Rafa Roundup: Never count out the King of Clay!

Photo: EFE
Photo: EFE/Cati Cladera

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The good news: The King of Clay is back on the dirt, where he has always enjoyed his best footing. Nadal has played two clay events so far this year. He lost to 22-year-old Dominic Thiem in the semifinals of the Argentina Open, then fell to Pablo Cuevas in the semifinals of the Rio Open. Rafa enters Monte Carlo without a title for the first time since 2012. Interestingly, he won Monte Carlo that year — and the other three years (2008, 2010 and 2011) in which he entered the event winless.

It’s impossible to talk about a clay-court season without beginning with Rafael Nadal. After a tumultuous 2015 saw him fail to win a clay Masters title, his form appears improved, which spells danger for anyone across the net from him. The world No. 5 has four Madrid, seven Rome, eight Barcelona and nine Roland Garros titles. If he’s going to get back on the right foot, it’ll be on clay. This is his time to shine again; never count out the King of Clay.

Nadal believes there is no stopping his career rival Djokovic this season after yet another masterful performance at the Miami Open for the world No. 1. The King of Clay knows it very well, having faced Djokovic in 47 occasions, most recently in Indian Wells, where Nole defeated Nadal in the semifinal round.

“There is much difference between him and the rest. It’s impossible to stop him and you have to congratulate him,” Nadal told IB3 as reported by Tennis World USA. “When you are very good and you have nothing that stops you, like injuries, it becomes a lethal combination.”

No. 5 Rafael Nadal: C+ It says a lot about where Nadal is at the moment that two losses against Djokovic have been the highlights of the Spaniard’s first quarter. He reached the final at Doha but was thumped by the No. 1. Nadal then had a much tighter meeting against Djokovic in the Indian Wells quarterfinal.

Other than that, Nadal has dropped matches he should have won, including a five-set defeat to Fernando Verdasco in the Aussie Open first round and three-set losses against Dominic Thiem and Pablo Cuevas in the South America swing. But most troubling was Nadal’s retirement in the Miami opener because of an apparent heat illness.

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During the presentation of the 6th edition of the “What really matters” Majorca congress of which Nadal is the honorary president, the Spaniard said “Last year I was competing against myself and this year I am competing against rivals.”

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32 thoughts on “Rafa Roundup: Never count out the King of Clay!

  1. Maria

    Rafa doesn’t idolize Novak he respects him for the great player he has become and is just being truthful and saying what every other player is thinking ,that at present he is untouchable and of course he wouldn’t have said that a few years ago as Novak was still beatable., You really do have a big problem with Uncle Toni, did you slate him this much when Rafa was winning his 14 grandslam’s .Didn’t you say you were a sport coach of some kind, enlighten us to which top sportsman you have coached and you also said you were a amateur tennis player who obviously think they know more than a professional tennis player and a real coach .PLEASE

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    1. Move In Rafa Or Move On

      I’ve always said that he should hire another coach, even during his glory years. He was winning slams IN SPITE of his uncle, not because of him (aside from introducing him to the sport as a child). He would have 20 slams by now had he followed not just my advice, but the advice of many top coaches and former players, to change or expand his team. As for my former job as a tennis instructor, I can assure you that if one of my nephews were as naturally gifted and talented as Rafa is, I would also be the proud uncle of an all-time great player. But unlike the Spaniard’s uncle, I would be unselfish, humble and smart enough to pass the torch to an experienced professional coach instead of clinging to my nephew like a bloodsucking leech.

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  2. Move In Rafa Or Move On

    There’s a big difference between RESPECTING your opponents and IDOLIZING them. Our favorite player has clearly been doing the latter in recent years. During his glory years he never said that Roger and Novak were better than him. It was his clueless uncle who said that and continues to say it to this very day. Toni’s loser mentality was bound to eventually rub off on his nephew. I’m just surprised that it took so long.

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  3. It sickens me to read how these supposedly Rafa fans keep putting him down with their negative comments. A true fan stays loyal, win or lose and gives encouragement all the time. Wishing Rafa all the best in the clay court season. All he needs is one win to gain his confidence again. Will be praying hard for him. Love you always Rafa.

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    1. Connie

      Hello to all the pro Rafa real fans, he is such a lovely guy, great tennis player who had temporarily lost his way but is on the way back, I am very certain of this. We will always be there for him, win or lose and have been for the last dozen years or so. So all the others who proffer nothing positive to say about him, please go and park yourselves on someone else’s fan site, there are plenty of tennis players to choose from, so take your pick.

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  4. Maria

    If Rafa doesn’t live up to your expectations anymore , rather than continually slating him just move on to a player thats game you do find acceptable .

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  5. Mac

    Oh my, Rafa, stop heaping these platitudes on the Djoker. Yea sure, he’s playing in another league right now, but you don’t have to keep saying that.

    And the worst thing is Rafa saying that Djoker’s level will drop eventually. Well DUH, in a few years! But how about raising your own level, making changes ie improving your serve to be better!

    Can’t wait to watch Rafa in MC though… I’ll have my Rafa mask on, maybe it’ll bring him good luck.

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  6. ashish

    Rafa nadal – if i play well i can compete with novak….

    he is saying he is not palying his good game against novak and if he play rafa will b winner

    Rafa who himself say he never wants to loose a point since he thinks if he loose one point the he will go on loose many points then game and then set…… i never seen a player who fights for every single point…….yes rafa dont have results to show he knows that ……but he is good frame of mind
    whats happening with novak i again say he is riding on momentum and a second consistent player on tour from few months…..

    But i dislike one thing u should never respect a player on field ….but dont make mistake of underestimating ur opponent on field…..u respect every single player after u completed a match but humiliate ur opponent by ur play so he can throw away his racquet in frustration …..

    as i said earlier countdown for novaks defeat is already started ……….

    Vamos rafa…….have a great health..

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  7. Elizabeth Howard

    The usual negativity from the usual suspects. Good that we have balance from the genuine supporters. Rafael Nadal has always respected the opposition and talked them up. He is realistic about Djokovic but knows that he can beat him too. There is nothing submissive about Nadal. Wishing him the best in Monte Carlo.

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    1. J Beer

      You mean “the usual attack” by Elizabeth on supporters who rightfully don’t accept loser behaviour by potentially the Greatest Tennis Player of All Times. None of the all time greats ever entered a tournament, let alone a new season, whilst fully fit, with the approach ‘Let’s see what happens’. Roger Federer – not at all a favourite of mine – at 34 approaches every frigging match still with the approach not to lose a game, not to lose a set, not to frigging lose a point. If he loses in a major, he’s ready to snap.
      Nadal is acting like the weak puppy in the nest that is lying on his back all the time. Submission seems the new strategy.

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    2. J beer

      Who the hell are you, YB, to ask this question. I have watched every significant match in Nadal’s career. That should tell enough. My strong opinion comes from a long time observation. He could have, and almost had been, the absolute GOAT. But he has been throwing it all away. His self destruction mode is as spectacular as his sensational play in his ‘hounddog years’ 2005-2008. As much as I appreciated the talent and the sheer willpower, I condemn this absolute waste of the last years. It should not be like this.

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      1. I am a proud and passionate Rafa fan, like many commenting on this site. I asked you a simple question, as a fellow Rafa fan. And I do not appreciate your demeaning tone.

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  8. ashish

    Signs ofna great player

    Never ever underestimate ur opponent who ever it be

    And lastly a great phrase which even stan beleives

    Ever tried ever failed…..no matter try again ..fail again….fail better

    Vamos rafa

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  9. Good luck for MC Rafa you are back on clay and you have to remeber you were not given the title “king of clay ” for nothing !! So play your best don’t think of who is on the other side of the net just play like you mean to win !!!Your fans the world over love you no matter what but would love you to win for yoursake so go do it Rafa show them you still can x

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  10. OLA & VAMOS DEAR RAFA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) : ) : ) : ) : ) : ) : ) It is so precious to see how offer your time for others…. and especially your way of encouraging & supporting up coming young talents…..YOU ARE SOMETHING VERY RARE IN THE WORLD OF TENNIS!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) : ) : ) Your sportsmanship is so special sweetheart !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) We just watched you practice w Taylor Frietz for 38 minutes or so……..what a super nice guy you are!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) : ) : ) This will mean so much to young Taylor for the rest of his life!!!! : ) I also loved the video with the young kids (you were wearing deep orange color shirt) ……
    Enjoy practicing DEAR RAFA & have lots of fun in your next tour!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) 🙂 🙂 🙂 : ) Lots of love & happiness to you & your awesome TEAM !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) : ) : ) VAMOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) VAMOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : ) VAMOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : )

    Liked by 1 person

  11. elaine

    Good luck for Monte Carlo and the rest of the clay court season. I state with confidence that Rafa will triumph when it comes to RG time this year and bite that throphy once more! Vamos Rafa!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Teresa Gil

      That’s what I’ve always loved about him – his polarised personality. A steely uncompromising warrior on court and a gentle, generous, self-effacing man off. It’s intriguing.

      Like

    2. Deep Thinker

      Sosa Laforge,

      You took the words right out of me!
      Rafa’s overflowing praise of Djokovic is the worst, most hypocritical thing to happen to Tennis.

      So sad.

      Like

  12. Julia

    Good and positive mentality, he knows that he can beat Novak if he rises a little bit his game and after to see how he played in IW it’s obvious that he is almost there. Pity what happened to him in Miami, otherwise who knows what would have been the final result which looked more a gift for Novak than anything else

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Move In Rafa Or Move On

    Dictionary definition of ‘Defeatist Attitude’ – when a person expects and accepts failure. Example – “it’s impossible to stop Novak Djokovic” ~ Rafael Nadal

    Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

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    1. Julia

      He forgot to add “it’s impossible to stop Novak if all of us continue playing so badly but if I play better I will beat him”

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    2. Deep Thinker

      Rafa is simply a disgrace to the spirit of rivalry and competitive sports.

      If he truly loves & idolizes Djokovic that much, then he should retire and be Djokovic’s ball boy or something.

      Instead of Rafa focusing on his own game and doing everything possible to beat Djokovic, he is busy doing nothing, but waiting for Djokovic’s level to drop.

      What a weakling?!

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      1. Linda arnold

        What absolute piffle..he’s the most competitive player ever..he fights for every point and never gives up….he is honest about Novak doesn’t mean he thinks he can’t beat him..the guy says it as it is always has ..he always said Roger was a better player than him even when he was whipping his ass every match..I would love to see a new coach bought in it wouldn’t hurt..but Rafa had won everything there is in tennis to win …don’t write him off yet he’s too good a champion

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      2. Julia

        And are you talking about disgrace? look at you in the mirror. I’ve just read your comments and that word always is coming to my mind…

        Like

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