PHOTOS: Rafael Nadal beats Dudi Sela to race into third round of Miami Open

(AP) – Rafael Nadal’s first fist pump Friday followed his second point in the Miami Open, when he kissed a forehand off the sideline to win a long rally.

He accompanied the celebratory gesture with a skip in his step and then hit the accelerator, holding every service game to beat Dudi Sela 6-3, 6-4.

Thus began Rafa’s latest bid to win Key Biscayne.

“A lot of big motivation,” he said.

He is playing the tournament for the 13th time and has never won it, although he was the runner-up in 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2014. At 0-for-12, it’s Rafa’s longest drought at any event and perhaps the most glaring gap in the 14-time Grand Slam champion’s resume.

Does it bug him? He won’t admit to any frustration but let slip that he still remembers the exact score when he was two points from the title in the third set versus Novak Djokovic.

That was six years ago.

“Against Novak — 6-5, 15-30,” Rafa said. “It didn’t happen.”

The Spaniard has always enjoyed the atmosphere in Miami, where Latin fans give him enthusiastic support, and he likes the tournament’s hard courts. He’s simply overdue.

“I’m trying my best every year,” Rafa told the stadium crowd after dispatching Sela. “I’ve been very close four times. I will try to give myself another chance.”

Source: AP

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Rafael Nadal and Enrique Iglesias celebrate opening of Tatel Miami [PHOTOS, VIDEO]

Rafael Nadal and hit-maker Enrique Iglesias attended a blowout party to celebrate the opening of their restaurant, Tatel Miami, a sister to the Madrid eatery.

The upscale eatery is located at the Ritz Carlton South Beach, in the space formerly known as David Bouley Evolution.

Miami Open Draw 2017: Will Rafael Nadal win his first Miami title?

The draw has been made for the Miami Open, the second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament in 2017.

Rafael Nadal is fifth seed and has a bye in the first round. He will open his campaign against either a qualifier or Israeli Dudi Sela.

Photo by Miami Open

Rafa’s potential Miami route:

  • 1st round: Bye
  • 2nd round: Qualifier or Dudi Sela
  • 3rd round: Philipp Kohlschreiber
  • 4th round: Grigor Dimitrov
  • Quarter-final: Milos Raonic
  • Semi-final: Kei Nishikori
  • Final: Roger Federer or Stan Wawrinka

Projected quarter-finals:

  • Stan Wawrinka (1) vs. David Goffin (8)
  • Roger Federer (4) vs. Dominic Thiem (6)
  • Rafael Nadal (5) vs. Milos Raonic (3)
  • Marin Cilic (7) vs. Kei Nishikori (2)

In Rafa’s four trips to the final, he has lost to Djokovic (2014, 2011), Davydenko (2008) and Federer (2005). Miami is one of just three Masters trophies missing from Rafa’s mantle (Paris, Shanghai).

Check out the complete draw here.

GOOD LUCK & VAMOS RAFA!

Despite Loss To Federer In Indian Wells, Rafa Confident Heading Into Miami Open

Q. You have now played Roger twice this season, and so many times in the past. Does he seem this year to you, from how he’s played in those two matches, more relaxed than he was in the past on court?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. In Australia was a very close match. I had good chances to win. Today, not. Today he played better than me. I didn’t play my best match, and he played well.

These kind of matches, when you’re not playing your match, is impossible to win.

Q. The way he’s hitting his backhand, and you sort of changing your serving variation a bit, has that changed the way you two match up?
RAFAEL NADAL: The way what?

Q. The way you two match up. The way he’s hitting his backhand and you changing your serving patterns a little bit, has that changed the matchup?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. I think was always that he returned well. But at the same time, it was obvious that I didn’t have the right answer for his returns, no? I needed to neutralize the points. I needed to neutralize his two first balls, and I didn’t.

So then playing two shots, he’s better than me today. And five years ago, ten years ago, always was better than me, no?

I was a little bit better than him in general when I neutralized the first two shots, and then I can manage it a little bit better the point, no?

So I was not enough good tonight to make that happen, and he deserved the victory, for sure. Very easy.

Q. On this court with high bounce it would be an advantage for you. Were you surprised the court wasn’t helping your game more than with this?
RAFAEL NADAL: Is always the same. You need to play well.

The court or doesn’t matter the surface. You need to play your best if you want to have chances to win, and I did not play my best. It’s obvious that I have to congratulate him because he played a great match.

But I have to think from my side, and I think I can do it much better, and I think I gonna do it much better next time.

Q. Do you see a certain difference the way Roger plays against you on the backhand side since he has a bigger racquet, racquet size?
RAFAEL NADAL: You have to speak to him. I don’t know about his racquet. I don’t know about these things.

He’s always played well, very aggressive, and his backhand was enough good to win the match.

But at the same time it’s obvious, as I said before, no, I need to hit longer and I need to hit higher, longer to create him problems, no?  Continue reading “Despite Loss To Federer In Indian Wells, Rafa Confident Heading Into Miami Open”

Rafael Nadal loses to Roger Federer in Indian Wells fourth round

Photo by Matt Hazlett/BNP Paribas Open

(AP) — Rafael Nadal fell to Roger Federer 2-6, 3-6 in the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open, an ATP Masters 1000 event in Indian Wells.

Federer broke Rafa to open the match in front of a packed Stadium 1 crowd. Federer faced just one break point on his serve in the match, but he recovered with a big serve and two winning backhands to go up 2-0 in the first set.

“The main thing he take the break in the first game, and I had break point in the next game and come back and he had a good serve,” Rafa said. “When Roger has the advantage, his serve is so good, he has a lot of confidence with his serve, he’s able to play much more relaxed.”

Rafa wasn’t too shabby either, serving three love games. But Federer’s shotmaking was superb, frequently kissing the lines off both sides.

The four-time Indian Wells winner was crafty, too. Leading 5-1, Federer moved in quickly on Rafa’s second serve, surprising the Spaniard, whose forehand sailed long. Federer’s drop shots were well-timed and even when a scrambling Rafa got to them in time, Federer answered with one of his 26 winners.

The two superstars hadn’t played each other before the quarterfinals of an event since 2004 when they met in the third round at Miami. Wednesday’s match was just the fifth time they weren’t opposing each other in a final.

Source: AP

Rafael Nadal On What Makes Roger Federer So Special

Q. I guess you’re pleased to win this one in two sets against such an opponent?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, I think I played a solid match. I played a good match, no? Very aggressive with my serve, serving well, hitting good forehands, good backhands.

Very happy. I think I played much better today than the first day. Yeah, it was a good win. I played two horrible games, terrible. That’s it. For the rest of the match, I think I played very well.

Q. You obviously played Fernando a number of times. You know each other quite well. Is there something that he did today that was not what had happened in previous matches? Did you try something new?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I know, since the season started, I was playing well. So I tried to play my game, tried to play aggressive.

My goal was don’t let him play with his forehand from easy positions. And that’s what I tried. I started well the match. Then taked a while to have the break, but finally I had in the right game, in the 4-3, and I closed well.

So in the second I started with the break, and then happened what happened with those two games. Then I was there again.

So very pleased with my performance. And I won already two matches here. Playing a little bit better today than two days ago. Tomorrow another chance to go on court, and I’m going to try to play better than I did today.

Q. You have known Roger for so long, you’re friends, and, of course, you’re great rivals, played so many times. If you had to say what is the one thing about Roger’s game that makes him so special, what would you say if you had to boil it down?
RAFAEL NADAL: Everything (smiling). Yeah, he has the talent to do very difficult things that looks easy, you know. He’s able to take the ball very early, serve and first shot. He create a lot of winners with that, two first shots, no?

And then he’s able to take the ball always from inside, and he’s very quick going to the net. If you play short ball, then you know that he gonna go inside and gonna hit a winner, gonna play a shot that hit forehand or backhand, go to the net, and you are going to be in big trouble.  Continue reading “Rafael Nadal On What Makes Roger Federer So Special”

Indian Wells R4: What time does Rafael Nadal play against Roger Federer?

On Wednesday, Rafael Nadal will face No. 9 seed Roger Federer in the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open. It will be their 36th meeting, the second of 2017 – just six weeks after their five-set battle in the Australian Open final.

Photo by BNP Paribas Open

Match time: Not before 5 PM local time / 8 PM EDT –  New York, Montreal /  midnight GMT – United Kingdom / Thursday 1 AM  CET – Spain, France, Germany, Italy / Thursday 11 AM AEDT – Melbourne. To convert to your local time, use this website.

Rafa on Federer:

He has the talent to do very difficult things that look easy. He’s able to take the ball very early. Serve and first shot, he creates a lot of winners with that, the two first shots.

Rafa leads the overall head to head 23-12.

Federer has never defeated Rafa in three straight meetings. He won their last two meetings in 2015 Swiss Indoors and 2017 Australian Open finals.

Here are all the matches they have played against each other: Continue reading “Indian Wells R4: What time does Rafael Nadal play against Roger Federer?”