Rafa Roundup: Rafael Nadal will be back

REUTERS/Issei Kato
REUTERS/Issei Kato

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‘If’ doesn’t exist in sport,” he told journalists when pressed on whether he would have gone on to beat Tomas Berdych had he sneaked out the third-set tie-break. “If, if, if – never comes. The thing is you have to do it. I didn’t have the chance to play the fourth; I lost the third, so that’s it. That’s sport. I lost the third. He’s happier than me in the locker room.”

There was speculation that a lingering injury might have explained Nadal’s lacklustre movement in the first two sets, his attitude and body language as flat as those American footballs everyone’s bothering about. He had tape on his hands for the first time all tournament. He was hardly sweating at his usual level. Come the third, after popping a pill, he improved. But, as is his way, when asked, he refused to give it any detail. “I am feeling well,” he insisted. “That’s it. That’s part of the things that happen sometimes during the matches, but nothing important to say. Just was not my day.

I want to live in a world where Nadal keeps playing — keeps questing, keeps battling the elements, hunting for something I can’t quite see — for a long, long time. I want him to show us what tennis can be. He will be back, and he will be the favorite at the French Open.

Hopefully we’ll get a chance over the next few months to see how he does when he’s not making a comeback. For now, he leaves Australia with positives and negatives: Yes, he lost to a player he has owned, but his health seems to be intact, and South American clay in his immediate future.

“Being down two sets was too big of a gap. We lost the match in the first two sets. The truth is that Rafael served bad, he felt a bit nervous and had some double faults. And Berdych came out with the idea not to rally much and to attack more.”

Nadal aún busca a ese Nadal. No juega con su mejor versión. Tiene tiempo para cumplir con su gran objetivo de 2015: llegar a la primavera en disposición de competir la gira de tierra batida, que culmina en Roland Garros, pareciéndose a sí mismo.

Taking out the French Opens, these are Nadal’s Slam results since Wimbledon in 2012: 2R, absent, absent, 1R, won, F, 4R, absent, QF. Tomas Berdych or any other player would take those results, but for Nadal they’re disappointments.

Comebacks aren’t easy. This is a lesson that most Nadal fans haven’t really had to learn, although the more dedicated ones have probably noticed it already. Comebacks aren’t easy.

But in the end this wasn’t a bad tournament for Nadal. Asking him to win a hard court title after playing just eight matches since Wimbledon was too much of an ask even for the great Rafa Nadal.

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Never afraid of pink, Rafael Nadal rocks it in Melbourne, with his own bright yellow Nike pops remaining complementary, not glaring. His shorts are in rare form—which is to say increasingly short form—but I’ve yet to hear anyone complain.

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11 comments

  1. I just read the comments of another loyal Rafa fan, and feel I could just as easily sign my name to what she wrote. I must say that I too root for Rafa as if he were my son, and I too feel he is the epitome of what every man should hope to be: respectful, loyal, focused, a superb sportsman, a devoted son, friend, and Spanish citizen, generous to the needy, flexible and open to new responsibilities and challenges, and generous in admitting the prowess of his opponents. That’s a mouthful, but I probably forgot a few others. With Rafa, that would not surprise! I also feel that Rafa WILL BE BACK! He will bite the magnificent French Open cup for the tenth time! I can’t wait!!! VAMOS RAFA!!!

  2. Rafa – very sorry you lost. Just want you to be in very good health (in every way). I watch tennis only because of you. I started watching you play when you first came on tour. My husband coached tennis at one time and he introduced me to the sport. We both fell in love with you. We both, especially my husband, feel you have the best attitude, integrity, and character and also sincerity of any player on the ATP tour. You have given me so much JOY. I smile for a week after you win a big tournament or grand slam. I have said it before, and will say it again: I feel as if you are my own son or close relative, I don’t know why I feel that way. The best to you always. God be at your side to help and guide you during your next grand slam. Love you Rafa

    • I live rafa the same way and don’t know why I feel such love for him, like family. He must be very special person to make these feelings come from strangers. Pray god he comes back stronger rafa you are the most loved tennis player of all time, but maybe now you should rethink some things as maybe change needed.

  3. Rafa you’ve played very well considering your recent injury and operation,I wonder if any other player would had done so well in your position.?
    Its only because of your fitness and talent that you got to the Semi’s.

    Can’t wait to see you in action again and winning ,you’re still No 1 in my book.
    The most watchable player of all time.
    You are the players player,they all look up to you CHAMP.

  4. What a pathetic disappointment, you were not interested in the match and your half effort in the third set was not up to standard…. why did you just give up before you even came out to the court?, what an insult to your fans and spectators, they should dock your winnings and refund the spectators.
    Ex-Fan.

  5. Take rest Rafa! We are all behind you!

    Rafa will be back at his top very soon. He is a great fighter with a big heart. He will play in Rio and Buenos Aires on CLAY! That’s perfect for him. He will get some matches on HIS surface. Every match and every win will help him to get confidence and rhythym. And a healthy Rafa with confidence and rhythym is the best player of the world!!

    After that he will play IW and Miami! I know that he will be great at this first Masters of the season!

    Big love from Germany<3

  6. rafa est actuellement le meilleur joueur et bien malin ceux qui prétend que ce n’est plus le cas …. rafa the best …. 🙂

  7. Great article written via Tennis View Magazine! What I am sorry for Rafa is his injury prone nature but not the loss against Berdych in AO. Rafa has had numerous injuries in AO after his victory in 2009 and I pray that he will have an injury free year 2016 to bite the 2nd trophy in AO.

    I am happy as long as Rafa is happy and healthy. Rafa, by far is the only tennis player recovers and finds his games the fastest after a long lay-off and injuries.

    Bon Voyage Rafa and wish you best of luck for the rest of the year.

  8. Of course Rafa will be back. I am eternally optimistic that he will enjoy a solid 2015 season.
    I felt he made a very strong showing into his 2nd week at AO. Unfortunately, all his fans
    expect him to win every single time because he has dominated the sport for the past 10 years.

    Rafa is, perhaps, held to a much higher standard along with Roger. It is not possible
    for any elite athlete no matter what the sport to win every single tournament, match or game.
    Win or lose, Rafa will always remain a true champion of incredible integrity and character.
    So looking forward to his upcoming tournaments.

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