Rafa Roundup: Nadal starts his European clay-court season in Monte Carlo

Photo: EFE/Juan Ignacio Roncoroni
Photo: EFE/Juan Ignacio Roncoroni

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“Of course I understand what he’s talking about because I’m playing for many years on this high level and I know how much pressure and expectations you have,” Djokovic said. “So I respect what [Nadal] has achieved in his career so far very much because I understand what it takes to be there, and what it takes achieve as much as he did. He has so much experience and so much success for only [being] 28 years.” Djokovic said he sees Nadal getting through this period. “I’m sure he wants to play for many more years,” he said. “It’s normal to have some periods of crisis, if you want to call it that, where you sometimes feel more doubt than confidence in important moments and you lose a couple of matches.”

He may be just 28, but with the masses continuously predicting an early retirement, is it getting tougher for Nadal to shut out his sceptics? A reporter asked him if he would consider hiring a sports psychologist and Nadal quickly discarded the suggestion. “Tennis is not a big deal in life. It’s sport, a game. That’s not that much important,” he said.

Why is 28 so often the turning point for great champions? That’s when players start to lose a bit of foot speed and recovery ability. But Federer is proving week after week that it’s physically possible to remain a top player into your 30s. For many champions, it’s the mental focus, once so reliable, that starts to pop in and out. It’s a form of burnout. After more than a decade and hundreds of matches on the ATP tour, the mind begins to rebel. It wants to do other things, to relax more, listen to the birds sing and children laugh.

Aging in tennis, like in other sports, tends to drag players back down to their level when they were much younger, back before they peaked. If that’s where Rafa is now, then he’s still really, really good on clay. Between January 2005 and February 2008, Nadal won just five titles off clay, and lost 18 times on hard courts or grass to players outside the top 20. He also won the French Open in each of those years.

Toni cree que la clave será “alguna victoria que desencadene la confianza. Espero que en Montecarlo las cosas cambien” y considera que la causa de este bache “es más una cuestión de relax que algo psicológico. Estamos en un mal momento, pero confío en que Rafa seguirá arriba con 29 años, con 30 y con 31 años”. Por último, comparó el momento de Cristiano Ronaldo con el de Rafa Nadal y se atrevió con una hipótesis: “Me sorprende que se haya pasado en un mes de aplaudir a Cristiano, a pitarle. La gente tiene poca memoria”. Y se preguntó: “Si le pasa a Cristiano ante su público, ¿cómo me iba a sorprender que pitaran a Nadal por lo mismo?”

“He is training well, but on the court, he hasn’t the strength of mind that he had before, but I hope it comes back,” Toni said. “I think he needs a win to regain confidence.” Toni said that he is hoping that things will get better when Rafa plays his next tournament in Monte Carlo. Rafa is an eight-time champion at the Monte Carlo Masters, having successfully defended the title for eight consecutive times from 2005 to 2012.

For yet another year, fans will benefit from having their favourite players in Madrid. Current champion Rafa Nadal, will strive to conquer his third consecutive title in the Caja Mágica while Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray will attempt to knock him off his throne, to reign again in the Spanish capital.

Su equipo no se ha planteado recurrir a un psicólogo, ni tiene dudas de que volverá a su mejor nivel: “No sé si Rafa volverá a ser Rafa en Montecarlo o en París, pero volverá [señala Roig]. Ahora no piensa en Roland Garros sino en recuperar las sensaciones que tenía. Es más importante eso que bajar en el ranking”.

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8 comments

  1. Vamos Nadal……have a great time in Monte Carlo!!!! : ) Enjoy your beautiful tennis wisdom & creative awesome game!!!! I love watching you play on ALL surfaces…and so happy to see your movement ….so inspiring to see your speed, fitness, good movement, and ball control happening ….. amazing!!! Congratulations on what you have already achieved this year!!!! : ) Us fans pay no attention to misinformed comments or poor articles lacking in integrity and realistic coverage…… Most tennis fans respect the intelligent, informed reporters who are in owe of your longevity & powerful extraordinary game. Same holds true for the need to pay zero attention to prospective poor umpires & their obvious miscalls….. As we have seen, sometimes they truly lack integrity and good judgment on important points and important matches… but in the end it is their lacking. Obviously. The crowd disapproves of their poor miscalls. If anything when they right out cheat w their subjectivity, and make error infront of a full stadium of adoring fans and spectators, it ignites the crowd to further adore and cheer you…. so clearly, none of the media or miscalls ever changes the strength and blessings of who you are on the court Rafa, and how you attract and engage full stadiums & millions of fans with your passionate,special game. People spend hours watching you….and so VAMOS dear Rafa, please take great strength from your steadfast success regardless of the occasional background nonsense from Media or umpires. Keep the faith of your inner knowing and God bless you!!! Good luck & Best wishes!!! : )

  2. salut rafa comment ça va mon ami . la préparation pour roland garros ce passe bien ? nous sommes avec toi pour le pire et le meilleur !!! 🙂 VAMOS MON AMI et reste cool …

  3. It really irritates me to see such negatives comments.I think that even Toni Nadal should be more positive. Those closest to Rafael have to support him and give all encouraging vibes, tell him how good he is and have a little. I have total confidence in our great champion,

  4. Rafa needs a new trainer imho. Someone who improves and helps his offensive game. He is 28 almost 29 cant expect to rely on defence like before. It has been a downhill battle since 2013 uso. Hopefully he can change things around but im not too optimistic.

  5. All the best Rafa!! You will come back to your best! The King of Clay will dominate the clay court season!! Vamos Rafa!!

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