Rafa Roundup: Sharapova chooses Nadal over Federer

Photo via Nike Tennis
Photo via Nike Tennis


Three titles, another two finals and a top-five ranking would be more than most players would dare to contemplate, let alone hope to celebrate, in a season.

But it’s a measure of Rafael Nadal’s place among the game’s greats that amid all of those achievements, 2015 represented his worst full year as a pro. Progressing through the year without a Grand Slam win for the first time in over a decade, the much-loved champion exited in the second round of Wimbledon and was a third-round casualty (at the hands of Fabio Fognini) at the US Open.

Will see a new Nadal in 2016? “We’re not doing anything new,” explains Uncle Toni. “Rather we are going back to the things we did in 2008, 2010 and 2013, but which, for one reason or another – usually physical problems that stopped him from having continuity in his game – we could not do.”

Once upon a time—2009, to be exact—Rafael Nadal and Fernando Verdasco played one of the longest, and one of the best, Australian Open semifinals of all time. Now they’ll do it again in the first round.

The good news about confidence: it not only comes and goes, karma chameleon-style; it self-perpetuates. A few courageous wins, a few matches played with conviction and self-belief returns. If you’re a Nadal fan or team member, this should be a great hope, comfort even.

“When somebody is better than you, you accept it and you work to try to improve yourself. That’s it. I am not frustrated. I look at the things very clearly and I am always honest. Today he’s better than me without a doubt.”

It won’t happen in Melbourne – right? – but with Rio around the corner expect plenty of Rafaguruza speculation over the next six months.



  • 20 Questions With Maria Sharapova | Woman With Drive

VIDEO: Rafael Nadal Attends Qatar Open Party

Rafael Nadal attended the Qatar Open Player Party in Doha earlier this week. Watch!

Video: ATP World Tour

VIDEO: Highlights of the Qatar Open final between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic

Rafael Nadal faces top seed Novak Djokovic in the final of the 2016 Qatar Open in Doha. Watch!

Video: ATP World Tour

Qatar Open Final: An interview with Rafael Nadal (January 9, 2016)

Photo: Qatar Tennis/Facebook
Photo: Qatar Tennis/Facebook

Q. Can you give us your thoughts on the match? What are your biggest takeaways from the week and from this match?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, for the match is easy to analyze. I played against a player who did everything perfect. I know nobody playing tennis like this ever. Since I know this sport I never saw somebody playing at this level.

So just congratulate him and that’s it. I know I can do a few things better, but the real thing is with these conditions playing during the night and with the feeling of the ball here, it’s so difficult to have chances against him playing like this. Is probably impossible.

But the real thing is I had a positive week. I am playing well, and I gonna keep working hard to try to be ready for Australia. And I think I will be. I am motivated for it.

And Australia is a different story, different conditions. And it’s obvious that Novak playing like this is going to be so difficult to beat him for anyone.

But for my side, the only thing that I can do is watching positive all the things that I improved the last couple of months. If I lost 6-1, 6-2 today, it’s because I played against a player that played at the level that I didn’t know since the day of today. So that’s it. Not because I did a disaster or not because I am playing bad or because — no. The opponent was too good. And when something like this happens, the only thing you can do is applause him and congratulate the opponent.

For my side, I am happy the way that I am working and I gonna keep working.

Q. You have played Novak 47 times now, more than anyone else on tour. Are there still any secrets between you two, or do you pretty much know exactly what to expect each time?
RAFAEL NADAL: You don’t expect play against a player who plays at this level. So that’s it. Every match is different, you know, a little bit how it goes, but today was so special.  Continue reading “Qatar Open Final: An interview with Rafael Nadal (January 9, 2016)”

VIDEO: Rafael Nadal steals show during trophy ceremony: “I found a new coach today!”

During the trophy ceremony, Rafael Nadal said he found a new coach as he looked for the fan who yelled out at him during the second set.

“I found a new coach today, too. I think he is travelling with me to Australia tonight. I’m sure next time I’m gonna win against Novak with him.”

Watch and enjoy!

Video: Sport17news

PHOTOS: Rafael Nadal loses in straight sets to Novak Djokovic in Qatar Open final

Unfortunately, Rafael Nadal was not able to win the final of the Qatar Open in Doha. He lost 1-6, 3-6 to Novak Djokovic in 73 minutes.

After the match, Rafa said:

I am going go keep working so hard to be ready for Australia and the rest of the season.

It was Djokovic’s ninth victory over Rafa in 10 meetings – the last five in straight sets.

The Serb broke twice in both sets as our champ had no answer to the pace and power of his groundstrokes.


Rafa Roundup: Nadal-Djokovic showdown in Qatar

Photo via beIN SPORTS
Photo via beIN SPORTS


Rafael Nadal will attempt to capture his first ATP World Tour hard-court title for two years on Saturday when he plays familiar foe Novak Djokovic in the Qatar ExxonMobil Open final. “I know if I’m playing well, I am going to have opportunities,” said Nadal.

Nadal played this semifinal with the urgency of a man embracing a personal confirmation day. Consistently whipping the wide slider on the ad side, the 2014 champion won the first 23 points played on his first serve.

“It’s something that I don’t think about. It’s something that it’s obviously not worries me much. I know if I’m playing well, I gonna have opportunities.  The last, I don’t know, six tournaments that I played on hard court I have been playing semifinals in Beijing, semifinals in Shanghai, and then final in Basel, quarterfinals in Paris and semifinals at the ATP World Tour Finals. And last week, although it is not an official tournament,  but I played against tough opponents on hard court too in Abu Dhabi, taking the titel in the end,” the world number 5 told about his hard court performances and is looking forward to his 47th tour meeting with Djokovic, tied 23 a piece.

But one look at the men’s draw and, more impressive still, the prize money, and the Qatar Exxonmobil Open in Doha leaves no doubt: This is an ATP 250 that flexes its muscles.

No other tournament at this level on the tour offers even half the purse. It even out does some of the 500 events—and the standing of the men who line up to play a part is its reward.

Brad Gilbert calls it the “fearhand” and I have to agree: This is the stroke that has made Rafa not just a great player, but an all-time player. Without this whipping storm of RPMs and tornado-like speed, Rafa wouldn’t be the force on each surface that we know him to be.

Tennis champion Rafael Nadal can once again count on his lucky million-dollar wrist “charms” made by Richard Mille for the 2016 tennis season. .

PHOTOS: Rafael Nadal through to 99th career final at Qatar Open