“I have no fear of my expiration date”

Benito Perez-Barbadillo / B1PR

Photo by Benito Perez-Barbadillo / B1PR

Full interview (in Spanish; also here)

Highlights of the interview (in English)

“I have no fear of my expiration date”

By Rafael Plaza as translated by @genny_ss

On Wednesday at noon, many players are marching through the heart of the majestic Crown Hotel on the banks of the Yarra River. It is a dance of rackets throughout the floors of the famous towers, where many of the players competing in the Australia Open are staying.

Rafael Nadal (Mallorca, Spain, 1986) is no longer with them, after being eliminated in the first round against Fernando Verdasco, his second defeat in the first round of a major (he lost at Wimbledon 2013 against the Belgian Darcis). Before taking a plane to return to Mallorca, the champion of 14 majors talks to “EL ESPAÑOL” to give a detailed analysis of the challenge he is facing in a season that has seen him stumble on the first major event of the calendar.

How are you doing?

It is a tough loss. When you go on court to compete you know that you can win and you can lose. This is something that I have always embraced throughout my career. But I had trained well and had trained a lot, too. For quite some time now, I have been training much more than I used to because my physical condition is allowing me to do it. When you have worked hard, feeling that you have done all the right things, and [then] the match goes wrong…

I know I have been doing things in the right way. The work is well done. Tuesday’s defeat does not change the reality: I am alright and I hope to stay that way from now on. Yes, I had lost to Djokovic in the final in Qatar, but I am on the right track. I will try to go on along a similar line, trying to leave the match with Verdasco behind. It is a tough defeat at this time, but in a few weeks I am going to be competing again. I have to keep the line of work to be ready.

For some months now, you have been trying new things during practice, why do not you compete as you train?

Yesterday (Tuesday) I could not do it. To begin with, globally, it was a nasty first round. I knew I was facing a player who was being very inconsistent, with results that are well below his actual level. But on a given day, in a match like this one that can motivate him, he is dangerous.

In any case, there are no excuses. I failed to take advantage of what I should and when the match gets messy, it is impossible to fix. The match is at the limit at that time. I could have won in the fourth set. I think I did the right thing to do it, but he had an adrenaline rush that lasted until the fifth set. Nothing to say there. Could I have served better? Yes, but Verdasco’s adrenaline was very high. The fifth set is not the problem, the problem took place much earlier.

You say that confidence is playing without thinking. How is your confidence?

It was OK. It is a Grand Slam and it is painful, obviously, but I cannot deny reality. Neither a victory nor a defeat can make you lose the true perspective. Last year’s victory in Buenos Aires did not remove my feeling of being playing pretty badly, neither did the win in Hamburg, even if it was an important victory. I had been with bad feelings for months.

The loss to Verdasco cannot take away my current perspective: since Beijing, I have been playing at a fairly high level. From there on, my results at complicated tournaments are final, semifinal, final, quarterfinal and semifinal. And 2016 had begun with another final in Doha. In recent months, my consistency has been high and with the [tennis] level I was hoping for. This defeat is a break in this positive evolution, which I have to assume. I accept it, I assume it and try to retake the line I was following.

Do not you fear that the philosophy of work may be insufficient to fix the problems you have?

And what do I do? Is there any other way? [As Picasso’s famous sentence goes] When inspiration comes, it has to find you working. My way of understanding life, not only the sport, is that things cannot go well without hard work. And above all, without a job well done. We can look for many things, but the sport is usually pretty simple. We can make up stories and write whatever we want, but the reality is that I lost a match that I was close to winning. Perhaps the normal thing would have been to have won today and be in the second round, looking ahead and thinking that I am playing well, ready to do a very good tournament.

The experts ensure that your forehand is not the same as before, that it has lost the characteristic topspin that unhinged your rivals.

It is so. Against Verdasco, it did not have it, for example. There are different factors causing this. The balls have changed a bit and are now hollower. The balls are less lively. A few years ago, the ball came out very fast off the racket and nowadays they stay longer on the strings. The rivals who hit the ball flatter feel the error less with these balls. And this favors playing in a ‘going for broke’ way. With the other balls, it was more complicated because you felt that when it came with top spin it was difficult to hit it because the ball was going away from the strings fast.

Things have changed.

Things have changed and I have tried to adapt to the change. I am not playing with as much effect as before, I am playing in a slightly different way. The evolution was being positive, but against Verdasco I did not have the control of the timing to hit the ball where I wanted. There is nothing more. I did not have the right position on court to take command of the match. I could have played deeper, I could have made him hit from more complicated positions, and I could not do it.

Does what the old Nadal did no longer work?

Currently, tennis is played in a faster way. Before there was more time to prepare the points. The same game of today, with my version of eight or nine years ago… I sincerely believe that I would still be at the very top.

It seems difficult for a 29 year-old player to be able to accept certain changes in his game after a lifetime of doing the same.

They are not radical changes, let us not get crazy. I try to adjust to what my coaches think I have to do to continue to keep having chances of being at the top. Changes are always minimal. You cannot make drastic changes, neither being 23 nor 29 years old. You cannot go against your style of play. You can modify and make small changes, but you cannot go against your head and your way of understanding the sport.

As you have often defended, matches are not won with the head. But can they be lost?

Of course there are matches that are lost with the head. There are also matches that are won, obviously. What you do not do is to win 14 majors with your head. The only way to win is to have shots that allow you to do so. When you are facing players of the highest level and you are on the edge, the head has an impact. When you are not alright mentally, you lose matches and I showed it so last year.

Your opponents have recognized that very often they were going on court with the score against them, impressed by your ability to intimidate. Have you lost that mental plus?

The capability to command respect is something that comes with victories and their consistency. Last year, with the results and the defeats I had against rivals I should not have lost, it is logical that people think they can beat me. And when you believe in it, it is more likely to happen.

In the end, it appears to be true that winning is more draining than losing.

It Depends.

Was that what happened to you in 2015?

No way. In 2015, I paid the toll for having the feeling of having wasted time. 2014 was a difficult year for me in this regard. I was very well prepared and I injured my back in the Australia Open final. It took me some time to get over it and when I had done it, I broke my wrist in summer. At that time, I felt I had again missed opportunities. And somehow that is how my career has been. I am fortunate to have taken advantage of the many opportunities I have had, but it is also true that, because of physical issues, I have had fewer opportunities than all my rivals.

What is success?

Success is very relative. A person can be successful externally, which is succeeding in life from a superficial point of view. The actual success lies in the personal happiness. If you are able to have a lot of money, if you get to be number one in whatever you have set your mind to, but you are really not happy in your personal life… you will have succeeded in one thing, but probably you will not in what really matters. Success is being happy. And in order to be happy you need to have the people you love by your side, people who also loves you. Leading a stable and logical life. In the long run, the illogical things often lead to unhappiness.

The meaning of having talent is a diffuse concept. Could you explain it?

Talent is something that people confuse. Talent is not playing beautifully or hitting the ball very hard. One will have talent to play beautifully, another to not miss any ball, another one to make a very good slice backhand and another to run very well. In tennis, and in any sport, the ultimate goal is to win. The summary is clear: the one winning more is the one with more talent.

I do not care if you learn one thing in 15 minutes while it takes me three hours. If I am able to train for four hours and you can only do it for 15 minutes, you will have learned in 15 minutes, but I will have been training for four hours. That is having talent. Why? Because my head has the talent to go on being given opportunities, to continue working and accepting failures to improve. There are many ways to understand talent, but the bottom line is that talent is getting to win more. I do not care if it is done in a pretty or an ugly way, whichever way you want. Talented is whoever gets to do a particular activity better.

AP Photo/Aaron Favila

Photo by AP Photo/Aaron Favila

What do you think about the uproar caused by the investigation of possible cases of match-fixing?

I will be totally honest, speaking from my point of view, which is ignorance. In the ATP Tour, I have not felt that it ever happens, or I have not seen it, nobody has ever contacted me, and I have no information that this is indeed happening. I hear that in the lower tournaments, such as Futures and Challengers, there are in fact people who do it. I hear about it, but I do not know it. Neither I have lived it, nor I know it, nor I have seen it. Talking about things you do not know is difficult.

People who have investigated all that, to whom I am not criticizing or accusing or agreeing with them, have to give the actual names. You cannot say Grand Slam champions and that is it. What are we talking about? Singles? Women? Doubles? Mixed doubles? This is the first thing to do. And then, in the last ten years there have been six or seven Grand Slam winners. I will say it clearly: in our tour is impossible for any Grand Slam winner to have rigged a match. Now, if people fix matches in Challengers, Futures or on the professional tour, which I do not see it even though I’m competing every week, the solution is that the ATP chases and sanctions them as is due. That is what I expect and wish. As clear as that.

You cannot live cheating in any way. There have to be as many controls as possible so that it does not happen and the crowd, the other players or people in general are not deceived. The only thing you can do is to set up drastic measures to prevent this from happening. From the inside, I have been years thinking that the ATP is doing it. I would like the people who have carried out the investigation to provide the names. Same as when the doping cases are investigated, I would also like those names to appear. With names, there are indeed culprits. Without names, it is a shot in the air that hurts the sport, which seems unfair to me. But people who cheat must pay, be it in match-fixing, doping or anything else. They must pay and be banned because it is what has to be done.

Are you prepared to endure more years without winning big titles? As happened last year, for example.

I do not even think of it. I have just started a new year, we cannot make a drama of the loss to Verdasco. I am coming from having three good months, months where I have been able to compete for tournaments. The only one I have not competed with for winning has been Djokovic, with the rest I did it, yes. I find myself able to compete and I think I am going to do it. I am confident to be able to have a good year.

Does not Nadal get bored of Nadal?

I like what I do. I am happy and feel lucky. I know that what I do is not for life, it has an expiration date, which I do not know when it is. That is why I try to make the most of it. I want these remaining years around here to be productive, but especially productive on a personal level. The way to feel that satisfaction is to do what I can, so that things go as best as possible.

Does the time of your retirement frighten you?

No, not at all. Tennis is a part of my life, a very important part for many years, but I am lucky to have a life that is much more than tennis. I have no fear of what is to come after. I am a person with many interests and hobbies. There are things that motivate me beyond this sport, that make me happy. I have no fear of my expiration date, but that does not prevent me from liking what I do. Therefore, I will try that my expiration date is as latest as possible.

Do you think about how that moment will be?

I am competing to be at the top of the ranking, not to think about when my expiration date will be. I do not think about it. I live my day to day, live the moment. I cannot predict the future. I do not know how or when it will be. Now I know that I am going back home because things have not gone well in Melbourne and have to get ready to play on clay.

Did it ever cross your mind to give up, to say enough is enough, this is how far we have come, I am going to do something else?

If I am not happy with what I do, I will. I do not have to prove anything. I know what I have done and I know what makes me happy. As of today, this makes me happy. And I will keep doing it as long as it makes me happy. If being the 5th, the 10th or the 100th in the world I am happy, I will continue. If being number one in the world I am not happy, it will be time to say goodbye and I will do something else. Thank God, and that is why I am a very lucky, I have the ability to decide because things have gone very well in my life.

31 Responses

  1. miri says:

    As always, Genny – thank you so much for the time and hard work.

  2. Thank you so much, Genny. Such great work as always.

  3. materijalmen says:

    “And what do I do? Is there any other way?”
    Yes. There is. Change your coach.

  4. Heath says:

    I like Rafa’s attitude. Vamos, Rafa. If you’re happy going forward, then so am I.

    And thanks to Genny also for the translation.

  5. Elizabeth Howard says:

    Thanks Genny, great work, Very interesting and wide ranging interview, a perspective on the person apart from the tennis player. I feel that we are about to see someone coming on board his team to look at aspects of his game. He played well v Verdasco who played unreal tennis. Then he flops! The real supporters will still be there for Rafael.

  6. RAFAFAN1 says:

    “The real supporters will still be there for Rafael.” Ditto Elizabeth.

  7. TennisMenace says:

    Thanks Genny for your hard work. As always it is much appreciated.

  8. sharon bond says:

    Genny, it’s sooooooo much work to transcribe and translate these interviews, especially long ones like this. I hope you know how much Rafa’s fans appreciate what you do.

  9. Much appreciated, Genny! He’s still Rafa being Rafa. Plenty good enough for me.

  10. SAM12 says:

    Thank you Genny. You are amazing.

  11. Francine says:

    Thanks a million Genny…
    And yes “Rafa being Rafa” absolutely good for me…
    Looking forward to his next tournament
    Allez hop!

  12. kellyna says:

    Thanks for the translation. As always I admire Rafa’s perspective on things, tennis and otherwise. But I have to wonder if he isn’t alittle bit in denial that things are working well for him these days. He practices like a fiend, but it isn’t showing results when he competes. And what else can he do? Well he can bring some new people to the team to try new ideas and to make him more competitive. Verdasco didn’t play amazing, Rafa gave him the game and did not play well at all (short shot, horrible serving and missed so many forehand it was baffling). He’s a great athlete and I applaud that he wants to play while he is still happy doing it. I just hope he really still wants to be competitive and win and is willing to make the necessary changes (which may different from what he’s done so far) as I personally would hate to see him play his final years without winning any titles or really being able to compete at the highest levels.

    • arthur says:

      But things WERE going well for Rafa, so he’s not in denial. He ended 2015 at a pretty high level and did well getting to the final in Doha. To say he’s “not seeing results” after one loss is a bit much imo.

    • Roxitova says:

      Oh I think verd played just incredibly for stretches, out of this world. There was one game in the 4th set where Verd was down 0/30 on his serve and put in three aces all over 130 mph.\
      He was hitting FH winners that were bigger than anything Fed or even Rafa hit. He played like a maniac for at least 1/2 the match.
      Rafa. elsewhere admitted he played poorly in the 1rst set, but not after that. Where Rafa failed was to close in the 4th. Verd was unbeatable in the 5th, as Rafa correctly noted.

  13. Aero says:

    Nice article, he is confident and healthy so that’s the good news. He plans on having a good year, another positive. So hopefully he can learn something from the Verdasco loss, since its a match he should have won.

  14. kemannin says:

    Thank you so much, Genny. I am so moved by much of what he says, and, as always, completely in awe of his wisdom. “If being the 5th, the 10th or the 100th in the world I am happy, I will continue. If being number one in the world I am not happy, it will be time to say goodbye and I will do something else. Thank God, and that is why I am a very lucky, I have the ability to decide because things have gone very well in my life.” I am thrilled to be able to watch however the future unfolds for this champion.

  15. RAFAFAN1 says:

    “Perhaps the normal thing would have been to have won today and be in the second round, looking ahead and thinking that I am playing well, ready to do a very good tournament.”

    His “wake-up call” – if he won the match he would have thought he is playing well and everything is well in paradise, but because he did not won, he realized that he actually is not where he needs to be ….. . Good for you Rafa to realized that, and now he will keep on working, because of that … . That is what I think he said in this sentence. What do you think?

    • TennisMenace says:

      That’s not how I read it. It sounds more like it’s not all doom and gloom because I lost this match and if I had won those two points that were missing then I wouldn’t be sitting here being asked about problems with my philosophy. I think he’s saying his philosophy of work is the way forward and it only looks bad now because he lost but he could as easily have won and then it would look bad.

  16. Susanna728 says:

    I don’t know. I agree with Kellyna that there seems to be a little bit of denial if he sees this match as nothing more than an aberration from his otherwise good progress. I don’t think he was close to winning the match. He might have been able to win because of his sheer tenacity but to me Verdasco was playing better. As Rafa said Verdasco was incredibly motivated to win — to make up for disappointment about the 2009 semi and also because he’s now beaten Rafa a couple of times, he knew he could do it and he raised his game. But Rafa has won many really tough matches including really tough first round matches before (remember Isner at the FO?). So it’s not just that he lost – which all players do – it’s the way he’s lost. He wasn’t able to adjust his game and do what he needed to do. However the game has changed, the other top guys have adapated. Although I love the quote – When inspiration comes you have to be hard at work — I still don’t think that hard work is proving to be enough. It’s worrisome if he says what else can I do? [Genny thank you for the translation. This interview provides a lot more insight that those dumb press conference questions.]

  17. RJL says:

    Thanks so much for bringing us this very insightful interview. Rafa is his usual thoughtful, honest, at times poetic self and I find I am torn in my responses to it. I find his philosophy of hard work and simplicity quite beautiful, even inspirational, in the abstract. But like others, I wonder if it will see him through this particular crisis which is perhaps NOT so simple, involving as it does a complex mix of physical trauma, an aging body, lifelong habits, relentless expectations, an evolving sport and also rapidly changing training science I’m not sure he’s utilizing.

    As Patrick Mouratoglou and others have noticed, Rafa seems stuck between being more aggressive in his court position and playing his old defensive game for which he now apparently lacks the speed and precision. That’s not a useful place to be. Is there another approach? I certainly don’t know, but if there are people who have other ideas, I hope Rafa will at least hear them out. He is right that profound, foundational changes are not going to happen at 30. But I have hope that even subtle changes in his training patterns might be more effective than he realizes. At any rate, he is happy and understands that he is lucky, and that is a wonderful thing. Here’s to the rest of the season!

    • L says:

      Great comment! I feel similarly. I think a lot of us wonder/worry that it may not just click this time. I’m starting to feel that Rafa may be really unsure as well and for the first time I think Uncle Toni might not have the tools to help him.

      Rafa is in a tough place because it feels like he needs a really big win to truly get his confidence back and play freely again but in order to that he needs a certain level of confidence that he just can’t seem to build. Even ‘smaller’ wins aren’t helping. Of course it’s harder because it ‘s clear to me at least that he’s trying to implement changes but again to do that in competition must be really difficult. When Rafa was playing better at the end of the year, he kept saying that with it being indoors he didn’t have any pressure on him and he could only gain points and I think that helped him in a big way. But I always wondered how he was going to deal with the pressure and his own expectations once the new year started and he had a lot more to play for and whether he was going to be able to implement the aggressive play in that situation. Of course as we saw in OZ, it was a lot more complicated and it’s only going to get more so, with the upcoming tournaments.

      It was Rafa who first said after the match that not being committed to playing aggressive put him in a worse position as he then couldn’t execute either style effectively, so at least he was aware of that. He’s always tightened up when he’s nervous, can he now find a way to fight through that and stick to an aggressive game plan? At this point I’d rather see him lose, swinging freely than get hit off the court but I just don’t know if he can take himself there mentally and make such a switch and go against his nature.

      I just hope for the best for Rafa, as such a great champion I want him to lose on his own terms playing the way he wants to see himself playing at this stage of his career.

      Let’s see what the year brings.

  18. Rob says:

    I do not wish to be critical but it seems to me that the other top players, Fed especially, and Murray and Djokovic , are all more willing to try new ideas and draw on different coaches. Fed is remodelling his game all the time with a new coach every year or six months. They seem to maintain a consistent level while they do it as well. The problem with Rafa is his actual performance on court tends to suffer since 2014 from a tendency to inconsistency with poor matches against low ranked players and a hesitant uncertain response which leaves him flailing about. Yes all players lose sometimes, but the top ones play consistently well and get to the semi final or final of slams. This inconsistent play is not compatible with winning slams. And it encourages the opponent to play better by removing the intimidation factor. The fact Verdasco lost in four to Dudi sela rather shows the problem.

    If sela can beat Fer so should Rafa. It is the fact Rafa seems stuck in a rut that is the problem. It also means that beating him is no big deal. Verdasco played very well in 2009 in the semi final and could have won but Rafa matched him and outlasted his assault. There is nothing to boast about if you beat a wounded animal.

    All of the men who beat Rafa last year have been dumped out, Fognini , Dolgopolov etc from the Oz open already ( Kyrgios too ). The Fog putting in a stella operatic performance worthy of La Scala in the process. It is sad that Rafa is getting beat up by people who will be mere footnotes in the history of Tennis.

    • Roxitova says:

      Agree with everything you write. The big difference of course re the other top 3 is the willingness to try new coaches, which seems to lead to a revamped game. We all know what’s up with Rafa in this regard.

      The intimidation factor is gone with Rafa and is highly vulnerable as a result.

  19. Roxitova says:

    Fascinating interview.
    As usual, Rafa seems less disturbed by this loss than his fans or the tennis press. His notion that he has been playing well and this is just a bump or something like that is both comforting (he’s not going to let it affect him adversely) and disturbing (he’s not going to let it affect him in any way, i.e. make some changes).

    The whole notion of the game changing recently is equally fascinating, and it seems to be me Rafa is the first I’ve heard talk about it. I’ve had that sense–and with it the feeling that Rafa’s game (certainly the current version of it) is yesterday’s game. The big question is whether Rafa’s best game, i.e. 2013 would look that way. I think not. But what Rafa said about the balls being hollower. Wow. Is that true? Rafa, more than any other top player, has always talked more about the balls, the conditions, for the valid reason that his game is more dependent on generating huge topsin than others. So the dependency on huge topsin is in a way part of the problem.

    Seeing all kinds of lesser players making it into the 4th round makes me feel angry about what happened to Rafa with Verd, especially with Verd losing to Sela. Ridiculous.

    I’m convinced another factor in Rafa’s ongoing struggle is simply the way other players are playing him now, like the smell blood, like the beleive they have a chance where previously they didn’t, and as a result they do have a chance. They don’t play Fed or Djok or even Murray this way! I wish they would.

    Well, I hope this was just a glitch, but still, losing `1rst round at a slam is a disaster. Period.

    • Aero says:

      Rafa all too often credits the other player for playing better tennis when in fact it’s really Rafa playing poorer. What amazes me is the fact that he says he is feeling better, positive and with health that allows him to practice more and harder than before, he went in to the tournament feeling better than this time last year but gets booted earlier! To me Rafa comes across as somewhat delusional.

      He talks about things like the game changing and balls being different but I’m sorry, while these may be true, they shouldn’t be an excuse, Rafa changed the game when he first arrived on the circuit. Fed has been on the circuit longer but has adapted through it all. Rafa’s issue is his game, he doesn’t seem to be adapting to the change if these are indeed issues for him. His game is inconsistent, serve and forehand haven’t been the same for quite sometime. So fix the problem or work on another weakness to compensate. I wish he would just bring others onto his team to address his game, to infuse some fresh blood and strategies, he ignores the obvious and as long as he does so, I can’t see things improving for him. Things can’t be much worse than they already are so trying another approach can’t hurt.

      At his age, this is probably going to be his last year for him to make any sort of impact, if this year is the same or worse than last I fear he’ll never recover. He’ll slide downhill the same hill Hewitt went down!

      • kellyna says:

        @Aero – I agree and this is exactly what I sense is happening these days. Verdasco didn’t play fabulously – truth is Rafa played horribly! I find it odd that he keeps talking about how hard he is practicing and how great he is playing when he’s practicing yet it is not translating to winning matches!?? That he thinks he should just continue on as normal is completely baffling, because it’s not working and he hasn’t been firing on full clinders for more than a year now. He used to be great at adapting, even within a game – but now is unable to do this – why? Nothing in his game seemed to be working in this last match – serving was awful and he mis-hit so many forehand shots it was astonishing. He sees all of the other top guys bringing in new people to their teams and the positive benefits it brings, yet he won’t consider it. If he continues as he, I don’t think he’ll ever regain his form and will just continue to sink in the standings.

  20. Gatito says:

    Roxitova: if you haven’t watched the latest Seppi or Simon matches vs Djokovic yet, I’d suggest yo do: you’ll see that “lesser players” do play the big guys believing that they have a chance -though admittedly a small one. Your comment also reminded me of some statements by Rapha’s camp claiming that tennis today has become a two-strikes crazy stuff with no strategy. I wonder what does it mean? Is it to imply that a player with strategy has little chance in those conditions? Where would that notion place the likes of Del Potro, Kyrgyos, Berdych, Tsonga or even older Karlovic? How about Soderling, Davidenko or Nalvandian, were they “no-strategy” players? I mix both retired and active players because IMO agressive tennis is not something new that is happening against one particular player: it’s been around for a long time.
    There are of course guys who just hit every ball, specially in certain matches (i.e. Rosol, probably Verdazco), but I wouldn’t say that the whole field is playing that kind of hit-or-miss tennis. On the contrary, I would think that the top 20 – 30 players are (almost) all consistently applying a clear strategy of patience and strike-at-the-first-opportunity, regardless of who is on the other side (the level of commitment can vary depending on the opponent, but not the strategy).
    Anyway, if Nishikori and Berdych don’t go AWOL, as they sometimes do, we should witness something of that in the AO quarters next Tuesday… and we’ll see how their opponents cope…

    • Roxitova says:

      I find your reply to me bizarre. You’re attributing all kinds of positions to me that i don’t take, and never even talked about.

      I’m not sure who you’re arguing about re two-strike tennis, or Soderling, David and Nalbandian (all of whom I really liked and have great respect for) but it isn’t me.

      Find out who you are actually arguing with, and go argue with them.

      I never said the whole feild is playing that kind of hit or miss tennis either.

      Read more carefully.

      • Gatito says:

        I just disagreed a little bit about “lesser players” not giving the big guys a good scare, and suggested a couple of recent matches as examples. For the rest, my confusion was with Rapha team (specially Toni) who are making the claims in the press, not you. Sorry it wasn’t clear :)

  21. Cowboyal says:

    The article posted below where Mouratogiou gives his thoughts on Nadal is very interesting and I agree with his comments.

    As I have stated in previous posts Nadal’s retrieval ability and court coverage has declined in my opinion.

    This is why players like Verdasco can now hit through him. He is no longer capable of keeping the ball in play from impossible positions.

    This is not something I am sure Nadal can get back.

  22. RAFAFAN1 says:

    “Seeing all kinds of lesser players making it into the 4th round makes me feel angry about what happened to Rafa with Verd, especially with Verd losing to Sela. Ridiculous.”

    …. what angers me the most is that Verdasco is not one of the lesser players in the 4th round!!