Madrid: The tournament that keeps giving

Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

It’s Madrid RafaLint time!


The Case of Rafael Nadal and the Missing Trophy –’c Cheryl Murray has an issue with plates and who the hell can blame her? I really wish they would have played Frisbee with them as she suggests.

Brothers to the Death – as usual,’s Steve Tignor “gets” Rafa…or at least, agrees with my vision of him.

I’ve always liked Nadal’s attitude: Go for the win every time you set foot on a court, give every fan in every venue a chance to see you put yourself on the line, and honor them by celebrating and being equally proud of every win, no matter where it takes place. This, no doubt, is not as practical in the long run as the dour old Lendl-Sampras mantra, “Only the majors matter.” But look at it from a fan’s perspective. For us, as viewers who like to watch tennis more than four times a year, Nadal’s passion for every match offers a lot more entertainment and satisfaction.

Satisfaction is often a word that comes to my mind when thinking about Rafa. Seriously, though, I often find myself wondering how someone can be motivated to work so hard to accomplish the same thing again and again – winning the same tournament year after year. Then I see the look on Rafa’s face when he wins. I still don’t fully understand it, but I embrace it because it’s a beautiful thing to see.

Why choose between them at this point? Here you had the greatest men’s Grand Slam winner in history next to the greatest Masters Series winner. Here you had two guys who keep coming back coming back coming back, even as the contenders/pretenders below them fade into the woodwork. If they’re starting to look more alike as time goes on, that may be because, as they continue to defy the odds of tennis gravity year after year, Federer and Nadal both keep looking better and better to us.

Rafa was “the next big thing” in 2005. He lived up to the burden of that title and then some – eventually pushing all others aside and standing at the top of the hill. How many have crumpled under that same pressure since him? How many have come close, but not quite made it there? How many have both admired and cursed the two men standing at the top of the hill calmly and benevolently surveying their kingdom? (Less beer. I should have less beer before posting. Beer leads to bad overwrought prose and bad analogies.)

Videos: report on the record breaking match.

Match point from a fan’s perspective (a fan with excellent seats):

Posted by bichus.

Extended footage of Rafa’s pre-match prep:

Posted by vamosrafelnadal – a lot like a vid posted the other day, but with more footage of Rafa in the hallway. Including him scaring the heck out of one guy with his racket swing.

26 Responses

  1. Amanda says:

    Wow.. the eruption of the crowd when Roger missed the shot was wild…

  2. Amanda says:

    In 2nd vid, Rafa picked his keister three times. Nervous tick or is Nike EVER going to be able dress the guy in something that doesn’t ride into the unknown? BTW, I think I saw Roger sneaking a peek.. ;)

    • miri says:

      I thought I counted 4. :) (edited – 4 not 5)

      He does it off the court when not wearing Nike…even when wearing jeans. It’s a tick (although his butt cheeks do get rather hungry and munch on his undies from time to time).

      • Amanda says:

        LMAO! OMG.. I just spit pop all over my monitor. Dayam.

      • CC says:

        I think it was five times within two minutes in the tunnel! (I counted as well, without having read your comments before! :)) Well, if there was any tic Rafa was going to develop, it had to be that one. No wonder with that bottom.

        • Fay says:

          Yes that what I was thinking, def nervous tick but with his large firm posterior its easy to see why his undies ride up! bless..

      • Rafafan says:

        Yep it was definitely 4 butt ticks. He is just such a cutie and poor fed being kept waiting again. How funny was that, picking up his bags in the hallway. In fact he had to think how he was going to pick up the two bags and when he put it over his shoulders…. er….. he put them down again… to tidy his socks! Thought the sock tics had long gone. And then coming out of the tunnel. Puts the bags down (after all the effort to put them on his shoulderss) just to do a kangaroo jump!

        God I could watch this over and over again. It’s just as exciting as the match and his celebrations always afterwards.

        What an unusual special special boy/man/hunk/tennis playwer we have – we are so lucky to have him for this decade.

        • Atch2 says:

          Even from the back Rafa’s gorgeous to look at and I have watched and rewatched it many times already. Was the camera panning down to focus on his footwork or his ass?
          I luv watching Rafa warming up off court. The bouncing, jumps, the forehand swings (would have been cool if he practiced the buggy whip ones too), so focussed that he doesn’t even turn when Fed enters.

  3. patzin says:

    His ability to keep fresh in all tournaments, and his continuing desire to compete, keeps him willing to do the hard work of being fit and on top of his game. He has an unusual ability to find joy in every match/tournament. It is amazing to watch; not many others have committed to such a long career (2001-2010) to date and he will be 24 next month. It is his mentality that makes him special. As long as he is successful it appears he is willing to continue his efforts – until he isn’t I guess.

    We are blessed with his presence/presents.

  4. patzin says:

    No 1 again seems almost reasonable. Wouldn’t that be an accomplishment!

  5. tiemyshoe says:

    Tignor’s always spot-on – that’s exactly how I feel about Rafa, and exactly why I prefer him to Fed.

    Plus, I like the way he pointed out that there’s more than one way to be a champion, and that Federer’s priorities and approach, while it works for him (obv.), isn’t the only one. I know I’d be disgruntled if Rafa started giving less than his best at tournaments that he thought didn’t count as much. I’ve never, ever seen that from him, and feel very lucky to be the fan of someone like that.

    • Silhouette says:

      Well said!! I totally agree! Rafa always gives his best when he steps on court and he always tries his best! This can’t be said of a lot of players. His attitude and passion towards the game is what makes me his fan! Likewise, I feel so lucky to be able to witness Rafa and his play and be his fan!

    • dutchgirl says:

      I couldn’t have said it any better! Rafa always gives us his 100%, and that is exactly why I love him! That is also the reason I immediately was hung up on him when I first saw him play – every point as intense as the last one.

    • Atch2 says:

      Agree Steve Tignor has it right.
      I luv that Rafa brings the same intensity and enthusiasm to every match bec I “like to watch tennis more than four times a year” as well. Rafa appreciates the player’s and fan’s point of view. Look at how he tries to autograph everything shoved at him, or how he continued to play on one good leg during the Rotterdam finals against Murray.
      It’s a shame some players openly state that they don’t think non-slam tournaments are as important or don’t play like they would during a slam (read Murray at Dubai 10).

      Also I understand Fed’s POV (pretty elitists), but I don’t agree with it. Maybe he should have saved it for after FO. For the guy who wins Challengers and Masters 500 or 250, I think it’s still an achievement even though the slam is the ultimate prize.
      And really like Rafa opening disagreeing with Fed about something, bec it hardly happens.

  6. Leela says:

    Is it just me, or in the 2nd vid does Roger have a runny nose?? When he is being interviewed his upper lip looks like it is wet and there is a trail running from his left nostril!! Never mind Rafa’s tic, someone get Rog a tissue!!

  7. Fay says:

    Me too, when I first saw him it was at Wimbledon 2003/4? his intensity was huge and his focus unbelievable, he was so explosive I was intrigued not to mention his baby faced smile! but it was RG 2005 which really got me into him, I wasn’t able to watch the non-slam tourneys living abroad only had Eurosport! but ever since I returned to the UK I have been obsessed with Rafa tennis, his attitude to everypoint, in every tourney and above all the respect he has to his fans, the guy is priceless and above everyone else, even in this match he showed Fed what sportsmanship was all about with some of the line calls, so much class..
    I could watch these warm ups by Rafa over and over, no one is like him and I love the Kangeroo jumps(Rafafan), his little querks are what makes him unique, I remember his routine in the locker room RG 2008, he looked so intimidating (all though to him its just maintaining focus and concentration), and Fed didn’t know where to put himself… we are blessed to be in the Rafa era of tennis, we shall never see one like him again for sure!
    Loved the Tignor and Murray articles I shall keep them in my Rafa files along with his Wimby win! for inspiration. I hope we continue to see more and more moments like these, and tennis will be in a better place for it too.

  8. CC says:

    OK, so I’ve been able to concentrate long enough to read one of the articles, the Cheryl Murray one. I normally quite like what she writes (well, if I can concentrate long enough to read her stuff), but this article I just find silly. It’s as if she was looking really hard for something to write about and all she could find was…the plates.

    I liked the silver plates and don’t see a problem with both players getting the same. After all, it’s not the trophy that makes the winner, no? We know when Rafa’s won…

    • An says:

      Exactly. Its what i always say when i’ve won a tourney and someone comes asking me if i’m glad with my prize… Its not so much the prize you do it for, the feeling to have won the whole damn thing, to be the best off all, thats the feeling that counts for me and since we all know how Rafa loves to compete….

      • Atch2 says:

        The fan’s vid is great bec I get to see how Rafa went into his dive onto the clay. It’s got to be one of the most Rafadorable things he’s ever done. Even the crowd seemed surprised by it.

        For the trophy blog I laughed and agree with Cheryl Murray, probably bec I like bitching about the Madrid tournament.

        I’m sure Rafa doesn’t care about the actual trophy, but I think Madrid 1000 should have put more effort in the design of the winner’s trophy bec it’s the Prize for the winner and should be a bit distinguishing from the runner-up, it’s an element in the tournament’s character, and it would be a nice tradition to see the same trophy with every winner’s name on it yr by yr.
        Many tournaments have designs that are unique to that city/culture or are just unique, e.g., the boat, the whale, the pear, the antlers, the gold Wimby trophy, different animals, a globe …
        (check out some here

        • CC says:

          Yeah, but that’s only because people think “that’s the way it is in other tournaments, the way it has always been…” etc. I don’t care. And I’d rather have a silver plate at home than all those things you list, Atch2. But it’s just personal taste. ;)

          • Susanna728 says:

            I don’t care that the trophy was small, but I do think it’s bizarre that they were the same. Also loved Cheryl Murray’s column. Thanks for posting Miri. Robbie Konig said something funny about the trophy – He said maybe Rafa would take the plate and have the following engraved below the title in parentheses: (Beat Roger — again) Not Roger-bashing BTW, I just thought it was funny.

        • tiemyshoe says:

          Re: the fanvid of matchpoint, I love the AHAHAHAHAHA when Fed whiffs. LOL. Good times.

  9. Marilyn Wasserman says:

    We joke a lot because Rafa always calls the tournament he’s at his “favorite” or one of his favorites, but I think that’s part of what keeps him so well motivated. Finding and looking forward to what’s special about each one and downplaying anything he doesn’t like there. That helps keep them from blending together into a long grind.

  10. TeamNadal says:

    Steve’s piece was great! I really enjoyed it and I especially love the paragraph you highlighted re: his attitude and always wanting to win EVERY match no matter where it takes place….it’s probably one of the characteristics I love and admire most about him along with his mental toughness, fight ’til the end and never say die attitude.

    OMG, that match point! Is is horrible that I can’t stop LOLing every I watch that?!

    And what a FAB vid in the hallway right before the final….WOW, between his game face, rituals, making Fed wait and the jumping up and down, it’s so difficult to take your eyes off him….I just LOVE how psyched and pumped up he was right before walking on court…GREAT STUFF!!!!