Rafa Roundup: “Everybody knows Rafa is the king of clay,” says Djokovic

Spain's Rafael Nadal reacts after defeating Argentina's Carlos Berlocq in their semi-final tennis match at the ATP Argentina Open in Buenos Aires February 28, 2015.   REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci (ARGENTINA - Tags: SPORT TENNIS)
REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci


“I want to thank the organisers of the Argentina Open for giving me this wild card to play in Buenos Aires. The times that I’ve played in Argentina have been special and full of good memories because the people are some of the best in the world.

“I asked for this wild card after the bad result in Melbourne and I hope that Buenos Aires will once again be the start of a good run for me. I will try my best to make sure it is.”

Nadal will open his campaign on either Wednesday or Thursday in the Argentine capital.

Djokovic, though, insists the Spaniard remains his greatest threat on dirt.

“Absolutely,” he told AAP as he basked in the glory of a record sixth success at Melbourne Park.

“You would be disrespectful to everything he has achieved in his career on clay courts if we didn’t see him this year — and each year — as the ultimate challenge on clay courts. Everybody knows he is the king of clay. He’s achieved so much on that surface. He’s made history. He’s won the French Open nine times.”

I was in the gym at my hotel and local TV showed a replay of the Rafael Nadal-Fernando Verdasco match. If I’m Nadal, I’m displeased and dispirited that I’ve been bounced early from still another major. But the truth is, no one was beating Verdasco, the way he played that last set. Just an extraordinary high level of tennis.

A few of you asked, quite reasonably, how Verdasco could play so well against the great Nadal and then look so mortal in a loss to Dudi Sela just 48 hours later? The question answers itself. To beat a player of Nadal’s caliber, an opponent has to play the match of his life and take sizable risks. Which is why so often we see a drop in level after an upset.




  1. The guy Move in or move on Rafa is truly a Nole fan. He knows nothing about Rafa and keeps praising Novak.
    He is the best now but strongest era of all time?? B*tches please.
    Rafa is 30, Roger is 34 both greatest players are declining. A world number 2 Andy Murray can do nothing about it. What is the difference of Novak in 2006 from 2015? A big serve and unbelievable physical strength. That’s all.

    You guys should know that unlike Roger , Rafa’s play style is completely different. His topspin forehand demand a repeated knees bending. And if you are a true Rafan, you must know in 2009 many professionals said that his knees had been heavily damaged. That’s why a 34 year old Federer can play like 24 but Nadal is suffering at the age of 30.

    • I praise Novak because he deserves praise. He’s a total professional who’s done everything he can to improve his game. I wish I could say the same about Rafa, but I can’t. He obviously prefers being coddled by his uncle than being challenged by a real coach.

      I won’t waste my time responding to your entire ignorant rant, except to say that Novak has improved far more than just his serve and endurance (which is a LOT btw) since 2006. He has also improved his forehand, slice backhand and net game. His coaching team – especially Boris Becker – deserve much of the credit for that.

      • I won’t waste anytime either. But let me have some “response” for your ignorant comment too.
        Novak game is not much different than in 2006. He has a very strong two handed backhand which is a KEY to counter Rafa topspin forehand. Novak forehand may have little improvement but it’s not a big deal since Rafa could use his combo backhand slice + forehand down the line to attack Novak forehand ( he did that in the final of FO 2014 if you ‘re his fan?) .

        The only point that change Novak’s career is his physical strength. That’s also a key for Novak to win against Rafa in the final of AO 2012. Even in 2014 when Rafa started to decline , he could manage to win that ninth FO. On a right day with full stamina, Rafa ‘s forehand down the line is still a pain for Novak. And of course you can’t deny that in 2011-2014, Novak was enjoying his time right?

        Don’t get me wrong. Novak DESERVES praise. Of course he is a professional and everyone wants to improve the game. Only an idiot doesn’t want that. But praising him like he is a god can’t prove that he is playing in a “strong era”. And Rafa loses to him because he plays bad due to his age and lack of change in his game not because Novak is “way too good”.

  2. Djokovic is doping, having high oxygen blood transfusions. He’s a fanatic – the trouble is, it will all come out sooner or later – another Lance Armstrong…..
    He wants to be known as the greatest tennis player and will do anything to top roger & rafa’s records.

  3. Rafa has said over and over again that his coaching team bore no responsibility for his downward slide the last 2 years, and yet, he strongly criticized the Spanish Tennis Federation’s appointment of Gala Leon as Davis Cup captain.

    He said that Ms. Leon – a former top 30 player on the pro tour – was not qualified for the job; but his uncle – who never even played on the pro tour – was totally qualified to be his own coach.

    I hate to say it, but our favorite player speaks with forked tongue.

    • 14 Grand Slams not only make Uncle Toni a professional coach, also a super coach! Please stop insulting Rafa and his team!

      • He is a Nole fan. He knows nothing about Rafa and tennis as well. Don’t need to listen to him.

      • @ YB – If Rafa had a REAL coach all these years, he would have 20 slams by now. Toni is a cheerleader masquerading as a coach. The next time he says something intelligent about tennis will be the first time. He has his “job” because he’s Rafa’s uncle, not because he’s a real coach. Rafa essentially admitted this last May when John McEnroe and other experts were questioning his coaching arrangement: “And remember, my coach is more my uncle than my coach.” Case closed.

        PS – I’m not insulting Rafa and his team – I’m constructively criticizing them. Big difference. Sorry if you can’t bear to hear the truth.

      • @ DMTNA – You know nothing about who I root for and who I don’t root for. And you know less than nothing about tennis, which you prove every time you post a comment.

      • @Move in Rafa or Move on
        Well, that kind of comment only shows that you know nothing about tennis. How pathetic!

  4. Please Sky Sports Tennis can you televise the Buenos Aires Tournament for all the Rafa fans.
    Vamos Rafa! You can do it. Can`t wait to see you play again. You are the best!

  5. And let me add that despite Rafa’s declining form, many expert tennis analysts consider the current era to be the strongest era of all-time.

    • And i thought you are a real Rafan.
      This current era is weakest era of all time. Who is the rival of Djokovic?? Can you name him? What is a strong era when a world number 2 (Andy Murray) has no idea how to cause some trouble to the world number 1?
      Rafa achieved all the glory in the golden era when a peak Federer and a peak Djokovic couldn’t stop him. That was the STRONGEST era OF ALL TIME.

      Rafa is 30 and you tell him he is not old? Then you know nothing about Rafa. Many professionals talked about his knees in 2009. His knees had been seriously damaged due to his style of play. His topspin forehand could destroy any opponent but also can destroy his career like Bjorn Borg. Do you know him??

      Now is the moment that Rafa can’t lie anymore. His forehand is shaky like Federer 2010-2011. Rafa coudn’t comeback unless there is a change little bit in his style.

      Please learn more about tennis before praising Nole. The only Nole that i admit was the best was in 2011 when he defeated a peak Rafa and got 3 slams in 2 surfaces.

      • Hi there DMTNA,

        I’ve got news for ya.
        During the so-called STRONG ERA, Novak was still glued to eating gluten hence his losses to Rafa and Roger!!!!

        How about that??

      • Hi there Deep Thinker.

        I don’t think that is a huge problem? That “Strong Era” has many talent player. Novak ( AO 2008), Del Potro ( US Open 2009), Soderling (Runner-Up FO 2009), Fernando Gonzalez ( Runner-Up Olympic 2008), Andy Roddick as well. Anyone can beat Rafa, Roger, Novak on the right day. Not to mention that it was Federer prime, Rafa can have many competitve matches against him as world number 2. So what is the point of that “News”?? To show that he can beat Rafa and Roger in his prime?? So life is unfair? Is that gonna change the fact that Novak is playing in a “weak era”.

        And please have some news in google to know that “Strong Era” is actually the strongest era of all time. The Fedal rivalry is epic!!

        Nice day Nole fan!!

  6. Rafa is 29. He’s not old. He just talks and plays that way.

    Roger, despite his age, is playing the best tennis of his career, or pretty close to it. He recently said so himself, as have expert analysts like Brad Gilbert, Darren Cahill and Paul Annacone.

    Novak deserves FULL CREDIT for his 11 slam trophies – and counting. And lets not forget that he dominated the Tour in 2011 when Rafa was at his peak and Roger was 5 years younger than he is now.

  7. Vamos Rafa.💖.

    All the clay season.

    Crossing my fingers for you for a 10th French Open. (Roland Gaross)

    • Also positive thinker and all the best for clay season inc RG Vamos 👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍and👍

  8. ND never sounds sincere, he is so patronising and has an inbuilt arrogance. People do not warm to him because they see through him. He is a great player but I have observed his bad behaviour so may times, “manners maketh the man” . Rafael Nadal is a man of substance and class

    • I beg to disagree with all you Rafa fans and fanatics out here.

      As a deep-thinking person, I always look beyond the ordinary hence my views usually appear starnage, but I’m 90% usually CORRECT.
      Now, the whole world knows that Novak has repeatedly said again and again that he owes his unparalled success to Roger Federer and Rafa. That it was because (of his trying to match/beat) these 2 all-time greats that improved his game. Is that not humility per exccellence?! He’s always giving credits to Roger and Rafa. So, why do people come out here and start condemning him?

      If Novak had wanted to be arrogant, he could easily have said that Roger and Rafa were winning becos (at that time) he was still feeding on glutten-rich diet! Well, what about that?

      I mean, it’s important that people consider the 2 sides of the coin in properly analysing issues and not just abuse/condemn people anyhow.
      Please, let’s be real.

  9. Why is this even a headline. Somebody who won RG 9 times is the King of Clay. No sh*t. I think every year, more than a million people say that Nadal is the King of Clay. The pityful thing is, Nadal was well on his way to become the all time King of Tennis, but he checked out two years ago. In theory, he still has a chance to get back, but as we know, he chooses a different path (downhill).

  10. Have never found novaks comments on rafa sincere. i hate his patronizing attitude and comments. novak certainly does not believe rafa to be king of clay at the moment. he is probably making this comment and thinking something completely different.
    Once again without taking away anything from novak – he is playing excellently – but its still not so great to be able to beat roger who is not at his best and rafa who is and recently has been a beaten dog. nothing bad meant by the expression – love dogs.
    rafa will always remain my favourite – no matter what. tennis matches are just not the same with him in this state and being out so soon.
    just doesnt make sense. some comments may sound harsh but not far from the truth. something needs to shake rafa – change dramatically – to turn around and be the force that he once was.if he was going through something like a burn out maybe he shouldnt have played in 2015 and re-grouped – taken time for mental issues, changing some parts of his game – working on strategy and shot selection, serve ….. . changing a lot – adding a coach etc.
    i may be wrong but in that respect i feel that novak has got a fantastic support group in coaches and family. maybe it is arrogance but they make him feel like the kind of tennis, making him believe that he is the best. in 2011 when he improved so much and started playing so well, his mother said that the federer and nadal era has ended and now it is going to be the djokovic era. very arrogant maybe but …… .
    rafa all your fans love you and believe in you. Please get back to your best.

  11. Ps I would hate to see Rafas fans turning into Feds vile fans just because Novak has the upper hand on Rafa at the moment..Fed fans couldn’t Take Nadal beating him !!!

  12. Vamos Rafa.💖. You know what you are, n what you have to do. Forget the AO, I personally feel the draw was a fake cover up for djokovic. All thru out he had weak opponents to play.

    When you were in your peak, you had all the greats , like federer, Agasi , so forth.
    Who does Djokovic have now.?.

    Don’t worry, you will be back. As I always said, all your hard work will not go waste.
    Your fans will never leave you.

    Vamos Rafa.💖 , for the clay season.
    Trust yourself. Don’t give up.

  13. I am a die hard Nadal fan but I cannot understand people doubting Novak …he gets a rough ride I think he’s a nice guy and the best player in the world right now..people say he’s arrogant I don’t see that at all…he deserves more respect ..love his humour..give him a break!!!

  14. @DjokerNole Flattery will not get you no where but if you are setting up to flatter Rafa to win RG well each year you set it as your g9al when you do it never seem to exists!
    As for the person who said that @DjokerNole is so good because the players are not up to par as Rafa and Fed when they’re hot. All he plays are mediocre players and of course he wins over them! Murray will never win vs @DjokerNole because his first serves are weak plus forget the second serves, Nole has him where he wants him. Andy should work on his serve because its weak.
    Rafa is most humble and classy human being there is this why we love him. He doesn’t shy of adversity and no ifs or but about it. Accepts life as they come and a good head on his shoulder unlike others players. He is Unique, Sensitive and Genuine and say it like it is, not flowery but true grit! Most of all he comes from Heritage and Good Blood unlike others. Rafa is LEGEND!

    • “Heritage and Good Blood unlike others”??? Who are these others, can you say? I love Rafa, good or bad. True fans suffer with him through the bad times as well, and there should be no reason to put other players down in order to feel good about our Rafa.

      Djoker deserves everything coming his way, and he has worked hard for it. Personally I hope Rafa stops hoping Djoker’s level of tennis drops (as he usually says), and instead aspire to reach such heights and dethrone the Djoker.

      Rafa will never be considered in the GOAT debate if the Djoker keeps wiping the floor with him (and everyone else) like he does lately. It doesn’t make us love our hero any less. He will keep fighting to turn the tide, and that’s all we ask of him.


  15. Novak might be the #1 and best player right now but he’ll never win me over away from
    Rafa with his mechanical style of play. There’s no bravado or compelling drama in his game.
    I know all his shots are deep, precise and re-directed from hugging the baseline but I rather
    watch Rafa”s overhead lobs, drop shots, net play, cross-court forehand shots.and boomerang or banana shots to name just a few any day of the week.

    Roger first dominated, then Rafa now it’s Novak. There will always be someone else coming up in the ranks. That’s prevalent in all sports. However,Rafa still remains a highly competitive
    and dynamic player. Even though he lost to Fernando in the 1st round of the AO, it was a great battle between the two. Fernando really did play out of his mind. Anyway, I look forward to
    watching Rafa compete during the clay court season. Vamos, Rafa!

  16. No ask words and comments on Rafa are unimportant,,,,,,they come from not a good place ,,,they may sound ,,,,positive / kind/ loyal etc etc ,,,but they come from a twisted heart ,,,,in other words ,,,,they mean nothing ,,,,,,Novak will never have the loyal fans that Rafa has ,,,,,NEVER

  17. Novak words have no importance for me.
    The mean thing for me is what Rafa will be able to achieve on futures weeks.

  18. Rafa, please don’t be down on yourself. Get over this hiccup and make the most of the rest of the year. We believe in you and love you no matter what. Praying that you will achieve your best in the coming year.

  19. I have always found Novak to be a little less than believe able. I would not be taken in by what he is saying. It sounds like he wants to lull Rafa and then walk in and Wiinn the French Open. It would be a huge win if you dethrone the king. On the other hand I have every reason to believe Rafa will winn the French Open at least one more time. I would of course love to see Rafa have a good run this year. Enjoy Rafa!

    • yes, djoker is using psychological tactics on Rafa. Hope Rafa won’t play into his mind game. Djoker is a DRAMA KING!!!

  20. Good luck and all the best for the tournament in Buenos Aires. Hopefully this will be the start of a good year. Vamos Rafa <3 <3 <3

  21. Great words from Novak , as somebody once said Novak is the king of tennis but Rafa is the king of clay (and our hearts)

    • Novak is a king of tennis??? B*tch please.
      Rafa is the king of tennis. He has achieved everything in Federer’s prime and Djokovic’s prime.
      14 grandslam, career golden slam, a record of 27 master 1000, 5 Davis Cup with Spain not to mention many injuries he had.
      How many French Open and Olympic gold medal Djokovic has got?
      Federer hasn’t had a gold medal yet.

      Djokovic is so lucky that he is playing in a weak era. Federer , Nadal are old. Murray is overrated. Only a god mode Wawrinka can sometime stop him. Djokovic fan should realize how luck he has.

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