Wimbly: Head games

Photo by GLYN KIRK/ AFP/ Getty Images

Rafa. Nole. A final. We’ve been here a few times before this year, but never in a slam final and never on grass. Would those two factors make a difference? They came out fighting, neck and neck, point for point until…Rafa blinked in the 10th game. He couldn’t find a first serve and was broken. First set to Nole: 6-4. I’m trying to pretend the 2nd set didn’t happen. Rafa looked flat and could do nothing against Nole’s onslaught. 1-6. Nole’s level dipped and Rafa stepped it up in the 3rd: 6-1. They traded breaks at the start of the 4th. More nervous looking errors and Rafa was broken again in the 7th game and Nole wins his first Wimbledon: 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3.



Stats:

Nadal Djokovic
Statistics on Serve
Aces 5 7
Double Faults 1 1
1st Serve % 78% 73%
1st Serve Points Won 43/64 (67%) 50/69 (72%)
2nd Serve Points Won 8/18 (44%) 14/26 (54%)
Statistics on Points
Break Points Won 3/6 (50%) 5/6 (83%)
Total Service Points Won 51/82 (62%) 64/95 (67%)
Total Return Points Won 31/95 (33%) 31/82 (38%)
Total Points Won 82/177 (46%) 95/177 (53%)
Other Stats
Winners 21 27
Unforced Errors 15 12
Net Approaches 6/9 (67%) 19/26 (73%)

As it happened blatherings:

Always cracks me up when Rafa won’t let go of his racket and walks out with it.

Everyone at the net waiting for Rafa… Bernardes in the chair.

Nole to serve to get the match started. Rafa nets a forehand return: 15-0. Forehand down the line winner from Rafa: 15-15. (I might have yet out a Wooo! when Rafa hit that forehand. It’s going to be a long day.) Another one! Good start: 15-30. Ace: 30-30. That forehand went into the net: 40-30. And a forehand miss-hit and Nole holds.

Nole’s shot is long: 15-0. Nice backhand from Rafa and Nole’s reply is well wide: 30-0. Nole’s second serve return hits the net: 40-0. Nole smacks the shit out of the ball and draws an error: 40-15. Rafa follows up an excellent serve down the middle with a nice clean volley at the net: 1-1.

Rafa hits a lovely forehand down the line that Nole can’t quite reach in time to do anything with: 0-15. Rafa nets a cross-court backhand: 15-15. Rafa’s backhand return of second serve is out: 30-15. Nole drop shot, Rafa into the net and slices a deep volley which Nole sends wide: 30-30. Rafa’s forehand is long: 40-30. Rafa slips mid-point, but recovers…then ends up netting a ball a few strokes later. Nole holds for 2-1.

Kalliopeia: Well, I feel good that Rafa is giving him slightly more trouble on his service games than he’s getting so far

Ace: 30-0. Ace: 40-0. Nole sends a backhand down the line wide: 2-2.

Nole sends a serve out wide, moves forward and hits a nice volley winner: 15-0. Wonderful short angled forehand winner from Nole: 30-0. Rafa nets a serve return: 40-0. Rafa’s defensive shot is out and Nole holds for 3-2.

TennisConnected: Judging the match in its first three games, Nadal needs to hit the ball way harder. Nole doesn’t seem bothered by the spin of the Spaniard.

Excellent serve and Rafa’s into the net to knock off a winning volley: 15-0. Rafa nets his second passing attempt: 15-15. Forehand down the line that Nole can’t get to in time to do anything with: 30-15. Rafa’s backhand is out: 30-30. Oh, Rafa’s challenging the call, but the call is correct. Nole nets a backhand serve return: 40-30. Ace and Rafa holds for 3-3.

Forehand down the line winner from Nole: 30-0. Nole into the net and can’t do anything with the passing shot that Rafa gets at Nole’s feet: 30-15. Nole pushes Rafa deeper and deeper until he gets a floaty, high defensive shot that he smashes for a winner: 40-15. With an ace, Nole holds for 4-3.

Kalliopeia: Well jon wertheim has done nothing but complain about it being slow

If he’s that bored, he should switch the channel.

Ace: 30-0. Rafa’s forehand is long: 30-15. Awesome forehand from Rafa: 40-15. Rafa’s forehand is wide: 40-30. Nole’s drop shot attempt goes into the net and Rafa holds for 4-4.

Nole digs out an excellent volley and Rafa can’t get the ball back over the net: 15-0. Nole nets a backhand: 15-15. Big kick serve and Rafa nets the reply: 30-15. Rafa sends a second serve return into the net: 40-15. With an ace, Nole holds for 5-4.

Nole miss-hits a return: 15-0. Sends that one into the net: 30-0. Excellent forehand winner from Nole: 30-15. Nole tops off a rally with a forehand down the line winner: 30-30. Second serve. Rafa’s forehand down the line attempt goes into the net: break/set point. Second serve. Rafa’s forehand is out and Nole takes the first set: 6-4.

After serving beautifully the first 9 games, Rafa’s first serve went away in that last one. He’d only missed 2 first serves in the first 9 games; missed 3 that one.

TennisConnected: With the first set in the bag, Nadal will need Djokovic’s level to drop a bit. Nadal can’t serve better; can hit groundstrokes better though

TomPerrotta: Djokovic is officially in Nadal’s head. Nadal facing the challenge of his career out here today.

Nole’s forehand goes into the net: 0-15. Rafa’s net cord pops just over the net: 0-30. Pushed wide, Rafa sends a backhand out: 15-30. Rafa’s forehand is well, well wide: 30-30. Rafa misses an overhead smash: 40-30. Nole holds.

Rafa’s shot is out: 0-15. Service winner: 15-15. Forehand down the line winner from Nole: 15-30. Rafa nets a backhand (another long rally he loses): 15-40. Rafa into the net, Nole passes and Rafa’s broken: 0-2.

I knew I hated that look Rafa got on his face when JMac mentioned the 4 losses to Nole in finals in yesterday’s interview.

Rafa’s turn to win a rally with a forehand down the line winner: 15-15. Rafa slips and falls, but he was already out of the point anyway: 30-15. Nole backhand winner: 40-15. Ace and Nole holds for 3-0.

Rafa’s gone from 91% first serves in to 78%.

Deep return from Nole that Rafa can’t do anything with: 0-15. Ace: 15-15. Ace: 30-15. Nole misses an overhead smash: 40-15. The net cord helps Rafa and he holds for 1-3.

Nice volley from Nole: 15-0. Nole into the net, Rafa passes: 15-15. Ace: 30-15. Serve out wide and then hit a winner into the open court as Rafa recovers to center: 40-15. With a forehand winner, Nole holds for 4-1.

jon_wertheim: Still early…but this feels like a Nadal-Federer match. As in, Nadal =Federer, yielding authority to this ambitious arriviste.

CraigHickman: On grass, I would never elect to receive serve to open the match. Because then you face exactly what Nadal faced: serving to stay in a set.

Nole’s return is long: 15-0. Forehand winner from Nole: 15-15. Another good serve: 30-15. Rafa nets a backhand: 30-30. Rafa doing all the running. Nole just having to move a little bit. Break point. Another rally ends with Rafa making a mistake after being pushed around. Nole breaks for 5-1.

Kalliopeia: Rafa’s confidence is completely gone

SteveTignor: BBC’s dubious royal box member for today: Justin Gimelstob. “Must have been short on numbers,” commentator says when he sees him there

Ataraxis00: I need actual Rafa fans to not pollute my time line with negativity please. It’s not over.

With a love hold, Nole takes the second set 6-1.

Nole’s shot is out: 15-0. Again: 30-0. Nole nets a serve return: 40-0. Rafa’s forehand is long: 40-15. Nole fires off a second serve return winner: 40-30. Forehand down the line winner and Rafa holds to start set 3.

Beauty of a forehand down the line winner (and a Vamos!) from Rafa: 0-15. Rafa hits deep, Nole miss-hits: 0-30. Rafa’s return of serve is long: 15-30. Service winner: 30-30. Nole sends a forehand well wide: 30-40. Rafa’s first break point of the match. Nole nets a backhand and Rafa breaks! He’s up 2-0 in the third.

Nole’s shot is out: 15-0. Nole nets a serve return: 30-0. Nole sends a backhand long: 40-0. Rafa consolidates with a love hold.

Rafa can’t do anything with a return: 30-15. Rafa’s backhand return of serve sails way out: 40-15. Overheads, volleys and a crap tweener, oh my. Nole holds for 1-3.

Nole nets a backhand: 15-0. Nole’s shot is long: 30-0. Excellent serve: 40-0. With an ace, Rafa holds at love for 4-1.

Wait? was Nole wearing a hat before? But not now? Someone: hide all of Nole’s hats…now!

Nice forehand cross-court winner from Rafa: 15-15. Nole’s forehand is out: 15-30. Nole’s forehand is out: 15-40. Nice volley from Nole puts in him in control of the point, Rafa makes him hit the extra shot, though: 30-40. Pushed, Rafa nets a backhand: deuce. Pulled a bit wide, Nole nets a forehand: break point #3. Double fault and Rafa breaks for 5-1. This is nuts.

Nole nets a forehand: 15-0. Service winner: 30-0. Nole’s return of serve is long: 40-0. Third set to Rafa, 6-1.

Rafa slice skims the net, pulls Nole in and then he passes him: 15-15. Nole moves Rafa well, comes into the net, Rafa attempts to pass, and Nole’s reply goes into the net: 15-30. Rafa’s forehand is out: 30-30. (And boy is he not happy about that.) Cross-court forehand pulls Nole well wide and he can’t get the ball back: 30-40. Defense keeps Rafa in a rally beyond logic, but he can’t quite work his way back: deuce. Rafa’s return of serve is long: game point. Rafa’s return of serve is just out and Nole holds to start the 4th.

They are opening the roof a bit more while Rafa is serving.

Nole hits a deep return and Rafa nets the reply: 0-15. Rafa’s forehand is well out: 0-30. Nole nets a forehand: 15-30. Nole into the net on a short ball from Rafa and hits a beautiful angled volley winner: double break point. Rafa nets a forehand and is broken.

Nole nets a forehand: 15-15. Rafa gets jammed a bit and nets a forehand return of serve: 15-30. Rafa pushes Nole until he gets an error: 30-30. Nole sends a ball long and Rafa has a break point. The net cord breaks Nole. We are back on serve.

Nole miss-hits a forehand: 15-0. Nole’s shot is out: 30-0. Nole nets a forehand: 40-0. Excellent return puts Nole in control, but Rafa lines up a forehand…and then nets it: 40-15. Nice serve and a good hold for Rafa: 2-2.

Rafa goes for a cross-court backhand winner, but it’s out: 15-0. Excellent serve and Rafa’s reply is out: 30-0. Good length rally ends with an error from Nole: 30-15. Nole’s shot is out: 30-30. Nole keeps hitting behind Rafa until he draws an error. Rafa’s return is well out and Nole holds: 3-2, on serve.

15-15. Nole can’t do anything with the serve: 30-15. Beautiful cross-court backhand winner! A Vamos from Rafa: 40-15. Uncle Rafel up giving it a double fist pump. Rafa’s forehand down the line is wide: 40-30. Rafa holds for 3-3.

TheFanChild: This is becoming mental warfare more than anything else. Who can play free and who can win crucial points. Very tense.

The way this has been going, I do not want Rafa serving to stay in the set/match. He needs to break ASAP.

Excellent serve: 30-0. Rafa pops his serve return long: 40-0. Nole holds at love for 4-3.

Double fault: 0-15. Rafa’s shot is: 0-30. Long rally…Rafa nets a forehand: 0-40. Papa Nadal smacks the railing. Forehand paints the line: 15-40. (I totally thought that was going long.) Rafa’s backhand is long and Nole breaks. That was totally mental.

Speaking of mental, Nole’s forehand is well out: 0-15. Rafa’s forehand is well out; he hits his racket face with his fist: 15-15. Rafa nets a forehand: 30-15. Nice forehand down the line from Rafa and Nole’s reply is out: 30-30. Defensive serve return from Rafa and Nole volleys a winner: championship point. Nole wins.

302 Responses

  1. djb says:

    Now that I’ve had more time to reflect on Rafa’s loss, it makes perfect sense now, about what has transpired between him and Djokovic this season. There’s no doubt in my mind, everything up to this point, was just meant to be for Djokovic. He spent such a long time trying to catch up with Rafa and Roger, watching them run away with everything, that it was time for him to make the necessary changes, in order to finally overtake them. He made those changes and now it’s paid major dividends for him. So now, it’s his time to shine in the spotlight for now, and he rightfully deserves it. Just that plain and simple.

    This is not the end of Rafa and he is not done winning majors, not by a long shot. What I see, is Rafa in the midst of another learning curve in his career right now. All athletes, good and bad, will have their learning curves, and it is simply a way of getting them to recognize their flaws, and from there, finding new ways to change those flaws, in order to become better players. Rafa has learned from and overcome previous experiences like this one before, so this experience will be no different.

    I think this is what Rafa really needed the most, and I know now that it will make him wiser, make him stronger, and give him the tools he needs to not only overcome Djokovic, but take his game to an even bigger level. And when he has figured things out, and his time rolls around again, I feel sorry for everyone that gets in Rafa’s way…..especially Djokovic.

    Rafa will always be the better champion between the two, regardless of what happens from here on. And to all the diehard Rafa fans out there, have faith and keep believing, because the best is STILL yet to come.

    Vamos Rafa!!!! See you in Canada!!

    • Rafangel says:

      amen.

    • Mafie says:

      Amen.

    • Sharon/London says:

      yeah i cant see Nole winning the same tourney/slams 5,6,7 times in a row like Federer/rafa have. does anyone else agree?

      Nole has been knocking on the door for the last 3 yrs and 2011 is his time. Then, he was less cocky and arrogant so more likeable imo and i used to feel sorry for him when he lost. Let him enjoy his moment in the limelight cos his bubble will burst at some point.

    • shazzad says:

      Vamosssssssssssssssss to that!!

    • Cora F says:

      Yeah Vamos to that!

    • faeaki says:

      F**k, what an amazing comment,! God bless you!

  2. Leah says:

    i am just so sad

  3. Rafangel says:

    I agree with Alison Walters, it’s actually an exciting prospect to see how Rafa deals with this. Resolving challenges is what has made Rafa the great champion he is, and a massive inspiration. Let’s also remember that he has faced down bigger challenges: the most scary were the injuries; in terms of mentality issues, I think an even bigger problem was the end of 2009 when he couldn’t play against anyone and despaired of finding his game at all. Compared to those situations, this is much less problematic.

    I’m also really interested in what Alison Walters says about Rafa needing a challenge. The great puzzle for me this year is why Rafa has lost the 2010 edge (I realise he’s had a fantastic season, but he’s not found that last 5% of form that made him spectacular last year). If it was a loss of confidence, why should he have lost it? Was it a fallout from injury at the AO and losing the chance of a career slam? But he lacked that extra beforehand and I can’t see why the fallout should drag so long. I wondered if it was related to his admission that when he won the AO he felt empty afterwards, and therefore if he felt the same after the USO – has he dipped because he had no great mountains to climb any more? And if it was a lack of new and clearly defined challenge, perhaps this could even serve to spark him to greater things than before. If it gives him a new focus and something to work on, and puts fire up his ass, this could be a really good thing.

    Finally, I’d just like to note how nice it was of Rafa to make time to make a fuss of the kid who did the coin toss. It’s amazing that he even noticed him at all, just before such a big match – but so exactly what Rafa’s like. Just another little thing to love about him.

    • Joy says:

      Well said, Rafangel.

      Both players had the big guns, except that Djokovic this year has the burning hunger that Rafa used to have, and had nothing to lose. With Rafa so long at the top, it was but natural that he would be studied and hunted down by a close rival in exactly the same way Rafa himself evolved in order to defeat Federer.

      I am gutted over Rafa’s loss, but I realize too that in all the hullaballoo about Rafa losing to Djokovic, it’s easy to forget that Rafa won Roland Garros just 2 weeks ago, and that although he didn’t achieve the Channel Slam this year, he is so far the only player to have done it twice. It was a very big ask, following a stellar 2010.

      Rafa is a man who has already had just about everything–wealth, rock star status, an historically outstanding tennis career, a steady relationship, the support of a huge, loving family. With a life so fulfilling as this, it can be hard to answer “What’s next? What do I really want? What do I still have to prove?”

      • JC says:

        Björn Borg achieved the Channel Slam three times, but maybe you meant current players?

    • Sharon/London says:

      well in 2010 he was healthy and is goal was to win us open. This year he picked up a virus in Doha which carried over to the AO and reappeared in Rome. He also got a leg injury in AO which meant he was unable to do the Rafa slam which really upset him. He then gets a few injuries at Wimbledon. Rafa hasn’t played his best tennis all year until the delpo/murray matches at Wimbledon tho in Miami final he played well imo.

      • RAFAFAN says:

        The injuries/virusses are so bloody annoying. Last year one could see Rafa’s healthy. He started so well in AbuDhabi – same intensity he left off in 2010 – and the the flippen virus in Doha. From there on in he was’nt his old self. Struggling every now and then with ‘something’. I even thought at some point something in his personal life is bothering him. He started Wimbledon so happy and smiley and then after the 4th round everthing changed. He was not happy smiley boy anymore.
        Hope the fishing/golfing/partying (perfect Rafa-day like describing it by the man himself) brings back the spark he needs for the (hard) hard court season. This is the most challenging for our Rafa and he needs to be healthy/happy and full of confidence. I believe in him and trust that with his big heart he will find his best ever tennis again. At the moment the only ‘problem’ he’s facing is the Nole riddle. Hard courts will be tough to address this one, but maybe this is just the right place – his weakest ‘surfrace’ to get the confidence going! There will be a lot of other challenges – Milos, DelPo, Bernard – but keep believing in our champion. He will be back on top again.

    • RAFAFAN says:

      The warmth with which Rafa greets the kid at the coin toss and again after the coin toss brings tears to my eyes. His hand on the childs head was so touching. What a man!!

    • shazzad says:

      Totally agree. What an amazing guy he is.

    • faeaki says:

      I didn’t see the bit with the coin toss and Rafa making fuss of th kid>can anyone post a link, thanks!!!!!!!!xxx

  4. Emilie says:

    “Although The Times has learnt that Nadal had a hairline fracture in the left foot that he hurt against Juan Martin Del Potro in the fourth round and may not play for six more weeks, he put up no excuses for his defeat, his third and five Wimbledon finals”.

    That’s what I read. 6 weeks ? It’s a month and a half ! Does it mean he won’t have time to prepare for the US Open ? that’s terrible !

    • Emilie says:

      I meant “his third IN five Wimbledon finals”. That’s what the article says. http://twitpic.com/5ksb43

      • wendya says:

        I wondered that (about practising for the USO, that is)

      • Rafangel says:

        Fuuckinell :((( Hairline fracture? I was talking to a physio who said no-one would play on a cracked bone cos it’d just make it worse and there’s no point. Oh, Rafa. Foolish or heroic? Just makes me love him more tho. Heal well, campeon xx

  5. Leslie says:

    Today Novak played better yes. Novak has been playing incredible tennis this year obviously. But when Rafa is healthy and playing at his best, in my opinion he is the best.
    I don’t think Rafa has looked strong or 100% healthy since the start of the year. Remember how tired he exhausted he looked at IW and Miami. I am hoping the time away from tennis will give him the mental and physical rejuvenation that he needs. Then I expect him to be back dazzling us all with his breathtaking skills! I think he intends to be back stronger and better than ever too.

  6. Maria says:

    Rafa just needs to watch more videos of his matches with Novak and come up with a strategy to counter his improved rally game. Then work on his confidence. When Rafa was down in the first set during the French Open this year, there was no panic in his game or his on court demeanor. Because he had confidence in his game against Fed. He knew his ground game would eventually break Fed down as usual. He needs a new strategy that he can try with Novak, so he won’t have panic and fear when he’s down in game or even broken.

  7. Marley says:

    Oh well. Gutted, especially for Rafa. He really wanted to defend his Wimbledon title for the first time, despite playing injured, but just couldn’t play the important points well. That is what did him in this match. He knew he had chances but just couldn’t take them. IMO this was a winnable match for him, and just makes it even harder to swallow.

    Anyway, he knows it, and he said as much in his presser. He will find a way to beat this guy, no matter what, whatever it takes, whenever that may be. He is too good of a player not to. And when that finally happens, the victory will be all the more sweeter.

    Rafa has been playing non-stop since his injury break, and must be physically and mentally exhausted. RG and Wimbledon certainly took a lot out of him. He will get his much deserved rest, let all the injuries heal and will re-group and be a better player when he comes back.

  8. midsun says:

    I’m convinced all he needs is one win against Novak. Whether that comes because Novak is having a crappy day or not, I don’t care. He just needs a win no matter how he gets it and his mental barrier will be gone. Nole played spectacularly, no doubt, but as Rafa said, tennis is not that complicated. It really came down to a couple of points that Rafa played poorly because he was nervous, which never happens against any other player. Had he won those points because he had confidence, which he has against Murray and Federer, this match could have turned out totally different.

  9. Emma says:

    why does benito always sit with rafa’s camp if he represents both rafa and djokovic? Seems like he is always with rafa.

    • miri says:

      He no longer represents Nole.

      • Emma says:

        oh but previously when he used to represent rafa and nole (e.g us open final 2010), he was also sitting with rafa for all of the matches i can remember.

        • miri says:

          Depends – he sat with neither camp for the US Open final. But yeah, he’s always been closer to Team Nadal. It was Rafa’s father that suggest Benito start his own firm. I think (but am not sure) that Rafa was his first client.

  10. Emma says:

    and does anyone know who the guy with funky white specs is? He seems to be a permanent member of the rafa camp. Does he have a role to play or is he a close friend?

  11. Emma says:

    and does the runner up attend the champions ball as well? I think so right?

  12. zaara says:

    well well…upset for the loss.but clearly a better player won it.1st game of 4th set should have been broken.but thats fine.we cant expect rafa to repeat 2010 every year! ’10 was a dream run for rafa.and dream run never last forever… It did neither for fed,is nor for rafa nor will it for nole…ur champ will for surely comeback strongly.its only matter of time b4 rafa defeats nole.KEEP UR FAITH RAFANS !

  13. ed says:

    My advice to Rafa after watching this match is that he will need to get to the net more often against Djokovic to create more openings and to shorten the points.

    • Vero says:

      i thought so too. fed’s net tactics was so effective against nole at the RG semifinal. rafa’s game is generally dominated by rallies and as he grows older, it would be wise to evolve his overall tennis game. plus net plays and shorter points would be less harsh on his body and could well extend his career length. with all the new fresh generations emerging, eg. tomic, raonic, relying on rallies would be risky. as rafa always say his goal is to be like fed – to never stop improving and to become a more complete player each time, i have faith and hope to see a rejuvenated rafa when the hardcourt season begins. bring it on! =)

      • Sharon/London says:

        I think he needs to work a bit more on the backhand maybe cos when he rips it across court as he did in murray match and in the final it was non returnable and in previous years he always used to do that well. Now i notice they all seem to target his backhand side.

  14. An says:

    Oh jee. 277 comments already… Don’t have the time, nor the patience and the courageto read trough them.

    Did’nt watch the match because i had to be on board off a boat during a sailrace but recorded it to watch it later. Dunno if i’m gonna.

    Just wanted to say that i’m absolutly shure that Rafa gave it his evrything, that i’m sure he will accept, no mather how dissapointed at the mo maybe, that Djoko is the better player….. For now!
    That i’m sure that it will motivate him to work even harder and that he will eventualy find a way to win against Djoko again.
    Remember our man loves the competition, So!

    Rafa, gorgeous, go home and rest that beautifull body and mind off yours. Come back when youre ready, we will be here waiting to support you again!

    Hasta pronto.

  15. RafaMiCorazon says:

    Hi everyone

    This is my first post but I always come here for all the rafa news and comments thanks guys! I was really upset to see our champion not biting the trophy but hey let’s wait for the US Open one. I thought I would mention a few things that I observed:

    Remember the beginning of the match with that little boy doing the coin toss, Rafa is so sweet, he shook his hand before the coin toss (Hey Rafa, next time choose to serve!), Rafa also put his arm around the little boy as the journalists took photographs and pat his hair as he left, that is so sweet of Rafa – you see none of that in Novak, Novak pretty much just ignore that kid!!

    Also did you guys notice that when Rafa walked up to get his plate, he shook everyone’s hands, all 4 of the people there even gave one of them a hug – that is respect. Now look at Novak, he ignored everyone and went straight for the trophy… how sad…

  16. arwen says:

    I am soo and truely very sorry for the loss. I could bear the masters losses but this made a huge impact on my nerves.
    Hard times for us Rafa fans I suppose. What was that second set for gods sake total rubbish.In the first set at 4-5 he was 30-0 up on his own serve and suddenly something has changed for our boy.

    And Djokovic family: very very annoying people with exaggerated attitude and Nole as well of course. I hate his wry smile when the opponent hits an awesome shot as if no one other than him can hit that shot. Pathetic.

    You’re the best champion I’ve ever witnessed Rafa, vamoosss…

  17. CAREY says:

    Rafa is a wonderful player fun to watch and very entertaining.the biggest problem is Rafa serves.If he would manage to serve and let opponents not play on his points Rafa would stay as world no1 for a very long time.It surprises me at times how he wins with all the time spent on playing on his serves that shows hes TRULY a CHAMPION.

    may be help from Rodger,Tsonga or Roddick coach could help solve that problem and we see great play ahead.
    You are the best!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. marcela says:

    I just read a quote of Rafa in the excellent book “Game to Love” (which has Rafa on the cover).

    Rafa is quoted as saying: “The enemy is not losing, the enemy is the fear of losing.” And I think the title of this post says it all — Head Games. Rafa blinked and remembered all his loses to Nole and lost. He also lost to a guy playing lights out tennis.

  19. Moon says:

    some interesting and important points in the above comments
    1. Rafa needs to hit the ball hard and flat angular caz the top spin dosent effect nole
    2. Watch the SF of RG 2011 how fed beat him by coming to the net and creating different gameplays always catching him off gaurd
    3. Rafa used to drop the ball so short on returns but in the final he was hitting the returns too long(over aggressive)
    4. Nole wins a tournament and takes the next off MC,Queens etc and comes fresh rafa just exhausts himself (drop madrid always creates problems)
    5. Rafa needs to take the ball early as well bcaz cant go on with the baseline play(more risk of injury & fatigue)
    6. in 2010 nole beat rafa 4 matches consecutive on Hard courts but in the US’O rafa had the right gameplan and shots + it was nole who was tired and looking exhausted
    7. its quite clear work on the backhand crosscourt and specially the straight shot. + nole knows everything about rafa when hes gona do what and he is prepared, rafa should do the same do more extensive research
    8. as soon as rafa hits a strong shot come to the net with anticipation that what shot nole’s gonna hit
    9. cut off noles angles by coming in the baseline and learn to take the ball early
    10. admit that he has some serious flaws in his game which no one could exploit except nole and now more ppl know about them work on it and then i think nole has nothing left in the tank

  20. EvanG says:

    Mental blocking is not only who are playing with, but also in what circumstances you are playing. Rafa stand to loose more than Djokovic in this game and therefore had more pressure on his shoulder. It’s easier to get on top, than to stay there. Let’s see how Nole, defends his No 1 position being under more pressure.