Doha: Runner-up

REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon

Photo by REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon

Just wanted to thank Miri for the chance to vent all my tennis thoughts here on NadalNews this week. Thanks also to all who posted comments ❤️

*Miri might appreciate a few reports from the upcoming nightmare scheduling of the Australian Open if anyone is so inclined.

(Note: Yes, I would appreciate any help! And thanks for all the help, sia! – miri)

Ok. So are we ready for this? I’m up and eating yogurt with lemon and turmeric (healthy new year thing … really, though I just covered everything with a lot of honey. It was delicious!)

Rafa in the “tunnel”. Spanish flags flying!! We have a marching band on court. Novak a little more subdued … we all know that means very little. All rise the National Anthem of Qatar being played.

Cedric Mourier will be our chair umpire today. He and Rafa wait for Novak at the net. ND wins the toss and chooses to serve.

Here we go. Crowd is so very ready for this. We have two exceptional competitors on court today. Nice conditions, no wind.

First Set

Novak serves first and hits an ace. Rafa’s FH goes wide. Rafa returns well and his FH does some damage 30-15. DF from Novak. Rafa forces an error with some deep penetration and gets a break point. Novak finds a new gear and although Rafa pushes in that game, Novak holds with an ace.

Rafa hits nothing but second serves in the second game of the first set (oh except for a challenged serve which is called an ACE), you really can’t do that against the world’s best returner … Rafa is broken! Novak goes up 0-2.

Lots of “Vamos Rafa” from the crowd trying to urge him on.

Rafa looks a little rattled and Novak serves and holds again to go up 0-3. Not really the start we were all hoping for. Rafa has to serve well and make absolutely no mistakes to have a chance. Yikes!In the next game Rafa serves a little bit better and holds(!) for 1-3. He’s on the board.

Already Novak has upped his level … not sure if Rafa can keep up, quite yet.

Novak hits some great serves; Rafa hits some short returns and score is 1-4. Novak really has been serving so well these last months, combine that with his tremendous return abilities and he really becomes an impenetrable force. Boris was such a good server.

Rafa starts his next serving game well but ND is pushing him so far off the court in their rallies and then just hitting winners. Rafa is BROKEN for the second time. Novak serves for the set and basically hits everything from the centre of the court. He wins the set. 1-6

Second Set

Rafa to serve. We have a ferocious rally Rafa comes out on top 15-0, then he DFs, hits a second serve, another second serve and goes down 15-40. There is a great rally where Rafa uses a lot of shot variety and pulls an error from ND, another good serve and we are back to deuce. Rafa can’t keep tempo with ND though and loses the next two points. Rafa starts the second set being BROKEN. Sadness.

One of the TTV commentators about Novak, who had stumbled a bit in last game. “When he does fall there is a thespian element to it, sometimes, isn’t there?” Hahaha.

CROWD IS CHANTING RAFA’S NAME. 😭

Novak has no trouble holding in the next game and goes up two games to love. Rafa hitting himself in head after going long with one of his his FHs.

Rafa serves well in the game and holds. Rafa not able to get any depth on his returns and ND holds with ease. Rafa’s got the crazy hair but it does him no good as ND BREAKS in the next game and he goes down 2 breaks of serve.

Novak wins the first two points in the next game and then Rafa seems to get feisty with someone in the crowd. “You come down here and play Novak” is what I think he trying to say. The commentators let us know he was letting loose a little Rafa snark “Do you want to be my coach?” Haha. Rafa wins the next point. ND does hold.

Rafa serving at 1-5 wins the game with some good FH action. 2-5. Novak to serve for the Championship. Which he does. Rafa loses 1-6 2-6.

ND hit 30 winners. Rafa 9.

Novak goes ahead in their Head to Head for the first time. 24-23.

Rafa could have created a few more opportunities for himself but Novak was dominant throughout the match. Rafa looking lovely and slightly sad in his white jacket on his bench watching ND hit balls into the crowd.

Everything goes dark and we have a full on Titanium music and light show to start off the trophy ceremony. Rafa looks on tentatively … Ah the crowd trying to cheer up Rafa, who was lost in thought and captured by the camera. He smiles and raises his hand in a wave.

Gaston Gaudio is here to present trophies. Rafa gets a lot of applause “Positive start of the season for me” Happy to be in a final. “… going to keep working so hard to be ready for Australia and the rest of the season“ FANS LOVE RAFA !! Rafa thanks the tournament for all their hospitality.

Rafa makes jokes. “I find a new coach today, too .. so .. I think he’s travelling with me to Australia tonight, and I’m sure I’m going to win against Novak with him.”

“Thanks everybody. Many thanks” Rafa is so great. He turned that Finalist speech around to something so special. Steamy! That’s why we love him!

Rafa’s trophy ceremony interview:

Posted by rafanadal-kingoftennis.ru/.

Comments from Rafa after the match can be found in this ATP article:

“The match is easy to analyse,” said Nadal. “I played against a player who did everything perfectly. I don’t know anybody who’s ever played tennis like this. Since I know this sport I’ve never seen somebody playing at this level. So I just congratulate him and that’s it.

“I know I can do a few things better, but the real thing is with these conditions, playing during the night and with the feeling of the ball here, it’s so difficult to have chances against him playing like this. It is probably impossible.

“When somebody is better than you, you accept it and you work to try to improve yourself. That’s it. I am not frustrated. I look at the things very clearly and I am always honest. Today he’s better than me without a doubt.”

“The real thing is I had a positive week. I am playing well and I am going to keep working hard to try to be ready for Australia. I think I will be. I am motivated for it.

“He played so good. Accept it and congratulate him. Nothing left to say. The only thing is the opponent is better than me today. And here especially. Let’s see in Australia and let’s see later during the whole season. I’m going to fight and I feel ready to fight. I feel ready and excited about this fight and I hope to be closer.”

Nadal Djokovic
Statistics on Serve
Aces 3 4
Double Faults 1 1
1st Serve % 65% 75%
1st Serve Points Won 14/28 (50%) 26/33 (79%)
2nd Serve Points Won 6/15 (40%) 8/11 (73%)
Break Points Saved 3/7 (43%) 1/1 (100%)
Service Games Played 7 8
Statistics on Return
1st Return Points Won 7/33 (21%) 14/28 (50%)
Second Return Points Won 3/11 (27%) 9/15 (60%)
Break Points Won 0/1 (%) 4/7 (57%)
Return Games Played 8 7
Statistics on Points
Total Service Points Won 20/43 (47%) 34/44 (77%)
Total Return Points Won 10/44 (23%) 23/43 (53%)
Total Points Won 30/87 (34%) 57/87 (66%)

sia

@swantennisyn on the twitter.

53 Responses

  1. materijalmen says:

    Okay. First of all, I wish all of You a happier new year then the 2015 year was. I didnt watch tennis since the last AO. I was only following the results, and reading the comments here and around the whole world. Today I was sitting next to my TV and watched the match with my wife. She asked me several times: Why is Nadal hitting the ball back to Novaks hand, why he is not hitting the ball on the opposite side and not there where Novak is standing. Why is Novak doing that so good, causing Nadal to run from the left side to the right side all the time…And then I just smiled and said nothing….I knew it from the begining og my post that it is kind a worthless to write my post…yes, He plays better, he looks better. But the story ends here. I like being optimistic but not naive. Tony did a great job but the time has come for him to leave. I hope Nadal will realise it very soon.

    • Aero says:

      Agreed! I think the addition of a super-coach is worth considering though not that Toni should leave.

  2. Rob says:

    Quite a drubbing.

    Must be hard to take despite his usual calm analysis. Clearly he needs a rethink about how to play joker. He has a point however as no one else has been able to beat him recently except Wawrinka occasionally. Soon joko will have ALL the points. He has a huge margin over all the rest including Murray and Fed. The past year has placed rafa in a position where his game is far behind where it needs to be to stay with Emperor Djokovic ! It will be tough to get there but he will try and I will back him win or lose. Happy New year Rafaholics.

    • Aero says:

      Fed and Murray can also go the distance with him (both beat him last year). Rafa is simply a pushover for Djokovic at this point. I honestly think a large part of Rafa’s matchup against Djokovic is still mental, he simply crumbles when in walks onto court to face him, he’s not the same player against Djokovic as he is against other players. He game is always off against Djokovic which in my eyes is nervousness and a complete lack of confidence. Djokovic had a more difficult match against Berdych and some of the players in this tournament than in this final which is becoming all too common to the point of being predictable.

      • Roxitova says:

        Don’t exagerrate Fed or Murray’s competitiveness against Djok–they only beat him on an off day, or in Fed’s case on an off day on a fast surface when Fed’s surface is consistently blistering.
        Djok owns them both in 5 setters and don’t look competitive against Djok to me. Only Waw, at his best, does. Because of the power.
        But it is true they look more competitive than Rafa.
        I agree some of it is mental, but I also think Djok reads his game better than anyone, and the matchup characteristics are disasterous for Rafa.

        The worst single thing against Djok are the short balls, especially the short service returns.
        This has to change for anything to improve.
        Watch some highlights of 2013 USO and look at Rafa’s shot depth. Once he gets that back Djok cannot boss him around the court.

  3. Francine says:

    Happy New Year all faithfull Rafa fans!!

    I will not add anything on Rafa’s game – thanks Sia.

    I will just say that Rafa’s speech at the ceremony confirms what I (we?) already knew – he is a class act -. French commentators were so impressed by it and so was I. I have no idea how he handled the lost in private, but he is a true warrior. I did not say that the commentators did — most would have thrown the towel in mid second set.

    • Aero says:

      Rafa is always very respectful, its one thing to congratulate a player for a win but I don’t think he does himself any favors with the praises he lavishes on Djokovic, it just strokes his ego further and adds fuel to Djokovic’s fire.

  4. Francine says:

    …and thanks Sia for acknowledging the speech! I just noticed…dahhhh…

  5. mallorcanchamp says:

    Rafa served atrocious, he now just forces it a bit too much on serve, still hasn’t found this extra gear or maybe he won’t have it ever again (that AO’14 back injury) This made the difference on a expected one-sided match which finally was a blowout match. No serve, no party. Not even a contest.

    Here stops my comments about Rafa, still too soon in the season to make other judgements, because all credit goes to Novak. He’s barely missing shots, when he does, it’s by milimeters.

    Unbelievable how deep and adjusted to the lines he hits right now. Last games of the 1st set should be shown on tennis academies to illustrate the ability to put constant pressure on your opponent -even on insignificant points- He doesn’t want to loss a point by any means.

    This 6-1 6-2 may not be the most lopsided score (can’t remember the 47 scores) but it sure has to be the most lopsided in terms of level of play. Never seen Rafa getting so dominated on a tennis court, not even Nalbandian on his best days against Rafa.

    It’s the first match of the season between these two and this has just started, but what worries me now is that Rafa seems to be in shape to contend again for the top positions and get that no.2 spot quite soon, but that’s it. Worst scenario of these next months could be something like 2011, but even more unbalanced, scoring horrible losses against Djokovic, especially on hardcourt.

    Catenating several losses will destroy Rafa’s confidence of getting any big victory this year. This is a bold thought with just one tournament played, but I don’t want to see Novak feasting on Rafa again and in a worse fashion. Seems a very possible scenario considering how weak the whole batch of players look when they play against Novak.

    If what we’ve seen today is gonna be the trend of these next months, at some point Rafa will finally have to accept that he needs some external advice to incorporate some tactical adjustments, but let’s see what happens in Australia first.

    When Djokovic started his blossoming on the tennis courts in 2007 I already saw glimpses of future champion material, but never thought he would reach these levels of unconscious drunken master/videogaming tennis play. It’s truly extraordinary (and when you say that, you have to consider the great things Roger and Rafa did these last 15 years) It doesn’t look like it’s gonna stop soon. It’s better to be realistic and don’t torture myself with false hopes of Rafa reaching an approximated level, which don’t exist at this moment.

    Djokovic not being AO’16 champion looks a travesty at this point. This is a dynamic sport and matches have to be played, but now the serb seems to be a “elephant-heavy” favorite.

    Very pessimistic, I know, but if Rafa stays healthy, anything can happen and I would love to eat my words.

    • Aero says:

      Agreed! Djokovic now leads in their H2H so I believe Rafa’s past the point of no return, this is no longer a rivalry, its a massacre. While I do think he will have a better year in 2016, he will always be 2nd to Djokovic. We had better hope that if he is to win any finals this year, someone else will have to take out Djokovic first along the way, only then will Rafa have a chance. I still think he has it in him to beat practically all other players out there but not Djokovic, not even on clay. Djokovic has such a stranglehold on Rafa’s mind to the point Rafa praises him like he’s a god. However, like you said I too hope I’m wrong!

      • samfisher514 says:

        Rafael has been leading the h2h against Federer since day 1. There’s no bigger massacre than their ‘rivalry’ and AO 2009 was the biggest humiliation in history.

        • Aero says:

          I’m talking Djokovic-Nadal here not Federer, besides Federer did beat Nadal in their last match together. Nadal’s play against Djokovic is pitiful, every other player in this tournament offered Djokovic more resistance, Djokovic Berdych would have been a worthier final, since Rafa just crumbles in Djokovic’s presence, its predictable and simply no contest.

    • Roxitova says:

      Fantastic post. It was a mauling, and I didn’t like to see Rafa saying “this was the best tennis (Djok’s: he ever saw anyone play. Djok was on fire but it had a lot to do with Rafa’s short balls.
      For me they are the #1 problem.
      True the dominance was perhaps even greater than their last match, and perhaps greater than 2011. But it didn’t look like 2011. Small comfort to be had in that, the outcome was as bad.

  6. kate says:

    Doesn’t anyone remember last year at this time? Rafa lost first round to Berrer. He made it to the Final this year. That, in and of itself, is a huge step forward. Rafa doesn’t obsess over beating just one player (Novak), so why should we? Everyone has their own thoughts of course. And that’s just fine. Having said that, if he never gets back to beating Novak, so what? His legacy is cemented in the history books. He doesn’t have to play another match in his lifetime. He could just walk away and begin the second chapter in his life.

    The fact that he is out there busting him bum training every day is a testament to the fact that he believes he can still be very competitive in the sport. And I, for one, believe he absolutely can.

    I’m gonna enjoy the fact that Rafa is happy, healthy and out there giving what he has on the day. The day he retires from tennis will be a sad day indeed.

    P.S., you have to be in a Final to lose a Final. :)

    • kate says:

      One last thing, you can call me “positive polly” if you like…..I won’t mind at all. LOL

      • Positivity is a Good Thing! Thanks for your words, kate. Especially the last paragraph. I want to see Rafa happy and healthy and giving his best out there for a couple more years.

        This has been a very special era in tennis, thanks to the Big Four. We shall not see their like again.

    • Aero says:

      Right you are Kate, well said! love the optimism, because I’m not :P

      • Rob says:

        Well Joker could be run over by the proverbial bus on the hight street, or there is always bubonic plague!

        • Roxitova says:

          LOL, you don’t want to even know my secret, darkest hopes for Djok.
          Sometimes I think the only way Rafa will ever get back on top is if Djok gets injured, and he shows no sign of it.

    • materijalmen says:

      I would like to call you naive polly…being optimistic is a good thing but being blind and naive is not…

    • Julie says:

      I agree, Kate. I always find your comments positive and sensible, certainly not blind or naïve.

  7. samfisher514 says:

    Weak match by Rafael, Novak didn’t have to do anything special. Rafa was simply making unforced errors all the time. Since 2010 his backhand has become a joke, but at least he still had his good old forehand. Now even his forehand has become a weakness and no longer a weapon. Must be all those inuries.

  8. Elizabeth Howard says:

    A mix of positive comments and negative. I like the positive people. I guess that many of the negative comments come from armchair “players” and have little appreciation of being in the heat of battle. Rafael played a lot of good tennis, small margins went against him at times but Djokovic better on the day.
    Djokovic is playing at an amazing level. It does beg a question or two. He is big into Chinese medicine and meditation. All very plausible but remember the Chinese athletes who won gold at the Olympics some years ago. Federer, Nadal and Murray have been very vocal re drug testing and the need for greater vigilance. Do they suspect something?
    In relation to his coach, I have the utmost respect for Toni Nadal but bringing in someone with a new vision would be beneficial. He could work with Toni and Roig. Pat Cash claims to have the solution, I met him briefly at the 02 and he said that he would like to work with Rafael. Worth a try.
    Rafael is on the right path so let us support him fully. What an ambassador for tennis and sport. He surely stole the show at the presentation.

  9. Sentinel says:

    What should really worry Nadal is not that Djokovic is beating him but the fact that Djokovic is beating him far more easily than he is beating a whole raft of other players. Typically there is not the slightest indication that Rafa’s coaching team have done ANY serious thinking about how they might combat Djokovic more effectively. Just more of the same with the same spectacularly inept performance and outcome. A new coach was needed a long long time ago.

    • Roxitova says:

      Yeah, agree with this.

    • Aero says:

      That’s exactly it! that’s my real issue. Berdych gave Djokovic a more difficult match, in fact every player in this tournament offered Djokovic more resistance. I don’t mind Rafa loosing to him but he never even seems to push him anymore, he’s a different player against Djokovic, like his ranking drops to 100. To me his game falls apart on a mental level, he looses confidence even before setting foot on court, he’s a bag of nerves on court so he ends up playing terrible, his game is always off against him. It’s not an off day, this is his new norm against Djokovic to the point of being a predictable embarrassment. Honestly I’d rather see someone else playing Djokovic in the final because you’ll at least get someone who can challenge him.

  10. mallorcanchamp says:

    I’m normally in the positive/optimistic comments group, but what we saw yesterday had nothing to be positive about, even more considering it was a fresh start of the season and Djokovic is still not tuned up as could be seen in the previous rounds. Rafa shown a good level this week but the feeling of yesterday is he was beaten more clearly than in the last encounters between these two.

    Sentinel says it right. Other players (normally using power) can make it closer against Novak, but when you see matches between them, a feeling of a huge missmatch is underlying on Rafa’s side and it should not look like this between two great GS champions. Rafa’s not looking like the same player of previous rounds out there.

    Many weaknesses when playing his service games. My feeling when I see their recent matches is that he’s gonna lose everyone of them and I expect Rafa to work hard on the next game to break back and keep the score leveled. This is how bad it looks now for Rafa against Novak.

    I’m positive from the pov that in november I was saying here that Rafa should not worry about Djokovic at the moment and center himself in becoming a contender for no.1 again, but looking at his last months progress, now I’m starting to see the signs of a true comeback, enough to get that no.2 spot, so he will have again all the eyes on him to break the Novak’s blockade. If he succeeds again like in 2013 or not, it will add to his legacy or diminish it, want it or not.

  11. emir says:

    It is painfull to see Rafa to lose this easily to Djokovic. To be honest this is much much worse than 2011 where nearly all of their matces was close yes Rafa was losing but the matches they played has some life and excitement in it. I dont want to be negative but ı have some serious doubts about this match up Rafa no longer has the amazing passing shots ( for me used to be the best in history along side with Borg ) and suprising winners when he is being pushed . Novak right now feels he can take every ball on the rise and ask the question Rafa seems he can no longer defence into attack. To honest every player is diffrent than the others ı really feel Rafa sytle of needed YOUTH there for he cant play effectively anymore since he isnt all that young either. As much as ı dont like how it sounds Rafa is right he cant beat Djokovic when Djokovic is on this kind of form ( atleast not nowdays we arent in 2008 anymore) Djoko needs to lose some serious form in order to Rafa has any chance.

  12. emir says:

    It is painfull to see Rafa to lose this easily to Djokovic. To be honest this is much much worse than 2011 where nearly all of their matces was close yes Rafa was losing but the matches they played has some life and excitement in it. I dont want to be negative but ı have some serious doubts about this match up Rafa no longer has the amazing passing shots ( for me used to be the best in history along side with Borg ) and suprising winners when he is being pushed . Novak right now feels he can take every ball on the rise and ask the question Rafa seems he can no longer defence into attack. To be honest every player is diffrent than the others ı really feel Rafa sytle of play needed YOUTH there for he cant play effectively anymore since he isnt all that young either. As much as ı dont like how it sounds Rafa is right he cant beat Djokovic when Djokovic is on this kind of form ( atleast not nowdays we arent in 2008 anymore) Djoko needs to lose some serious form in order to Rafa has any chance.

    • Aero says:

      I hope that happens sooner than later, Djokovic actually believes he can win all four majors this year. While I despise his arrogance (not helped by the way Nadal praises him), he has a confidence Rafa doesn’t have, which is why Rafa will never equal him. I hate the thoughts of Djokovic eventually having more majors in the bag than Rafa. That’s the one advantage Rafa still holds over him, so I hope Djokovic looses form this year or someone else steps up and beats him in a major. As the Biblical proverb goes, “Pride before the crash” so I’m still hoping this crash happens this year! Wawrinka, Murry or whoever else can win a major (with the exception of Kygrios, another arrogant prat).

  13. jodiecate says:

    I agree with Rafa – Novak is playing exceptionally well at the moment, amazingly so. Congratulations to him, it’s a real achievement. Glad to see Rafa playing much better against other players again tho. Really happy about that! Hope he can continue to play well, and continue to improve his level in Australia. I have a really good feeling for the year ahead.

  14. Roxitova says:

    It was a mauling. Strange that Rafa almost broke in the 1rst game, didn’t
    but was broken himself instead in his 1rst service game, and there was never any competitive play since that very early break. True Rafa played some competitive points (almost all of them very long ones as I recall) and true that Djok was on fire, but I think Rafa hit so many short balls and short ROS and that was the sotry of the defeat. Along with a few shanked volleys that were kind of inexplicable.
    \
    Nice that he says such laudatory things about Djok but also it worries me, that it’s easier for him to flatter Djok than consider his own part in the mauling.

    Short balls, I’ve been saying this for years now. They stopped in 2013 and look at the reulsts of that year! Check out the USO 2013 final and R$afa’s shot depth. Once he has that, he is not getting bossed around the court. For me it is the whole story. Maybe Djok was just way less great then and that is the answer. Not sure, because tennis is a symbiotic mess.

    I didn’t see these short balls against Kuz or some lesser opponent so obviously they start occurring when someone can put pressure on him.

    My only good takeaway was that Rafa felt enough confidence to for the FHDTL, which is a sign of confidence and essential to beating someone like Djok (or even getting a competitive loss). Maybe part of the problem (besides night and the heavy conditions as Rafa pointed out) was he went from ….chenko (sorry forget his last name) to Djok. Not enough prearation, needed a stronger opponent first.

    Anyway, I don’t want to have to sit through a series of Djokal maulings this year. Please Rafa, hit the ball deeper in the court, somehow.

  15. SAM12 says:

    Watched the match. Thank you for your site and info. I feel what Rafa did this week was great for him. He has been gathering good steam for AO and should things go right he will do well in AO not awesome!!. I watched his match with the Djoker yesterday and all the matches this week. Throughout this week I noticed that Rafa was playing good enough to win, not great. His shots were landing way too short most of the time and then would win the point if he got good pace and depth during the rally. It just got amplified against Djoker. Ground speed of shots yesterday was Djoker 127kmph; Rafa 116Kmph. I dont care about the stats of yesterday but Rafa’s serves were not upto the mark. He missed too many first serves at crutial points and double faulted when he was ahead. He also missed so many easy put-aways when he was in a winning position. Djoker just took advantage of all this. I guess Rafa was very nervous and unsure of his shots and so automatically it was advantage to Djoker most of the time. When Rafa landed his serve at the right spot he won the point and got Djoker to defend and or out of position. If I analyse the sequence looks like all Rafa and the team did during the off season is to get Rafa into proper shape and work on the serves returns and ground strokes which is great but just first level stuff. They need to start planning matches. For me it looked like Rafa went into this match to play a normal tennis match, get in and work your way in. On the other hand Djoker had a blue print to play Rafa and played it to a T. He knew where to serve, where to hit the ball to get Rafa out of position and go for the winner. He didnt even have to break a sweat. Look at the matches this week and all the players who beat Rafa last year even David Ferrer- same tactics only Djoker executes it to perfection and others may falter midway. I feel all along Uncle Toni used to get Rafa to work on getting rythm only and solely depended on the genius of Rafa to win matches. He needs to stay to give Rafa confidence but they need a super coach to plan things and give Rafa new direction. just like Boris and Stephen have done. With the talent Rafa has this addition will make him again a world beater. If they dont make this change, it will just drag him to the ground. Sorry for my harsh words but I like Rafa, but dont see any change to his style and his style is just not working. If he continues to work like this he probably has just a year or 2 left and then he will be forced to retire. He can definately win another slam if he is lucky like Wawrinka was on his first one but purely on merit he will come second best to Djoker atleast.

    • RAFAFAN1 says:

      Forced to retire? Oh please!

      • SAM12 says:

        Yes Sir, Look at his history. Every time he come back from injury he overworks. He runs his body down and then gets injured. At this stage of his career he is only interested in getting more GS and ATP 1000 to add to his great legacy. He does not need to play or the money from it. He knows he has talents and that has given him 14 GS. He wants to be know as the best or at-least equal to Federer but now things are not working like they used to. The Game has changed. If he modifies his game and plays to a plan rather that adrenaline he will be successful if not he will start thinking of retiring and focusing on his projects he has started and give back to tennis in that way rather than recoup through another injury. Thats all I am saying.

    • Roxitova says:

      I don’t think your words are harsh, but astute and fair.
      I was wondering about serve speeds as I watched a stream with no commies or serve speeds posted.
      It didn'[t look like Rafa had a plan other than trying to keep the ball in the middle of the court to deprive Djok of the angles.
      For sure Djok was hitting harder balls at Rafa, and way deeper balls, which is more significant to my mind.
      I thought they needed a new coaching voice in there, and still do.
      Rafa has improved against the rest of the feild, but no improvement against Djok.

      • Aero says:

        I too think Rafa needs a super-coach on his team, and one that specifically aimed at solving the Djokovic problem (which may include a sports psychologist).

  16. RAFAFAN1 says:

    I said it yesterday during the match on chat and i will repeat myself – something is not right in mens tennis. How can one ONE player won EVERY bloody match he is playing against EVERYBODY (not just Rafa, because sometimes all the talk is just about how bad Rafa is against Djokovic) and this is going in for almost 2 years now!!! Is it him or are the others just THAT far behind? I mean, look at the ranking points, it is just too lobsided. Something is not right in mens tennis atm. Just my penny. Rafa will try his best in every moment and that is all i can ask from him. If he never ever win anything ‘big’, it’s also fine. Vamos Rafa, be happy and enjoy the fight.

    • emir says:

      Something isnt right in tennis because the sport cant produce new stars at the moment. Under normal circumstances there should be a army of talented hungry of suceess young players. I also think Djokovic isnt as good as 2011 but whose there to push him to the limit ?? 35 years old Fed and way past its prime Rafa. Sure the sport isnt having its golden days.

      • RAFAFAN1 says:

        No way, there are very good players out there except Rafa and Fed, but for some or other reason NOBODY can challenge Novak. I don’t get it! Is there not one single player that can put his foot down, forget who Novak is and just do it?? That is all the tour need, for one challenge to rattle him somewhat to bring him down just a tiny little bit and the rest will follow. Do you think?

        • emir says:

          There good players but the sport cant produce new young stars that isnt just good but also great. Thats my point.

        • Roxitova says:

          Yeah, Waw when he’s on, can beat Djok in 4, he beat him more eaily than one would have though in fact at the FO, but only when Waw is totally on, which is so rare.
          I agree once others start beating Djok, it will spread, the way it spread on Rafa once Djok started beating him.
          I think right now Waw is the only one, other than Murray or Fed when Djok is off and only on particular surfaces and only best of 3.

        • Aero says:

          I don’t get it either! but Fed said at the end of last year that it is difficult to maintain that kind of momentum over another year so let’s hope he is right. Generally when a player becomes number one, he becomes the target, other players conform their game to target his game and beat him. I think we’ll see it this year because I can’t fathom how Djokovic can possibly have another year like the last one.
          On the subject of talent, there is plenty in the mix, the problem younger talent has is endurance, they might have the game but not the consistency nor the endurance especially in a major best of 5. Rafa changed the game with his physicality and stanima, others in his generation adjusted and thus still maintain that hold. The younger talent still need to develop those legs, but they are getting there. Roanic, Nishikori, Dimitrov etc. aren’t that far behind anymore. Any of those guys could challenge Djokovic this year along with the usual contenders, Wawrinka, Murray and Federer (I exclude Rafa at this point, I think he’s done, Fed may also be on the decline).

    • SAM12 says:

      Please stop talking about this. I respect Djoko and his work ethics. I think he has earned all his laurels. He was always a great talent but now he is fitter, stronger and has a great team which plans how he plays his matches. Look, he was smart, he did not play IPTL and rested as he was tired, he worked his butt out during the off season and rather than play Abu Dhabi he went straight to Doha, got acclimatized and match ready. He did-not play like a god to beat Rafa but only to a plan and that was enough. Please give credit where it is due. Having said this. Rafa did the right thing to get himself ready. He is a different type of player and needs matches to feel comfortable on court.

      • RAFAFAN1 says:

        Never disrespect ND. Never said he didnt earned his position. This is a RN site, so we discuss and analize and all of that. But he will do it his way and if not good enough for you, tough. He will retire on his own merits, not forced but his way. All im saying.

  17. CB says:

    It disheartens me to hear people accuse Nole of doping without any proof. It is obvious that he has worked very hard, is in great shape and, honestly, Rafa is right. Nole is playing amazing tennis right now. If he can stay healthy, it is possible he will challenge Rafa’s records and Fed’s as well. I am not saying I hope this happens — I desperately hope Rafa can figure out a way to solve his lack of success against Djokovic and to continue to be a force in tennis for a long while against the top players.

  18. Roxitova says:

    What you write is all true.
    People making spurious claims about Djok doping are ridiculous and mallicious.
    Whatever one thinks of Djok, anyone who knows and understands this game must see his game is unassailable at the moment (Stan has the closest answer, but can only do it very rarely).
    I certainly don’t hope for this either, but if Djok maintains this level and Rafa can’t raise his drastically, Djok will not only catch Fed and Rafa, he’s going to surpass them. Easily.

    I am no fan of Djok (though I prefer him to Fed and Murray) but I see the all the elements of a perfect game there, and he executes it with such consistency it is astounding.

    Rafa’s game, based historically on the ISO FH and playing primarily from one side of the court, cannot currently match this. Rafa’s greatest weapon, the ISO FH that drags the opponent out wide to their BH, bothers Djok not at all and in fact, he feasst on it.

    Djok is an enormous challenge for Rafa; as Rafa was for Fed. Fed never solved Rafa, because Rafa’s strength played to Fed’s weakness. The same conditions apply, unfortunately, to Rafa/Djok.

    In a way, this is what makes for the most interesting and dramatic men’s tennis era of all time, but it won’t be, if no-one can catch Djok. The finals are a bore. Someone wrote above that they can’t understand why no-one can challenge Djok. among the young ones. That remark reveals a great ignorance of what’s going on the moment. There is no-one, in the subsequent generation of Nish/Raonic etc. and no-one in the next generation of Thiem, Kyrgios etc. who is even remotely as good as Fed/Nadal or Djok and never will be. These 3 are supreme tennis players, and Djok is currently now another level up from the other two.

    I hope that will change of course. Someone has to get in Djok’s head, if not Rafa, then it will be Waw. Too bad about Delpo, he could’ve been a challenger too.

    • SAM12 says:

      Lovely post and insite. My thoughts exactly on the doping issue. Sport has already been tainted so badly with doping issues that we should be very responsible in our comments and unless proven by authority we should procrastinate in such comments. After the final I viewed a couple of Rafa interviews and great thing is he is positive and happy about the week he had. If he plays at-least like he did this week, bar the final he should have a good run at AO and that will spiral for the rest of the year. You never know with the heat of Melbourne and he plays Djoker the match could be very interesting.

    • CB says:

      Yes, such a shame about Del Potro! I hope he can come back; the tennis world would be better with him playing.

  19. miri says:

    I don’t pay attention for a bit and things have devolved into doping accusations/insinuations? I don’t really have the patience for this. Stop it now. There are plenty of sites out there that are into flinging such crap – go play on them.