Rafa Roundup: A motivated Rafael Nadal might just be the most dangerous of all

El tenista español, Rafael Nadal, participa en una sesión de entrenamiento, en el ámbito del torneo de tenis de Queens, en Londres (Reino Unido) hoy, lunes 15 de junio de 2015. EFE/Andy Rain
El tenista español, Rafael Nadal, participa en una sesión de entrenamiento, en el ámbito del torneo de tenis de Queens, en Londres (Reino Unido) hoy, lunes 15 de junio de 2015. EFE/Andy Rain

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The last seven champions of the Aegon Championships are entered in this year’s tournament. The strong field is led by five Top 10 players in the Emirates ATP Rankings: World No. 3 Andy Murray, No. 4/Roland Garros champion Stan Wawrinka, No. 8 Milos Raonic, No. 9 Marin Cilic and No. 10 Rafael Nadal.

“My main goal is finish the season healthy. Try to have the chance to play the full season. I am confident that… I’m gonna have a much better second half of the season than what I did in the first six months. Mentally, I feel strong. I have the motivation to be back to my best and I feel… my body is ready for it. Today I am the No. 10 in the world and I have only played six months… and more than half of that six months (I played) very badly. If I am able to be No. 10 playing that badly, if I am able to play a little bit better I will be higher.”

“My knees are fine. It’s obvious that, if my knees are fine, I have chances to compete well. Grass is probably the second surface where I had most success in my career. I feel comfortable. Today I don’t have physical limitation like I had in 2012 and 2013, so that’s important.”

But one thing nobody seemed to figure into their calculations is that, at age 29, Nadal simply may have been a little tired, or perhaps even somewhat spooked, by his own outlandish record on clay. He was struggling before he hit the clay, no doubt about that. And perhaps, being the King of Clay, somewhere deep in that red clay soul, Nadal didn’t really feel like he had to go out and prove anything as he wrestled with his problems.

Now he stands at No10, his lowest ranking since the spring of that remarkable 2005. But here is where the other side of the rankings sword comes into play. Nadal can now contemplate an upturn in his fortunes—precisely because of the downturn he suffered last summer. He has only 280 points to defend until the end of the year so even if he falls short of titles, even of finals, at the two Majors and four Masters ahead, he can only gain.

The clay-court season is usually the time when Rafael Nadal makes ground on all his rivals, but could this be the year when he turns his season around on grass? … While most of the top players rested in the first week of the new three-week gap between the French Open and Wimbledon, Nadal opted to play in the inaugural grass-court event in Stuttgart. The world No 10 has always been a player who needs matches more than practice and boosted his confidence by winning the Stuttgart title.

Fourteen-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal today gave 14 lucky school children from the Oasis South Bank Academy in Waterloo, the surprise of their life when he jumped on court to help coach a session at The Aegon Championships in Queen’s Club, London to mark the 20,000th school supported by British Tennis on day one of the Aegon Championships at Queen's Club on June 15, 2015 in London, England. (June 14, 2015 - Source: Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images Europe)
Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

“It is always fun to play with kids and I’m happy I could be here today to support British Tennis and the Schools Programme,” said Nadal. “It was nice to see the smiles on their faces. I have my own foundation, which offers educational programs to the deprived, with a common denominator: sport. It’s a great way to be introduced to sport in schools and I hope I can inspire more to play tennis.”

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10 comments

  1. Rafa talks too much. You hardly hear anything about Novak until when he arrives for a tournament and wins it. Novak, in my opinion, seems to have a better winning strategy than Rafa.
    Winning is not just being good at playing on the court, but it encompasses your overall attitude including psychological play on competitors.

    • Your time would be much better spent posting comments on Novak Djokovic’s site. Simply type Djokovic fans on your browser. Your comments are wasted here.

      • Dear watchedrafawinrgliveinstadium, as you nicely advised, I ‘ve typed Djokovic fans on my browser, please kind Sir, what do I do next?

        You appear to be an expert on all things Djokovic, so I reckon you’d perfectly be able to answer my question.

        Thanks in advance. I do hope my questions are not wasted here.

    • “Novak has the better winning strategy?”

      Stop it! Rafa had problems with his body in the last 12 months! That’s the ONLY reason why he dropped in the ranking!

      Rafa at his best is unstoppable! 14 GS See much more than the 8 GS of Djokovic! And you want to tell me that Novak has the better winning strategy than Rafa?!

      Always with Rafa!

    • I agree. This soft approach may be nice and appreciated by the female fans here, but it does not win you any big trophies. Fantastic that Rafa is so open about being insecure. Wonderful, boom, and there he goes again, out against the Dog in Round 1. What did he learn from his last defeat against this player? Nothing, nada. He needs new coaches and if he indeed prefers to stay in the family setting, maybe consider quitting. I’ve had enough.

      • Well said. I feel your pain.

        Rafa refuses to replace Uncle Toni. He refuses to replace Francisco Roig. He even refuses to simply ADD someone new to his team without firing anyone.

        “If nothing changes, then nothing changes.” Unfortunately, Rafa never got the memo.

  2. somehow i agree to a certain extent with ‘move in Rafa or move on’ although i dont want Rafa to quit. its the attitude of always putting himself down throughout the years that has got him these results this year and of course also all his injuries etc. even now Rafa says ‘i’ve won enough’ that is not a good message sent to the universe. even if he does’nt have to prove anything to anybody – i’m still sure he wants to win.

    So Rafa, please believe in yourself – you are great, the best and say that to yourself everyday, loudly. it doesn’t mean that you are arrogant if you do. and if it does sound that way – a little arrogance is needed to get what you want and play your best. you will always be my champ and that of all your other fans.

    VAMOS – and all the best.

  3. Rafa’s problem the last 12 months was not motivation, not intensity, not effort. His problem was his technique and tactics, which had deteriorated as a result of constant self-deprecation and self-doubt, and extremely poor coaching by Uncle Toni & Francisco Roig.

    “Having doubts is a good thing. It’s arrogant not to have doubts.” ~ Rafa

    No Rafa. For a professional athlete, especially a professional tennis player, having doubts about your skills and abilities can be a career-killer. It’s impossible to properly execute your shots if you’re constantly second-guessing and doubting yourself. It kills muscle memory. It kills reflexes. It kills rhythm. Doubt and execution, doubt and performance, are like oil and water. They just don’t mix.

    Analyze your game periodically, make adjustments if necessary, then fully commit to those adjustments without hesitation or doubt. If those adjustments don’t work out over a series of tournaments, then try something else. But in the meantime, you gotta believe 100% in what you’re doing and stick to it, regardless of the immediate results.

    Constantly talking about your self-doubt and low self-confidence just leads to more low self-confidence and self-doubt. It’s a vicious cycle that never ends. It also gives your opponents the confidence and belief that they can beat you.

    Stop the self-doubt Rafa. Start believing in yourself. That’s the only way forward. VAMOS!!!

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