Five in a row

(Photo via AP)

(Photo via AP)

For Rafa’s attempt to win his 5th Monte-Carlo final in a row, he faced world #3 Novak Djokovic. The match started with both players swinging out and playing well. It was such an odd match, though. I kept feeling like Djokovic was outplaying Rafa, but, as Kalliopeia said, he didn’t outplay him when it counted. Rafa wins 6-3 2-6 6-1.

Stats:

Nadal Djokovic
Statistics on Serve
Aces 2 4
Double Faults 1 3
1st Serve % 66% 62%
1st Serve Points Won 35/57 (61%) 30/54 (56%)
2nd Serve Points Won 14/30 (47%) 11/33 (33%)
Break Points Saved 6/11 (55%) 7/14 (50%)
Service Games Played 12 12
Statistics on Return
1st Return Points Won 24/54 (44%) 22/57 (39%)
Second Return Points Won 22/33 (67%) 16/30 (53%)
Break Points Won 7/14 (50%) 5/11 (45%)
Return Games Played 12 12
Statistics on Points
Total Service Points Won 49/87 (56%) 41/87 (47%)
Total Return Points Won 46/87 (53%) 38/87 (44%)
Total Points Won 95/174 (55%) 79/174 (45%)

As it happened blatherings:
Rafa’s adrenaline is pumping and he’s twitching during the national anthem.

Kalliopeia: I wonder how much a ceremony like that disrupts his pre-match routine and concentration

Poor thing can’t find anyone to deal with his water bottle. Nole wins the coin toss and will serve. Pascal Maria in the chair – he’s been a bit of a good luck charm for Rafa, so that bodes well.

Nole is ready to serve and get this started. Rafa gets a break point and takes it with a beautiful cross-court forehand winner: 1-0.

Nole’s brought his unsuccessful drop shot with him from the last Davis Cup match.

Kalliopeia: …I should be crocheting.
Kalliopeia: I don’t want to mess with proven formulas
miri: Indeed
Kalliopeia: crap. I’ll have to shift everything to the other end of the bed.
Kalliopeia: sigh.
Kalliopeia: The things I do for you, Rafa.
miri: I wake up early on the weekend! That’s unheard of!
Kalliopeia: we are the very picture of selflessness

Rafa was pushing Nole around well, but Nole decides to take a shot at that and it’s 30-30 on Rafa’s first service game. Nole hits a fairly good drop shot and then follows it up with a brilliant lob and gets a break point. Rafa saves the point, but then fires a shot wide and it’s break point again. Another error from Rafa gives Nole the break and we are back on serve.

miri: I know it’s irrational, but it makes me nervous when he keeps checking his racket when getting ready to receive. I keep thinking, “You might miss the serve!”
Kalliopeia: hee
Kalliopeia: especially with djoker who is all bouncebouncebouncebouncebouncebounceSERVE

Rafa’s cussing already as he keeps making errors. Nole holds and it’s 1-2.

After an aggressive point that he wins, Rafa double faults. Always painful. Nole comes back aggressive and moves Rafa well – break point to Nole. Both players running side-to-side in a long rally and Nole eventually nets a ball – back to deuce. Rafa’s turn to net a ball and Nole has another break point. A drop shot trade-off favors Nole and he breaks: 1-3.

Amazing reflex half-volley flick from Rafa for a winning forehand on Nole’s next service game. Suddenly, Rafa’s got triple break point. Rafa only needs one and it’s 2-3.

The Tennis Channel is showing a commercial for the Monte-Carlo final. You know, the match that’s currently on. Isn’t it a bit late for that?

Very nervous looking smile from Rafa when something goes floating around on court…Nole’s looks relaxed. Hmmm.

Kalliopeia: Rafa never smiles though, it’s a good sign that he did at all

How did he get that half-overhead while back-peddling? Amazing save on that from Rafa. Sizzling backhand cross-court and Rafa holds: 3-3.

Every time I see Novak’s coach, I think it’s a German actor whose name I can never remember.

Rafa rips a cross-court forehand for a break point. A deep serve and Rafa floats the return – bp saved. A nice drop shot from Nole followed by a cross-court forehand takes us to deuce again. A wonderfully constructed point from Rafa gives him another break point. Nole saves it with a big forehand. A shot from Rafa goes millimeters wide and Nole has game point. A few boo-boos from Nole and Rafa has another break point. Nole sends a shot way wide and it’s game to Rafa: 4-3.

Trainer out looking at Nole’s back. He’s taking an injury time out. Looks like they just gave him a bit of a massage.

Rafa holds at love: 5-3. Rafa punishes a short volley from Nole with a vicious cross-court forehand. The net’s on Rafa’s side and pushes one of Nole’s shots back at him: break and set point Rafa. Nole sends a shot wide and it’s first set to Rafa: 6-3.

@kefuoe 31 consecutive sets!

Nole’s working the lob well today. He uses it to get to 30-30 on Rafa’s first serve of the second set. Rafa nets a ball and Nole has break point. An amazing point with Rafa running all over the darn place trying to stay in it gives Nole the break. I have no idea how Rafa got to some of those shots.

Nole holds easily: 2-0.

While the camera people distract me with close-ups of Rafa’s legs, a few more unforced errors creep into his game. He holds, however and it’s 1-2.

Nole talking to himself (more like yelling) as Rafa has double break point. Rafa gives back both BPs with errors.

miri: I don’t like it when Rafa does that head grabbing thing. Makes me worry about his mental state. That looks so much more discouraged than pouty face, for some reason.
Kalliopeia: He’s seemed a little out of sorts all match to me

Sizzling down the line shot to earn another break point which Nole saves. It takes awhile for either player to get two points in a row, but Nole finally does and he holds: 1-3.

Rafa is making getting behind on his serves be a habit. Break point for Nole. Rafa fires a shot long and Nole breaks again: 1-4.

Rafa’s letting Nole dictate the pace and pattern of points. That’s got to change.

The net cord has turned against Rafa as well. Nole holds: 1-5.

Rafa holds, but is he about to lose his first set here since 2006?

Nole takes the first set off Rafa in Monte-Carlo since Fed did it in 2006. We are going to a third set.

Kalliopeia: you know, these days rafa doesn’t really often crank things up unless his back is against the wall
Kalliopeia: I feel like he has some kind of issue with needing to be trying to catch up to something.
Kalliopeia: which sounds like a weird thing to say given that he’s had his best year ever so far
miri: this whole year has felt like, “What’s he doing? Why all the errors? Where’s his head? Oh wait….he won.”
Kalliopeia: but honestly, when you look at how he’s playing…he only really pulls out the great stuff when he’s down. he just sort of cruises if he’s way ahead.
Kalliopeia: very frustrating
Kalliopeia: I hope he can sort it out before he stops being able to claw his way back in.
miri: Indeed.
Kalliopeia: okay, he has to win this match because if he doesn’t? Djokovic is suddenly going to be the one everyone picks for the French.
Kalliopeia: And maybe that wouldn’t be a bad thing because it’d take some pressure off, but I WILL GO OUT OF MY MIND.

Nole starts the third set by going up on Rafa’s serve. An error gives Nole break point. How. The hell. Did he win. That shot. I thought he’d lost it for sure when he hit a short ball in the middle of that long rally. Nole follows it up with some aggressive play and gets another break point. Good serve from Rafa draws an error. Deuce. More ads and deuces as this game stretches on. Rafa just can’t put two points together. Nole’s hitting hard, flat and deep – using the standard hard court play against Rafa and it’s working…on clay. After 13 minutes and 3 break points, Rafa finally holds.

Kalliopeia: YES JASON, RAFA IS BEING TOO PASSIVE

And yet…Rafa goes for a shot in the next rally and commits an error – game point to Nole. A drop shot that’s a bit more drop than shot takes things back to deuce. Nole standing in one place and Rafa running all over the place…and Rafa wins the point. Break point to Rafa. He failed to convert on all three opportunities in the second set, but he gets some help from the net cord in this one and breaks.

Kalliopeia: you’ll note that I started crocheting at the beginning of this set, and this is where rafa is fighting and actually winning again. :D
miri: Keep it up!
Kalliopeia: I shall.
Kalliopeia: I believe I was working on this blanket when he won the Australian. Clearly I’ll have to keep working on it all year. It’ll be the biggest blanket ever

Break point to Nole. Rafa runs around every backhand and saves the break point.

Kalliopeia: he needs to do stuff like that last point more often
Kalliopeia: push him back!
Kalliopeia: make him run!
Kalliopeia: he’s not as good defensively as Rafa is

Ace for the ad. Rafa sets up exactly the shot he wants…and hits it into the net. Deuce again. Nole whips a cross-court forehand and he has another break point. Rafa stomps on a short return: deuce. We are already over 10 minutes into this service game. Nole returns the favor by jumping on a short ball from Rafa – break point again. Rafa hits a shot long and Nole breaks again. They are back on serve.

Double break point for Rafa. Nole saves one, but shanks a ball on another. Rafa breaks.

Kalliopeia: FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD IN THIS WORLD, HOLD YOUR SERVE.

One drop shot too many from Nole – Rafa whips it cross-court for a winner.

Kalliopeia: someone I’m chatting with has this assessment of this set so far: “WOOODAMWOFUCWOCHRIST”

Beautiful forehand down the line from Rafa – his bread and butter shot. Ace for a hold at love. That? Was nice.

Nole double faults on double break point. 5-1.

Rafa serving for the set and his 5th straight title. Nole’s been firing errors for a bit and this game is no exception. Triple match point for Rafa. He wins!

50 Responses

  1. Kalliopeia says:

    ….I sound like a crazy person.

    Not that it’s inaccurate, not during a match. But still!

    He needs to stop stressing me out like that. Or at least do me the courtesy of crushing Djokovic at every opportunity. No more of this three set nonsense.

  2. kefuoe says:

    Kalliopeia- for some reason reading about your crocheting made me think of Penelope weaving and weaving while waiting for Odysseus to get back home. And that match was quite an Odyssey!

  3. johanne says:

    That was a serious rollercoaster. I feel like both players were really really nervous – sometimes at the same time and sometimes at opposite times. But like you said Kalliopeia said, Nole didn’t outplay Rafa when it counted. And I agree that Rafa seems to enjoy being behind in a match. He LOVES the fight. What an amazing achievement for our boy :) VAMOS RAFA!!!

    • faecoleman says:

      Good point there Johanne, I think his concentration is at its best when he is behind and when he gets in front it wavers thus so does his tennis…!

  4. tiemyshoe says:

    Kalliopeia, you were totally verbalizing all my reactions during the match. Except instead of crocheting, I took some heart-attack time-outs with some reading for school (obviously, I don’t remember a word now).

    BUT OHMYGOD HE WON. Sometimes I don’t know why or how Rafa wins. Why doesn’t he play like he did in the final set all through the match?

    My only theory – besides the fact that Nole played lights-out in the second – is that Rafa’s not as mechanically tough as some people play him out to be. Like, I don’t think he’s naturally tough or aggressive. When his opponent is playing really aggressive, he always struggles mightily to overcome these periods of self-doubt – and more often than not, does find that aggressiveness. But it’s like … I can’t think of any other athlete who’s so damn good at doing something he’s bad at. That’s what makes his game so befuddlingly exciting to watch.

    I’m almost glad it was tight, because he looked so amazingly happy at the end. <3<3<3 And screw you Monte Carlo crowd for not cheering harder, but oh wells: he was GREAT.

    • miri says:

      “Like, I don’t think he’s naturally tough or aggressive. When his opponent is playing really aggressive, he always struggles mightily to overcome these periods of self-doubt – and more often than not, does find that aggressiveness.”

      You know, I think I agree with this. He seems like such a cautious, non-thrill seeking person and that always seems so at odds with the image he shows on-court. I mean, he’s afraid to be alone in his house at night! Not exactly someone who naturally roars at the world. Is overcoming that part of the challenge he finds in tennis?

      • tiemyshoe says:

        Exactly. The incredible thing is that he roars to life on the court when it matters. It’s a great psychological strength I think to overcome his more natural inclinations.

        Oh, and the other weird thing about Rafa is, his stats at the end of the match are always so much better than I think they are. For instance:

        1st serve 66% – What the? I could’ve sworn he got like two in the whole match. Seriously.

        More first serve points won than Djokovic – again, my eyes were deceiving me.

        … I won’t quote them all here, but he had Nole beat in all the categories and had basically just as many winners (and about half as many errors), but when he plays it just doesn’t seem like that. Or maybe my fangirl anxiety gets in the way of seeing it.

        • miri says:

          I know. I always keep the stats window open on the live scores because they help settle me down. I’m thinking Rafa can’t get a first serve in to save his life and he’s serving at 60plus%.

          And that also goes to my feeling that he’s being outplayed. So many matches I feel that way, but when you look at the score? Rafa’s ahead. It makes no sense.

          • Kalliopeia says:

            It comes down to the thing that they always talk about with Nadal vs Federer. Federer never looks like he’s struggling, even if he is. Everything Rafa does looks difficult, even if it isn’t.

            • nic says:

              that’s exactly what i felt too – kept waiting for the commentators to mention rafa’s first serve percentage throughout the 2nd and 3rd sets cos i coulda sworn it was like 45% or something. i too thought nole was the one bringing it from the 2nd set onwards, but repeating exactly what everyone said, then when you see the 3rd set scoreline and the match stats, wha? first serve percentage in the 60s and 3rd set 6-1. the whole flipping time i was on the edge of my seat, screaming at rafa to hold his serve as though he was going down or something. what is up with that? i think maybe we’ve got so much invested in wanting rafa to win that when he’s playing and the other guy is putting up a killer fight it’s like omg what is wrong! but rafa was very confident in his post-match interview that he played real well in the 3rd. i was just too nervous to see that. i so wanted him to win this!! the only guy to have won the same masters 1000 5 times in a row? is that the stat? or has roger done that somewhere else?
              man, btw, i love, absolutely love, rafa in canary yellow. how gorgeous is he. sigh. i think maybe sometimes i’m too busy ogling him when he’s playing that maybe i’m not getting the right perspective of the actual match :)

              • faecoleman says:

                nic, you couldn’t have put it better, and I too have been following Nadal since he beat Federer in Miami just 17 years old, and I also love all his expressions and the passion he brings to a tennis court, not everyone understands my Rafa mania so its so nice to see that someone else is as obsessed with this sublime athelete as I am. He’s simply gorgeous isn’t he, the best ever!

                • miri says:

                  I admit to being late to the Rafa love. I stopped following tennis during the Sampress era – I hated that serves were completely taking over the game. I still watched the “big” finals on TV (the only thing I could watch since I also didn’t have cable TV) and the first few times I saw Rafa I thought, “he dresses weird and only knows one way to play.” But his game has evolved so much since then and I very much admire his work ethic, competitive spirit and desire to improve – he started to win me over in the 2006 Wimbledon final, but I think it was the 2007 one that brought about full conversion and brought me back to tennis.

    • Kalliopeia says:

      I will never get why it is that when Federer wins a tournament 13 times in a row, the crowds cheer just as madly for him as ever, but people always seem to root for the guy who is playing Rafa.

      And I think you’re right, I think he’s not a naturally aggressive person, which is why it’s easy for him to fall into that passive style of play. And I think it’s easier for him to do that on clay because he’s finally gotten to the point on hard courts where he seems to know he HAS to be more aggressive. I think on clay he thinks he can get by without it a little more.

      • tiemyshoe says:

        Agree about the passivity on clay. It still blows my mind that no matter how he plays, he manages to win on clay. 138-4 record since ’05 (I think I got that right?). Holy shit. I just hope he peaks for RG.

        “I will never get why it is that when Federer wins a tournament 13 times in a row, the crowds cheer just as madly for him as ever, but people always seem to root for the guy who is playing Rafa.”

        It’s the perennial mystery. I guess it has to do with the average tennis fan and how they respond to the way that Federer is marketed. I’ll never get why clay-courters don’t get as much respect in tennis – they somehow have to overcome their clay-court-ness and win on other surfaces before becoming a “real” tennis player. Whereas if you’re awesome on grass, there’s no discussion?

        Well, actually, I have a feeling it’s due to a very Anglo-centric elite bias, but what do I know.

        • miri says:

          “Well, actually, I have a feeling it’s due to a very Anglo-centric elite bias, but what do I know.”

          That and Fed looks and moves “pretty” on the court. He’s not all sweaty and grunty and making freaky faces. (Three things I love about Rafa, btw.) Fed tends to look like he’s not even trying very hard. That makes some people love him. It makes me want to punch him. ;) I mean, I do admire the beauty in his strokes, but things that look perfect annoy me. I actually prefer the current struggling Fed because he seems more human.

          • tiemyshoe says:

            I also hate things that look perfect, which was why I didn’t really watch tennis during the height of the Fed-dominance years. Because … why? It didn’t seem like a sport to me, but like some kind of piano recital with people clapping politely in the front row. When I watch sports, I want to see sweat and grunting and freaky faces. :)

            • tiemyshoe says:

              Pluuus … how do you feel the same exhilaration at the end if the victory was way easy? I just imagine Fed fans being like, “Indeeed. That was as it should have been.” Whereas I am like, “ASDFJKL;!11!”

              • miri says:

                “ASDFJKL;!11!”

                Ha! That one got me. I was feeling the exact same way.

              • strobi says:

                I am beginning to suspect that Rafa likes to decieve his opponents by being down and then putting the 6-1 at the end. I have seen him doing this too many times, like in the Montecarlo final last year, Federer was 5-1 in the first set and i was going out of my mind!
                But still, some of Rafa’s victories that i have enjoyed most is the Nalbandian match in Indian Wells.

        • strobi says:

          You have an interesting point here. Rafa’s personality goes against what would be useful in tennis. He is mild mannered, friendly and playful, not an aggressive bully. That’s why he sometimes has to write in his hand to be aggressive. Remember those misterious notes he puts on his hand sometimes?
          About why Rafa’s opponents seem to have more support from the crowd? I don’t really know. I guess is because of the way english speaking press has marketed Federer and Rafa. Federer is the gentleman, the metrosexual, sort of tennis royalty. And Rafa is put as a wild bullfighter. While i think is sort of the opposite. Rafa, despite his looks, is a polite young man that comes from an old and influential family in Mallorca, and Federer, well, not so polite all the time and about his background i don’t know much. The difference is that while Rafa likes to spend his free time in tournaments in playstation matches with the argentinians and spaniards, Roger likes fashion shows. It’s far more glamorous, than Rafa jumping on a bed shirtless because he scored a goal.

          • kefuoe says:

            Sorry Strobi, but when you end a paragraph with that sentence, people tend to forget everything else you said ;).

            • strobi says:

              I thought it would be distracting. If you want the real deal, watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B90qX7KPt1g
              with Rafa in underwear and David Ferrer (my personal favorite) shirtless.

              • CC says:

                He, he… I can watch that again and again. The funny thing with this clip is that Rafa once denied he had been filmed in his pants playing playstation. He said they were wearing shorts!
                *flove* him!!!

                • strobi says:

                  I guess he realized that that video was kind of embarrasing because he got beaten by Ferrer (who beats him regularly in playstation), and tried not to make it worse admitting he also plays in his underwear.

                  • miri says:

                    I still say they were playing strip PlayStation and Rafa was down to his undies.

                    • strobi says:

                      Possibly, those two are known for doing those kind of things. In a blog, Rafa tells that once David and him made Nalbandian and Moyá run down to the hotel lobby in underwear, because they lost a match.

                • Denizen says:

                  One of the questions I submitted to the newspaper when Rafa blogged for the AO was along the lines of, “Did you know that not only were you just wearing underwear when you were playing Playstation on Tenis Pro, but that I’ve downloaded that episode to my iPod?

                  They didn’t use it. :(

          • johanne says:

            Personally I think the Monte-Carlo crowd is pretty quiet just in general. They’re too “polished” to get themselves into a tizzy or to exude any sort of animal excitement. At most there’s some brief rythmic clapping at break point/match point (talking just about the crowd as a whole). They leave the loud cheers & outburts to the “real” fans who travel to watch their faves…and those fans are usually outnumbered. But they ARE there.

            I liked Rafa from the first moment I saw him play, for all the reasons you guys have said and more. He was just different – sporty, sweaty, sexy, spicy, Spanish – and I was so NOT bored. And to this day I’m NEVER bored watching him play. It’s amazing how many exciting matches he’s been involved in – even just this year alone!! That speaks volumes about him, IMO. I think the media/sportsworld just really enjoys dichotomies, so they presented him as the complete opposite of Federer. But Rafa is THE most exciting tennis player out there (for me anyways). He’ll always have an outrageous amount of fans around the world, even if they’re not at every tourney!! :)

            • nic says:

              yeah johanne, i found rafa very intriguing the first time i saw him play a match – and it was vs. fed probably in ’05. at the time i was a casual tennis fan, tuning in once in a while. when i spotted rafa it was on clay (i can only remember that because i can somehow remember the red of the surface, but not really much else of the match). i’d known that fed was the player to beat at the time and naturally thought hey let’s check this out, but when i saw rafa play, it was love at first sight. or more like, damn this guy is really unusual looking in his outfit, he just works so hard to get every darn ball, the tenacity, the speed, the grit, i’m loving this. totally, fed is just way too boring and mechanical for me. and with each passing year i started to get more and more interested in tennis, and for every casual fan, fed was their fave, but mine was rafa – and the kind of reaction i used to get when i said that! so since wimby in ’06 i’ve been a huge rafa fan. i love that we knew a good thing when we saw it a while back, and now that he’s proven he’s the guy to beat and the way he’s just continuously improved his game, i’m so f-ing proud of him it’s amazing. truly one of the greatest athletes ever – i hope he will go down in history that way – transcending the sport. oh and another thing i love about rafa is how he’s so expressive in every way – his face can convey a thousand things – all the eyebrow raising, the intense squint, the rolling of the eyes, the gritting his teeth, i love it all. *sigh* he’s such a sweetheart. and i’m way too obsessed. off to bed now.

              • dutchgirl says:

                You’ve expressed my feelings as well! This happened to me when I first saw Rafa play at RG back in 2005.

  5. CC says:

    Ahhh… I had to miss the match today, family stuff (which was nice). Asked a friend to tape it, so might get to see it later sometime.
    Sounds like a good game, although Rafa was maybe not playing his best. But as you say, when DOES he play his best? It does seem to me like he kinda struggles all the time and STILL wins convincingly. It’s weird…
    And hell yeah, it SO annoys me the image press gives Rafa sometimes. At least journos who know NOTHING about tennis.
    Anyway, thanks for match report and your great comments! Hope to hear more from all of you that watched it.

    • tiemyshoe says:

      I think he plays his best at Slams, or has for the last few Slams (discounting US Open). Last year, he was flying from RG to Wimbledon, but he had tough battles at Monte Carlo and Hamburg. It’s like he wins almost everything on clay, but he’ll pick one tournament a year to play lights-out at and leave a BIG impression on everyone’s mind. I just hope he continues getting it right this year and peaks for the big one.

      • kefuoe says:

        In addition to being able to rise to the big occasion of Slams and even within matches, he is also an excellent 5 set player. His mental and physical stamina make him hard to discount in any 5 set match.

        • miri says:

          Indeed and I miss the 5 set Master finals.

          • faecoleman says:

            Oh of course the five setters are better, but for the players physical side, its just too much, and given the way Rafa plays, impossible to have a healthy long career with continuous five set matches.

            • miri says:

              I know that’s true, but I can’t help but wonder how the old-timers feel when they read stuff like that. They played for a hell of a lot less money, didn’t have physios on tour with them and played 5 setters with no tie-breaks. I know the game is more physical now, but those guys must think the current players are wimps. ;)

        • tiemyshoe says:

          Also, have you noticed he plays very differently for five-set matches? He’s way more relaxed and takes control of the points, because I think he’s more confident that blips won’t take him out of the match. And thus he has fewer blips.

          • miri says:

            Something in this article backs up your observation:

            “Nadal recently said that in two-out-of-three-set matches, the top players are more vulnerable because a player can get scorching hot with his serve or favorite groundstroke and pull off an upset before the better man can dig in.”

  6. babz says:

    I am stuck and ended up spending the night @ my grandma’s. Life sucks. Tell me he played well enough to win RG. I can’t even do a post.

    • johanne says:

      Oh sorry Babz that sucks you couldn’t watch!! As far as Rafaplay goes…honestly, if someone can take 3 sets from Rafa at RG I don’t know who it is.

  7. faecoleman says:

    thanks for the match report girls, my satellite signal was poor today and I missed most of the match and ended up screaming @ the t.v. Really got me nervous thou coz when I did! get a signal Rafa’s serve seemed to be going in to the net! So glad he won his fifth title @ No.1, this must mean alot to him. Hopefully I’ll be able to watch the highlights on Sky sports tomorrow, @ Indian wells I watch the nalby .v. Nadal match the following day, and I was relieved I didn’t watch that one live, it would have killed me!
    I love this guy, I really do, its worth all the stress of watching him, there’s no player like him, there never has been in my tennis life time.

  8. patzin says:

    thanks for all your comments. I agree totally. Watching Rafa lately is kind of worrying for me, he seems to be not playing well, but usually ends up winning. Like today in the finals. I kept telling myself, it is not over until it is over. Rafa is well known for recovering and lifting his game. I prob need more faith in the process.
    The journalists, commentators, make him sound invincible. But he has his ups and downs as do all the other players. I love Rafa’s attitude, that all he can do is play his best, point by point. Amazing attitude and strength of character.

  9. naaz says:

    Yeah!! Rafa doesn’t seem 2 b platin at his best this week, in fact the davis cup matches were better performances. He probably played best against murray. He seems to have a very low serve percentage & high UE (for him) I mean. I hope he hits his best stride now & sweeps the French Open. Fingers crossed!!!!!!!!
    !!!!VAMOS!!!!

  10. dutchgirl says:

    It’s so great to find all of your comments here. In my vicinity people don’t understand why I’m so mad about this guy and his tennis. So it’s nice to read how other Rafa fans feel and think. For example, I always thought Federer was to smooth in his play too. I agree he’s more interesting to watch right now in his struggling. And from the moment I took notice of Rafa, I’ve been following him, attracted by his fighting power and the fact that he doesn’t seem that polished as Federer does/did.

    And I recognize the nerves when watching Rafa’s matches. Sometimes I feel he needs the difficulties in his match to excel. And maybe we all get worried because Rafa himself keeps saying that he ‘didn’t play his best tennis’, but in the end he keeps winning them all, so what ís his best tennis?

  11. faecoleman says:

    dutchgirl, you’ve only got to look back at Rafa @ the French open, Queens and then of course Wimbledon sweep, then! he was playing his Best tennis ever! In particular watching the French last year, I could just see how easy and free he was playing, he even said himself when he won the French that he couldn’t imagine himself not winning the French again, it was sooo easy for him, but I agree, he is not consistently at his best of late, I think @ the Australian open he was impressive though, like sort of on a mission. When Rafa has a particular goal he is at his best, he’d said after the Australian open that he felt empty and peaceful, this is not good for him, he is always at his best when he is striving for a goal he is yet to achieve, its the competitive nature in him. Thats whats best about Nadal and what makes him soo unique! But stressful to watch? Yes…

    • dutchgirl says:

      You’re absolutely right about his level of tennis throughout these tournaments (especially Wimbledon!). I was indeed referring to his matches since AO.
      And I think your assumption is right: Rafa needs the competition. Let’s hope there will be many stressful matches ahead for us fans…

  12. faecoleman says:

    I saw that match bjorn and Mac although I was just a babe I remember my mum was going crazy, she idlolized bjorn borg back then, and years on here I am obsessed with Nadal who is often compared to Bjorg for his clay court dominance although Nadal should be considered a step above for his h/c victories. Its such a better game now, I think anyway, so much more anticipation and drama, its taken me along time regain my love for tennis , but thanks to Rafael I’m hooked again.