Buenos Aires: First step

REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci

Photo by REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci

For his first match since the AO, Rafa played his good friend Juan Monaco (aka, Pico). Despite being off the tour for the past six months recovering from wrist surgery, Pico wasn’t showing many signs of rust and played well. Rafa was a bit more up and down. He went up a break in each set only to be broken right back. Both sets were won by breaking while receiving at 4-5 – which was handy since Rafa didn’t have to try and consolidate. Basically, it was a decent start, but, as always, there’s room for improvement. Rafa’s through 6-4, 6-4.

ATP Match Summary

Post-match interview:

(Posted by rafanadal-kingoftennis.ru/)

Amazing point:

Match highlights:

(Posted by Pavlik TNS 1)

First set:

(Posted by PavlikTNS AO FULL)

Nadal Monaco
Statistics on Serve
Aces 2 1
Double Faults 2 0
1st Serve % 84% 82%
1st Serve Points Won 32/51 (63%) 21/47 (45%)
2nd Serve Points Won 4/10 (40%) 8/10 (80%)
Break Points Saved 3/6 (50%) 3/8 (38%)
Service Games Played 10 10
Statistics on Return
1st Return Points Won 26/47 (55%) 19/51 (37%)
Second Return Points Won 2/10 (20%) 6/10 (60%)
Break Points Won 5/8 (63%) 3/6 (50%)
Return Games Played 10 10
Statistics on Points
Total Service Points Won 36/61 (59%) 29/57 (51%)
Total Return Points Won 28/57 (49%) 25/61 (41%)
Total Points Won 64/118 (54%) 54/118 (46%)

47 Responses

  1. JayDee50 says:

    I watched the whole match and it was pretty clear Rafa wasn’t feeling that great, so very happy for him that he managed to win in straights. Hopefully he’s feeling much better for his next match. I read somewhere he was suffering stomach cramps due to the excessive sweating, but don’t know if that’s what the problem was. Would explain things though.

  2. Cowboyal says:

    Having watched the highlights above, Nadal didn’t look too bad.

    His forehand seemed to be working ok.

    He does stay quite a distance behind the baseline. I actually think this is not a bad tactic. It allows him to defend well and get to shots and put them back into play. And move up to the line when he has a chance to hit an aggressive shot and take control of the point.

    In his previous match against Verdasco, he was standing on the baseline but not hitting aggressive enough shots to take control of the point. But at the same time being on the baseline it did not give him enough time to run down and retrieve the aggressive shots that Verdasco was hitting and put them back into play.

    He was not playing aggressive or defensive tennis – he was doing neither!

    This way at least he has a tactic and can stay in the points.

  3. Aero says:

    Not a great match but fortunately for Rafa, Pico was rustier than him. Against a fresher opponent it may have been another first round exit! Ferrer is looking much better at the moment.

  4. clint says:

    So sad to watch him. Playing worst than last year.

  5. Roxitova says:

    Very disappointing play from Rafa against Thiem.
    I am really hoping that was a stomach ailment, can’t find much info on what was wrong with him. Yesterday, against Lorenzi, he complained of the heat and his stomach not feeling well.
    He made so many errors today, just couldn’t execute.
    P)lease let that be the stomach issue!

    • Aero says:

      No stomach excuse. a 250 event on clay and he can’t even make a final now! This is becoming a worse year than last…………….Bye Bye Rafa!…………………..call Hewitt for some retirement tips.

  6. Sentinel says:

    Ever clearer by the tournament that Rafa is done. Finished. There isn’t a player in the top 100 I would confidently expect him to beat. It’s over, sadly.

  7. Gatito says:

    Marca posted this interview with Toni, from Buenos Aires (
    I risk a quick translation of the first part:
    “I’ve been fortunate to be his uncle, which has made it hard for him to change his coach. This has made it easier for me, because if I wasn’t his uncle he would probably had replaced me already”.

    What the heck?

    • Aero says:

      If he is to have any competitive edge going forward, Toni and Rafa need to yield to a super-coach because this team is no longer relevant and the stats over the last year have proved it!

  8. Roxitova says:

    PLease notice Rafa won considerably more points than Thiem.
    I was hoping to see UFEs/winners count on the stats–missing for some reason.
    Anways, endless errors from Rafa.
    I find the retirement talk insulting and presumptious and really more about you and your disappointment than Rafa.
    Ferrer just lost to Amalgro. Maybe he should retire too?

    But Rafa’s play was terrible, no argument there. I was willing to beleive stomach against Lorenzi, no-one on the threads seems to think that was the reason–though in general people on the threads are lunatics and not knowledgable about tennis.
    But against Thiem it seemed to be his head again. I think the loss to Verd at the AO undid all the confidence he gained at the end of last season.

    He has a head problem that may be his ultimate undoing. Because he’s still capable of the huge shots, but not consistently, and he makes way too many errors on routine shots now.

    • Francine says:

      Thank you Roxitova…

      I did not see the match, but if the problem is his nerves, if he cannot handle the pressure – i.e., medical issue as Marty Fish – then it is a very serious matter.

      • Aero says:

        Yes, its still mainly mental i.e., nerves/confidence, he doesn’t say it but you can see it in his body language. His game fell apart at the end. He can’t play big points anymore. When it came to the tiebreak it was already lost, there was no fight or fire in his play, he simply checked out. You might be right, he needs more than a super-coach (which he does also need), a sports psychologist might also be needed if not more.

        • Roxitova says:

          Yes, agree here. I think the loss to Verd at AO was a big setback for him mentally.

          • Aero says:

            Yes, he felt he was well prepared for the AO, so perhaps that loss has created the same conditions he admitted to last year after the Miami loss also to Verd. Every loss erodes his confidence a little more but I think on such a small stage like BA and on his favorite surface its even more telling. He won this one last year when he wasn’t feeling great about himself so what does this loss say about his mental state if he is feeling fit and healthy???

    • Sentinel says:

      Is everyone who disagrees with you a ‘lunatic’ or has no knowledge of tennis. You need to learn to accept other people have valid opinions. If you cant see Rafa is in a steep decline then perhaps its you who is ignorant about tennis.

  9. jodiecate says:

    Rafa seems to be having trouble finding his range. His missing by small margins shots he would normally have no problems with, and that’s definitely a head problem – unfortunately it becomes a self-perpetuating cycle.

    I suppose it’s better that he keeps going for them rather than just playing small – coz he knows once it clicks in he’ll be fine, but it’s hard to watch. I wonder if he’ll play in Rio now to extend match play & confidence building? I hope so.

  10. jodiecate says:

    Also, seeing as how he made the finals, and that it was a close match: could have gone either way – decided in a tie-breaker, i don’t think we should be retiring him off just yet.

    • Aero says:

      Rafa said “I’m not worried. I just lacked consistency and need to make fewer unforced errors, but that’s nothing.” this would be an okay response coming from an occasional loss, but when its every tournament now, and especially a smaller event like this and on clay no less…………………….his performance issue is much more severe than a simple one match loss, its systemic, his head, his team and his game are all gone!

  11. Roxitova says:

    Just want to correct an earlier point of mine: Rafa did NOT win more points than Thiem–I was looking at match stats from Monaco.
    Always better to correct yourself than have others do it.
    Day after, I’m still bummed out. Was looking forward to a clay Rafa final.
    As Rafa fans, we are not out of the dark woods yet–still in for more suffering.

  12. sia says:

    To me, Rafa’s still working on fitness.
    I know everyone thinks it’s about his head or his FH or lack of a “super coach” (I think he has a super coach ;)) There aren’t many players, of any generation, that have come back from a big injury or series of injuries … often they just never return to their former glory. We’ve seen Rafa do it a few times now and I suspect if he wishes to do it again – He will.
    Everything he’s attempting … the focus on shortening points, playing closer to the baseline, even getting more power from his racquet will take a bit to gel. The conditions in BA (and again in the upcoming tournament in Rio) are brutal for any athlete. I think he will get stronger.
    Vamos Champ.

    • Aero says:

      The weird thing is, is that being injury free and in great health these days he says he is able to practice harder and longer than before even when he was on top of the game. This tells me that its his body and energy level that are beginning to wane and decline. He no longer has the explosiveness and speed on court. As Gimelstob points out, his serve is no longer a weapon, he basically floats it in and his forehand no longer has the power and sustained deep of penetration it used to have so all he is left with is defensive play which against aggressive players won’t win anything. His weak serve becomes an advantage for great returners like Djokovic……………….this all coupled with broken confidence and self doubt and you are left with a soulless player who is a shadow of his former self…………….no weapons, nervous and without the ability to intimidate anymore all spells a downward spiral. I can’t see him getting any stronger unless he makes drastic changes to his team and game.

      • sia says:

        Hahaha Aero … don’t hold back. You are poetic in your descriptions of Rafa’s demise.
        I’ll take most of what Gimelstob has to say with a grain of salt, thanks. Rafa’s has been sending his FH’s (and BH’s too for that matter) long more often then not. His serve is a different matter … while not tremendously effective this last week on clay, that’s not so unusual for him; his serve on the hard courts earlier this year was stronger. It will never be his biggest strength.

        • Aero says:

          You are too sweet Sia, though Rafa is the stuff of poetry it was not my intention to be poetic. I tend to agree, I do take the comments of others including commentators with a grain of salt. His serve was never his strength (due to him being a natural righty), however, I think it has become a liability now, it’s been very inconsistent over the past year or so! He doesn’t trust his second serve because he is very conservative with making sure his first serve is in, therefore he no longer goes for a winner on it, its more for placement to set up his return.

          • Roxitova says:

            what’s this then? I quote you in this thread from above:
            “.Bye Bye Rafa!…………………..call Hewitt for some retirement tips.”

            • Aero says:

              Yes, I still do think it is bye bye if he is not willing to make the necessary changes. We have discussed this already Roxitova above. If he is to remain relevant he needs to change a lot, new coach, sports psychologist etc otherwise he’ll just slip into oblivion and it might as well be bye, bye. I’d rather see him retire tomorrow and preserve his stats than be playing in a few years at number 50 in the world. Of course if he doesn’t mind that, so be it and good for him!

  13. jodiecate says:

    What a fantastic first set Rafa played against Carreno Busta! Sure – he was still sending too many shots wide & long, but as i said before, he needs to keep doing that to play as aggressively as he can. Second set not so good – but that’s not surprising after the rain break, and having to play in the heavier conditions. Glad he got it done.

    Obviously, Almagro is going to be a tougher opponent than Carreno Busta, and it’s the players with those lopsided head-to-heads in Rafa’s favour who now have more belief, more motivation, to pull off the match of their lives, and win over Rafa. Almagro’s a bit of a head-case though, and if Rafa can remain positive i think he can pull through this one.

    Hope it’s a good match! : )

  14. Sentinel says:

    So, two tournaments in South America on clay with no other top 5 players present. And Nadal beaten in both by journeymen, Thiem and Cuevas. He’s no longer able to prevail in ATP 250 events against mediocre players. This will produce the standard response from Nadal ” I will keep working hard” blah blah. Fact is he is a shadow of his former self, his game has virtually nothing special about it, and he frightens absolutely no one. Anyone – and I do mean anyone – in the top 100 has a good chance against him. Dolgopolov would have probably beaten him too. The self deception has to stop. Rafa is finished and should retire ASAP if he wishes to avoid complete embarrassment. Indian Wells will see more of that too.

    • clint says:

      He is playing worst and worst. Can t win even this small tournament. He is almost 30 and they don t change anything. Why not try with new coach, new fitness coach, psyhologist…All players in every sport make changes. What is wrong with his team??? Blind or what?

      • Rob says:

        It is very strange. He seems in certain matches unable to play at all, he handed Cuevas the match by playing very badly, just like most of 2015! What is wrong with him ? Is it physical /metal ? Some serious thinking is needed.

  15. Aero says:

    Agreed, this year is even more dismal than last year, and he is feeling better! but the results are worse. His latest comments are beginning to sound like a broken record: “I lost an opportunity, that’s it,” said Nadal of his loss to Uruguayan Cuevas. ……………..”I fought until the end. I have to accept it and keep working to try to change the dynamic.”

    Rafa no longer seems shocked by this as if it’s a new norm for him……………sad thing is nobody else is shocked anymore either. Mediocre players in small events now beating him on his favorite surface is a huge red flag. I’m sure he’ll bow out in the early rounds of Indian Wells, and beyond. Sad red dirt days these are indeed! Good article here: http://www.foxsports.com/tennis/story/rafael-nadal-is-this-the-end-022216

    • Rob says:

      Sadly when you play this badly the surface does not matter. He dominated with certain shots such as the forehand which was terrible in this loss. Desperate drop shots are no substitute for your best weapon.

  16. RJL says:

    I’m wondering why it says here his next tournament is Barcelona? Is that just an error or is he for some reason expected to withdraw from Indian Wells? I don’t see any news of that, so I’m assuming it’s just a glitch.

    • miri says:

      I hadn’t gotten around to updating that tournament to confirmed.

      Sorry I haven’t been updating, people – it’s not that my admiration and/or fanship of Rafa has diminished. It’s that I’ve been dealing with some really bad depression and one of the ways I’ve been trying to deal with it is spending much less time on the computer.

      • RJL says:

        Thank you, Miri. It was not definitely not intended as a criticism; I was legitimately concerned that Rafa might be pulling out of IW after his difficulties in the clay swing! Hope your burdens lighten. Don’t worry about updates — take care of yourself. You’ve created a welcoming place for Rafa fans of all perspectives here, and we’ll still be here …

      • Aero says:

        Sorry to hear that, and right you are in staying away………….hope things improve for you soon!

      • Sentinel says:

        Look after yourself and hoping you pick up soon

  17. Lizipsa says:

    I too was concerned. Have been missing your pithy and reassuring comments. Sorry to hear about your problems, I’m sure you will try to deal with them positively and I hope you soon pull through them for your sake.

  18. Francine says:

    Take care Miri…

  19. CB says:

    Some things are more important than tennis. Take care of yourself Miri. I know all the fans of your fabulous site wish you well and hope you are better soon.

  20. simont says:

    I think one important element Nadal is missing now is his usual calmness. In contrast, Milos under Carlos Moya’s coaching has progressed a lot lately by staying calm in the game. When Nadal can stay calm, he’s more loose and can generate more spin on his forehand and can see his opponent’s weakness more clearly. These days you can see that he got easily uptight on important point, hitting ball hastily and making too many unforced error.

    I saw him and Djokovic practiced last year in US open. Nadal was hitting the ball very hard but Djokovic’s practice impressed me more. He engaged in long rally, hit the ball one by one patiently with medium speed and in a relax manner. I think that type of training would help Nadal lossen up and gain back his calmness.

    As for his serve, if he cannot serve big, I don’t understand why he does not develop a serve with wicked spin like Lopez did. Even Djokovic had problem handling Lopez’s serve last year. Nadal should incorporate more spin variations in his game. Recently it just gets too predictable and others can hit them through when they get familiar with his pattern.

  21. Sentinel says:

    Why has Nadal got such a poor serve?

  22. fr. says:

    We miss you Miri !!!

  23. kemannin says:

    Yes, we do. Hope things are improving! <3