PHOTOS: Rafael Nadal loses to Stefanos Tsitsipas in Madrid Open semifinals

World No. 2 Rafael Nadal lost in three sets to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Madrid Open semifinals this evening. The young Greek won 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 after two hours and 34 minutes of play.

Rafa has lost in the semifinals of all three claycourt tournaments he has played this season and has yet to win a title in 2019.

He was trying to reach his 50th ATP Masters 1000 final, and his ninth final in Madrid.

The defeat on the Madrid clay for Rafa comes just two weeks before he bids for 12th French Open title in Paris.

After the match, Rafa said:

It’s not been a good match. I fought and did a couple of good things mentally. I trained around 5pm and it was very hot but it was more windy, more cold. I felt the ball better yesterday. It’s not been my best night. My opponent has been better, when that happens you lose.

Tennis is about winning or losing. I’ve been able to win a lot on this surface over the years. This year it seems it’s not the way.

I don’t see myself losing that match if I play the level of Barcelona 2017 or in Australia this year. Maybe it’s not the truth, but it’s my feeling. (via George Bellshaw)

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60 comments

  1. Rafa there is NO One that can tell you how to play because you know it better than Anyone….you simply are not always applying it and you loose focus on the target….. Your public more than love you including myself and wish you finally win ones anyone.

    Please Rafa you have to play thinking on winning and you will certainly be there,

    Guadalupe

    Sent from my iPad

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  2. With very sad feelings i think djoker is favorite at FO. Even i am a huge Rafa fan if i have to put my money i will put on djoker. Last year he made changes on his game: the serve, the fire in his game. This year he is far from last years. I am not optimistic this years about rafa’s winnings. Please Rafa show me that i am wrong and if he will win FO then i will put ash on my head but i realy don’t think he will. But if Rafa will not win than i want that dominic will be ths winner (or any other but djoker). King of clay with no trofey this year.. . It is very sad but we have to sustaine him even in these moments. Vamos Rafa skip Rome to be fresh at FO.

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  3. I believe it’s mental because you have the shots and huge talent. you must think positive, You are the greatest and when you want to win and are determined to win like we have seen you do over and over …you will win.
    Block out all excuses and think only of your winning every point..till, the end in the winners Circle !!!

    Love you ..a fan always..Nina

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  4. My options only!…Djokovic is on something and has been. There I said it. Sorry to think this way apologetically.

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    • Marla D Lambert, I am surprised not to see other Rafa fans rebuking you for your slanderous comment about Djokovic. WHERE IS YOUR PROOF?

      As far as I can tell, Djokovic is “on” meditation.

      While you didn’t mention the “d” word I can only surmise you mean “doping”. Correct me if I am wrong.

      As a Rafa fan I was outraged whenever I read comments in the media or on other blogs about Rafa doping. Rafa had to go as far as suing a previous French health and sports minister for the same slanderous accusation: doping. I won’t dignify her by naming her.

      I think it is SHAMELESS that you come here on Rafa’s fan blog and say something like that WITHOUT an iota of proof. I am not a Djokovic fan nor do I particularly like the guy but to accuse him of doping is just so very wrong.

      Signed,

      DISGUSTED

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  5. Hopefully you can win FO but I’m having a little doubt. Maybe you are over thinking. Not sure what’s going on but keep at it.

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    • Yes…I love him and support him always, but I expressed my doubts after Monte Carlo…it’s mental and I said that he will continue loosing if he doesn’t address that issue….I am really sorry that I was right tho…

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  6. Rafa said that what happened in the last 14 years was not normal. Perhaps for an ordinary player it wouldn’t have been but I believe that for him with his high tennis I.Q. exceptional talent, and extraordinary work ethic that it was normal. Yes it is mature to accept a defeat such as yesterday’s but please don’t start to think this is normal. There will be ups and downs to come but with a few little tweaks here and there I have no doubt that there will still be many trophies with his name on them in the near future. Wishing him great success in Rome.

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  7. Rafa’s play in the second set was very good, but overall too many mistakes at critical moments against a very good opponent. Rafa won 52% of points, which is often enough to win the match, and all of his stats were better than Stef’s apart from break points won/saved. As said, unfortunately the points he lost were important ones.

    Let’s remember though that Madrid is Rafa’s “worst” clay tournament. The altitude and Rafa’s illness at the start of the week can’t have helped.

    The margins in tennis are small and on another day Rafa could have won. To use one of his favourite words, he is still competitive. Rafa made it a stage further than he did at this tournament last year, and where are last year’s finalists? They were Thiem and Zverev, both already out. No player has won more than one big title this year; nobody has been dominant. In other words, Rafa isn’t the only one whose results haven’t met expectations.

    I think it’s reasonable to suggest that Rafa’s days as an outright favourite at any event are probably over, even on clay. It’s now a question of how he reacts to that and how he chooses to deal with it (I think Fed has made that transition well btw). Maybe that means there will be less pressure on him. I’ve seen a few quotes from Rafa’s presser yesterday that seem quite encouraging. I’ll go with this:

    “But there’s a lot of tennis ahead, I still have two clay court tournaments ahead of me. Let’s go week to week, see how it goes.”

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  8. My view is that Rafa should flatten his shots more and think less about his shots. We know that his serve will never get to the level where he can get out of trouble, so he should focus on placement instead of speed. I used to think that if he were to serve 15mph-20mph faster, then it would be difficult to beat him, but I don’t think that he can do that. Perhaps, he should change his grip? Also, he is relatively good at the net (he could work on it a little more) and maybe that might benefit him.

    The Semi-Finals against Tsitsipas was interesting to watch. Tsitsipas played a very smart and confident match against Rafa, but it was that third set that made the difference, imho. In the third set when Rafa was serving at 2-2; 40-15, he lost concentration/confidence after Tsitsipas [correctly] called a shot out and stopped play. Then Rafa chose to hit a shot that was too airy when Tsitsipas drove to net for an easy volley. I feel that Rafa should have flattened his shot. Anyway, I don’t know if the result would have changed, but I DO believe that Rafa can still win RG. He just needs to tweak a few things.This will be his 12th FO!

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    • Remember these matches are the best of three whereas RG is the best of five. I think this will favour Rafael. I am disappointed he has lost so many points but am confident he will make them up. What galls me is that Djokovic is doing better. Sorry but I do not like The Joker.

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  9. Well that’s it folks. I think this years he will not win any tournamwnts. I realy support him in all matches but we have to be realistics. I don’t think rafa can only think to loose a match. Especialy on clay he want to win all matches. Let’s be onest that his confidence and play is at lower from many years. I don’t want to retire but i want that i have not expectaction. I realy want to be wrong and rafa win FO. I think rafa skip Rome and concentrate on FO. Vamos Rafa please win the FO and that will bring you lost cofidence back.

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  10. There are a lot of good comments here. Nevertheless we have to acknowledge that Tsisipas (sp?) played out of his mind today. In the last set–especially the last few games his playing strategy was like Rafa at his best. He is a mental player, and it’s obvious he has studied Rafa and learned. He has played twice as many matches as Rafa this year and he plays doubles too! And he’s 20! So of course he is going to be more fit than our Rafa, who has had injuries and recent sickness to contend with. Under these circumstances I cut Rafa some slack. The clay season is only half over. He can regroup if he still has the will and the passion! Such good luck to you, dear Rafa. I believe in you.

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  11. Yes, it’s certainly a mental thing and that’s what we have known for sure ever since Rafa confirmed in 2014 that he was suffering from nerves. Novak dented his confidence so many defeats by him since 2011 as rRafa fan 1 alluded to, and so the doubts have increased. Novak speaks with great confidence in interviews and i’ve heard him say on many occasions going back to 2009 (when ironically he was beaten by Rafa in that epic Madrid match) “I know how to beat Rafa (and i can do it)” or ‘”I know what I have to do to beat Rafa….” and he has executed his plan with confidence. The bad defeats that Rafa has suffered at the hands of Novak – and most recently at the AO- have taken their toll on his confidence and self belief.

    Players feel that they have a good chance against Rafa, even if he breaks their serve, because his own is so vulnerable. Also, more plares can deal with Rafa’s high spinning, high bouncing ball.

    Maybe his words got lost in translation, but i don’t like the way Rafa refers to losing as being “normal” this year compared to the previous 14 years. There is a slight feeling of resignation in his tone, but i hope i’m wrong.

    Rafa will most likely remain no. 2 for RG and I hope that he gets to the final and doesn’t see Novak on the other side of the net. It’s still all to play for Rafa.

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    • Totally agreed with you
      This is mental from long time, but he didn’t care about, didn’t do anything from stubbornness of him and his team….so now he is paying for that dearly
      I still hope he win RG …so little light for this clay season

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    • Just for intérêst Lorna, are you in England ? As well as Week 1 R Garros I have à ticket for the qualifications the week to come the tickets for that are not numbered only 22 e each and you can see the players close up 😁 in the annexe courts. Last year also saw Rafael training in the S Lenglen court for about 1 hour. They are on sale on Internet and at our Fnac Multimedia store here if anyone is coming to Paris , this year no longer at the box office. Fiona in Paris

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  12. Dear Rafa Fans,

    I don’t know why you guys are all feeling sad and sorry for Rafa. Please and please, wisen up and think, think deeply for once!

    The simple truth is that Rafa ‘threw’ the match – believe it or not. It was the only option open to him in the circumstance. In my earlier posts just before the match, I had warned you guys that Rafa will play to lose and i think it was a wise decision. All those misses in the 3rd set were all an act – Rafa never wanted to win that match. Simple.

    Winning the match would mean facing Djokovic and Djokovic, as it is right now, is the only one that can legitimately wreck Nadal’s claim to the G.O.A.T status. Djokovic already has a POSITIVE Head to Head (28: 25) against Nadal and has beaten Nadal seven times on Nadal’s beloved surface! Another beat-down in the Madrid final, so soon after the ‘destruction’ of Nadal at the AO in January, would have completely destroyed Nadal’s confidence going into the French Open and ultimately destroying Nadal’s claim to G-O-A.T.

    If it had been Federer or Thiem or indeed anybody else that Nadal were to meet in the Madrid final, Nadal would have easily destroyed Stefanos Tsitsipas. He still hasa positive records against Roger Federer and everybody else, except Novak (28:25) and Dustin Brown (2-0). However, the rastafarian Dustin Brown is a nobody and a journey man tennis player. So, it’s up about Djokovic and not letting him destroy Rafa’s confidence build-up to the FO and contention for the G.O.A.T.

    And really, I believe avoiding Djokovic was the wisest practical thing to do. Rafa wants to play Djokovic on his own terms, that is, when he believes he’s at the highest level and not when he’s still recuperating from a series of injuries.

    Sorry, Margo, nobody is ”tearing” Rafa down, but we need to tell the truth and let all the fans know what is really happening out there. Yesterday’s match against Stefanos was a scam made to look genuine – pure and simple. Stefanos couldn’t have beaten Rafa even if Rafa were blind-folded. He doesn’t have the game nor mentality to do that, at least, not on clay!

    Wake up you all Rafa fans and smell the coffee. It’s no big deal really and I believe Novak too would have done the same if he were in Rafa’s shoes. It’s all about the race to be the G.O.A.T.

    But, as always, we’d see…….cheers

    Rafa, the Bull that runs to fight another day, rocks! Rocking Rafa!!

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    • There is no place for you on this website. You just keep spouting the same old self fulfilling prophecies. Go away and support Novak on his website as you’ll be more useful there.

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      • Lorna, do you know what “self fulfilling prophecies” means? If you did, you wouldnt use it – it means prophecies that come true i.i fulfill themselves.

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    • It is just not in Rafa’s DNA to deliberately lose a match. He is a consummate, proud professional who plays to win every match he plays. I have supported Rafa since 2005 and have watched many of his matches. Injuries have certainly taken their toll on Rafa, depriving him of precious practice and preparation time that he needs to play well and with confidence. He is 32 and has been injured again this year. This has undoubtedly affected his preparation in the run-up to the clay court season. Rafa had a phenomenal year in 2017 but at 32 we just can’t expect him to keep doing that. It is of course always very disappointing to see him lose, especially on his best surface; but, as fans, I think we need to face up to the fact that Rafa may not be able to regain the fantastic form he displayed in 2017 and throughout the clay court season last year. I would dearly love for him to win the French Open again, perhaps for the last time, who knows, but we must be very thankful for everything he has achieved throughout his career to date, despite all of the injuries. (Federer and Djokovic have been more fortunate. Their injuries have been occasional by comparison, which make Rafa’s achievements in the same era even more impressive.) Rafa needs a good run in Rome to restore his confidence in time for the French. I do hope, along with all Rafa fans, that he can do that.

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  13. If Rafa believes in himself he can beat anyone including Djokovic. Djokovic is a major mental issue.

    So a great amount of work has to be done to make him mentally strong and bring out the killer instinct, and calm confidence at the same time.

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    • Rafa fan 1, it has been obvious through the many years I have followed Rafa that he should at least try to partner with a sports therapist to help him through tough times. I think his mindset is that he can do it alone.

      Barring any physical problems, he should be winning titles but he’s not. He has said on many occasions if you don’t doubt yourself you are arrogant. He could be doubting himself into losing matches he could win.

      Unfortunately we don’t know what’s going on with him so again we are left to speculate. Whatever is troubling him I hope he can clear his mind and continue his stellar performances.

      RAFAMAZING ROCKS

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  14. rafa needs confidence …..confidence come from winning matches and tournaments for rafa confidence comes when he hits down the line forehand every now and then and is successful on that….i dont doubt his game he has the game which can tear apart any opponent beleive and will no matter who he plays eclxception is djokovic ….he just need to bring it together just be a little consitent…..stress must be on strong points which is defence and down the line FH…just need to sharpen few things…..will always beleive you and your game vamos …for those who doubting rafa game must watch FO final against stan wawrinka who was FO champion

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  15. 2019 is a very sad and disappointing year so far for all Rafa fans. Really speaking I didn’t have a good feeling about Rafa especially after the AO finals. Of course somewhere deep down there’s always hope. I agree with the comments from Lorna and Marileena . But I feel it’s not just Rafa’s tennis but mainly his mental strength. And it’s a vicious circle. His mental state has been going down slowly since 2011 – not so obviously then and there have been sparks of old self but …….. . He’s also been unlucky at very crucial times like AO finals vs Federer and last year at the Wimbledon finals. So when his serves and forehand fail him then he can’t sem to think clearly about his shot making.
    I just feel too sad for him and with him and wonder if he can get out of this pattern. His team seriously need to address both tennis and mental issues. He seemed to have changed his game a little during the AO – also keeping his the points short.
    Hope things change and he bucks up.

    VAMOS Rafa

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  16. All credit to Stefanos Tsitsipas, who took his game to Rafa and defended incredibly well, but Rafa was the architect of his own downfall. Too many mistakes, a vulnerable serve, a lack of potency in his forehand and an unwillingness to change up his game. Losing serve in the first few games of a match is a regular occurrence, which means Rafa has to work harder to get the break back. Yes, Rafa still has the drive and hunger to win, but his consistency and confidence have gone AWOL.

    Many top players through a period of title droughts, but Rafa’s current form is bewildering because he’s been so dominant on clay for so long. It must be disheartening for him to see players he would normally beat routinely, wrestle victory from him. Right now it’s a vicious circle. Losses bring doubts and doubts make you tentative. Stefanos was able to execute his game plan successfully because he was more willing to move forward and take control of the forecourt to finish off points. Rafa can no longer rely on wearing his opponents down with long rallies because he is getting older and a lot of younger players are able to go toe to toe with him. He can’t overpower players the way he used to, especially if his forehand isn’t firing, so where is the element of surprise in his game? Rafa has to have the courage to take risks to get his opponents off guard – hard to do when you’re lacking confidence yourself.

    I just hope that Rafa finds the calmness that he needs going into Rome and he doesn’t play desperate tennis. If only he could trick his brain into thinking he was the young free swing Rafa with the aggression and self belief to squash his opponents.

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    • Yes Lorna, This seems a précise account of the match and the current situation. 😐😕 I didn t see it as I don t have Eurosport but followed the score with described details in Spanish on the Diario de Mallorca site as usual , praying for him as always. 😯 As I said before, I had a feeling he would fall hère Saturday as in the last 2 Sats in Monte Carlo and Barcelona 😕 as a logical progression, although in the 3 he won the first 3 matches well.😀 In them all. 😀 This year seems a gap 😡 but he said himself to continue in Rome and not to make a drama of it . It dépends on the opponents but if the first and last 3 players he beat with motivation, was there also motivation on the Saturday or not enough ? Those of you who saw the match on TV what did you think ? I have my tickets for R Garros ☺ praying for that and Rome ☺ Can t do any more. Fiona in Paris

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  17. I am starting to get used to this… I watch these tournaments with great anticipation and Rafa makes it through the first few rounds… He gets to the quarters or the semi’s and he faces someone who is hungry…someone who is having the same success at the tournament as he, except now his opponents are believing that he is beatable. And lately he is. Today I ask…what happened to his serve? He got broke 3 times in the first set… The second set he plays with a vengeance… And the 3rd set he’s back to missing shots that cost him 2 breaks and the match.
    For the longest time I thought it was a mental problem but today it was his play..his serve and unforced errors. I know he loves tennis so much but the losses are going to get to him. I saw a look on his face at the end of the match that brought a tear to my eye. He couldn’t get out of there fast enough… I will always root Rafa on but I think the time has come to lower my expectations and never think further than one day at a time…

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  18. Dear Rafa,

    You must hit Your oponents agressively and dont let them believe that they
    are better than you are because is NOT true….. you are simply Great Rafa and
    Your understanding of the game confirm so…..

    Your, bitterUncle is going around with negative comments that only show
    How right you were in lettini him go…..

    You have to Turn around Your confidence and keep a close Eye on he ball…..

    Vamos Rafa, you are truly GREAT, move forward and go!!!!!

    Sent from my iPad

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  19. i think its more about of being calm in the matches .we know rafa for his strong mentality even if its 0_-40 rafa used to be calm and play on his own term and smartly. i feel from few matches he is hasting things a little bit may be not thinking the way he used to before the point. i think rafa should play at his own pace take time even if he get time violation warning but rafa should play at his pace and to end the point fastly in difficult situation . He has to bring the down the line FH thats when rafa feel.more comfortable and play on his terms… rafa just needs to be calm and serene in difficult situation of matches which he he is known for..but its missing

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  20. As good as you played against Wawrinka in the quarters , I was unplessantly surprised with the performane agsinst Stephanos today . The first serve was not forceful and the 2nd serve was very returnable . Also the net play was belie parvand the ground strokes lacked depth and velocity . I believe this can be rectified but the confidence and mental part of Rafa’s game must be brought up to the usual high standard . Vamos Rafa in Rome !

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  21. No one likes to lose. Not even all of us armchair coaches☹️What is undeniable is your fighting spirit.
    Just as you are realistic about any win or loss, we must accept the struggles you have endured over the last year. As long as you choose to fight, we are there.💪🤛👍👏🙏🥰

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  22. POST NOTE: Dear Rafa: I forgot to tell you something I feel is very important. Please review films of matches / and watch closely. Review today’s semifinal match and others too. Take Notice that you win more points when you Go To Net – If you watch and observe – you will see that you play much better and are consistently more aggressive. Love, Mary Lynn

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  23. Dear Rafa: I was sad that you didn’t win today. I was hoping that you would find a way to keep going with good confidence and self-belief. When you are confident you automatically play aggressive. I hope you are not overthinking. Focus and find a Mantra that helps you to forget your self-doubt and PLAY LIGHTS OUT tennis as I know you can (and You know you can Rafa) . Your opponent is only a person across the net trying to win just as you are, and he is no better of a tennis player than you are, but maybe he senses your self doubt and takes advantage of it. So lose the Self-doubt and enjoy yourself, believe in yourself and be Victorious and win – you know you can. Snap out of it Rafa. I love you. You will always be Number 1 to me. You have given me many years of happiness and joy, You have helped me and many others forget our problems – even if for a little while. Before you retire, please continue to win more for all your loyal fans But Mostly For Yourself. The Best of Luck to You in Rome and at the French Open. God bless you Rafa. I love you. Marylynn.

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