Rafael Nadal: ‘I need to be in better shape to compete’

(AP) Right from the start, Rafael Nadal was running on empty.

He showed the effects of his long layoff from a wrist injury on Thursday, losing to Borna Coric 6-1, 6-3 at the Western & Southern Open.

He was sluggish and well off the mark on his shots and had a trainer visit between games to check his shoulder and elbow, which were feeling the effects of a lot of tennis at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and two days in Cincinnati’s heat and humidity.

After the match, Rafa said:

Too tired. Elbow, shoulder. Two and a half months without competing and especially without practicing, and to do what I did in the Olympics and come here – too much.

Borna didn’t give me many chances. He was playing his serve huge. I need to be in better shape to compete.

Rafa missed two months because of an injured left wrist and returned to the courts in Rio, where he lost in the semifinals and won the doubles title.

The lack of matches showed in Cincinnati: Rafa double faulted five times and had 27 unforced errors. Coric surged ahead 4-0 in the second set and closed it out in an hour and 11 minutes.

Source: AP


  1. Some cheery news for Rafa because there was a chance of Rafa being seeded fifth for the US Open.

    If Andy, Stan, and Nole play the US Open as expected, Rafa will be seeded four. But, had Raonic beat Andy in the W&S semifinal, Raonic would have been bumped up to fourth seed, and Rafa back to fifth. I hope more good news come in the way of Rafa’s draw.


  2. Guys, I have been reading posts everywhere on RAFA and his most recent loss and I get it.

    We all want to see the guy win everything, HE DOES TOO. He may not admit it, he is SUPER competitive like Nole and Andy. He has been unlucky with his health and foot issues which could have sidelined his career VERY early on. He has persevered through some really tough moments in his career.

    Some of us blame uncle Toni for many things(NOT ME….. NEVER), guess what…. Uncle Toni MAY have had a strong hold over RAFA before but not anymore. I truly believe that RAFA makes all of his decisions and only when people outside his team like doctors etc get involved then he listens. He is a creature of habit and needs a strong, recognizable foundation that is why he has his SAME team. If RAFA told Uncle Toni to get lost he would. He does not want another team. I could tell, he is bossy and stubborn, THESE TRAITS HAS MADE HIM A CHAMPION AND AN UNBELIEVABLE COMPETITOR.

    Look how he plays doubles NORMALLY, he tries to hit ALL the balls and always giving advice to his partner, the olympic was different though I saw a RAFA who relied on Marc, it was beautiful to see.

    RAFA alone knows how his body feels and of course doctors would have a good idea how it might feel with everything they know about his injuries, practices and matches etc. Listen guys, I love RAFA and it does drive me a bit crazy when I see him pushing his body beyond his limited just to finish a match or whatever. But, you know what that is what we love because WINNERS never QUIT, unlike us if we feel a niggle we are done for the day, NOT RAFA.

    So bearing all what I said, the downfall of RAFA losing and making injuries worse comes with the UPSIDES that EVERYONE loves, admires and wishes we were more like him. RAFA may have lost a lot more matches in his career if HE DID give up more easily.

    Every time, I need a pick me up and I have a challenge ahead I say to myself what the hell would RAFA do. Life is short we have a small window in life, JUMP through it, you may break some bones or even die but NO regrets RIGHT.

    I go through the same emotions when he is losing, I can’t watch or I have to walk away. If I do and resign myself to thinking well its okay if he loses, the next thing I know he has turned things around and is NOW leading in the score. That’s commitment guys and ain’t much of us could do that time after time. Of course people would say, well if his game was not so physical, if he had a different coach blah, blah. Then that WOULD NOT BE RAFA.

    The balance of life guys.

    When people describe RAFA:


    This is why when he loses no one leaves him, we remain to help him up and dust him off because we know he is going to fight again until his ”wheels fall off”, AND IT IS GOING TO BE THRILLING AND HEART STOPPING AND STRESSFUL AND OMG, OMG BUT IT’S THE RUSH WE LONG FOR IN SPORT.

    I am truly inspired by him and hope that when he leaves I can inspire myself the same way he does.

    RAFA fan forever

    • Gen, I agree with most of your words, especially about what an incredible ispiration he is for us to fight in our own life and to never give up. Also, I do not think that in this state of his career a new coach would be a solution, as like you say, Rafa needs continuity in his relations. I’m often ambivalent about Toni, but I recpect him and them being a team.
      It’s just that I’m not ready to support Rafa to win AT ANY PRICE. I think we all also want him to be fine in his entire life, also after his career, and this, besides the thrills and emotions of his wins and turning scoreboards towards his side, sometimes goes ahead with a lot of worries. This is why I came here, because I needed to share my thoughts, worries and joy about Rafa with people that really care for him, this is what I found here, and this is also why I’m texing too much here at the moment. Will be quiet now for a while ;).

      • That’s why I’m here too. Believe it or not but I never made a comment on anything on the internet until this year – it simply didn’t interest me. It was only when I decided to look to youtube to explore some old tennis matches that I was shocked at the level of hatred towards Rafa. Only then did I feel compelled to respond (which I learned quickly is a waste of time). I joined this fan website almost in desperation to give me reassurance of the love for him. That’s why it’s important and wonderful that fans like you spread the love to counteract the bizarre hatred. And you know what? He really appreciates it. He said (somewhere) that watching fan tributes to him on youtube helped him get over his injury and he mentioned one in particular that mapped his road to recovery. I always wonder if that person realised he or she had a great big ‘like’ from Rafa.

      • Thats true Teresa, you’re speaking out of my soul. I did not know this fact about Rafa and his fans. Thats cute. But for a moment I suddenly felt like intervening too deep into his private life and that’s why I needed to stop myself a little ;). I assume that he would not be so amused reading all of what we discussed, as I guess he also does not want the whole world to reflect about his inner conflicts, and so on… I don’t know.
        Anyway, I’m very glad not to be alone now with my thoughts and that I found you guys here. Always felt kind of desperate after seeing him in sad states like on Thursday and not to have anybody to share.

      • “Anybody who writes off Nadal does so at their peril. The Spaniard is the king of comebacks and a sage at keeping his cool when all seems to be falling apart. Today did not look so good, but tomorrow he could be turning back the clock for a run to the second week.”

        It’s going to be a couple more weeks before we know if he can indeed be a factor to play spoiler or win the U.S. Open.” By Jeremy Eckstein, The Bleacher Report

    • Well something very interesting happened last night. Just as I was feeling bad about discussing Rafa’s tics and the effects they might be having, I decided to watch 2007 Wimbledon. The point at which I started to watch, Jimmy Connors was talking about Rafa’s habits and joked ‘I had a few of those’, then said almost reflectively ‘I wonder if they wear on him’. He then quickly retracts and says something about him being young and strong and handling it. I don’t remember any other commentator actually suggesting that these tics/habits may be detrimental.

      • Teresa, I’m still checking here if there are newer comments and now I saw yours…oh, that’s amazing how you found this! So you think Jimmy innately knew that this might “wear on somebody” because he knew some similiar things by himself? I never heard anybody taking it this way, so that is possible indeed. But my english is not sure if he did he mean that it could be exhausing for Rafa or that it might worsen? What is it exactly that he meant with “wear on”?

        Hope it wasn’t me making you feel bad with my comment. I just suddenly felt strange about discussing those topics in a fan-place, but it should not affect anybody else in their discussions. (And as you see I also can’t and won’t stop, I fear :)).

      • Hi Fedallica, No, you have not made me feel bad about discussing these things – I think I’m more guilty of that than you. I’ve made many comments (past and present) because I feel strongly about them (and they do interest me). But then, I do feel afterwards that I should keep these things to myself because they are sensitive. I’m happy that I’m not the only one who feels interested enough to discuss them – it makes it easier. I now know English is not your first language so, in answer to your question, when someone indicates that something is ‘wearing’ or is ‘worn down’ by something, as Jimmy said, it is causing fatigue, or tiring on Rafa. So yes, as you say, it is mentally exhausting. The tone in which Jimmy said it, indicated he felt there was a possible problem but then seems to realise he shouldn’t have said it. But, he was speaking from his own experience. Bearing in mind the year 2007, it is an odd but insightful comment.

      • Thanks for clearing this term up. I think it is very much possible that it costs him energy, but on the other hand, wouldn’t it cost him even more energy, if he desperately would try to avoid those things as they are like an automatic process going on? Only in very bad moments like in the Australian Open Final when he was in s lot of pain, he stopps doing it. He did not even do the plucking anymore when he did the service, for a while (I think it was in the second set when the back problems arose, at 2:0, and got very bad the next games, you can rewatch this set on youtube). So for me this shows that he only does it when he is “in the zone”. He also did not do it so much by playing the ATPL in the beginning of this year, where he was playing just for fun. (Btw It was a pleasure how much he smiled there on the court).
        Therefore I’m not sure if the whole process of rituals helps him or not…

      • I doubt very much they are rituals. Rafa’s early explanation of ‘getting in the zone’ is long out of the window. Tennis players would have some control over the rituals they choose – Rafa would stop pulling at his trousers which causes him embarrassment e.g. Soderling imitating Rafa in front of him really upset him. With OCD (or tics) they lessen when a person is calm. As Rafa has said, it is worse on court but he still has problems off court. So he has admitted (at least since the end of 2015) that he does have a problem. With the US Open, it shows that he had in fact already given up – there were no nerves because he was just playing to complete the match (more for Warwinka than himself) which is why Warwinka thanked him. The compulsion to tic is very powerful. Suppressing tics usually makes them stronger. Time pressure and stress will increase them e.g. playing a match. People often learn to cover them up with other purposeful movements (it looks to me that Rafa learned to do this) so it often looks as though a whole ritual is going on. Watch any youtube video of Rafa e.g. at 12 yo – you will see the same tic, whether he is playing or not. More than one third of people with involuntary tics have OCD – it looks like Rafa has both. They also suffer with anxiety problems and panic attacks (Rafa has had this bad for a couple of years). Also common are sleep problems (which is why I was so interested in the El Mundo you mention). Also common is ‘separation anxiety’ – sound familiar?

      • … also facial contortions, grimacing, frowning and jerking. We see this a lot when Rafa is speaking particularly in post match pressers:)

      • Fedallica….Good point. The pain was so debilitating that even a Rafa could not withstand it. He also complained of not being able to breathe. Some people don’t even realize that they have stopped breathing during an episode of extreme pain. That is what severe pain does. Pain can become so severe that it feels as if your head is about explode. That would most likely override any behavioral OCD mannerisms. I don’t believe there is a neurological explanation for his OCD behavior, it all points to a behavioral explanation.

        Tony would call Rafa “mummy’s boy,” he would make Rafa clean up the tennis court without any help, he wouldn’t give Rafa a day off just to be with his friends. It was discipline all the time. Rafa said that Tony never let up. He said that once he started playing competitively it got even worse. At the age of seven Rafa forgot his water bottle. “It was a very hot day.” Rafa had to play a match. Toni refused to buy him water. “Why didn’t I rebel? Because I enjoyed tennis.” There are other incidents recounted in his book, “Rafa,” that may explain how a sensitive and obedient child had to learn to cope with things he felt were unjust.

        My interest in seeing Rafa get professional help is so that he can better understand himself, to understand why he does the things he does.

        Rafa has always suffered from anxiety. At his age, and the length of time from the first onset of his phobias and OCD, I doubt that they could be eliminated. What therapy may offer is for him to be less anxious and perhaps decrease the frequency of these behaviors. It has to take a heavy toll on him. He also has to prepare for being off the court. I see him playing for more years. If he doesn’t find a substitute for tennis when he does retire, what will he be left with in order to feed his insatiable competitive nature.

        RAFA ROCKS

      • Thanks you both for your very intresting posts. I know his book and this somehow disturbing parts, too… Teresa, I did not wanted to call the tickling rituals, as I alredy know that thsis part is something “more” than the bottles, but I also do not want to call it a tic… I just don’t know how I should call it and it was interesting for me to see that he does not always do it. But I’m no psychologist. When it comes to real OCD, I know one of those by myself but I did not intended to speak about here.It’s something which I have more or less under control and managed not to do not in public, but when alone it still happens automatically, when under tension. Need a break now but will read and answer more, later.

      • Margo, absolutely agree with the last paragraph of your post.
        “If he doesn’t find a substitute for tennis when he does retire, what will he be left with in order to feed his insatiable competitive nature.” so true. I hope there is something equal or more tranquillity coming up for him.

      • Edit: The thing I know is not an OCD in classical sense but belongs into Obsessive–compulsive spectrum, it is an impulse control disorder. But I have to stop when it comes to clear terms and diagnoses as in german there are different terms and I don’t want to tumble them all up :/…

      • That’s interesting – then you speak with experience so probably have recognised a few things:) There is no hard line between diagnosis (it is not clear cut). People’s symptoms vary a lot which is why they use the word spectrum – whether it is OCD, autism, eating disorders etc. Diagnosis usually depends on severity – people can have autistic traits but not be diagnosed with autism, for example, as the severity is not bad enough (usually when it is not affecting day to day living). Most of us are on a spectrum somewhere of something:D

      • Fedallica, I think you are on the right tract. Spectrum most likely refers to the extent, or the severity if you will, by which an individual deals with certain situations in the case of OCD. Spectrum could just mean “degree.”

        By “impulse control disorder” do you mean that Rafa may have replaced his desire to tell, or break a racquet for example, with the OCD behaviors?


      • Sorry Fedallica, plse ignore my comment about “degree.” After my comment I thought I would look up spectrum with regard to OCD. OCD Spectrum refers to obsession and compulsion. In Rafa’s case, he is compelled to perform his ritualistic behaviors and we as lay people can only theorize the reasons.

        RAFA ROCKS

      • Margo, it was Teresa’s great explanation with the “spectrum”. “Most of us are on a spectrum somewhere of something”. Indee, I think thats ture 😀 I could never explain so well.

        The answer to your question is difficult for me, and I do not know for sure. Yes, this is one possibility that he covers other impulses with this. The other might be, that this just established inconscious, because of pressure he is under since so many years.
        I remember him once answering with a lot of smiles in an on-court interview (Australian Open), by being asked about the bottles which fell over during the match, that he developed the “one of the many stupid thinghs you do” – habit because of so many years of competing and with all the tension “you have when you are competing”.

        If you are such a sensible person like he is, and put yourself under pression and high expectiations or/and being put from outside, many things can happen. For me it has always seemed like he is another person on – and off court. The warrior is one role he putted himself/was puttet in since he was a child, but this role acts also a bit against his sensible nature. So he has a discrepance to live with all the time, and I think, tension is one of the keywords why he developed those tics, habits or whatsoever, also the facial exprecions off court speak the same language.

  3. and this part is also interesting:

    P .¿Cuándo detecta por primera vez esa ansiedad y cómo empieza a manifestarse?

    R .A principio de 2015 la notaba entrenando. Lo cierto es que estaba jugando muy mal. En Australia hice cuartos de final, pero mis sensaciones tenísticas eran malas. Cuando uno está entrenando mal o jugando mal, entiendo la ansiedad o los nervios, el descontrol de sensaciones personales. Son cosas que pasan. Ahora bien, cuando entreno bien, normalmente juego bien, pero si en competición esos problemas persisten, entonces algo no funciona. En mi vida, entrenar bien y competir mal no me ha sucedido casi nunca, sobre todo no tener el control de mí mismo en la pista. Miami, el año pasado, fue un ejemplo claro de lo que ocurría. Había entrenado bien, pero llegaron los partidos y ya, en el primero, contra Almagro, sin hacerlo mal, me sentía agobiado a nivel de respiración. Con Verdasco, igual. A partir de ahí, en Montecarlo jugué bien; en Barcelona, otra vez mal; aquí, más o menos bien; en Roma, bien. A partir de ahí las cosas empezaban a ir mejor, lo que pasa es que en Wimbledon tuve otra vez una sensación rara contra Brands. Más allá del juego o de perder, que entra dentro de la lógica del deportista y con lo cual nunca he tenido problemas, se trata de un agobio interior, de no controlar los tiempos ni del punto ni de la pelota ni de la respiración. Al no controlar la respiración, dejas de controlar todo lo demás

      • Fedallica, no need to apologise and I assumed English was your first language! I’m taking the time to read and translate in my very poor Spanish!

      • Thanks. Somehow I would prefer to have a place like a regular forum to get all the answers in a clear order :). No, my mothertongue is german. My spanish is also limited, but with help from google translate I finally managed to understand the interview.

    • Fedallica

      I too, don’t want to see RAFA win at any cost, but my point was RAFA WILL because that is who he is.
      If we are RAFA fans and true to ourselves we have to accept him for who he is. Yes, it is emotional that’s why I write a book on this site sometimes. It’s just me, reminding myself to come to terms with what is and who is the great, RAFA.

      RAFA fan forever.

      This is a place to share your love and admiration for RAFA, don’t feel bad.

      • Thanks Gen, I think now I better understand this part of your text above. It is true, there is no way we can influence his often unreasonable and paradox decisions, even if they do often hurt a lot. All I pray and hope for is that he wont let us back heart broken because of self- destructive decisions in an aprupt or “out-of- the- blue”- end, or anything dramatic like that… please not!
        Oh yes, those emotions for Rafa are indeed shaking and I will never have those with Roger who I also adore (in a complete different way).

  4. l really felt for you rafa you look so tired please rest and get on top again bless you,vamos rafe.

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