Rafa Roundup: Rafael Nadal has never broken a racket in anger

Photo by BRANDON MALONE/AFP via Getty Images


 Can a Next Genner make a breakthrough against one of the Big 3 in a Grand Slam? And again, I’m going to guess the answer is no. Tsitsipas may be ready, but Nadal has played his way into the tournament and looks prepared to peak at the right time. Winner: Nadal

Notably, Nadal hasn’t defeated a top 10 player in Melbourne since 2017, falling to Marin Cilic, Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem in 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively. Pushed to a marathon five sets by Australian wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis in the second round, Tsitsipas has spent just 20 minutes less on court during AO2021 than Nadal due to the withdrawal of Matteo Berrettini in the round of 16.

Of the 151 times Rafa has started the point with a serve and a forehand, he has won 98 of them. That’s good for 65%. That’s crushingly good. It’s an outrageously high win percentage for a grouping of points that almost all fall into the category of “baseline” points. Yes, there is a sprinkling of net points in there as well, but precious few.

So, Rafa has hit a Serve +1 forehand 77% of the time and won 65%. That an A+ strategy any way you want to slice it.

“Who also seems to have overcome his physical problems is Novak Djokovic, who has managed to qualify for the quarter-final round after defeating Canadian Milos Raonic,” Toni Nadal wrote in his column for El Pais.

“In the case of the Serbian, it is surprising that so repeatedly annoyances come over him, to the point of sowing doubts about his permanence in the tournament, and then disappear overnight.”

Nadal echoed his uncle’s sentiments when asked about the injury at the Australian Open, with the Spanish star doubting whether Djokovic’s assessment of the injury was accurate. Nadal, who has dealt with a raft of injury issues throughout his career, said if Djokovic does have a muscle tear he’ll only make it worse by playing.

VIDEO: Rafael Nadal’s press conference following his fourth round victory over Fabio Fognini at the 2021 Australian Open.

Social media about Rafa:

You might think that a pandemic would result in a reduction of selfie requests. Sadly for Rafael Nadal, that wasn’t the case when he was spotted training on an exercise bike at the Australian Open…


  1. Hello Rafa fans!
    It îs time for conclusions.
    First of all i don’t agree rafa made a weak game. Stefanos played extremely well from the 3 set. If he will play like this he can win the tournament.
    Second point i notice was the unforced erors. He made so much becouse stefanos played unbeliveble. He was going to make his shoots and to riscs more. If you see the stats he made more winners then tsitsipas. If you told me this before the match i would not belived that.
    Third point : Stefanos serve. He served with a very high percent with first serve. Another observation was his position of ROS. He was stayed much closer the base line than usual. Maybe that is the new tactics and for that needs time. How many of was didn”t want this? I thinck that is a good decision for the next years. He has a age….

    So don”t blame him for the loss. He playes whole tournament at a high level. He will learn from that loss becouse his is a very intelligent player.

    I know you all are dissapointed but heads up and look foward. His served are much better. If he served today with the first more than tsitsipas he had win… But let”s faced that stefanos served unbeliveble well.

    Let”s hope that novak will not win the tournament and i am confident that he will lose the final.

    Until the next grand slam VAMOS RAFA

  2. The AO is not a curse for Rafa. Rafa at the AO simply exposes himself, time and again. The GOAT of tennis can’t be a player who has incredible mental strength during almost his entire career, but turns into a mentally weak player at crucial points of his career, almost solely at the same major. Anyone who’s held a tennis racket or watches tennis regularly, knows what a choking player looks like, and today it once again was Nadal at the Aussie Open who was the choker. It was the look of fear on his face, the same look that we know so well from the 2015 season, the look of a deer staring at the headlights of an approaching car. Nadal played not to lose from the final parts of the third set. He was super tight and looked like he did not want to be there. This was not the Nadal that once claimed “that he loves the suffering”. It’s regrettable, without this mental weakness, he would have walked a possible path to all time greatness, a double career grand slam and a 21st record breaking major win. Especially with Djokovic in mediocre form, this looked possible. A once in a lifetime opportunity choked away.

    • Agreed. Mentality is the problem at this major. It’s got under his skin like a bad opponent. In fact, this major is so aligned with Djokovic that I’d say the two go together; Rafa’s belief isn’t there as long as Dj is in the draw. I think Rafa feels he will always lose to Dj here (not verifiable fact: just my perception).

      When he tightened up in the third set tiebreak, and threw the match away, I wondered if it wasn’t a bit of subconscious self-sabotage, to prevent a more painful loss in the final. Please, co-fans, I am not saying that Rafa consciously plays to lose. I am saying that subconscious fears are operating. There is a mental ceiling for him in this major, and I do not see how he will overcome it, if he ignores it.

      I would temper your assessment somewhat by saying that he has also had bad luck, especially ’14.

      However, for the most part I agree, and that is why I am extremely frustrated and down today. Stefanos played well and deserved to win this match. But it’s also true that Rafa lost with a capital L.

      • Yes, 2014 was bad luck. But that bad luck possibly came from the nerves literally playing up already in the warming up of that final. Rafa was so nervous to play a red hot Wawrinka, that he got tight in his back. We all saw that final, Wawrinka started firing from both wins from the get go. Rafa had that afraid look on his face as well back then. One could argue Nadal went through a mental dip throughout the rest of the 2014-2016 period. His ’14 Roland Garros victory was an odd exception in a dark period all through that timespan (where injuries were present too). And even at RG ’14, he looked vulnerable (Ferrer taking the opening set in the QF, and Rafa beating Djokovic who was not well – throwing up during the final). Tennis is an incredibly tough sport mentally, and today it was clearer than ever.

    • I disagree with you. This tournament is a curse for rafa.

      2011 lost to ferrer due to abdominal injury
      2012 lost to djokovic leading 4-2 and 30-15 in the final
      2014 lost to wawrinka in the final with a back injury. (this was his chance to win)
      2017 lost to federer in the final leading 3-1 in the final set
      2018 retired against cilic in the fifth set due to injury
      2019 complety destroyed by djokovic in the final
      2021 lost to tsiparas after leading 2-0 in sets

      Every time you think that this will be his time to win it something is happening. He should take a page out of federer playbook. Federer has accept it that he will not win the french open again so he is focussing only on tournaments he can win. Rafa should do the same

      • “so he is focussing only on tournaments he can win. Rafa should do the same”

        Why? As a professional athlete, why would you not try to win the tournaments which have eluded you? That’s a defeatist mentality which doesn’t suit Rafa. What’s the problem with trying and failing? Every year, 128 players enter the Australian Open main draw. Would you suggest that all of those who can’t win (127) don’t enter? There’s only a chance of success if you try.

        I am interested in your reasoning for giving Rafa that advice. What has he to gain by not trying?

  3. australian open is a curse for rafa. He will never win this tournament again. Its time for him to face reality and skip the australian open in the remaining years of his career. He is mentaly not strong enough to compete against the young guys. He should focuss on tournaments he can still win.

  4. Just sooo disappointed that Rafa lost after being in the brink of victory. Couldn’t watch but read that he had too many unforced errors and was playing all over the place. So so so wanted him to finally win another Australian Open – even more than 21st grand slam??? Now chances are getting slimmer and slimmer.
    Pray one of the Russians win!!!

    Love you Rafa

  5. No matter how much I convince myself that Rafa has won so much , it’s okay to loose a few matches, I don’t know why it still sucks so see that. Damn damn damn !

      • Well again, something is happening with Rafael’s team. Why didn’t Carlos attend the tournament? The rest of the coaching team consists of a bunch of parasites and Rafael has not understood that yet, that Carlos is the best thing that could have happened to him.

  6. Given his condition coming in to the tournament I actually think Rafa did well (and better than I expected him to). But… yet another occasion where he let his opponent back into the match and another poor tie-break. He lost his confidence after that I think and all due credit to Tsitsipas for not giving up and raising his game. Even had he won, I’m not sure Rafa would have been in any fit state to play Medvedev after a four hour match, but it shouldn’t have taken that long.

    I hope Rafa can properly sort out the back issue before clay season. Monte Carlo is due to start on 10th April. In the meantime it’s probably now a choice between Djokovic getting 18 or Medvedev taking the number 2 ranking if he wins the tournament.

    • I was expecting these poor results, as they have happened before. Simple: His team consists of a bunch of parasites that far to help Rafael are harming him. Carlos was not there, a huge mistake. Carlos is the only member in his coach team that is really helping Rafael. Why didn’t Carlos accompany Rafael? Well, that is a question that should be answered; since Carlos is “his” coach and this tournament is a grand slam, Carlos should have accompanied Rafael. This has been happening for long. Before his uncle Toni hurt badly Rafael. What is doing his father in the coaching team if this man does not know anything about tennis? You see, there are many contradictions. To me that Rafael’s surroundings consists of a bunch of parasites and that is why he lost the tournament. Carlos gives Rafael inspire coaching: Playing strategies, motivation, stress free environment, and best support as a professional tennis player. I bet that if Carlos has been with Rafael at this tournament, Rafael would have had a much higher probability of winning.

  7. Dear Rafa. Now is the time to bring out the BEAST! Please Champ. Vamos. Your fans are cheering for you.

  8. Rafa is clearly rattled becauseTsitsipas has raised his level. He’s leaking errors everywhere. Come on Rafa. Time to get it together!

    • Okay this is unbelievable. It looks like nothing is going Rafa’s way.

      Can Rafa wake up in the 5th set? Come on champ!

  9. Just to clarify that Rafa withdrew v Cilic in AO in 2017 due injury. It was the only time that I attended the AO and was heartbroken fir him. Cilic showed poor taste as he celebrated without respect for an injured player.
    I think that Toni Nadal would be better to ignore Novak as it only dreads attention to this attention seeker. Rafa actually was quite diplomatic just expressing that Novak played so well in the fifth set!
    I hope that Rafa’s back has improved further and that he will get over Stefanos in three. Good start is essential to set the tone.
    Rafa, you are an inspiration and your supporters will be will be with you all the way. 🇪🇸🌟🍀

  10. This is why Rafa is my favorite. He not only is one of the best all-time but he is a class act. He is humble and takes a loss way better than Djokovic and hasn’t broken a racket when he losses unlike Djokovic. I like Djokovic too but what he did wasn’t necessary at all. He should have cleaned up tje mess himself.

      • Margo, 21 in 2021 has to wait now……I am so sad Rafa lost, reminded me of the USO match he lost to Fabio Fognini.😔 But at least he didn’t have to withdraw from the tournament, thankful that his back seems to be okay.🙏

        I hope we will have a new GS champion holding the trophy on Sunday!

        With you always Rafa, win or lose ❤️
        Take care, hope to see you back on court soon.

      • Yes Mimi, 21 will come but sadly not today.

        I can accept that Rafa lost but not how he lost. Lack of focus? I don’t know but I don’t like it. I want to see what he says in his press conference.


  11. It wasn’t so much the fact that he smashed the racket that annoyed me, as the fact that he then expected a ballkid to clear up the mess! He made the mess: he should have picked up the broken bits himself.

  12. That the difference between Nadal and Djokovic. Rafa is a champion on and off the court. Djokovic not!

    • I can’t even.

      Just well done to Stafanos. Amazing recovery to take the match which seemed done and dusted after the second. Hopefully he can do it against Medvedev and take down Djokovic.

      Rafe seemed untouchable in the first 2 sets and a bit after which his wheels came undone. As usual our champ fought valiantly until the last. Another AO chance gone.

      Honestly I didn’t fancy Rafa’s chances in the semi after watching Medvedev today, only due to his back problems.

      Anyway, Rafa shall live to fight another day!

      Stay safe Rafans!

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