Close, but no cigar

Photo by REUTERS/Nir Elias

Photo by REUTERS/Nir Elias

In his first final since Madrid, Rafa played #8 Nikolay Davydenko in the Shanghai Masters today. Davydenko had a tough and long match against Djokovich in the semis, but showed no signs of that bothering him today. He was playing smart, aggressive tennis and pushed Rafa back on his heels for most of the match. Rafa fought back from being down a break in the first set, but Davydenko dominated the tiebreak. He broke Rafa in the 6th game of the 2nd set and that’s all it took. Rafa loses 6-7(3-7) 3-6.


Nadal Davydenko
Statistics on Serve
Aces 1 4
Double Faults 0 1
1st Serve % 69% 70%
1st Serve Points Won 29/42 (69%) 39/53 (74%)
2nd Serve Points Won 9/19 (47%) 12/23 (52%)
Break Points Saved 5/7 (71%) 3/4 (75%)
Service Games Played 10 11
Statistics on Return
1st Return Points Won 14/53 (26%) 13/42 (31%)
Second Return Points Won 11/23 (48%) 10/19 (53%)
Break Points Won 1/4 (25%) 2/7 (29%)
Return Games Played 11 10
Statistics on Points
Total Service Points Won 38/61 (26%) 51/76 (67%)
Total Return Points Won 25/76 (33%) 23/61 (38%)
Total Points Won 63/137 (46%) 74/137 (54%)

As it happened blatherings:

Ulrich in the chair.

Rafa will serve to get the match started. First point is a long rally (21 shots) that ends in a forehand error from Rafa. A nice serve that Kola can barely get a racket on and it’s 15-15. Lather, rinse, repeat: 30-15. Second serve. Forehand from Kola goes long: 40-15. Rafa controls the point and finishes with a winner from mid-court. Nice stress-free hold to start the match.

Kola tries to step in a rally, but Rafa pushes him back and, in the end, draws the error: 0-15. Good serve and Kola cuts off the return at the net: 15-15. Ace. Kola nets a forehand: 30-30. Forehand return shanked wide and it’s 30-40. Another long rally ends with a forehand error from Kola: deuce. Rafa sends a return sailing: ad Kola. Rafa sends a shot way wide and Kola holds: 1-1.

Kola steps up mid-rally and smacks a forehand down the line for a winner. Beautiful shot. Rafa sends a shot long and he’s down 0-30. Both guys trying to angle the other one off the court and Kola wins: triple break point. Excellent serve saves one. Kola sends a shot barely wide and another bp saved. Kola steps up mid-rally and he breaks.

My cable TV is again acting up – only showing me about every third second of the play. I fucking hate cable monopolies. I’m going to be depending on Twitter also appears to be dead. I’m getting very grumpy.

Rafa’s shots landing short and Kola steps up and smacks a winner. Kola sends a shot just long: 15-15. Rafa returns the favor: 30-15. Massive forehand winner from Kola – 40-30. He holds: 1-3.

Kola nets a ball: 15-0. Kola sends a ball long: 30-0. Rafa holds at love: 2-3.

Kola smashes a winner: 15-0. Kola sends Rafa wide to this backhand side and then hits a fierce winner to the open court: 30-0. Rafa sends a slow second serve return long: 40-0. Rafa wins the battle of the angles this time: 40-15. Rafa nets an easy looking slice backhand and Kola holds: 2-4.

Wonderful serve, popped up return, Rafa smashes a winner from the net: 15-0. Kola angles a forehand and draws an error from Rafa: 15-15. A short sitter from Rafa and Kola moves up the court and takes control: 15-30. Rafa sails a backhand long: 15-40. Kola barely misses an angled forehand: 30-40. Rafa stops mid-point and challenges an overrule from the chair, but is incorrect. Replay point. Kola sends a shot wide and it’s deuce. Again – game point Rafa. Kola sends a shot long and Rafa holds: 3-4.

Kola sends a shot just wide: 0-15. He beautifully cuts of an attempted passing shot from Rafa with a soft well-placed volley: 15-15. A long rally ends with an error from Kola and a big fist-pump from Rafa: 15-30. Another forehand winner from Kola: 30-30. Kola nets a forehand and Rafa has a break point. Kola steps in when Rafa hits a short ball and smacks a backhand cross court winner: deuce. Second serve. So-so return from Rafa, but Kola sends his shot way wide: break point. Kola’s ball was called out, but he challenges the call and wins: replay point. Kola sends a shot just long and Rafa breaks. They are back on serve at 4-4.

Second serve. Rafa sends a ball way long after being pushed into the corner: 0-15. Kola again working the angles, but Rafa stays in the point with a strong down the line forehand and then a slice backhand. Kola sends a shot just long: 15-15. Kola again runs Rafa all around the court and hits a ball that Rafa can’t reach: 15-30. Again Kola runs Rafa, but then he blows a smash: 30-30. Rafa taking way too much time between points. Kola sends a shot just long: 40-30. Great rally with both players struggling to take control of the point ends with Rafa at the net hitting a winning volley: 5-4.

Kola serving to stay in the set and starts off with an amazing angled backhand winner: 15-0. Second serve. He sends a shot just long: 15-15. Caught off balance a little bit, he sends a shot way wide: 15-30. Rafa sends a shot way long: 30-30. Second serve. Kola sends a shot barely wide: break and set point for Rafa. Rafa attempts a lob mid-rally and Kola comfortably smashes is home: deuce. Good serve, sitter of a return, and Kola smacks a winner: game point. Second serve. Rafa misses a forehand down the line and it’s 5-5. Rafa really blew an opportunity to close out that set.

Kola misses a forehand: 15-0. He sends a service return sailing: 30-0. Second serve. Rafa hits a ball out wide and Kola nets the response: 30-0. Rafa sends a forehand down the line long and it’s 40-30. Good first serve and Kola nets the return: 6-5.

Kola again serving to stay in the set. Second serve. Another flying forehand: 0-15. Fierce passing shots from Rafa – Kola returns the first, but can’t get to the second: 0-30. High floaty return from Rafa: 15-30. Kola steps up at the perfect moment and it’s 30-30. Kola pulls Rafa way wide with a excellent serve and then runs into the net and knocks off a volley in the opposite direction – perfection. Ace. Tiebreak time.

More fierce and sharp angles from Kola and he goes up a mini-break. Again with the angles – running Rafa ragged and it’s 0-2. Odd shot selection from Rafa, but he wins the point and gets the mini-break back. Kola sends a shot just long: 2-2. Kola pounces on a shortish high ball from Rafa and hits a clean winner: 2-3. Rafa angles a shot after a long rally and just misses: 2-4. Change of ends.

Second serve from Kola. Pounces on Rafa’s return and hit’s a clean forehand winner: 2-5. Rafa serving. Second serve. Kola sends the return long: 3-5. Second serve. Rafa totally mis-hits a shot: 3-6. Kola has multiple set points on his serve. Second serve. An beautiful backhand winner from Kola and he takes the first set in one hour and 15 minutes.

Kola serving to start set 2. Rafa sends a sitter wide 30-0. Ace. Easy hold for Kola.

An indecisive shot from Rafa: 15-15. Excellent passing shot from behind the baseline: 30-15. Rafa holds.

Angles galore, but Kola sends a shot barely wide: 0-15. Short ball from Rafa and Kola smacks it for a winner: 15-15. Kola stomps on another short return: 30-15. More angles and then a forehand down the line: 40-15. Ace. Kola holds. 1-2.

Rafa serving with new balls. Ace. Kola smacks a floaty slice from Rafa and puts Rafa on the defense. He sends a shot long: 15-15. Kola angles Rafa into the doubles alley and Rafa misses on the reply: 30-15. Second serve. Kola nets a ball: 30-30. Kola just misses on a cross-court: 40-30. Kola nets a ball and Rafa holds: 2-2.

Second serve from Kola. Double fault. Again, Kola moves Rafa well and Rafa can’t get his racket on a ball: 15-15. Rafa sends a ball way wide: 30-15. Kola miss-hits a ball: 30-30. And then he nets one: break point for Rafa. Rafa flubs the return: deuce. Second serve. A long rally (28 shots) ends with Rafa sending a ball long: game point. The net cord shows Rafa some love: deuce. Second serve. Kola angles a totally un-returnable forehand: game point. Second serve. Rafa blows the return hitting it wide and Kola holds for 2-3.

Second serve. Rafa does well to stay in the point as long as he does, but he ends up sending the ball long. Kola keeps pushing Rafa around the court at will. Second serve. Kola angles an amazing return. Amazing! 0-30. A shot from Kola is call out, but he challenges and the ball is right on the line – replay the point. Second serve. Rafa sends a shot barely long: 0-40. Kola miss-hits a ball and one bp saved: 15-40. Rafa’s turn to miss-hit and he’s broken.

Rafa nets a ball: 15-0. Kola returns the favor: 15-15. Second serve. Kola working Rafa’s backhand and pulls him wider and wider until Rafa nets the ball: 30-15. Rafa runs around a backhand and leave the court open for one of Kola’s excellent, hard-hit angled forehands: 40-15. Kola holds. Rafa to serve to stay in the match.

Rafa actually plays a point inside the baseline and wins: 15-0. Second serve. Rafa sends a ball long: 15-15. Beauty of a forehand winner from Rafa: 30-15. Nice serve: 40-15. Another good serve and another point won by playing inside the baseline. Rafa holds. Kola will serve for the match…

Kola nets a ball: 0-15. Great serve out wide and a good follow-up: 15-15. Serve down the middle and Rafa poofs a return wide: 30-15. Second serve. Deep return from Rafa and Kola sends a shot way wide: 30-30. Kola pounces on a short ball: 40-30. Second serve. Rafa’s shot is called out, he challenges… Kola has won.

154 Responses

  1. Bookshere says:

    Yes, Davydenko played amazingly well, but what is worrisome about Rafa’s play is that he not only got out-shot on a hardcourt, he was out-thought at almost every important juncture in the match. No injury can explain that; his former problem-solving skills and his great adaptability to meet new challenges appear to be gone. He had 9 winners in the entire match — 9. Every time Davydenko hit another winner, he’d put his hands to his head, as if to say, got me again. He looked bewildered. Not good.

    What are his coaches doing ? Where’s Toni and why doesn’t Roig help Rafa tackle this deficit? It’s been going on ever since his return after the knee tendinitis. Can Rafa only beat Roger and a few of the minor players, like Blake and Robredo and Gonzalez?

    I don’t feel sorry for him (think he wouldn’t want his fans to feel sorry), and I hope he doesn’t feel content to have reached the finals in this one, as he had few tough opponents and lots of injured ones to contend with before Davy.

    Maybe this is how Roger’s fans felt after the Australian Open. Hope we get our Rafa back, like they did their Roger. Looking grim, though.

  2. Mary says:

    Well, I don’t really know what to say. As much as I wanted Rafa to win, I’m really happy for Kolya. In my opinion, most of the time he stays under the spotlight so it’s great for him to win such as prestigious title after playing so well this week. As for Rafa, it was awesome thathe made it to a final but he just couldn’t pull it out. Onwards to the rest of the season. I’m glad he’ll have time to rest up for Paris.

  3. miri says:

    Can people can say that feel Rafa wasn’t playing the game they feel he should be without people going into a tizzy? People are entitled to opinions and as long as they aren’t just slagging but offering reasons, they should be able to express them.

  4. Rafafan says:

    CCarl/Emily – I totally agree with you about your assessment of today’s match. Having watched the highlights again (not so intense this time), I didn’t realise that Rafa had a few chances against Davy’s sublime tennis (and maybe if he was match fit/confident, could have got the opportunities). It wasn’t as if there was an Ivor or Cilic or Del Pot to blast him with aces all the time so there was no chance. But quite frankly the best form of defence is ATTACK. Rafa knew he was on a know win wicket and the disappointing thing is he didn’t have the guts to change his strategy. To do your best to win, you would do anything change anything round – it’s not just a question of playiing your own game and if your good you will win. No you have to look at your opponent and change it up. CC/Atch/Anna – this is not negativity this is being POSTIVE about his game.

    Atch2 – thank you Monfils yes he did beat at US (seeded 11?) I don’t think there was another seed he played against since his comeback and won.

    Don’t get me wrong – we are very positive with Rafa – just disappointed that he didn’t try to do something different like come ininside the baseline, volley more and serve out wide. He would definitely have won eventually by changing the game round early – or aat least have Davy come out of his comfy zone.

    Hoping now that Rafa gonna give it a thought and play Valencia – well he said he needed more matches to give him confidence no?

    HCCC – hope Rafa’s bott not too sore with all that slapping – needs some nice smooth cool icecream to rub over it and lick it up. mmmmmmmmmmmmm. The upshot of all this is that all Rafa fans are still with positive aktitude for his future. Vamos rafanatics x


    • Emily says:

      let’s look forward to a sublime and in-form Rafa who will hit all his opposition off the court!
      PS: did anyone notice how they played the palpitating heartbeat sound everytime they were waiting for the outcome of the hawkeye review to show? Thought that was funny. but the choice of music was atrocious (apart from Billie Jean) – there was even something resembling a chinese classical music piece that was totally inappropriate for a highly charged tennis match.

    • CC says:

      Rafafan, as I said before in this post, I really don’t have a problem with people analyzing and criticising Rafa’s game at all! I was disappointed too by the way he played today.

      • An says:

        And me neither, its not that i think Rafa cannot be criticised.
        The facts that he was playing to defensive, to far behind the baseline and didn’t seam to know what to do with Davy D’s game at all are all acurate! Its the negative sound i don’t like and have troubles with, by saying i wasn’t going to defend him more as i did because it was bringing me on the edge of crying i din’t mean that people should stop expressing theire toughts nor did i want people to start make excuses… it was just expressing how it made me feel, but thats my problem! Miri is right, we all are entitled to our own oppinions and we should be able to express them freely!

  5. Rafafan says:

    PS:PS: Stupid Sky didn’t show the ceremony – mayb they felt Davy didn’t have enough charisma to show it! But please can someone put the link on – just wanna hear what our Rafa says and just to see his cuccute smile and his thankyouverymuch! Boy am I gonna miss him for 3 weeweeks? Paris is around 8 Nov? (Those Parisians better behave themselves) Let’s hope he decides to play Valencia – it is his home country and if he wants confidence, his fans will give that to him in abundance

  6. Emily says:

    and the part when Rafa was towelling himself down with his shirt off – absolutely hot!

  7. miri says:

    Bottom line for me on this tournament is that it was difficult to get a good feel for how Rafa is feeling/playing day in and day out because he didn’t really have to do that. With the two retirement matches, he wasn’t consistently pushed. He was pushed in three matches – the first, the one against Ljubicic and last. (Robredo was a cake-walk for him, so I’m not including it.)

    In the first, he came up with a solution, but that was against an opponent who wasn’t playing as well as Kola. In the Ljubicic match, I thought he had worked out a winning plan and could have taken the third set, but we will never know. In the final, he couldn’t come up with a solution. I thought he had the right idea at the end (trying to step up into the court more), but it felt like it was too late.

    I know it’s easy to sit her on my ass and criticize, but that’s how I see it. Am I predicting all gloom and doom because of this loss? No. Losses are losses – they happen. This wasn’t as devastating a loss emotionally or game-wise as the one against Cilic, so there is something positive, right?

    • mary says:

      “This wasn’t as devastating a loss emotionally or game-wise as the one against Cilic, so there is something positive, right?”
      I think you hit the nail on the head. I feel dissappointed in us. When did we become such fucking experts!!!! Rafa’s game against Cilic was far worse than this. Davydenko was more brutal than what I’ve seen of most players. I don’t think anyone could have taken on Davydenko & came out a winner on this occasion. He was the best on the day. Also no ones mentioned how romantic it was for Davyd to run over, leap up & intimately embrace & kiss his wife. That was almost a tear jerker. Btw, it’s nice to see the woman getting the praise for her other half’s victory.
      Good luck to you in the future Rafa!

    • Emma says:

      I think that’s a really valid point about not being able to get a true feel for his play due to the QF and SF ending in retirements. I definitely think there is an issue with confidence going on here, and I can’t help wondering if he had beaten a fit Ljubicic and Feli (albeit the latter would have likely been a walk over anyway) would it have made a difference today in terms of belief in being able to turn things round like he used to?

      I do hope he plays Valencia to get more matches in, plus the home crowd support. I am a bit peturbed at the thought of him going straight to Paris and getting a battering from the crowd again.

    • Atch2 says:

      Rafa knows what he has to do. And if he doesn’t Uncle Toni and Roig will hammer it into him. Rafa’s probably got a prayer template that says “play more agressive, take the ball earlier, head to the net more often, serve better and more out wide”. For us Rafanatics we would be praying the same thing and adding “more shirt changes”.

      (As if I don’t think about this enough I’ve got my Dad worrying about Rafa as well. The first thing he said to me this morning was “I hope Uncle Toni tells him to play more aggressive”.)

  8. CC says:

    When you mentioned “how romantic it was for Davyd to run over, leap up & intimately embrace & kiss…”, I thought Rafa was going to be at the end of that sentence. I was all “Did he?! Really!? And I missed it?!” Then I read “his wife” and once again this evening I was disappointed. Sums up how my mind works.

    Anyway, I did see the kiss and it was sweet!

    • mary says:

      Don’t worry CC, I made up for it on another thread. My deviate mind was just resting or thinking up thoughts I dare not share!! ;)

  9. faeaki 7 says:

    Well I have to say, after seeing Davy play yesterday I was expecting an easy win for him against Rafa! but when Rafa broke back and took it to a tie-break I felt a little optimistic, but I agree, he was really waiting for Davy’s mistakes and showed little confidence in going for winners, at 2-5 in the 2nd set he served and volleyed beautifully and held serve comfortably, I found myself shouting at the screen!”why Rafa didn’t you do this more often? ” although he played good defense, that was all there was, defense,defense,defense! But on a positive note he played some great defensive slices and passing shots so there are positive signs, infact he has played better here, it was unfortunate he had to retirements which didn;t help as far as match practice and momentum are concerned. Davy came into this match with great confidence after getting past an inform Djokovic, I knew it was always going to be hard for Rafa today, but he was guilty damn it, of short balls leaving Davy to pick of easy winners, ralleying from the base line was Rafa’s mistake today for sure!
    On a positive note the last time Rafa lost to Davydenko in Miami 08 it was alot worse and we all know how Rafa played after that on his beloved clay of course, so there are positive signs, he definately lacks training and conditioning, this is evident in his game, he can only get better!

  10. jimmy says:

    It’s a little disheartening to see Nadal these days. The interruption to his success (bcoz of the inopportune injuries) might turn out to be a watershed in his career. The tennis world has evolved and Rafa is struggling to catchup. Yesterday’s match was one of Nadal’s worst losses this season. While Davy is solid of both wings and has good consistency, he’s nowhere near as explosive as Cilic, Delpo, Djokovic, Soderling etc, who pose a much bigger threat to Rafa. Nadal shouldn’t loose easily to Davydenko who doesn’t have a big serve and is vulnerable to attack. Offense is the best way to overcome him. Nadal knew all this and still decided to play ultra-passive all through the match: his first winner was after 7 games,and he tried to hit an attacking dtl fh just 4-5 times in the entire match! These are stats that would have done Andy Murray/Wozniacki proud.

    I am trying hard to find signs of the player that won millions of fans in ’08 by his courageous play. The Rafa of old actually attacked players (instead of waiting for errors), was brilliant at turning defense into offense, kept his opponents glued to the baseline and took the initiative with his dtl fh or cc bh. It used to be very hard to dictate play against Nadal on either wing because he made no mistakes and was always waiting for an opportunity to turn a neutral rally to his advantage.

    These days, OTOH, Rafa’s game lacks direction. He has no plan B. Most of Rafa’s shots stay close to the service line, the dtl fh (that was such a weapon) seems AWOL. Rafa returns from 3-4 meters behind the baseline, and instead of moving in after the serve, stays far back for the entire duration of the pt. He tries to hit “hard” rather than hitting deep. If he attempts to be aggressive, he ends up spraying the ball all over the place. On court he seems impatient, edgy and frustrated while constantly gesturing to himself and looses his calm once too often. This in sharp contrast to the unflappable Rafa of ’08.

    It’s the same pattern in every one of Nadal’s losses this fall (post injury). He stands far back behind the baseline and get pushed further and further back as the match wears on and his opponent takes the initiative. Finally Rafa realizes that he has nothing to hurt the other player, and the match is no longer on his racquet. That’s when he starts to loose his confidence and gets broken repeatedly, and ends up loosing the match.

    IMV Rafa needs some guidance, a lot of work and a fundamental change of tactics. If Uncle Toni (who’s conveniently vacationing) is not prepared to supply it, Rafa needs to take charge and get a new pair of eyes to examine his play. One thing’s for sure, there’s nothing substantial left for Rafa for the rest of the season. If he couldn’t be impressive in the slower courts of Shanghai, he won’t go very deep in Paris or the YEC in London (which are much faster surfaces).

    Next spring (especially French Open 2010) will be one of the most critical junctures in Rafa’s career. If he doesn’t get a great result there, his career might go downhill after that. Unlike the ’04-’07 era, there’re a bunch of hungry players out there hunting for blood. With these repeated losses (many of them beatdowns) on hcs, Nadal has lost his aura and the rest of the locker room knows it.

    • mary says:

      Jimmy you are either very depressed or you are enjoying bagging Rafa!
      Are you an expert? Even then most would never write him off.
      I dont’ think anyone who follows Rafa is wearing blind folds nor should we pretent to know how Rafa operates. He makes mistakes & he hasn’t denied he is hesitant because of his injuries & repeatedly stated he needs to find his form. I’ve seen him play worse games than this. You seem to forget Davydenko would have been unbeatable by anyone that day. He is a top player. He was on fire! Rafa couldn’t get into his own rythm as Davy wouldn’t allow him. Sure Rafa could have come into the net more, but he didn’t. Does this mean this is the end. I think not!!!
      I don’t hear anyone knocking Fed the way Rafa has been knocked & if you took the time to check all the tourneys Roger has played this year & actually won, you would find he has won no more than Rafa. He just happen to win the big one’s while our man wasn’t & we all know why.
      Have your opinions but your negativety is astounding. I remain positive as I feel Rafa is rising in his confidence not deminishing. He just needs match play. Remember both quarters & semi’s were dissappointing as he didn’t get the opportunity to finish either. That plays a major part coming into a final. It didn’t give Rafa the opportunity go gain in confidence, unlike Davy who won a 3 hour match against a top player in Nole, giving him amazing confidence.
      So smile & give Rafa time.

      • mary says:

        Actually I was incorrect with the wins for Fed, he has only won 4.
        His game ratio of win/losses this year are: 55-8.

        Rafa’s game ratio of win/losses this year are: 61-10
        Rafa has played more than Fed, so that ain’t bad at all. So think in the positive.

      • miri says:

        Mary, what part of this did you not get?

        Can people can say that feel Rafa wasn’t playing the game they feel he should be without people going into a tizzy? People are entitled to opinions and as long as they aren’t just slagging but offering reasons, they should be able to express them.

        You seem to forget Davydenko would have been unbeatable by anyone that day.

        You state this as if it’s fact, but you don’t know it to be a fact – it’s hyperbole. We do know that Kola wasn’t beatable by Rafa the way both players were playing yesterday – that’s the only fact we have. Could Rafa have beat him if he changed his game plan earlier than in the last few games? We won’t ever know. He might have been able to or the score might have been even worse.

        And yes, people were totally writing off Fed earlier this year saying he was never going to win a slam again and that his career was over. It happens.

        • Ch F says:

          I agree with you, miri. Thanks for being so fair to people criticizing Rafa, they don’t necessarily mean it in a bad way nor does it mean they don’t believe in him at all. I happen to think that Davydenko wasn’t unbeatable, on the contrary, had Rafa converted the set point he would even have had the chance of actually turning the match around. Davydenko was just playing great and Rafa missed his chances. That of course doesn’t mean he will never win anything again!

  11. anna says:

    well i agree some of your parts of the post jimmy….you said he is losing his AURA but who has a aura in the game now…NO ONE inculuding fed who lost from 5 1 up against tsonga and then clearly choked against del po in the us open….you said it is dissapointing he lost the davdeyko that he isnt as powerful game like djoko or soderling well same davdeyko BEAT DJOKO and soderling lost in this event….one deep note this aura thing exagaratted byy the fans through out the years no one has an aura when they start the game they created their aura byy great play….if nadal keeps losing it wont be because he lose his aura if he begins to win it will be because he is begining to play great tennis again…..the thing that i agree with you is if he wont ao next year there will be HUGE PRESSURE ON HIM AT THE FO….but that is not the kind of pressure he hasnt seen before…the same pressure is there since 05…

  12. Izzy says:


    I was proud of Rafa, yesterday. His first final in so long and he did well all considering. It was create for his confidence.

    In order to beat massive servers and flat heavy hitters, like SOderling, Del Potro and Davydenko etc Rafa needs to do two things.

    1) Improve his serve, which will allow him to follow the ball in and take control from the baseline.

    2) Improve his return of serve, so again he can follow the ball in and play form the baseline

    Trust me when I say to you, RAFA in 2010 will do something special.
    He knows what he has to work on, but while recovering from injury it is very hard to impossible to make changes to his game.

  13. Izzy says:

    Have faith! Our boy is only 23! He has been injured and lets not forget has done very well in his less liked part of the season!
    He didnt win, but I believe that Davydenko would have won anyway no matter which opponent was on the other side of the court.
    He played out of this world and he did it to Djokovic the previous day.

  14. jimmy says:

    “”He didnt win, but I believe that Davydenko would have won anyway no matter which opponent was on the other side of the court. He played out of this world and he did it to Djokovic the previous day. “”

    I don’t think that’s true. This was Nadal’s tournaments to win. All the tall big hitters (who are a bad matchup for him) were out, Nadal was fresh and had 2 truncated matches. Shanghai is one of the SLOWEST hardcourts out there. Davydenko is a veteran and was visibly tired (as he admitted in his presser) after 4-4 in the first set. Furthermore, Davydenko does not have the booming serve, the height or the explosive power of someone like Cilic, Del Potro, Djokovic or Soderling who can blow Rafa off the court.
    Seriously, Can Rafa ask for better conditions than this for a ATP 1000 title?

    As I said before, Nadal’s approach to this match bothered me. In the middle of the first set,Davydenko looked tired(started to breath heavily) and allowed Nadal back into the game at 4-4. Davydenko had two very mediocre service game afterwards and Nadal even had a set point. However, instead of passing like the old Nadal would do, Rafa put up a weak lob which the russian converted. Even after that, I told my gf that Rafa was going to start dictating play seeing that Davydenko had very little left in the tank and was there for the taking. To my surprise, Rafa instead of pressing the issue, just continued to hit groundstrokes which barely cleared the service line. Davydenko, on the other hand, played even more aggressively because he knew that he had to wrap up the match in 2 sets, and was able to do just that thanks to Rafa. The Rafa of old would have converted the break point, won the set and then finished Davydenko, just as he would “never” have squandered breaks twice the last 2 times aganst Blake (beijing/Shanghai).

    In his pressers in the past 2 months, Nadal always talks about the need to be more aggressive, but the intent never translates on to the court. I don’t think, other than the serve, there’s been much improvement in Nadal’s play since he’s resumed after injury. . Each of his 5 losses in Montreal, Cincy, UsOpen, Beijing, Shanghai bear the same pattern. It’s like watching a re-run. Nadal is hitting the ball with too much spin and elevation but with no depth. Every time he gets the ball on his forehand he cannot gain control of the pt like he used to before. His down the line forehand is AWOL and he’s pushing with his backhand instead of attacking. He returns serve from 3-4 meters behind the baseline, but does NOT move in at all as the rally progresses. Rafa is getting pushed back (further behind the baseline) as the match goes on and he’s getting increasingly frustrated because he knows that he really has no weapons to hurt a half-decent hard court player with his game at the moment.

    Basically Nadal is counting on his defensive ability to win matches. Clearly his movement is NOT what it used to be earlier. For ex, in Australian Open 09 Nadal played the best defense that I’ve ever seen in the 20+ years that I’ve been watching tennis. These days his sideways movement is slower, his shot positioning and footwork is a off and he cannot make those impossible running cross court backhand shots that he regularly used to make earlier.

    Again, I’m not writing Rafa off, just saying that his play (at the moment) lacks initiative, game plan and strategy. The yo yo reactive mode won’t get him far. He needs to do better than hitting single digit winners in 3 hrs of hard-court tennis. Running all over the court 4 meters behind the baseline won’t help him at all, and will only get him injured again eventually, which would further dent his confidence.

    Rafa needs to reach out to Uncle Toni (or someone else) and make changes to his game. He has to move in closer in the court, start swinging freely while flattening his forehand as he was doing in AO 09. Repeated losses every week are hurting his legacy as a champion, and diminishing his aura. Pretty soon there’ll be no one afraid of him on the tour. Rafa needs to get a few good victories against the top players to regain his mojo. Playing the way he is, won’t get him anywhere. He’s not 19 anymore and can’t counter-punch forever on a hard-court.

    • CC says:

      Phew. Although I watch tennis with my heart, and don’t always understand a lot of the more technical things about the game, I am sure you are right in most of your observations about Rafa’s last few losses, jimmy.
      What I really don’t understand though, is why Rafa and his posse would settle for Rafa playing like this, using this strategy, if it’s this clear that it’s not working? Surely they and Rafa must know what Rafa needs to do to beat a lot of these guys? (Assuming that his posse aren’t a bunch of complete plonkers.) And surely that must be what Rafa would try to do? So there must be reasons why he hasn’t? I don’t know. I’m asking.

      • miri says:

        Rafa is risk-adverse (aka – tends to play safe and/or is too chicken to push things depending on if you like him or not – heh). He often practices completely different from how he plays. He’ll practice all inside the baseline and playing aggressive as hell, but then will fall back to playing safely in a match. This situation is nothing new, it’s been a major criticism of him for ages. I think the thing that frustrates many people is that he seemed to have overcome that early this year and was willing take risks and play aggressively on hard courts. He’s done it more frequently on grass because he knows he has no other choice. Problem is, while he feels he does have a choice on hard courts, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that he doesn’t really have a choice if he wants to constantly win on hard court against some players.

        Don’t get me wrong, however. I’m not writing Rafa off, I’m just hoping he can regain the confidence he needs to play all out on hard courts and take the game to his opponent instead of having his opponent dictate play.

        • CC says:

          So it’s down to confidence, possibly. Because I refuse to believe that he doesn’t know what game plan he needs to use to beat players like Davydenko, or how to execute that game plan, at least on paper. It’s just not really happening in reality at the moment.

        • jimmy says:

          Good post. I think Rafa played one good game against Davydenko at 2-5 in the 2nd set. That’s how he should have played the entire match. Ultimately, Nadal does have the tools to be a much more aggressive player, and we saw shades of that in the pre-clay hardcourt season (AO, IW and Miami).

          It seems that while fate so cruelly cut a scissors through Nadal, in the summer this year, the whole tennis world has evolved and Rafa is struggling to play catchup. A year earlier, Rafa could still counter-punch and win matches against everyone but a handful players on a hardcourt. These days the field is too hungry and he will get pummeled by any decent top 10 player on a fast-court. I think Nadal would be the first to acknowledge, that if he continues playing like this he won’t win a hard court slam

          I guess everyone knows the problem and the fact that there’s no been no ‘discernible’ progress (after injury) despite Nadal’s results on paper (which are deceiving IMV). I really think Nadal needs direction and guidance to help him overcome his defensive proclivity. I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes in the Nadal camp. But if the state of affairs continue, maybe it’s time for Rafa to take the initiative and get a “supplementary” specialist coach, just as Djokovic has done with Todd Martin. Because of these repeated losses, Nadal is rapidly loosing his mojo and respect in the locker room. That doesn’t augur well for him going forward.

          • johanne says:

            If we’re going by your standards for Rafa, take a look at his tournament results in that past few seasons (especially at the end of the season) and he would have already lost this so-called mojo & respect years ago. Just sayin.

          • johanne says:

            LOL did you see the 2007 Paris Masters final where Nalbandian kicked his ass? Even bagelled him? Brutal.

            AO 2009 Champion. Huh. Rafa is so funny. ;)

        • johanne says:

          “This situation is nothing new, it’s been a major criticism of him for ages.”

          Honestly I’ve seen Rafa lose plenty of matches, esp on hardcourts, so I completely agree that these problems aren’t anything new for him. I think a lot of fans get caught up in Rafa’s brilliant ’08 run. They want that all the time. Hardcourts have always been a tougher surface for Rafa- one where he’s more beatable, if you will. That being said, he’s made a lot of progress and obviously knows how to win on that surface. But he is definitely beatable & will unfortunately play shit tactics at times. It’s not anything new, unlike some are suggesting. Did anyone read the post-final presser where they ask Rafa about the Miami ’08 final and Rafa says he played much much worse in that final?? Could NOT agreee more. He played like SHIT in that match!! I mean SHIT. But look what he went on to do. It’s not necessarily a disaster.

          I’m disappointed Rafa lost in the final, but I’m not surprised he lost to Davy, esp after that win over Nole. I just think that bc of what Rafa did in ’08, and winning the AO this year, some think he should be just as “unbeatable” on hcs as many suggest he is on clay. And I just don’t think that’s the case (at least not right now, after 2 injury breaks and a crap time during middle of the season- tennis wise & emotion wise).

          This is notoriously Rafa’s shittiest time of the season. No doubt that plays a part after injuries and tough moments during the spring/summer. I’d love to see him playing smart tennis and playing without fear, but that comes from being confident & we all know how he’s said his confidence is not at the highest level right now. That comes with time and comes with more matches and more wins. I think he’s moving in the right direction and he seems 100% motivated to keep on moving forward.

          So basically I don’t think it’s “shocking” that he’s losing to these guys. Anyone who’s followed Rafa’s career knows this is a tough time of the year and a tougher surface for him to dominate on. If you look at his results so far, just at face-value, they’re pretty sweet. I guess I just don’t get as caught up in the whole “what does this mean for his career?” aspect as some do. Just my 2 cents on the matter. :)

          • jimmy says:

            I don’t see the relevance of comparing Rafa’s past hardcourt results with this year, given that he’s improved incrementally each year. His first hardcourt Semifinal was as late as 2008 Australian Open! He won the AO slam title this year and played very well after that until the clay season.

            In fact, that was the pt of all my posts. Nadal has taken “not” one, but “several” steps back post injury. While we expected him to resume in a similar fashion to his play in 2009 ( at least in intent, if not in execution) , he’s playing defensive tennis as he did in 2007 (but without the speed).

            In contrast the rest of the tour has evolved and Rafa is having to play catchup. That is why he needs to makes changes and get back to the top of his game, or he’ll risk getting further behind to the pt it becomes extremely hard to get back.

            • johanne says:

              That’s the difference between me & you. I didn’t expect him to “resume in a similar fashion to his play in 2009.” I realize recovery is a process – both physically & mentally – and it takes time. He’s not a machine.

              • miri says:

                I don’t expect him to be able to execute right away, but was hoping he’d attempt to play in a similar fashion. I guess for me, I’d rather seem him fail while playing aggressively than win by playing a style that feels passive. Does that make any sense?

                • johanne says:

                  Yeah that makes sense. But Rafa usually plays passive when he’s not as confident. Davy made him uncomfortable from the very first point. I was glad Rafa had chances in this match: set point in the 1st set; break points in the 2nd set. Davy just came up with the goods more often than not. Compare that to the Cilic match where he had practically no chances? Maybe he broke once (but then got broken back immediately, which gave Cilic the match). Much better showing, and I think that’s what Rafa was talking about in his post-final presser.

                  • miri says:

                    Yeah that makes sense. But Rafa usually plays passive when he’s not as confident.

                    I know…and that will always make me want to slap him…and then give him a hug. Being a Rafa-fan is full of all kinds of conflicts.

                  • jimmy says:

                    I think Rafa’s best match after his injury was the one against Monfils in the UsOpen. Since then he’s played worse, possibly because of the ab injury and the 3 week break. FWIW, I don’t think he played any better against Davydenko than he did against Cilic. Davydenko doesn’t have the serve, power or the explosive groundstrokes of Cilic or DelPotro. The shanghai court is also much slower. That’s why the match was close. Against Cilic/Del Potro on a faster court the result would have been similar to what it has been in the past 2 months.

                    Anyway, that’s it from me. Thanks for the analysis. Hopefully Rafa can win the Davis Cup and recover his game in 2010.

                • sia says:

                  Miri … makes lots of sense … but Rafa has always been a passive aggressive player … really a very agressive defensive player. Right now his amazing ‘fight’, his unwillingness to lose is not quite back (I really feel it has nothing to do with all this evolving other players talk that is rattling around the net). He is still in recovery.
                  Although, I thought he did play some agressive tennis this week just not so much in the final.

                  • miri says:

                    I agree – he played some great aggressive stuff against Blake. I’d love for him to feel comfortable enough to play like that more often if that’s what he wants.

                  • johanne says:

                    I agree, sia. One of Rafa’s biggest weapons has always been his mental strength, and unfortunately that’s what’s a little faulty at the moment. He’ll get it together. :)

              • jimmy says:

                As I said, I wanted to see the “intent” NOT the “execution” of aggressive tennis of early 2009. That’s why it is not one but several steps back.

                • johanne says:

                  See I think Rafa HAS played aggressive tennis since his initial comeback in Montreal. The Monfils match at the USO is a great example, for one. Rafa’s played some good matches and it’s been fun to watch. The consistency just hasn’t always been there, which doesn’t surprise me at all. That will come with time and with increased confidence.

  15. sia says:

    I’ll assume you guys (Miri and Jimmy) didn’t actually watch the matches previous to this one with Nikolay … because although he played defensively (as is HIS style), he also played some amazing tennis well inside the court. In fact more than I’ve seen before. I think, and this is just my opinion, that it is his defensive game that is not back up to par. His return of serve was very weak, which doesn’t really allow him to dictate points. He is still not moving on court the way he used to … my feeling is that he is still in recovery mode. This has always been the hardest part of the year for him i think he is playing remarkably well considering the circumstances

    • mary says:

      Apart from this being my last post, sia I tend to think you are right. That is why I made the comment about Davy. He was playing some amazing tennis. I saw his quarters & semi’s & I still believe that anyone who played him in the finals wouldn’t have beaten him, he played too bloody good. Adrenalin is an amazing part of the body. I dont’ think either miri or Jimmy have ever played sport otherwise they wouldn’t bag Rafa as much as I’ve heard.
      Adios amigo’s I’ve had fun reading & posting. Hasta la vista!
      Rafael, el ray de la pista!

      • miri says:

        I do not bag on Rafa – I just refuse to pretend he’s perfect because no one is. I don’t understand why expressing concern about his game is bagging on him. I want him to succeed!

        • An says:

          Mary, can you reconsider?

          I think we all are a little frustrated and grumpy in our own way becacause we want Rafa to do well and winn so badly after a long, hard summer without even seeing him on the court and we all express that differently…

          But in the end we all love him, thats why we meet here, No?

    • jimmy says:


      “”In fact more than I’ve seen before. I think, and this is just my opinion, that it is his defensive game that is not back up to par. He is still not moving on court the way he used to … my feeling is that he is still in recovery mode.””

      I agree. Nadal is moving underfoot. He seems to be more sluggish going left and right and his body doesn’t arrive in the best position to hit certain shots,especially on the backhand side, which he now seems to hit from the feet pushing the ball without bending or flexing of the torso. Earlier Nadal could hit a backhand on the run without any problem. Now he seems having trouble getting there just to hit a normal aggressive shot. On the forehand side the movement is a little better though, although that has gone down a notch too. I would say that Nadal moved much better earlier this yr in the Australian Open where he played, perhaps, the best defense I’ve ever seen in my life.

      All that said, Nadal’s footwork and positioning will (hopefully) get better with more matches. However he probably won’t ever move like he did when he was younger and much faster. He no longer lunges after impossible balls as he used to earlier. And that is wise considering his knees. Anyway, this is natural evolution for players as they get older. But most players compensate slowness with aggression and guile. Unfortunately Nadal seems to think that he can still win matches counter-punching like he did when he was 19.

      His play against Davydenko could be characterized more by “lazy thinking” than lazy movement: Huff and puff but no guile, no change of pace, no plan B, no initiative and no strategy. Let’s hope that he learns from this.

      • miri says:

        I think he’s still worried about the knees and that’s affecting his movement. Again, it’s a mental thing.

        • jimmy says:

          I agree, but he needs to rely more on his shot-making than his wheels. I am counting on his cussedness and desire to improve to get him out of this logjam. Also he does need a plan B for these new-generation taller players (Cilic, Del Potro etc).

  16. xta says:

    from something i’ve read — maybe the wimbledon book about the roger/rafa “greatest match ever played” or maybe something else — i know that uncle toni has always told rafa — and rafa believes — that he is not as good a player as roger…so if rafa expects to win he HAS to play “his style” of tennis — fabulous defense and grinding from the baseline…somebody, somewhere, has neglected to instill in rafa a growing confidence in his ability to play many styles of tennis…sure he can grind from the baseline…but he can no longer count on running down every ball as he used to — and he knows that so that will make him feel that he’s not able to win…but he’s GREAT at the net — is toni telling him that ??? he can play a much more complete game now than, say, three or four years ago…all the commentators know that — does rafa ??? rafa has consistently grown his game, but from his show of confidence (actually lack of confidence) it looks to me like instead of reinforcing all the growth in rafa’s game, he’s focusing only on the “losses” in his game…he can’t run as well, but look at the improvement in his serve !!! and he can mix his game up with great success — serve and volley, come to the net more — but only if he has the confidence to actually do it…
    it’s clear to me that he does not realize how great he is — how varied are his talents…so who is not reinforcing his confidence ??? i get that there is a place for stern discipline in a coach, but there’s got to be some realistic stroking, too, and i’m not sure that toni is that guy…
    rafa needs to talk to mcenroe or moya or some of the other rafa-lovers that rafa might respect who can get him to recognize his genius and ability…he’s so much better than he knows…

    • miri says:

      I don’t think that’s what Toni was getting at at all. He was just saying that on a basic talent level, Federer is a more natural talent. I don’t think most people argue with that. He meant Rafa needed to work harder to reach the same playing and confidence level as someone with a more in born talent.

      To me, this goes to the heart of the difference in how they compete: Fed, the natural running around without breaking a sweat (damn him!), but who tends to back-off in the pressure is on (look at his record in 5 setters) and doesn’t fight; Rafa who knows he has to work harder and is willing to fight to the end. It’s why I root for Rafa instead of Fed. :)

      • jimmy says:


        “”Fed, the natural running around without breaking a sweat (damn him!), but who tends to back-off in the pressure is on (look at his record in 5 setters) and doesn’t fight “”

        True that. Federer’s record in 5 sets in grand-slams is woeful for such a great champion.Twice this year he’s withered against Nadal and Del Potro tamely in the 5th set (6-2 both times).

        Federer simply “doesn’t” like players who won’t defer. He becomes tentative, his sense of entitlement is outraged and he “crumbles”, as often as not. Federer likes room to move, he kills by stealth. He’s a boxer, not a fighter and when a match gets in too close to him, he doesn’t like it.

        His burden hasn’t been made lighter by winning the 15th slam, or having twins, or even marrying the wonderful Mirka. It’s always been the same old Roger, one who gets tentative in the clutch.

    • xta says:

      it must be that i don’t agree that fed is a “more” natural talent…maybe i just don’t get what the nature of talent is…to me, rafa has a natural ability to play great tennis — and for sure so does roger…and they both work hard at their craft…so they both work to develop their natural talents even further…to me, rafa has more talent than roger because rafa has more “talents” than roger…rafa has the talent to adjust (like roger refusing to move to his left during the AO even knowing that rafa was going out wide — or as others have pointed out here, roger “crumbling” rather than altering his game) and rafa has a more competitive nature (which i think is a talent in sports)…don’t get me wrong — i think roger is amazing…and gifted…and one of the all-time greats for sure…but to me, rafa is the more naturally talented…roger may have a better serve (for now)…roger is certainly graceful…roger can certainly volley…but rafa’s serve continues to improve (well, prior to the ab problem)…rafa’s grace of movement will likely not ever rival roger’s — but rafa’s court coverage is superior to roger’s…rafa from the baseline is so superior to roger…rafa’s volleying and net play are right up there with roger’s, and improving…i guess i’m blind to whatever “natural ability” roger has that is superior to rafa’s total package of natural abilities…and rafa has a natural hunger to continually improve, which i think is a great talent to have…
      but i’ll certainly listen to others on this…

  17. sia says:

    Hee hee Jimmy, perhaps someone ought to have told Davydenko that he was moving too fast for a 28 year old. I think Raf has played some agressive hard court tennis during this last tournament; I just think he will not push himself (which we should all be happy about … considering how many posts there have been here about Rafa playing less tennis) until he confident about his body.
    As someone who does play tennis and has alsosuffered a pretty bad tennis injury, I know it takes a while to get back to that place where you can put the injury behind you and just think about winning the next point.
    He will definitely get there. No question.

  18. marla says:

    Whoooa! This thread is getting a bit deep. Sorry to see you go mary, but I have to agree with miri, and she was not “Bagging” on Rafa, just stating what was obvious to all. My hubby always says I am Rafa’s biggest critic, but that is because I am his biggest fan.
    You do not have to play sport to analyze it. In fact, sometimes outsiders see something different. We have no idea what keeps Rafa from playing inside, serving better, hitting deeper… we can only assume and critique from the sidelines. In my opinion(just one of many)It’s not that Rafa is NOT a natural tennis player, but his training has been unnatural. He is not a lefty, but was encouraged to play so, he never had formal training i.e., proper stroke, followthrough, serve toss… Yet, what matters – he has had a very, very successful career. Many tennis pros, most for that matter, have had dozens of coaches and academy level training – where are they? Asking what if’s is the most pointless use of human thought. Rafa is as Rafa is and that is why we love him. Do we want him to do better, yes. Do we want him to play a different style, only when he is losing. We love him as he is.

    • sia says:

      Marla, I agree with you (and your opinions about Rafa’s style of play) and believe me you do not need to play a sport to be a good analyst. I only mentioned my tennis game because of the injury aspect (really my talents on the court are nothing to be proud of … although I do like to pretend that I can hit a spinner like Rafa … usually (basically always) it in ends up in the net).
      There is just that bit of second guessing yourself when you know you’ve ripped or snapped or somehow broken something … it is not the pain factor … it’s about how much time do I have to spend on the couch if I do (pull, snap, wrench) something else to my body.
      Eventually it lessens … and I would think in a young, strong, bronzy body like Rafa’s it should improve soon.

  19. Ch F says:

    First of all, I agree with Jimmy and miri that analyzing Rafa’s game doesn’t mean we are writing him off. And of course his game needs variety and some change. I am no expert, but Rafa’s mind is still on the injuries, I think. When he moves he is instinctively blocked by the fear of getting injured again. When he says I need more match play he probably means I need more matches to feel I can trust my body again. He has said so himself. Why did he say this was his happiest defeat? Because it was the first one after a long time for which he couldn’t blame his body. And strangely, this made him feel better. After having played more matches without feeling pain at all this idea of getting injured again will not cover everything else anymore. He had just come back from a knee injury when he got an abdominal tear. This second injury actually made things worse. I really think it bothers him, it’s really what matters to him most at the moment. After a few pain and injury free matches this fear will gradually disappear and his mind will be clearer. This takes time of course.
    When I used to doubt myself, a teacher once told me that when someone has done something once, they can do it again; but they need to have a clear and focused mind cause there isn’t only one way to get there. Rafa does know his way to the top but his mind is blur at the moment.

  20. Izzy says:

    Let’s give him a brake and ourselves a brake.

    Have faith in Rafa and know that he will make changes to his game. Its hard for him to play attacking tennis when his serves is weak and he is returning poorly.

    Think back to the AUstralian Open. ALthough the courts are slower he played brilliant attacking tennis. If he can win that Major, he can rectify his game again.

    ANd Jimmy, it was not his tournament to lose as thats undermining all the other big hitter and the eventual winner Davydenko, who played out of this world. Even Djokovic said he was helpless, and that says a lot!

    • marla says:

      Well said, and remember Davydenko said – to beat Rafa in three sets is not he same as five sets.. I think we are very lucky to have all these great players at the same time (minus – freaky tall guys)!!

  21. anna says:

    well you know we can discuss rafa game all day…but the reality is our guy is clay court specialist…SURE HE IMPROVED A LOT through out the years won wim won ao won oliyimpic gold out side of clay and countless important titles as well…byy doing it so sure he played much better tennis than he did the last couple of months but LETS BE REAL he played his OWN GAME to perfection some crazy defending some trade mark winners and show SOME HUGE HEART….but he isnt natural fast court player and HE WILL NEVER BE…rafa knows it tony knows it and everybody who understands tennis a little bit know it….at the end of the day you are who you are….his service will never be his biggest weapon he will never hit 50 winners in best of three match…can he improve of course yes thats what he is doing since the begining of his career…but he can improve HIS OWN GAME dont expect him to turn out to be someone else….it is impossible plus disrespectul to rafa if you do not like his game why some of you become fan anyway BECAUSE HE IS HANDSOME or at first you dont like fed loves the way he upsets fed….for me i didnt become rafa fan straight away it took time and then i really loved his passion heart and his game on clay courts…which i really beleive THE BEST…i knew it from the start his game on fast courts can be problematic…but at the end of the day i kept beleiving him even when everbody said he cant win on grass he cant win on hard which he did….and now i still beleive in him i want him to win but also dont expect him to be turn out to be hard court GOAT….but i knew that rafa at his best is the best TO PLAY THE BIG POINTS SO WELL….which he couldnt nowadays and also know it at his best he can amaze even his fans let alone experts…but as i said before the confidence will be back hopefully he will begin to win byy his own game WITH IMPROVEMENT…but dont expect some huge changes in his game……you can only work on your game you cant adopt some ones game on to you…for me rafa of old would have win that first and OUTLASTS davdeyko in the end byy not hitting 50 winners…..i think the real problem right now his confidence and plus i really beleive he isnt pushing him self like his life depend on it….will he do it again wait for next year it is too early now….

  22. Rafafan says:

    I think we are all in agreement that Rafa hasn’t played aggressive/offensive or what the topical word is today. If Rafa was trying to get his game back but was still tentative about his injury, confidence etc. wouldn’t you think he would come to the net more and be aggressive. He did it against Blake – u know why? he knew the only way to play him was to b aggressive and he couldn’t risk not – being the first game in the tournament. He went for it and gambled. Why the hell he didn’t do it in the final! Espcially as Davy had already won on 2 previous occasions by being the same aggresive style. Rafa knew it and he also knew how good Davy was doing – he admitted he watced the match. That’s why I am so cross – in fact even worse than the Cilic match. Rafa knoew how to play Davy whereas he had never played Cilic. He admitted he played well 5-2 down but was too late. Sorry Rafi – I love you so much but please please do not do this to your Rafafans again. We would rather like Miri say be aggressive and lose than stand 5 bloody meters beind the f…cking base line. The best form of defense is attack. And by the way – we all that running around you did – that gonna bound to hurt you, whereas coming into the net volleying would be fantastic. You did it so many times against Blake and won. I am still shaking my head in disbelief with your tactic – or were you just testing out your knees how much you could run and just relying on Davy’s mistakes knowing that he was out there for 3 hours, which is a bit cowardly if you ask me. We love you for turning defensive into attack. You have fantatistic net play SHOW IT!!!

    • marla says:

      There is not much argument against this. I was yelling at the tv for Rafa to move up again and again, mostly during the service returns, but then I read Davy’s presser, and his comment about Rafa returning more serves than Djoky – because he was back made me think again. It is tough to decide when one strategy works against a player and another against a different player. This is where I think Rafa needs more coaching and scouting support. He has won 6 slams playing defensive tennis, it is going to be verrry, verry difficult to change, no?

  23. Rafafan says:

    PS and confidence grows when you actually do it for real – not in the practice matches. The more you do – inside the court, serve out wide, net play and you get the point, the more your confidence will grow. You need to do it in the MATCHES – not in practice.

    We know your game is of a specialist court nature – but you indeed said yourself you want to be recognised on every surface – and that means you have to change your game – tactics and also assess what type of court it is – slow, medium slow slow hard court.

    At the end of the day you will work it out but some of your Rafanatics are tearing their hair out as to why you won’t show ALL your fantastic talent of aggresive play. That’s how you won Wimby and AO so please please do it for us and not get us so frustrated. We are only saying that coz we know you have the talent – you just have to believe in youreself and get Toni to believe you are the best thing since sliced bread. Adios for now x