Rafa Roundup: Nadal Says He Will ‘Fight To The Bitter End’ Against Djokovic

EFE/Yoan Valat
EFE/Yoan Valat

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The Spaniard continued his quest for a 10th crown at the clay-court major with a 6-3, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 victory over Jack Sock in just under three hours on Monday evening. It was his 70th match win at the Grand Slam championship in the French capital.

The “King of Clay,” who will turn 29 on Wednesday, will also be joined in the quarterfinals by Roger Federer, Andy Murray and top-ranked Novak Djokovic after all three had little trouble with their fourth-round matches. As for a birthday present? That would come in the form of a matchup with Djokovic, who breezed to a 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Richard Gasquet.

“He’s by far the best player in the world. He’s brimming with confidence; he has exceptional form. He’s won almost all the matches since the start of the year. He has only two defeats. I love Roland Garros. I love the tournament. I love the courts. I will pull out all the stops to win the match. I feel competitive. I will fight to the bitter end. I don’t know if it will be enough. I don’t read a crystal ball. So if I play well and if my opponent plays better than me, I will shake hands and congratulate and then I will move on.”

From the moment the French Open draw was made more than a week ago, this is the match the tennis world has been awaiting: No. 1 Novak Djokovic against nine-time champion Rafael Nadal. Except instead of the final, Wednesday’s blockbuster will come in the quarterfinals. ”The match that everybody anticipated or expected,” Djokovic said. ”I’m not used to playing him that early, but that’s the reality and that’s a challenge that both of us have to accept.”

“Novak today is the best player in the world,” Nadal said. “He’s coming in here without losing almost any matches this season. To have any chance against him, I know I have to play my real best tennis, and that’s what I’m looking forward to.”

He is moving better than he’s moved this entire year. He is clearly at home on the clay. The best-of-five format gives him margin for error and a greater chance to play himself out of rough patches. That’s the good news. … There’s no question Nadal’schances have been bolstered by his play these first rounds. And his businesslike approach—no real drama, no taxing matches—will help ensure that he is fresh. But is he ready for the world No. 1, who’s simply been steamrolling? And has been prepping for this match all year? Bring on Wednesday…..

Christmas never comes early but for tennis fans—particularly those who love crushed red brick and long, slow rallies—something even better does. That something will come this Wednesday when Rafael Nadal andNovak Djokovic meet in the quarterfinal that should be a final at Roland Garros.

Nadal in 2005 was a kid on the rise with a fast-kicking lefty forehand and expectation to be something special. He had won all three clay-court leadup tournaments, in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome. “We wanted to win,” said Toni Nadal, Rafael’s uncle and coach, in an interview with USA TODAY Sports. “If you ask me before the beginning of the tournament (that year), ‘Do you want (Rafael) to make the final?’ No. I wanted him to win. I believed that. Rafael was the best player on clay in that moment.”

EFE/Etienne Laurent
EFE/Etienne Laurent

Rafael Nadal could probably pass for a member of the Blue Man Group with his full-body blue getup.

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13 comments

    • Best wishes for your match tomorrow Rafa ,I’m praying that you win ,god bless you and give you everything you need to win ,,,,,go Rafa vamos ,

  1. Good luck for tomorrow Rafa I hope you have a win to make your birthday extra special but even if you lose you will always be checking of clay even if Novak wins the French open he can not take that title you didn’t get it by wining it once we know the French crowd will be behind Novak but stay strong maybe you should have done a early run with the ball boys and girls to get them on your side like Novak did very sneaky he will do anything to knock your confidence I wouldnt even be surprised to see the umpire that Rafa has problems with on the match tomorrow

  2. We are with you every point ,every game ,every set Rafa,,,,your fans are supporting you ,believe in yourself believe in your game ,be strong ,be positive ,keep concentration ,and don’t take tooo long before serving ,,,,the last thing you need is a point loss ,,,,good luck best wishes loads of love ,,,,god be with you and angels on your shoulder ,,,,,kick ass Rafa ,

  3. have a wonderful birthday Rafa win or loose you are still the best .
    Will be praying for you xx

  4. Good luck Rafa,even though tennis is a skill, lady luck has a great part to play,may she be on your shoulders all the way through and give you a wonderful birthday present !.

  5. No matter what the result on Wednesday, enjoy your Birthday Rafa. Have fun n a fantastic time! You are still so young n have achieved so much, n still have many good years of tennis ahead of you. Your complexion looks great in powder blue! Roger F. looks good in pink! Vamos Rafa. God bless you. Your Aussie Nana. 🎂 🎁 👑 🎈🎈🎈

  6. Wishing you much love, fun and joy on your upcoming Birthday Rafa! I hope that you win on Wednesday because that would be a wonderful bday present! Vamos Rafa! 🙂 <3

  7. Rafa you keep positive believe in yourself and enjoy your game everything will just flow easily don’t feel pressured at all you can beat Joker, just remember to keep close to the baseline, drop shots, volleys and get to the net mix up your game so it won’t be predictable for Joker and you should win

  8. No matter what happens on Wednesday, I’m on Rafa’s side. Win or lose, Rafa is my Numero UNO.

  9. We are all behind you! You can win this!! Believe in yourself!! Big love to you <3 Vamos Rafa!!!!

  10. Win or lose on Wednesday, it is time for Roland Garros to show respect to Rafael Nadal and
    all that he has contributed to this tournament and the sport of tennis. Ms. Sharapova rarely
    heaps praise on any fellow player, but clearly appreciates and truly understands what Rafael
    Nadal has accomplished.

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