record against Seth’s hero over recent years must obviously be doping.


hawkeye Says:

Robredo is for sure doping, no?
Brands is very likely doping.
Delbonis. Yes, also probably doping.
Stakhovsky, obviously doping.


Okiegal Says:


What about this theory………seven months of rehab on the knee? I’m no doctor but common sense tells me to heal any type of injury on foot, leg, back etc you have to take a lay off. 7 months is a long time, and I think it paid off for Rafa. Regarding the doping issue, I think that assumption should be put to rest until there is proof…..Not just Rafa, everyone.

skeezer Says:

i can tell u all that even rafa fans were saying rafa shouldn’t play the hard courts anymore when he was “injured” and resting. Now not only does he win the HC season, but wins USO on top of that. His Knees? Does he really have a chronic knee problem that can stop him from playing and threaten his career? What just happened? just asking the question.


hawkeye Says:

He is the GOAT. Who knew? That’s what happened. Everyone underestimated him for sure, no?

For Fed fanboys, that means he must be doping .


skeezer Says:

ooohhhh “Everyone underestimated him”.

sure.ok.got it.


Ben Pronin Says:

I’ve been calling red flag on Robredo all year.

Ben Pronin Says:

Although the demolition job Nadal pulled on him has caused me to take a brief pause.

Brando Says:

Of course Rafa dope’s in order to succeed. And so he should.

You want to be the best in this business then you must do so.

Look at his competition:

– Nole: The man who quits at the first sign of trouble and ‘suddenly’ has a mental click in off season 2010 and becomes the iron man of the tour. Sure….i’m so convinced Novak…

– Muzza: More scrawny than flake in your cereal box and now is Mr Muscles all of a sudden. All gym work apparently. LOL: yeah right!

So Rafa’s done the right thing by doping as he has no other choice to do so.

Hard work, spending time in the gym, following a rehab program can only take you far so you must dope if you want the big titles.

So I want to thank the Fed fans who have kindly pointed out this fact whilst the ATP, mainstream media, the tour, players have said nothing all these years. I thank you for being the ones to call out the truth every time Rafa wins a slam: it’s much appreciated.

In return to this, as a Rafa fan i’d like to speak the silent truth also:

Federer is an idiot for not doping.

That’s right: what a schmuck he is not doping in this age when all his rivals do so. Especially when they seem to get a away with.

Why isn’t the clown doping instead of senselessly hoping for improved fortune with new racquet’s? LOL!

He’s already got the perfect ground for it: he’s smartly deluded his fans into thinking his results are due to er…..bad back. LMAO: classic one Fed!


Now is the time for Rog to start doping whilst that delusion is still believable before people say something ridiculous like: he’s way past his best and the end is near.

God forbid anyone saying that folly. So Roger:

Contact your buddy Rafa, maybe Novak or Muzza and get in on the action, since:

If everyone is getting away with it you would be clown not try to do so yourself.

Is Federer a clown? He would be not to dope when others are, but the way he carries himself is far from that of a clown.

Could it be that’s he’s in on it himself? Mmmmmm….surely the ambassador of the game wouldn’t be so naughty right?………

Steve 27 Says:

Federer is an idiot for not doping.

Very true, Brando. the swiss is a big idiot

hawkeye Says:

Already answered. Rafa, DjokerNole, A-Muzz, Tommy B, Delbo, Stakho and D-Brands HAVE to be the Dope Nation. It’s the only way to beat Fed don’t you know.

The new drug test. If you beat Fed, you are suspended for doping.


Brando Says:

@Steve 27: he is an idiot if he isn’t doping. All his main rivals are, no one gets punished, they win the big titles and the Fed stays clean and he hopes to win 20 slams. LOL: he’s an idiot clearly for not doping then! But I think we ALL do not think the Fed is an idiot: he’s clearly a smart guy. I guess that would mean the Fed….might just be…. doping….. himself. Naughty Fed, very naughty!

hawkeye Says:

No Fed cannot defeat himself so how can he be doping?


James Says:

If there’s someone I suspect of doping, it’s Tommy Rob…no no no not him, I mean Haas! Roger Federer’s German buddy Tommy Haas. At 35 he’s playing almost as good as he did in his prime. He probably isn’t doping but he’d be my suspect no.1 if I were to point a finger at one of the pros.

I don’t suspect Federer at all. He’s 32 and hasn’t been doing that well of late. I don’t think he is going to win another slam.

James Says:

“Nole knows that every game against Rafa is going to be physical. But when both are at their best, Nole is the superior player”

I’ve heard this before. I may be in minority but I disagree.

Prior to their Open final, I had no hesitation in predicting Rafa to take the first set (also predicted Nole to win 2nd set). Because when both play their game, Rafa is the better player!

From what I’ve seen in most of their matches, Rafa starts at a high level and Nole can’t keep up with him. Rafa wins the set breaking Nole once or twice in the process.

In the 2nd set Nadal’s level drops down most probably because it’s very exhausting for him to maintain 1st set level. He starts playing more defensively. It is then that Djokovic asserts himself!

That’s what I’ve observed in many of their matches.

Gotta add that in 2011 Novak was clearly the better player though. No excuse!

CurefortheItch Says:

So, when Rafa’s doing badly there’s no talk about doping. When he lost to Zeballos, when he lost to Nole at MC, when he crashed out of Wimbledon. Where were his almighty PEDs then? But the minute he’s on a winning tear, he’s doping/suspect/yadda yadda yadda. Very hard to not to see all these insinuations as simply very, very sour grapes from those who would so deeply wish him to be gone from the tennis landscape. Or at the very least, have some ready justification as to why he keeps beating their favourites. First it was Federer the so-called beautiful swan being manhandled by the ‘brute’ but then when Novak sprang up from nowhere (speaking of suspect…) and thumped Rafa soundly, Nadal was supposed to go away quietly and stick to his clay, the one dimensional player he always was. Hallelujah rejoice! But now that Rafa has turned it around AGAIN, “his physicality” is suspect. How dare he rise like a phoenix from the ashes? He was supposed to stay down damn it!! Like I said, very hard not to see this as bitter Bettys lashing out every which way because Rafa’s back on top.

holdserve Says:

In 2011, Rafa was not at his best. The backhand we had seen at AO 2009 was missing. Also missing was the forehand DTL after 4th round Wimbly 2011.
He seemed to rely almost exclusively on forehand cross court to Djokovic’s big weapon and further gave many short balls begging to be punished. Clearly something was not OK.
Rafa’s knee was probably giving trouble. Recently he has said he has completely overhauled his backhand to put weight on his right leg and not his left.

CurefortheItch Says:

Forgot to say, I suppose Rafa was doping in 2011 when he was losing left right and centre to Nole. Bright kid that Rafa. No wonder he faked an injury and took time out in 2012 so that a new strain of his beloved PEDs could be invented and injected, so that he could dominate and destroy his opponents in 2013! That Rafa, Dr. Strangelove has nothing on him!

holdserve Says:

Irrationals harassed Galileo and Socrates but who remembers the names of the irrationals?
History will record in shining letters the name of Rafael Nadal but no one would know or care who toxic Ruan is or who are the hordes of fans of his ilk who vent their spleen in irrational hate posts.

Ben Pronin Says:

When he’s winning he’s doping, when he’s losing his knees are injured. Not that hard to follow.

Steve 27 Says:


Brando Says:

I think the formula’s pretty much set in stone after all these years:

– Rafael Nadal winning = Good times: but why = he’s doping

– Rafael Nadal losing = bad times: but why = his knee

Oh and most factually:

– Rafael Nadal spanking Roger Federer = a regular day for him: but why = since it’s the easiest thing he’s ever had to do on a tennis court!

Ben Pronin Says:

“Are you aware of any other world-class athlete who had an injury to a moving part or joint that was crucial to their sport, (for example, knees or Achilles for sprinters or jumpers or soccer players, rotator cuff or elbow for pitchers etc. etc), didn’t have surgery to fix the problem, and then when they came they were physically better than they were before they took the hiatus for the injury? And, if you want to be more specific, look for improvement almost immediately after the hiatus.”

skeezer Says:

“When he lost to Zeballos, when he lost to Nole at MC, when he crashed out of Wimbledon. Where were his almighty PEDs then? ”

During that period, maybe he tried to go cold turkey during this period but couldn’t do it. Thus….

Ok ok J/K hahahaha …pfft.
You get the prize for comment of the day.

“Federer is an idiot for not doping.”
..hecka funny ;)
So no comments from Rafans about there earlier call for Rafa not to play HC and only focus on Clay from here on out? Oh he was soooo injured…


James Says:

When Rafa pulled out of the Olympic Games and later the US Open, it was always expected of him to make a comeback. I don’t remember Rafa or anyone in his team or doctor saying his knee would never allow him to compete at the highest level again.

Some of you Federer fans must thought otherwise, that he was gone for good and would never return. Or even if he did return, he wouldn’t be the same again. I’m glad Rafa’s disappointed you with his incredible comeback which began with a small clay tournament in Chile where he couldn’t beat some Zeballos guy in the final.



James Says:

Rafa at 27 is still in his prime and a great tennis player that he is, can and should win a few more slams in the next few years.

Federer otoh is way past his prime and shouldn’t be expected to win another slam. That 17 slams record is no longer a moving target for Nadal. It will be very difficult but I hope Rafa equals or surpasses Fed’s slam count.

If Roger somehow at 32 or 33 wins another slam (which considering his age he shouldn’t), I hope he’s made to go through multiple tests.

Steve 27 Says:

Hahahah, very good James. I expect that the swiss is done in slams. If he can win another, definitely is on Peds.

hawkeye Says:


Skeezer Says:

My question was to Rafa fans who made MANY validated and concerned comments in regards to Rafa’s injury status and his future on Hc. It is well documented. You have fallen into the Rafanatic syndrome…. The answer?
Lets talk about Fed.
And the Koolaid drinkers followed like sheep in response


Steve 27 Says:

No GOATs, only perception and favorites.

skeezer Says:

^ not an answer


Steve 27 Says:

Big Brother is watching you

Okiegal Says:

I have wondered if Rafa had knee surgery. Does anyone have any idea of the recovery time? It is possible. He would not have to disclose the info unless he wanted to. Just a thought. I personally think the seven months off his knees is just what the doctor ordered. What I don’t think is that the doctor ordered dope!! If he is doping, in some posters minds…..why didn’t he win Wimbledon??

VAMOS RAFA…….win the Aussie title next!!

Ben Pronin Says:

You guys spend so much time arguing with people who accuse Nadal of doping without doing any research.

I don’t think Nadal is doping because he beats Federer. I never thought about doping in general until someone brought it to my attention a few years ago. Then I started doing research. About doping, the drugs, the players, the sports, the doctors, the effects, etc. At the end of the day, Nadal just comes off as a very obvious case. That doesn’t mean he’s the only one. I don’t know if Federer dopes, doped, or never did anything. But I wouldn’t discount him because it’s 2013 and it seems more unlikely that someone can be consistently great without doping than the opposite being true. I don’t know, though. I know a lot of people simply hate on Nadal or Djokovic or whoever else and cry doping because they’re upset. To me, that’s a waste of time. I don’t care so much about the individual as I do about the process and the system. Are there cover ups? Is it ignorance? Or are the dopers really just that good? It’s all very possible.

Okiegal, perhaps Nadal didn’t win Wimbledon because he was cycling off.

So I’ll ask the question again, and I’ll laugh when it goes ignored again:
“Are you aware of any other world-class athlete who had an injury to a moving part or joint that was crucial to their sport, (for example, knees or Achilles for sprinters or jumpers or soccer players, rotator cuff or elbow for pitchers etc. etc), didn’t have surgery to fix the problem, and then when they came they were physically better than they were before they took the hiatus for the injury? And, if you want to be more specific, look for improvement almost immediately after the hiatus.”

Giles Says:

@Okiegal. Rafa did not go down the surgery route. That would have been the second option if the rehab programme was unsuccessful. There would have been no guarantee of recovery with surgery. In the end the advice from his doctors to try the rehab first worked out just fine.

Okiegal Says:

I don’t know a whole lot about doping as Ben does. I have been reading a little bit on the matter. I just can’t see Rafa or any of the top players taking the chance and getting caught. The players are under scrutiny at all times….I just don’t see it. Does anyone know for sure???? No….I still think the seven months off was the key to his recovery.

Ben, he was limping bad after Indian Wells so he skipped Miami. His scheduling has changed too. I think that has helped his knee issues also. I don’t like to see doping in any sport. I guess I need to see it in black and white. Also…..of all the players out there that I think would be suspect would be Novak. He has turned into superman…..but I don’t believe he is doping. If you are allergic to gluten it can make you feel very bad. I wasn’t really aware of that until I talked to someone who had an allergy to gluten. So….I will believe Novak……..and Rafa……and enjoy the amazing tennis they bring to tennis fans everywhere. I also want to see the mighty Fed in semis again. Great athletes, all of them. Awesome entertainment!!!

Okiegal Says:

@Ben at 4:51.

Didn’t really understand your last paragraph in your comments about the surgery aspect….run that by me one more time, I am pretty thick headed…..LOL. Thanx…….Okiegal

Okiegal Says:

Some posters think that endurance and doping go hand in hand. There are several players that can go the distance and play 5 setters. Does this mean doping?? My mind goes back to Wimby and Isner and Mahut. Were they doping?? I think endurance comes under the heading of conditioning. They train daily for the ability to do this. The ones that cramp up and can’t finish are just not in physical condition to do so.

To accuse an athlete of doping without proof is so wrong. My 5 cents worth!!

Chrillz Says:

Quote from the Davis Cup final last year between Spain and the Czech Republic:

“Mark my words: If Spain lose this DC final, Nadal will not win a slam next year and perhaps ever again.

Similar to how Spain lost the DC final in 2003 and Ferrero, the 2003 FO winner, never won a slam again.”

– Jamie, November 16th, 2012 at 7:24 pm

…Do NEVER count out the legendary Rafael Nadal! Hope this “Jamie” person learned a lesson. I doubt it, but we can only hope.

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