The last slam of the season starts tomorrow. How did this happen? How are we here already? Seems like we were just getting excited aboutu and then getting over the Australian Open. The US Open won’t be the same without Rafa, but I’m hoping there will still be some entertaining tennis and the usual NYC drama.
The Rafa bits from a recent documentary about his uncle Miguel Ángel Nadal.
The company will now use disclaimers stating that pro players may use a different racket from the one depicted. But while Rafael Nadal uses an older version of the AeroPro Drive, which he helped design, it is essentially the one that is sold to customers, Pin said.
Q: If you could play one player of today, who would it be?
I can tell you who I wouldn’t want to play: Novak on a slow hardcourt or Nadal on any clay court or Federer in his prime on grass. My best chance against these guys would have been on grass or indoors.
Flashback: 2003 Trofeo Ciudad de Albacete trophy ceremony – I think my favorite moment is 50 seconds in, where Rafa’s like “let go, it’s mine” and walks away. (I’m also confused because I don’t have this match in my database nor do I see it on the ATP or ITF sites. Guess it’s not affiliated with either? Here’s the tournament website with a picture of Rafa before walking off with the trophy. (Thanks for the vid link, Beebs. I thought I’d seen it before, but couldn’t find it posted here. Sorry if it’s a repeat.)
Murray dismisses that attitude. “There’s a lot of coaches out there, male coaches, that Amélie could comfortably beat at tennis,” he said. “I’m sure if Amélie played tennis against Toni Nadal [ Rafael Nadal’s uncle and coach] it would be a pretty comfortable win for Amélie.”
Nadal’s 2010 U.S. Open marked the year in which the greatest clay-courter of all time played his best hardcourt major of all time. The 2009 Australian Open was Nadal’s first hardcourt major, and it featured the Spaniard at his most resolute. Nadal won that tournament on grit and hustle. The 2010 U.S. Open was claimed with authoritative power, as a server and in every other aspect of stroke production. Nadal hammered his first serves with conviction; he never served better at a major than in the 2010 Open. By successfully flattening his groundstrokes — something he had always needed to do on a hardcourt — Nadal achieved a fundamental transformation that had previously eluded him in New York.
And you trained with Rafa last year, is that right?
I had a week with him at the end of last year and I think it helped a lot. I can only say thank you very much to him for having me. I learned a lot from him – of course he’s a much better player than me, but also because of the way he trained every day. It was an unbelievable experience for me.
Nadal fans shouldn’t feel too sullen, though. In his Facebook announcement Monday, Nadal said, “Not much more I can do right now, other than accept the situation and, as always in my case, work hard in order to be able to compete at the highest level once I am back.” After previous injuries, Nadal has provided ample evidence to suggest he means the part about “the highest level.” This is Nadal’s fifth extended absence since reaching ATP World Tour level in 2003. After the first, because of an ankle injury in 2004, he struggled, going just 4-4 in the next four events. But since then, Nadal has waited to return from injury until he is ready to play near his best. After missing the end of 2005 and start of 2006 with a foot injury, Nadal went 11-3 in his next four events — then swept the following four tournaments. He was 13-4 in his summer 2009 comeback from tendinitis in his knees. And last year, he shook off a seven-month absence from more knee tendinitis to go 17-1 in his first four events.
Rafa announced his withdrawal from the US Open via Facebook. I’m very sad that he won’t be there to defend his title, but think it’s better for the long term that he doesn’t push his wrist and risk further damage or full healing. Be well, Rafa. We’ll still be here when you are ready to play again.
So, hang in there. We’ll have to wait a bit longer. To me, it seems reasonable to delay this decision. I didn’t quite understand why he was going to announce a full week before the tournament started. There’s really no need to. And what if he’d announced he was coming and then, after further practice sessions, realized he wasn’t ready? Better that he wait until he’s more sure of the situation and has had the time to hit backhands a few sessions in a row.
@bluemathilde was at Rafa’s practice again today. When she first arrived, the session was private. After Carlos Moya and Rafa had hit for some time behind closed doors, the session was open to the public. Her tweets about the session:
Rafa has been practising in private with Charly for more than 40min. We can hear the sound :) They will let people in in a few minutes :)
I should just rename this site bluemathildeNews because she’s the one supplying us with all the Rafa coverage that counts! She was at his practice today, but only saw the end of it. She saw no contact made with the ball on the backhand side, but that’s not surprising given the comments made the other day. Her tweets are in the storify below. Here are the camera photos she shared:
So, Rafa returned from Barcelona today and attended an event without his splint. I wouldn’t read too much into this – it just means the wrist doesn’t need to be completely immobile now. Per Benito, Rafa will announce his decision by Saturday.
Decision on @RafaelNadal at @usopen will be made Friday or Saturday after practice. Nothing new or significative today.
If I’m understanding things properly, Rafa will not be hitting two-handed backhands at first. He has to build up to that after strengthening the wrist area first. (And the wrist will probably be wrapped in supportive tape.)
Rafa is to travel to Barcelona to get a check-up on his wrist tomorrow (Tuesday). This check-up will play a huge part in his decision about playing in the US Open. But, per the following tweet, Rafa will most probably not make/announce his decision until Thursday or Friday. So…patience…patience….
Before the practice session, Rafa took part in a ceremony presenting Es Centre Tennis & Padel – a tennis facility that, if I’m understanding mangles properly, is the first phase of his new tennis center. In addition to the photos in the Storify below, these pictures made it to the news wire:
Inés gave us a bit of a summary: Rafael Nadal keeps working on his recovery. Tuesday he will go to Barcelona to have tests and if Dr. Cotorro feels that the recovery of his wrist is proceeding as desired, he might give his approval for Rafa to go to NY/US Open. So, let’s hope there’s a good new on Tuesday.
I said spoiled, right? That’s because @bluemathilde was back and Rafa’s practice and she shared some observations and photos. Today’s hitting partner was Dusan Lajovic.
Still no 2 hands BHs, but long rallies on FHs and sliced BHs with a good intensity :) #VamosRafa
For Rafael Nadal, pain is glory — but for how much longer? – by Douglas Perry (oregonlive.com) I’m not quite sure I’ll by into the extremity of the premise (I don’t think Rafa dislikes winners), but he does sum up the total risk-averse vibe I get from Rafa – even if he does, again, go to extreme with it:
Anyone who has talked to Rafa or witnessed one of his press conferences knows he’s a worrier, perhaps even a catastrophist. He’s admitted he doesn’t like being home alone, that it makes him so nervous that he goes to sleep with the TV and lights on. “Life is only once,” he’s said, and so “all the things that are a risk I normally avoid.” Hitting groundstrokes puts him in his safe place, his own personal panic room of the mind. It frees him of anxieties for as long as he’s running and swinging, until the ball finally ends up in the net or beyond the baseline and he has to think again, start his obsessive routines again as he waits for the ball to launch back into action.
This is why, I think in the past, Rafa almost had more problems on hard court than grass. On grass, he would play risky, aggressive tennis because he felt the surface gave him no other options. On hard, there’s always a chance the “safe” game will be enough, so it’s more difficult to play the risky game. Whether the repercussions of this will align with Perry’s vision or not, I don’t know. I don’t think Rafa would be unhappy with winning at risky, short points…he’s just more comfortable hanging back a bit. The one thing I feel 100% certain saying about Rafa is: he loves a challenge. So, I wouldn’t ever feel confident in ruling him out of anything.
For Rafa, that means surrendering 2,000 points and falling farther behind Novak Djokovic at No. 2; it could also mean falling behind Roger Federer at No. 3 at some point. Nadal continues to practice forehands, with his left wrist, and still hopes to play the Open itself. On the bright(er) side, you can still say, as you could with his back injury earlier this year, at least it’s not his knees.
“Even if somebody is using a two-handed backhand, there is still a dominance of one hand during the swing,” Berger said in an interview in April. “That one-handedness during the swing is probably a point of vulnerability in the tennis player, much more so than in the other sports, where you’ve got both hands working equally on whatever it is that you’re swinging.”
” It is a common injury in tennis , but it must be well treated to avoid problems.” Cotorro did not venture to say whether the Spaniard will participate in the U.S. Open. “The recovery period is between two and three weeks , and see how recovered from development if you can participate or not.”
Genny gives us the following translations:
Rafa’s doctor for @partidodelas12: “He hadn’t had a wrist injury before. Recovery time is between 2 & 3 weeks. Main thing is to heal well”
“Unfortunately I injured my right wrist yesterday during practice and after the tests I have undergone today in Spain, including an MRI, and checking with my doctors, I will have to stay out of competition for at least 2-3 weeks. I am sorry and wish the best to the tournament and thank all of the fans for their support,” said Nadal. “I’m extremely disappointed that I am unable to defend my titles and compete in Toronto and Cincinnati this year. I was looking forward to coming and playing again after my great results last year.”
It’s sad Rafa will not have a chance to defend his titles. I hope that the time away from competition means he is giving it time to heal up completely and it won’t continue to be a problem moving forward. Best of luck to him!
More info -
More specifically, tests found “a small detachment of posterior sheath of the right ulnar wrist” in Nadal. Immobilization (cast) 2-3 weeks.
Rafa Nadal no podrá participar y defender los títulos que ganó en la pasada temporada en los torneos de Toronto y Cincinnati.
El jugador ha sufrido una molestia en los entrenamientos preparativos para la gira norte americana y tras unas pruebas realizadas hoy en la Clínica Mapfre de Medicina del Tenis, se ha encontrado una pequeña desinserción de la vaina del cubital posterior de la muñeca derecha.
El tenista tendrá que estar de 2 a 3 semanas con una célula de inmovilización de la muñeca derecha.
En función de la evolución, que será seguida detenidamente por el Doctor Angel Ruiz-Cotorro incluyendo pruebas de ecografia y resonancia magnética, se valorará el retorno del jugador a la competición prevista inicialmente para el US Open.
An AP story via ESPN provides a summary translation:
Nadal’s manager, Benito Perez-Barbadillo, wrote in an emailed release that the Spaniard was hurt in practice on his home island of Mallorca while getting ready for the North American hard-court circuit.
Perez-Barbadillo said that doctors determined Wednesday that Nadal will need to wear a cast on his wrist for two to three weeks and the initial prognosis is for him to be able to return to action at the U.S. Open, which begins Aug. 25. But doctors will keep tabs on the injury, including with MRI exams, and then decide when Nadal can play again.
If you followed yesterday’s link to @bluemathilde twitter feed, you know she’s busy enjoying herself watching Rafa’s public practice in Manacor. She was there again today and kindly agreed to me uploading her photos here to share. Please be sure to go over to twitter and send her a thanks!
First, some of her comments on the practice:
Rafa is ready, Maymo just arrived, but there’s no sparring. I will volunteer lol #VamosMathilde :)))
The folks at Tennis Tuesday are running a poll on which player has the best fans. A certain guy has more fan sites listed than another of the others, so hasn’t he already kind of won? And isn’t voting Rafa kind of like voting for yourself? That sounds like a no-brainer to me.
Rafa is practicing in Manacor and bluemathilde is there! I was going to embed her tweets, but there were so many good ones! So, just check out her timeline on Twitter – paying special attention to the photos, of course. Need more encouragement to go check things out? Does this help?
I make shoes for tennis players like Rafael Nadal and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and actors like Clive Owen, and Cate Blanchett. The problem with making shoes for people like Nadal is that the point between measurement and delivery is about a year and a half. He travels and it is difficult to catch him. We have to bring the shoes to him.
From this article it seems like Rafa does his shoe shopping in Paris.
“He’s improved his serve, he’s flattened out his forehands and he stands closer to the baseline,” said the New York native. “Even though he hits the heavy spin, he moves in closer and he can flatten it out. He also comes to the net and he’s a good basic volleyer. What makes him so good against one-handed players on hard courts is his cross-court forehand as a lefty. It penetrates and runs.”
Rafa has won the 2014 ESPY for Best Male Tennis Player. (He was also nominated in the Best International Athlete player category, but that went to Cristiano Ronaldo.) You can see a full list of this year’s winners here.
Best Male Tennis Player: Rafael Nadal, who racked up a total of 10 ATP tournament wins, including both the French and U.S. Opens, ending the year with the No. 1 ranking.
Per their site, fan voting was conducted online and was based on performances spanning the past 12 months.
From 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., kids and their families can enjoy an exciting array of free tennis games, live music and attractions taking place throughout the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Inside Arthur Ashe Stadium from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., the live tennis and music show will feature fun exhibition matches and skills competitions with Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, as well as musical performances by Hunter Hayes, MKTO, McCLAIN, The Vamps and Madison Beer and Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day house DJ Salerno.
Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day will also be broadcast nationally by CBS on Sunday, Aug. 24, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m (ET).
Secondly, per this article it seems that Rafa’s tennis center is moving forward – little by little (mangle). The plans call for the complex to support 140 boarding students and 72 athletes. If I’m understanding the mangle correctly, there will be one main clay court, four secondary clay courts, two grass and ten hard courts. (That’s a lot of hard courts…) Seems like there will be a soccer field too. (Will Rafa spend his retirement days there taking on all the youngsters?) The estimated cost is 14 million Euros and it will take 5 years to complete construction. The article also includes renderings of the complex design.
“I learned a lot and had an opportunity to see how the best in the world train. Now I’m trying to follow in his footsteps to prosper. The trainings could be said to be similar, depending on whether I need to work on my forehand or backhand, but the intensity of his training is just incredible and I’m trying every day to work as hard as he does.”
This is the cry of every Rafael Nadal fan. Rafa, when he’s not feeling confident, has a tendency to drift backward. Yes, he’s better when he’s closer to the baseline, but there’s a reason he moves back: It works, too. There’s something reassuring about dropping back on an opponent’s serve—first or second—and sending the return back with more height and topspin. You have time to take a full swing, you don’t feel rushed, and you can still get good depth and pace—the more topspin you put on the ball, the more it will jump forward. Backing up is not the same as giving in.
Rafael Nadal: C. Nadal essentially shrugged in reacting to his loss to Kyrgios. What can you do when a guy fires 37 aces among 70 winners in four sets? But dropping the first set in all four of his matches was a worrying trend for Nadal, who hasn’t been to the quarterfinals since 2011.
“Normally on grass the first week when you compete against some players, the things are not very logical,” Nadal said. “The surface creates the opportunity that the players that can play very aggressively, they can see a real chance to win playing with that style, no? Something that on the other surfaces you cannot play that crazy way, no?
“When you arrive in the quarter-finals, semi-finals, and when you play against the best players, the things become logical again, no? At the end, the top players want to play with control. The top players want to play the normal play. They don’t want to play crazy aggressive. They play normal.
“Is true that that makes things a bit less difficult for me.”
The post Wimbledon rankings are up. Nothing like a slam played on grass to shake things up. Only two guys held steady from last week and one of those isn’t even playing right now. Rafa gained points, but it wasn’t enough to keep the top ranking.
Through August, the top four are defending:
Djokovic – 540
Rafa – 2,000
Federer – 180
Wawrinka – 55
Rafa also dropped to #2 in the year-to-date rankings. Dimitrov moved up into the top 8 while Ferrer dropped out.
“If Rafael had beaten Kyrgios, maybe he could have won the tournament because it’s just a couple of balls that made the difference. It wasn’t the same as last year when Rafael couldn’t run and he played really bad. This year he could have beaten everyone. He could lose, but he had chances to beat the best players in the world.
“I think Rafael normally here he plays better in the second week than the first week, but we played against a very good player, a very difficult player who made 37 aces.”
Men’s tennis: How big are the Big Four? – by Cedric Sam and Pearl Law (Does this format give anyone besides me a headache? The point of info graphics is to make information easier and quicker to understand, this didn’t do that for me.)
The latest edition of the 1000 Londoners features Jim, the racket stringer. Can you guess who one of his favorite players is?
From a press release about the episode and the documentary:
NEW FILM ON 1000 LONDONERS “JIM, THE LONDONER WHO STRINGS FOR WIMBLEDON’S STARS”
“I think a little bit of you goes out on court with them when they’re playing.”
Jim, Racket Stringer
Wimbledon is considered to be the greatest tennis tournament in the world, and has produced some memorable pairings over the years: Borg and McEnroe, strawberries and cream – and now Nadal and… Jim.
Jim quit his job in banking but to follow his passion and become a tennis coach. But when his knees could no longer stand 50 hours on the courts each week, he turned to racket stringing. Jim now strings for the world’s greatest players such as Nadal and Murray, reaching their exacting standards with astonishing speed and accuracy.
Thousands of people attend every year and millions watch at home, but there’s one side of the tournament that few are aware of. This is Wimbledon as you’ve never seen it before, through the eyes of Jim, one of the unsung heroes of Wimbledon.
‘Jim’, is a brand new documentary directed by Ross Dickson for Chocolate Films. It is a chance to see a different side of tennis, with exclusive access behind the scenes as Jim races against time to string rackets for Rafa Nadal to play with on Centre Court.
1000 Londoners is the most indepth and expansive documentary series ever produced about the city. It was launched on 23 April 2014 at Bafta’s 195 Picadilly Venue with the first ten films, which are now available on 1000Londoners.com
At 1000londoners.com, each week, viewers will be able to watch a threeminute film about a new Londoner. The range of stories will be as diverse as the city itself. Other documentaries that can currently be viewed include Londoners such as Griff, a former soldier who now sells replica guns, Marawa, the UK’s best hulahooper, and Frank, a 14 year old boy who is overcoming ADHD with sleightofhand magic.
1000 Londoners is produced by South London based, film production company and social enterprise, Chocolate Films. The filmmakers from Chocolate Films will be both producing the films and providing opportunities to young people and community groups to make their own short documentaries, which will contribute to the 1000 films.
1000 Londoners has been part funded by City Bridge Trust.
About Chocolate Films
Chocolate Films is a Brixton based film production company specialising in documentary film production and learning programmes. Set up 11 years ago, by directors Mark Currie and Rachel Wang, Chocolate Films has a team on 10 filmmakers providing full production services to charities, museums, galleries and heritage organisations, as well as cinema documentaries.
We are passionate about telling human stories and we endeavour to make films that can actively assist people to change the world for the better, either through direct campaigning or awarenessraising.
Engaging with over 2500 young people per year our learning and outreach programmes use digital media in innovative ways, inspiring young people to voice their opinions and reach their full potential. All of our workshops are structured appropriately to create a supportive working environment to enable the young people to reach their full potential.
Nadal is right: everything is easier when you have nothing to lose — until it isn’t. That’s one of the signs that a rising young player is the real deal: when the match gets tight, as it inevitably will against a top player, he doesn’t flinch — or he does and then powers through anyway.
“When we see a young player that arrives to the tour and plays a great match or plays a great tournament, people say he will be the next big star,” Nadal said. “Sometimes arrive, sometimes not.”
The words sounded familiar. In 2005, when a 19-year-old Nadal beat Federer in the French Open semifinals, Federer responded with levity.
“Once I play [Nadal], he’s the best,” Federer said. “Then the next time I play Andy [Roddick], and he’s the best again.” Federer continued: “The other guys are for me, in my eyes, as good as Rafael.”
Federer was wrong. They were not as good—not even close. Nadal has won 14 Grand Slam titles, tied with Pete Sampras for second place in men’s tennis behind Federer’s 17. He has won on clay, grass and hard courts. He is a legend. He’s not sure if Kyrgios will be one some day, but the truth about tennis is, it’s not easy to spot a phenom, even if you used to be one.
Q. What are your thoughts on how Nick was able to beat you today?
RAFAEL NADAL: The thing is this surface, when you have an opponent that he decides to serve and to hit every ball very strong, you are in trouble.
I think that I didn’t play really bad. But that’s the game in this surface.
I think in the second and the third set I was better than him, but I was not able to convert that opportunities. And for the rest, I think he play better than me.
So, in general, talking about what you need to win in this surface, he did the things better than me.
Q. He’s No.144 in the world and only 19 years old. What do you think of his future as a pro tennis player?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. I didn’t see him playing in other surfaces. Grass only three, four tournaments per year. But is obvious when you have a player that is able to serve that big, always advantage is so high.
Q. Do you get the sense from that match that he’s a player you’ll be meeting time and time again in the future in perhaps the later stages of competitions?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. We have to see if I am able to keep playing the latest rounds in the future. I will see if he is able to keep playing the latest rounds in the future.
The sport is a mental part a lot of times. He has things, positive things, to be able to be a good player. But at the end, everything is a little bit easier when you are arriving. Everything is new. Nothing to lose. Everything is good. Everything is positive. You can do whatever and will be positive, and everybody see just the good things on you.
When you are there yourself, the rest of the people starts to see the negative things on your tennis.
We’ll see if he’s able to improve and to play at very high level for a long period of time. I wish him all the best.
Q. Before you came to Wimbledon you weren’t sure what your expectations of yourself were on grass. You fought through the first three rounds and fell in the fourth. How do you feel about what you did here in Wimbledon? Did you exceed your expectations at all?
RAFAEL NADAL: Oh, I am satisfied the way that I played this Wimbledon. Is true that my draw was not the best one. All the matches were uncomfortable against players that didn’t give you the opportunity to play a lot.
I fighted until the end in every single match. I was able to play some good tennis on this surface. That’s something that I was not able to do in the last two years.
But that’s the tennis. That’s the sport in this surface. I felt in a way I am even not angry today because I feel that I lost the match losing only one time my serve during the whole match. I created my opportunities.
But I was not able to read his serve during the whole match. At the end on grass, the resume is that. I was not able to read his serve. I was not able to put enough returns inside. We had one break each.
In the tiebreak he was able to serve better than me. So that’s an advantage. I could serve better on the tiebreaks. But 5‑All in the second set in the tiebreak, second serve, net, inside for him, second serve big. Then he repeat the second serve with 140 miles the second serve.
You know, that’s happens when you have nothing to lose. You can play that way. Players who really play for being in the last rounds, think about win the titles, it’s not easy to create the second serve 114 5‑All in the tiebreak, but that’s what happened today.
Congratulations to him. For me, beach (smiling). For me, I going to go to the beach in Mallorca.
Q. I know the disappointment is great, but how different a defeat is that to the previous two years, and how much better do you feel about yourself today than you did last year or after Rosol?
RAFAEL NADAL: Every year is different, no? Especially when you come from playing very bad here and you think you play better, the feelings is better. But I did not want to lose today. That’s obviously.
That’s fine. I try my best, as always I do when my physical performance give me the chance to try my best. Last two years I didn’t have that chance to try my best because my knee was not right to compete here.
But this year I felt the knee was right to compete here. I competed. I think I competed well. Was not enough today, but that’s it. That’s the sport. Opponent better than me. Life continues. I going to go to Mallorca, have some weeks off with the great weather there, enjoying with the family, with the friends some holidays.
It’s the only part of the year that I have holidays, and the right ones because the weather is great. After a few weeks I going to start practice again to prepare another important part of the season for me that will be in America.
Q. Why do you think grass has been hard for you in these last few years? You five times in a row made the final here, and since then it’s been a weaker surface for you results‑wise.
RAFAEL NADAL: I think I answered that talking about the last two years. I think I did. I explained I was not ready compete last two years.
Q. I am just saying, is there anything in particular about grass or is it the timing?
RAFAEL NADAL: I just explained that. The last few years I was not able to compete right because my knee didn’t give me that chance. This year I competed well again. I created myself the right opportunities. I was in the fourth round, second week.
Two days off for me was probably not the perfect thing for me at that time of the tournament because I arrived with the right feeling and playing well. But I had that two days, and that’s fine.
I tried. I lost. That’s the easiest way to explain that. I lost. Is not a drama. Is nothing strange. I lost in four sets having my chances, only losing one serve. Is not nothing about the grass. Is obvious that for everybody the grass is more dangerous than the rest of the surfaces.
But talking about last two years, I told you. This year I have the chance to be in quarterfinals, so is nothing bad about grass.
Q. Earlier you said that tennis is very mental. It’s easy to play with nothing to lose. Could you talk about what it’s like for you to have your great run at the French Open and then to come here, be No.1, past champion, what pressures do you feel?
RAFAEL NADAL: I didn’t play with lot of pressure. I won in the French. I am having a great season. I am playing well.
But I repeat. The surface here is dangerous and my draw was not easy. I played against a player that was not easy no one round. Today was not the right opponent again. He decided to serve so big and play so aggressive from the baseline.
During the whole match I had some chances. Not in the first set, but after the first set yes. Even in the fourth, first game, Love‑30, two aces, two lines. That was it. I was not able to read the serve. I tried. Nothing bad.
Q. Given his age and experience, were you expecting him to crack at some stage? How surprised were you that he didn’t?
RAFAEL NADAL: He’s 19. When he has 20? Next year or this year?
Q. Next year.
RAFAEL NADAL: In the end, with 19 I was here already playing these kind of tournaments and competing well. Is now that the thing is very strange that the young players are coming so late.
19 years old is a perfect age to be on the tour and to play well. That’s what happened with all the great players in the past. Is nothing new.
When I was young, I was looking about the players that were great players, the top players, Lleyton, Roger, Ferrero, Moya, a lot of ones, Becker. They are there with this age. Is something that I always thought I had to be there at that age. With 19, I always thought I had to be with the tour if I want to be a professional tennis player.
For me age is not an issue over that.
Q. Did you feel the best of you was still to come on grass here?
RAFAEL NADAL: Still to come? I won twice, played three finals.
Q. No, in this tournament did you feel that you were getting better?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I felt that I was playing well. I played a few great sets, a few fantastic moments.
The problem is always the same, no? The year that I won in 2010, I was losing two sets to one in second and third round against Petzschner and Robin Haase.
I was able to win that kind of match. I had the chance to convert one of that opportunities. That’s something that didn’t happen today. That’s why in that year I was able to arrive to quarterfinals.
Normally on grass the thing is first week when you compete against some players, the things are not very logical. The surface creates the opportunity to that players that they can play very aggressive and they can see a real chance to win playing that style, no, something on the other surfaces you cannot play that crazy, way, no?
When you arrive to quarterfinals, semifinals, and you play against the best players, the things become again logical, no? At the end, the top players want to play with control. The top players want to play normal way. They don’t want to play crazy aggressive. They play normal.
Is true that that makes me the things a little bit more less difficult for me.
Q. When you play a young player, Kei Nishikori, I think you said he had top 10 potential. I’m not hearing that much today with Kyrgios. I’m wondering if that’s because you don’t feel the same way or you haven’t seen enough of him play?
RAFAEL NADAL: I didn’t see enough of him. At the end, the thing is top 10 is only 10, so is difficult to be in the top 10. Is something that is not easy to talk about top 10 because he can be top 10. For me is very easy to say he can be top 10. I think he can do. Is not an issue that I think he cannot do it. I think he can do it.
But always the same. I don’t want to say names. But when we see a young player that arrives to the tour and plays a great match or plays a great tournament, people say he will be the next big star.
Some things are right. Sometimes arrive, sometimes not. So depends how the things improve over the next couple of months, years for him. So if he is able to keep improving, he will be. If not, will be more difficult.
Well, we didn’t get the result we wanted today, but you know what we got this Wimbledon? Rafa moving well on grass and fighting for all he was worth. After last year, I have to admit that I feared we wouldn’t see that again. It wasn’t enough to earn the victory today, but it was a victory over the past two years.
“I am satisfied the way that I played this Wimbledon,” said Nadal. “The surface here is dangerous and my draw was not easy. I have not played against easy players,” said the Spaniard. “Today my opponent decided to serve so big and play so aggressively from the baseline.
“This year I felt my knee was right to compete here. I think I competed well. [It] was not enough today, but that’s the sport,” said Nadal.
“Normally on grass the thing is the first week, when you compete against some players, the things are not very logical. The surface creates the opportunity so that players can play very aggressive, and they can see a real chance to win playing that style….On the other surfaces you cannot play that crazy way.”
In other words, in 2010, Nadal won the few key points that decide grass-court matches; today he didn’t. But Kyrgios is also not the same type of player as Haase or Petzschner. He has the serve and size of a traditional grass-courter. He makes it harder to convert opportunities, the same way that, say, Pete Sampras once did.
In his 4th round match at Wimbledon, Rafa took on young, big serving and hard hitting #144 Nick Kyrgios. Going into the match, Kyrgios had a reputation of playing fearless big moment tennis and seemed to be exactly the kind of player that troubles Rafa – on grass most of all.
I missed the first set and a half of the match due to a meeting at work. The first set went to a tiebreaker that seemed to be a rough one for Rafa. I know the one time I snuck a look at the scores, he was down 0-3 in it. He went on to lose 5-7.
The second set stayed on serve until 6-5. From the bit I saw, Kyrgios was taking about 10 seconds to hold most of his games, but in that 11th game, Kyrgios usually solid serve dropped off a bit and Rafa took full advantage – breaking on his second chance and taking the set 7-5.
They both held serve in the third set and ended up in a tiebreak. It started with an error from Rafa, but no fear as Kyrgios donated a few errors of his own. Serving at 5-6, Rafa sent a second serve right into Kyrgios’s forehand and he fired off a winner to take the set.
Kyrgios broke early in the forth set to go up 3-1. Given his excellent serving, that one break was all he needed. He defeats Rafa, 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-7(5), 3-6.
Q. Is there anything about the first sets in general that are particularly difficult for you?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. Normally I am a good first‑set player. I think my opponent played great the first set today and I think I was playing fine. He played fantastic. The only thing that I did not good in the first set was some returns with the second serve that I make a few mistakes with his second serve.
And then in the tiebreak I didn’t serve well, didn’t serve enough well. Then I give him the opportunity to attack me with the second serve, my second serve. He did well. He was playing great.
Accept that the match is long. Accept that if he is able to play like this for three sets I will be in trouble. But always waiting that I can improve one step. If I improve one step, I can be there. I think I did.
Q. You told us many times that you much prefer playing tennis with the sun on your back. You’re not a big fan of playing indoors. Would I be right in thinking the match with Rosol two years ago was the only other time you played under the roof?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah. When I played the first set, I said that maybe the roof here in Wimbledon is not good for me (laughter).
No, it doesn’t matter.
Q. Does it change the conditions for you?
RAFAEL NADAL: A little bit always, no? When you play with some wind, when you play outdoor, the court is a little bit more dry. When you play indoors, humid days, the court is a little bit more slippery. That makes the match a little bit different.
In general is true that the roof is great because there is lot of light coming, so your feeling is not that you are closed, completely closed, like an indoor tournament. I think that’s better for us.
But for me, talking about my personal opinion, is better because I don’t like to be in closed places only with lights, you know.
I think I played a great match. Didn’t affect me a lot, but…
Q. After the three matches now, how do you feel on grass?
RAFAEL NADAL: I am playing well. I would be lying if I say another thing. I think I am playing well.
But the surface is open opportunity to everybody because the matches can be very close. That’s what happens. To win 6/1, 6/1, 6/1 the last three sets against a good player like Kukushkin who didn’t play well is impossible.
I lost 7/6, and then I won in straight sets and with a positive score. The feeling was great. I played aggressive. I had great movements. Some ones in difficult positions, I was able to come back on the point. Then when I had chances with the forehand, I was able to play aggressive. That’s what I did.
The first set was very difficult to play aggressive because he was playing so long. Every ball that he was touching is like ‑‑ he touched a lot of lines first set.
Q. You took a toilet break after the first set. Was that to use the bathroom, to change clothes, to get reset perhaps?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I needed. I needed to go to the bathroom, that’s all (smiling). I bring my T‑shirt and my bandana to change that there because I had to go to the bathroom. Not because I wanted to have a break, no, no. I needed.
Q. Wimbledon is a very special tournament. What do you like most about Wimbledon?
RAFAEL NADAL: I think Wimbledon is part of the history of our sport. Is one of the most traditional tournament. And the combination of improvement of the courts, improvement of the club with the tradition and the history of this place, that combination makes the tournament very, very special.
I think even if the people, some people, don’t like play on grass, even some people never played well here, players who played well here, nobody can say that this place is not special because it is.
Q. If Nick Kyrgios gets through, he’ll be your next opponent. This will be a pretty big story in Australia. What do you know about him and what would you expect about playing him in the fourth round potentially?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. I saw him play in Australia this year. I remember that match against Paire.
He’s a young player, always there. Young players are very dangerous as always the young players have something special. They are able to play with no pressure. They are fresh.
Is good to have new players on tour. That’s real. He has a great serve. He’s aggressive player. I saw him few times. Not 50 times like other players. So I cannot talk too much.
Q. There’s a lot of rain today. A lot of matches not being played. How important is it for you that you did get to play, that you’re finished, that you’re through into the next round when maybe your opponent and other players won’t be?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, always is positive that. In one way is very positive to have that work already done. In another point, I don’t know how Wimbledon going to react after a day like today, if they are not able to play more matches because tomorrow is Sunday and the tradition is here nobody plays on Sunday.
But is true that, for example, if my opponents are not playing tomorrow, they are playing on Monday, I will be playing on Tuesday, and the winner will be playing again on Wednesday. That’s not good. That’s not a positive thing.
In one way is positive that I already done. For sure my opponents are in a worse position. But again, cannot be perfect.
Q. On a bit of a side note, Wimbledon have installed a gate into the players box in Centre Court to stop people from climbing over the roof. In 2008 you did that. Do you think it’s disappointing we might lose an unofficial Wimbledon tradition?
RAFAEL NADAL: The winner cannot go anymore there?
Q. They’re going to try to stop them. They have to go up and around and through the gate. After Pat Cash did it in 1978, it’s almost an unofficial tradition.
RAFAEL NADAL: This is I first knew about that. I saw Andy there last year. I did the first time that I won, 2008. Maybe they be able to put a lot of security there, they can stop the winner, no?
Q. Do you think they should be allowed to do that then?
RAFAEL NADAL: Doesn’t matter. If they don’t go there, they going to go to another place. That’s fine.
THE MODERATOR: Leave that till later in the tournament, I think.
Q. Some of the players who are trying to make it to the finals, win majors for the first time, have talked about how they admire the big four. What do you think the four of you have in common that you would most like these younger players to learn from?
RAFAEL NADAL: At the end the best thing that I think that we did, talking about tennis, is we were able to play with very regular level for a lot of years, no? We were able to be there competing for quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals almost in every important tournament of the year.
That’s very difficult. That’s didn’t happen‑‑ we talk about the history of our sport. We never saw that that often how we did that.
I don’t know how many times I played against Novak, like 43. Against Roger, lot of ones, too. Roger and Novak played a lot of ones. I played already with Andy lot of times.
So we only can meet each other in semifinals or finals. That shows that we have been in that position a lot of times. That’s very difficult mentally and physically.
I think the young players, the example is we were fighters. We were fighters for every single tournament, even if is Grand Slam, Masters 1000, 250, we were there fighting for the whole year, another year, another year, and another year.
I think is a good example for the kids, the motivation and passion for the game.
Q. How about off the court in terms of sportsmanship and other qualities?
RAFAEL NADAL: I think the positive thing about this era is we have been playing a lot of times under a lot of pressure, playing for very important things for our careers. We are in the locker room. We still talk each other. We have very good relationship between us. That’s important because at the end the tennis at the end is only a game. The relationships, in my opinion, are more important than only a game. Tennis is a game at the end.
A silly over-thinking things side note:
Rafa displays so many hand-to-eye coordination and problem solving skills here. I am an extremely uncoordinated person and one of the reasons I is I suck as solving small coordination problems. I always panic, over-compensate and end up making things worse. I love he’s intent on doing small, safe, “less can go wrong” bounces until the angle gets off and the ball goes off a bit, then he does a gentle higher bounce that gives him more time to catch up with the ball as it angles off and recover the bounce equilibrium. I also love that he doesn’t start the trash talking until he’s pretty darn sure he’s about how things are going (high bounce count). He even trash talks from a safe position. :)
And the non-stop concentrate face. How can you not love that?
(I tried this yesterday – my “streak” ended at 2 bounces when my ball rolled under the sofa where I can get reach it.)
Monday’s OOP is out – it looks like they are holding all the bottom half matches. So, no Rafa until Tuesday. Three of the 8 matches in the bottom half didn’t finish today. Two of them didn’t even start. Those will happen Monday and then all of the bottom half will play Tuesday. It seems fair to postpone all bottom half matches when thinking of fairness to the guys in the just the bottom half. This means guys without postponed matches won’t get the day of rest immediately preceding their quarterfinal matches that their peers will miss; it will be a one day turn around for everyone in that half. It’s problematic when comparing the top to the bottom half as the top half will get a day of rest before the quarters (if the typical schedule is resumed). But this is a problem that exists in most tournaments. Wimbledon’s one of the few that usually evens things out as early as the round of 16. (I think it’s the only slam that does.)
(And with that and all the tweets on Twitter, I’m already very, very done talking about the scheduling and any possible conspiracy theories. I’m not happy he’s not playing on Monday, but…it is what it is. If I understand things properly, unless Wimbledon had declared “a rare emergency”, they couldn’t change it due an an existing agreement with the village of Wimbledon.)
Best, though, was Rafa’s backhand. After that return winner early in the second, he began to lean in and flatten it out with depth and aggression. This may have been the best he’s hit his backhand this season, and it reminded me of the way he cracked it during his first championship run here in 2008. No wonder Kuku spent the fourth set with a thousand-year stare on his face—he’d been pummeled from all sides.
Perhaps it didn’t help Nadal’s confidence that, playing under the Centre Court roof for only the second time, he slipped and fell on the very first point and thereafter was fully occupied in attempting to keep the rampant Kukushkin at bay. Playing excellent, bravura tennis he had Nadal scampering around to counter this aggression. As Nadal readily conceded afterwards, “He played fantastic. I thought if he played like that for three sets I will be in trouble.”
“I’ve finished all the matches [this week] playing better than when I started; that’s very positive,” Nadal told BBC television. “I’m very happy to be in the second week again after two years of losing in the first and second round. I had good tactics today; I was fighting for every ball and looking for solutions.”
“In general is true that the roof is great because there is lot of light coming in, so the feeling is not that it is completely closed like an indoor tournament. I think that’s better for us. I think I played a great match. It didn’t affect me a lot.”
“Normally I am a good first set player,” said world No.1 Nadal. “I think my opponent played great the first set today and I was playing fine, he played fantastic. The only thing that I did not do well in the first set was some returns with the second serve that I make a few mistakes with his second serve.
“In the tie-break I didn’t serve well enough, then I gave him the opportunity to attack me with the second serve. He did well and was playing great but the match is long. I have to accept that if he is able to play like this for three sets I will be in trouble, but always knowing that I can improve one step. If I improve one step, I can be there. I think I did.”
Better players than Kukushkin have crumbled in Nadal’s presence. What might hurt the Kazakh more than others so heavily humiliated, however, is the memory of that wonderful first set. If he could reproduce that every time he would no doubt be a top 50 player. Actually, if he could reproduce that every time he would be Rafael Nadal.
Nadal only yielded 13 forced errors off the backhand return (five Deuce court/eight Ad court) in four sets, but amazingly was only credited with three backhand return unforced errors for the match – all in the Deuce Court. He has never been one to beat himself.
Nadal’s public relations manager, Benito Perez Barbadillo, said that Nadal never requested a particular start time so he could watch his team play but that he “clearly prefers that his matches don’t interfere” with Spain’s games.
In his 3rd round match (yay! 3rd round!), Rafa took on #63 Mikhail Kukushkin under a closed center court roof. Rafa seemed tentative at first – his timing was off and the grass looked slippery. After dropping the first set, though, it was all The Fabulous Rafa Show. Rafa defeats Kukushkin 6-7(4), 6-1, 6-1, 6-1
Stats in a bit.
Some match notes:
Rafa’s timing seemed off right from the start. He slipped and fell on the very first point. Was the closed roof, with the raise in humidity that caused, making the grass slippery? His footwork and movements didn’t seem up to par with the previous round. Both guys held to a tie break in which they traded early mini-breaks. Then Kukushkin took over – benefiting from Rafa’s poor serve returns, miss-timing and his own excellent forehand. First set, Kukushkin, 7-6(4).
At 1-1 in the second set, Rafa got his first break point. A good serve from Kukushkin saved it and he went on to hold. In Kukushkin’s next service game, Rafa took his second break opportunity and went up 3-1. In Kukushkin’s next service game, Rafa ran out into a doubles alley to get a ball that was spinning every wider and hit a massive forehand winner to earn the break. The footwork to get there and the grunt/groan/growl he released upon hitting the shot were…amazing. He went on to take the set 6-1.
Rafa went up an early break in the 3rd set and just kept breaking his way through the set. He allowed only one hold; 3rd set Rafa, 6-1.
Rafa broke early in the 4th go go up 2-0. In the next game, Kukushkin earned his first break points of the match. The steam roll continued and we all enjoyed some extra carbs.
afa Nadal won the first of his two Wimbledon titles in 2008, in the same year as I was the junior champion. But he made us all wait at the champions’ ball because he defeated Roger Federer in a rain-interrupted match 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-7 (8-10) 9-7 which finished at nearly 10pm. We ended up having our main course at about 1am, when no one was hungry.
A transcript of the presser Rafa gave after his 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-4, 6-4 victory over Rosol is up on ASAP Sports (and the Wimbledon site).
Here’s a video excerpt to enjoy as well:
Q. You came through in the end.
RAFAEL NADAL: Yes. Every match is so difficult here. Especially when you play against players that they, yeah, really decided to play every shot full power, with serve, with the forehand, with the backhand.
So when that happens you are in trouble if the inspiration is there for the opponent, no?
I played a bad game in the 4-All and I lost the first set. I think until that moment I was playing better than him, but didn’t have my chances on the return because he was serving well.
I was confident with my serve, but I lost that game. Then he start to hit every ball full power, every serve serving unbelievable. I feel that was very important the second set when I had the break back in the 4-3 I played an unbelievable game, I think. Great returns.
So very happy. Is a very important victory for me. To be in the third round here again after two, three years is very positive news and I think I finished the match playing at a very high level.
Q. What were the biggest differences, besides the result, from the last time you played him here until now?
RAFAEL NADAL: The difference maybe is one point. Maybe if I lose that set point in the second set, if that forehand down the line went out, maybe will be here with a lose.
But that’s the sport. That forehand was a perfect forehand for that moment. Is true that even if I was losing, I was fighting for every ball. I was fighting mentally, physically. Positive thing about tennis, I was able to find solutions through the whole match. At the same time my physical performance was different today than a few years ago.
Q. You talked about the game at 4-3. There was a huge celebration on the second point in that game. Can something like that help get rid of tension?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. Was Love-30. I didn’t lose my tension there, no, losing that point. Was a set down, 4-3 for the opponent. I didn’t have breakpoints before that moment. Love-30 is a match. I know if I come back on the match I will have my chances again. Love-30 was a very important point.
Q. Is there any way you can prepare differently to face an opponent like Rosol? Can you do anything different to prepare for a match like that or do you react to the way he’s playing?
RAFAEL NADAL: I can try my best in every single point. That’s the only way to win. The negative thing was I had a bad game. That’s the problem in grass, that you have bad game and you are in trouble for the rest of the match.
Especially against players who are able to serve very well, hit the ball very aggressive. That’s what happened in the first set.
In the second, he was playing amazing. No, no, no. I really cool in the match for a lot of moments in the second set.
I am very happy the way I played seriously. Is a great win for me. Is the best level I played on grass since long time ago, the last three sets. That’s very important news for me.
Q. When you’re a set down and you get broken in the second, do you think back to 2012 at that point?
RAFAEL NADAL: I said other day, no, when I am playing the match today, I am not thinking about the match two years ago. I am thinking what I have to do to win the next point in that match.
What happened happened. That’s it. We already congratulate him for what happened two years ago.
Today is another history, another story. I needed to find the solution. Finally I did. That’s the most important thing.
I think I played with fantastic energy during the last three sets. Very positive. Very quick with my legs. You know, very quick mentally. I was returning great last three sets. I was able to have more breaks.
But he was serving well, hitting the ball well. When I had the chance to touch the ball with the return, every return was in, and a good one. So I am very pleased the way that I played.
Q. How much confidence does that give you now, playing as well as you did? How much confidence do you have going forward?
RAFAEL NADAL: Every day is different. Is true, as I said before, is an important victory for me. Every victory will mean a lot to me here in Wimbledon. Always very dangerous surface. Every opponent is tough.
My draw was difficult from the beginning because two players that can hit the ball very strong, good serve. You will have the chance that you will not be able to get some rhythm from the beginning. Especially in my case that I didn’t play many matches for the last three years on grass.
So is difficult to start. But as I say before, I arrived here after winning Roland Garros, less pressure. So more confidence. I said before the tournament that this year I feel myself little bit better physically. So I tried my best in every single practice, in every match that I played on the practice courts.
I was trying everything to be able to compete well again. I was practicing with a different energy than the last two years because my knees works better.
Q. It looks like the rain is coming. If it does go indoors the next couple days, do you have to change anything the way you play?
RAFAEL NADAL: I would love but I am not that good.
I prefer to play outdoors. Is obvious. If we have to play indoors, we play indoors.
Q. How easy do you find it to switch off between matches? Any particular places you like to go out to eat when you’re here at Wimbledon? Anything you particularly like to do?
RAFAEL NADAL: I am here in a house. The easier is World Cup year. Germany/United States starts in 15 minutes, so…
We are in a nice house. I have my coaches here. I have Marc Lopez with me at the house. I have my team. We play little bit of different games. Maybe one day we go out.
But seriously we go to restaurants every single day of the rest of the year. So when we are here I like to cook, I like to be a little bit more relaxed at home and see the World Cup. I love football.
Q. Was there a moment in that match today where you thought you could lose? If so, does that inspire you to come back?
RAFAEL NADAL: My inspiration is the motivation to play Wimbledon. That’s my motivation and that’s my inspiration.
Talking about if I thought that I can lose that match, during the match I thought that I can lose before the match, during the match. Now that the match finished, I really know that I had the chance to lose the match.
But I didn’t today. That’s the positive thing. Very happy for that.
Q. Rosol, how would you describe his game and why it’s difficult for you?
RAFAEL NADAL: If he plays well, is difficult for everybody, not just me. The players who are able to serve 130 miles, good first serve, good second serve, and hit the ball that quick with his forehand and his backhand, especially on this kind of surface, will be dangerous for everybody if he’s playing well.