Quarterly report

Photo by Beth Wilson

Steve Tignor has given out his quarterly grades. Rafa gets a B:

I wrote at the start of the year that Nadal would need one match, or one tournament, that will let him flip the switch on his confidence. Once he got it, he’d be as tough to beat as ever. So far this season, just when you think he’s about to have that tournament—in Doha, in Indian Wells, in Key Biscayne—he loses a lead and a match that appears to be his. The downside is that over the last year a lot more guys have had success attacking Nadal—Roddick was the latest example—and Nadal has had more trouble finding a way to counter those attacks, to come up with the one key return or pass that clinches a win. He’s playing well, at times as well as ever. But has just enough of his old aura of indomitable tenacity worn off that the next tier of players now feel they can beat him when it’s tight? Or has he done enough to get his game in order so he can flip the switch once again on clay? If you believe in history, you have to go with the latter. B

Fingers crossed, Steve, fingers crossed.

24 Responses

  1. Toosilnet says:

    Bodo had some pretty complimentary things to say about Rafa’s results at IW & Miami. I think it starts with “Rafael Nadal is back.” :))))))) yay!!!!!

  2. mary says:

    Keeping fingers crossed, toes crossed, legs crossed (unless there’s an invite, yeah in my dreams) that our man will have little to no problemo’s with his knees come the clay season. ;-)

  3. Ch F says:

    The article sums up why Rafa must be feeling a lot more pressure now. It’s good for him to go back to his beloved surface, but the pressure he must be feeling entering the clay season having won no title to boost his confidence and having been so frustrated losing to Ljubicic and Roddick must be tremendous. Everyone is expecting him to win a title on clay and I wonder what that does to his state of mind.
    Hopefully clay will be easier on his knees so he doesn’t feel the pain at least. I know he isn’t very strong mentally these days but if the pain goes away for a while it will certainly help him focus more.

  4. tiemyshoe says:

    I believe in history!

  5. miri says:

    Interesting tid-bit. I’m watching the 2005 final on The Tennis Channel (tune in all week at 6pm EDT if you get TTC). For those who don’t remember (heh), Rafa won this by beating the defending champion and has won it every year since. At one point, the announcer said: “Defending champions haven’t done well here. Only 4 times since 1968 have they managed to defend.” So, I think it’s just defending champions who aren’t named Nadal who don’t do well in Monte Carlo.

    • rubik says:

      miri, thanks a million for the Tignor’s quarterly reports! Interesting read, although personally I have some serious restrictions on Tignor. A couple of weeks ago, for example, he published a rather silly piece entitled «Rainy Day Roundup: Drugs, Bruises, Nalbandian» on his Concrete Elbow blog. The main purpose of that Tignor’s paper was to establish that in his experience of the tennis world and his well-informed opinion, Nadal did not have a knee problem at the time of the 2009 French Open.

      I agree with you 100% that the 2005 Monte Carlo final Nadal vs Coria was truly something else to watch! And Nadal was 18 years old at the time: truly amazing!

      VAMOS, Nadal!

      • GB says:

        rubik: Steve’s a huge Rafa fan (he’s admitted as much in print many times). I don’t agree with him about Rafa’s knees, but he was arguing that he didn’t believe injuries should be used to consider results if the match was completed/other matches were won/he couldn’t see restrictions (i.e. powder puff serves etc). He’s old school about injuries. And uniform – he feels that way about all players (i.e. Fed’s back/mono etc).

        I flove Steve’s writing about Rafa, he really gets him.

        • rubik says:

          GB, thanks for your info. I knew that Tignor is a huge Nadal’s fan. I’ve been reading the articles published on tennis.com (on the site itself and on some of its blogs, including both Tignor and Bono) for years. Nevertheless, that particularly silly paper by Tignor truly turned me off. I truly dislike the fact that tennis writers feel they have the right to claim, by virtue of their supposed tennis-experience and well informed opinion, that a top tennis player (regardless of what player we’re talking about : Nadal, Federer, del Potro, Safina, etc.) is not injured or is not facing a serious medical condition when that player (and his/her doctors as well as official doctors within a given national organization) has clearly stated that he/she is injured or is struggling with a serious medical condition. But this is just my personal opinion, of course!

          Also, I truly believe that Nadal does not deserve a B for the last quarter, GB. Nadal’s performance has not been perfect over the last quarter, we all agree on that I believe. But Nadal suffered a knee INJURY during his QF match against Murray at the 2010 AO! Overall, Nadal’s overall performance for the 1st 2010 Q would be an A minus. Here again, this is just my personal opinion, of course!

          • nic says:

            Agreed :)

          • Ch F says:

            How can anyone be 100% sure a player is not injured? I just don’t get this. It’s one thing to say we shouldn’t consider injuries to assess results (if we do that consistently for all the players) and another one to question someone’s actual injury. Well, whatever. I like Tignor but I read a lot of this stuff with a critical eye in general. Tennis writers can’t afford to be boring so that should be considered as well. No one can claim to be entirely sure of anything.

            • rubik says:

              In a nutshell, Tignor believes that, on the basis of his long tennis experience and his well informed opinions, he knows better than the top players themselves (given the players’ publicly made statements as well as those of their doctors and doctors who hold key positions in national tennis organizations) whether or not these top players are injured or struggling with a serious medical condition simply by watching them play during their tennis matches. If these players’ tennis game does not look to HIM, Tignor, as being impaired or altered in an OBVIOUS fashion by an injury or a serious medical condition, then that’s it : these players are NOT injured or ill. Translation: these top players, their teams and all doctors involved have been lying through their teeth to the public at large.

              For example Wozniacki’s case in her 2nd match at the WTA Championship in Doha in late October 2009. Wozniacki is like Nadal when it comes to courage, determination, mental toughness and, in my personal opinion, some unreasonableness in the way she keeps on going in very long matches altough it’s a totally unreasonable thing to do in the circumstances, the cost of doing so being WAY too high.

              Well Wozniacki, who was already injured going into the match, litterally had convulsions from cramps on the court, felt down on the court, screamed and cried for long minutes, etc. (it was an unbearable sight, for me at least), then when she could finally get back on her feet, went to get treatment and massage on the court side, and then returned to complete and win the match!

              That 100% unreasonable Wozniacki’s “performance” was excellent from Tignor’s point of view: he could WITNESS that Wozniacki had cramps and hence admit that she did not lie to the public: Wockacki actually did suffer from cramps, so could tell Tignor to the world.

              Mind you, Tignor is not the only tennis writer or commentator doing this. Mc Enroe (John) was publicly, as a commentator, telling all that Del Potro did not have a problem with his right risk throughout the fall of 2009 and January 2010. From his long tennis experience and his supposedly well informed “insider” entourage, he KNEW that. And as we all know now and Del Potro himself, his team and his doctors have stated (i.e. behind McEnroe’s assertions was the premise that all these people were more or less a bunch of liars), Del Potro has been, and still is, struggling for months with a CHRONIC right wrist tendinitis. He’s had to retire from tournament after tournament since last fall, did not do well at tournaments he participated in and has yet to confirm whether or not he’s be in Monte Carlo.

              • Ch F says:

                Thank you for this account of events! So unless a player presents the unbearable sight of Wozniacki’s cramps there are doubts? I suppose being tough enough to hide the problem until it’s very obvious and totally prevents him/her from playing is out of the question. Are all the players a bunch of masochists just taking time off risking their rankings?

                • miri says:

                  Cramps are not injuries…they are the price of playing too much and not being physically ready for it (nerves can contribute too).

                  I think I somewhat agree with Tignor’s bottom line – it’s almost impossible as an outsider to truly know how much injuries are affecting play, so I prefer to try and not consider them. How many people were getting tired of commentators excusing Fed’s losses in ’08 on the Mono? How many people have griped about Nole’s constant problems in the past? I’m sure Rafa’s detractors are equally tired of hearing about his knees.

                  As far as the rankings/scoreboard/tournament outcome is concerned, a loss is a loss regardless of why.

                  I didn’t link to the article you guys are talking about precisely because I knew it would stir up some shit.

                  • rubik says:

                    miri, I see your point but personally, I see this specific issue differently.

                    However, I do indeed take good note of the addt’l info in your comment, that is that if you have not linked an article yourself, you have your reasons not to and I’ll respect that 100%.

                    I guess the solution for me then will be to send articles or other documents I find of interest to you first directly through this “contact form” (under “About”) you mentioned this morning since this is your site, after all, and I greatly appreciate it.

                    So that’s the procedure I’ll follow from now on. Have a nice evening!

  6. SHerry says:


    I find it very surprising and a little grating that a lot of the so-called experts seem to be cavalier about the fact that Rafa is coming back from injury and a potentially career-ending one at that. He didn’t just choose to have some time off. His knees were a BIG problem and he will have to manage them carefully for the rest of his playing career. To come back from that, play on a surface that isn’t his best and get to two semis is pretty remarkable in my opinion. If anything, the fact that he did makes the other players sit up and take notice even more than they would have done at the beginning of the year. His level of play at both IW and Miami was very high, in some matches he was peerless. I think his contemporaries, especially those ranked around him are well aware that this Rafa on the brown stuff is a serious threat.

    And he’s getting better.

    He’s still got a little more work to do but no one knows this better than Rafa. And he’ll get it done. I have absolutely no doubt that by the end of the clay season, we’ll ALL be singing from the same hymnsheet: Rafa IS back!

  7. JC says:

    Speaking of Tennis.com… found this link on Bodo’s TennisWorld in an entry by Andrew Burton: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWY7Fbasa9c

    Agree with her about Nadal fans being initially drawn to his personality, whereas Federer fans are more in awe of his game.
    Don’t like the comments about Nole, though. I think a lot Rafa fans like Nole, seeing how much affection there is between the two.

    • SallyO says:

      That was an absolutely FANTASTIC video! Thank you very much for sharing JC. All she had to say about Rafa was beautiful and she just expressed all that I feel about him.

      A+ Elizabeth Kaye! It was hysterical to see the Rafa fan looking like a hippie, all spiritual and down to earth. And then the Federer fan being this older white guy, who…never mind. I found it all very fitting.

      The one thing I disagree with is her comment on Djokovic.
      I really don’t care at all about him to want him to lose.

      I just googled her ‘The Quiet Fire’ journal to read her writing on Rafa. “Zen and the Art of Rafael Nadal.”



    • Rafangel says:

      FLOVE this vid! She sums it up so well :))) But argh! Can’t hear what’s said at 4.30: “I honestly think he’s one of the few athletes who would’ve been….” What?? Anybody know?

      • GB says:

        I think she said “of equal interest to Fitzgerald and Hemingway” because he has ‘that combination of absolute macho and strut and, along with this incredibly poetic nature’.

        I flove this vid as well. So true on being drawn to Rafa’s game because I couldn’t ignore his spirit. And, the ‘there’s more than one way to be a champion’ thing really got me as well, cause god I’m in awe of how Rafa’s handled this past year.

    • GB says:

      Yeah, I disagree about the Nole stuff as well. I’m a ruthless Rafa KAD:), but I also like Nole a lot. Rafole have a great vibe together, and have played some absolutely epic matches.

    • Alix says:

      Interesting stuff, thanks JC!

      I must be SO weird – I like Federer too…