Category Archives: Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal to Become The New Face Of Armani Jeans and Underwear

Following in the footsteps of footballers David Beckham and Christiano Ronaldo, world number one Rafael Nadal will front the spring/summer collection of Armani underwear and jeans.


Posted in ATP Offcourt, Rafael Nadal | 1 Comment

WTFs: Rafa Through To The Semis, Tries To Beat Up Some Officials En-Route

Drama, drama, drama. Rafael Nadal consolidated his place today at the top of Group A by defeating Tomas Berdych in straight sets and moving into the semifinals unbeaten. The first set saw some exciting tennis from both players as they went toe to toe, and for an hour nothing could separate them. Tomas finally made his move at 6-5* - holding and then stealing the first two points on Rafa’s serve… and then it happened.

It’s so typical that this is the exact time I decided to momentarily close the livestream window. As I put it back on, all I saw was Rafa yelling his head off at umpire Carlos Bernardes, and looking like he was about to drag Bernardes off his chair and start fighting him then and there. OK, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but it was probably the most animated and categorically pissed off Rafa has ever been on a tennis court. He clearly channeled all of that anger into his tennis as he took his game to the next level, recovering to take that game and then fighting his way to the set, smacking down forehands, backhands and serves alike.

By the second set Tomas had clearly lost heart and confidence, and it was just about finishing the job. And that’s what he did, closing out the match 7-6 6-1. This win means that he will definitely be meeting Andy Murray in the semis tomorrow - definitely looking forward to that.

Posted in Rafael Nadal, Tomas Berdych, WTFs | 1 Comment

WTF: It’s Vignette Time

Oh look! Here are those annual WTF vignette thingies. Gotta love the way the players in the beginning of all of these videos are all attempting to look as serious and badass as possible (with mixed results)… and then there’s little Rafa just standing there, nervously grinning at the camera.

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Picture(s) Of The Day: The Four Faces of Rafael Nadal

He may be sidelined for Paris with a shoulder injury, but Rafa has still made the trip to France and is looking forward to London; “I will have a special motivation, and I’m going to give everything I can to play well here”.

On a side note; his hair is thinning quicker than even Daniela in 2003. Im sure I’m not the only one shaking in my boots at the thought of a bald(ing) Nadal.

Posted in Picture post, Rafael Nadal | 2 Comments

Rafael Nadal Wins Tokyo, 7th Title Of 2010

Rafael Nadal took Tokyo in emphatic style as he disposed of Gael Monfils with the loss of only 6 games. After his performance in the semis, saving match points against Viktor Troicki, I expected him to struggle here, but he really pulled himself together and produced his best performance of the week. Next up is Shanghai where he will of course be favourite. Can he finish 2010 with a double-figure title count?

Though he lost in the final for only the millionth time in his career, this is encouraging stuff for Gael, too. That’s three very good tournaments in the last few months from him (US Open, Davis Cup, Tokyo), and though he was far too passive today in the final, he has played some very positive and offensive tennis throughout this period. If he continues on this road, it may not be too long before he finds himself back in the top 10

Posted in Gael Monfis, Rafael Nadal, Tokyo | 1 Comment

Maria Sharapova, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams et al. Are All BIG FAT CHEATERZ Because They Grunt. Apparently.

Yesterday, the BBC posted an article on a study that came to the conclusion that tennis players who grunt are robbing their opponents of reaction time and accuracy, or some shit like that….

The study, which appeared in the Public Library of Science ONE journal, tested 33 students at the University of British Columbia in western Canada.

Hundreds of video clips were shown of a player hitting a ball to either the left or right. The students had to determine the direction quickly, but on some shots were subjected to noises simulating grunting.

Lead report author Scott Sinnett told the BBC: “The findings were unequivocal. Basically, when the video clips did have a grunt, the participants were not only slower to react but they had lower accuracy levels. So they were basically slower and could actually be wrong-footed, if you could extend that to a real-world tennis court.”

Mr Sinnett said: “The study raises a number of interesting questions for tennis. For example, if Rafael Nadal is grunting and Roger Federer is not, is that fair?”

Sorry Scotty, but it doesn’t raise any “interesting questions” for tennis at all. Let’s check the facts now;

- Firstly, the study was carried out on 33 participants. Thirty-three participants. How can that be generalised at all?
- Secondly, they’re all students. Not only is there no variety in the participants, but who’s to say they were even taking the study seriously?
- Thirdly, the likelihood is that most of them probably don’t even follow tennis too much. When non-fans watch a tennis match, it’s logical that they will be distracted and put off by grunts in tennis. But will a professional tennis player who has played against hundreds of grunters in the past, and who is more focused on, you know, winning the match? Doubtful.
- And finally, since when does a bunch of students sitting down and watching a some videos on a TV have any relevance to a professional tennis player on a tennis court? Since never.

The whole grunting issue is such a tired topic. I can easily see why people would be put off by, for example, Michelle Larcher De Brito, because De Brito takes it to extremes in both the volume and length department. But in general, the grunts are only distracting to a player if they let them be distracting.

It also makes me sigh to see Navratilova publicly denounce grunts time and time again. Remember the 1992 Wimbledon? That was when the grunting thing first really blew up, and it blew up in the face of Monica Seles. As the tabloids continued to print stories about her grunting, players began to complain about her during the matches. Navratilova was one of them. She likened Seles’ grunt to the sound of “a stuck pig”, only to apologize post-match. Make yer mind up, Martina.

At the end of the day, grunting is simply an extension of breathing. Players who do it, don’t do it because they are trying to “cheat” an opponent by distracting or annoying them, they do it because they feel it’s necessary to grunt. Because they feel it gives them that extra intensity to get them through those tough situations. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s time that certain people accepted that and stopped with these silly conspiracy theories.

Posted in ATP Offcourt, Maria Sharapova, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, WTA Off court | 2 Comments

*gasp* Rafael Nadal Loses To A Spaniard…

And a sub-top 50 Spaniard at that. Guillermo García López’s 2-6 7-6 6-3 victory over Rafa Nadal has to go down as one of the shocks of the year, regardless of the fact that it’s an ATP 250. While GGL served out of a tree and was aggressive and solid from the ground, Rafa played a poor, poor match. The problem areas were his 2/26 break conversion rate, his returns and the fact that he retreated to 22 meters behind the baseline. But does this match and performance really count for anything? My gut instinct would be no, but then again he also had a terrible break conversion rate vs Novak in the US Open final. The difference there was that Novak was stepping up and playing fearlessly on those break points, so who knows? Only time will tell.

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Rafa Gets The Red Carpet Treatment

I have seen the likes Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova all play in 250/International events, but never have I seen any tournament go as far as to lay a red carpet down for their marquee star. That is, of course, until today. Rafa’s entrance to his match resembled a movie premiere - red carpet, screaming fans, huge bodyguards. It was mayhem. The match was uneventful though, and he dropped only five games en route to a straight sets victory over Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium. He also had a chance to meet the Prime Minister which was pretty cool. Oh, and he smiled. A lot.

A clean-shaven Ernests Gulbis (*gasp*, an oxymoron) toughed out a tight 3 setter to defeat Schuettler yesterday and so a Nadal-Gulbis semi is still on the cards. A matchup more than worthy of a red carpet entrance.

Posted in Bangkok, Ernests Gulbis, Rafael Nadal | Leave a comment

Rafael Nadal: The Struggle For Perfection

Rafael Nadal has achieved it all; he has reached the summit of the ATP World Tour Ranking, he has won an Olympic Gold medal, clinched the Davis Cup twice, won 18 ATP 1000 titles, and most recently he achieved the Career Grand Slam, defeating Novak Djokovic to capture that elusive US Open title. He has achieved so much in so many different areas of tennis, on different surfaces and in different continents. However, he wasn’t always the well-rounded player that we see today. This has been achieved through an abundance of determination, hard work and most importantly – a hell of a lot of heart.

2002-2005: Rafael Nadal’s Big Arrival

In April 2002, a 762nd ranked 15 year old by the name of Rafael Nadal played in his debut match on the ATP tour in his hometown of Mallorca. He won it, defeating Ramon Delgado of Paraguay in straight sets and throwing himself into the record books by becoming only the 9th player in the Open Era to win an ATP Main Draw match. Rafael Nadal had arrived.

Throughout this period, Nadal was seen solely as a claycourt player. And rightly so. Though he achieved a handful of impressive results on hard, it was on the claycourts where he really excelled. At this time he had a number of limitations – his backhand, his net-game, his slice and serve. Nadal compensated for these weaknesses by standing miles behind the baseline and using his outstanding athleticism and highly-revered forehand to grind his opponents into the ground. And it worked. Easily. By 2005 he had won his first French Open in his very first appearance. He was already being proclaimed the “King of Clay”, and while his fans were exuberant at the victory, Nadal himself was far from satisfied. In fact, he took that title as an insult.

2006-2008: Attacking the Grass

Though Nadal continued to waltz through the claycourt seasons, his eyes were firmly set elsewhere. The Spaniard had always maintained that Grass is and was his favourite surface. Not the best surface for his game, of course, but the mystery and prestige surrounding it simply proved too much for him. Growing up in Majorca, the surface of grass was probably akin to a forbidden fruit to him, and one that he longed to taste. After his victory at the French Open in 2005, he finally had the chance to do just that.

Between 2006 and 2008, Nadal worked tirelessly on the qualities he needed to succeed on grass. He worked on attacking and playing more aggressive tennis, he developed a formidable traditional lefty slider to compliment the grass, and he added a slice to his ever-growing repertoire of shots. He was transforming at a magnificent rate. A year later he was in his first Wimbledon final and in two years from that, he took the title in magnificent circumstances – defeating Roger Federer 9-7 in the 5th set in one of tennis’ all time classic matches. Wimbledon? Check.

2008-2010: Breaking down the Hardcourts

With 5 Grand Slams to his name, he had already achieved so much at the tender age of 22. However, Nadal still wasn’t satisfied. And he wouldn’t until he mastered the hardcourts, and so he got to work. He continued to refine his game while working on further flattening out both his serve and groundstrokes. A month later he would snatch the Olympic Gold Medal in Beijing, before taking his third Grand Slam in Australia 2009, yet again defeating Federer in the final. Still, people doubted that he would ever win the US Open to complete the set. It was too fast for him, his serve wasn’t good enough and his knee problems during the clay and grass seasons gave people more reason to doubt him. He simply didn’t have the game to win on such a quick surface, they said.

They were, of course, categorically wrong. At the 2010 US Open he would clinch that final slam, completing the Career Golden Grand Slam and catapulting him into the history books once again. He consistently unleashed serves above 130mph, he strolled into the forecourt and easily put away the most testing volleys and he hugged the baseline as if it was a long-lost friend. What is ironic is that the French Open wasn’t where he played his best tennis in 2010, nor at Wimbledon. He played his best match of the year in the finals of the US Open. Now that is special.

What Is Next For Rafael Nadal?

Rafael Nadal has to be considered the hardest worker and most determined player in the history of the game. He has exceeded so many expectations and has improved more than any other player. Ever. The scary thing is that he continues to evolve to this very day. Will he ever reach a ceiling? In the US Open final it was the backhand that emerged as the dominant weapon rather than his legendary forehand. With his trademark open stance technique he was unleashing breathtakingly powerful and flat-as-a-pancake backhands that even the defence of Novak Djokovic stood no chance against. Not to mention the fact that he has transformed himself into one of the most complete players in the world, and he is capable of bringing his very best tennis to every single surface. Many think that the knee problems will emerge again and cut short his career, but if he continues to refine this new all-out attacking game of his and lighten the stress on his body, he will prove them wrong. He always does.

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The Never-Ending Story of Rafael Nadal’s Knees

So today an interview was released of Rafael Nadal’s doctor speaking about his knees. In short, the doctor says that the tendons in the knees have completely healed, but as is with every part of the body, if he puts too much stress on his knees they will inevitably become a problem again. Even translated through Google, it is certainly an interesting read, but also something that most people would have anticipated anyway.

I am inclined to believe that Rafa understands this too. While his schedule hasn’t altered dramatically from that of two years ago, I do think he has had a change in mindset since the knee problems and he is aware of the fact that the Grand Slams are the main priority. He still gives his best wherever he plays, but at the same time I think he understands the difference between giving his best, and putting his body at risk by going over the limit. In the second week of the US Open this year, he really stepped to the baseline and tried to dominate while always looking for opportunities to move into the forecourt. I think that persevering and further refining this style of play is mandatory if he wants to achieve longevity.

With all that said, I also have to say that it is pretty uncool for the doctor to speak out in the way he has. After all, Rafa is a professional athlete and tennis is such a competitive sport. So many players speak about the importance of keeping personal information.. personal in such an environment, and are unwilling to speak openly about injuries in that much detail. Rafa has always been one of those players and so I doubt he will be very happy when he hears about this interview, and rightly so. I have always thought that in general, information between a doctor and patient should always be confidential. Apparently Mikel Sanchez doesn’t share those same views…

Posted in Injuries, Rafael Nadal | Leave a comment