- New year brings new challenges for Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and the players chasing them (via oregonlive.com)
… “The slow, bouncy hard courts at the Australian Open suit your game more than the fall’s indoor surfaces or even the U.S. Open’s courts, yet you have only one Melbourne title. By living in the moment, which of course has been the secret of your success from the very beginning, you’ll add a second Oz championship to your C.V.”
- Success is all about attitude, Nadal tells Aspire students (via gulf-times.com)
… “The only advice I can give young and aspiring sportsmen is to fight with a positive attitude, until the very last moment,” said Nadal. “On the days you’re not feeling your best and just want to go home, push through and give it all you’ve got because it is by getting through those moments that you become a winner.”
- Nadal: “Sin jugar al tenis también he sido feliz” (via sport.es)
… “No puedo engañar. Evidentemente sorprende. Hay un ranking que marca quién ha sido el mejor del año aunque creo que los dos hicimos un año fantástico. He sido muy crítico con la ITF, aunque creo que tengo la razón y que muchas veces se lo merecen, y quiero pensar que son lo suficientemente profesionales como para que esas críticas no hayan pesado en su decisión. “
- Rafael Nadal braced for ‘strange’ days in Australia (via tribune.com.pk)
- Nadal focused on titles not ranking points (via sport360.com)
Nadal, a champion in Melbourne in 2009, would be the first player since Rod Laver to win each Grand Slam at least twice should he triumph this month. For the first time in his career, the Mallorcan has commenced his season with a title win in the first week and he’s hoping it bodes well for his chances.
- Court speed at Australian Open tennis unchanged, says tournament director Craig Tiley (via smh.com.au)
- Who’s hot and who’s not? (via thetennisspace.com)
- Best-Case Scenarios for Top Stars of Men’s Tennis in 2014 (via bleacherreport.com)
… It is almost like a question asked of a little boy. “What would you like for the New Year, Rafael Nadal?” It’s hard to find an answer that is as clear as the other top players around him. That’s because Nadal has it all.
- Tour report: Hewitt, Nadal, Serena, Ivanovic win early titles (via wimbledon.com)
- Corona ATP Weekly Slice 2014
TENTH ANNIVERSARY: This year marks the 10th anniversary of Rafael Nadal reaching his first career ATP World Tour final. The then 17-year-old Spaniard lost to Dominik Hrbaty 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 in the 2004 Auckland final.
- Ask Rafa! Tweet your questions to #KiaOpenDrive! (via @Kia_Motors)
- Thanasi Kokkinakis will be interviewing Rafael Nadal. Post your questions here. (via Babolat Facebook)
- [Kia] Rafael Nadal’s exclusive interview from Seoul
- Rafael Nadal – Best points in ATP Qatar Open 2014
R. NADAL def. G. Monfils 6‑1, 6‑7, 6‑2
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
RAFAEL NADAL: Thank you.
Q. This is your 61st title and the first time you have won a tournament in the opening week of the year. How special does this feel for you?
RAFAEL NADAL: Always special. A title is always special in any week of the season. Beginnings of the season are important always because seems like every time you start another season, seems like you start from zero again. Every victory is important, and title today means a lot to me.
First time in my career that I am able to start the season with a victory. That’s always important. And playing much better tennis at the end of the tournament than what I did at the beginning.
Q. Congratulations. Gaël’s standard went up in the second set and the match became a very good one. Are you pleased with the level that your own tennis reached during that match? Read the rest of this entry
Rafael Nadal visited the Aspire Academy in Doha to speak with students, advise them, and answer questions about his own experiences. He was welcomed by director Ivan Bravo, who heads the institution that develops young Qatari athletes to excel in national teams. The students were thrilled to receive Rafa at their academy. Mr. Bravo said it was an honor for them to have Rafa visit: “He represents the highest values intrinsic to sporting excellence such as passion, hard work, discipline, determination, fair play, humility, and generosity. He is the world’s number one player, but he’s also an inspiring figure for millions of young sportsmen around the world. We tell our talented players that if there is one person they can look up to, try to learn from, and imitate, then Rafa is that person. He is a wonderful role model.”*
Photos: ASPIRE Academy for Sports Excellence Facebook, marca.com, as.com
… Nadal, who has now won titles in 17 different countries, said, “Every victory is important and the title today means a lot to me. It is the first time in my career that I am able to start the season with a victory. That’s always important.”
… “Between here and Australia the good thing is I am going to have one week, and I don’t go there thinking about the adaptation of my game. I go in there thinking about the things that I want to keep practising to be very competitive. I want to keep practising in the same way that I played today. I think that’s the right way.”
- Nadal arranca como nunca (via El Pais)
“Estoy muy feliz, nunca tuve la oportunidad de ganar aquí, y eso era algo que tenía en mente, especialmente desde la final de 2010 [perdió contra Davydenko tras tener punto de partido]. Es muy emocionante empezar así la temporada”, se despidió Nadal, que ahora afrontará en Melbourne la prueba de los grandes: esperan los cinco sets, el calor australiano, los tenistas del top-10… Y Novak Djokovic.
- Rafael Nadal’s Win at Qatar Open 2014 Bodes Well for Rest of Year (via bleacherreport.com)
…Nadal was able to finish on top last year, though, and with a win at the Qatar Open to start 2014, he’s in great shape to do so again this year.
- Fashion Focus: New Nike Nadal Fan Shirt (via The Slice)
… Ladies who love Rafael Nadal will love this new Nike Women’s Rafa Amor Tennis Tee.
- Tips for Buying Australian Open Tickets (via Grand Slam Gal)
… Planning to go to the Australian Open? Find out about the different ticket options that are available.
- In case you missed it: Win Australian Tennis’ Special Poster Magazine!
Here is the complete trophy ceremony:
On-court interview: Read the rest of this entry
World No. 1 Rafael Nadal won his first title of 2014 by defeating France’s Gael Monfils 6-1, 6-7, 6-2 at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha. This is Rafa’s first title in his sixth singles appearance at the tournament. With this win, Rafa ushers in his 663rd career win, surpassing the tie he set with Michael Chang yesterday, and also surpasses Andre Agassi’s ATP titles record (whom he was tied with until today) to win his 61st ATP title. This is also the first time that Rafa has won a title before going into the Australian Open.
Given the ease in which Monfils slid his way into the final, and his winning record against Rafa in Doha (which in itself isn’t necessarily a useful statistic or predictor of current performance), the match was much anticipated and promised to be unpredictable. It lived up to expectations. The first set saw Rafa utterly dominating the court and taking just 23 minutes to end at 6-1. The second set started out with Monfils breaking to be up 3-0 before Rafa scored. Rafa broke to even the set, before Monfils took it in the tiebreaker at 7-6(5). The third set saw Rafa gain momentum once again, ending at 6-2. Rafa heads to Melbourne next, where he will attempt his second Australian Open championship victory.
Heartiest congratulations, Rafa! All our best wishes are with you for a season more successful than your last! Vamos!
Photos: Reuters/Ahmed Jadallah, AP/Osama Faisal, EFE/EPA/Ali Haider, AFP Marwan Naamani, ar.beinsports.net, QTF/Paul Zimmer
- Rafael Nadal forced to step up his game to reach Qatar final – Reuters (scmp.com)
“The positive thing is I am in the finals the first week of the season without arriving here with big preparation,” Nadal said. “Without playing my best, I was able to find a solution. It’s true that I finished the match playing better than what I started. That’s always a positive thing.”
- Rafael Nadal avoids a shock against autograph- hunting German Peter Gojowczyk (via independent.co.uk)
When Peter Gojowczyk, the world No 162, won 12 of the first 13 points of his Qatar ExxonMobile Open semi-final against Rafael Nadal here last night nervous statisticians were probably starting to thumb through their record books, wondering when the Spaniard had last lost to an opponent more lowly-ranked than the 24-year-old German.The answer was…
- Rafael Nadal targets first ever opening-week title in Doha – Marianne Bevis (via The Sports Review)
The problem with arriving at the first tournament of 2014 on the back of one of the best ever comeback seasons in tennis is to manage expectation.
- Rafael Nadal cautious about predicted Australian Open courts speed – Leo Schlink (via Herald Sun)
…there has been growing disquiet over the length of matches since, famously the 2012 men’s final between Novak Djokovic and Nadal stretched 5hrs, 53mins. As a winner of eight French Open titles, Nadal has triumphed at every major at least once. The left-hander will become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win every grand slam title twice if he lifts a second Australian Open from January 13-26.
…our condition of Big 4, as you say, it is not forever. But only thing that I can do is work as much as I can and be ready for when [the inevitable] happens. Then I know even if I work as much as I can and I try to be ready, one day I will not be ready, but I try to make that happen as late as possible.
- Rafael Nadal vs. Ernests Gulbis on-court interview, highlights, & hotshot
- Rafa almost bares all in the locker room!
- Post-victory on-court interview: Rafa defeats Gojowczyk (with a question asked by Andy Taylor based on a suggestion by one of our own readers!)
- Rafael Nadal vs. Peter Gojowczyk highlights
R. NADAL/P. Gojowczyk 4‑6, 6‑2, 6‑3
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. What was the key to turning the match around?
RAFAEL NADAL: I tried to change a little bit and tried to be positive for the rest of the match, because the tennis was not there today.
I think beginning of the second set was very important. I started with a little bit higher rhythm, I think, without doing something very spectacular, but improving a little bit the rhythm. Seriously, at the beginning, I felt that he was playing too comfortable every shot, no?
Even if he was playing great, when the opponent is playing too comfortable is because I’m doing something bad. At the end I have to analyze myself, and in my opinion for a lot of periods of the match I let him play with very comfortable positions.
So that’s a negative thing. Positive thing is I am in the finals first week of the season without arriving here with big preparation. Without playing my best, I was able to find solution. It’s true that I finished the match playing better than what I started. That’s always a positive thing, because that means that mentally I was prepared to find solutions.
But for the rest, most important thing of today is just a victory.
Q. It was a tough battle and you’re now one step closer to the trophy. How do you feel?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I need to play better than what I did to have any chance tomorrow to win the trophy. That’s the real thing. Read the rest of this entry
In the first tournament of the season, Rafael Nadal has reached his first final of the year at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha by defeating German Peter Gojowczyk in three sets. His opponent in the final is Gael Monfils of France.
Date: Saturday, January 4, 2014
Time: 6:00 pm local (Doha), 4:00 pm CET (Madrid), 3:00 pm GMT (London), 10:00 am EST (New York)
Rafa and Monfils have played 10 times in the past, with Rafa leading the series 8-2. It is noteworthy, however, that both of the Frenchman’s victories against Rafa were in Doha, in 2009 and 2012. Rafa is looking to secure his first win at Doha in his sixth appearance. Read the rest of this entry