Rafa Roundup: How Nadal can beat Djokovic?

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 01:  A detailed view of Rafael Nadal of Spain's shoe as he plays his Men's Singles match against Jack Sock of the United States on day nine of the 2015 French Open at Roland Garros on June 1, 2015 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE – JUNE 01: A detailed view of Rafael Nadal shoe as he plays his Men’s Singles match against Jack Sock on day nine of the 2015 French Open at Roland Garros on June 1, 2015 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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So often the question has been asked – will this be the year he dethrones the clay court king? Will this be the year he completes his career Grand Slam? Each time, Nadal has answered those questions with a resounding “no”, thanks to his own resounding play. … If no-one has managed to beat him – Djokovic included – in the past five years, and considering the fact that Nadal looks as fit, healthy, in form, confident and motivated as ever so far this tournament, then why would the script change now?

BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller: “Rafa Nadal against Novak Djokovic must be the most eagerly anticipated Grand Slam quarter-final in history. Nadal has 70 French Open wins to fall back on, and Djokovic an unbeaten run at Grand Slam or Masters level which stretches all the way back to October.” … How Nadal can beat Djokovic? 1. Finish to the forehand: Nadal lost the opening set in 2014 overplaying the Serb’s backhand, resulting in only four forehand winners. In set two, he finished with 85 % of forehand winners squarely directed at Djokovic’s forehand side…

No doubt, Nadal would have preferred to be the one carrying a 26-match winning streak into this event. But the way things worked out, he has managed to transfer all the pressure to Djokovic. The world No. 1 also knows he’s been just another vassal working in the King’s fief at Roland Garros. He’s 0-6 against Nadal at Roland Garros — and that includes two finals.

After a cool and wet start to the tournament the weather is supposed to warm as the week progresses in Paris. Asked how the conditions might affect the match, Nadal kept it very simple. “The hotter it is, the better it is for me.

This quarterfinal may not be the biggest match in Nadal’s career—he became a new kind of champion by winning the iconic 2008 Wimbledon final—but it may be the most important match he’s played since. … This quarterfinal means everything to Djokovic, but it means plenty to Nadal, as well.

Nadal is 70-1 at the French Open and 93-1 in best-of-five-set matches on clay: No one will ever approach such numbers again. Even Federer, when he was in his prime, which is generally accepted as the greatest run of tennis in history, didn’t have stretches of 93-1. Oh, and if you’re wondering where those other 23 best-of-five matches came from, most were Davis Cup, but others were in finals of top-tier events before almost every tournament switched to a best-of-three format throughout.

Djokovic is the best right now; we haven’t forgotten that. Rafa loves these courts better than any others; we’ve been reminded of that. This will be fun. We knew that.

“They have to stop doing this,” said Courier. “They have to stop hitting him with warnings on big points, because he’s consistently over 20 seconds virtually every point he serves. Either he needs to speed up or they need to get him earlier in the match on meaningless points, but to do it on break points is maddening to me.” The ITF, which mandates the Grand Slams, allows for 20 seconds between points, rather than the 25 that the ATP uses. “There’s nothing that Nadal is doing that is gamesmanship,” said Courier. “He’s just getting ready for a huge point. He takes too much time, we know this.”

REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

When was the first time you came to the French Open? “In 2005, with Rafael. We should have come in 2004, but Rafael injured his ankle before the tournament (editor’s note: Nadal got a stress fracture in Estoril). Wait, it was in 2003 that we should have come, but the night before we were supposed to leave, he fell over (editor’s note: injuring his elbow). I remember 2005 very well. We had high hopes because Rafael had won a lot of matches on clay. He’d won at Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome, so he was one of the favourites, along with Roger Federer, of course. I remember when we got the draw and saw that he’d probably face Richard Gasquet in the third round. We thought, “Uh oh, we have a problem”. Because Gasquet almost beat Rafael at the semis in Monte Carlo (editor’s note: Nadal won 6-7, 6-4, 6-3). So we knew it would be complicated.”

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9 comments

  1. Happy Birthday Rafa!! hope you had an amazing day xxx 😘 🎉🎉🎁🎂 🍻

  2. Feliz cumpleaños Rafa ! Joyeux Anniversaire ! Que la victoire soit ton meilleur cadeau d’anniversaire pour tes 29 ans. SUERTE CAMPEON

  3. SO THE BATTLE OF THE TITANS BEGINS GOLIATH Vs SAMSON RONALDO Vs MESSI NOVAK Vs RAFA…..Novak Ranked World No 1 Rafa Ranked World No 7 Novak in unstoppable WINNING form of straight 26 wins..Rafa…himself says ‘I am in the lowest form of my career…..BUT RAFA LOVES THE COURTS AT ROLAND GARROS HE LOVES PLAYING HERE, THIS IS HIS HOME LIKE NO OTHER PLACE ON EARTH, SOMETHING MAGICAL SEEMS TO HAPPEN FOR RAFA CANT QUITE PUT MY FINGER ON IT BUT ITS ALMOST LIKE HE BECOMES THIS ‘CELESTIAL BEING’ PERHAPS THE GOD WHO CREATED THIS GAME OF TENNIS, AND THAT IS WHY HE HAS WON IT 9 TIMES, AND WHY NO ONE ELSE CAN BEAT HIM……SURELY THE GOD’S WONT DENY HIM THIS ONE THEN HIS TENTH, NO THEY COULDN’T DO THAT….SO IT’S RAFA ALL THE WAY..AND IF HE DOES WIN THAT WILL BE SENSATIONAL…AND SHOULD HE STILL BE STANDING AT THE END OF THE FINAL……IT HAS TO BE TRUE HE IS THE GOD WHO CREATED THIS GAME OF TENNIS…..THE GREATEST TENNIS PLAYER OF ALL TIME THAT’S OUR RAFA NADAL EL MATADOR LONG MAY HE REIGN THE PRINCE OF SPAIN…….AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY……only 29 what a PRESENT TO GIVE YOUR SELF TODAY……VAMOS RAFA THE KING OF CLAY…

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