Madrid: Well, we still have Rome?

Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Rafa lost the Madrid final 3-6, 2-6 to Andy Murray. The match was as baffling as his last match in Barcelona: full of errors and with Rafa looking pretty unsure about what to do to fix them. It wasn’t quite as bad as that prior one, so…that’s some improvement? The part that baffles me the most is how he can play so well one day and then be so off the next. I don’t expect perfect consistency (that’s would be unfair to him), but the wild ups and downs must be giving him whiplash. I hope he can find a way to settle down and get an even keel. I am confident of one thing though – if there’s a way to do that, Rafa will do his best to find it.

Nadal: ‘Let’s Hope These Days Don’t Repeat’. Well, I certainly hope that’s the true.

“The feelings that I have this week have been great,” said Nadal. “The attitude has been very good… My game has been also very good over a lot of days, except for today, which was not my day. Let’s hope these days don’t repeat themselves very often.”

“It’s been complicated today. It’s not the day I was expecting. The match started badly. After that, I lost the rhythm of the game,” said the Mallorca native. “I tried until the very end. I think the attitude was there. During every single moment, I was fighting and trying to give the maximum. It’s one of those days where things just didn’t work out.

“I cannot leave Madrid not happy. I have to leave happy and just delete what happened today. I will just stay with the good things that happened this week, and there are a lot of them, more good than bad. I will try to recover the good feelings in Rome.”

Yes he tried to the end and definitely looked like he was willing to keep pushing if it would help. I didn’t see a lot of pouty faced Rafa, more of a “WTF? This must stop!” Rafa.

“I think I’ve made a step forward and I’m playing better,” said Nadal. “I haven’t been able to play two weeks in a row, well, in the whole year. I think it’s time that I play two weeks in a row. Let’s see what happens next week in Rome. Hopefully I’ll be focused and fight as much as I can to make [it] a good week.

“I’ll try to have a good week in Rome, and by a good week, that does not mean only to win… It’s a very complicated tournament. We have the top players there, but I also know if I manage to play the level I did [Saturday] I can be competitive against every single player.”

Yes – channel Saturday.

Nadal will be the fourth seed in Rome, but his loss in Madrid will see him drop out of the Top 5 in the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time since 2 May, 2005 (No. 7).

“Whatever will happen will be,” said Nadal. “It’s something that we have to realise, all of us, that what’s happening during these last years, it’s very complicated to be ten or eleven years without leaving the Top 4.”

It’s freaking amazing to have spent 10 consecutive years in the top 5!

Nadal Murray
Statistics on Serve
Aces 1 3
Double Faults 1 1
1st Serve % 72% 60%
1st Serve Points Won 23/34 (68%) 21/31 (68%)
2nd Serve Points Won 6/13 (46%) 17/21 (81%)
Break Points Saved 3/6 (50%) 3/3 (100%)
Service Games Played 8 9
Statistics on Return
1st Return Points Won 10/31 (32%) 11/34 (32%)
Second Return Points Won 4/21 (19%) 7/13 (54%)
Break Points Won 0/3 (%) 3/6 (50%)
Return Games Played 9 8
Statistics on Points
Total Service Points Won 29/47 (62%) 38/52 (73%)
Total Return Points Won 14/52 (27%) 18/47 (38%)
Total Points Won 43/99 (43%) 56/99 (57%)

30 Responses

  1. JayDee50 says:

    Baffling….exactly the right word. Still, he made it to a M1000 Final, the first this year, playing some brilliant tennis along the way. I hope with all my heart his confidence won’t take too hard a knock from this. He must have been so disappointed in himself in front of his ‘home’ crowd, ah well, onwards Rafa, another tournament awaits, another chance to improve. Vamos always!

    • Tina says:

      Exactly my words too, his homecrowd and wanting so much to perform well, it was hard to watch, but we must accept the situation right now. All the best for Rome, Rafa VAMOS

  2. Heath says:

    Yes, the match was most definitely baffling, but that’s Rafa at the moment it seems. I’m not distraught about it though; I’m pleased for Andy – and as you say, there’s always Rome. Hope you have a great time, Miri :)

  3. luckystar1 says:

    Well too bad for Rafa. Maybe playing during the day and during the night could be a bit different. Rafa had all day matches and when I found out that the final was at night. I knew it would be tough for Rafa. Sure enough, Rafa just couldn’t get his shots right, many times either over hitting them or simply hitting them
    into the net. It’s not unlike Rome last year when Rafa had all night matches but the final was during the day. Rafa was frustrated last year at Rome, for not giving him a single day match before the final despite him requesting for them.

    Of course Andy played well and never allowed Rafa back into the match. Rafa really needs to work on his consistency which is something lacking these days. His confidence is so thin that anything can affect him. He said his BH was bad and so that affected him, but I saw a slower and more tentative Rafa then usual, half the time undecided as to what to do next.

    Murray was deploying the Novak gameplay vs Rafa, targeting Rafa’s BH with his own BH both CC and DTL, very impressive. Rafa was not using his FHDTL shot much, also, he was not thinking clearly out there and waited too long to change things up, ie going to the net to win points there. Rafa won all but one point when at the net and had more winners than Murray; clearly he should have done more at the net instead of staying at the baseline if his BH was not working. Rafa also had another problem, his ROS on second serves was miserable to say the least.

    Rafa needs to find his consistency and plays well match after match, if not we have to expect losses like these going forward, at least for the near future.

  4. clint says:

    Last two years Rafa doesn’t have consistent. One day his game is on top level other day is terrible. In my opinion he was best player on big points all these years but last two years…Even in Abu Dhabi he was terrible on big points against Murray. Had lot of break points but no break. Yesterday in first set he had chances but every big point he made error. In my opinion worst part of his game is return. He was great returner on clay, putting lot of balls in game. Today he can miss easiest one . Against Berdich it was old Rafa, against Murray it was “last two years Rafa”. I hope he will find that consistent and “every day confident”.

  5. Thank you for the write-up, miri.

    I don’t find Chris Evert to be particularly insightful as a commentator but one thing she said awhile back stuck with me. I’ll paraphrase “As you get older you have more bad days.” Not comforting but it would explain some of the inconsistency. Rafa’s not “old” as tennis players go these days but he’s been at the top for a very long time and played a LOT of matches. It’s got to take a toll on the nerves as well as the rest of the body. It’s hard to watch, but aging is not for wimps!

  6. haddie says:

    There are moments when he can play superbly, and then he lapses; losing the power in his shots and barely getting them over the net, Andy pounced on these mid court shots and put them away.
    For me that match was painful to watch and when Rafa lost serve for the second time in the second set I had to switch off. What happened between the match v Berdych and then v Murray? Inexplicable.

    • Aero says:

      Yeah, after watching the semi’s I was convinced he was back and that Murray wouldn’t offer him much trouble. He was dreadful though, his serving wasn’t great and Murray like Djokovic is a one of the best returners so that second serve was capitalized on. Murray dictated points and also did what works for Djokovic, attacked Rafa’s backhand and not allow him to use his forehand……………….It worked like a charm. But even his forehand also seemed to be miss hitting when used……………..Ah well, I guess Rafa took the positives from it, something I can’t seem to do. At least Murray is Djokovic’s half of the Rome draw!

  7. cythere72 says:

    Nice smile he has in that photo of him clapping for AMurray. I could not really watch him play. I was hearing it on tv but I was paying attention to my phone etc. It was heart-breaking for me.

    Did he change racquets again? It looked like he was back to using the new one? I am not sure and these days cannot speak “strongly” about my Rafa knowledge cause I do feel really bad about how his game is going and I know he is a bit of a pragmatist but at the same time, I am constantly imagining how he is feeling inside.

    #7 …. yeah, a lot of players go down in the rankings only to climb back up again but all I can say today is that I feel so bad. I just feel so bad.

    • RAFAFAN1 says:

      Me was just sick after watched the match too. Two poles – Saturday and Sunday. I also thought the switch from all day matches to night final will affect him and Andy played all his matches at night but not so badly. Ah well, now we hope the slide will stop. After RG he can at least pick up some points if he can start playing better on a consistent basis.

  8. The slide in the rankings should inspire fear to his opponents, in case they are the ones to meet him early on, esp. if he has a day like Saturday.

  9. Aero says:

    Did anyone see Rafa yesterday? I didn’t. I saw someone who looked like him but didn’t play like him. After seeing glimmers of the old Rafa on Saturday against Tomas, I had high hopes for the final. What a disappointment, Murray completely destroyed him and made him look like a ball boy who had picked up a racket for the first time. #7 now in rankings. Prediction: he won’t make it past the semi’s in Rome and won’t make it past the Quarters in RG. The likes of Djokovic, Murray or Nishikori will win RG this year. Honestly, I think Rafa is in a permanent decline and won’t ever recover. He’ll soon be out of the top 10. We can’t expect him to maintain such a high forever, 10 years at the top, he is already a legend and in my books the GOAT, he peaked early and so his twilight years are accelerated more so than with other players. Is the golden era of men’s tennis is ending!!!……….I hope I’m proved wrong.

  10. CB says:

    I would encourage you to take heart. Rafa played absolutely brilliantly on Saturday. He still has the fire, he still has the talent, he still has the shots — but right now his consistency is not there. Yet. Plus, Andy is no slouch! I had seen some of Nishikori’s matches and thought no-one could beat him; and then Andy did relatively easily. I agree with luckystar1 — for someone like Rafa who thrives on routine, to have to play all day matches and then have the final at night would be a disadvantage. Honestly, it would be for anybody. Jim Courier just remarked on Tennis Channel (paraphrasing): ” Isn’t it amazing that we are horrified that Rafa is #7? Most players DREAM of one day just making it to the Top Ten for even a brief period of time. This just goes to show what a champion Rafa is.” Absolutely!

  11. harry houdini says:

    He is still looking for a bit more consistency day in and day out on his ground strokes. He was utilizing the dTL and inside out fh more in this tournament and his footwork was more explosive.

    Results don’t lie, we now have 2 finals and an early round loss in the post miami CC tournaments. Rafa’s going to have good looks at Rome and RG.

  12. He didn’t play really badly yesterday, even though he made too many ue’s. Andy’s second serve really gave him problems, he couldn’t get it back deep enough. And Andy played a great match. So: bring on Rome!

    • luckystar1 says:

      Murray did play brilliantly, but Rafa’s problem of poor ROS on second serve was NOT only against Murray, but against everyone else!! To me thats the main gproblem, its not like he didnt have his chances on second serves but he squandered 80% of those! Had he won a few of those, he might have a better chance of winning the match.

      His game is just so inconsistent, and yes its inexplicable, why his level fluctuates so much from one day to the next? So its better that he does horribly at the SF but win and then plays brilliantly the next day to win the final!

      No expectation at Rome now, so hope that he surprises us when we are not expecting anything.

  13. sam says:

    I didn’t see anything brilliant from Murray. What I did see is a succession of bizarre unforced errors from Rafa. He didn’t have any sort of consistency. In rally’s were Murray was just keeping the ball in and not putting Rafa under any pressure Rafa would randomly hit the the ball meters long. He wasn’t missing by a little he was missing by a lot. Rafa’s reaction was unusual for him too as he appeared to react to the errors with a roll of the eyes and a smile. It didn’t look like it mattered. Looking from the outside this is a match that should have mattered a lot but maybe for some reason to Rafa it didn’t?

    What this all means going forward non of us know. Rafa appears to be fit, he has shown he still has his game because he still brings it out occasionally and he has said he still has motivation. We can only wait and see. As a fan it’s becoming a difficult watch.

    • Aero says:

      That’s the problem, Murray was in no way brilliant and yet Rafa lost! against a player would had never beaten him on clay before. Murray however, was consistent and composed through the entire tourney. Murray plays Rafa like Djokovic, he capitalizes on weak second returns and kept Rafa pinned to his backhand side. Once Rafa was broken his confidence was gone and he fell apart. It’s the only way I can see it, considering how well he played the day before. Murray should have been no problem for him, or at least it should have gone to three sets.

  14. materijalmen says:

    I just dont know how to start this, cos I have so much things bouncing in my had…
    It is a realy pain and started becoming difficult to watch this kind of playing.
    For the people who are thinking still, that he is coming back…


    He has nothing with coming back, he has nothing with his age, he is not old in tennis WTF! He is using the same old game like 10 years before…Andy, Novak and all the upcomings just analysed this game, and thats it. Andy was not playing brilliant. Rafa beated himself with his errors…If Tony can not tell him not to play so much behing the baseline and not to do those amateur mistakes, well, Toni deserved to be fired from his team. And dont come up with “how many titles Tony brought for Rafa“. That is PAST people, dont be fooled.

    While Garros is already lost, this is the right time to call a new coach, and start thinking about next season. How can I say this, you may ask me, or how could I know what he needs? Guys, all my predictions came true till yesterday…he will not get ANY bigger titles in 2015, nor in 2016 if he will not change his coach or call someone new in his team. (Except is, that he reached the finals in Madrid, but why…cos everything was set for his winning).

    For the people who are saying “he is coming back, time will tell us, patient, etc…“ STOP SPEAKING BULLSHIT. How much time do you need and if you got enough time, again, how much time will you need to realize what is the result of the theory, to wait and lets see what will happen…

    Rafa is lacking of disaster management. Tennis is a game where changes are happening fast and quickly, where is no time to “lets see what will happen“. HE SAID THAT? Oh yes he said, because Tony is saying that too, He want to look confident on the presses…

    Guys, I saw Tonys face during the match, he was completely relaxed, just like someone who is not care of what happens on the court. I saw Beckers and Marijans face too while Novak was loosing, they were extremely nervous. This is the difference between a coach and uncle! Toni has no interests in Rafa, except his money. If he had been a mentally strong coach, a LEADER, he would suggested a new training coach for Rafa a year before. Dont count the titles, that is past! If you count the titles, Nadal can end paying tennis, and we can talk endless about how good he was. And yes, many RAFANS count the titles, thats why they say “he has nothing to prove, he dont have to win any titles“…

    Wake up guys, dont be fooled…I have blood and pain in my heart…I am aware that he cannot win alwasy. But this is very far from winning…

    • CB says:

      Wow. Unless you are in Rafa’s inner circle, it is impossible to know what is transpiring. Sure, his inconsistency has been hard to watch but that’s what a true fan does — sticks around when the going gets tough. Certainly, Rafa and his team are doing their best to figure out how to get back to winning ways.

      • materijalmen says:

        Yea, since Januray….Do you really think a professional team needs so much time…? Just asking…(cos the problem is not with Rafas health….) Or, maybe, everyone jus sucks Rafas money? I

        • CB says:

          You are entitled to your opinion. I will continue to trust that Rafa and his team are doing their best and I will be patient.

  15. sam says:

    IMO the difference a coach can make at an elite level is over rated. The idea that it can be a magic fix is laughable. It all started when Murray won his 2 slams after hiring Lendl. Murray’s wins had more to do with some fortunate draws opening up and the absence of Nadal than they did to his expensive coach IMHO.

    Nadal is comfortable with his team. Any changes would likely to be counterproductive.

    • materijalmen says:

      Novak had to change his coach because Marijan said he wants to spend more time with his family. Then Becker was called in Novaks team, but he just wasnt enough…then Marijan came back. I think it is not laughable.
      Maybe the problem is that he is comfortable in his team. When the wolf is not hungry, the wolf is not hunting…The same in tennis. Ofc, we will accept if Rafa says, he is not interested in winning (but then he should stop throwing those marketing speaches on the press conferences…)

    • Aero says:

      Disgree, what about Djokovic and Becker? Djokovic only started winning slams again after he hired Becker. Federer too began playing a better game after hiring Edberg. They all have had an impact or why would those top players have hired them??? Being comfortable with his team may actually be part of his issue, something needs to change in his game to give him an edge again.

  16. Dirk says:

    10 years at the top. 9 out of 10 RGs. Two clay finals in Europe this year. It has taken everybody that long to figure out how to beat him. The expectations on him are unfair. His record stands. The most realistic person on all of this is the man himself. His perspective is spot on. Of course we are disappointed with his performance but it’s the way it is. Maybe after RG this year he will have nothing to lose and nothing to prove and he may come back firing on all cylinders. Again I say, there is just no other single player that stirs the emotion quite like him when he is playing. I think I’ll have to find another sport when he packs it in.

    • materijalmen says:

      Yes, but now everyone can beat hin, almost every better player. So what if he has 9 RG? Finals in London? Wimbledon? Maybe Australia open? I didnt even mention the chinese tours…wake up guys…if he loses a match, can we every single time chill ourself with 9 RG?…Is that normal? Is that acceptable? Cos there were no drops beetwen saturday and sunday matches…The problen was Andy. Not Rafas health or motivation….

    • Aero says:

      While I can never write him off, I do think that his best years are gone based on his age and physical style of play. If he never won another tourney he’d still the one of the best (the GOAT in my books) who ever played the game. I think what is most baffling though is how quickly this decline has happened (I may be jumping to conclusions calling it his decline), it has not been gradual with a loss here and there to other top players, he has been consistently losing to lesser players for much of this year so far.

  17. sia says:

    Speaking of Rome. That was a very fine match played today vs Ilhan.
    Rafa looked especially delish.
    That Italian air and sunny, bouncy court seems to agree with him.