PHOTOS: Rafael Nadal Makes Winning Start in Monte Carlo

(AP) — Defending champion Rafael Nadal withstood a determined comeback from Britain’s Kyle Edmund to win 6-0, 5-7, 6-3 in the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters on Wednesday.

The fourth-seeded Rafa is aiming for a 10th title in Monte Carlo and looked to be coasting until Edmund found his range with huge forehands. The third set was intense, with three straight breaks of serve from 2-2, until the nine-time French Open champion drew on his vastly superior experience on clay.

Rafa’s relief was evident when he secured victory on his first match point.

After Edmund patted a return into the net, Rafa tilted his head back and raised his arms in the air. The next match could be tough, too.

He faces 14th-seeded Alexander Zverev, the 19-year-old German who pushed him to five sets in the third round at this year’s Australian Open.

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52 thoughts on “PHOTOS: Rafael Nadal Makes Winning Start in Monte Carlo

  1. anthony Lambert

    Frightening experience watching Rafa with Kyle,I thought Rafa was going to be knocked out,he seemed to lose concentration because he won the first set easily,he thought it was in the bag..
    If he plays like this he will never reach the final in this or any other tournament.
    It seems lesser well known players can dominate Rafa,all very odd.
    Well done Kyle, he looks very promising.

    Like

  2. Elaine Crowder

    Rafa as usual people forget the depth of experience that you have over all these years.

    I noticed how when you play less experienced players, your long term experience is a big factor, as well as all the hard practiising.

    ALL the bet for your next game,

    Love and prayers,

    AlaineXSydneyXXaustraliaXX

    Like

  3. Margo

    Vamps Rafa, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

    I, too, can’t understand why some here write him off at the beginning of a tournament. Leave writing Rafa off to Rafa himself.

    Nor do I understand why after EACH draw some claim it’s an awful draw. I must agree, however, that this year’s IW’s draw was a deadly draw for Rafa.

    I am a fan of constructive criticism, I am not a fan of doomsday predictions.

    RAFA ROCKS

    Like

      1. Rafantastic

        Deal. – Can I get a discount though? Let’s say a 100% off 😜😂👍🏻

        This makes me wondering 🤔 – Did Rafa ever take patent on his teademark “VAMOOOS!!” 🎾💪🏼 Think he should – man we Rafans would get into trouble… 🙃😉 LOL 😁

        VAMOS RAFA 🤗🍀 – YOU ROCK! 😍

        Like

      2. Margo

        YIKES!! 100% discount? That’s highway robbery. I was going to offer you a discount because you’re such a pleasant presence on RNF, but now, fuhgeddaboudit. NOTHING, NADA, ZILCH, RIEN.😂😂😂

        Sorry, no discounts allowed. Company policy. 😱😱😱

        RAFA ROCKS

        Like

    1. Rafantastic

      Well said Margo 😊👍🏻

      RAFA ROCKS!! ❤️
      (Hope you don’t mind me using your “trademark”? Hint hint) 🙄🤦🏼‍♀️😉

      Like

      1. Margo

        I take it as a compliment, how could I mind? That doesn’t let you off the hook though, your bill should arrive before Rafa’s MC final. 🎾🎾👏👏👏🤗🤗🤗🤗👍👍👍👍

        RAFA ROCKS

        Like

      2. Margo

        At times, I have to control my urge to respond like a lunatic. 😬😬😬😬😬😬
        I want Rafa to have tough opponents. I would not be happy if Rafa won each match simply by holding his racquet. Of course, just watching him play is thrilling, but a competitive match is even “thrillerer.”

        I also want Rafa to be as competitive, both mentally and physically, as he can be. Then, and only then, will Rafa be able to decide how long he wishes to compete. I hope it’s for the long run.

        RAFA ROCKS

        Like

      3. Rafantastic

        Arwwh not even a little bit off? – Plz. 😌😉😂

        Anyways – Thanx a lot for your kind words about my presence in here 🤗🌷☀️ Back at ya…

        Like

  4. mjus

    hi everyone,
    He did not play well today. Served badly returned badly did not mix things up with his groundstrokes, no forehand down the line and no angeles with his shots. But moreover 60 meters behind the baseline. How in the hell are you going to win a match!!!!!

    And also playing predictable hitting to the backhand and no depth in this shots
    If he plays like this tomorrow he is going to lose in two sets against zverev no question about that.

    But compare to the last two years he is doing better and we should be happy about it the season is long. I AM TELLING YOU GUYS NADAL IS ABLE TO CHANGE HIS GAME MAYBE ITS TIME FOR MOYA TO TELL HIM THAT
    “RAFA YOU CAN NOT WIN BIG TITLES IF YOU PLAY LIKE THAT YOUR OPONNENTS ARE STRONGER AND FITTER AND THE GAME HAS EVOLVED. YOU NEED TO KEEP THE RALLIES SHORT YOU ARE NOT 25 ANYMORE.

    Like

    1. Vy

      I think Rafa will definitely up his game tomorrow. The question is will it be enough against an in form and playing well Zverev on his birthday or not. Should be a thriller.

      It’s quite tough being a Rafa fan in the sense that there’re so many ups and downs throughout his career and he often doesn’t make it easy for us with his defensive, sometimes passive game PLUS his confident issue even though he is the indisputable CGOAT and one the greatest players in the history of the game (sigh).

      Like

      1. Rafalite

        VY: replying here to your reply to me below.

        BTW: Do you know why all posts don’t have reply buttons? Anyway …

        I agree totally with what you wrote and you mention something that fascinates me, i.e. how much certain players are feared. I call this the “aura of invincibility” and it’s worth a few slams in the bush. First Fed had it, then Rafa, then Djok (then Rafa gain in 2013) then Djok, now Fed has it back. Murray never had it, as we just witnessed against Ramos and for good reason.

        Once other players beleive they can’t win, they can’t. Now the feild is playing Big 3 like they can win, and it’s making all the difference. Plus the game is just way more offensive.

        So this explains a lot.

        But also what you write about Rafa’s Fearhand. Without it, he’s just an OK top ten player, if that.
        With it, he might be #1 again, or at least #2 (depending on Djok and how long Fed can keep this up). I saw that big FH a few times yesterday, but not enough. It’s still not firing reliably.

        OK, here’s hoping he finds it today, or that at least Zvere v is not on fire.

        Like

    1. Margo

      Yes, RAFA ROCKS.

      You should receive an invoice for the use of “YOU ROCK,” “RAFA ROCKS,” and any other kind of “ROCK.” That reminds me, gotta send Sioux her bill. LOL

      RAFA, YOU ROCK

      Like

      1. Rafalite

        Replying here to your post below re. Sports psychologist.

        It seemed to do Nick Kyr a world of good. He changed a huge amount after seeing one.

        I agree that might help Rafa a lot, but given what I know about his character, it seems clear he wouldn’t do it. This is in line with how long it took them to bring outside coaching period. It was a mistake …MOya helped a lot and that should have happened sooner.

        Like

      2. Margo

        You are so right.

        Unfortunately, to see any kind of mental “therapist,” is anathema to far too many of those who need it most.

        Rafa really doesn’t like publicity, or maybe what he perceives as “bad” publicity. He is world famous, has so many sponsors, worried about his image [as most all of us are] and may just feel it’s not his cup of tea. Only Rafa knows WHY he won’t consult a therapist.

        Something’s gotta give.

        RAFA ROCKS

        Like

  5. Rafa passed a severe test today, so we have to take the positive from that. As well as hitting a lot of short balls, he was hitting quite a few down the middle, both of which Kyle dispatched easily with his crushing forehand. Rafa’s shots didn’t seem to be penetrating the court like they used to and I can only put this down to nerves. He can’t afford to hand such gifts to Sascha as he will make Rafa pay! Players aren’t going to rally for too long with Rafa but they will seize every opportunity they get to rip the ball hard and flat past him. More variation is needed Rafa. More drop shots and lobs whenever you can. 👌🎾💪🎾👍🎾

    Like

    1. Rafalite

      Agree with all you write.
      Edmund loved those high FHs! He was eating them up.
      Rafa did adjust his shots somewhat at the end, and Edmund lost his accuracy on the FH.
      But Zverev or Djok will not comply in the same way.

      The short balls are Rafa’s undoing and when I watch Rafa I mainly watch, obsessively, the court penetration on his FH. When his balls are deep he wins, and when they’re short, he loses. Period.

      He got away with these short balls for many years because almost everyone stayed back. Now they play more aggressively and take those balls earlier.

      It isn’t just a matter of depth, but how quickly they bounce through the court. Some of Rafa’s balls just sit there waiting to be clobbered. Too much topsin and short is a terrible combination. He hits like this when he isn’t feeling confident, more margin to clear the net.

      I’m amazed this is still happening, in a way. I thought it got fixed at the AO. The terrible irony is the only thing that will fix it is winning, and he can only win when he stops hitting short balls.

      I think had he beat Fed at the AO, he would have gained the confidence he needed to hit through the ball consistently.

      Anyway, it’s an old problem and it hasn’t gone away.

      Like

      1. Vy

        So in short it has most to do with his mind and the fact that the field, the current game has changed.

        Also I think in the past he was able to get away much more with his “trademarked” short balls because he was able to cover the court like never seen before then. That is definitely not the case now.

        Plus we shouldn’t forget to mention his Fearhand back then. Where it is now?

        Boris Becker hit the nail on the head in 2015 by saying “When players don’t fear you anymore, you’re in trouble”.

        I think it’s like a circle. He needs the get some “aura” back – by winning TITLES, beating his arch rivals.

        Now it seems everyone wants a piece of him, and CAN take a piece from him.

        Like

      2. Margo

        @Vy @1:59AM on April 20 [no reply link]

        I totally agree but he is adamant about not consulting a sport therapist. I wish he would rethink that decision. He said he went once, as a child. I have always had the belief that he should have been in therapy when he was a child. I am not saying it definitely would have helped him but at least he could say he tried it but it didn’t help.

        Talented and gifted people, no matter their occupation, oftententimes have an unconventional tic or two. Rafa has a plethora of OCD behaviors. I deeply admire him, tics and all. I just wish he would get to the bottom of his anxieties.

        RAFA ROCKS

        Like

  6. Vamos Rafa

    Hi everyone. Longtime user and fan of RNF but never commented before but really felt the need to today. Reading comments from when the draw for MC was posted, I dont understand why some people on here have already decided that rafa is not going to be challenging for any clay court titles? The only person to have a better start to this year has been Federer and Rafa is starting to work out what he needs to do against him, Miami was definitely better than IW. Today he definitely did not play his best but he has often started tournaments not playing amazing but gets better with each round. He has been pushed early on at RG but has still gone on to win it because he fights for it. Twice now he has played Zverev and both times he has won. That’s not to say he will win tomorrow but he will do his best and up his game and he knows what to expect, today he didn’t having never played Edmund before but he still found a way to win. Even if he doesn’t win MC, that doesn’t mean the clay court season is hopeless. There are aspects of his game that really need to be worked on, like his 2nd serve that is getting pounced upon, but the team will be aware of that and will hopefully work on it. Given the last 2 seasons we should be a lot more positive. Rafa is stepping it up this season but it seems as if he can’t win either way with some of the “realists”. It has been frustrating so far this year but we need to keep positive for our champ!! Sorry for the rant lol!!

    Like

      1. Vy

        Hi Susie :). It’s been a while since Miami (which was something kind of “in the heat of the moment”). How are you and 🐱 Raffy? Sorry I was so occupied with the matches so didn’t “see” you until now.

        Like

    1. Vy

      No sorry at all, Vamos Rafa. Glad to read some positive insight.

      It’s true Rafa is usually more vulnerable in the early rounds and he would often up his game when getting deeper in the events but I think there’s a difference now.

      In the past Rafa was having the game and the physicality to fall back on much more than he is having now . Plus his “aura” was much stronger back in the day – we can’t deny that didn’t help.

      So even when he had some mental lapses, his chances to make a comeback was definitely much higher back then.

      Now it’s often the case that one single loose game might cost him the whole match, no matter how many BPs he has created or that he is the better player for the most part of the match.

      In which parts his current game is “lesser” now, he can still make it up with his experiences and a strong mentality, by modifying his game to adapt with the current field and of course scheduling carefully and smartly.

      Everything, better or worse, is his own doing. And since he is the person he is, I still think there’s still hope. There’s always be.

      But I also totally get it if some of his fans get disappointed/”disillusioned” or pessimistic after so much that has happened.

      Indeed I think it’s much more interesting that way. There are cheerful, optimistic fans. There are “mania” fans with absolute loyalty :D. There’re also critical fans. Some pessimistic but still constructive fans…

      As for me, it’s very simple. Each time I’m starting to get disappointed and frustrated, I just remember the image of Rafa sitting on a “normal club chair” on the middle of the clay court, hitting the ball FH, BH and volley with uncle Toni, crutches somewhere near in sight, onlookers with baffled looks on their faces… – his darkest days after he learned that he might never be able to play tennis professionally again…

      And now, after more than 12 years, having won everything there is to win, cementing himself in the history of the game and being admired and loved by millions from all generations, he’s still here “with us”, still competing for more “important things”. That’s already a miracle. 🙂

      But also that doesn’t mean his fans cannot “complain” and just be thankful that he is still playing. They just want him to achieve what he wants to achieve, and IS able to achieve. So please don’t mind them (or me :p).

      Hope to see you more here. 🙂

      P.S. Your “rants” will never be beat mine, don’t worry. I’ll take all the blame :p.

      Like

      1. Susie

        Hi Vy- loving your photo! All is well here. Hope all is well with you. Not able to watch the match today – probably a blessing lol. But will be checking the scores. Good luck Rafa!

        Like

    2. Rafalite

      I’m not sure why you think Miami was better than IW. My memory of that match was an easy win for Fed, as was IW. In Miami Rafa tried something different–going to Fed’s FH a lot because he could no longer break down the BH, but that was also a losing formula.

      I think it’s natural and OK and fair for fans to be worried about Rafa’s level based on what we saw today. That isn’t the same as not supporting, or criticising him too heavily.

      Criticisizing him too heavily is saying he should retire if he can’t win FO and I’ve seen that here and I blasted that person.

      There is a middle ground, which is fair and supportive, but which sees serious problems in his game and wants to discuss them with other well-informed fans.

      Like

      1. Vamos Rafa

        That’s not what i meant. I agree with you in all of what you have said regarding todays match. The balls dropped way too short at times and that allowed Edmund to just smack the FH. Rafa struggled in the 2nd and 3rd sets but he managed to get the win and sometimes thats just what happens. Look at Djokovic yesterday. He was down and out but somehow made it through. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and im not saying its being critical thats the issue, its writing him off before he’s really got going which happens sometimes on here. No offense intended to any Rafa fans!

        Like

      2. Vamos Rafa

        In regards to IW, it was painful and Rafa looked lost for nearly all of the match. Miami i felt was more positive even though it was a SS loss. Rafa tried to mix it up more, tried to figure out what tactics would work against Federer now. It will take time but i think he will get there. Miami was more like AO where rafa gave more away and had more chances he just didnt take rather than IW where it was Federer all the way 🙁

        Like

      3. mjus

        after what he went through the last two years he should have visited a therapist. If he feels not comfortable talking with a male maybe then a female. Its absoluty mindboggling why he is playing so passive and insecure and why standing almost against the wall

        Like

    3. Rafalite

      Reply to your reply to me:
      OK, agree. Some fans do write him off, and it’s true he pulled it off in the end. Not that different from Djok though I didn’t see that match–Simon is a tougher opponent than Edmund–at least normally he is.

      Even among Rafa fans, there are wildy disparate levels of criticism and support. I too find some too critical; others too approving when Rafa plays really poorly.

      Worth remembering that Rafa sees virtually none of this, and none of it has the slightest bearing on the outcome of his matches.

      Like

      1. Vamos Rafa

        I know it doesn’t and i dont think rafa reads this. Just wondering why people write him off so early. Thats all

        Like

    4. Rafalite

      Hmmm, this is to your reply about IW and Miami (for some reason some comments don’t have “reply” buttons ….

      It’s true he was trying to things differently in Miami, but the results were no better.

      AO was different, he was in a position to win, up a break in the 5th, leading 30/0. I rewatched that 5th set, trying to understand how it got away from him.

      He shanked two easy FHs, then Fed served like a god. that’s all it took.
      I am convinced had Rafa won AO he would have beat Fed in IW too–the court is more to Rafa’s favour at IW.

      Fed served like a monster AO. He didn’t IW or Miami. Fed was actually more beatable on the slower courts of IW and Miami, but Rafa’s confidence now had dents in it.
      I don’t think it can be stressed just how much confidence is a factor with Rafa.

      Like

      1. mjus

        you right.

        But i think if he has a good clay season he can build up confidence for the rest of the season. It all depends on him. Federer took a 10 week break. It can have a advantage but also a disadvantage. By skipping clay season he allows nadal to build up confidence

        Like

    5. Margo

      Rafa, part of a champion’s DNA is “nerves of steel.” If “nervous nerves” are plaguing you, BANISH THEM with all you’ve got.

      GOOD LUCK RAFA

      Like

  7. Rafalite

    The performance today leaves me nervous about Rafa playing Zverev.
    But, he found what he needed at the end of the 3rd set–with some help from Edmund who kind of imploded at the end.
    What was most worrisome was the re=appearance of the short balls!
    When Rafa had his lapse in the 2nd set (I forget which game but I think he Df’d to give Ed a break early) I almost thought he was doing it on purpose to get more court time, because up till then it had all been too easy.
    But of course that was not the case. Rafa has been having these “lapses” since the beginning of the year. His level is otherwise high enough to beat almost anyone but the lapses are really costly, and if he is to win titles again they have to end.

    Noticed Moya had his wrist in a demobilizing brace. You almost never see a coach with an injury! The price of hitting with Rafa?

    Please Rafa don’t give me fits tomorrow. Dimitrov is out, so beat Zverev and it seems he has a clear path to … Djok. UNless Thiem or Goffin beats Djok. All very interesting.

    And on a trivial note: I don’t like Rafa’s new hairline

    Like

    1. Vy

      Rafalite, the DF that gave Edmund the break in the second set was at 2-1.

      In the decider Rafa also got broken right back after breaking Edmund at 2-2.

      Felt like I was experiencing déjà vu all over again :(.

      Some might say his experience helped him win the match more than his game. And I would agree.

      I’ve said this repeatedly and now I definitely think Rafa’s still having mentality problem.

      His having better run on hard court this year doesn’t automatically translate to clay as many people optimistically thought (or are still thinking). The point is how that run was made, not just the results (which btw are flattering than they actually are, minus the AO)

      Now since he couldn’t get a better test than an early round match against Zverev – on his birthday – tomorrow, I really hope he manages to pass that test. If not, I’m afraid it’s gonna do some real damage to him.

      Tbh sometimes I wish he was more self-consicous, or a bit “positively arrogant”, not underestimating himself and giving his every opponent too much credit…

      Like

      1. Rafalite

        I agree he is still having a “mentality” problem, I would call it the same confidence problem he has had since 2014.
        I also thought clay would be better, but so far, not!
        I gave a little thought to this and came up with this: HC forced him to more aggressive–which is what he needs–hit through the ball and not fall into a purely defensive mindset. His best play this year was at the AO–his 3 sequential losses to Fed (and Querry) ate into his confidence again, and when that happens he falls back into his more defensive game, and overtopping the FH which produces short balls.

        I thought lately he has been a little more “positively arrogant” as you so eloquently put it, not talking about confidence problems as he did in the recent past. He stopped talking about his nerves in 2017. But how you talk to the press and how you actually feel are two separate things.

        Rafa let Edmund back in in the 2nd set.

        The Zverev match will look different. I haven’t really seen Zverev play on clay, I assumed his aggressive game will not be as effective on clay, but I may have been wrong.\

        I am not looking forward to it! But who knows. Rafa might raise his level to the ocassion, or Zverev may not be as potent.

        Danger match!

        Like

      2. “I thought lately he has been a little more “positively arrogant” as you so eloquently put it, not talking about confidence problems as he did in the recent past. He stopped talking about his nerves in 2017. But how you talk to the press and how you actually feel are two separate things.”

        Rafalite, I think he’s still the same person he always it, not a tiny bit of arrogant at all. He’s so competitive but also so humble. He respects everyone and by respect I mean he tends to underestimate himself like Fed, Moya and practically anyone that really “knows” him all said that and NEVER fails to give enough, sometimes more than enough, credit to everyone.

        And that was okay when he was younger, everything was working better. Now it’s a big problem for him/

        Couldn’t agree with you more about those losses to Fed and Querrey. Actually everything that has been happening this year has already happened time and time again in the past. Nothing really surprised me except for the bagel in the very first set of this “landmark” 1000th match. If it’s not a clear indication of his nerve, I don’t know what is (not to take anything away from Kohlschreiber).

        What I’m frustrated the most is I know he’s capable of doing much better than this, than how he was doing in the last 2-3 years. Game wise it’s actually very simple, just like you and many others have always said. It’s mostly just his mind besides some circumstances here and there.

        “The performance today leaves me nervous about Rafa playing Zverev.”

        I’m always “nervous” when Rafa plays Zverev. He managed to survive the first two. This time I think will tell us a lot about his real current state of mind.

        I think I should take a break tomorrow, not thinking and rambling too much like a maniac here :).

        Good night there. 🌌🌛

        Like

  8. Vy

    Good luck against Zverev tomorrow, Rafa. It’s his birthday and his game is actually playing very well on clay, so please be careful, no more mental lapse like today.

    It seems like the slowness of the MC court suits his game better than a lot of us expected. He has more time to hit the FH so it looks somehow better than on hard court and still penetrating enough. His best shots, BHCC+DTL are still working as good as as ever. His volley has improved. His movement seems just as good on clay as it is on hard court for guy his size.

    And most importantly, he’s been holding his nerve very well this year. Even when he seemed to feel intimidated in both of his matches against Kyrgios, he didn’t let it affect his game and had metal lapses like Rafa.

    Actually I think he’s the type who really enjoys the challenges, the bigger the better. That’s the main reason why I like him (along with his BH) and I think he will do very well in the future (hopefully along with Kyrgios).

    Rafa, on the contrary, isn’t looking as good as expected. I’d take a 76 76 or 63 36 76 win with no-little exchange of breaks over today’s win any day.

    All that said, Rafa is still Rafa. I think his surviving today’s match must give him a lot to think about, and he will learn from it. It’s only the first match on clay of the year. Normally he would start playing on clay sooner than this. Let’s not overreact and say he “definitely” won’t win anything on clay this year.

    Again, good luck and do your very best tomorrow, Rafa.

    🍀🍀🎾🎾💪💪

    Like

    1. Margo

      I believe, out of respect for Rafa, fans here have decided not to dwell on Rafa’s hair. Rafa has yet to discuss, in public, this part of his head. His nerves and confidence are up to discussion.

      RAFA ROCKS

      Like

  9. Jason

    It does not bode well, I am sorry to say. I thought the extra coach added something in the mental department (three hard fought matches at Aussie Open) but I am losing faith again unfortunately. As I pointed out Rafa is now on his longest title drought since winning his first tournament many years ago and I am afraid the clay season (his only real chance to win a slam) is not gonna be big. Vulnerable on clay, very bad sign.

    Like

  10. va4favre

    I am happy that Rafa won, of course, but certainly concerned how close he came to losing. I am trying to take a positive spin on today and say it better prepared him for Sascha tomorrow.

    Like

    1. YB

      This is also Rafa’s first match on clay since French Open last year. I think all the top seeds struggled through the second round. I hope he gets a few more free points from his serve tomorrow, so he can play more aggressively.

      Like

  11. Positive thinker (India)

    VAMOS RAFA.

    WELCOME BACK ON CLAY. A GOOD HARD FOUGHT BATTLE. TODAY. HAPPY TO SEE YOU INTO THE 3RD ROUND.

    RELAX TILL NEXT ROUND.

    LOVE YOU ALWAYS.💞💝💘💗💖💔💟❤💚💛💜😚😚😙😙🌹🌹🌹

    Like

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