Rafa Roundup: Cheer up, Rafael Nadal fans — King of Clay always finds a way to bounce back

Photo: Barcelona Open
Photo: Barcelona Open


“When you’re playing with really small margins, you can lose,” said Nadal. “That’s what happened. A few balls decided the match. I needed to make a difference earlier, not waiting till the end of the match to hit my forehand. “I didn’t have enough power or speed on my forehand. I didn’t have control of the points with my forehand. When I was in good positions, I couldn’t push Fognini back. When that happens, my game can’t hurt my opponent. That was the case today.”

This time, the score was 6-4, 7-6 (6). Nadal served for the second set with a break in hand on three occasions and failed to hold each time. Fognini struck 34 winners to just 17 by Nadal. The good news for Nadal was that he had 14 break points; the bad news is that he converted just three (Fognini was 4-for-8). … There’s still plenty of clay-court tennis left before Nadal faces his true moment of reckoning at Roland Garros. But the kinds of comments that a few weeks ago were distinctive for their honesty and realism now smack of rationalization and mild delusion.

For Nadal it’s back to the practice courts as he races against the clock to get his game up to snuff for his title defense at the French Open, which is now four weeks away. Through two European clay tournaments so far, Nadal has yet to make a final, losing to Novak Djokovic in the Monte Carlo semifinals last week. At this point last year, Nadal found himself in the same place. He did not make the final in Monte Carlo or Barcelona, taking losses to David Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro, but went on to win the French Open. It’s too early to panic but there is reason to be concerned about Nadal’s game.

Then again, all wasn’t well in Nadal world in 2014, when he lost in the quarters of Monte Carlo and Barcelona, which had been his worst opening to a clay-court season up to that point. This was the year he was finally losing in Paris. You could feel it. Then he went out and won his ninth French Open in the past 10 years. There are still two more tournaments before the French. Nadal’s results at those, not at Monte Carlo and Barcelona, will be the better barometer for his French Open chances. Rafa might have a problem, but it’s not time to panic … yet.

Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

En Barcelona, tuvo un debut difícil frente a un Nico Almagro que se estaba recuperando de una larga lesión, a quien ganó sin necesidad de ofrecer su mejor versión. Pero frente a Fognini, 28º mundial, precisaba de un paso más y no acertó a darlo. “He jugado mal”, reconoció Nadal sin tapujos. “No he sido agresivo, tal como me había planteado, y he fallado más de lo habitual. Y ni siquiera he sabido mantener la ventaja cuando he logrado el break tres veces en la segunda manga. Así no merecía ganar”.

PHOTOS: Rafael Nadal loses to Fabio Fognini in third Round at Barcelona Open



  1. Hope you had an enjoyable n relaxing weekend Rafa. Can’t wait to see you play in the next tournament. I pray for your good health my adopted grandson. Vamooos Rafa my boy. 😅😅

  2. I’ve been reading a lot of articles and comments on Rafa. Been thinking a lot of things. Felt some of the things written were unfair. A lot of people have won tournaments a few times in a row – even grand slams. When they stopped nobody said much – except that they might not be in best of form etc. – not keep comparing them to other players like they are constantly talking about novak being the next king of clay and stuff. anyway, doesnt matter – Rafa will always be the best for me.

    What i feel is simply that Rafa is out of form – perhaps worse than any other time in his career and has lost confidence and has mental ‘problems’. This is a vicious circle – one thing feeds the other. Its not losing that is bad, but sometimes, the way he loses and some of is srokes and shot selection that is painful. Although against Djokovich in Monte Carlo he really played his best match this year. There was hardly any difference in the points at the end of the match. He may really want to return to his best level, but this will take time. His body condition does not help much either. He will need a lot of patience, encouragement from us fans, family and friends and must believe that he can make a come back. Of course he says it is not the end of the world – there are more important things in life.

    One thing I have to admit about Djokovic – he wanted to get to this present level for years and be the best and made complete changes to his life style – change of diet etc. to achieve all round improvement – even mental – also hired an additional coach. At the moment he has no real challenge – Rafa, Roger and Andy are not near their best. He could probably win all grand slams – who knows? Hope not!!!!!!!!!!

    Rafa wish you all love, happiness, much luck and all the very best. Longing to see zou at the top again. VAMOS!!!!!!!!!

  3. Was thinking how different things might have gone if the draw was done after ranking points changed, as Rafa would have been #1 seed, passing Kei after MC. Then he would have had the much easier draw, instead of playing with the new racket to face the two opponents he had lost to . . . Now Kei will move into 4 spot again.
    I trust Rafa to overcome his demons and have faith he will step it up, as always.

  4. Totally understand the sentiments and love…. just wish to mention that Nadal can express sadness after a loss….it is natural and it is good he can be himself with out having to put up artificially happy face just for a show. His few missing balls cost him the match… and so of course it would feel disappointing… clearly he was ready on the court, had opportunities, and his overall game is back….and running out of time to turn the match around was understandably disappointing. He had momentum and presence to move forward on the tour… He is a public figure and the best kindness us fans can offer is to be accepting with him, offer encouragement, and above all trust Rafa knows what his next step is…. Such an insightful, intelligent man, he has what it takes to decide for himself what is right for him. He has integrity to share w all of us his genuine reaction, and we need to respect that. He is an astute player, practical, wise, & realistic and with all of us fans behind him & his family and friends, he will continue his blessed process. VAMOS dear Rafa & God bless you!!! : ) Best wishes & have a nice break!!!!! : )

  5. Rafa I think you should look again the new racket, it does not seem to belong in your hand go back to the other ones you always used . like magic your ,strength will return. all the best of wishes xx

  6. Always believe and have faith in Rafa. Nevertheless, a new voice is always beneficial to Rafa. It breaks my heart to see Rafa’s tears in the the interview and the way he chastising himself is so painful to watch. We love you Rafa and please do not feel ashamed as you are always the best to all your fans.

  7. My beloved Rafa will be back. He is just human, (not a machine) faltering at the moment, but willing to fight his way back to the top.

    I’m not worried.

    He’s got the heart of a champion; he’ll be back.

    …..and I will ALWAYS adore him.

  8. You’re a champion Rafa n when the chips are down you have always come back stronger. You won your first major tournament at age 16, n Wimbledon at age 20 …. and then you earned the title of King Of Clay!!! You’re a legend my boy n have made your family n fans proud of you. Your.good sportsmanship is impeccable n you are a gentleman on n off the Court. You are always smiling n happy Rafa, therefore it is quite worrying to find from your Press Conference that you seem to be feeling down n a bit depressed. Chin-up Rafa you’ve done it before n you can do it again. Win the French Open my adopted Grandson. God Bless you. Vamos Rafa.

  9. maybe it is time for a new coach look what becker has done for dokavick my opinion he is playing to defensively not agressive enough dokovick has been coming to the net more since he got becker

  10. I believe that Rafa is losing his concentration at times during the matches he is making some great shots but needs to make sure he makes the important points. Rafa get some more practice with that new racket after all it took the great Roger F. Time to get use to his new racket so he could get back to his his winning ways and making it back to #2 in the world. I believe you can come back strong Rafa calm down and concentrate. Vamooooooos.

  11. arrete de ténerver pour un rien consentre toi sur ton match on voit que quelque chose te pose soucis laisse le au vestiaire et redeviens notre roi il faut que tu gagnes RG pour toi mais surtout les mauvaises langues qui disent que tu es fini prouves leur le contraire moi je compte sur toi sans toi plus de tennis pense a nous nous qui t’aimons allez vamos rafa

  12. Dear Rafa, I am not a blind fan. I follow every match. There are things no one can take from you.
    The honesty of accepting a “bad day” without looking for excuses or blaming X – Y or Z.
    Must I reveal to you that THAT is precisely the stuff that gifted and talented people are made of ?
    Acknowledging the need to work hard and strive to do better is NOT, I repeat is NOT, everybody’s natural way of facing a reversal.
    Please remember that for thousands of people – mainly young and some very young – you are a living example of fortitude, a model to emulate.
    What YOU Rafa, tell to these youngsters is : “See, even if I lose a match or two, I do NOT despair of doing better tomorrow. Not by wishing for better luck BUT by working harder and doing my best to improve”.
    Please for the sake of thousands that look up to you as a honest, frank, hard working and never despairing model, keep smiling and tell them never to give up.
    Who can ever guess how many youngsters, and why not mature people, will pick up this encouraging cue and dynamic spirit of yours and stand on their feet and say:
    “If Rafa does it,so can I”.
    VAMOS !

  13. How I hate negativity and some of the journalists really annoy me but I guess that is what keeps them in a job!! We will not panic , Rafael will be fine . I do feel that he is thinking too much and too self critical . He is an amazing champion and we support him fully . Keep faith in our wonderful champion .

  14. It’s a tough situation at the moment but will come back. I believe in him and will support him no matter what happen.
    Always with Rafa.

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