RG: Time management issues

…Rafa has them. And he wasn’t happy to be called on them during his match against Almagro:

Translation by Inés (do not reproduce without her permission):

I can’t believe it Carlos.. I have gone only once for my towel the whole game. I can’t believe it, I am playing under pressure the whole time, I just can’t believe it.

Time? I am going at limit

What (do you mean) I can’t go for my towel?, I can’t play all game with pressure, man… enough!

I’m going all the time at limit, I’m going at 1000 per hour….. I’m playing with the eggs (balls) here all the time


(BTW, I turned into an annoying stop-watch person because I was curious if Rafa was being picked on, just skirting the time rules or really stretching things. For the set I timed, he averaged 28 seconds. I threw out times when the crowd was being annoying and/or there was some wind-sucking going on due to a lot of running. So, he wasn’t going too far if it had been an ATP match, but ITF rules state “A maximum of twenty (20) seconds shall elapse from the moment the ball goes out of play at the end of the point until the time the ball is struck for the first serve of the next point.” Almagro wasn’t exactly always timely, but his average was pretty close to the limit stated in the rules.)

You can also see this video here.

21 Responses

  1. kefuoe says:

    I watched the match on a stream with minimal sound and no commentary. I only saw the gesticulating during the changeover and wondered what he was fired up about. Thanks Ines for the translation. At least he gave Carlos a wink after the match (though he seems to be practically giving them away lately!)

  2. glors27 says:

    I just saw this video and after listening to it I can tell you that our dear Rafa was REALLY pissed! He was furious!!

  3. sia says:

    My birthday is in just a few days (so this could very well be a Gemini trait), and although I have many faults … my worst is ALWAYS being late. I try so hard not to be and because of my struggles I tend to be ULTRA sensitive about it when someone else points it out. Poor Rafa, just the warning probably really throws him off.

    • miri says:

      And the fact that a valid warning from an official can throw him off really, really makes me wish he could get things under control and be closer to the allowed time. To me, it could be a vulnerability in a tight match.

      • sia says:

        miri just thinking the same thing. Almagro has complained before ( he likes to keep it moving) … and I think Carlos probably took that into account. There are other players who like Rafa’s pace. Funny that someone who moves so lightening fast sometimes can be so deliberate and pokey with his serve.

  4. tiemyshoe says:

    I’m sorry, I know Rafa was mad, but it makes me LOL that 1) he claims to be playing 1000 per hr, and 2) his whole ‘cojones in the throat’ thing. xD

    I wish he’d take less time for a number of reasons – one of them being that it annoys me – but the main reason is that it would take the pressure off of him. If he pares down his routine by ten seconds, then on tough points when he needs those few extra seconds, he has the leeway, instead of the fear of penalty hanging over him. I do get that his rituals help him stabilize a natural hyperactivity, but even if he sped up the time he took to do each of those little things (like the long pause he takes bt. the bouncing and the ball toss), it’d be so much better.

    He should put it on the ‘things to improve’ pile – along with the serve and court positioning.

    • miri says:

      I wish he’d take less time for a number of reasons – one of them being that it annoys me – but the main reason is that it would take the pressure off of him. If he pares down his routine by ten seconds, then on tough points when he needs those few extra seconds, he has the leeway, instead of the fear of penalty hanging over him.

      Yeah, that’s my thought as well. It’s amazing to see how much longer it takes him now than it did years ago. He no longer does the sock thing, but he’s added a lot more and everything seems to take longer. I know it’s because he’s thinking and planning his serve more than he used to, but…it just seems to be a vulnerability that he has a bit of control over and it would, therefore, make a bit of sense to attack it.

      • tiemyshoe says:

        Exactly – it’s another thing that would help him be stronger in the big matches. I also suspect it’s a lot harder to change than we think it is, but worth the effort, I say.

        Although, the rule that gets stretched all the time that annoys me even more than slow play is illegal coaching. Omigod, Almagro and his coach (and also Verdasco with his box, sometimes) were like full-on sign-languaging!! It’s just irritating because, really, Almagro, do you need signals from your coach to know that you have to step up on Rafa’s 2nd serve? I guess this is a lot harder to enforce, because players interact with their boxes a lot for support and encouragement.

        • miri says:

          I also suspect it’s a lot harder to change than we think it is, but worth the effort, I say.

          It must be because Rafa’s big on doing anything he can to improve his game and colm.

  5. johanne says:

    I like the slow motion eyebrow at the end. Is this off-topic? ;)

  6. g says:

    I don’t know but I don’t really have any issue with Rafa’s pace. I don’t think he’s an outlier. Other players (to name one, Novak) take just as long in between points.

  7. Nana says:

    What this says is that Rafa was really nervous in the match. Uncle Toni said so and I think he got a bit emotional after the match when he was talking to Cedric. Almost wiped his eyes. I don’t like the feeling that he was being pressured and was on edge.

    That’s one thing that he has to overcome.

  8. an says:

    He told us that the problem is mostly he has to towel down and then he has to think about his next serve…. Why not start to think while youre towling down already Rafa… Oh yes youre a man, difficult to do 2 things at the same time, No? LOL… But seriously.. I can imagine myself that the toweling down moment is to take the pressure off a little for a while, to let go off the focus just a little bit, understandable… But iff it adds pressure because youre getting time violation warnings you should try to do something about it!

  9. Rafafan says:

    It’s ironic isn’t it – all this business about his multi million watch on his wrist and now he gets time violations. Not a very good advert for the sponsors no? Even Rafa even joked that now he has a watch he can watch that he is quicker between points! LOL…

    Rafa really is the limit isn’t he! Keeping the opponent waiting in the locker room, keeping him waiting on court before the toss up, keeping him waiting in between points. Oh yes and you know the latest tick. Keeping the interviewer waiting to interview him on court while he fiddles with his trainers loosening his laces and soles of his trainers (that takes about 5 minutes), I mean what is all that about???

  10. Rafangel says:

    Frankly, I’m with Rafa on this. In the well-known ‘no-strings’ interview when he was 17, Toni said Rafa used to rush between points and they got him to slow down by looking at balls, towelling off etc. I think he has some pretty strong emotions which he has to fight to keep in check and it seems that he needs time to calm down and refocus between points. If that means a little bit more time in order to have him play at the level he does, isn’t that a price worth paying, for all of tennis? I don’t mean he should be allowed to take forever, but a few seconds here or there are not the end of the world. As MacEnroe once said, if that’s the worst Rafa’s going to do to you [the opponent], you’ve gotta be able to deal with it.

    Personally, I like the slower pace between points. Gives me a chance to recover a bit, too ;)

    • miri says:

      So, if I’m a player who needs 3 serves instead of 2 to feel confident, should they waive the rules for me? Yes, a stupidly extreme question, but where does the bending of the rules stop once you start it? At times, Rafa was taking twice as long as the limit. The only time he was under it when I timed was the serve following an ace.

      What if your favorite player liked a fast pace of game and was playing against someone like Rafa? How would you feel about officials looking the other way if the rules weren’t being enforced?

      • Rafangel says:

        I see your point and I suspected you wouldn’t like what I’m saying ;) For me the persuading factors are 1) it’s better for Rafa’s game and therefore better for tennis 2) it’s not that big a deal and players need to be tough enough to deal with it (they’re going to face much worse problems against the best players, let’s be honest!) I know it’d drive me nuts if it were someone holding up Rafa, who liked to play fast, but there it is.

        Yes, I do think officials should keep an eye on it and pick him up on it occasionally. What really annoys me is when they do it at really important moments (which is when they usually seem to choose to pipe up). That’s interfering in the course of the match, which is not what they’re there to do.

        • miri says:

          I agree 100% that they need to be more consistent and not just do it at big points. (Although, to be a bit fair, those are the times when players in general tend to take more time to serve, so perhaps it’s not a complete conspiracy.)

          (And I still think that if, say, Federer, Soderling, etc was taking way too much time and for some odd reason it was pissing Rafa off, people would be screaming bloody murder that once again the chair was being mean and picking on Rafa.)

    • snowyc says:

      I’m with you on this one, Rafangel. Totally.

      The thing is, most people in this world do not like being kept to wait and some hate it more than others. When I first started following Rafa years back and was trying to keep track of the score via the official website (they did not show tennis live as much as they do now here), I wondered why it always took them so much longer to update the score when Rafa was serving. Of course, much of it was due to the long exchanges but it was also cos of the extra time he needed between serves. On the other hand, I’m sure there were plenty of times when his opponents were grateful to have those extra few seconds to try to recover a bit from all the grueling rallies that Rafa likes to inflict on them.

      Personally, I think all of his quirks, zeal, power, single-mindedness, resilience & will of a champion come as a single package. Take any one thing away, and you would not have a complete Rafa. And that is one thing I do not want. Enjoy the magic while it lasts.

  11. Desirai says:

    Some players play really slow that is their GAME. Some players play fast that is their GAME. Some players play in the middle that is their GAME. When you go on the court you always play YOUR GAME, because if you play the opponent’s game it will = a loss. Nadal should never change HIS GAME. He wins by wearing opponents down and part of this is keeping them on the court for a long time. My daughter does the same to her opponents. It is a lesson in PAIN that is what they are doing and their opponents know it!!! :-)