Rafa Roundup: Did you know Cher is a big Nadal fan?

(Photo by Tnani Badreddine/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)


This rivalry has been marked by extreme momentum swings. Nadal found his top gear on tour earlier than Djokovic and won five of the first six matches between them; then they split four. Nadal won seven of the next eight, then Djokovic found himself and won 10 of 12. Nadal got the upper hand again, winning six of seven over the next two years, but Djokovic won 11 of 12 from 2013 to 2016 while Nadal was battling injury and form issues. But then Djokovic dealt with his own set of injuries and issues, and Nadal had won five of the past eight — with all wins coming on clay — before Djokovic’s Friday win.

From 2012 to 2016, Nadal hit 30 percent of his first shots after his serves from inside the baseline. But each year he has worked with Moya, that number has risen, first to 36 percent, then to 39 percent, then to 41 percent, and last year to 42 percent.

Why is that so important? Because when Nadal hits that first shot from inside the baseline, he wins 74 percent of the points. When he hits the first shot from behind the baseline, he wins just 59 percent of the points.

And while Nadal often drifts deep into the back court when his opponents serve, the points quickly evolve into a fight for him to get forward, to that nub of tape in the middle of the baseline he earlier kicked clean to give himself a target to scurry toward during the point.

Even though Nadal is giving himself less time to set up by stepping into the court for that first shot, he is still hitting the ball back as hard as he always did, on average about 75 miles per hour, according to Hawkeye, with a fierce level of topspin that makes his ball feel like a rock on his opponents’ rackets.

Novak Djokovic’s epic battle with Rafael Nadal in the Roland Garros semi-finals began trending on Twitter long before the match ticked over the four-hour mark. After 13-time champion Nadal won the opening set, Djokovic fought back to win 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-2 to set up a meeting with Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday’s final.

  • Social media related to Rafa:


  1. There is a good article in Firstpost, which analyses Rafa’s high error count and Djokovic’s change of tactics in the semi-final. I know it may make painful reading for Rafa fans, but it’s honest and direct in its assessment.

    [Title “French Open 2021: From Nadal’s High Count of Errors to Djokovic Learning From Past, how Epic Semi-Final Was Decided”]

  2. Marileena and Margo,

    You both make very valid points and raise some questions that many of us have no doubt been wondering about where Rafa is concerned. We don’t know the degree of mental stress he’s going through, both professionally and privately.
    It’s true that all we can do is wait to see what Rafa does moving forward. We can all speculate and have our opinions, which is natural, but it’s Rafa who will decide when it’s right to step out on court again.

    • Margo …no no not enough gluten to cause him an anaphylaxis episode! A much less invasive dose just to give him a mild sniffle, in which case could cause his contact lens to fog!

  3. If Rafa doesn’t play Wimbledon it’s up to his fans to keep you-know-who from reaching #20. Anyone have a plan B to accomplish that?

    Cheer for his opponents
    Let loose a gazillion mosquitoes on his side of the court and his bench.
    Replace his shoestrings with defective ones
    Make sure the sun beats down on him alone
    Tell him he just won the Serbia presidency and he has to fly there immediately
    Tell him Wimbledon is actually going to be held in Serbia. If he misses his match at the real Wimbledon he forfeits
    Tell him his energy drinks are banned.
    Tell him no toilet breaks allowed for him
    No MTO’s
    Tell him if he’s not vaccinated he can’t play.
    Tell him his wife and team are dumping him for better pay
    Tell him if it rains he still has to play [he always complains about rain].

    So many delicious options 😂

      • So sad to hear the announcement that Rafa won’t be playing at Wimbledon and Tokyo.Olympics, i hope he gets better soon and wishing him all the best for the future 😢💐🙏

      • YIKES YOWZA OMG 😂🤣😂🤣

        I didn’t say kill him Ziggy. We could get arrested for metabolic espionage [legal term for messing with a tennis players’ energy drink to cause a severe anaphylactic reaction which could lead to said tennis player pushing daisies].

      • Aww C’mon Margo…. what’s a little gluten amongst friends!! lol

  4. Marijnt,

    David is correct. Statistics show that Rafa has one of the best returns of serve in the game and his record against big servers is very good, because he is able to read their serve quickly.

    Djokovic doesn’t have a huge serve, but his placement is very good. Rafa’s serve deserted him in the key moments in the semi-final, mainly due to nerves and the “Djokovic Effect”.

Leave a Reply