Rafa Roundup: Here’s why fans don’t have to worry about Rafa

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“I won here seven times and for me it’s very special always to play here in these tournaments. I can win Roland Garros losing here, and I can win Roland Garros winning here. I don’t think what’s going to happen here is going to have a big impact on what can happen in two weeks, but there’s one thing that is 100 per cent sure: I’m not thinking about Roland Garros when I’m here, I’m thinking only about Rome.”

Last year, Rafa lost to Thiem in Rome, before beating him in straight sets in the semis at the French Open. Can we expect a similar pattern in 2018, or does Thiem now pose a real threat to what had appeared to be another romp at Roland Garros for Rafa? Will a win in Madrid help make Thiem a winner in Paris?

Nadal’s 75-2 record at Roland Garros should be enough to offer an early answer to that question: Probably not.

“I don’t think so, not for us at least,” Moya said when asked if this was a setback ahead of Nadal’s title defence in Paris.

“Maybe for the opponents they are going to realise that they can have a chance to beat him, we are aware of that. But we knew it was going to be very difficult to win all the tournaments on clay.

“We knew this could happen, it happened last year in Rome and then he played amazing tennis in the French Open. So I don’t think this is going to be a step back on his preparation for Paris.”

Even at his best in those two years, he looked well behind Djokovic, who beat Nadal seven times in a row without losing a set, including three on clay.

But instead of crumbling, Nadal has climbed back and become more dominant on clay than ever before. He’s done it with more powerful strokes, a stronger serve and more volleys — and, most important, the confidence that seemed to escape him several years ago.

PHOTOS: Pre-tournament presser in Rome


Rafa Roundup: Nadal on Clay – Jordan on Hardwood, Phelps Under Water, Michelangelo with Marble

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Rafa: Donate $10 and get a chance to win an exciting VIP trip for you and a friend to meet me in Paris! You will also get the chance to join me at my first match of the tournament. Airfare and hotel included!

Yes, let’s start with Nadal on Clay, which has become a phrase akin to “Jordan on Hardwood” or “Phelps Under Water” or “Michelangelo with Marble.” He is truly remarkable.  If we run the analytics, as Martin suggests, it’s hard to resist giggling at the sheer absurdity of the results. Coming off of his 11th— not a typo—Monte Carlo Masters 1000 title, Nadal is 396-35 for his career on clay, a win rate of 92%. He, of course, is aiming for 11thFrench Open title, a major he has won more times than any other player has won any other Slam.

“The only reason he might have retired or felt bad about his life is if he was not physically fit and he was hurting,” said Fleming. “Pain is no fun and now that he is out of pain, he’s enjoying himself and winning is fun.

“It’s inhuman to be that dominant, in not just this event, but also Roland Garros, where everybody plays every year. He is equally as dominant. He’s a phenomenon.”

Do you understand Federer’s decision not to play the clay swing?

Yes, of course I understand it. He must think that the cost is greater on clay, that he has amazing winning momentum and that on clay he could lose more matches and lose that invincible aura that he has on other surfaces. I think those two factors together have led to him taking that decision. It’s respectable, and as long as it works for him… In 2017 it was perfect, why would he change it?

Bjorn Borg: “Nadal has worked so hard to develop his backhand, particularly the crosscourt shot, which is not only a winner shot, but also an attacking stroke in defence. He plays with tremendous intensity, as if every point is a match point. Nadal has excellent footwork, so he’s able to position himself in good time and rarely gets into trouble. He is quick to move up the court. His serve often sets up the point, while the pace and placement of his forehand enables him to finish points.”

In an era of all-court players, Nadal has developed his legacy as a red dirt warrior to become an icon of the sport with an 888-186 (.823) record and 76 trophies – including 16 Grand Slam championships and 31 ATP World Tour Masters 1000s.

“If you ask me what would happen if Rafa and Roger played doubles every week and trained together, they would obviously be the best in the world, because they are unique,” Lopez said.

“In the end, it is better for us that good singles players decide not to play it.”

The chances of seeing Nadal and Federer team up again is a distinct possibility in September when the second edition of the Laver Cup takes place.

With a whopping $7 million in prize money on offer this clay-court season from five of the biggest events, including $2.2 million for a successful defense of his tenth French Open title in June and a combined $2.6 million for next week’s Madrid Masters and the Italian Open the week after, the top-ranked Nadal is likely to have overtaken the second-ranked Federer as the 2018 top earner in the men’s game by the time the clay season draws to a close.

Rafa Roundup: Nadal’s greatness is something we are all blessed to be witnessing

AP Photo/Christophe Ena


“My true feeling is these kind of things are not going to happen forever, so I just try to enjoy them and to play with the full passion and with the full energy and concentration, full love for the sport until I can,” said Nadal. “I know the day to say goodbye is closer than 10 years ago. It is something that I am not worried about, but it is a real thing. So I am just enjoying every day and trying to play with the best attitude possible, to keep being happy playing tennis. That’s all.

In 2017, Nadal gave us the spring of La Décima, when he won his 10th titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and at Roland Garros. Will this be the spring of La Undécima? Has his career just been an elaborate way to teach the world how the Spanish system of ordinal numbers works? By now, his triumphs during the clay season seem pre-ordained; Rafa himself barely felt the need to celebrate after the last point on Sunday. But as we saw when he briefly lost his confidence, winning finals is never as easy as he makes it look. None of Nadal’s victories over the next two months should be taken for granted or passed off as routine. What are the chances we’ll ever witness dominance like this, on any type of tennis court, again?

Overall for the match, Nadal hit 87 (73 per cent) rally backhands and just 33 (27 per cent) run-around forehands. Nadal’s backhand accounted for five winners and just seven errors over two sets. That means he averaged a backhand error one out of every 12 shots. Simply outstanding for a shot that was supposed to be under attack.

Rafael Nadal has 16 Grand Slam titles – including an historic 10 Roland Garros titles – and he’s currently spending his 170th career week at No.1. He’s by far the best left-hander in tennis right now, but is he the best left-hander in sports right now?


Rafa Roundup: “Rafa is a player who thinks he needs a lot of matches to be good”


“I always feel good when I am here, it is one of my favourite tournaments,” admitted Nadal, during the draw ceremony that was hosted by Zeljko Franulovic, the Tournament Director of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters and the 1970 champion (d. Orantes). “It’s been a love story between me and this event, the people who run the tournament. I saw this tournament on the TV before I started playing here and always wanted to do well. These sorts of tournaments help me to wake up in the morning and to train and compete with a lot of passion.”

Nadal’s coach, Carlos Moya, told Spanish press the No. 1 was in good shape for entering the claycourt season he has traditionally dominated during his career. “He’s a little less confident, compared to the previous year, because he’s a player who thinks he needs a lot of matches to be good,” said Moya.

“But I think a player of his quality needs less the matches and more to be physically good.”

The chair umpire will run the 25-second clock and will be given leeway to delay the start of it in certain situations: after a particularly long point late in a grueling match, in hot and steamy conditions, or if there is a fan disturbance, for example.

During the ATP Finals in London last November, Nadal made it clear he was not a fan of the new measures.

“I believe it is not something that is good for the future of the tour,” he told reporters, and added: “For me personally, I am not worried at all. I don’t want to play for 10 more years. I can adapt easily to that.”

Ten-time French Open winner Rafael Nadal is headlining AO International Tennis, one of the hottest tennis video game releases in years.

The top-ranked Spaniard and former world No. 1 Angelique Kerber of Germany play a prominent role in the game, made by Australia’s Big Ant Studios and scheduled for release on May 8.

“Challengers are some of the biggest tournaments too and it’s important to have this step before coming to the ATP World Tour,” Nadal told ATPWorldTour.com. “Everything was new for me in that moment. And then Monte-Carlo was the first big tournament that I played. I started to play Challengers at that time and won the title in Barletta. So I had a lot of confidence. I played against players that I knew very well from those Challengers.”

PHOTOS: Monte-Carlo Masters Draw Ceremony


  • Five Great Rafael Nadal Shots at the Monte-Carlo Masters

  • Rafa and Pablo Cuevas practising together in Monte Carlo

Rafa Roundup: It’s almost impossible to defeat (a healthy) Nadal on clay

Photo: Davis Cup


When returning on clay, Nadal typically stands way back to let the speed of the serve slow down for greater return consistency and also to allow more time to deliver a full-blooded swing at the ball. He then looks to improve his court position up closer to the baseline as the point unfolds, looking to crush his forehand from locations all over the court.

Serving against Nadal on hard court is always challenging. Serving against him on clay is downright formidable.

After the Zverev match, a British interviewer asked Nadal if he was “pain free.”

Nadal grimaced at the question and replied, “That’s difficult [to say], but I am playing with no limitations.”

You can forgive Nadal for not entirely trusting his body; he’s put on lots of miles over the years. Some of his injuries seemed to come out of the blue, including the most recent one.

… But if anybody can go undefeated through an entire calendar segment featuring one Grand Slam and three Masters 1000 events, it’s Rafael Nadal.

The 31-year-old is a stunning 98-2 win-loss at Roland Garros and has won 105 out of 107 best-of-five matches on clay. He’s also won 91.8 per cent of all his contests on the surface throughout his career.

With Federer and Murray out of the picture this upcoming stretch, last year’s runner-up Stan Wawrinka still regaining fitness after knee surgery, and Novak Djokovic searching for form, Nadal seemingly has less obstacles in his way in Paris.

If a healthy Nadal touches down in the French capital next month, an 11th Roland Garros – and 17th Grand Slam trophy – are a more than likely conclusion.

The financial terms of the deal have not yet been presented and it’s not clear whether Nadal’s group plans to buy or lease the land from the park. The tennis academy would go on the southern portion of the park, replacing 16 existing tennis courts and a cluster of trees. The park’s other features, including the football fields, baseball fields and basketball courts, would remain.



Rafa Roundup: “Let’s not be like Rafa Nadal, let’s be Rafa Nadal”


No. 1 is No. 1: Nadal needs to win only one more match to clinch his fourth year-end finish atop the Emirates ATP Rankings (also 2008, 2010, 2013 ). No. 2 is No. 31: The number of ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles Nadal will have – which would be a record – if he wins the Rolex Paris Masters this week. He is currently tied with Serbian Novak Djokovic for the all-time lead at 30.

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal and No. 2 Roger Federer are both up for two player-voted categories: the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award and Comeback Player of the Year. Federer has won the Sportsmanship award every year since 2004, with the exception of 2010, when the honours went to Nadal. Marin Cilic and Juan Martin del Potro round out the nominees in this category.

I want to join Andre Agassi and so many others in having Rafa as our role model and let me insist: let’s not be like Rafa Nadal, let’s be Rafa Nadal. Let’s be this person that gives his or her best in every little thing that we do. Doing this, who knows if one day we will outpace our role models, like Rafa did with his childhood hero Carlos Moya. Isn’t that what evolution is about?

Before addressing this question directly, let’s pause, put partisan politics on hold, and acknowledge your first paragraph. Here we are in 2017 and Federer and Nadal—their combined age approaching 70, their career head-to-head encounters approaching 40—are still ruling the roost. All hail the greatest rivalry in sports.

As for your GOAT/GOTY point, after Federer beat Nadal in Shanghai a lot of you brought up this up. I have a number of thoughts—some of which I have shared—but here’s the beauty: we don’t have to decide. Sometimes tennis presents counterfactuals that will never be answered with any certainty. (“How many Grand Slams would Monica Seles have won, were it not for Hamburg 1993?”) In this case, why not wait until after the World Tour Finals event in London—when we have a full complement of data points—and we can reassess.


Rafa Roundup: “I make mistakes like everyone else. I am not the perfect son”


“I grew up in a very normal environment and I still live this way. If I didn’t get a big head being 19, when all of a sudden everything happened and could go to my head, it won’t happen now when I am 31.”

“I am a normal and a common person. I do not see myself as a role model of anything,” explained Nadal. “I am a guy who plays tennis well. Things have worked out great, but I took it as something normal, as my family and people around me did. I have tried to have the right attitude on and off the court. But I make mistakes like everyone else. I am not the perfect son.”

“Carlos has been a great support. He came with excitement and also the belief that with a few things, I could improve my results. And it has helped,” Nadal told Spanish newspaper El Espanol.

“It has been a breath of fresh air, positive energy. We have changed the way we practice and for Toni it has been also good.”

#1 The Fedal Bromance: There was no doubt that Federer and Nadal would be the stars of the Laver Cup show, but they put on an incredible, public display of friendship that no one could have seen coming. It’s no small feat given they will be competing for year-end No. 1 very soon.

The NBA legend Steve Nash and the Premier League player Stuart Holden, shareholders of Real Mallorca, have visited the facilities of the Rafa Nadal Academy in Manacor. Nash and Holden have been able to see the world number 1 train session with Toni Nadal and Carles Moyà and then they have made a tour to know all the areas and the method of work of the enclosure; have even experienced the interactive museum.

I beat Rafael Nadal at something? Moya: We have a table game that we play a lot during the tournaments, so the US Open. Parchís.