Rafael Nadal: I Played Roger This Year On Surfaces He Likes
by Tom Gainey | November 11th, 2017, 7:41 pm

Rafael Nadal finished the year on top at No. 1, and that won’t change at the upcoming ATP Finals which begin tomorrow. However, Nadal is after two more goals this week in London.

Nadal has never won the year-end title, an event rival Roger Federer has taken seven times.

“Yes it’s a goal in my mind, I’ve qualified 13 years,” Nadal said. “Of course being here is an important thing but for me, it is what happens during the year, competing in tournaments, almost every week with a very competitive level of tennis, and being healthy.”

Nadal is winless on the season against Federer at 0-4, and has lost his last five to the Swiss. Though Rafa points out, he never played Roger on the clay.

“No I don’t need to beat Roger for good confidence,” Nadal said. “I’ve won enough to be confident. If I play him here it would be great to finish the year playing him again to give me another chance.

“We cannot forget that we played all the times (in 2017) on surfaces that he likes more than me. I just accept that and find different ways to approach the match and if that happens (in London), I’m healthy enough so I hope I have my chances.”

Of course facing Federer again this week would also be on a fast hardcourt possibly next weekend in the semifinals or the finals.

First, on Monday Nadal will meet David Goffin who he beat twice on the clay this year.

“After what happened to him at Roland Garros, it would be really unfair if he was not here,” Nadal said. “I’m very happy to see him recovered and playing well. Hopefully he won’t play that well on Monday but he’s 100 percent here and he deserves to be.”

Goffin, who’s qualified into his first ATP Finals, said playing Nadal off clay should help.

“First of all, it’s faster on hard courts and the [bounce] is lower indoors. Rafa, he cannot slide on this surface. He’s more comfortable on clay and can play higher, he can play deeper; it’s really heavy when he’s hitting the ball on clay so it’s not easy to take the ball really early.

“Here there is no bad bounce – you can take the ball early, earlier than on other surfaces,” added Goffin. “You can do a lot more winners, so that’s what I’m going to try against him in my first match. But it’s not easy, he’s such a great fighter, such a great defender and as soon as you give him a short ball it’s a winner for him. It’s never easy to play against him.”

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19 Comments for Rafael Nadal: I Played Roger This Year On Surfaces He Likes

Roger is CLASS Says:

Nadal’s favorite on clay 13 times? Does he said that it was unfair?

t4t Says:

The silly argument about Nadal being favorite on clay, Cult type logic! haha ha! ROFL!

Roger is CLASS Says:

Nadal: I Played Roger This Year On Surfaces He Likes

I’m writing it to Nadal’s comment. I know. Much kind of surface becomes slow. That’s the lucky for Nadal.

Roger is CLASS Says:

Pete Sampras wasn’t fun, says Rafael Nadal

“to watch a Sampras v Ivanisevic match, or one between those kind of players,
is not enjoyable. It’s not really tennis, it is a few swings of the racquet.

“It was less eye-catching than what we do now. Everyone enjoys the tennis we play much more.
I am not saying we are playing better tennis, just more enjoyable tennis.
For me, in the past it was just serve, serve, serve.


Roger is CLASS Says:

I’m not greatest player – Roger Federer

“I don’t feel better than anyone,
because we need past champions to pave the way for our generation
and we have become very professional,”
“Back in the day they weren’t doing that, they were just playing to play tennis.
Things have changed dramatically with the press reminding us ‘you should do this and win that
and you’ll be considered the greatest of all time’.

“And anyway I don’t think you can compare different eras in tennis.”


Tony N Says:

We cannot forget that Nadal played Federer mostly on clay surfaces that Nadal likes much more than Federer.

Hamburg used to be the “heaviest and slowest” clay Masters championship. Federer won four titles (2002, 2004, 2005 and 2007). Federer’s first three finals were best of five setters against Safin, Coria and Gasquet.

Nadal skipped the slow Hamburg clay in 2004, 2005 and 2006.

Nadal showed up in 2007, during a successful clay season. But Federer bageled him in the final.

In 2008, Nadal finally won his only Hamburg title against Federer, who was still trying to recover his game after suffering mononucleosis earlier in the year – yet Nadal desperately resorted to an injury timeout when he was losing 2-5 to get a thigh massage and disrupt Federer from winning the first set (Roger had been up 5-1). Watch 33:40 of youtube clip. Nadal’s delay tactic worked on the mono-compromised Federer, who lost interest and the match.

Margot Says:

The best matches for me are when a s and v player plays a primarily defensive player. And when Andy played Llodra years ago, has got to be one of my favourite matches.
And I agree with Rafa, the Sampras years were tedious. And another of my favourite matches was when Fed beat Sampras at Wimbledon.
A match with two skilled defensive players is interesting tho., it becomes a tennis chess match. Infinitely, and then some, more preferable than eg Isner playing Mahut at Wimbledon. That has got to be one of the most mind boringly dull tennis matches of all time.

Roger is CLASS Says:

I was hoping.

They played a game 13 times by a high-speed indoor too.


Roger is CLASS Says:


They’re a player. not fan.

Federer Djokovic Murray doesn’t insult the past era. This year. Federer said “Sampras GOAT”, in IW. Sampras was an idol in Djokovic. If Roger was talking about this, was encountering much criticism.

The young player who can say this now…. Nick?

j-kath Says:

It seems to me that Roger’s fans refuse to accept that the poor guy should occasionally be allowed to lose against a better player. Instead a medical reason is always touted for the loss…he was bathing his children and hurt his back/he was playing with his children in the park and hurt his back. He was mono-compromised.

Yet the obvious injuries of other players are dismissed – usually on the basis that Roger would have beat them anyway.

The reason must be that boasting about one’s favourite player makes the fan feel superior….suggests many of Roger’s fans have low self-esteem and need to bolster their personal confidence through Roger’s successes. Piteous really – it’s not Roger’s fault – however, the rest of us are left feeling guilty if we fail to massage their egos.

AndyMira Says:

@JK!…Ohohohohohoho!!….Run for cover!!

j-kath Says:


It will only be fans who think they fit the description who will have reason to respond.

(In case I’m wrong I’m all packed and ready to emigrate to North Sudan).

skeezer Says:

“It seems to me that Roger’s fans refuse to accept that the poor guy should occasionally be allowed to lose against a better player.”
You sure you’re not talking about Rafa or Djoker fans(ie; Giles)?
You should also put “some of” in between “that” and Roger’s”.
Thank you for your consideration.

rognadfan Says:

Classical tactic.
You say thing to others that actually you are suffering from; to make yourself look strong. Bullies tend to do that until someone turns towards them.
Right skeezer?

j-kath Says:

Skeezer: Agree, not all fans – hence you are welcome to “some of” and “that”.

James Says:

Nadal was 6-1 on Federer on clay by 2007 end, but 2-5 outside of clay (8-6 overall). Overall he has played Federer 15 times on clay, much less on indoor hard. So in this H2H, Nadal has had the choice of courts many more times – primarily because Fed was consistently the second best clay courter, but Nadal was NOT anywhere near the second best hard court player (let alone indoor hard). Nadal should be thankful it turned out that way. Plus he should be thankful that he has a 5 year age advantage over Federer, and they have played the majority of their matches with Federer past his prime and Nadal close to his prime age.

I am sure the LAST person Nadal wants to play in London is Federer. Federer probably wants another chance to make the overall H2H better. If they play on hard courts now, including indoor, I would say Fed would be favored to win 90% of their matches, at least.

skeezer Says:

Well said James!

Roman Says:

James, you are totally on point, Federer was for years the second best clay player, making finals everywhere in a era of clay players (many spaniards and argentinians dominated those years) and occasionally winning titles too and he never complained about that.
He did suffered those matches against Nadal, especially the RG final where he was defeated in three sets, but for years, he still went and played and kept losing.

Tony N Says:

j-kath Says: “Yet the obvious injuries of other players are dismissed…”
You’re right: we should not dismiss the obvious injuries of players who have actually had surgery to treat their genuine injury.
In 2008, Nadal skipped the World Tour Finals (Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai). He claimed his knees were injured – yet he had chosen to play both singles and doubles in back-to-back indoor Masters 1000 events in Madrid and Paris. One week later, Nadal used the same knee excuse to skip the Davis Cup final in Mar del Plata, Argentina.
Despite his “obvious injuries” Nadal did not return to Spain to undergo treatment. Instead Nadal and his injured knee travelled to the remote island of Mauritius to go water skiing and play other water sports risky to an injured knee.
In this linked picture of Nadal water skiing (from a large hispanic mass media site), you do not see any tape on his knees. Yet during the Paris Masters two weeks earlier, Nadal’s knees were both heavily taped and he took medical timeouts for leg massages. Also search for “Rafael Nadal’s rehab in Mauritius”

j-kath Says: “Instead a medical reason is always touted for the loss”
You must be talking about Nadal, who often publicizes a medical reason to downplay his loss or mitigate a potential loss (sometimes he uses a knee strap to convey that message). Yet he has never needed surgery for any of those overuse injuries.
I guess you don’t feel it was questionable that — during both the 2008 both the Monte Carlo clay final as well as again in the Hamburg clay final clay season — the healthy younger Nadal twice took medical timeouts at key moments in sets when he was losing against Federer? Yet the older, mononucleosis-compromised Federer did not take any medical timeouts to ease his fatigue in the spring and summer months that he was struggling to return to form. (As tennis expert Jim Courier explained to armchair critics: “Federer was ill all season long, and the story was completely missed. He hid it from everybody because it’s his responsibility to not show weakness, and he played through it because of his commitment to the tour… (mononucleosis is) a serious illness for a high-level performance athlete.” From “How Nadal humbled Federer” by S.L. Price in Sports Illustrated, May 14, 2009 )

Hmmm. Jumping to conclusions with such certainty (“The reason MUST be…”) probably makes some armchair critics feel superior in ego and self-esteem. Or maybe not.

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