Rafa Roundup: ‘Rafael Nadal is to clay what Michael Phelps is to water’

Photo: Marco Strullu

Photo: Marco Strullu

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Federer, the winner of 17 Grand Slam titles, but 13 times a loser against Nadal on clay, sums it up like this: “Clay just helps his game overall because he’s the best mover we’ve ever seen on clay. Because of his sliding, he saves a lot of metres. I think what always shows up is his mental strength and his physical strength: even if you play great, he can still beat you and that’s what makes him the legend he is today.” … “He’s an example for all the Spanish people and for all the kids in Spain,” Alonso tells BBC Sport. “Not only for the people on the street but also for us, other sportsmen, when we see him fighting the way he does. He’s never giving up, he’s always believing in his power – it’s very inspirational. In Spain, he’s the biggest sportsman probably in history.

The sixth seed improved to a 67-1 record at the clay-court major after he beat wild card Quentin Halys 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 50 minutes. He will next play fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, who won two less points than Alexandr Dolgopolov in a 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(6) victory over Alexandr Dolgopolov.

Since winning his first title in 2004 at Sopot, Nadal has suffered just 20 losses on clay. Five of those have come this year—the most clay court defeats he has experienced in one season since 2003 (six). “I had some up and downs during the season, [and it] is normal that can happen here,” he admitted. “I am trying to avoid that, and I am here to try to play good tennis and to give me a chance to play well and to compete for everything. My mentality and my goal is the same always.” Nadal will face fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro in the second round.

The clay in Chatrier is playing unusually slow this year, and Rafa had some trouble hitting his heavy topspin through it early on. But he took advantage of the opportunities presented by his erratic opponent, opened up on his shots as he relaxed, and finished in something close to full flow. The stat that tells the story of the 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 match is the unforced errors: Nadal committed 13, Halys 52.

Usually Rafael Nadal is to clay what Michael Phelps is to water, what LeBron James is to hardwood. … But Nadal looked sharp as well, winning his 67th French Open match in 68 starts. He knew little about his opponent—French teenager Quentin Halys—but was never really in danger, advancing 6–3, 6–3, 6–4. It wasn’t flawless. It wasn’t Nadal in turbo mode to which we’re accustomed here. But it was solid. Which is about all he could ask for.

 Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

If Roger’s outfit startled for its contrasting purple and pink, Rafa went for shocks with blocks as he stepped out onto court today fully clad in blue from head-to-not-quite-toe. Opinion seemed to be divided on this outfit but I will say that I think it’s a great look, and everyone who thinks otherwise is utterly incorrect.

The line of questioning stemmed from controversy over Spain choosing Gala Leon as their first female Davis Cup captain following Carlos Moya’s exit. … “People have said I was macho so I won’t say anything about that any longer,” Nadal told reporters. “I don’t want to talk about sexism because I’m not macho. Women are very important to me. My mum, my sister, my fiancee. There are lots of people in my life, lots of women who play a pivotal role. I don’t want to be embroiled in that story because this will fuel lots of stories that are not true.”

After his first-round victory at the French Open on Tuesday, Nadal said he respects Bernardes, but it is “better for both of us if we are not (on a) court at the same time for a while.” … Nadal said he felt Bernardes was “not enough respectful” during a match in Rio de Janeiro, when Nadal put his shorts on improperly and asked if he could go to the locker room to change. Nadal said Bernardes told him he would receive a time warning. “For me, that’s not fair,” Nadal said.

“Even so,” Nadal says today, “it is not a product to show off, even if it is beautiful. It’s a real product. It costs so much because it is an extreme watch. A lot of work goes into producing the best watch possible, [it shows its] real value [in that way].”

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VIDEO: Rafael Nadal vs. Quentin Halys Highlights – French Open 2015

Rafael Nadal kicked off his Roland Garros campaign against 18-year-old qualifier Quentin Halys.

Video: Roland Garros

French Open: An Interview with Rafael Nadal (May 26, 2015)

Q. When it’s cloudy like this and the conditions are probably heavier, does that play in your mindset when you’re stepping on the court and starting the match?
RAFAEL NADAL: Can you repeat the last part? I didn’t understand very well.

Q. When you’re stepping on the court knowing that the conditions would probably be a bit heavier, does that play in your mentality a little bit when you’re stepping on the court?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. No, no. Seriously, no.

Q. How did you feel about the way you played today?  Read the rest of this entry

French Open: Rafael Nadal starts title defence with win [PHOTOS]

Nine-time champion Rafael Nadal started his 2015 French Open campaign with a win as he defeated the 18-year-old French wild card Quentin Halys. Our Champ won 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 48 minutes in Paris.

Rafa has won 67 of his 68 career matches at Roland Garros, including the last 36 in a row.

Roland Garros R1: What time does Rafael Nadal play against Quentin Halys?

Defending champion Rafael Nadal will face home favourite Quentin Halys in the first round of the 2015 French Open. This marks the first time that our Champ and the 304th-ranked French wildcard will cross paths on the professional tour.

Photo Credit: Richard Mille

Photo Credit: Richard Mille

Date: May 26, 2015

Time: Approximately 12.30 pm local time (12.30 pm CET – Spain, France, Germany, Italy / 11.30 am GMT – United Kingdom / 6.30 am EDT – New York, Montreal / 8.30 pm AEST – Melbourne). To convert to your local time, use this website.

Watch online: Fromsport and ATDHE

GOOD LUCK & VAMOS RAFA!

Rafa Roundup: ‘Like Aniston and Pitt, clay and Nadal had it all’

Photo: Aurenys Torres Art

Photo: Aurenys Torres Art

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In his last few games Nadal has been playing a bit better but he needs time. It’s logical because when Rafa isn’t at his best, his shots aren’t as fast, he plays shorter and his opponents know how to play against him. He hasn’t had a great preparation but to beat him here over five sets is very difficult. He has an incredible and unique mental strength that could see him win. With Rafa, everything is possible.

Will he, or won’t he? Will Novak Djokovic end an 0-for-6 streak against Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros? Or will the gritty but seriously embattled Spaniard rally to win his 10th French Open?

With the French Open just around the corner, Off The Net has set it’s satirical sights on the four major protagonists certain to be scrapping it out for clay-based glory at the upcoming French Open.  … Something has clearly gone wrong here – we are witnessing the most painful public break up since Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt.  Like Aniston and Pitt, clay and Nadal had it all – success, prestige, adoring fans and fine tans. Now it could all be lost. 

With Roland-Garros 2015 in their sights, Richard Mille and Rafael Nadal have announced the release of two limited edition watches, and the tennis champion, who is getting ready to challenge for a 10th French Open title, has already been spotted testing his latest timepiece. After last week’s RM 035 Americas limited edition, the brand has just announced a new manual winding tourbillon caliber dedicated to the Tennis Champion. With a production run of just 50 models, the RM 27-02 is a rare product for those closest to the brand.

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Rafa Nadal Foundation Gala in Paris

Nine-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal posed with his lovely girlfriend Maria Francisca Perello at the Rafa Nadal Foundation Gala in Paris on Saturday night. Also in attendance were Rafa’s mother Ana Maria Parera and his sister Maribel, US fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, Richard Mille and many others.

Rafa Roundup: Nadal doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone now

EFE/EPA/ROBERT GHEMENT

EFE/EPA/ROBERT GHEMENT

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Rafael Nadal is the best clay-court tennis player ever. He has won the French Open nine times. Nine times! No other man in the history of the sport has won a single Grand Slam title more than seven times. Not Roger Federer, not Pete Sampras, not Rod Laver. … Yes, Nadal has looked worse than ever this spring. But Paris is different. The courts play a little faster, the balls have more bounce. The place is built for Nadal.

Each method tells a similar but slightly different story: Nadal is somewhere between 17 percent and 29 percent worse than he was at his best, a level he was at or near in 2012. … Nadal can win his 10th French Open next month. But if he keeps playing like he has been, he probably won’t.

McEnroe, however, thinks it is foolhardy to dismiss the Mallorcan as a fading force and fully expects him to find his ‘A game’ in the days ahead. … “I guess by Madrid or Rome he would at least liked to have won one or two but it’s hard not to think that he’s gonna take it up to another level (at the French) unless there’s physically something wrong with him.

In past years, Rafa has used these two weeks on the terre battue to build momentum, to the point where he made himself appear unstoppable by the time he played Djokovic. In 2012 and 2014, Nadal peaked with blowout semifinal wins, and went on to beat the Serb in four sets in the final. This time around, Nadal will have two fewer rounds, and four fewer days, to become the King of Clay again.

“Not nice Maria,” joked Toni Nadal in a French radio interview here on Friday. Or maybe Uncle Toni wasn’t joking. As defending women’s champion at the French Open, Maria Sharapova had the honors of pulling the names out of the trophy for the draw of this year’s men’s tournament. The result of her handiwork? Toni’s nephew Rafael Nadal, the nine-time French Open champion, is in the same quarter of the draw as Novak Djokovic…

Mary Joe Fernandez: “If he loses, it will be a shock to everybody just because it hasn’t happened in a very long time. He has to lose at the French at some point. I’m confident he’ll come back again. He’s an amazing champion. He works extremely hard. He still has a great amount of passion for the game. There’s no reason to write him off if he doesn’t win the French.”

Nadal is healthy—which may be the most important point of all—he’s played some excellent matches this year, and he’s accomplished so much on Court Philippe Chatrier that he’s entitled to feel like he’s got nothing to prove.

AUDIO: Corretja – Nadal “Doesn’t Need to Prove Anything” (via BBC) ”

EFE/EPA/ROBERT GHEMENT

EFE/EPA/ROBERT GHEMENT

At this stage of his career, Rafa doesn’t need to prove to anyone that he can win the French Open again.” Former Spain Davies Cup captain Alex Corretja says although Rafael Nadal isn’t in his best form, all others “should be concerned, because he has been unbeatable on that court,” in Paris. The two-time French Open finalist told Sportsworld’s Lee James that the tournament may be decided in the quarter finals.

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REMINDER: Rafa’s Birthday Project! JOIN US NOW!! :-)

INTERVIEW: Roland Garros in Rafael Nadal’s career [VIDEO]

9 time French Open winner Rafael Nadal goes down memory lane at Roland Garros. Episode 3: Roland Garros in Nadal’s career.

Video: Roland Garros

Pre-Tournament Interview with Rafael Nadal – Roland Garros 2015

Nine-time champion Rafael Nadal looks ahead to his French Open campaign.

CORINNE DUBREUIL / FFT

CORINNE DUBREUIL / FFT

Q. Just curious as to since you’ve come from Rome sort of your feeling on the clay here and being back in Paris and how practices have gone the last few days for you.
RAFAEL NADAL: Good. I just arrived on Wednesday. Trying to practice a little bit stronger these few days before competition start and all good.

Q. Your reactions to the draw? Obviously you were there this morning. How do you see your draw sort of shaping out and what sort of thoughts do you have on facing Novak should that match come up in the quarterfinals?
RAFAEL NADAL: I would love to arrive to that match. Yeah, that’s my reaction, no? That match is in quarterfinals and I didn’t start the first round yet, no? I don’t see an easy way to arrive to that match. I am focused on the things that I have to do before that. If I arrive to that match, we going to have two days to talk about.

Q. 11 Roland Garros over ten years. Did it seem to you it went fast or it went slow?
RAFAEL NADAL: Depends on the moments, you know. In some moments you see that the time goes so fast; some moments you see the time goes a little bit slower, no? When the good things are happening, time go quick. That’s it. During that ten years, most of the time happen good things in my life, no? Went fast that. But as always, try to enjoy every year, try to enjoy every new experience, and I think I did. Here we are 10 years later. Is not bad news.

Q. You have set incredibly high standard for form coming into a French Open for your career. Sometimes you have come in no losses on clay, one loss on clay. It’s been a good clay season for you, but lower than your usual standard that you’ve set. Is that…
RAFAEL NADAL: Can you repeat the last thing?  Read the rest of this entry

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