Rafa Roundup: Federer says Nadal is the favourite to win the French Open and not Djokovic

AP Photo/Michel Euler
AP Photo/Michel Euler

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Grand Slams can potentially adjust seedings, like moving up players who have previously done well at the event, but only Wimbledon regularly does so, using a grass-court formula to determine player seeding. “We thought about it,” the French Open’s tournament director, Gilbert Ysern, told L’Equipe. … However, Nadal is not in the same position anymore, according to Ysern, who explained, “In 2013, he came in injured. Today, it is his sporting level, it seems, which has fallen. He is not hampered. So, we will not adjust the seedings in his favor.”

“At the French Open, Rafa for me is still the favourite alongside Djokovic who has been playing so well. “Even though his (Nadal’s) form is not as good as in previous years, I still believe when the French Open rolls around he is going to be very difficult to beat,” he told a news conference in Istanbul.

Ridiculously, the tournament is unlikely to change its policy of matching seedings with world rankings. So the most successful player in its history – a man with a mind-boggling win-loss record of 66-1 at Roland Garros – will probably go in as either the No 4 or No 5 seed, depending on results over the next couple of tournaments. Should the draw go against him, Nadal could find himself playing Novak Djokovic, the favourite and world No 1, as early as the quarter-finals.

Is his recent form real? That’s what everyone wants to know. He had similar problems early in the clay-court season last year and went on to win the French Open for a record ninth time. With a new racquet that offers him even more power and spin (!), he certainly can do that again.

The point of all these numbers was to look at the big picture and address two major questions. First, should we panic about these losses? I am not panicking yet. Nadal has two major tournaments left on clay before the grand slam. On average, he has not performed terribly but during those losses, every aspect of his game suffered. He stated many times in press conferences that he needs to capitalize on the break chances and needs to find his confidence and rhythm. All of this is evident.

As for Rafa, I don’t think I’d ever seen him look as intense or intent as he did in his presser on Thursday. He left no doubt, if you ever had any, of his desire to play his best again—you accept the setback and learn from it, he said, or you die. That he can still have that attitude after winning nine French Opens says it all about him, doesn’t it?

Uncle Toni: “Comparing helps to improve. With this racquet, one can factually measure progress and see where the mistakes are. Often, I see he’s playing too short but I don’t know why, because the human eye can’t see everything and also remains subjective. But with those data, it’s objective. It helps me to see where he actually hits the ball. It also helps for the training sessions…”

AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo
AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo

He will be the co-favorite, with Djokovic, at the French Open next month. No one will be surprised if he’s holding up his 10th trophy when it’s all over. But the days when Nadal dominated the clay-court season are over, and we all know where this ends, if not exactly when. You accept it or you die, Rafa said after his defeat Thursday. Was he telling himself — or the rest of us?

El libro que recoge múltiples historias, anécdotas y curiosidades del vigente campeón de torneo estará disponible desde el próximo viernes 1 de mayo de 2015, día en el que además dará comienzo la fase previa del cuadro femenino.

AUDIO: Rafael Nadal – When does a crisis become a crisis? (via TennisPodcast)

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15 comments

  1. Dear Rafa: I really wish you could read all the fan mail; that alone would boost your confidence, belief, and morale. Thousands of people love you and believe in you and are praying for you also. I am one of those people. I have said many prayers for you over the years. My prayers lately ask that you regain your self belief and confidence; and that your love and passion for tennis increase as long as you play; I also ask the Lord, thy God to keep you healthy physically, and mentally fresh and in good spirits. Think happy thoughts Rafa. You will always be numero uno with me. None of us are perfect, and all of your fans do not expect perfection from you Rafa. We just want you to have your good and health and peace of mind so that you are able to play your best and smartest tennis. Love and God Bless you, Marylynn.

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  2. Thanks very much Jean Palmer….(4/28/2015) for your kind words and for being a fan!!! I enjoy reading your comments as well . It is all very special how we all love to watch Rafa play & enjoy watching him succeed On & off the court. !!! : ) Like you, & many others, I am confident that Rafa knows what he is doing and where he is heading….Bless his heart!!! As you can tell, he has already shown us he IS back & competing beautifully…. May he continue to enjoy playing for a very very long time….Singles…Doubles…Mix Doubles… you name it…. all of us fans would love to watch him on the court for many more blessed years,…..always so special to follow his tournaments & matches!! VAMOS Rafa dear!!! : )

  3. I noticed that the French don’t seem to like the Spanish perhaps because Nadal has been dominating RG. Even the Australian especially behave differently towards Nadal compared to Roger Federer. Anyway, it doesn’t matter to me and all Nadal’s fans he’s the GOAT although Federer may have 17 Grand Slams.

  4. For J Beer: Thank you so much for that additional piece of tennis history and those stats!
    WOW!!!

    What Rafa has accomplished is so special, amazing and record-breaking!
    I was aware that Federer who I also dearly respect and admire won the FO in 2009 as
    Rafa was no longer in the draw which enabled him to achieve the career grand slam.
    Thank you for enlightening me about the long list of all time great (you say good)
    players who never produced career grand slams. That fact speaks volumes alone
    about how adept Rafa is on all surfaces which I already knew and how terrific a
    player he really is! For me, he always stands out from the rest.

  5. @diane kuriloff: welcome to tennis history. This fact is exactly what made Rafa stand out from all the rest. He beat his main competitors on their fav surface, in their fav majors (he beat Fed at Wimbledon, he beat Novak twice at the US Open, he beat fed 9 times out of 11 matches in majors, he beat Novak 9 times out of 12 matches in majors). Agassi was the first in the open era to win the Golden Career Grand Slam (all majors plus Olympics) and Rafa the second. Federer has a career grand slam but his FO has the big asterisk, he did not beat Rafa there once. Yes the list of all time good players who did not complete the career grand slam is much longer than you think. Becker, Edberg, Lendl, Wilander, Djokovic, Borg are another few names!

  6. what a wonderful piece from “fan love” so well put. (April 28). gracious, insightful , honest and sincere. I totally agree. Thankyou for writing such an apt piece. I can only add that ( call me crazy) I have every belief that Rafa will come through this present phase, better than ever.Roger Federer is proof that all great players can re-tool , it takes more courage later in one,s career but both are true professionals. The old geysers at The Winnipeg Rafa Fan Club understand this and have monumental faith in our man to overcome. Rafa , like so many great sportsmen, like Roger Bannister, Emil Zatopek, Steve Redgrave of rowing fame have that acuteness of discernment ,perspicacity….this is what will hold Rafa in good stead.Moreover all these great men, like Federer, like Rafa take a world view of sport and are monumentally giving back to a society in need. Jean Palmer.

    • Thanks very much Jean Palmer….(4/28/2015) for your kind words and for being a fan!!! I enjoy reading your comments as well . It is all very special how we all love to watch Rafa play & enjoy watching him succeed On & off the court. !!! : ) Like you, & many others, I am confident that Rafa knows what he is doing and where he is heading….Bless his heart!!! As you can tell, he has already shown us he IS back & competing beautifully…. May he continue to enjoy playing for a very very long time….Singles….Doubles…Mix Doubles… you name it…. all of us fans would love to watch him on the court for many more blessed years,…..always so special to follow his tournaments & matches!! VAMOS Rafa dear!!! : )

  7. Vamos dear Rafa…..: ) Many folks among the French crowd (I noticed in the replays) do admire your beautiful game…. and adore you and respect your sportsmanship… Borg was so excited for you!!!! He is a class act and his respect for you speaks volume!!!! : ) I watched the 2014 FO 5 times…and loved every minute of it….saw that the crowd were there looking for an exciting, long match and they got their wish…..They tend to switch loyalty & cheering back & forth both players……..so obviously, your main strength comes from your own motivation, your presence, and your desire to over ride all this secondary stuff….. The only reason it appears the French spectators were helping Novak is due to the fact that Novak played the victim at the end, behaving poorly….a poor loser. Right when he lost, he raised his hands to ignite the crowd…. (as if he won…) that was rather unprofessional behavior , very odd…. subsequently, the crowd pitied him and felt sorry for him….so they kept clapping and he was in his drama routine mode…nodding etc….You, on the other hand dear Rafa, you won darling, and you earned it, and you are the one we all enjoy watching!!!! : ) You have that conviction expression on your face that no matter what you are going to prevail… During tough/intensity moments seems faith and higher presence was right there along with you….So all in all in the end, your substance and integrity carries you high Rafa, and that is the blessings always with you that you can keep and carry in mind & heart during all your future matches. ALL the court volunteers on the ground ALONG WITH ALL of us watching you from home are right there w you….wishing you all God’s grace….and so do the millions fans who truly care about you globally… I am sure you remember to carry that love with you onto the court… It is so special that you are still playing….and God bless you with your next match and the next one after and so forth….

  8. I happen to agree with Roger. Rafa won the FO 4x in a row, losing in 2009!.
    Then he came back in 2010 to win again 5X in a row. Never ever under-estimate Rafa!

    I was also curious about the list of top 10 players in men’s tennis. I was surprised that
    McEnroe, Connors and Sampras, all great players, never even won the FO once!

    Rafa deserves to relax and regroup and make the necessary adjustments to his game
    at his own pace. He has made so much history already. Best wishes and positive
    thoughts to Rafa.

  9. OK, Seed Djokovich #1, but Seed Rafa #2 !! would anyone disagree with that? It is only common sense. Wimbledon officials have always been saavy in that respect.

  10. Are we surprised at the French? Lack of respect for the great player that had made history by winning 9 titles In Roland Garros . That should motivate Rafael . I recall Toni saying that Roland Garros did not fully appreciate Rafael . How true.

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