Denis Shapovalov shocks Rafael Nadal in Montreal [PHOTOS]

Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov upsets No. 1 seed Rafael Nadal in the third round of the Rogers Cup, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(4). He ends Rafa’s bid to reach world number one this week.

After the match, Rafa said:

The long game in third set was important but I still had break points later, a lot of chances.

This was the worst match of the year for me. Not happy now, tomorrow I don’t want to practice, and then on to Cincy.

If we want to find excuses, we can always find them. Need to accept what happened, that I played badly.

He played well. He has great potential. I wish him the best. He played with the right determination. (via ubitennis & Rogers Cup)

Shapovalov lost his break of serve in the eighth game of the opening set and Rafa had no problem to serve it out. With Montreal crowd getting behind their man, Shapovalov opened up a 3-0 lead over Rafa to start the second set, but our champ found the way to break in the seventh game. Rafa’s serve was shaky and he only hit 3 winners in the second set so fearless Canadian teenager knew very well how to punish it and used all given opportunities. A battle between two lefties continued, but the 18-year-old Shapavalov shocked our champ and won in a tiebreak of the third set.

Rafa’s loss means Andy Murray remains world number one, but only until next week’s Cincinnati Masters, where Rafa or Roger Federer will replace him.


  1. Please. Please leave him alone. So many negative comments and I Guess you don’t have a thing to do. So sick and tired of your comments. See what happens tomorrow and if Federer looses YOU WILL TRASH HIM TOO. You are called the so stupid Experts. Stop. Stop. Are you perfect? Leave them alone. If you don’t have anything nice to say. Just keep your big mouth close. I had with you the poor sports.

  2. Iam afraid rg will be the last title of the year if he loses matches like these and plays like dis.

  3. I totally saw it coming. Nadal has a past history with almost identical defeats. Goes up 1-0, then loses 2 consecutive, usaully in a tie break, and always to an inferior opponent. He played superbly the night before. Last night, he looked old, confused, uninspired and unprepared. It will happen again.

    • Kevin did U just win psychic of the Year??? I don’t think so! U saw it coming??? Give us a break & RAFAEL while U R @ it. NO ONE WAS THIS COMING!!! Including U so cut the crap!!!

  4. Rafa by a lot of ‘experts’ and fans would be dead, buried and retired by now. He comes back shows his superiority and still people complain. A perfectly normal loss for a 31 year old that has played lights out all season. Rafa dominates clay and expects to keep guns blazing on hard and grass? He shouldn’t expect himself to keep playing at top form and nor should anyone else.

    Rafa has the most unique record in tennis history. Clay, statistically, is the hardest surface to dominate by far both historically and in the open era. RG has by far the lowest win percentage in history. You are almost twice as likely to win AO, Wimbledon and US than you are RG. This the media, rarely, alludes to. The great Novak took a nose dive after winning RG – perfectly normal. What Rafa has done is unprecedented. Don’t berate Rafa for not being able to continue to do what only he has done. Federer – great longevity but Rafa is the GOAT.

    • Such over-reactions to one loss during a splendid 2017 season. Better now early in the hard court season then during the US Open. Besides Rafa was that guy, Denis as a teen-ager.

      Regarding your comment, Federer – great longevity. Roger took the entire clay court season off to give him an advantage after that. He’s very strategic that way. Rafa has participated on all the surfaces this year. I commend him for that. He never takes the easy way out. Rafa will re-group and will be just fine. No need for anyone to panic. I really do appreciate your comment, don’t berate Rafa. We owe Rafa our total support win or lose. He always comes storming back. Besides he’s only human. Always with Rafa!

      • Love Rafa ,but Fed is just a smarter guy and tennis player. Good strategic is…smart and…power.

  5. Don’t panic:)

    My alarm failed, so I woke up only to catch the 3rd set tiebreak and watch in despair as Denis ran Rafa ragged.

    Up till now Shapovalov was known as the guy who smashed a ball into an umpire’s face:) Now he’s made a name for himself as the kid who put the beat down on Rafa in Montreal 2017.

    For sure it’s a bitter loss. I did not see that coming. End of the world? No. Run for the hills? No. Where was Carlos Moya? Where was Uncle Toni? Doesn’t matter now. It’s not as if they would have ran onto the court and helped Rafa out. Rafa lost this one all by himself, and all his experience couldn’t help him overcome this kid in the tiebreak.

    Better to lose now than in the US Open early, where I think Rafa will still shine. I may yet eat my words, but I have faith in that. Blind faith sure:) Rafa is my guy, and so I just have to support him no matter what. He will get better. We all hope!

    This loss upset me so much I could not go back to sleep. So I sat down for a while in gloom, but heard my baby daughter breathing in her crib and I smiled. This beautiful creature I named Rafaella:) Your man let us down tonight Ella, but he will be back! At that same moment she smiled in her sleep.

    Just kidding- the daughter is imaginary:) But life goes on. Next: Cincinnati. Get over this loss and get better Rafa, our best wishes are with you!!

    • Anyone who knew Denis as the guy who smashed a ball into the umpire’s face didn’t see it happen. It was an accident–totally–and so unfair that he became known for this. He apologized profusely. People who keep citing it are fools.

      Aftyer seeing what Denis did to Delpo and Rafa (he almost beat Berd at Queens) and also beat Kyrgios and Edmund I have little doubt he’s headed for the very top.

      Still, Rafa should have managed him. This was the old Rafa playing in the 2nd and 3rd sest, little confidence, couldn’t hit his FH, kept moving back, hitting short, not a good performace.

      Oh well it happens, just feels awful given how close Rafa was to #1 and given what the tennis narrative between him and Fed is at the moment.

      Fed played like crap too but got through Ferrer, who was much easier than Shap. Fed blasted a ball into the crowd in frustration and was not given a warning. Classic.

      Anyway, I think Rafa needs Moya with him, to remind him of the new game. Rafa took a big step backwards yesterday.

      • Agree with you and about Fed. Watch the next 2 draws…everything is set for Fed to win and become #1. Of course that doesn’t excuse Rafa for his lost. He should win that one. Period.

      • I don’t recall reading on RNF that Shapovalov intentionally injured French umpire Arnaud Gabas. I have to believe that everyone knows it was an “avoidable” accident.

    • I named my cat Rafaella’ snd she always supports Rafa, but she was sleeping last night!!

      • That’s lovely, Ringrose. We need more lighthearted comments like this in a time like this.

        Pls try to get her to cheer for Rafa next week. :p

  6. I think it is the same pattern as the muller match. Break conversion not good enough, nerves on crucial points. Waiting for errors from the opponent instead of being very aggressive. Again Carlos Moyà was not there. The good thing is that he acknowledges it was bad play from his side. Good wake up call but will the team Rafa find the solutions?

    • I doubt it. Not optimistic about.
      Still can’t get over his lost to Fed at AO….same on,same on…
      The team Nadal is very conservative. They don’t believe in Psychology, but he deffintly needs one since….his lost to Stan at SO. He is not the same since.

      • “his lost to Stan at SO. He is not the same since.”

        I agree. Rafa admitted he couldn’t get over that loss in the whole 2014 year. It left such a deep scar in him. He’s so emotional and sensitive. That’s his strength and makes him the person he is but it could also be his weakness. No disrespect to Toni, but I think Toni had a part in his insecurity as well, having read his book and so many interviews of both of them.

      • Totally agree with you about Tony,especially after reading the book.He wants to keep him humble and down to earth….its nothing wrong with that,but this has more value in Latin culture, not in the really tough world over there,where your nephew is fighting to be the greatest ever in tennis. You can’t tell him that he is inferior to Fed and Djoko…when he struggled with his confidence and expect of him to beat them….i can go on and on…but better stop now. It’s so painful for me that Rafa didn’t receive everything what he deserves in tennis…meening achievments

      • Rafa’s book explains so much about the Rafa of today.

        As far as Toni making pronouncements about other players being better than Rafa, that broke my heart. I cannot imagine what it did to Rafa.

      • Yes,Margo. That’s very damaging in long term to everyone,but when you are in higher competition….its crazy. I was happy when Moya came on bord,even I think Agassi or Dampers will be more beneficial for Rafa. He plays better when Moya is there. He doesn’t have too many chances at Cinti,but hoping for USO

      • I would change “everything” to “could have achieved”, Bis. Because he certainly has the ability but many of those losses he brought them on himself, as much as it pains me to say this.

        Totally agree with you on Toni. Rafa said in his book that Toni was a big talker (more than a doer). His insights and philosophy about almost everything are often spot on. He is very conservative but also can have great great ideas. But the way he treats Rafa I think is not ideal to Rafa at all, much to Rafa’s giving full credit to him for everything at RG this year.

    • Right on. His conversion rate was terrible. With Mueller it was 13%. And also like the Mueller match, Rafa won more points and outplayed him in most other stats (not winners or aces) but lost.
      He was not clutch, and it looked mental i.e. nerves and lack of confidence.

      Also agree re Moya. We think alike on Rafa it seems.

      I think MOya will be there USO. Rafa is such a creature of habits, and he went back to old ones yesterday.

    • Agree with all you write but team Rafa already found the solutions, at least on clay and so close at the AO (Fed served like a monster in the 5th after Rafa shanked 2 FHs that cost him the match–cannot afford that against Fed or even Denis) but I think MOya is the one who is imposing the changes. Just a guess.
      Without Moya there, it seems old ways prevail.

      The confidence needed to go for the aggression, when the accuracy is not. Very problematic, right? Not an easy problem. What is the loss of accuracy about?
      Look at some highlights of the FO this year. His accuracy and serve were incredible. Against everyone.
      I also can’t help wondering if he needs clay under his feel to feel it on that level. I know he didn’t in two previous peak years–2010 and 2013–but now maybe only clay will bring out peak Rafa.

      Not sure, will have to see what happens rest of the year.
      In the meanwhile i want someone else to beat Fed.

      • I know your feelings, but unfortunately don’t see anyone beating Fed here and Cinti….even USO…The man knows what he wants and how to get it. Smart always. Great tactics. Can’t say same for Rafa. Love him and it’s so painful watching him losing, but team Nadal is very conservative. Moya was exseption, but he is not there full time and you see the result.

  7. oh people everybody is dissapointed. I didnt saw the match but i did see his previous match against boric. What i saw was a very insecure rafa in the warming up he kept continuing practice his serve even though the referee said time. It was like rafa was not satisfied about his game.

    I didnt see this match against canadian kid. But i had a feeling he would lose that match. Playing against a 18 year old young version of rafa infront his home crowd with nothing to lose was just too much for the champ.

    Bottom line is this: i was hoping with a good hardcourt summer that he would be the favourite for the us open. Now this loss could mean nothing then a wake up call for the spaniard. But he is going to cincinnati which is federer territory since the swiss won there 7 times. which means he would go to new york with no confidence. So for now i consider federer the favourite for winning the us open and becoming nr 1 untill the champ proves me otherwise.

    My last point is about Carlos. I really hoped that carlos will be there full time at the us open because otherwise he should go. If you can be there for your pupil full time you are useless. Nadal played his best tennis this year infront of moya. He really needs his coach.

    Without the presence of his coach nadal will do the old things like standing 25 meters behind the baseline with useless returns, phony services and forehands. If carlos can not be there for nadal maybe he should think about hiring partime federer as coach. Which means practicing with federer let federer advice you and give you tips and federer sitting in the nadal box when federer has a day off and can support nadal.

    • “Now this loss could mean nothing then a wake up call for the spaniard.”

      I like this optimism, mjus. Sadly I think it means more than a wake up call for Rafa. Hopefully I’m wrong but I’m afraid it’s gonna be very tough for Rafa to get over the repeated big losses this year quickly enough, no matter how successful he was on clay.

      Nevertheless I believe he will definitely play much better at Cinci and the USO, unless something goes very wrong.

    • Rafa didn’t choke Jason. Rafa never chokes. Rafa had a great half season. Good on hard and dominated clay. It is perfectly normal that he loses now. Look at Thiem, great clay season, ‘strange’ subsequent losses on grass and hard. This pattern is repeated throughout history, hard/grass or clay dominant. You win on clay you pay. The great Borg only ever played one AO and never won a US. He knew the secret of success and failure. RF understands the value of skipping tournaments. Rafa’s form was bound to drop, just as young Thiem’s did. At 31 Rafa cannot play 100% all of the time. Being disappointed with himself is silly. IMHO Rafa should have skipped either Wimbledon or at least one hard court tournament. He pushes himself to hard and thinks he can win everything.

      • Tiggy, not only Rafa does choke. He can choke BIG time. The AO final this year? The 2012 AO final? The 2008 Wimby final in the 4th set? The 2007 Wimby final in the 5th set? Miami 2005 final? And a lot more lower profile matches or sets.

        And how we can forget how he lost the match after about 1.5hrs since he held a MP in the Muller match just last month?

        I love Rafa. But I have never bought into the “Nadal’s mentality is the strongest in the game” thing even in the early days when he rarely choked and could win matches playing badly or worse than his opponent.

        If anything I think his game helped him more than his nerve, even though you can also say that mentality is a part of the a player’s game. A HUGE and even the deciding part in many cases that is.

      • Rainier, I understand what you are saying and yes, Rafa admitted to excessive nerves very early in his career. I remember when he lost the first set of Dubai 2006 and RG 2006. The commies were crediting Rog with playing ‘majestically’ and Rafa had ‘no answers’. Rafa went on to win of course. At the end of RG 2006 he said ‘I could not move’ [in the first set] but the commies did not spot this during the match. But seeing Rafa play live (and close up) I have been shocked. He looks no where near as nervous as he does on tv. He can shift a gear and even look annoyed when he has to use it. He can find answers if he is able to. There’s a reason he has been credited for mental toughness and that is because he never gave up or choked when he was down. He could come back from anything, quite dramatically sometimes, Hamburg 08 (from memory) he had only one game and Rog had match point. Rafa won the set. More recently, against Muller he came back from 2 sets down. How many players could do that? He lost because Muller just got there first. So there are anomalies when it comes to Rafa and his mentality. But we, as fans, should be expecting these losses especially after dominating the entire clay court season without thinking it is all down to choking. He is 31, was written off by experts years ago and is probably on borrowed time. Did people really expect him to win another Channel slam? or to transition yet again from clay to dominate hard? This is very difficult even for players in their youth. It is not realistic to expect Rafa to keep doing this.

      • O,PLEASE no excuses. Fed did it,so Rafa can do it too,but…..his and uncle Tony conservatism cost him a lot.

      • Bis, this is not an excuse but another perspective. If you study the history of tennis there is a clear pattern. This pattern will keep repeating itself. If a channel slam is so rarely done (only 3 men in history) then the law of averages says Rafa will be out of Wimbledon sooner or later. It is the same across clay and hard courts. ‘If Roger can do it’. Roger has had an exceptional year and Rafa should not be judged only in comparison with Roger. Rafa is a different animal. We should be judging Rafa by his own season and the fact that he has come back strong from a series of injuries.

      • To be clear, my following comment is meant as a reiteration of what I stated on a previous post.

        I must applaud you for your “Rafa should not be judged only in comparison with Roger.” You are the only one besides moi who, from what I can recall, has voiced this sentiment regarding other players. Were Nole still in the mix and at his top level I don’t doubt that he also would be the victim of finger pointing.

        I may watch other players [JMDP, Stan] but only if they are playing in the same tournament as Rafa. Rafa is the only player I will lose sleep over, or wake up super early to watch. He is my one and only. He has been, is, and will continue to be my go to tennis champion.

        I am hoping for a better showing for him at Cincy.

        ROCK ON RAFA

      • Tiggy, it was nice reading your recollection. I love the Rafa of any day but I had to admit in a way it’s a bit more special in the early days, though of course in other ways we can only appreciate him more these days after so many years, so many ups and downs and the single fact that he is still here, still playing. We are lucky fans indeed.

        I agree with most of the things you said but still I can’t change my mind about his mentality. When it comes to Rafa I remember almost everything or at least I’d like to delude myself into thinking so :p. So my observations and thoughts are all made from that. I wish but nothing and no one could change my mind except the facts and Rafa himself unfortunately.

        Of course I respect your opinions and everyone’s opinions for that matter. It’s perfectly fine to have different ideas. What I care the most is we all love Rafa and only want the best for him. So I didn’t even mind when mjus in a moment of frustration after the Miami final said Rafa should retire, because I knew he cared. He has sticked with him for a decade. He’s still here. I appreciate that from him and all of you.

        Oh sorry for the rambling. Your reminding of the old days made me a bit emotional. 🙂

        Cheers. The Cinci draw is coming out very soon…

  8. 2017 losses at AO, Wimbledon, Rogers Cup, no matter how much you attemp to add sophisticated analysis to them, to me at the end of the day they were all due to Rafa’s lack of self-confidence causing his bad playing.

    As others have commented, even those supposed to be helping him like uncle Toni and Moya and who are well-placed to know Rafa’s fragile mentality, are allowed to abandon him.

    To sum up; I am afraid that with the accumulation of these factors, and his phylosophical attitude attitude of acceptance at what he feels is an old 31 years of age, we are fast approaching a decision that Rafa is not happy in competition any more. Not succeeding on any tournaments he will call it a day while possibly giving Roland Garros 2018 a try.

    So to be truthful as Rafa fans who want to see him succeed, we all speculate as to why not. I for one wish that by some miracle the factors above could be changed.

    Anyway, no strings attached I will from now on just watch Rafa’s matches without the exitement that he might win.

    For what it is worth WAMOS WAMOS WAMOS

    • I fully agree. Apart from clay, nothing should be expected from Nadal. His win loss in final sets, and especially tie breakers, is terrible these days. Close match? Rafa to lose.

    • @PUMA et al.
      Rafa does not feel he has a psychological problem and many [fans] just don’t get that.

      And I have to agree with Jason regarding the many fears Rafa most likely still has. The same childhood fears that plagued are more than likely still plaguing him. I was excoriated early in my membership here when I opined that I felt his parents should have done more regarding a psychologist for Rafa. Rafa said he saw a therapist as a child, ONCE.

      And like Jason, I also stated that la terre battue may be his salvation. He loves clay, which is purported to be the most difficult surface to win on. Just watch his final against Stan. Beautiful.

      Rafa may now be his own man but having grown up under the influence of Toni it is inevitable that he holds many of Toni’s attitudes and Toni does not believe in psychotherapy. One also has to consider the “macho” attitude of many a Latin male.

      Rafa has always been my tennis champion and will remain so. I want him to be happy competing. As stated in a different post, I hope this loss was just an off day. I am looking forward to the remainder of the season and hope he does well, for his sake.

      Just to be unequivocal, I am not bothered that Rafa lost. I am bothered by the how.

      RAFA ROCKS 150%

  9. Oh dear Rafa from all accounts above it was not a very positive outcome at all.

    why was there no coach for you in your box?

    No Carlos or Uncle Toni, that is unusual!

    All the best for Cincinnati.

    Love and Prayers,


  10. I’m not dissapointed about this loss or Muller match as much as I am about fact that 2015 Rafa is still there. That’s the worst thing possible beside his injuries.

    Yep he played so badly. But still again had he been just a little bit more clutch hen would still have won the match, just like the Muller match. It’s always like that in tennis – you just need to be good enough to beat the one in front of you, even when you’re playing badly or even worse than your opponent. Fed has been doing this for so long and survived many matches playing badly. Rafa now just can’t.

    It’s so sad that his once ‘trademarked’ strong mentality is now his biggest weakness. There’re a lot to talk about his game today but in the end it doesn’t matter because there’s a main reason for all losses like this. His nerve. The “bad feelings” that can’t go away like he said.

    • You said everything what I wanted to say Rainier. That’s what is frustrating about Rafa. And I am not optimistic.

    • Rafa about his nerve once again in the presser:

      “In my opinion it’s much easier to keep your nerves when you are 18 than when you are 30.”

      • Incredible. But you don’t need to be a psychologist to understand it. Rafa is 31, but also still a big kid who lives with his mother, is afraid of thunder and does not dare to drive a car alone. This is not bashing Nadal, it is just the way it is. Read his bio, listen to interviews, he’s a kid.

      • Jason, what a daft reply. Rafa is Majorcan. The Nadals live almost as an extended family. They always have. Rafa grew up with him aunts, uncles and grandparents living in the same apartment block. This is perfectly normal in many cultures. Rafa lives in an annex close to him family not with them anymore. This annex is probably bigger than all our homes put together. When he wrote that book he was a kid. Fears and phobias are not just for children, lots of people suffer from them. Have you forgotten what it’s like to be a young man? Young men have big egos and are fearless. With age anxiety sets in along with reality. Rafa these days dives of boats, he does drive alone and doesn’t suffer the anxieties of the past. The on court problems are normal. Djokovic and Murray have also lost confidence because of injury. Stop belittling the man. He is not the superman hero of your childish fantasies.

    • Agree 100% with what you write, Ranier, Especially about the “trademark strong mentality” which seems to be no longer the case, at least as his major attribute. I noticed this awhile ago.
      In some ways, Fed is like that now, winning when he’s playing poorly.

      I think MOya keeps him on the another track. Or maybe clay kept him on another track? This is what i wonder, maybe he’s only confident on clay now. He was confident AO, but not IW or Miami HC.

      Ech! I am a Canadian and a Shap fan and this will do wonders for tennis in Canada, but I still hated this loss for Rafa.

      • “In some ways, Fed is like that now, winning when he’s playing poorly.”

        Agreed, Rafalite. He’s been like that for a very long time. He had a very good 2015 year just behind Djokovic winning many matches by being clutch enough and his serve. His nerve has gotten better with time and probably the best now with Djokovic being burnt out while in Rafa’s case it’s the opposite.

        Even more than his health Rafa’s nerve has been the thing that worries the most even when he’s winning (well, only on clay since Doha 2014 when he had an easy draw in a weak field but still needed 3 3-setters and lost 2 out of 3TBs he played to win the title against Monfils and once on grass at Stuttgart in 2015 when Fed was ousted early – sorry for the rambling, but I think it’s pretty relevant now). He has NO injuries in 2015 by his own admission.

        I know, I’m sounding like a broken record again…

  11. Pat Perfetti, the winners stats sums it up: Rafa 18 : Shapovalov 49! Regardless of the Canadian etc, our man Rafa just wasn’t good enough on this occasion.

  12. I’m in shock! I love Rafa but I’ve got to be honest here. After the first set Rafa had no answers to Shapovalov’s shot making and relentlessness. He was baffled and rattled. Shap had nothing to lose and played freely. In contrast, Rafa’s forehand was ineffective as it had no bite or penetration, so Shap knew he couldn’t hurt him. It was evident that Rafa was shacked by the old demon nerves. I just had the feeling that if it went to a tie break in the final set, Rafa would lose it and he did!

    Rafa must get his act together, serve better and be more aggressive if he is to break his title drought on hard courts. It’s going to be tougher for him in Cincinnati where the courts are faster!

    • Totally agree with what you write.
      His FH was had that eerie 2016-2016 look to it, short, overtopped. So many first serves in the net.
      This match was a regression for Rafa. I hope he understands what happened.

  13. Lo siento en el alma Rafa porque tu y Roger siempre han sido mis favoritos . No sabes cómo sufrí en este Match pero este niño que nunca había oído de él me impresionó. Lo siento en el alma pero viene Cincinnati y voy a ser voluntaria y me imagino aunque de lejitos te conoceré. Para mi eres mi campeón. Tu admiradora ya viejita,de México. Ánimo Rafa y ojalá te conozca a ti y a Roger. Son mis dos ídolos.

  14. This scenario was ridiculous with a Canadian kid playing in the Montreal Open… That kid has no one pulling at him, tugging at him, yelping for selfies, autographs, and everything else under the sun… make commercaisl , etc. Rafael has all that and more on him. He was a bit tired tonight, that’s the difference… No big deal… He is the greatest of all time anyway. I love the kid!!!

  15. So sad. I too couldn’t bare to watch. Good analysis Rafalite. I hope Rafa can put this behind him for Cincinnati.

  16. Sorry for your loss, Rafa. Honestly I turned the match off in the middle of the 1st set. First of all, I got a really bad vibe when I saw Carlos Bernardes in the umpire chair. I know the history there.

    Primetime, center-court playing a hometown boy. It was just like watching Davis Cup on home-soil. I really didn’t enjoy that aspect of this match. Congrats to Denis. Not surprized by this outcome not because he’s the next best thing but he just had nothing to lose with the entire support of the crowd. He swung for the fences everytime. He also beat Delpo. It’s got to be somewhat challenging to play a young opponent who isn’t a known competitor as of yet and you don’t really know their patterns and you’re on their turf.

    One take-away I do remember Roger went down in his first round against Tommy Haas in his first grass-court tournament and that didn’t negatively impact him the rest of the season at all. As you always say, Congratulate him and look forward to the next tournament. Always with Rafa!

    • Diane Kuriloff, –I enjoyed your analysis and comment on this match tonight, and on Rafa.. You are correct in your analysis of the few problems Rafa was facing… one being a Canadian player in the Montreal Open. LOL — Rafa had little backing, and he didn’t know this kid’s style at all. I made a comment above on the match.

      • Hi Pat,

        This match reminded me of the one at Wimbledon where Rafa faced Nick Kyrigios for the 1st time on center court and Nick smashed a bunch of aces against Rafa all match long. It’s like stealing your thunder. Rafa didn’t know Nick’s patterns either. Rafa has an amazing career and sometimes these matches occur. Then when a beginner gets a huge win, the media has them pegged as the next best thing which isn’t always the case. Now let’s see them back it up. I agree, I don’t think Rafa had a chance even if he served better. The crowd was all for their guy. Milos and Eugenie, move over for Denis. Denis did play great but he had no pressure, whatsoever. He has no reputation to defend. It’s so different when you play on tour for so many years instead of just starting out. It’s gotta be so tough being the top guys. I see why Novak needed a break.
        Better Rafa gets his wake up call now in the first tournament of the hard court season then at the US Open. Ironically, Roger played poorly today against Ferrer but because he knows his patterns and always beats him, he won. I honestly wasn’t shocked by this outcome. Let Canada have their hometown hero.
        One more thing, some of the fans are so quick to criticize Rafa. He’s only human.
        Now, wait and see, he’ll come back with racquets blazing. He’s the best!

    • Hi Diane, I totally agree with you and what you have said , Rafa had a lot of pressure , all the media has wrote about for months is the number one ranking and the race between Rafa and Roger to take the spot, and although Rafa has said he doesn’t think about being number one , it must be there in the back of his mind with Roger looming in the background. As you said he is only human and he gets nervous like anyone else ,and I think people expect that the older you get the nerves go , where sometimes its the reverse as more doubt can creep in. Shapovalov did have nothing to lose and once he had taken the first set and with the crowd behind him his confidence soared and was sky high and he believed he could achieve it. I shouldn’t be surprised as Rafa was once the young 18 year old who took out the more established players , I just hope this doesn’t knock his confidence for to long, and that he can push it to one side and get back on the right path in time for the USO. One thing for sure Roger will be breathing a sigh of relief today.

    • Re Shapalov–anyone who follow juniors or younger players knows Shap has been considered one the next champions for awhile.
      He won Wimb juniors, he beat Kyr, Edmund, played 3 incredibly close sets against Berd, and beat Delpo in 2 straight easy sets, then beat Rafa.

      No-one needs to make a case for Shap at this point. He made it last night.
      NK may have more talent, but his head is a tennis mess. Shap has as much upside as A Zverev or Thiem as far as I’m concerned.

      What i wonder is whether Rafa knew what he was stepping into. It looks like he had no plan.

      • I am certainly no seer but I had a bad feeling about this match once I realized who he beat to get in position to challenge Rafa. I posted nothing because I didn’t want bricks thrown at me. [Jason is a lot braver than I.]

        And again, the draw proved inconsequential.

        RAFA ROCKS 149%

  17. I really can not understand why Rafa plays without a coach in his box?

    It is really obvious now that having someone in the box is very imprtant if not crucial to Rafa.
    Last but not least pleaaaaaaaaaase Rafa stop going back those 10 meters behind the base line while receiving: 1st it show that you are afraid and you loose when you this
    2nd it gives your opponent the opportunity to attack and you are not 18 anymore to defend effectively as you like to do.

    We love you Rafa but it breaks our heart to see the same mistakes being repeated time after time from such a champ like you.

    Vamos Rafa

    • Totally agree. If I see him playing way back behind the service line…i know he will lose. Everyone see it,except…Rafa and that’s very frustrating. It’s becoming a pattern. Love Rafa,but sorry…not optimistic RIGH now.

      • Correct. Following Nadal for 12 years now, I know it too. Turn on the match, I see a big server, check Nadal return position, and on that basis alone 90% of the time I can predict the outcome correctly. Rafa is an open book and that makes him vulnerable.

      • Everyone criticises Rafa’s return position, but he has trouble returning from a closer position, because of his big backswing.
        The stood far back at the FO and clobbered everyone.

        The problem is sending back short returns, not where he returns from. He could not find his range.

      • Bis, it’s not really about short balls that killed him. It’s about placement and how he hit the ball.

        Rafa has a pretty unique stat that defies conventional tennis’s 1 2 3. In most of his matches or should I say sets because the overall stats of the his matches are pretty much the same on this, he wins MORE points on short returns than deep ones. Why?

        It’s because he plays with angles and probably is the best at it with his extreme topspin, accuracy, power and consistency. Djokovic plays with angles too but as technical and clinic as his shots are, they can not compare to Rafa’s in terms of topspin and accuracy.

        It’s tougher and requires a more special feel for the ball, the intutitive understanding of the physics of hitting the ball to be able to *consistently* hit the ball that accurately to extreme angles with that much topspin and such velocity. It’s not just about pace and depth, whether you hit your ball flat of loopy.

        But the problem with him since 2014 is, he lacks confidence. He plays PASSIVELY too often. He hits the ball short to the middle of the court which is deadly or short, loopy, weak balls to both sides of court while his opponent is just waiting for those to take charge of the rally immediately or ruthlessly put the ball away for good.

        Loopy, moon balls, weak balls, middle balls, blunt angle balls, all kill him. Depth, not well-paced and placed balls also can be attacked easily. You can easily tell his level of confidence by how he hits the ball at different times in a match. It has less to do with his ability than his nerve. Like he said, “People says oh Rafa plays well because he plays aggressive. They got it wrong. I can play aggressive because I’m playing well.” He has repeatedly said this over the years but somehow very few takes notice. It’s always Nadal needs to play aggressive to have a chance outside clay.

        From what he’s been saying and my observations I think he needs to hit the ball well to his standards, have a good feel on the ball first. Then come the aggressiveness. He needs the assurement first. It’s his mindset and if you think about it, it fits his personality perfectly.

        When he tries to play aggressive when he hasn’t found his rhythm in the match yet, he misses sitters after constructing the ball very well too often. Remember the Kolhs match at Miami this year? The bizzare 1000th match?

        They asked him at the post-match presser about what he changed in the 2nd set after getting bagelled in the 1st set. He smiled and said, “I played less aggressive, no?” In other words, he slowed down the match, prioritised hitting the ball “consistently” which helped calm him down and get him into his rhythm. Then came Kolhs’s inevitable mistakes and sure chances for him to hit good winners. Then came the shift in the mental state of both players. The dynamic changed. The match changed. The outcome changed.

        So that’s it. It’s about consistency, which is decided by his mindset. Not his ability.

        Sadly his consistency has declined sharply outside clay. He can play a very good match, demolishing his opponent then come flat in the next. It also can happen repeatedly in a match.

        Mental lapses are what he needs to avoid. He often overthinks too much these days. Even if he can’t play freely and needs to concentrate on a very intense level which often results in him being tired mentally, it’s still much better to so than to play briliantly in one or two sets, just to have some “uncharacteristic” dips which is becoming more and more characteristic that might prove too costly for him.

        I think Rafa needs more mental rest now than body rest. And Moya seems to be able to do a better job at it than Toni. Hope he will come to the USO.

      • Thank you,Rainier for your very intelligent answer. You nail it. 100% agree with you.
        I love Rafa since…the first time I saw him play (He was just a boy!). And now it’s so painful when he is losing matches which ones he should and could win.

      • Thanks, Bis. It’s just my observations and that I always listen very carefully what Rafa has to say :).

        One of the things that makes me sad the most is when Rafa loses like that too. If his opponent truly plays well or that Rafa plays well but still loses and doesn’t choke, I’m fine. But in recent years Rafa has choked a lot, as much as I dislike this word. I just hope he will find more peace and calmness in his last years because I still see him worrying too much in the match this year and that causes him so many troubles.

    • Neither MOya or Toni are there because that’s the deal they have with Rafa. They have other things to do at times.
      Roige was there–so it’s not true there was no coach in his box.

      • Rafalite, can’t agree with you more about Rafa’s return position. It’s the length of the return, not the position. And it’s also his swing.

  18. Indeed a shocker! but give the guy credit he played brilliantly and held his own against Rafa . Rafa was not at his best that’s for sure

  19. Unbelievable.
    Denis played fantastic tennis, but Rafa should have been able to manage him. Rafa’s serve really sucked, he couldn’t hit FH winners, and his returns were all landing short. That was the loss in a nutshell.
    He looked too much like 2015-2016 Rafa tonight, no confidence, playing too defensively.
    I worry when MOya isn’t there, that he goes back to old ways.

    Fed played like crap today and needed 3 to beat Ferrer. Again, had Fed played Denis, I have zero doubt he would have lost.
    But still, Rafa could have done much better than this.

    I just looked at the stats.
    Rafa actually won more points, and was superior in every stat except BP conversions. This was the same as in the Mueller match.
    Which means… he still has a problem with nerves on big points.

    • Agreed, Rafalite. I’ve been calling Rafa still has mental problem this year from the beginning of the year to RG to Wimby and now *this*. Extremely disappointed but more than that it frustrates me that he didn’t seem to learn from the Muller match. He even called this match the worst loss of the year already and this is the first time I ever heard him saying he didn’t want to practise tmr.

      Well, this court was his best chance. It’s very bouncy (hence his good record there). All things considered there was not much hope for Cincy anyway and apparently there won’t be any more now. USO now plays different with the roof and it’s pretty close to an indoor court so I wasn’t that hopeful either. I wasn’t convinced Rafa 2013 had returned despite his success this year and am only more unconvinced now. Sad but like he said, just have to accept it.

      • I’m not going to draw conclusions about USo from this, but I agree the outlook gets worse.
        Rafa probably would have taken Denis in BO5. So there’s that. Cincy is so fast it might force Rafa to go back to the more aggressive style.

        There are reasons he fell into that against Shap–Shap is so aggressive Rafa had trouble asserting himself. He would have this same problem with NK, AZ, Fed–they’re all the same kind of player, big serve, 1rst strike. Clay neutralizes these types more as you know.

        When I first saw Shap play his FH reminded me of Rafa’s a bit. Rafa gained no advantage with CC FH exchanges with him. He seemed unfamiliar with Shaps game. I wonder if Roig scouted him out first?

        Anyway, a bit of a debacle for Rafa.

    • Agree with everything except that Fed would lose if he played Dennis. I am the biggest Rafa fan,but the truth is if you are real champion you should found the way to win even when you play like a crapp. That’s what Fed is doing and I am saying that with pain.

      • I agree, that is also why Rafa is not in the GOAT debate anymore. Apart from this year’s short revival, he has not been close to “great” for 3,5 years.

      • Shap last night was better than any opponent Fed has faced lately, including Wimb. Period. Better than Raonic, Berd, Cilic with blisters, and Ferrer.
        He went through Delpo in 2 easy sets. Easy.

        Fed has been riding on a free ticket for some time now.

      • Agree about Fed and that will continue. Watch out for next 2 draws…everyone will make sure that it’s walk in the park for him.
        Still Rafa should manage to win that one and Muller match….and AO final….lol lol

      • How many matches has Rafa won when he didn’t play his best in his career?? There is something called the “law of averages”. Yes, Rafa didn’t play his best last night, because he is human after all. Who plays his best in every match? Please name a few to enlighten us. To me, Rafa’s clay season was much better than 2013’s. The French Open final was the best I’ve ever seen him play.

        Yes, Roger would have lost to Denis if he played the way he played David yesterday. He was LUCKY to escape, since David has NEVER beaten him.

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