Rafa Roundup: What happened to Rafael Nadal?

Screenshot: Eurosport
Screenshot: Eurosport


It just hasn’t been Rafael Nadal’s year.

The Spaniard crashed out of the U.S. Open in the third round after losing a five-set thriller to Italian Fabio Fognini at Flushing Meadows, ensuring Nadal will be without a grand slam win in a calendar year for the first time since 2004.

Unlike Williams, Nadal has not had a very good year, but this result was more about a fantastic comeback fashioned by Fognini than anything Nadal did wrong.

“It’s something incredible I did today,” Fognini said.

Both men competed to their limits, and perhaps a little beyond. They ran and fought, pounding grounds strokes at one another and electrifying an audience that grew increasingly loud even as it thinned out because of the hour.

“I fought until the last point, with a good attitude,” said Nadal. “It was not enough to win today. But the good thing is that my mind allowed me to fight until the end as I have done during all my career. Sometimes this year I was not able to do that.

“The nerves, the anxiety that I had for a long time this season, meant I was not able to do it. I was not able to fight the way that I was fighting today. So it is an improvement for me. I take that like a positive thing and I know what I have to do. I am going to work on it.”

Let it be said Nadal didn’t lose Friday’s match, Fognini won it. He ran the 29-year-old Mallorcan ragged with sharp, angled groundstrokes from the baseline and deft touched volleys at the net. He crushed 20 of his 70 winners in a compelling, bizarre fifth set that included seven consecutive breaks of serve before Fognini finally held at 5-4 for a place in the fourth round.

Ninety minutes into the match, Nadal was up two sets and a break in the third, cruising to what appeared to be a routine win—so routine that many fans had filed to the exits before midnight. But for those who stayed, a classic was in the works, as Fognini raised his game and proved he wasn’t going away so easily.

Confidence, as Federer said while enduring his worst season as a star in 2013, “takes care of all the things you don’t usually think about.” Nadal and his fans would seem to have a lot to think about during the waning weeks of his worst season since 2005. Clearly, Federer has rediscovered it. It remains to be seen when Nadal will, and whether this year is an aberration, or an indication of something more dire.

He tried to look on the bright side as he spoke to the media at about 2:30 a.m., saying that he was pleased that his mind allowed him to “fight until the end, something that I was missing for a while.” But Nadal acknowledged there are problems with his strokes, particularly not enough topspin on his forehand and too-shallow groundstrokes in general. “Easy to understand, easy to explain, difficult to change,” Nadal said. “But I’m going to do it.”

For years, it has been speculated that Nadal’s demanding physical game would one day catch up with him. That day has come. Injuries forced Nadal to miss the 2012 and 2014 US Opens — and now he’s gone in the third round of 2015.

“Against Rafa, it’s always difficult,” Fognini said. “The fifth set was really difficult for both sides. When you go up one break on Rafa, your mind starts thinking about too many things.”

Rafael Nadal is the only tennis player to feature in the top 10 due to his 8.43million following on the popular social media website.



Rafael Nadal, of Spain, rests during the change over after losing a game to Fabio Fognini, of Italy, in the fifth set of a match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Two-time US Open champion Rafael Nadal answers rapid-fire questions in the latest edition of “15-Love.”


  1. PS: DEAR RAFA FANS: Rafa is A TOP PLAYER…….VERY CURRENT, VERY SUCCESSFUL….BLESS HIS HEART, & his on going adjusting to the new Tennis Style of players w one-point-serve-game is evident in HIS POWERFUL RETURNS & his improved SERVE!!!! Rafa’s entire Tennis is, and always has been improving because that is where he is gifted, in his efforts and purpose is moving forward!!!!!!
    If none of us fans respond to the occasional unkind comments here INTENDING to place malicious doubt , we will maintain the integrity of this fan site and refrain from reacting back & forth. Furthermore, ignoring such unflattering content, then no attention will be focused on that, and they will appear even more useless & senseless…… There is a lot of BS on line and I urge Rafa’s genuine fans to understand that these unflattering comments are written by fans of OTHER threaten one or two top players…..NOTICING RAFA IS BACK & CURRENT…… very obviously, and as we all gather by now, these comments carry no merit or usefulness here….. please enjoy Rafa’s stride forward, his efforts & accomplishments this season, and simply ignore the occasional empty comments, and try to rise above and not react…..Simply keep putting forth your own positive thoughts. AS WE SEE, RAFA’S LONGEVITY & SUCCESS ARE ON GOING……GOD BLESS HIM….HE HAS A TOP TOP POWERFUL, IMPROVING, WINNING GAME!!!!!! HIS TEAM IS OUTSTANDING and THEY ARE DOING GREAT MOVING FORWARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! As genuine fans, lets please focus our energy giving our support & respect to Rafa & his team. VAMOS DEAR RAFA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) : ) : )

    • To Fan love: You are not a true Rafa’s fan. just writing a page of nonsense positive affirmations
      in each of your post doesn’t make you a true fan of his. We love RAFA and are concerned about his state of mind and his career.That’s why we voice our concerns and solutions for his current prolonged slumping phase. Please stop bashing anyone who dare to be critical of his game. You can’t close your eyes and pretend that everything is alright because it is not.

  2. DEAR RAFA FANS: If none of us fans respond to the occasional unkind comments here, we will maintain the integrity of this fan site and refrain from reacting back & forth. Furthermore, ignoring such unflattering content, then no attention will be focused on that, and they will appear even more useless & senseless…… There is a lot of BS on line and I urge Rafa’s genuine fans to understand that these unflattering comments are written by fans of OTHER threaten one or two top players…..very obviously, and as we all gather by now, these comments carry no merit or usefulness here….. please simply ignore and try to not react…..& simply keep putting forth your own positive thoughts. VAMOS DEAR RAFA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) : ) : )

  3. Very disappointing to read Rafa ‘s so called fans and their advice to Rafa. how many of you actually play tennis? Rafa Nadal played well against Fogninni, it lasted five sets. How many of you have actually had a challenge such as he faced last night? He is still a great athlete who has done well without our advice for several years. Please, all of you, back off until you are in the top ten players in the world. Then I may respect your opinion. Jean Palmer Winnipeg Canada my part

    • DEAR RAFA FANS: If none of us fans respond to the occasional unkind comments here, we will maintain the integrity of this fan site and refrain from reacting back & forth. Furthermore, ignoring such unflattering content, then no attention will be focused on that, and they will appear even more useless & senseless…… There is a lot of BS on line and I urge Rafa’s genuine fans to understand that these unflattering comments are written by fans of OTHER threaten one or two top players…..very obviously, and as we all gather by now, these comments carry no merit or usefulness here….. please simply ignore and try to not react…..& simply keep putting forth your own positive thoughts. VAMOS DEAR RAFA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) : ) : )

  4. You’ll get back, Champ🌟❤️ I’m sure of it. You’re well on the way. Just keep believing in yourself – I do 😊😘 Keep working hard and play smart. VAMOS sweet Rafa 😍🎾💪

  5. Hi All, Deep Thinker is here again to tell the naked truth as it is. I love Rafa more than anybody, but I’m not afraid of criticizing him, because the TRUTH is like a candle light that all the darkness of the world cannot hide. I’ve been abused, called several names including ”a moron” on this site, but alas I’ve always be accurate in my analysis of Rafa and his game..

    When the draws of the US Open was published on this site, and many here commented that they expect Rafa to win, I had stuck out and predicted that Rafa will exit before the quarters. Again, for the umpteenth time, my prediction has come to pass. It appears I’m not a moron afterall!

    By now, I should have been a millionaire if I were betting on Rafa’s matches. However, I strongly detest gambling and I love Rafa too much than to bet against him.

    Of all the comments I’ve read so far, the best and most truthful comment has come from NERUDA. I doff my hat for you because I know that it is not easy to come out on this site and say such bold comments. You are indeed my hero.

    I was strongly championing and advocating that Rafa should either change his coaching crew or add to the team a la Novak Djokovic. But after the Fognini 3rd round match, a cold shudder ran up my spine and I was hit by blinding blaze of light. Hot tears streaked from my eyes as a new reality dawned on me.

    Indeed Rafa is 100% correct. The problem is not with Uncle Toni at all.The problem is Rafa. My new analysis of Rafa is that 75% of his body, soul, spirit and mind is no more in tennis. Clearly, he is struggling with himself: Should I continue or not?

    Clearly then, the time to exit is now. He should retire to his Mallorcan Island and marry his long time sweetheart, Maria Perello and raise a family. Rafa should exit now to protect his legacy and avoid further humiliating defeats which will further dent his amazing record. Nature abhors a vacuum and I know that sooner or later a greater champion will emerge to make us happy again.

    As he famously said sometimes ago: ”Life is more important than Tennis”

    • Ha ha ha …. do u hve any crystal ball to look in rafa future or his mind…..
      To ur comment i must now tell u one real thing.. on december 31st 2014 a famous card reader of my country told that rafa stars r not proper etc ..etc.. and that he will not win any grandslam in 2015 and to avoid these he have to add some letters in his name
      So should i now beleive that he was correct…
      No not at all predictions r made by ppl who dont live in present
      Do any body predicted abut 1st round loss of nishikori….do any one predicted that murray will play 5 setter against manarino… in 2nd round….
      foginni was bombarding bombs like wawrinka did agnst rafa in ao and agnst novak in fo…..
      Actually it was rafa with good defense handeled well in 5 th or it might have 6-0 for fogini
      These bombarding type of tennis…actually player who play such type also not sure if it will come off or not…and if it come off u will be a winner sad part is it is so inpredictable and hence inconsitent …lets see does it comes off for fabio in nxt match..
      but if u want to win gs u obivoulsy not choose this type of unpredictable type..
      Present for rafa is he played all 4 gs.and major masters 1000 and he is healthy and somewhat close to winning major tournament form….
      Actually problem is not with his coach..it only rafa too humble nature and too down to earth attitude … he always consider himself average player and downplay himself in any match
      Actually best part is rafa is not perfect player likes of roger or novak he always fights hard to get in winning position because of his never say die attitude … actually that only real thing makes him great
      In this world many stands for struggling life and very few lives perfect and rafa defines that struggling common man of this world who want to achieve greatest …
      So just wait and watch the present because v r so lucky to see him playing if ur a rafa fan or not … what will happen in future v never know but just want rafa to continue for many more years
      One thing is sure rafa is a player who dont want to continue playing with 8 or 10 seed ranking if it remains same for him till the end of 2016 season

      I think he and his team should deep look in to the strings , grip and weight of racquet … and work on it


    • It is so easy to predicts things for players who is playing too good and playera who are not playing good

  6. There have indeed been a number of great players – past & present – who endured prolonged slumps like the one Rafa is experiencing, who eventually recovered from it and regained their old form or better. But there’s one key difference between them and Rafa. The other players – Serena, Federer, Sharapova, Djokovic, Li, Murray, Clijsters, Wawrinka, the list goes on – all hired new coaches in order to bring in fresh strategies, tactics and ideas. Rafa, on the other hand, is sticking with his uncle, who clearly has no idea how to get him back on track. Just working hard is not enough. All the top players work hard. You also have to work – and play – SMART. That’s where coaching comes in. Rafa can afford to hire the best coaches on the planet. But instead, he’s sticking with someone that no other player on tour would hire, even if he offered his coaching services for free. Call it loyalty, call it superstition, call it neophobia, call it whatever you want. As a wise man once said: “If nothing changes, then nothing changes.”

    • Amin. well-said. It was very painful to watch RAFA walking in long corridors back to the players locker room after the loss. he was a broken man. I feel sorry for him. I am wondering why his parents don’t do anything.

      • Rafa’s sister too. Perhaps she can talk some sense into him. She seems to take his losses even harder than he does. You could see it on her face during Friday’s match. All smiles during the first two sets. Then a seriously concerned and worried look in the 3rd and 4th sets. By the 5th set she was practically in tears. She’s probably in the best position to tell him the hard truth about his coaching situation. Having a younger sister myself, I know of what I speak.

  7. Federer climbed his way back up to number 2 because he changed coaches and consulted with many to adjust his game. Rafa is stuck with a close knit family which is impeding his ability to seek outside help. Family is first and he doesn’t want to hurt Uncle Toni’s feelings. But you can only go so far with someone and then you need a different perspective. Uncle Toni isn’t adjusting Rafa’s game. He’s doing the same old thing and everyone’s moved on and know how to deal with him. Uncle Toni needs to leave his control and ego at the door and let Rafa get a new coach with a fresh approach.

  8. Additional Comment: I know that all of Rafa’s fans are heartbroken. I know that Rafa is heartbroken. But I also know that Rafa played at the baseline and not behind it. John McEnroe made a comment last night during the match when Rafa took the ball on the rise – he said “Nadal took the ball early {on the rise) if he continues to do that, no one will beat him, I don’t care who it is.” Yes, that’s what John McEnroe said. I too hope that Rafa gets in the habit and is comfortable doing that very frequently and incorporates it into his style of play. I think he will because of his comments. In his post interview he said he knows what he has to do, etc. I have faith in him and I know he will do what he has to do, and when he does he will be better than before. Marylynn.

    • Also interestingly, Mats Wilander said – and he doesn’t often say great things about Rafa – that “Rafa played well” in the Fognini match and said it was Fognini with his 70 winners that won and was playing lights out. He had not one comment or complaint about Rafa’s playing, and that is a first. Just another point to add to the above comment from John McEnroe. Not that Mats is THE only one to pay attention to – and sometimes he talks crap – but just an indication of the level at which Rafa was playing that match.

  9. Vamos Rafa: You played beautiful last night. I thought you had the match. I picked you as the 2015 US Open Champion. You will always be my CHAMPION. I love you Rafa. God bless you, may he keep you in good health ,and help you achieve what your heart desires. Marylynn

  10. Rafa you will always be the king ! No one of the people that love you and believe in you will give up on you,not now ,not ever! Chin up and do what you do the best – be YOU

  11. He pays the price for his stubbornness. you play the same, you will get the same result. as simple as that. first of all he needs a sport psychologist (or psychiatrist) and second he needs a smart coach. somebody like wawrinka’s coach. At this stage of RAFA’s career Uncle Toni is toxic to him. Rafa is not Buddha searching for Nirvana ( aka toni Nadal Tranquility). He is a tennis player needs to be equipped with proper weapon that is a smart coach with new ideas and effective game plan. Rafa can’t afford to punish his body anymore. A right game plan saves his energy, less injuries and bring him back his confidence.

  12. pour moi rafa sera et est toujours le plus grand joueur au monde trouvez en un autre qui fait 9fois roland garros jamais plus il n’y auras un tel score seul rafa peut allez chercher sa 10eme victoire et il l’aura foi de rafa

  13. i want rafa to cry to be angry with himself that he lost an match from winning position …….a sports man have to play with emotions….. to turns things around also he should not overplay himself and be selective and calm

  14. It is said that “wishing will make it so”! With all of Rafa’s fans (including me) it should not be problematic for Rafa to rise to his former heights! Nevertheless, our faith in Rafa’s return to his all-encompassing tennis abilities will not allow anything less! VAMOS, RAFA!!!

  15. Nothing is wrong with Rafa! It’s part of the ebbs and flows, peaks and valleys of an
    elite athlete’s career.

    He’s been dominant for the past decade so he suffers a dip in the 11th year from injury,
    illness, and lack of confidence which he’s recovering beautifully from. The rise back to top form takes time. It took Andy Murray a long time after his issues to return to top form and now look at him.

    Tennis is a super difficult sport. Not many achieve what Rafa has achieved. I marvel at it.
    To cite how super demanding and difficult tennis is, why Benoit Paire at 26 finally won his
    first title. Kevin Anderson finally won his 3rd title in 3 years, also Victor Estrellos Burgos
    at 35 also won a first title this year. These are just a few examples of how demanding this
    sport really is. Also the young guns, Milos, Kei and Grigor are still struggling to break through
    and haven’t . But they still persevere until they do.

    Rafa deserves out utmost respect and support for all he has accomplished and will continue
    to accomplish in 2016. Besides 2015 isn’t over yet. Never count Rafa out. I never do
    and never will.

    • Well said Diane Kuriloff I appreciate what you have said and I concur! Everyone has ebs and flows peaks and valleys.
      Rafa has had a very hard year on many levels, dealing with, illness, confidence, rhythm, and naysayers and now he has to mourn his Abuelo for whom he was named who passed away just recently. Rafa will be back. 🙂 He has been getting better!
      Also and thanks ever so for not posting a comment about Rafa and not sounding like a know it all, some of the comments here make me cringe with their smug arrogance.

      • Thank you Hepburn 3 for your heartfelt and sincere comments and for appreciating mine.
        I can only comment as a spectator who marvels and delights at Rafa’s gifts on the tennis court.

        The beauty in tennis now is some of the talented players are getting better as they get older.
        Stan W. for one. Feliciano Lopez and Kevin Anderson just made the QF at a GS for the very first time. My point is Rafa has been playing amazing and spectacular tennis since he has been a teenager. And he has been bringing the heat and intensity again in his game after his
        struggles early 2015. I only see positive and wonderful things for Rafa as he is demonstrating
        on the court now, win or lose. His team and Rafa have done everything right for his entire
        career. I totally support them and appreciate all their glorious contributions to the sport of
        tennis. Rafa and Uncle Toni and his team are a match made in heaven.

  16. I am pity but it is not so important, it is just a game and he is a fantastic sportsman and a big personality.

  17. New coach will not help him! His “tennis” body and mind are gone. He should quit the sport now, while some still think of him as a “has been” great champion.

    • Neruda, please do not be so arrogant and insensitive about one of the greatest players in the history of the sport. He is respected, admired and loved because he is a great sportsman and a great person.

      • Why are Nuruda and Deep Thinker here?!
        I would never dream of going to say Roger Federer’s site and slag him off. Roger is not my favourite tennis player but I would never wish him ill or try to discourage him.
        Some people have deep tissue issues.

  18. Never came to the net behind excellent approach shots plays the same style needs newcoach lik dovackic got becker

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