PHOTOS: Rafael Nadal loses in five-set thriller against Gilles Muller at Wimbledon 2017

Rafael Nadal lost in the fourth round at Wimbledon to Gilles Muller on Manic Monday. Muller defeated our champ 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 15-13 in a match that lasted almost five hours.

Rafa, seeded fourth, dropped the opening set, ending a winning streak of 28 consecutive sets at majors.

After the match, Rafa said:

He played well. I think I didn’t play my best the first two sets. I was all the time against the score and that’s so difficult against a player like him. He played great, especially in the fifth set. It probably was not my best match but at the same time I played against a very uncomfortable opponent.

I lost in the fourth round, not a result I was expecting. It’s tough to analyse that in a positive way right now. I won matches, I played better than other years, that’s true but at the same time I was ready for other things. I missed an opportunity.

Muller will next face Marin Cilic, who beat Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2, 6-2, 6-2.

The crowd really wanted Rafa to win. He received a standing ovation and rapturous applause after the match. Stay healthy Rafa and take a good rest  after all your achievements this year! Always with you!

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86 thoughts on “PHOTOS: Rafael Nadal loses in five-set thriller against Gilles Muller at Wimbledon 2017

  1. YB

    I’m reading with disbelieve some of the negative comments here. One hard-fought match lost, Rafa and his team are being condemned again?? Do we really think that we know more about how to play tennis than Rafa and his team, however passionate and knowledgeable we are? Is it really “what have you done for me lately (or even yesterday)”?

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    1. Rainier

      YB, can you point out the negative and “One hard-fought match lost, Rafa and his team are being condemned again” comments like you said? So far I haven’t read any comment like that, at least after the match ended.

      And if some of us want to share out thoughts about the match and Rafa’s game, it doesn’t mean “Do we really think that we know more about how to play tennis than Rafa and his team” or ““what have you done for me lately (or even yesterday)”?

      I have no idea what you’re talking about to be honest. I haven’t read the comments during the match so I might have missed some like you said though.

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    2. I quite agree with you, YB. Rafa lost and as his fans we are broken hearted. But the very next round Murray and Djokovic went out Their fans would be equally upset. But players get defeated, even the best of them. As Rafa says ‘That’s sport. ”
      Now I read on one Rafa site that some fans thought that Rafa should get rid of Moya. !!! Before it was Toni they wanted gone now Moya. Thay are never satisfied.
      Sometimes I feel as though some behave as though Rafa were a criminal when he loses. I am not making accusations against anyone in particular – just can’t see why Rafa’s loss can’t be regretted, but not condemned. He makes mistakes just like other top players. They have all had their upsets. Rafa is not a machine. He has human failings.
      But he has great strengths – not just tennis related. His loyalty to his fans who sat supporting him for almost five hours during his match against Muller and who wanted his aurograph at the end – he would not let them down.
      Nor has he let us down. He never gives less than his best, and if his last match did not meet our expectations, he was the one who had to play the game
      He did the best he could at that particular time .

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  2. Kola

    So sad for Rafa, but it’s good to see I’m not alone.

    As many of you, I start to realise Rafa’s attitude and head is the key to such epic, close matches – he has already lost at least three of them (Delpo at Rio 2016, Pouille at USO 2016 and now) 😦
    Fortunately there’s a little more room in these nervous endgames here at Wimbledon (God save the no TB in 5th rule), but Rafa had to always chase the score in the final set, and finally collapsed.

    Rafa played great in the 3rd and 4th set (he started to read the powerful serves of Muller), but in the 5th… Starting almost every service game with 0-15 doesn’t look good, right? And though he himself served exceptionally (21 aces, wow!), Muller yesterday with his relentless aces and net-actions was just unbeatable.

    Hope the coaches will start to support Rafa more mentally, and good luck at USO. Rafa IS in the Big Four, and He Can Show It 🙂 ! VAMOS ❤

    BTW if Muller isn't too tired after the epic 15-13 battle, and if he keeps playing like yesterday, he is a clear candidate al least for the final here.

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  3. Angela

    Hi everyone
    My first post here although I have been visiting this site and reading comments for years.
    I am so disappointed with Rafa’s loss. I didn’t watch it because it started after my bed time (I live in Sydney) and can’t bear to watch highlights or the interview.
    Grass has been a difficult surface for Rafa.

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    1. Rafantastic

      Very welcome to you Angela 😊🌸

      Yes, watching highlights and interview from yesterdays match is heartbreaking 𗁄But be confident – Rafa will soon be back as the legendary champion he is.
      VAMOOS!! 🎾💪🏼❤️🌟🍀😘

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    2. Wecome, Angela from a fellow Aussie. I live just a couple of hours drive north up the coast from you. I couldn’t see many of Rafa’s matches as they were not broadcast but, foolish as I am, sat up all night to follow the live commentary on the computer. Then went to bed for a couple of hours all upset about the results. I should have more sense. !!

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  4. mjus

    I am over the dissapointment to be honest. Look the whole time in the fifth set i thought that muller was going to win because nadal allowed him to play his serve and volley by returning awful and standing 5 meters behind the baseline and not taking risk with his returns. And also remember the four breakpoints he had at 9 all in the fifth set nadal was in full panic mode and didnt kept his composure he wanted to finish the point quickly and made bad decisions by for example going to the net when it was net neccesary. It was like watching the nadal of 2015 when he was receiving muller serve.

    The conclusion i am drawing is the following one:

    – Nadal is insecure when he faces big servers and serve and volley players because of his weak return
    – Nadal is struggling mentally when it gets important in a tight match
    – Nadal needs to acknowledge that his return needs to improve if he wants to do well on other surfaces including wimbeldon and also his courtposition needs to improve. Hopefully he will discuss it with carlos or carlos needs to convince nadal that this is a problem that needs to be fixed
    – Nadal needs to work on his mental state. He showed it in this match by keep fighting but i am talking about the big points in a tight match.

    Positive things about Rafa

    – Nadal showed in this match that his serve has improved a lot
    – Nadal still has his fighting spirit
    – Nadal volleying skills and backhand has improved
    – The facial expression on nadal face after the loss and at the press conference convinced me that the champ still has the desire and passion for tennis

    Nadal will not hire another coach that is in my opinion not neccesary carlos is exactly what he needs but carlos should be there for him at any grandslam and needs to work with him on his game. There as i said many times before still room for improvement

    If nadal doesnt do well on other grandslams besides the French open i am affraid that he only will be remembered as the king of clay that will be a pitty. You never know how the hard court season will go so far nadal this season preformed well on hardcourt reaching 3 finals. Maybe his chances at the us open will be better

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    1. ASHISH PATIL

      as people say the best returner lost to big server sasm querry last year in wimbeldon….and rafa is not bad since he played and won against big server like andre aggasi..ivo karlovic , raonic and isner

      so its not so easy as we think……….everyone has problem

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  5. Rafa fan 1

    Just can’t get over this loss. My heart bleeds. After 6 each in the final set at first I hoped and believed that Rafa could and would win. But later when Rafa played certain shots letting muller escape and seeing Rafa’s expressions nand gestures I saw the demon of mental doubts and self confidence slipping. Rafa somehow finds it difficult to jump on the ‘foe’ and finish him off. He let’s off the pressure in stead of going in for the kill. Although this year he has improved in that department more work has to be done!

    But I’m finding it difficult to think of anything else. It’s constantly at the back of mind – even at night if I woke up it iwas always the first thing that came to my mind and I couldnt go back to sleep.
    I hope Rafa is able to rest well now and I hope that he doesn’t go down again mentally. His team must work on that.

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  6. Ashish

    To withstand/cope very onslaugt is to be the no. one priority for rafa nad his team form now in this short break now……its an serious issue…because though rafa playing supreme the onslaught tennis cause a concern in rafa mind…..
    We should notice this matches in past…..
    Ao final against stan…. Ao final against fed last set when rafa up a break….this year wimbeldon against muller….or earlier wimbeldon matches opponent kyroigs. Etc…

    There should be a definite plan to cope this…..
    Stan played freely without having the fear of loosing sonce he have nothing to loose in that match
    Roger in ao final after rafa was a break up in final set …played on salught keeping in mind that accepting that even at the cost of loosing….and this year muller especially attacking rafa second serve…

    There should be a plan to play in this onslaught situation ….because this onslaught is remain only for few games..to have control on such till end is hard….

    So he should make a game for such on slaught were opponent play super fast fearless tennis …they will throw super fast aces…super power forehands….and out an out agrresive shots going for killl… Attacking second serves ….

    Rafa should find the 1 2 3 shots to hold the serve in this critical period….

    We know rafa play strong against good server like of karlovic…raonic…and have won this matches…
    But u have to be ready to hold ur service games in such situation….

    This is an off topic but require serious look…
    Please rafa team…

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  7. Elaine Crowder

    Rainer do you have a voice to Rafa and Carlos Moya so they can have the benefit of your words,

    Love and prayers,

    AlaineXXSydneyXXAustraliaXX

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    1. PUMA

      Hindsight comments from Rafa’s scared fan, after his loss to Muller.
      Maybe Rafa should start by hiring a coach who will unconditionally be at his side investing heart and soul on Rafa’s game. Absentee big mouth Moya is certainly not a good coach.

      Rafa needs to get back his self-confidence, improve his serve, his aggressiveness on court and get a new coach to help him to do so. I remember Wilander talking of possibilities to improve Rafa. It is very endearing to be humble off-court but it is a loser’s attitude on court. Much as it was heart-breaking to watch his struggle for survival in the 5th set against Muller, I do think he should have displayed a fighter’s spirit during the first two sets. Unless Muller goes to win Wimby 2017, Rafa’s loss to him will be a joke.

      Finally, I am very unhappy that my fears for Rafa being truly one of the big four were confirmed. What a state of events to see only Rafa eliminated on Monday! What a disappointment the rest of Wimbledon 2017.

      As long as Rafa plays I will be his fan, but no amount of well-wishing of his enormous fan public can get him through his matches.

      Yes I was scared on Monday. Many career wise important matches like AO finall 2017 keeps creeping to my mind as Rafa’s memorable losses.

      Anyway, given that his health is good, I do hope he recovers happyness in tennis and continues.

      Rafa you have the talent to be more than the King of Clay. Please continue to strive to be more.

      WAMOS WAMOS WAMOS

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      1. Rainier

        Puma, this is a bit unnecessary, no?

        “Hindsight comments from Rafa’s scared fan, after his loss to Muller.”

        I don’t want to sound rude. But you don’t know what I was feeling, what I was seeing and why I was thinking what I thought.

        I guess most of us are long time Rafa fans. And thanks to Rafa and RFN we have this little place to share and connect with each other. Comments here can’t tell everything. We don’t know each other’s journey of being a Rafa fan. And I guess each person is a different “kind” of fans simply because no one is the same as another and everyone’s experience is unique.

        That’s why I think you’re a bit too rushed to judge. Especially at a time like this.

        TBH I really don’t think I need or should explain myself. But since it’s a sort of a “special time” atm, I might as well share with you and maybe some others who care enough to read another lengthie of mine a bit more. From a Rafa fan to a fellow Rafa fan. Not a bickering.

        What I was sharing last night, mind you, just in one comment, was not just about a match, a moment, a disappointment or the figurative “broken heart”. It’s just a tiny part of my “journey” of being a Rafa fan. It’s very personal, and it’s a something I consider a little life journey inside *the* life journey. It certainly didn’t take one match, one loss to say all that. It’s also sure as “Rafa-is-unique” that it wasn’t the first time I watched Rafa played like that to know what I was seeing, and then come here just to post a lengthy rambling of hindsight and about my insecurities or “scares” like you said.

        In fact, I was very calm watching the match. Much more calm than when I was watching many of Rafa’s other matches where the outcome was obvious. When I said I knew Rafa would lose, it’s not me being scared or pessimistic. I knew it when I saw it. And I believe I’m just one among many. That’s why I was even more calm when everything eventually ended. The most “uncalm” I was was my worry that Rafa might get hurt/injured. That’s it. It’s just when I went to bed, I couldn’t sleep. So I went here. A “virtual” home. It’s just simple as that.

        So Puma, I appreciate your being here, like I do all RFNs’ here. But pls don’t pick on other members or other players like Murray over a harmless and friendly golf game with Rafa like the other day. It’s not helpful.

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    2. Rainier

      Thanks Elaine. But I don’t think I should waste any their time :-). They are just my personal observations, feelings and thoughts, which might or might not be close the truth.

      Rafa and his team are the ones who do it all, experience it all, know it all. And the fact that Rafa is not “perfect”, that he makes mistakes, that he both wins the most epic matches and loses some of the most epic ones, make him even more “real” – the “one of a kind” real and more inspiring to me.

      In fact today I’m “recovering” much better than I thought. The sadness is still there, but the happiness is much more prominent. Of course I’m still disappointed. But I also thought “So what?”. When he bounces back again I sure would be 2x times happier. It happened times and times again. And it will happen again. 🙂

      Hi and smile to Australia. 🙂

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  8. positive thinker( India )

    CONGRATS RAFA ON A WELL PLAYED MATCH. YOU GAVE UR BEST. AFTER BEING 2 SETS DOWN.
    LOVE YOU ALWAYS.
    LOVE YOU RAFA .💗💘💔💖❤💛💚💟💓💞💕💜👍
    TAKE SOME REST. AND COME BACK STRONGER FOR THE REMAINING MATCHES.

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  9. Nila de Jesus

    Dear Rainier,

    Why do our hearts beat the same sad song? Funny, I am here in faraway Manila but I can feel your pain, I can taste the tears, I can understand your heartache. Maybe because they are mine too? That they are all of RNFs too?

    Ah, life. Soon, it will be US Open again. And there, our hearts will start beating again.

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    1. Rainier

      Hi Nila de Jesus (such an impressive name :p).

      Thanks for your kind words. But I have to “admit”, after being able to let out some of my messy thoughts last night, I have been feeling better and better. No tears at all this time :p. I’m even a bit proud of myself that I’m handling Rafa’s tough moments and also mine better and better. And I wish the same for all you and all RFNs.

      All will be well again, hopefully very soon like you said. As long as Rafa is healthy, everything is possible. And if I had to chose between Rafa’s health and titles/match wins, I would chose Rafa’s health every single time. So all in all I was very sad, but am still very happy. The heart never stops beating. 🙂

      It’s nice to hear you’re from Manila. Goodnight there. 🙂

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  10. Rainier

    It broke my heart, the way Rafa lost.

    I was lying in my bed, listening to my comfort music, trying to sleep. I couldn’t, as expected. So I got up, drunk some water, went back to bed, and came here.

    It feels like home. The home I don’t often stay at as often as I should, being busy chasing so many things out there.

    But now that I’m “home” again, I’m starting to feel better. Strangely I didn’t cry. But I might very well be crying soon when I read all of your heartfelt comments here.

    Thank you, dear RNFs, for always being here.

    I want to let out so many thoughts in my head, but just don’t know where to start.

    Okay, so the way Rafa lost. Let’s get the big elephant out of the room. 🙂

    First and foremost, I gotta confess. I *knew* Rafa would lose long before the match finally ended, having to chase from behind all the time and serve to stay in the match for so many times, squandering so many chances in the process.

    Not because I was negative or pessimistic. I fact I’d like to think I’m quite the opposite, who in last December was “boldly” predicting Rafa and Fed would make a fantastic comeback this year because of all reasons I could think of, of all the “signs” I could see, of all the words they had said, their history, their hearts and mind and of course their ability.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not bragging or wasn’t feeling proud because I was right. What I’m trying to say it, it was clear to me that Rafa wasn’t into the match the way he should be. The scouting had failed. He just couldn’t read Muller’s serve. As the match went on I was hoping he would gradually be able to do it. But he just couldn’t. And when he’s like that, he tends to make serious mistakes, just like he did in the match.

    I know, Muller was playing his heart out and we can only congratulate him for his epic fight, especially at this twilight time of his career. But at the same time I was feeling it was also unfair that too often Rafa had to play the match of his opponent’s life, both when he’s at his peak and when he’s in a slump, which leaves deep scars.

    Of course he could have avoided it most of the time had he held his nerve better. But he’s only human after all. His personality makes the most epic wins, but also tends to make the most epic losses.

    The older he gets, the more nervous and easily nervous he becomes. At the presser after the Khachanov match, when being asked about his mentality now compared to his younger days, he basically said it’s not better now, and that having bad moments in the past made him more nervous nowadays even though he’s more experienced. It’s like he finally, officially confirmed what I have been thinking for a long time. His nerve. His heart and game have always been there. But his nerve has just never been the same for so long.

    Some of you who are familiar with my posts might remember how often I was mentioning his nerve, to the point of sounding pessimistic at times. I wasn’t. I just couldn’t see it any other way. I still see the signs in almost every match of his since he came back, even when he’s comfortably cruising through his matches at RG. I have always trusted his game and his heart. Just can’t trust his nerve the way I used to.

    In the match, even when he won the 3rd and 4th set, I wasn’t able to feel uplifting like I should. Couldn’t read Muller’s serve and cruising through most of his service games aside, when he doublefaulted for the very first time of the match at the 1st set point he had in the 3rd set, missed the next one and only narrowly avoided making things unnecessarily complicated by an UE from Muller to seal the set, while Muller had taken both of his 2BPs in the match so far in no time, one of which was the super lucky net cord in the 2nd set which rattled Rafa even more, evidenced by his missing a routine volley at the virtual MP and in the hindsight it cost him the whole match – I knew it spelt big big trouble.

    Just like how often he gets broken back right after breaking his opponent. How he doublefaults at -30 giving his opponent one or two BPs, which they often take it right away. How he often breaks himself or misses the point 15 on his service game. How his BP conversion has been so slow this year even when he’s supposed to be playing his best tennis with high confidence once again. And of course how often he gets broken when serving for the set or the match, I mean when compared to other top players, especially the other members of the B4.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not criticising him. He’s still the bravest and most inspiring player to me. Also the greatest in the game. But he just couldn’t help it. And he was a bit unlucky. Moya wasn’t there. All things add up.

    It’s so sad the way it happened and especially that it happened *again*. I just no way couldn’t have predicted he would ever lose like this again considering all that happened and is happening this year. Fed also couldn’t have. Just yesterday, I mean on Sunday, he even publicly said the way Rafa was playing, he would be surprised if Murray made the final and believed Rafa would make it, meaning Rafa could and should beat anyone on his way.

    I still don’t think Fed was wrong. Gamewise Rafa had been the best and the most impressive at the tournament coming into the match according to many pundits and fans. But he made mistakes. And had to pay for it, breaking so many fragile hearts of ours along the way…

    I know I know, you’re getting tired of having to read all the heavy stuff, and that I should have said how touching his fighting spirit was; that he should still be proud of himself like his fans and the crowd are; that he sure will bounce back soon with a heart and game of a champion. But I guess all of that has already said by RNFs here.

    I just want to add one silver lining is Rafa finally got to rest and probably avoided getting injured. Rafa winning or losing, I was on fire wanting the match to end asap or even wished it would rain so the play could stop. Grass is punishing to Rafa’s knees and ankles and he actually had had a bad movement in the match already when he’s unconsciously sliding to his BH side on defense trying to change direction abrubtly. I think it must have hurt. 😦

    Hopefully Rafa will be recover soon both physically and mentally. Thanks again dear RNFs for always being here with all your sharing and encouragement. I really appreciate it. Hope to see many of you here in Rafa’s break time. And again, welcome khawartaimoor. 🙂

    Good night, Rafa and everyone. Let the broken hearts be healed soon. 🍀🌿

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Rainier

        Thank you, Susie. I was so wanting to say hi and ask you about your experience watching the match inside Court 1. But only managed to say hi just now.

        How are you doing with everything? I mean you take your annual leave for Wimbledon every year. This year with a very tough loss, I would say Rafa’s second toughest loss behind the 2007 final, I hope you can still enjoy the rest of the tournament even though it’s not “the same” anymore.

        Rafa will bounce back for sure, hopefully as soon as possible. But I think the scar will take quite a quite to heal and fade. So even though I was probably sounding too “melodramatic” yesterday, deeper inside me I was still feeling happy and grateful for everything Rafa has done and hasn’t done, knowing that my “pain” is nothing compared to Rafa’s or many’s out there and that I have to stay strong and optimistic, which is actually what I have always done. 🙂

        So today was still a happy day. And I’m feeling much more peaceful now. Hopefully Rafa also has found his peace and his body is recovering well.

        Pls say hi and send a kiss to Raffy for me, Susie. If possible one day I would love to “meet” your Raffy, the feline fan of Rafa. :p

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      2. Susie

        Hi Rainier – I watched the match on tv and also felt during the 5th set that rafa may not win. Muller was serving 1st which didnt help and although he didnt take his first few match points, rafa wasnt taking his break points either. So like you i had the more settled feeling when he lost. What saddened me were his interviews afterwards as rafa looked devastated but i didnt cry which is an improvement. I also had little sleep but have been ok today. Lorna made me smile when she quoted what Boris Becker had said after losing a match at Wimbledon years ago – I smiled as I remember him saying it in his interview when it happened. As you say we all have our own experiences of being a rafa fan and as long as this has not dented his confidence, I’m expecting rafa to have a good run at getting to no1 in the world. He has too much talent and works so hard not to have the chance. So – keep watching everyone – I know rafa will do his best.

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    1. Dear Rainier!!!
      I was feeling the same and many times thought in fifth set ” oh no we are going to lose”….
      Did many things after the painful loss but couldn’t console my heart bcz I thought it meant to be Rafa biting the trophy on Monday but it wasn’t to be….
      Just like you I tried hard to sleep, drank water but couldn’t help myself.Even had an argument with my family for staying wake for that long…. Haha
      Then I remembered Rafa’s quote after Australian open loss in 2014 “That’s how life goes sometimes”

      Only then I found solace
      Rainier I think we all Rafa Fans should learn from our Losses in life Like our Champ does.

      Finally thank you Rainier once again for Your Greetings….
      I am very happy to wake up in the morning at my home and not in hospital….hehe😂😁🤣bcoz I am a doctor not a patient so have to be strong mentally like all of you and Our Rafa
      Vamosssssss Rafa

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      1. Rainier

        Hi khawartaimoor. No thanks needed, really. You’re very welcome.

        I’m wanting to know the correct pronunciation of your name, because I think I will be addressing you frequently from now on. 🙂

        It’s nice to hear you’re a doctor. I’m not doctor, but I was born in a doctor family, so you sound a bit “familiar” to me. 🙂

        I guess you’re funny doctor who would joke with his/her patients. I was laughing when I read you even had an argument with your family for staying up late. Most doctors usually don’t sleep much anyway. So I hope you finally was able to sleep decently last night.

        I slept for about 2hrs, but didn’t feel tired getting up. Still exercised as usual afterwards and have shown no sadness to everyone throughout the day, simply because I’m actually very happy. Still sad, but much less sad than yesterday and actually I’m much more happy.

        The most important thing is Rafa is still being healthy with no injuries. I actually would want to hear it directly from him asap, that his body is still fine after that super gruelling match. When I think of that, nothing matters anymore. (isn’t that right, Doctor? :p)

        If Rafa can maintain his good health he will have another chance next year. His game is good enough now (don’t mind mjus saying that his return is weak; it’s weak in yesterday match but was still good enough to win the match had Rafa hold his nerve better; not to mention Rafa’s career stats on return is second best behind Murray!) and should be good enough next year, though the circumstances might be very different.

        Vamos! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes Rainier you are right Health is important in Rafa case the most….
        You can simply call me Khawar….
        I hope for everyone’s sake that we enjoy hard court Us open swing….bcoz I am assuming that Rafa would play his best after clay in this coming period….!!!
        I too like to hear from you
        I am a little funny but was very upset yesterday but everything is cool
        Just found out that Murray and Djokovic both are out so it’s very easy now for Federer to claim his 19th
        Hope for the best for Rafa at us open
        Vamosssssss Rafa

        Like

    2. Rafawarrior

      I agree with Rainier. For me, i felt that Rafa has been playing better and better whenever Moya has been present. It has given him a major boost and he has brought some very posiitve changes in Rafa’s game. Moya’s absence in this tournament was a worrying factor and I could see that Rafa did not have the right strategy against Muller. The first two sets were too easily lost. There were a number of volleys and uncharacteristic mistakes that he did. At this stage and especially against big severs, if he doesn’t capitalise on the points that he should have won, then things can go downhill very quickly. Muller played well but not that well that he cant be defeated. Signs of stress, nerves were creeping in the 5th set mostly from Rafa. He was not efficient to convert the break point opportunities and as the match progressed he was more and more nervous. The mistakes were very unusual and uncharacteristic. i would have been surprised if he won that match even all the fans want him to win so much. I think the fundamental errors were right from the beginning. Having lost the first two sets so easily gave Muller the drive and confidence. If the first 2 sets were played with the same intensity as the 3rd and 4th, Muller would not have been so confident and probably those 2 sets would not have been lost so easily by Rafa. He allowed Muller to play his game, did not use the crosscourt passing shots as much as he did in the previous matches, the returns were not deep enough to put Muller in difficulty and then making uncharacteristic mistakes, all these contributing to the loss. I think Moya’s presence has become a crucial factor in elevating Rafa’s game and his absence was not a good sign for him since the beginning.

      Like

      1. mjus

        rafa warrior

        interesting analysis. But let me ask you something. Do you agree with me that the weakest part of rafa game is his return and his returns were awful?

        Carlos has improved a lot on nadal game. The serve has become better and saved nadal a couple of times. I never saw nadal hitting more then 20 aces in a match. Which is a encouraging thing. Also his backhand and volley has improved The only thing that hasnt improved is nadal courtposition and his return. Without a strong return he cant compete against big servers on grass and hardcourt. Rafas return are short, high and Always cross court. That is why he is Always insecure against big servers unlike Murray and djokovic

        So Carlos needs to work with rafa on his return and courtposition. Also his mental state of mind on big points in tight matches. Yesterday was the fourth time that nadal choked on big points in tight matches. He choked against fognini at the uso 2015 against pouille a year later and against federer this year australian open final where he threw away a 3-1 lead in the fifht.

        Nadal made progress on his game compare with the last two years. But if doesnt improve his return, mental state of mind on big points in tight matches and his courtposition i dont see him winning grandslam titles on other surfaces besides the French open.

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      2. Rainier

        Thank you, Rafawarior. I agree with everything you wrote. Indeed I have much more observations and thoughts about the match and each player, but I can’t say them all nor I think anyone would want to read that much. What made me sad and worried the most was everything in that match was actually not new all all. Maybe I will write another post to explain that better tomorrow (and to reply to some of mjus’s comments as well as he’s been asking some questions and is also into analysing Rafa’s game).

        For now, good night to you and everyone. I like your name, Rafawarrior. 🙂

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      3. Rainier

        mjus, I’ve meant to reply to one of your comment last night but just couldn’t found time.

        I will answer them in detail tomorrow. But for now, for this simple question:

        “Do you agree with me that the weakest part of rafa game is his return and his returns were awful?

        It’s a big no.

        Rafa is the second best player on return behind Murray, both career wise and in the previous 52 weeks. Rafa and Murray (and Novak) are both defensive players, so if their ROS and return game are weak, how the hell they could win so many matches and titles, especially with Rafa and Novak being ATGs?

        More detail tomorrow. Rafa’s game in great. Not perfect. But hella great. Don’t worry too much.

        Good night.

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      4. Rafawarrior

        Mjus, as you said Rafa’s game has improved a lot with Carlos. His backhand is faster, his serves have greatly improved, his footwork is very good, he is moving extremely well on all the surfaces. I never considered Rafa as only a specialist on clay, he has been in many finals in wimbledon. He seems to be rejunevated this year and am sure many fans will agree that he has been playing the best tennis since the beginning of this year. This is why this loss is causing so much frustration because we know that he could have won this tournament. Based on his quality of play, I could see him beating Murray and being in the final. The only real challenge would have have been Federer.

        Now regarding the returns. I think Rafa has a very good return in general and i think this is part of the reason of his immense success. However, in the last match with Muller his returns were not very consistent. In my opinion (which is debatable) the reasons for this inconsistency are as follows:

        Rafa took too long to read the serves of Muller and when the ball was arriving he seemed a bit lost (at least for the first 2 sets).
        Sometimes when playing with big hitters like that, the rhythm is broken. Rafa was not getting his rhythm which resulted in the uncharacteristic mistakes he was making. Usually when he has his rhythm he is not making those mistakes. He himself looked shocked by that unusual volley mistake he did. In some points Rafa was coming to the nets when it was not needed (his own admission). He is a baseline player and he should have exploited Muller’s weaknesses by moving Muller side to side. Rafa should have done better with Muller’s second serves but he did not and the break point conversion was too low. These were ominent signs that Rafa will not win the match.
        Stress and disruption in rhythm was making his returns shorter. It is a known fact that stress affects the body movement resulting in shorter balls. Muller was taken advantage of those shorter returns by advancing in the court and hitting winners..
        Some people are criticising Rafa for stepping back metres away from the baseline for the returns. Normally this is not a good sign. But in this situation it was a good decision. He did that strategically from the 3rd set. This allowed him to take a bigger swing at the balls and pushed Muller further back. This worked for the 3rd and 4th. If he maintained the level he produced in 3rd and 4th, he could have won the 5th but he started to become more stressed in the 5th, hence things became more problematic. This is why i felt Carlos’ presence was very important.

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    3. I also feel the pain, I couldn’t bear to watch his disappointment and turned off as soon as Gilles played the winning shot. So sad for him but at least his girlfriend and dad were there to console him. Vamos Rafa xx

      Like

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