Rafa Roundup: What is going on with Rafael Nadal?

Mar Saura junto a Rafa Nadal en la inauguración de su nuevo restaurante, Tatel. Foto: José Salto.
Mar Saura junto a Rafa Nadal en la inauguración de su nuevo restaurante, Tatel. Foto: José Salto.

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I cannot leave Madrid not happy. I have to leave happy and just delete what happened today. I will just stay with the good things that happened this week, and there are a lot of them, more good than bad. I will try to recover the good feelings in Rome.”

The question on many people’s mind after Barcelona remains: What is going on with Rafael Nadal? Are the issues psychological? Is his mind putting a brake on his body, or is it the other way round? Will a good win make all the doubts disappear? That seemed to be the promise after the Berdych match, yet it proved not to be the case. What is refreshing is hearing Nadal discuss his issues during press conferences, and seem as concerned as everyone else in the tennis world. He gives the impression that he’s more or less in the same position as we are: looking for answers. It’s just that there are so many questions.

In 2014, he also suffered defeats in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, and he was in danger of suffering a blowout loss to Kei Nishikori in the Madrid final. But instead of completing that win, as Murray did today, Nishikori pulled up with a back injury and retired. After that, Nadal still didn’t turn things around in Rome, where he lost to Djokovic in the final. Yet he won the French Open anyway. Roland Garros, in other words, remains a tournament unto itself for Rafa. Perhaps the best news for Nadal fans is that he walked to the net on Sunday with a wry smile on his face, as if this defeat was so bad, and so out of the ordinary, that it’s not worth dwelling on or worrying about. 

The only bright spots for Nadal was hitting more winners for the match (18 to 11), and winning 10 of 11 points at the net. While the net play would normally be a good secondary pattern to complement his dominating baseline game, this time it seemed much more like Nadal was going to the net to escape Murray’s suffocating groundstroke tactics.

After walloping Tomas Berdych in the semis to advance to the final without dropping a set, it felt like Nadal was back on course with his game. Prior to the tournament he decided to end his racket experimentation and return to his old trusty Babolat. Against Berdych his forehand was as devastating as ever. Then he came out and played an absolutely terrible match to lose to Murray. That match-to-match inconsistency, which we’ve seen a few times this season, continues to plague Nadal.

GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images
GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images

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12 comments

  1. Hey Rafa… I stand loyal to being a Rafa Nadal loyal fan… whatever,whenever, nothing will stop me. On with the French Open….

  2. Rafa played amazing all week Murray played like Joker and Rafa got a surprise from Andy Rafa looked surprise the whole match ! Rafa will come on strong at FO saving the best for last I will always love and support Rafa 100% win or lose I’ll support Rafa forever ! Keep positive Rafa and good luck !

  3. My Rafa is just human; not a machine. He’s going through a rough patch, and I KNOW he’ll be back on track and on to his winning ways very soon. In the meantime, and in between time, he has my undivided and unwavering loyalty, and NOTHING, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, will ever change that.

    I believe in you my beloved Rafa, and continue to give you my 100% support.

  4. Rafa I am concerned about you. The final in Madrid you were. Suffering and confused. At least it looked like that. All your fans are staying loyal. Any thing else would not happen. You need to find help. Best luck as the season goes forward

  5. Just regrouping after his lengthy time off. He’ll be back in true Rapha form, just a “bump” in the road……………………he’s the best.

  6. bonjour rafa , et bas voilà finaliste ,ça sent bon roland garros !!! vamoooooooooooooooos !!!

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