Rafa Roundup: Rafa hopes his “knees hold up well” on the grass

Photo via GQ

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“If I have pain in my knees, then I know from experience that it’s almost impossible,” he said. “After 2012 what happened with my knees has made it tougher and tougher for me to compete on grass.”

“It’s been a while since I played a good Wimbledon,” Nadal admitted. “I love grass. Everybody knows that. It’s a surface that I really enjoyed playing on a lot. I missed playing Wimbledon again [last year], so I hope that my knees will hold up well and that I can have the preparation that I really need and want.”

He added: “I need to have strong and powerful legs to play well at Wimbledon. If I don’t feel that, then probably my chances are not good. But if I am healthy and I am able to have the right preparation and feel healthy during Wimbledon, then I will probably have my chances to play well.”

But Rafael Nadal reminds us that the best in any sport exceed not just our expectations of what an athlete can do physically, but what a human can do mentally. Nadal cares, with superhuman seriousness, about every game, every shot. You cannot coach a player to want to win as much as Nadal wants to win. It has to arise from some roiling, unquenchable, internal compulsion to be great.

What we saw over the last two weeks has been a nearly annual ritual since 2005, and barring catastrophic injury, it isn’t going anywhere soon. At 31, Rafa is not what he was at 21; revisit the highlights and this man wouldn’t be confused for his younger, even more yoked, faster self. But it is still more than good enough to dominate the current ecosystem. So long as he keeps finding ways to return to the tour healthy, and so long as the younger generation continues to struggle under the onerous slab of talent that is the Big Four, these titles will still be Nadal’s to win (and bite). Ten is a nice, clean number, but it is hardly a finish line unto itself.

Much has changed since his first victory at Roland Garros in 2005, the year of his first appearance in the tournament. Back then, Nadal was partial to sleeveless shirts and pirate pants, Court Philippe Chatrier had no aerial camera, and a fan could enter Roland Garros Stadium without being frisked by security officials.

The world is very different, but the men’s game has remained surprisingly resistant to change. Nadal’s career-long rival, Roger Federer, beat him to win the Australian Open in January at age 35. Now Nadal has won another French Open, closing the gap with Federer in the standings for career Grand Slam singles titles.

Nadal is 79-2 at Roland Garros. What may be most impressive is the fact that, on a court where he had never been beloved, he has won all 10 finals he has played without ever having to go to a fifth set. He has tamed his nerves every time, weathered rallies by his opponents every time, and closed the door early every time.

How does a player win a tournament 10 times? I said it after Rafa won La Décima in Monte Carlo this spring, and I’ll say it again after his La Décima in Paris: By playing every match as if it’s his last, and celebrating every win as if it’s his first.

“I was terribly surprised to win the Australian Open and then back it up in Indian Wells and Miami,” Federer said, “but I think Rafa winning the French Open is less of a surprise because he’s already done it nine times before, now 10, which is absolutely gigantic. It was incredible, really, simply that.

“I was hoping that he was going to dominate the clay court season like he did in the olden days.”

PHOTOS: French Open: Rafael Nadal’s Roland Garros evolution | CNN

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42 thoughts on “Rafa Roundup: Rafa hopes his “knees hold up well” on the grass

  1. Margo

    “Milos Raonic and Stan Wawrinka both lost in the first round of the Aegon Champioships on a day of upsets at Queens Club.” [BBC]

    RAFA ROCKS

    Like

  2. Margo

    Kyrgios just retired from Queens in his first round. Seems he slipped and fell, exacerbating his recurring hip problem. He insists he will be physically fit to play Wimbledon. It disturbs me to no end when any athlete suffers an injury; having gone through so many with Rafa I can imagine the heartache they go through.

    Fingers crossed for no more injuries.

    RAFA ROCKS

    Like

  3. I really getting that 2010 feeling again. Since 2013 honestly I thought Rafa has not much of a chance but this year the way he has destroyed everyone by playing some really aggressive game and the backhand that has become a big weapon for him( right now I find his backhand better than Novak) . He could make this one an another multi slam year.
    Vamos

    Like

  4. Margo

    “Rafael Nadal made an observation in Paris about his philosophy on life…..it describes perfectly why he is playing some of the best tennis of his career.” “‘I do things as they come. Right now I really don’t know. I’m just going to keep on playing as long as it makes me happy…..You know what? I’m not worried. I’m a happy person.'”

    “It’s a joy that might carry Nadal to his first Wimbledon final in seven years. He might even win for a third time there.”

    “It is nine years since Nadal won possibly the best final in the history of grand slam tennis, when over five sets of almost unbearable intensity, he deconstructed Federer’s elegance with the sheer power of his will, it seemed. Before they arrived at that 2008 Winbledon, they played in the final at Roland Garros. Nada won 6-1, 6-3, 6-0. It was one of the most humiliating experiences of Federer’s career. It would be foolish to predict the Spanish master could not do that double again.”

    “Nobody—not even uncle Toni or his understudy Moyá—would previously have suggested Nadal could conquer the All England’s Club again.”
    [Above excerpts from an article by Kevin Mitchell, The Guardian, 6/12/17.]

    RAFA ROCKS

    Like

  5. PUMA

    To all Rafa fans who I understand could not care less if he is declared the GOAT or not, I could not agree more with you.
    Since I saw him first play at RG in 2007 watched his match against RF at Wimb in 2008, Rafa has been my favourite male tennis player. Probably that dates from the years when RF supremacy was being seriously challenged by Rafa. I also wonder when RF supporters, some of whom were also old tennis players, started to keep banging on about the GOAT, which to my knowledge is not a widely shared concern of Rafa fans. To me Rafa will always be the most spectacular of tennis players with the most charming personality. Strangely enough every time Rafa wins spectacularly the GOAT topic comes up ad nauseum.
    So if Rafa plays, for me he is a delight to watch. If he does not I can enjoy watching some of the younger ones like Thiem and Goffin.

    BASICALLY RAFA ROCKS

    Like

      1. PUMA

        Hi Margo,

        I searched the comment but I cannot find it again. From what I remember it was more or less about the unlikeliness of Rafa competing in Wimb following his fatigue of RG. I did not like it because it sounded more like wishful thinking but maybe that is more my hypersensitivity towards comments from Rafa’s rivals.

        If you can trace any such comment, please do share.

        RAFA ROCKS

        Like

      2. Margo

        Thank you PUMA.
        Roger, as far as I am concerned, is known for his ridiculous statements. I am sure he would love to see an exhausted Rafa at Wimbledon.

        More than likely he is throwing tantrums about all the well-deserved accolades Rafa has received, and will continue to receive, for his astounding 2017 accomplishments and terrified of what Rafa will do during the second half of the year.

        AND on top of that, to have the Barcelona Open name its center court Pista Rafa Nadal must have hit BOTH Mirka and him like a dagger through the heart. I can imagine Mirka telling Roger, “How dare they name a court after him.” LOL
        Rafa is THEIR bogeyman as I am well aware of her role in keeping Roger on a pedestal.

        Hypersensitiviry? Join the club. I wanted to know what Roger said so I could blast him back to the Swiss alps. Hehe

        RAFA ROCKS

        Like

      3. Margo

        Great news from Toni.

        “If we go there [Wimbledon] is because we have chances to win. Otherwise we would have fewer motivations. From 2011, when he played the final, never played well there. But it was basically due to knee issues…”

        “We believe the main favorite is Federer. Then others like Murray and Kyrgios.”

        “If he [Rafa] plays like he did in Paris, I think he has chances to win.”
        [Article in its entirety can be read on tennisworldusa.]

        My understanding of what Toni is saying is that Rafa will be in it to win it; that at this point in time Rafa’s knees are NOT giving him any problems; that there are other Wimbledon-title contenders, INCLUDING Rafa but that Rafa is a SERIOUS contender; that Rafa could very well win the title.

        Toni at times has been a thorn in my side, but never impish. He has always wanted the best for Rafa but at times did not express it very well. With Carlos on board, I am seeing a softer side of Toni. Long live this great team’s collaboration.

        TONI ROCKS

        Like

    1. Margo

      I couldn’t agree more with you, but hey, some people just love controversy.

      Surprisingly, this time around, there is an abundance of admiration and congratulatory articles about Rafa’s accomplishments and spectacular resurgence; some even saying that his Decima marks the start of a new [winning] campaign.

      Same for me about becoming a Rafa fan. The first time I saw Rafa I was absolutely MESMERIZED. Still am.

      RAFA ROCKS

      Like

      1. Margo, MESMERIZED certainly sums it up for me too.
        I also couldn’t care less whether he is declared the GOAT or not. Let the Federer fans rave on about that subject. Rafa cannot be described by any one word. His particular greatness transcends all that.

        Like

      2. Rafantastic

        Great word – MESMERIZED 🌟𗀃👍🏼
        I’m joining The “MESMERIZED by Rafa Nadal” Club too 🎾💪🏼𗀠

        Like

      3. Margo

        [Whispering] Rafa would LUV to have you as a member pero es un club exclusivo. When I told him about your fabulous Rafa art, he said, “Margo, zip it! Send Rafantastic her membership card immediately.”

        Welcome to the MEZMERIZED by Rafa Nadal Club. LOL

        RAFA IS MEZMERIZING

        Like

      4. PUMA

        Mesmerizing RAFA,

        WAMOS WAMOS POUR WIMBLEDON

        WHATEVER RODDICK SAYS THESE DAYS, SINCE A LONG TIME I HAVE DIFFICULTY WATCHING THE ARROGANCE OF THE RF AND WIFE TANDEM.

        SO SORRY GUYS BUT IF NOT RAFA THIEM OR ONE OF THE YOUNGER ONES WOULD BE MY CHOICE.

        I TOO ADOPT THE WORDS MESMERIZED WATCHING RAFA ON AND ALSO OFF COURT.

        RAFA ROCKS

        Like

      5. Margo

        Well, welcome to the “MESMERIZED by Rafa Nadal Club” too. LOL

        I love the “RF and wife tandem.” Hilarious.

        Like

      6. Margo

        You’re welcome
        De nada
        Selv tak
        Prego
        Il n’y a pas de quoi
        Alstublieft

        I figure we need a little humor around here.

        RAFA ROCKS

        Like

    2. Margo

      Your point about Rafa’s charming personality reminded me to post the number of his Twitter followers. Before doing so, I just have to say I don’t understand those who claim, ad nauseam, that Roger is praised but Rafa not.
      I was on Twitter for maybe fifteen minutes tops. I checked Rafa’s followers number at 12,765,786 and Roger’s at 7,433,964 before reading any of today’s tweets.

      Before signing off, I rechecked the numbers to make sure there were no errors. I had to laugh. Rafa’s number had increased by 91, to 12,765,877. Roger’s by 24, to 7,433,988.
      Rafa gained 91 followers in 15 minutes.

      Surely, millions of Rafa followers are more important than a few biased commentators. The numbers speak volumes.

      RAFA ROCKS TWITTER

      Like

  6. Margo

    I always thought that the GOAT bandwagon was the silliest. I posted here a month or so ago that only after Rafa has retired can his genius be assessed. My stance has not changed. Charlie Eccleshare’s article, posted below, can be seen as his way of thumbing his nose at Rafa detractors.

    RAFA ROCKS

    Like

  7. Elaine Crowder

    Rafa you know best about what your body is able to do for Wimbledon and if you and your team are not ready stay in Mallorca and have more rest so that your body is fully rested, and NOT under more pressure after all the pressure of the clay season.

    You and your team and doctors know best,

    Love and prayers to all,

    Alaine

    SydneyXXAustraliaXX

    Like

  8. Rafa_1310

    I don’t like tennis on gras. But hopefully Rafa will be able to play bis best in Wimbledon – Health is the most important thing. Always with Rafa ❤

    Like

  9. Maria (England)

    Article below taken from the Telegraph

    Tennis debate: Is Rafael Nadal not Roger Federer the greatest ever?

    Let me guess, you read the headline and instantly thought “hang on, Roger Federer has won 18 grand slams, whereas Rafael Nadal has only won 15”?

    But does that necessarily end the argument? Is the total number of grand slams won the only way to judge which of these two legends of the sport is the greatest?

    Let’s begin by looking at the slams won by each player. When assessing their major wins, Federer clearly benefitted from having a few years before the advent of the ‘Big Four’ as we know it. Between 2003 and 2007, Federer won eight grand slams without beating any of Nadal, Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray along the way, and added two more in 2009 without playing any of those three. A quick glance at Federer’s final opponents in those majors shows the likes of Mark Philippoussis, Fernando Gonzalez and Marcos Bagdahtis, who are not exactly tennis heavyweights.

    Nadal by contrast has had to beat one of the ‘Big Four’ in all but two of his 15 grand slam wins, and in one of the ones when he didn’t his final opponent was Stan Wawrinka, a three-time slam champion.

    Secondly, Nadal is streets ahead of Federer in the head to head between the two players. He leads the overall record 23-14, and has won nine of the 12 grand slam meetings between the two.

    Can Federer really be called the greatest ever when he has been consistently beaten by the man said to be the second best?

    Finally, one of the arguments I often hear used to denigrate Nadal is that so many of his grand slam titles have come at the French Open, as if this points to him being some sort of one-trick pony.

    But, let me put that another way. Isn’t it remarkable that Nadal is even close to Federer’s total given that only one of the four majors is played on a surface that is more suited to the Spaniard? Let us imagine a fairer scenario for assessing this rivalry where half of the slams are on clay, and half are on quicker surfaces (rather than the current ratio of only a quarter being played on the slower red dirt).

    In this parallel universe, the Australian Open is the Argentinian Open and played on a clay court. In this world, it’s not hard to imagine that Nadal could have scooped up close to a ‘Decima’ there as well and be comfortably clear of Federer’s total.

    Like

    1. Maria, I couldn’t agree with you more. I have never thought that slams were the be all and end all of criteria by which one’s greatness had to be judged, although they certainly are a major factor. But in the case of Rafa and Roger there are so many other points to be considered as you listed so well in your post.
      Of course there are those who proclaim that Rafa’s victories are mainly on clay and even make it seem as if clay is an inferior surface, when in fact it is clay court play where players are able to set up points and make it a more interesting game to watch. I daresay some will disagree with me there – it depends on which sort of tennis one prefers to watch.
      Regarding Roger’s seven victories on grass, does anyone say ” but they were all on grass” so why say this about Rafa’s on clay ?
      Roger has of course won more hard court slams than Rafa but nevertheless Rafa has won majors on all surfaces and would more than likely have won a second Australian Open in 2014 if he had not injured his back while warming up prior to the tournament.
      The head to head between Rafa and Roger is also certainly another consideration to add to the debate, although Federer fans usually dismiss this as a non issue .
      Personally I don’t see why we can’t just enjoy watching these two greats while they are still playing and leave all this GOAT factor out of it until they have both retired.
      But then , what would the media have to write about to fuel the fire.?

      Like

      1. Maria (England)

        Hi Beverley, I would love to take credit for the post above but it was an article taken from the Telegraph (not my words, I’m not that intelligent ) that I thought some fans might like. But I actually agree with you about just enjoying them both play while we can. I could be naive but I don’t think the thought of being know as the greatest would have ever crossed Rafa’s mind. They have both achieved so much and are role models on and off the court , It’s just where you’re heart lies to who you choose to support, I think to much is made of the Rafa /Roger rivalry , which apparently also spills over to the fans.
        Andy Roddick apparently doesn’t like the constant bickering between the two set of fan bases he tweeted: When Rafa wins something, his fans start throwing darts at Fed,’
        ‘When Fed wins, darts at Rafa
        ‘Most annoying part of tennis fandom for me.’

        Like

      2. Sorry, Maria, When I first read the article I knew some of it came from the Telegraph but thought the remainder came from you. In any case we are both in agreement that too much is made of all this ” who is the greatest ? ” when neither of them have finished their careers as yet.
        I also can’t understand the fans who go on and on ad finitum quoting statistics, examples,facts and figures etc, etc, all to point to the superiority of their particular player above the other.
        Roddick is right when he says he doesn’t like this bickering back and forth between the two sets of fans. Neither do I. I find it quite pointless.
        I am looking forward to seeing Rafa playing well in Wimbledon but if Roger does better, so be it, although I will always be barracking for Rafa. ( and for his knees to hold up.!! )
        He does not have to be labelled the GOAT for him to be the favourite for me. I just want to watch the magic of his presence on court and if he wins further grand slams that is great and I will be overjoyed for him .
        If both sets of fans, and the media, just appreciated the performances of both players, or their favourite of the two, without all this ending in GOAT debates it would be far more enjoyable for all.

        Like

    2. Nostradamus

      Maria, you’re analysing this in a most complicated form. Instead let’s look at my simple analysis below which undoubtedly reveals the.numero uno position, or better still, the primus inter pares (“first amongst equals”) position that Rafa holds:
      1. Rafa’s favourite surface is clay, Roger’s favourite surface is grass and Novak’s is hard court. (This analysis will deliberately exclude Andy and Stan from this GOAT debate as they are both no where near GOAT achievement)

      2. Rafa has achieved 10 trophies on his favourite surface, Roger has 7 and Novak 6.

      Other parameters like head to head, no of GS won, no of ATPs won etc are neither here nor there and are not good measures when compared with performance on their respective favourite surfaces.

      So, Rafa is the GOAT and still counting ……………..

      But as always, we’d see…………. Hmmmn

      Like

      1. Susie

        Hi nostradamus – if you say Novak’s best surface is hard courts – he actually has 8 grand slams on that surface and not 6. He has 6 at the AO and 2 at US open. So by your reckoning, do you think he is better than Roger who has 7 on grass?

        Like

      2. Margo

        I disagree. Rafa in this context is primus super omnem, not merely primus inter pares which denotes “honorary” status only.

        RAFA ROCKS

        Like

  10. Descanza para que en wimbledon estes ready yo se que daras lo mejor de ti en ese torneo Vamos Rafa no te rindas descanza y a la vez trabaja para darnos otra alegria mas que Rafa tenemos para largo.

    Like

  11. PUMA

    I really wonder about RF comments on Rafa’s competition in Wimbledon 2017? In addition others who would like to jinx Rafa… Do people not understand that Rafa is his own person and takes decisions on what to play and when according to how he feels his mind and body will cope?

    Rafa you are the best. Nobody can take away what you have achieved or approach it for a long time to come. If need be you certainly need to protect your health since you have nothing to prove to anyone and certainly not to the Rafa jealous/haters.

    Like

  12. Amelia Chilleron Hellin

    Rafa ya naciste y sigues siendo especial…sorprendente eras antes con lo k has ganado….pero ahora es mas xk con 31años en l deporte claro…lo k has logrado y en l forma k lo has hecho es para redinse a tus pies…solo t deseo todo lo bueno y k estes sano y verte jugar a nivel d lo k estas jugando…no t he visto nunca jugar taaaaannnn bien como ahora…shapoo Rafa

    Like

  13. CanaDiana

    You provide us with food for thought- it is the phenomenal talents and mental toughness of Federer and Nadal that set them apart from the rest of the field. When you witness their play, you are made aware of their extraordinary ability. At the age of the current next gen group, they had already won slams with less advanced equipment. The group immediately behind them have not been able to break through convincingly. Although they are profoundly contrasting in style of play, Roger and Rafael each have a quality that elevates them beyond Djokovic and Murray. Their respect for the game pervades the stadium. You
    know that you have seen a historic tennis event. There is always that insatiable
    desire to improve-that warrior mentality to never give up, and, of course, the pure love of the game. 🇪🇸🇨🇭❤️

    Like

  14. Sigi

    Whatever happens while playing on the Wimbledon courts, I will be holding thumbs for you.
    As far as I am concerned, you are the one that gives me most pleasure watching you play. I not only admire you for your tennis, but also as a person. You do so much good work outside the tennis court, your foundation and all that, you are truly a good guy.
    Wish you all the best, be happy & keep smiling!

    Like

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