8-Time Monte Carlo Champion Rafael Nadal Says He’s Not The Favorite To Win Anything
by Tom Gainey | April 14th, 2015, 11:18 am

Rafael Nadal returns to his European red dirt this week in Monte Carlo, but the King of Clay doesn’t think he’s the favorite to win much less anything.

“I’m not the favorite for anything,” Nadal said. “I have been playing worse than the rest of the rivals of mine. The pressure is not for me.

“I am arriving here with the motivation to do something better than what I am doing.”

Nadal is coming off a poor March during which he only won 4 matches as he dealt with nerves and confidence issues. And he has just one title (Buenos Aires) and two Top 20 wins (No. 13 Gilles Simon, No. 14 Kevin Anderson both at Indian Wells) since his 9th French Open title last June.

“The most important thing for me is to feel well on court again, feel confident, feel I am improving,” Rafa said. “I was improving every week before Miami, and in Miami I played bad… If I’m able to find the confidence, to find the tennis here on clay, then it makes everything a little less difficult.

“I am working to be playing well as soon as possible, and if I didn’t believe that I could, I would not be here… If I am here it’s because I have the motivation, the passion, the emotion to keep playing tennis.”

Nadal is ranked No. 5 this week but can make up ground quickly because he’s only defending quarterfinal points from 2014 Monte Carlo.

Nadal opens his bid for a 9th Monte Carlo title Wednesday against the hard-hitting French wildcard Lucas Pouille.

“I’m feeling well. I’m always well in Monte-Carlo. I love being here, Rafa said. “It’s good being back to clay, to my favourite part of the season and my favourite tournaments.”

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52 Comments for 8-Time Monte Carlo Champion Rafael Nadal Says He’s Not The Favorite To Win Anything

Giles Says:

He speaks the true, no? Joker is the favourite.
Let’s see how things unfold!

jane Says:

interesting that rafa says this; “The pressure is not for me.”

RZ Says:

I respectfully disagree, Rafa.

Okiegal Says:

I read this article yesterday…..I can see why he said this…..losing more often too lower ranked players, dropping in rankings, confidence at an all time low, plus the pressure of being billed as King of Clay. He’s got a lot to overcome atm…… Rafa,
get your head on straight!! You’ve done it before, do it again!

sienna Says:

325-25 is the clay record. 72% of his tournement winnings come from clay….
going for la decima but no favorite.

COME ON! get real Rafa!

Ben Pronin Says:

I think it’s both true and untrue. From one POV, for Djokovic or Federer or any of the other top guys, knowing Nadal is vulnerable puts extra pressure on them. They’re almost the favorites now, even on clay maybe. It’s like playing someone who’s injured, you start getting caught up in the injury instead of focusing on the tennis. So yeah, I can see how a Djokovic might feel additional pressure knowing he needs to capitilize while Nadal isn’t 100%. Whereas Nadal can play more freely, especially since he naturally relishes in being the underdog and ruining his rivals’ dreams.

On the other hand, once the French Open rolls around, the pressure is almost completely back on Nadal. No matter how vulnerable he is, he’s the favorite at the French. And especially if he struggles in the next few events, the pressure will be way more important. Struggle on clay and lose at the French? Things can unravel really fast for Nadal from there, especially since he’s struggled big time off the clay in the last year and a half.

RZ Says:

@Ben – there are 2 ways to look at the French Open and pressure. On the one hand, Rafa could feel the pressure being on him as a 9-time champion going for #10 (which I think no one has done before in singles at a grand slam). On the other hand, he’s won the tournament 9 times and doesn’t need to win anymore there for his place in French Open history (and domination), as future wins are just icing on the cake – so he might feel no pressure.

I wonder if Djokovic’s passing him in weeks at #1 will give Rafa added motivation to clean up on clay?

Giles Says:

Lol. Whether you guys believe or disbelieve what Rafa is saying is a conundrum in itself. Whatever floats your boat!!

Ben Pronin Says:

Hmm, yeah that could add some motivation but Nadal has stated he doesn’t care about the ranking nor do I think he can care. He’s gotta focus on winning tournaments before he can worry about the ranking. Plus motivation doesn’t equal results, so we’ll see.

The last few years, Nadal’s French Open triumphs have been more about holding down the fort than adding more trophies to his cabinet. Obviously he knows he can win it, even when far below his beset. So it’s not like he’s proving to himself or anyone else that he can still win it. No, rather he’s telling his rivals (Djokovic and Federer) that as long as he’s around they’re not gonna get the French. Meanwhile he invades their territory pretty regularly.

So should Djokovic or really anyone breakthrough and prevent Nadal from holding down his fortress, it could be even tougher for Nadal to storm a comeback. Sure he lost in 09 and came back to win the next 5. But he was in his prime. He’s on the tailend of it now.

the DA Says:

“since he naturally relishes in being the underdog and ruining his rivals’ dreams”

And what evidence led you to reach this conclusion, particularly the “ruining his rival’s dreams” part, may I ask? Or is this a gut instinct? Part of the Nadal narrative invented by the media? Enquiring minds….

SG1 Says:

I think there’s a bit of a language barrier thing going on here with the “The pressure is not for me.” statement. I don’t think Rafa is saying there isn’t any pressure on him. I think he’s saying the pressure is on Novak and Roger as they’ve been the better players over the last 6 or 7 months.

If Rafa is trying to imply that he’s not feeling any pressure in losing on his best surface than he’s a bad salesman. If you don’t feel pressure than you just don’t care. I suspect that Rafa very much wants to win No.10 at RG and defend his title there for the 5th consecutive time.

SG1 Says:

I think Ben’s right in that if Nadal lays an egg at RG, it could signal a quick downward spiral for him. He’s often injured and not getting any younger. I don’t think Rafa has to win at RG and during the Euro clay court season to get back to the top but he has to do some serious damage over the next 5 or 6 weeks to build his confidence up.

jane Says:

ben “Nadal’s French Open triumphs have been more about holding down the fort than adding more trophies to his cabinet. ”

really? you don’t think toni and rafa want to pass fed’s 17? toni has already said, just last december, he thinks rafa can do it.


Okiegal Says:

He will very nervous and anxious when he steps on red clay of RG…….there will be pressure on both Rafa and Novak…..Roger comes out unscathed, pressure wise…..imho.

Krishna Says:

Every year Nadal says the same thing, and every year he pretty much sweeps the clay court events.

So to me I think he does it more to put pressure on the other players, and take pressure off of himself. So if he wins it is considered a “great unbelievable achievements” but if he loses it is ok since he was injured or isnt playing well.

Okiegal Says:

Agree with Jane…..Rafa will want number 10 very badly. I’m sure he wants to pass Roger, but in the same breath he also realizes the direction his tennis has been going as of late. I don’t think that stat is worrying him at the moment…..he’s stressed about getting beat by lower ranked players who beat him and then lose the next day and don’t back it up….now that puts doubts in the head. I know this about him, he will fight hard, give it his all, but can still lose. Win, lose or draw…..I will be in his corner however long his career lasts!! :)

jane Says:

sg-1, rafa also said ““I don’t have pressure this year”. this could mean a lot of different things. it could mean he doesn’t defend the monte carlo title this year, so he does not feel pressure. then he adds the bit about “rivals of mine,” suggesting that they have the pressure because he’s been playing “worse”. and that is true: off clay.

rafa is the undisputed king of clay. he’s made history at pretty much every clay tournament, but he’s been especially successful at monte carlo and roland garros.

2010 and 2013 were comeback years where he’d struggled with injuries / illnesses the prior season, where people had all sorts of doubts, but he still conquered clay and indeed had 2 of his very best years. in 2015, he’s reached Qs at AO and IW; only in Miami did he lose inordinately early.

rafa’s 28 going on 29, one year older than andy and nole. of course, he’s more injury prone, plus he turned pro much younger, so i get that these aspects add mileage. but he’s also missed a lot of time on tour when the others were playing, so that neutralizes the age and mileage difference somewhat.

as with most things, it seems like a “wait and see” situation.

it’s exaggerated to say he is “not the favourite to win anything”. in fact, when the tour steps onto european clay, he is the favourite to win everything until some year where we really see him falter on clay. even last year, when struggling with residual effects of AO back injury, he still won madrid and the french open.

chris ford1 Says:

Getting a 10th Roland Garros will make the King of Clay….well…still the King of Clay. It is just in a class of “How Amazing the King is, as amazing as before”.
He’d be better served to win a WTC, The lopsided clay results, for a guy that has had great success on grass and on hardcourts, seem less a complete player than Novak and Roger to many.
His fans may thrill and say “No One Ever! won 10 Slams!” at a single venue, but no one won 9. Or 8.
It would be good for the sport if someone else wins.
Nadal falling in 2009 and Roger getting his career Slam the only way he could given Nadals dominance over him on clay – was good for tennis.
Kei winning it? Novak winning it? Roger getting it again? – Those would be bigger deals than Rafa winning as usual.
Maybe Nadal knows it too. Too much dominance becomes boring, another run in the wheel ruts he already carved. And by now Rafa knows it doesn’t give the winning player who always wins an event – the same amount of glory and popular focus. Same old, same old.

Ben Pronin Says:

Well Navratilova has 9 Wimbledons on the women’s side. So Nadal winning a 10th French Open would be historic for both men and women’s tennis.

But yeah it’s pretty boring.

jane Says:

chrisford1, but it would give rafa one more slam, surpassing pete sampras and getting within 2 of tying roger, so it would be a big deal in the historical sense.

leo Says:

This is not the first time Rafa has said something like this – wasn’t it the same story in 2014?

He seems to work best when he says things like this… I think it’s his way of taking pressure off of him and putting it on his rivals. Not sure if it’s done on purpose to heap pressure on other top players. If you listen to him and his team speak, you’d think that Rafa is some journey man player.

Same story, different year. He’ll be fine!

Okiegal Says:

Would it be boring if Fed won 9 French Opens?? I seriously doubt it! It would be the greatest thing since sliced bread!! It boils down to who the title holder is that makes it boring….pfft…

Dan Says:

This is nothing new for Rafa. Really, the media shouldn’t be asking him if he’s the favourite anyway. It doesn’t matter whether he or any of the other top players consider themselves favourites or not, it won’t make a difference in the outcome of the tournament. Having said that, I have to say that Rafa’s ‘humility’ is really false humility, and I don’t think it’s good for the game of tennis. It is nice to have the players speak honestly about how they feel once in a while and not give a canned response that all the fans and players know is laughable. This is partly why I don’t like Nadal, he lacks the ablility to speak honestly about himself and his place in the game. When being compared to the best of all time, he always plays himself WAY down as if he hasn’t accomplished huge things in the game. He always says “it is my dream to win this tournament…” in almost every tournament that he plays in. Yes, I do believe he is somewhat humble, and he genuinely doesn’t take his opponent for granted (which is a good thing for any player), but it makes for terrible interviews when he acts like every opponent is his equal, even on clay courts. Being boastful would be bad, but that doesn’t mean he has to act like he is the underdog against everyone he plays, which he so often does. That is false humility, and it can be as bad as being arrogant. His interviews are definitely very boring in comparison with all the other top players.

skeezer Says:

^ +1

Giles Says:

April 14th. 1.58 pm. What a load of baloney!!

Okiegal Says:


Ben Pronin Says:

Okiegal, Federer has 7 Wimbledons. Although it’d be cool for him to get an 8th so that he stands alone with the most, I’d rather see new faces. So yeah, it would be boring if Federer had 9 French Opens.

jane Says:

here’s a piece on rafa’s thoughts from tennis.com: “Mourataglou surprised by Nadal’s confession to nerves”


Okiegal Says:

@Ben…..Yeah, right, I believe you really think that about as much as think and believe I will own ocean front property in Arizona. Lol But nice try anyway…..not convinced one iota! Sorry…..

skeezer Says:

“I’m feeling well. I’m always well in Monte-Carlo. I love being here, Rafa said. “It’s good being back to clay, to my favourite part of the season and my favourite tournaments.”

No excuses….all that needs to be said. Good luck, may the best man win. No excuses.

chris ford1 Says:

Ben Pronin – I am always wary of mixing male and female players into the same stat records. The women have their stats and the men have theirs. Just like the NBA and WNBA, or the PGA and LPGA. Martina has nine Wimbledons, in her world, Stefi has 22 Slams, Evert-Navratilova played each other a ton of times. OK – but that is te woman’s game – the stats are not “The Best in ALL of Tennis”.

Humble Rafa Says:

I have never been a favorite ever in my life. I mean this clay surface is mean. I have to hit so many balls.

I would rather play video game and have a humble life as a goat owner.

Sidney Says:

And now humility is a bad thing? Unbelievable!

Rafa, this is your prize for beating Roger too many times. Sucks to be you.

Markus Says:

Come on now, give the guy some benefit of the doubt. Why call it false humility when that’s how he feels? He has not been winning as much as he used to, so if he says he’s a favorite, I can’t even imagine the backlash that would evoke. The guy has also been injured a lot, took time offs from them, so in previous times, when he downplayed his chances, he had reasons to feel that way. Poor Nadal just can’t win whatever he says.

jalep Says:

Well said Chris Ford1 @ 1:28 pm.

It does get Rafa closer to passing Federer’s GS count however. But if the remaining slams he wins are all at FO it does appear, if say he wins 10 – 12 of those, like very strong evidence for at least a decade of weak competition on the surface.

Rafa needs a few more slams off clay more than another FO. And he could get them,as he’s shown.

Skeezer Says:

“And now humility is a bad thing? Unbelievable!
Rafa, this is your prize for beating Roger too many times. Sucks to be you.”

First of all, who said humility is a bad thing? The accusation was its “false humility”(not sayin I agree or disagree).
Second, you bring in Fed, like its his fault. LMAO. Rafan logic at work.
Thirdly…..Rafa says these things, not the media. Quit blaming the media for the guys comments!! They come out of his mouth, not the media.

Okiegal Says:

@Markus…..I have never seen an athlete, of any sport, get as much flack as Rafa does. It matters not what he says, it’s never right…….He simply answers questions asked and I believe he’s very honest in giving his answers. What is wrong with being truthful? I was always taught, honesty is the best policy…..and my Mother was spot on!!

sienna Says:

no, he is answering questions.

They (him + Tony) are deliberately making/arranging their media statements.
There are no questions. it is carefully been crafted to raise doubts about his form in order to inflate expectations.

Giles Says:

@Okie. “I have never seen an athlete, of any sport, get as much flack as Rafa does”. Don’t you know why? Well, this is my theory, which I believe to be correct or as near as dammit.
It all started when our boy came on the scene, beating none other than the TMF. What? This young upstart beating fed? How dare he! And then the victories over fed increased over the years to the point that Rafa became his “nemesis”. By this time the media and his fans became more and more bitter and twisted mostly out of disbelief that their hero who was annointed as Goat was getting his @ss kicked by this young dashing Spaniard. And there you have it!
Vamos Rafa!

Hippy Chick Says:

Okie the domination thing,roughly tanslated means im bored when a favorites rival dominates,when its a favorite poeple couldnt care less,do you think Feds fans felt bored when he dominated W,or are Novaks fans bored with his AO domination,and now its CC season Rafas fans dont care either about the domination err no BS?….

Margot Says:

Lol Hippy, I think there might be a bit of a queue for Aidan….;) I’m in it………

Hippy Chick Says:

Margot watching some of those love scenes on Poldark just about leave me out of breath,imagine how that girl must feel?…;-)….

Margot Says:

Hippy, Demelza is beautiful isn’t she? Not a natural red head either, but it suits her.

Okiegal Says:

@Sienna…… I read an article the other day concerning Rafa and the news media. People could comment on the article if they chose to. One poster said that Rafa’s coach and PR person was handling the media all wrong. He said that Rafa needed to give the media a set of questions to ask him. This person stated that other players did that….He named Roger and Novak. Now how this person actually knows this or it was just conjecture on his part, I have no way of knowing. But in your comment above are you meaning that Rafa’s team gave the reporter a set of questions to ask him? I’m I understanding you correctly??

Okiegal Says:

@Giles……You may be on to something. He is a great champion and has to endure so much negativity….when he loses, when he wins, when he’s injured, when he’s not injured, when he’s giving interviews……it never ends……sigh….

Okiegal Says:

@Chick……Ben is terribly bored with Rafa’s 9 Frenchies, he says. That is exactly the question I posed to to him…..He said he would be bored if it was Fed’s record too….but I didn’t buy it! Lol But we both know the real story!!! Lol

Ben Pronin Says:

I’m pretty bored with Novak’s AO domination. It’s cool that he has the record and obviously I want him winning slams. But I’d much rather he win any of the other 3 slams than another AO. If he can get 2-4 more slams and none of them are from the AO, I’m pretty much all for that.

We’ve seen a lot of crazy historical achievements from Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic for over 10 years now and on the one hand it’s pretty awesome. But one player winning the same title over and over again is boring.

Federer’s dominance was only 4 years. I mean at the time it was crazy but in retrospect, compared to Nadal’s clay court dominance, it wasn’t that long. Plus Federer was winning all the tournaments, not just a select few over and over. But it doesn’t matter. It’s flat out hilarious that Nadal fans are getting on my case about this boring dominance thing. The reason people started rooting for Nadal in the first place was because he was the underdog, a breath of fresh air, and the guy who disrupted Federer’s boring dominance. But his domination over clay has trumped anything Federer did by quite a bit. And yet these same fans aren’t bored by his dominance? So it’s just a favorites thing?

No, absolute dominance is boring.

Okiegal Says:



elina Says:

A bit late but Peter Bodo (who is anything but a Nadal supporter) hit it on the head this week (in a rare moment for him) when he wrote:

“Nadal is nothing if not realistic, and his humility is so striking that anyone predisposed to harbor a grudge against him tends to interpret his sincerity as feigned. If it is, Nadal is a better actor than he is a clay-court player, and that’s just to out there to even consider.”

Now, why would anyone be predisposed to harbor a grudge against him? I can’t think of anything. :)

Preach it Bodo. Nailed it.


Patson Says:

Boredom comes from a boring mind (Metallica)

THe above is directed to those who excessively complain about boredom due to one man’s dominance at a certain event — whoever that one man may be.

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