Rafa Roundup: Should Rafael Nadal’s fans be worried?

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His left foot, which almost caused his career to be derailed before it had really begun, is a constant source of pain. Most of the time, he can manage it but sometimes, as in Rome, it’s too much.

The good news is that he has moved exceptionally well throughout his four matches here and there are no obvious outward signs that anything is going to stop him from competing as hard as he can against Djokovic.

“I can’t complain much. I am in quarter-finals of Roland Garros. Two and a half weeks ago, even if I had positive hopes after Rome, I even don’t know if I would be able to be here,” admitted Nadal on Sunday.

“So just enjoying the fact that I am here for one more year. And being honest, every match that I play here, I don’t know if gonna be my last match here in Roland Garros in my tennis career, no? That’s my situation now.”

They have played each other 58 times, with Djokovic holding a 30-28 edge. It is a classic clash of styles, Nadal blasting away and running wild on the clay, his favorite surface, and Djokovic bringing his exquisite timing, incomparable steel, and the most varied arsenal in the game. Even more, it is a clash of two men whose personalities and trajectories, especially over the past year, have pushed them into different realms of the sport and public consciousness.

One is a beloved citizen of the world, the other a polarizing, outspoken iconoclast so set in his beliefs that he was prepared to spend his last prime years on the sidelines rather than receive a vaccination against Covid-19.

There were scattered boos as Djokovic was introduced on the Suzanne Lenglen Court on Sunday. Fans at the main court, Philippe Chatrier, chanted “Rafa, Rafa,” through the evening, urging on the Spanish champion who is immortalized with a nine-foot statue outside the stadium.

“I wish Rafa the very best, I admire him greatly in everything that he’s done. He’s somebody who I really like, and so I wish him the very best for the next match,” Auger-Aliassime said. “But then I think that he also knows that it’s going to be difficult. We played for a long time today and it’s still the quarter-finals and afterwards there’s still two more matches to win to win the tournament. Rafa is coming here to win the tournament.

“So as I said, I really wish him the very best, but it will be a monumental effort for him, I think, to win. But as he and Novak have always done, they will give it their all right through to the end and it will be a great battle.”

“He is sounding weary,” Evert said. “There is so much more that comes with being a professional tennis player than playing a match, but he sounded tired. The respect I have for him because he is 35 years old and he can keep getting psyched up every single day for these matches.”

Evert went on to say she doesn’t see Nadal playing on after another few seasons at best with the 35-year-old living with a painful foot injury.

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9 comments

  1. There is so much pain and I think he needs to stop playing because he can’t go all over again through those injuries ans start thinking of the future. 36 years old is just too much and you can’t play forever as much as we and he would love it.

  2. Lalit, true but you forget how he finished the match in the 5th set in night conditions. 15 winners/ 4 UE.
    against felix who had 10 winners /5 UE. That is exactly the night match practice he needed. And in his own words, he said he needed a tough match which prepares him well for the battle ahead. It won’t be easy but I do hope he recovers physically and be ready for it.

    • Rafa is fine… no signs of his foot hurting. On the other hand ND looks very tired and is breathing hard. I don’t trust him though he’s always playing possum and then comes to life.

  3. I wouldn’t want anyone to play on if they were in severe pain all the time, but hopefully it’s not that bad. It’s a shame that tomorrow’s match is a night match, which won’t suit Rafa, but it is what it is. Djokovic is far from invincible, and hopefully Rafa can get the win.

  4. Either Rafa was playing poorly, or FAA was playing at his best. And if Rafa was playing like he was back at RG20 finals, Djokovic don’t have a chance.
    H2H is 7-2 (3-0 finals) in Rafa’s favour.
    All I know is that all it most of the crowd will cheer for our GOAT Rafa. And so will I.
    VAMOS Rafa. All the way to your 14th and 22GS title.

  5. To Beat Nole he needs to be in his Vintage Form , otherwise no chance . The Way he played against Felix was far below his own standard.

  6. Rafa is not playing at his very best. If he plays against Novak like he played against Felix, Novak will easily beat him. He is hitting the ball short and looks like he is losing concentration between sets. Huge Huge fan but he is not at his best

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