Rafa Roundup: ¡Vamos a la playa con Rafael Nadal!

Photo:  Javier Garcia/AELTC
Photo: Javier Garcia/AELTC

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Nadal is right: everything is easier when you have nothing to lose — until it isn’t. That’s one of the signs that a rising young player is the real deal: when the match gets tight, as it inevitably will against a top player, he doesn’t flinch — or he does and then powers through anyway.

There is a chasm between Nadal and other top players on clay. There is a slight separation between Nadal, Djokovic and the world’s handful of best players on grass or the hard court. Anyone who attempts to say Nadal will be “motivated” by his loss at Wimbledon is driving a nonsense narrative.

 “I think in the second and the third set I was better than him, but I was not able to convert those opportunities. And for the rest, I think he played better than me. So, in general, talking about what you need to win in this surface, he did the things better than me,” said Nadal.

Nadal did not play poorly, but faced a fearless opponent who didn’t let him play much at all. Nadal served 73 percent and denied two of the three break points he faced, but could not solve Kyrgios’ wrecking ball serve.

“He perdido cediendo solo una vez mi saque y creándome oportunidades. No fui capaz de leer su saque. No pude poner los suficientes restos en juego. Sacó mejor que yo en los tie-breaks, como pasa cuando no tienes nada que perder. Ese es el resumen”, fotografió Nadal. “Le felicito… y a la playa”.

Nadal now begins his preparation for hard-court events in North America. He is the defending champion of ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events in Montreal and Cincinnati, and is also the reigning champion of the US Open. “After a few weeks I am going to start practice again to prepare another important part of the season.”

“Me voy a casa habiendo perdido una vez el servicio y perdiendo tie-breaks por un punto. Tuve mis oportunidades, él las resolvió muy bien con el saque. No estoy enfadado, ni triste. No he sabido más… Cuando uno hace todo lo que sabe, no hay más. Cuando uno hace todo lo que puede, no se le puede pedir más. Yo lo he hecho”.

Kyrgios also was the better returner for the match, hitting five return winners to Nadal’s zero. Kyrgios was quite often going deep into Nadal’s service games, returning 65% (87/134) of his returns for the match back into play while Nadal often struggled just to get a racquet on the Australian’s booming serve, only making 51% (72/140) back in the court.

Al Bello/Getty Images
Al Bello/Getty Images

Today a young Kyrgios made Rafa react the same way a young Rafa had once made Federer react. The kid might just make it, after all.

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10 comments

  1. Everyone forgets Rafa just won the French Open 2 weeks ago for the 9th time. Two
    weeks later he’s in Wimbledon. Honestly, this Grand Slam should be scheduled at least
    2 months after the French as the two other GS’s are spaced more reasonably apart.
    The Grass court season is ridiculously short. No time to prepare. So absurd. Plus
    the Tournament was compromised to give Murray the cushy draw. Plus the bottom
    half of the men’s & women’s draw was unfairly compromised with no day off.

    I thought he played phenomenally well for the difficult draw he had. Roger, Novak,and Andy
    faced mature opponents and they were all too familiar with their playing patterns. No challenges or SURPRIZES in their matches. The past two years he was injured. Also they didn’t just come off winning a GS title. Rafa’s matches against Kilizan, Rosol, and Kukushkin were so compelling because he was a set down. When I saw Rosol in his draw, I found that rather disturbing since he was out for 7 months after that encounter. The way he beat Rosol, who did pose a threat, was absolutely amazing (again from behind!)

    I definitely agree that Rafa would have made it to the finals had he not been blitzed by
    Nick. My impression of that cocky teen-ager was this: he was on a mission to blitz attack
    Rafa on the biggest stage with aces all throughout the match. It was more like a whip-it match for Nick than a dignified tennis match between serious professionals.. Yes the kid has talent but I didn’t like when he served to Rafa when he wasn’t even ready. Such disrespect.
    Rafa just shrugged it off. We forget Rafa won his 1st GS at 19. So glad the kid was
    defeated by Milos in the next round. He needs to see that it isn’t so easy to play and stay in the Big Boy’sTennis Club and needs to learn to pay his dues.

    This whole scenario might play out to Rafa’s advantage leading into the hard-court season, US Open 2014. If Rafa faced Novak in final and lost, Nole would have the mental edge over Rafa due to beating him at this GS. Even if Nole wins here without Rafa, Rafa still
    has beaten him in GS finals RG 2012, 2014 and US Open 2013. Wow, this is a mental
    game as they say. I think we, as fans, always want our Rafa to go deep in these
    tournaments because we just can’t get enough of the fire and ice, passion and excitement
    he puts out their on the court every time he makes his grand entrance. Vamos always, Rafa!!!

  2. I really like to read Mitch’s reports because even though he might be a Rafa fan he really ‘sees’ the matches for what they are, and gives constructive criticism. Also, I usually agree with his review and comments. I don’t know how well Rafa is going to play in the future. He is below his best and if he wants to win, he will have to raise his game – if he can – if his body allows.
    What annoys me now is that Federer, who apart from being good is also very lucky, has a much simpler path towards the championship.

  3. Yes, nightmare draw that our boy almost pulled off. And naturally the person that beat him loses the next day – win once, kudos, win 7? As Rafa said, we’ll have to wait and see.

    Would’ve been interesting to see how Rafa would have handled the big Canadian server with no rest. Shame because he was actually playing great, perhaps better than Fed, certainly Andy and Stan, and Djoker. Oh well.

    U.S. Open!!!!!

  4. Playing Nick Kyrgios in the 4th round is NOT a tough draw. In the 1st or 2nd round, perhaps it is. But not in the 4th round, when you expect to play a top 20 player, not the 144th ranked player in the world.

    The problem for Rafa was that he played well below his normal level, while Kyrgios played much better than he usually does. That’s the perfect recipe for a big upset.

    Rafa made far too many unforced errors, especially off his forehand wing. He way overused his slice backhand, using it as a first resort, instead of as a last resort. His return of serve tactics(continuously giving up the down-the-middle T serve where Kyrgios hit 70% of his serves) and execution(constantly hitting returns short or into the net) were atrocious. And most annoyingly, he failed to challenge Kyrgios’s ace to save the 3rd set, which Hawk Eye showed was out.

    The only thing I liked about Rafa’s play was the fierce tenacity and determination which we’ve all come to expect from him, and sometimes take for granted.

    Like I said before the match, the best way to counter big hitters is to put them ON THE DEFENSIVE with flatter, harder, deeper shots. If they happen to be in-the-zone like Kyrgios was yesterday, it’s the ONLY way to counter them. Hopefully, Rafa will learn from this experience, and adjust accordingly in future matches against these type of players.

    VAMOS!!!

    • Hi Mitch. Thanks for your comments. Always like reading them and usually agree with them too. R.S.

  5. Rafa is so right in his post interview about young new players. How I wish the draw were reserved, Rafa would have moved to quarterfinals. Though I really hope Rafa to win Wimbledon again, what important now is to see Rafa regains his edge on grass court and stays healthy. So please Uncle Toni and team need strategies. Those players that defeated Rafa have never be able to win the next match again, Rosol, Steve Darcis and now Nick K.

  6. I am upset about the horrible draw that Rafa got at The All England Tennis Club, It seems unfair that Murray, Djockovic and Federer had a easy passage through the early rounds. I am in no doubt had these three players mentioned faced the same opponents as Nadal then they would have been knocked out!

    If one was sceptical they might come up with a conspiracy against Nadal as this isn’t the first year this has happened at Wimbledon. Let’s hope next year they will seed him properly thus giving Rafael a equal chance to show how good he is on grass. Vamos Rafa! 🙂

  7. You are still the number 1 RAFA see you after summer and sure you will meet again this situation in the future, so Uncle Toni do something. best rgds to both and gooooooodddd llluuuucccckkkkkkkk VVAMOSSSSSSSSSS RAFAAAAAAAAAA

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