*~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~* [Archive] - MensTennisForums.com

*~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

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mallorn
05-18-2006, 11:20 AM
It's still ten days to go, but there are articles about RG already, so I thought I might just as well start a thread.

The official site: http://www.rolandgarros.com/en_FR/index.html

Personally, I think it's the best of the GS sites. :)

In case you're wondering when Rafa's first match is going to be, no one knows yet. This article was translated by nou.amic of vr.com:

ROLAND GARROS STARTS ON A SUNDAY FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER

Paris cannot decide between Nadal and Federer for the first day of the tournament

By Joan Solsona. Barcelona

For the first time in its history, Roland Garros begins on a Sunday, thus extending the length of the tournament by one day, to the delight of the fans. The second Grand Slam of the year begins on Sunday 28th May but, on that day, only four matches will be played on each of the three central courts: Philippe Chatrier, Suzanne Lenglen and the one known as the bullring because it is circular. The organizers are looking for attractive matches for an inaugural day with so few matches and they have to decide whether it will be Roger Federer, world number one, or Rafael Nadal, last year's champion, that will make his debute on the first day.

The organizers of the French tournament will wait until after the draw is made, at Roland Garros on Friday 26th May, to decide which of the two best ATP players first enters the ring in Paris. Toni Nadal, Rafa's trainer, is quite certain that if he could choose: "I would prefer to play on the Tuesday because that way you can train more and you're more into the tournament because it has already started." It is worth mentioning that the player that plays on the Sunday, whether it is Nadal or Federer, will have at least two days rest and will not play his second match until Wednesday.

Sharapova or Mauresmo?
Although last year's winner in Paris was Justine Henin, the two great attractions for the public are Amelie Mauresmo and Maria Sharapova. One of them will have to make her debute on the first day of the tournament, although both are injured at the moment.

mallorn
05-18-2006, 11:22 AM
Two articles from Tennis Week:
Nadal French Favorite, Federer Favored By Bettors To Sweep Slam

By Tennis Week
05/17/2006

Rafael Nadal continues to rack up clay-court titles and historic numbers. Nadal's dramatic five-set victory over top-ranked Roger Federer in Sunday's Rome final in which the clay-court conquistador came back from a 1-4 deficit in the decisive set and fought off two match points to prevail in a five hour, five-minute marathon was his 53rd consecutive clay-court victory tying Guillermo Vilas for the longest men's clay-court winning streak in the Open Era.

Nadal has beaten Federer in five of their six meetings, including four straight wins, but despite his struggles against the Spanish sensation, Federer remains a favorite among bettors to sweep the Grand Slam.
The Swiss stylist, who has won six of the past nine Grand Slam titles, is bidding to join Hall of Famers Don Budge and Rod Laver as the only men in history to sweep a single season Grand Slam.

Though Nadal has Federer's number and remains the favorite to successfully defend his Roland Garros title, 75 percent of the bets placed on Internet gambling site PinnacleSports.com back Federer to capture all four major titles and complete the first men's tennis Grand Slam sweep since Laver accomplished the feat for the second time in 1969.

One of the Internet’s largest sports betting sites, PinnacleSports.com originally released odds on the number of Grand Slam tournaments won by Roger Federer in 2006 following his Australian Open win in January. Since then, bettors have flocked to the site to back Federer capturing all four major tennis championships, which currently stands at 11/2 odds.

"Despite immense Grand Slam backing, PinnacleSports.com lists the more likely scenarios of Federer winning three (3/2) or two (8/5) Grand Slam events as the favorites," a PinnacleSports spokesman said. "The unlikeliest scenario is that the world’s top ranked player will finish 2006 with only the Australian Open title under his belt, listed as a 7/1 long shot by Pinnacle Sportsbook."

Although Federer is a favorite in nearly every tournament he enters, PinnacleSports.com currently lists reigning French Open champion and clay court specialist Rafael Nadal, who has won a record-tying 53 matches on clay, as a 10/11 favorite at Roland Garros. Meanwhile, Federer is a solid contender at 2/1 to win his first French Open championship. PinnacleSports.com has also created a betting option on the world’s top player winning his fourth consecutive Wimbledon title this summer and currently lists Federer as an overwhelming 1/2 favorite to be victorious once again at the All England Tennis Club.

How Many Grand Slam Tournaments Will Roger Federer Win In 2006?
One 7/1
Two 8/5
Three 3/2
Grand Slam 11/2

Odds To Win 2006 French Open?
Rafael Nadal 10/11
Roger Federer 2/1

Will Roger Federer Win Wimbledon 2006?
Yes 1/2
No 9/5
http://www.sportsmediainc.com/tennisweek/index.cfm?func=showarticle&newsid=15316&bannerregion=

mallorn
05-18-2006, 11:23 AM
The other one is very long:
Is Anyone Left To Win Roland Garros?

By Tim Joyce
05/18/2006

The odds are always against a lefty-lefty duel over the Musketeers Cup, or in any final. Last year, when Rafael Nadal bested Mariano Puerta, 6-7 (6), 6-3, 6-1, 7-5, it was the first all-southpaw final on the red clay of Paris since Marcel Bernard defeated Jaroslav Drobny in 1946.

Right-handers win at Roland Garros to a degree greater than at the other slam events. Still, the terre battue has been the site of some extraordinary displays of lefty prowess. Open Era champs on the men’s side, in addition to Nadal, include Thomas Muster (1995), Andres Gomez (1990), Guillermo Vilas (1977) and Rod Laver (1969) — who also claimed the French singles championship in 1962, to go with his 1961 doubles and mixed doubles titles there. Left-handed women who have raised the Suzanne Lenglen Cup during this time include Martina Navratilova (1982 and ’84) and Monica Seles (1990-92).

Something about lefties seems to defy definition. As Lindsay Davenport said of playing Patty Schnyder (who has reached the fourth round at Roland Garros three times in her last four tries and reached the quarters in 1998) at last year’s season-ending championships, "Patty is probably one of the most tricky players to play. I mean, we don’t see a lot of lefties in women’s tennis, and we don’t see a lot of players that have the ability to create angles like she does, use the different spins ... So you play a match against her that you don’t have to play against anybody else."

It was from the perspective of a different surface, but Andy Roddick expressed a similar view about la difference after his stunning first round ouster at last year’s U.S. Open by Luxembourgeois southpaw Gilles Muller: "I just couldn’t get a read on his serve. It was very deceptive and tricky."

Although only about 10 percent to 15 percent of the general population, left-handers are not strangers to success. Examining the 20th century finds that arguably the greatest achievers in their respective fields have been lefties: Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso, Jimi Hendrix, Charlie Chaplin and Bill Gates, to name a few. And for nearly half of the last 60 years, a southpaw has resided at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (Presidents Harry Truman, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton).

The athletic world has also seen a great deal of left-handed prowess. For example, baseball’s four most prolific hitters of all time are left-handers: Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Barry Bonds. Given the recessive nature of left-handedness, it is not clear how biology and psychology play out in the success of southpaws, but in speculating as to why lefties might have an advantage in sports, Tiffany Herlands, professor of behavioral sciences at the Einstein School of Medicine in New York City, cited a Turkish study of soccer players which found that "lefties were more aggressive, and that aggressiveness was found to be correlated with superior performance in soccer." She also had at hand a fair number of additional studies highlighting the natural, physical advantages lefthanders may enjoy. Studies whose conclusions "... indirectly support the notion that left-handed people have neuroanatomically-based advantages in performing certain neurocognitive tasks, such as visuospatial and gross (whole body) visuomotor tasks."

University of Montpellier, France, sociologists Charlotte Furie and Michel Raymond have suggested from their 2004 study of primitive cultures that the reason for enhanced left-handed aptitude in one-on-one sports could have evolved from a higher success rate among lefties in primitive combat. It is a theory that seems to have a direct correlation to success in tennis: Because lefties have an element of surprise, they attain an upper "hand," as it were.

Roger Federer seems to be at least a partial proponent of that theory, as, following his defeat by Rafael Nadal earlier this year in Dubai, he was quoted as saying he needs to become more familiar with Nadal’s portside game: "The more I play him, the more I’ll figure out how to play him. He’s a lefty and a good lefty [at that], and I don’t get to face many lefties." That said, the world No. 1 currently has a 1-5 career won-loss record against the world No. 2.

In the Open Era, 10 male left-handers have amassed 30 of the possible 152 men’s Grand Slam tournament singles titles (starting with the 1968 French and including the 2006 Australian). And Rod Laver, considered by many to be the greatest player of all time and the ultimate member of the left club, is also the only man with two Grand Slams to his name. Most startlingly, there was a left-handed U.S. Open men’s singles champion (Jimmy Connors, Manuel Orantes, Vilas or John McEnroe) for 11 consecutive years, from 1974 through 1984. Perhaps the pinnacle of left-handed success was in July of 1979 when four of the top five men were left-handers: Connors, McEnroe, Vilas and Roscoe Tanner attacked the ball from that side, while only Borg came at it from the other.

Interestingly enough, left-handed women have not achieved as left-handed men have. Consider that there are only two women southpaws in the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Martina Navratilova and Ann Haydon Jones, while 16 male lefties are enshrined in the halls at Newport. Left-handed Wimbledon (1960) and U.S. (1959-60) singles champion Neale Fraser spoke to Australian radio about why lefties in the women’s game don’t seem to possess the same advantages as their male counterparts: "Whereas the men are attacking more and the ball is swinging more through the air and they’re rushing the net a bit more, women maybe play a little bit more from the baseline and they’re able to see the ball a bit longer, and it’s not as disruptive for them." The greater emphasis on baseline play could also play a role in why lefties have had less success at Roland Garros than at the other Grand Slam events.

Touching on the men and women in the Hall, it should be noted that Ken Rosewall and Margaret Court were natural born left-handers, but the prejudice of their times enforced on them a right-handed training regimen. Perhaps one day the same will be said of Maria Sharapova, a natural lefty who was turned around for tennis by her father. While there appears to be no tangible biological explanation for why the first years of the Open Era were so left-heavy, many sociologists opine that this was the first generation that was largely freed from a vigorous, societal-imposed anti-left bias. In fact, Martina Navratilova was actually encouraged to craft her beautiful serve and volley play from the left side, as her father knew of the significant advantage it held.

But the advantage was only lefty over righty. McEnroe hitting his wide, slicing serve in the ad-court against Borg may well have driven the stoic Swede from the game as he, with less reach as a two-hander on his backhand side, was forced to retrieve a ball 10, maybe 15 feet outside the sideline. His return would come back to a McEnroe charging the net with an eye on an open court in which to aim his follow-up volleys.

Conversely, when McEnroe played his other fierce competitor, Connors, his serve was neutralized by the fellow lefty as it bounced into the St. Louis-native’s driving forehand, and McEnroe’s approach was made without the advantage of the angle offered up by Borg’s much weaker return.

The serve is often cited as the biggest lefty advantage. Since righties are not accustomed to playing lefties on a regular basis, it is harder to adjust to the angle on the return. According to Fraser there is even one aspect of the modern game that almost seems intended to benefit lefties: "In the tie-break, after the first point you change serves and the server starts in the second [ad] court all the time, and that’s the lefthander’s most [sic] favored side. Conversely, when the right-hander is playing and has to serve, he is serving into the second court that is not his favored side. So I think the tie-break definitely favors the left-hander."

Former Top 10 player Greg Rusedski echoes Fraser’s view. Posting to his Web site, he explained that his serve is "... a big advantage. Two lefty’s playing together is quite an odd match-up because they don’t like each other. But in general, being left-handed definitely helps because on the biggest points — game point or break point — you can slide it out wide or you can hit the T, and you can really take your opponent off the court with the slice."

Baselining lefties, such as Guillermo Vilas, are not nearly as prolific Grand Slam champions as serve-and-volley or all-court lefties. However, play from that side still offers its backcourt advantages. Part of Nadal’s record of success against Federer may result from how the teenage Spaniard plays one of the Swiss star’s favorite shots. The inside-out forehand stymies most opposing players, but slides into Nadal’s overpowering topspin forehand and offers highly advantageous angles for returning the ball.

It is all vaguely reminiscent of the late ’70s and early ’80s when Bjorn Borg was dominant. His biggest losses at Grand Slam tournaments seemed always to occur against lefties. For example, the combination of Connors’s lefty serve and groundstrokes ended Borg’s hopes for a title in the finals of the 1976 and ’78 U.S. Opens, the first on clay and the second on a hard surface. In addition to the Jimbo defeats, Borg lost in the last match of Grand Slam tournaments to McEnroe three times, and at the 1979 U.S. Open, Roscoe Tanner defeated Borg in the quarterfinals. However, Borg’s record against lefty baseliner Vilas was a dominating 17-5, and he never lost to the Argentine in a Grand Slam event. Notably, Borg went a nearly four-year span (autumn 1976 to summer 1980) without losing a tournament final (any tournament, not just a major) to a right-hander.

Given Borg’s struggles, one of the great what-ifs of Pete Sampras’s reign is what impact facing a few more lefthanders would have had on his gathering up 14 Grand Slam tournament singles titles. Obviously, the answer will never be known. Goran Ivanisevic, a strong lefty, but probably not Hall of Fame quality, won only six of 18 against Pistol Pete, while one-time No. 1 Marcelo Rios — a left-hander who seemed to thrive as the embodiment of clichés like "tempestuous" and "crafty" — was 0-2.

It seems obvious that a left-hander offers an important natural balance to a doubles team. From Australia came Fraser and another lefty, Tony Roche, to partner "singles specialists" Roy Emerson and John Newcombe (both right-handers), respectively, to Grand Slam tournament titles. More recently, John McEnroe(l)/Peter Fleming(r) and Navratilova(l)/Pam Shriver(r) both left their mark as partnerships. And currently the ATP’s top team is the left-handed Bob and right-handed Mike Bryan. But once again, there are notable differences between the men’s and women’s sides, with the men having four teams in the Top 20 feature a righty-lefty duo (No. 1, Bryan/Bryan; No. 5, Knowles/Nestor; No. 8, Fyrstenberg/Matkowski; and No. 19, Clement/Llodra) and the women but two (No. 15, Huber/Navratilova; and No. 20, Peschke/Loit).

"Nobody likes playing lefties," said Bob Bryan. Speaking of the benefit to the siblings of having a lefthander on the doubles team, he explained, "Without question the biggest advantage is with the wind and the sun, being able to negate [those] elements during a match [as, for example, a righty-lefty team can choose a serving sequence so that neither member ever has to serve facing the sun]." Why left-handedness, having been so prominent overall in the Open Era, is now making only a relatively small impact on the current tennis scene, is puzzling. Perhaps it’s due to the death of serve-and-volley tennis, by which lefties can maximize the advantage of their unfamiliar style, or because of so few lefties being adequately coached to effectively employ the slicing serve out wide. Or perhaps we are just in a down cycle.

Nevertheless, it is a cycle that features a player who may turn out to be the best lefty since Laver. The 16th left-hander to rank in the ATP Top 10, Nadal has elevated himself as the only true rival for Federer’s top ranking, once again positioning left-handed tennis to receive top honors. Intriguingly, Nadal is only a tennis lefty; he does everything else with his right hand, but started playing tennis with his "other" hand as a youngster and never changed.

After losing to the Spanish teen in last year’s semifinal in Paris, Federer described the difficulty in facing the Mallorcan southpaw: "You’ve got to understand he is a totally different player. The points are played a different way. My kick serve doesn’t bounce to his backhand; it bounces to his forehand. So it changes everything. And his lefty spin always takes me a while to figure out."

Italians consider them sinistra. The French refer to them as gauche, and the modern English equivalent comes from the Anglo-Saxon lyft, meaning "weak." But left-handers, from the founder of the Davis Cup, Dwight Davis, to the man whose name is imprinted on the Australian men’s trophy, Norman Brookes, to Laver, to Connors, to McEnroe, to Navratilova and now Nadal, have made a significant impact on tennis.

With the possible emergence of much-hyped, former junior No. 1, American lefty Donald Young, it will be interesting to see if the future left-handers will return to their just-passed dominance. Perhaps it would be wise for player development around the world to nurture the growth of lefties. They bring "that certain je ne sais quoi" (translation: I know not what) to whatever court they play upon. And for the betterment of all concerned — the players, fans and overseers of the sport — that high-profile southpaw presence is something for the sport to exploit.

Tim Joyce, a regular contributor, is also in his first year as the men’s tennis coach at Sarah Lawrence College. His previous story for Tennis Week was "We Are The (TeamTennis) World" in October 2005.

http://www.sportsmediainc.com/tennisweek/index.cfm?func=showarticle&newsid=15315&bannerregion=

mallorn
05-18-2006, 11:25 AM
And from Sports Insiders:
Thursday, May 18, 2006

Joanne C. Gerstner: Moving the Needle

French Open might be a Slam dunk for No. 2 Nadal

http://img122.imageshack.us/img122/2236/bilde8sy.jpg (http://imageshack.us)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Rafael Nadal of Spain might be ranked No. 2, but he is, by far, the best player in the French Open field.

http://img122.imageshack.us/img122/2897/bildero9so.jpg (http://imageshack.us)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Roger Federer is 38-0 with four title victories when he has not played Nadal this year. When Nadal is in the mix, Federer is 0-3.


The French Open begins in a little more than a week, and already this much is clear -- it's going to be Rafael Nadal's Grand Slam to lose.

He won the French in 2005, and has followed up by being the hottest clay player so far in 2006.

Nadal won an Open-era record-tying 53 straight matches on clay, showcasing his dirt-ball creativity and confidence.

Even world No. 1 Roger Federer, who lost the Rome final to Nadal last weekend, hasn't found a way to beat the crafty Spaniard. The two played an epic five-setter lasting more than five hours, with Nadal overcoming two Federer match points in the final set.

Nadal, who is ranked No. 2, is setting up to be the foil on all surfaces for Federer, as American Andy Roddick and Russian Marat Safin faded.

Federer is 38-0 with four title victories when he has not played Nadal this year. When Nadal is in the mix, Federer is 0-3.

Federer has only beaten Nadal once in six matches on clay, and there's little reason to think that could change in the near term.

What's scary about Nadal is he's only 19. He's just starting to gain confidence, the same way Federer slowly built his formidable game.

Nadal has won 16 ATP titles in his career, tying Bjorn Borg's mark for teen pro victories.

The French Open likely will prove to be another tough ride for the American men and women. There's something about the red clay that doesn't agree with the typical topspin-laden American game, especially against Spanish and South American players who spent their childhoods sliding around on the stuff.

Andre Agassi and Lindsay Davenport are out because of back injuries, Roddick isn't strong on clay, and the Williams sisters are injured and in questionable match shape.

The women's draw will likely shape up to be a battle between France's Amelie Mauresmo (barring another infamous mental meltdown), and oft-injured Belgians Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne. Russians Nadia Petrova and Maria Sharapova could challenge, too.

But watch the matches featuring Nadal and Federer. It's usually good stuff, elevated to brilliance when they're playing each other.

http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060518/SPORTS08/605180340/1136/SPORTS07

mallorn
05-18-2006, 11:29 AM
And finally ;) my favourite picture from last year's tournament.

http://img20.imageshack.us/img20/7601/1225820pw.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

BUENA SUERTE, Rafa! :)

the_natural
05-18-2006, 01:32 PM
Ok Do you guys really think he can win?? That Match in rome scared the hell outta me, see in Barcelona the only reason it went to 4 sets was because of the nervousness of Rafa, like he let his lead slip a few times and coulda had a MUCH MORE comprehensive victory. The reason im scared is because Federer and Rafa both played their best tennis and Federer just barely lost it and I think that hes gonna be lookin for Revenge at RG and will DEFINATLEY take his chances and will go that step further and win :( Someone cheer me up please?? Cos Im just soo nervous that Rafa wont win, I know everyone who is a fan of their fave player has undying Confidence in their fave player but like the stakes are so high. In Rome Rafa was just tryin to tie the all time record and protect a masters series titles, but if all goes to plan Rafa will be going for his 60TH CONSECUTIVE on clay in the finals! And He will have even more pressure to win because hes beaten Federer 3 times on clay and is the only man to beat him this year and hes called the greatest ever on clay and mr unbeatable on clay, AND hes defending a Grandslam title... Isnt that too much pressure for him?? Just a little bit?? Plus he will have to win best of 5 setters, And he looked a little bit tired for a while against Federer in the 4th... I think that Federer will be playing with nothing to lose, and Rafa plays very physical?? Wont he be more tired having 6 Best of 5 matches?? I just want him to win!!!....... I want him to make the finals easily and be full of energy and not even need to beat federer, I dont want federer to get the Calendar GS either!!!

jzpyt06
05-18-2006, 03:23 PM
I think he can if rafa can come through beating fed even being 2 match points down it just proves he can even under such circumstances he can win. Rafa could have easily hit a stupid and or safe shot but he went for his shots and cleared his mind and played those match points as though they were the first points of the match. If anything we gotta give it up to rafa for having the mental state to stay cool and come through forcing fed to go for too much. If rafa can take a win with that much riding on it he can come through anything.

NaDALiTa
05-18-2006, 03:44 PM
And finally ;) my favourite picture from last year's tournament.



BUENA SUERTE, Rafa! :)



my favorite too :wavey: i can remember it was the first page of a spanish newspaper; the title was "toda tuya" (alll yours ) :inlove:

casillas_girl
05-18-2006, 03:55 PM
COME ON RAFA!! Make it at least to the 2nd week, so I can finally see you in real live!! :hug:

Ti-Anne
05-18-2006, 04:07 PM
:bounce: :bounce: YAY !!! RG's almost here already !!
:bounce: :bounce:
According to the current atmosphere and being a Calvin & Hobbes fan I'll call it G.R.O.S.S. for Get Rid Of Sissy Swiss :haha: :haha:

Andre forever
05-18-2006, 05:02 PM
And finally ;) my favourite picture from last year's tournament.

http://img20.imageshack.us/img20/7601/1225820pw.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

BUENA SUERTE, Rafa! :)


GOODLUCK RAFAAAAAAAAA

Andre forever
05-18-2006, 05:05 PM
RAFA 's got a BIG chance of winning.... look what happened last sunday? FED almost got it.. but unfortunately.. bad result. RAFA WON! :worship:


im crossing my fingers for RAFA.. hope he can still do it. :angel:

the_natural
05-19-2006, 12:30 PM
Im just worried I hope he is fully confident and Wins, he deserves it more than anyone.

Denisse
05-19-2006, 04:43 PM
Thanks for all the articles mallorn!! you're an angel!!

GonzoFan
05-19-2006, 04:50 PM
Good Luck Rafa in Roland Garros!!!!!!

VAMOS!!!!!

silver7
05-19-2006, 04:51 PM
Good luck Rafa! I hope you will defend your title and win RG again!Vamos Rafa!!!

mallorn
05-19-2006, 05:59 PM
Ok, I'm not exactly an optimist myself, but I think you're underestimating Rafa, the_natural.

Yes, the Rome final was very close. Rafa even said he was lucky Roger couldn't convert the match points. Still, I wouldn't agree Rafa owes the victory to luck. He earned it all the way. He came back from 1-4 down in the fifth set and made Roger nervous and uncertain. His earlier victories and his unshaken belief that he could win made Roger rush and in the end blow his chances. Against how many other players would Roger have made such mistakes?

I don't agree they both played their best tennis. Roger was visibly more confident than in MC, had a better game plan and execution (much better BH, serve (!) and net play). As for Rafa, I'm not saying he didn't play well, but he made a lot of UEs (for his standards) and his passing shots were below par. Of course, some will argue that it was because of Roger's play, but it's only partially true, and in fact Rafa's level dropped already in his two previous matches; don’t be fooled by the straight sets wins against Gonzalez and Monfils.

What I'm about to say now is pure speculation, I could be totally wrong, so don't quote me on this, but…it occurred to me that Rafa, despite his protestations that he isn't the favourite and Roger is far better, might have been just a tiny bit surprised by Roger's level of play. After all, he had won their previous two matches on clay relatively comfortably and Roger hadn't played great in the earlier rounds in Rome; many fans even expected him to lose the final in three sets. :rolleyes: Now it's clear he's got a real dogfight on his hands, and fight is what Rafas…I mean Tiggers…like best. ;)

So, even though the Rome final was extremely close, I'm not ready to write Rafa off just yet. He can play better than he did in that match, I absolutely believe it. The problem is that he will have to play better, otherwise I don't see Roger letting him get away with it again. The good news is Rafa got a taste of Roger's changed strategy and he has the time to come up with a solution (and fine tune his passing shots, which surprisingly let him down in Rome). Of course, knowing what to expect and actually dealing with it are two different things (right, Roger?), but at least he won't be caught completely off guard.

Now, you say that there'll be too much pressure on Rafa. We'll have to wait and see, but so far he's been handling pressure extremely well, taking it one match at a time. Do you know what he said when asked about the stress of defending RG? The pressure is on the people who haven't won it yet. :p Roger doesn't have anything to lose? Come on! What about a Grand Slam chance and the GOAT label? He believes it is his to take; there is enormous pressure on him too.

Roger seems absolutely furious about the losses, even to the point of slightly losing control of his behaviour. I don't think it's to his disadvantage; he used to be nervous about playing Rafa, and now there seems to be this cold rage in him, which, judging by the last match, is better for him. Now I could be wrong (again) but I had a feeling Rafa too was furious - about the attack on Toni. The fact that Rafa, who is always so diplomatic and almost reverential about Rogelio, said Fed should learn how to lose, indicates to me that the accusation really stung him. It'll be very interesting to see what kind of effect, if any, this will have on Rafa.

Having said all this, the final is very far off and an unpleasant surprise might happen on the way, even if it seems unlikely now. If both Rafa and Roger do get to the final, I'll most definitely need Valium. But then, I'm faint-hearted, unlike Rafa. ;)

PS. Sorry for the LONG post. :eek:

mallorn
05-19-2006, 06:08 PM
From Tennis.Reporters.net:
Waiting for Rafa-Roger VII
Venus rising and dangerous

By Matthew Cronin, TennisReporters.net

http://img399.imageshack.us/img399/4950/nadalmliw06bh4009oa.jpg (http://imageshack.us)
Mark Lyons
Rafael Nadal continues his commanding role in the sport's biggest current rivalry: him v. Roger Federer.

Anticipation is the sweetest feeling in sports. In the next three-and-a-half weeks, at least 10,000 articles and a few thousand households or so of TV time will be devoted to analyzing the probable (but not definite) Roland Garros men's final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Every nook and cranny will be unearthed, every angle exhausted, every word out of both competitor's mouths cherished.

That's what great rivalries are all about and this one has the potential to be a classic in the Bjorn Borg-John McEnroe, Andre Agassi-Pete Sampras mode. But Federer has to win a few more first, not just play Rafa down to the wire every time.

Given who wide open the Roland Garros women's side is, it's amazing how closed the men's drama appears. Seriously, who can really beat Roger or Rafa on clay right now? There's three maybe-maybe's out there: David Nalbandian, Nicolas Almagro and Nicolay Davydenko. And how much would you wager on any of these men pulling an upset. A Euro? Two?

I talked to Todd Martin a few days ago (see my column on foxsports.com) and we got to discussing Guillermo Coria, the Argentine who should have won RG two years ago, Coria is being coached by Todd's old coach, Jose Higueras. Coria is double faulting a ton and a result is losing to players he is much better then. Martin says he has the yips and that Higueras can't do much about it. It's up to "El Mago" to straighten his head off court so when he gets on court, he believes that he can get a second serve in.

If he was playing up to form, Coria is one of the guys who could challenge Federer or Nadal. So could three-time RG champ Gustavo Kuerten, who is likely to retire soon as he can't get his hip right. That will be a very sad day and what's sadder is that fans cannot watch Rafa v. Guga, which would be a scintillating match-up. In fact, if they both played as well as they can on RG red clay, I'd still take Guga, because he's one-handed backhand isn't as vulnerable to high hooking balls from Nadal as Fed's is (remember how well Guga played Thomas Muster?) and he isn't committed to the inside-out forehand, which often allows him superior court position.

(...)
http://www.tennisreporters.net/nadal_venus_051806.html

the_natural
05-20-2006, 02:06 PM
Ok, I'm not exactly an optimist myself, but I think you're underestimating Rafa, the_natural.

Yes, the Rome final was very close. Rafa even said he was lucky Roger couldn't convert the match points. Still, I wouldn't agree Rafa owes the victory to luck. He earned it all the way. He came back from 1-4 down in the fifth set and made Roger nervous and uncertain. His earlier victories and his unshaken belief that he could win made Roger rush and in the end blow his chances. Against how many other players would Roger have made such mistakes?

I don't agree they both played their best tennis. Roger was visibly more confident than in MC, had a better game plan and execution (much better BH, serve (!) and net play). As for Rafa, I'm not saying he didn't play well, but he made a lot of UEs (for his standards) and his passing shots were below par. Of course, some will argue that it was because of Roger's play, but it's only partially true, and in fact Rafa's level dropped already in his two previous matches; don’t be fooled by the straight sets wins against Gonzalez and Monfils.

What I'm about to say now is pure speculation, I could be totally wrong, so don't quote me on this, but…it occurred to me that Rafa, despite his protestations that he isn't the favourite and Roger is far better, might have been just a tiny bit surprised by Roger's level of play. After all, he had won their previous two matches on clay relatively comfortably and Roger hadn't played great in the earlier rounds in Rome; many fans even expected him to lose the final in three sets. :rolleyes: Now it's clear he's got a real dogfight on his hands, and fight is what Rafas…I mean Tiggers…like best. ;)

So, even though the Rome final was extremely close, I'm not ready to write Rafa off just yet. He can play better than he did in that match, I absolutely believe it. The problem is that he will have to play better, otherwise I don't see Roger letting him get away with it again. The good news is Rafa got a taste of Roger's changed strategy and he has the time to come up with a solution (and fine tune his passing shots, which surprisingly let him down in Rome). Of course, knowing what to expect and actually dealing with it are two different things (right, Roger?), but at least he won't be caught completely off guard.

Now, you say that there'll be too much pressure on Rafa. We'll have to wait and see, but so far he's been handling pressure extremely well, taking it one match at a time. Do you know what he said when asked about the stress of defending RG? The pressure is on the people who haven't won it yet. :p Roger doesn't have anything to lose? Come on! What about a Grand Slam chance and the GOAT label? He believes it is his to take; there is enormous pressure on him too.

Roger seems absolutely furious about the losses, even to the point of slightly losing control of his behaviour. I don't think it's to his disadvantage; he used to be nervous about playing Rafa, and now there seems to be this cold rage in him, which, judging by the last match, is better for him. Now I could be wrong (again) but I had a feeling Rafa too was furious - about the attack on Toni. The fact that Rafa, who is always so diplomatic and almost reverential about Rogelio, said Fed should learn how to lose, indicates to me that the accusation really stung him. It'll be very interesting to see what kind of effect, if any, this will have on Rafa.

Having said all this, the final is very far off and an unpleasant surprise might happen on the way, even if it seems unlikely now. If both Rafa and Roger do get to the final, I'll most definitely need Valium. But then, I'm faint-hearted, unlike Rafa. ;)

PS. Sorry for the LONG post. :eek:


Thank you *hugz* I feel much better now. And today I felt better cos I thought about what toni said about more time=more training (If Rafa plays tuesday instead of Sunday), I forgot that hes got time off to not just relax but to train very hard to get in even better physical shape, Id love to see him get more fit, because thats the most important weapon at RG, and regardless of how fit one is, one can always improve and in a short amount of time also, whereas in terms of tennis strokes, well u cant really get much more of an improvement on the groundies (when ur at this level of competition) in only 2 weeks. However he could work on the serve if he wanted to, you can really improve the serve in a week with just lots of training, doing literally 1000 (if not more) serves in a single training session

mallorn
05-22-2006, 04:13 PM
From Reuters...Roger is saying Rafa is the favourite to win RG but he knows exactly how to beat him.

Federer accepts role of underdog in Paris

Mon May 22, 2006 3:56 PM BST

By Ben Harding

BARCELONA, May 22 (Reuters) - Roger Federer believes he is on the verge of beating claycourt rival Rafael Nadal but still rates the Spaniard as favourite for the French Open a week after losing their five-hour epic in Rome.

"I've never beaten him on clay but every time I've played him I've got closer and closer and I should have won in Rome... I really hope we do play (in Paris)," the 24-year-old Swiss told reporters at the Laureus World Sports awards on Monday.

"He's going to be the big, big favourite for the French Open," the world number one added.

Asked what more he needed to do to beat Nadal, Federer said: "Nothing more. I should have won. I was one shot away."

Both Federer and 19-year-old Nadal pulled out of the Hamburg Masters after the Spaniard saved two match points to win an exhausting five-hour Rome Masters final to claim his fourth successive victory over Federer.

"It was one of the most memorable matches in my career, playing for such a long time against a player like Rafael who plays so well on clay. That was a big boost knowing that I can handle him," Federer said.

"I need to play him a little more often to figure him out, and that's what I've had."

Federer is up for the Laureus Sportsman of the Year award in Barcelona after winning the same title in Estoril 12 months ago. He holds the U.S. Open, Australian Open and Wimbledon titles, but has never won the French Open which starts on Sunday. As last year the powerful frame of Nadal, the defending champion, is likely to be his greatest obstacle to glory at Roland Garros.

"I would think it's between the two of us, maybe (Argentina's David) Nalbandian as an outsider ... or the ones who won other tournaments on clay like (Spaniard Tommy) Robredo in Hamburg," Federer said.

If Federer can win in Paris, he would become the first man to hold all four grand slams at the same time since Australia's Rod Laver in 1969. Federer said he was glad of the rest after pulling out of Hamburg.

"I was defending champion and really ready to play but after the final against Rafael, the five hours we played plus the semis ... it really took too much out of me.

"I got sick too, a little bit, a sore throat and a cold, so it was definitely the right choice not to play. Now I feel fine. I'm on good form."

http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=tennisNews&storyID=2006-05-22T145630Z_01_L22605798_RTRIDST_0_SPORT-TENNIS-FEDERER-QUOTES.XML&pageNumber=0&imageid=&cap=&sz=13&WTModLoc=2

NaDALiTa
05-22-2006, 05:09 PM
from the moment in which federer is the world number one...he is the favorite, that's what Tony Nadal says and he is right !!

Federer should record his declarations...he always tell the same thing !!!

mallorn
05-23-2006, 12:09 PM
from the moment in which federer is the world number one...he is the favorite, that's what Tony Nadal says and he is right !!
Yeah, I can definitely see why Rafa has always said Roger is the favourite - with his ranking, records and results it's hard to see him as anything but the favourite. Rafa has never denied he can beat Roger, in fact he's said the opposite, but he realises who he's up against and he's always said that he must play really well to have a chance.

I think there was only one match they played where it could be truly said Rafa was the favourite, and that was Rome, because Rafa was playing well and had just won MC. In MC we didn't really know what to expect because Roger played a great tournament while Rafa struggled (before the final). And look what happened in Rome, now we're back to not knowing what to expect next. :lol:

What's funny to me is that in that article I posted above Roger says Rafa is the "big, big favourite", only to add that he knows exactly how to beat him, that he should've won Rome, that he's getting closer and closer, and that he "can handle him." Make up your mind, Roger - Rafa's a big, big favourite or you're one shot away from victory? :lol:

Personally, I'd say they are both favourites at the moment, and there is very little separating them. The past is the past, and whoever has better form in RG will probably win.

Federer should record his declarations...he always tell the same thing !!!
To be fair to athletes, who sometimes come across as...hmmm...shall we say dull and repetitive, they get asked the same questions over and over again, so no wonder their answers always sound the same. It must be such a boring job, those press conferences. Why can't reporters ask more imaginative/original questions from time to time? :shrug:

mallorn
05-23-2006, 12:10 PM
Mr Bill Barclay agrees with me that Rafa should be able to handle the pressure of defending RG. ;)

From Reuters:
Expectation unlikely to weigh down buoyant Nadal

Tue May 23, 2006 8:33 AM GMT
By Bill Barclay

LONDON (Reuters) - A year after he stepped into Roland Garros as a hopeful debutant, Rafael Nadal will return to the French Open with the tag of favourite flapping round his neck.

The Spanish teenager made light of his inexperience last year to win his first grand slam and his astonishing transformation from apprentice to master on clay suggests he will thrive on the added burden of expectation this time around.

Nadal will turn 20 during the tournament, which starts on Sunday, but he has long since matured into the only player capable of ousting Roger Federer from the pinnacle of the men's game.

Nadal boasts a 5-1 win-loss record against the Swiss world number one and has beaten him in all three of their claycourt contests, including the finals of the Monte Carlo and Rome Masters events this year.

At Roland Garros last year, he beat the Swiss in the semi-finals.

It is a record that engenders confidence, but definitely not complacency.

"I just have one grand slam, for example. Federer has how many, seven?" was Nadal's response following the breathtaking five-set win in Rome when he saved two match points.

"He's a great champion and he has won very many tougher matches. He's definitely better than any other player at the moment."

MORE AGGRESSIVE

Nadal is astute enough to have recognised that Federer is closing the gap between the two, having adopted a more attacking approach, notably on his backhand, in Rome compared to Monte Carlo the previous month.

"I think Federer was maybe tougher to beat. He's more aggressive," the Spaniard noted.

Aggression is key to Nadal's game and he exudes a level of intensity on the court that no-one else on tour can match.

The result is that the Mallorcan is better known this year for his awesome statistics rather than the bandana, sleeveless top and pirate pants that make him such an arresting sight on court.

Nadal's streak has brought him a record-equalling 53 consecutive claycourt victories so far and he looks certain to surpass Argentine Guillermo Vilas's 1977 mark in the first round at Roland Garros.

However, his withdrawal due to fatigue from the Hamburg Masters last week means he cannot quite surpass Bjorn Borg's record of 16 titles as a teenager. Nadal turns 20 on June 3, the middle Saturday at Roland Garros.

Time may have caught up with him on that regard but so far on clay no-one else has.
http://za.today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=sportsNews&storyID=2006-05-23T063310Z_01_ALL323569_RTRIDST_0_OZASP-TENNIS-OPEN-NADAL-20060523.XML

MariaV
05-23-2006, 12:13 PM
Oh gosh!!!!!!! :o :o I haven't been here to wish Rafa good luck at RG yet? What a bad bad fan. ;)
Anyway, I'm sure he'll do just fine. VAMOS!!!!!!!! :bigclap: :bounce: :yippee: :dance:

MariaV
05-23-2006, 12:19 PM
And finally ;) my favourite picture from last year's tournament.

http://img20.imageshack.us/img20/7601/1225820pw.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

BUENA SUERTE, Rafa! :)
Oh yeah, that's beautiful. :hearts: :inlove:

16681
05-24-2006, 06:46 PM
Oh my I hadn't gotten here for a while either and then to be greeted by great articles and a lovely Rafa picture--what more can I ask for?
That's right you guessed it another win at RG :) Vamos Rafa :woohoo:

mallorn
05-25-2006, 08:17 AM
News translated by nou.amic of vr.com:
Rafa Nadal is already practising with the balls to be used at Roland Garros

THE HIGH BOUNCE IS IN HIS FAVOUR... AND FEDERER'S, TOO

By Joan Solsona

Ever since Rafael Nadal won the Rome tournament, he has had one thought in his mind: Roland Garros. Because of this, last week he began training with the official balls that will be used at Roland Garros. "We've had a couple of sessions and the ball bounces a lot, which favours Rafa's game... and Federer's as well," stated Toni Nadal.

For the two leaders of the ATP tour base part of their game on the effect they put on the ball. "In the Rome final, Federer gave us a lot of problems with his second serve that opens the court. He also gets great effect on his forehand," explained Rafa's mentor.

Clay court specialists play with their racket head held very high and do not have problems returning when the ball rises up off the ground. Nadal especially likes the Penn ATP balls that are used in the Masters Series because they have a high bounce. Last year, he won four TMS and he is on the way to equalling this in 2006 after his victories in Monte Carlo and Rome.

While Federer was training on the Philippe Chartier court after having collected his Laureus Award for best sportsman in 2005, Nadal, who also won an award at the sports 'Oscar' ceremony, was doing a physical training session in Mallorca with his physical therapist Juan Martorell.
Original Spanish report:
http://www.marca.com/edicion/marca/tenis/es/desarrollo/652078.html

mallorn
05-25-2006, 08:58 AM
A humorous preview of RG for a change. ;)
Best part of tennis starts with French kiss

JAY CLARK, Packet columnist
Published Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Who doesn't love Paris in the springtime? If you answered Nicole Richie ... touché, and quit watching the E! Channel.

Two words to get you surfing elsewhere -- Ryan Seacrest. However, for tennis fans and disappointed ESPN2 browsers looking for hot dog eating contests (quick, someone enter Nicole and Teri Hatcher), the end of May means their television screens will soon be filled with the unmistakable orange color of red clay. The French Open is here, and Grand Slam season is upon us.

Allez! Vamos!

Trainer! Bathroom break!

Those who subscribe to the tennis channel already have witnessed some great tournaments leading up to Roland Garros. For those who don't, or who more likely can't because of uncooperative cable companies, the Australian guy actually won The World Series of Poker a year ago.

Anyway, quickly skipping over Tommy Robredo's confounding victory at the Hamburg Masters event last week, how about the five-hour Rafael Nadal-Roger Federer classic at the Italian Open, in which Nadal pulled through in five close sets? Federer is probably still pouting to Tony Roche. Roche, in all his age and wisdom, is probably wondering, "Where am I? I thought I was going to Shady Pines."

If there is a silver lining for R-Fed, it is that Nadal can't pull a Federer and accuse Federer's camp of on-court coaching. Roche is half asleep and Mirka (her?) has all the facial expression of a Steffi Graf scrapbook collage.

Anything short of a rematch between these Nike-dressed foes on the second Sunday of the fortnight would be a disappointment. Let's keep the Tommy Robredo Adidas stripes out of there, and throw in Nadia Petrova for good measure. Otherwise, Roche won't be the only one sleeping.

Martina Hingis's win this past week in the Italian Open women's event certainly adds some much needed intrigue to the forthcoming women's draw sheet. This put the final stamp of validation on her LL Cool J "Don't call it a comeback" comeback tour. Venus Williams has also taken a break from taking a break and has strung together some recent clay court wins.

And for anyone concerned by the guttural choking noises already emanating from court Suzanne Lenglen, that's just current number one Amelie Mauresmo translating her Grand Slam success into a home crowd performance reminiscent of the great Jana Novotna.

One of the big stories in Paris will certainly be whether she can hold her nerve. But Justine Henin-Hardenne appears to be in Irritable Bowel Syndrome remission, so her path won't be as easy as Australia.

Despite all the negative talk in tennis of topics like steroids, medieval prize money distribution practices and an American tennis meltdown, there is nothing quite like the late spring to late summer Roland Garros, Wimbledon, U.S. Open trifecta. With this commencement of the year's most important tournaments comes a sense of optimism about our sport.

Anything can happen. Careers can be made and broken in the course of three months. This is the kind of excitement that makes people want to dust off that Dunlop metal contraption from the decades of lore and go play again. Now if the sport could carry some of this momentum into the rest of the season, it might make ESPN think twice about that 23rd poker repeat.

No program beats tennis 23 times in a row.
http://www.islandpacket.com/editorial/col/clark/story/5762371p-5153464c.html

Castafiore
05-25-2006, 10:32 AM
I enjoyed your long post, mallorn!

The good news is Rafa got a taste of Roger's changed strategy and he has the time to come up with a solution (and fine tune his passing shots, which surprisingly let him down in Rome). Of course, knowing what to expect and actually dealing with it are two different things (right, Roger?), but at least he won't be caught completely off guard.
That's a good thing I took away from the Rome final as well. Rafa has had a look at the changed strategy and he had two weeks to analyse it.
People always say that Roger is figuring out Nadal but that goes in two ways...Rafa is learning a thing or two as well.

Roger seems absolutely furious about the losses, even to the point of slightly losing control of his behaviour. I don't think it's to his disadvantage; he used to be nervous about playing Rafa, and now there seems to be this cold rage in him, which, judging by the last match, is better for him. Now I could be wrong (again) but I had a feeling Rafa too was furious - about the attack on Toni. The fact that Rafa, who is always so diplomatic and almost reverential about Rogelio, said Fed should learn how to lose, indicates to me that the accusation really stung him. It'll be very interesting to see what kind of effect, if any, this will have on Rafa.
Me too. Jeez....that cold stare from Roger after the Monte Carlo final and after the Rome final (and I don't really blame him for that...I wouldn't be able to smile, that much I can tell...I'm not that much of a gracious loser myself. You should see me when I lose playing monopoly or something like that, throwing fits, accusing people of cheating. ;)...I'm the racquet smashing/fits throwing type...sometimes in a McEnroe way: lets throw a fit and see if that helps to put the opponent out of concentration)



Well, all this talk of Roger and Rafa. They both have a lot of matches to play before a final and I actually think that BOTH of them are beatable. There are a few guys who can manage an upset.


Vamos RAFA!

MariaV
05-25-2006, 10:58 AM
LMAO! Racket throwing the MARAT way, Castafiore, the MARAT way is the right way, not Johnny Mac. ;)

About the ... stuff. I'm not gonna comment any more right now. Just that NOT a Fed-Rafa megafinal it would be a HUGE disappointment for all the media .... and for me too ... I'd say. Unless one of my other faves were involved. :o :o
Take care girls & boys. :wavey:

mallorn
05-25-2006, 04:10 PM
Castafiore, you made me laugh on this grey day, thanks. :lol:

Maria knows all about the racket throwing, poor thing. :hug: ;)

I agree that a final without either Rafa or Roger would be kind of disappointing (particularly without Rafa :p ) but the media would only have themselves to blame. They seem to be forgetting there are many matches to be played and they keep going on about one thing and one thing only: The Rivalry.

Which, BTW, Roger now admits exists. ;) But like Rafa, he's focusing on the early rounds first.

From The Guardian:
Thoughts of a Nadal showdown can wait, says Federer

PARIS, May 25 (Reuters) - World number one Roger Federer has said it is too early for him to even consider a possible showdown with defending champion Rafael Nadal at the French Open.

"The rivalry with Nadal is a wonderful story," Federer told French sports daily L'Equipe on Thursday.

"But right now, I am focusing on the early rounds and on my own game," the 24-year-old Swiss added. "Because the first players I'm going to meet are very different from Nadal."

Federer arrives in Paris aiming to capture the only grand slam title he has yet to win, but faces the prospect of having to defeat a player who boasts a 5-1 winning record against the seven times major winner.

With the Swiss and the Spaniard taking the top two seeds, they cannot meet before the final in Roland Garros, which starts on Sunday.

Despite being ranked the lower of the two, Nadal has developed quite a stranglehold on Federer this season, beating him in finals at Dubai, Monte Carlo and Rome.

The last two victories were on clay, a surface on which the Spaniard has built an unbeaten run of 53 straight matches to equal Guillermo Vilas' claycourt record set 29 years ago.

Undaunted, Federer said he was relishing the challenge as it was a way for him to improve.

"It has been a long time since I had to ask myself the question 'how can I beat this opponent?'," he said.

"But I think my best chance of winning here will come either this year or in the next few."
http://sport.guardian.co.uk/breakingnews/feedstory/0,,-5844679,00.html

Is it just me or is Roger getting more modest by the minute? :lol:


ETA: I think Rafa is already in Paris. He's scheduled to practise at 7 pm.

mallorn
05-25-2006, 04:33 PM
From Charles Bricker's Sun Sentinel blog:
On to Paris

Funny. The sky was a brilliant blue and the sun was hinting at an 80-degree day when I left Avignon in the south of France on Thursday morning. When I stepped off the train at Gare de Lyon in the east end of Paris two and a half hours later the sky was cloudy and there was the occasional dripping of light rain.

That certainly wasn't the weather Roger Federer was hoping for when he went on the stadium court with young Frenchman Gilles Simon at 11 a.m. for a practice session, and it wasn't a good two hours for Fed.

He needs faster conditions to suit his aggressive game and, though I've no doubt he can handle just about anyone on clay, no matter the speed of the court, he'd like to get a solid groove here when play begins Sunday.

Almost everyone who is planning to play the French is here now, including defending champion Rafael Nadal, who went on the stadium at 7 p.m. for a late afternoon session. Late afternoon? In Paris, oui. That's late afternoon because the sun doesn't set here until about 10 -- about the time you're sitting down to dinner.

Thursday was one of those days where you're never quite ready to take off the sweatshirt, but that's Paris. Friday, it could be toasty. Saturday, it could be sweltering.

The draw will be pulled Friday with, of course, the usual overdone French ceremony. They take an hour to get this done, announcing each name from the shuffled chips on a table or in a vase, with the names duly recorded on an oversized drawsheet.

It's interesting when you see it for the first time. It's mildly amusing the second time. By the third time, it's a bore. Why can't they do what they do at the U.S. Open. Plug in the names quickly and hurry it onto the website.

And if you're interested in the French Open website, it's rolandgarros.com
http://blogs.sun-sentinel.com/sports_tennis/2006/05/on_to_paris.html

Castafiore
05-25-2006, 04:55 PM
Racket throwing the MARAT way, Castafiore, the MARAT way is the right way, not Johnny Mac. ;)
I know...Safin does it with "panache" and when JMac did it, it was more a :o moment, wasn't it?

Somehow, when Safin does it, he usually gets away with it. I have no idea how he does that.
When JMac used to do it, you could hear a lot of people moan "oh, grow up".

I don't play monopoly that often anymore - because it usually ends ugly in an "oh, grow up" kind of way. :o

mallorn
05-25-2006, 05:53 PM
Finally a decent preview rather than the usual hype about the rivalry. From Sports Central:
Thursday, May 25, 2006

French Open Preview: Nadal Repeat?

By Ricky Dimon

Some years, magic happens at Roland Garros. Small miracles of sorts. Often, a champion emerges that leaves even the most passionate of tennis fans asking, "Who in the name of Gustavo Kuerten is he?"

In 1997, Kuerten was that miracle. The unseeded and relatively-unknown Brazilian shocked the tennis world that year by reaching the French Open final and erasing veteran clay-court specialist Sergi Bruguera in straight sets to win the title.

While Albert Costa had already made a name for himself on the ATP Tour by 2002, his triumph that year at Roland Garros was nothing short of shocking. Once again, an unseeded player toppled a heavily-favored opponent (this time the victim was Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero) in the championship match.

The same sort of miracle graced the French Open in 2004. Unseeded Argentine Gaston Gaudio rolled through the likes of Lleyton Hewitt and David Nalbandian en route to a final clash with countryman Guillermo Coria. At the time, Coria dominated the clay the way Rafael Nadal does now. Five sets later, after squandering a two-set lead and two match points in the fifth set, Coria was reduced to just another victim of Roland Garros magic. On the other side of the coin, Gaudio entered the tournament destined to be forgotten by history, but left a history-maker.

Of course, in other years, the champion has been exactly who we anticipated. Following his stunner in 1997, Kuerten slowly evolved into a clay-court force with whom the Roland Garros faithful fell in love. By the turn of the century, with no French hometown hero as a true contender, he was the man the crowd rooted for and expected to win. He did just that in both 2000 and 2001.

At the 2003 French Open, Ferrero was No. 3 in the world, but easily the top clay-court player. He finally realized his potential and erased the disappointment of falling to Costa the previous year.

And we all remember what happened last year, when Spanish sensation Rafael Nadal rode a tidal wave of momentum into the French Open by dominating the clay-court season. As expected, he could not be stopped at Roland Garros.

Lest we forget, however, even when the odds-on favorite has triumphed at the French Open, the magic is never lost. When Ferrero won in 2003, the runner-up was Dutch giant Martin Verkerk. I must admit I had never heard of him before that tournament. Not once. He had done nothing before, and has done nothing since. Adding to the shock factor is that Verkerk's game was best-suited for grass — clay should have been his worst surface. His run to the 2003 French Open final is something that can never be explained — it was truly a miracle.

Similarly, little-known and now-forgotten Mario Puerta stormed into last year's championship match and gave Nadal everything he could handle. Like Verkerk, Puerta had done absolutely nothing before his coming out party at Roland Garros. And all he has done since is test positive for performance-enhancing drugs (his second offense) and get banned for eight years from the ATP tour.

Needless to say, the forecast for what will take place at Roland Garros is never clear. Sometimes it calls for a miracle, other times it calls for the old reliables to put the upstarts in their place. It's impossible to know, but here is my best shot at a preview for the 2006 French Open.

Contenders

Rafael Nadal — He has won a record 53-straight matches on clay. He is three-for-three in clay-court tournaments this year, including Masters Series titles in Monte Carlo and Rome. Not only is he playing better than anyone else at the moment, but Nadal has also learned to play the big points better than anyone else (see: Rome final against Roger Federer when he saved two match points in the fifth set). Of course, at this year's French Open, he may not face any crucial points unless he plays Federer in the championship. Right now, Federer is the only player who can stay on a clay court with the Spaniard. Nadal is the overwhelming favorite to win the tournament and should not be bet against at any cost.

Roger Federer — Overall, he's still the best player in the game, although Nadal always gets hyped up during the clay-court season. At any other Grand Slam tournament — especially Wimbledon — Federer would be an even bigger favorite than Nadal is here. As the top two seeds, Federer and Nadal will be on opposite sides of the draw, so Roger should get to the finals. If Nadal somehow gets bounced along the way, Federer would instantly become the favorite, but even he does go up against Nadal in the championship, his showing in Rome proves he still has a legitimate chance.

David Nalbandian — In my mind, he is definitely the third choice to win the tournament. The Argentine won the year-end Masters Cup last year in a five-set epic over Federer, and the momentum has carried over into 2006. He has a whopping 24-6 record for the year, including a semi-final appearance at the Australian Open. Without question, Nalbandian is unfazed on tennis's grandest stages. He has also been thriving on clay as of late. He won three weeks ago in Estoril, and had strong showings at both Rome and Monte Carlo, losing in three sets to Federer and Tommy Robredo, respectively. Nalbandian should be seeded third at Roland Garros, so he can avoid Nadal and Federer until the semis.

Tommy Robredo — He is coming off the biggest win of his career, crushing Radek Stepanek in straight sets to win the Masters Series Hamburg on Sunday. Robredo certainly benefited from the absence of Nadal and Federer, but he still had quality wins over David Ferrer and Mario Ancic, in addition to his domination of Stepanek. The Spaniard also reached the quarterfinals of Monte Carlo (lost to Gaudio) and the finals of Barcelona, where he gave Nadal a decent match. Robredo is playing the best tennis of his life right now, and if he receives a favorable draw (i.e., avoiding you know who), he can do some serious damage.

Pretenders

Since "pretender" is synonymous with "American" at Roland Garros, I'll just put all the notable American players in this category. Hey, it's exactly where they belong.

Andy Roddick — I remember a few years ago when Roddick lost to Nadal in the Davis Cup final on clay and I considered it an upset. All I can do now is laugh hysterically at myself for thinking that. Roddick stinks on clay. He's played two tournaments on the red stuff this year and has produced no notable results. Tommy Haas took him out in Houston in early April, and 19-year-old Gael Monfils erased him in two uncontested sets in Rome. Adding insult to injury, Roddick has not even played well on the hard courts this year. His loss to Marcos Baghdatis in Australia is somewhat explicable (the Cypriot was unconscious the entire two weeks), but losses to David Ferrer, Igor Andreev, and Julien Benneteau are simply unforgivable. He'll be gone the first time he sees a seeded player, if not before.

James Blake — He's actually playing decent tennis right now and is really the only hope for an American man to get past the third round. Blake has had his fair share of clay-court disasters in the past, though, so advancing well into the second week would be a stunner.

Robby Ginepri — He's won three times in 2006 ... I'm talking about matches, not tournaments.

Taylor Dent — Please.

Mardy Fish — Zzzzz.

Paul Goldstein, Vince Spadea — That's when you know it's time to stop analyzing.

Ripe For an Early Upset

Lleyton Hewitt — He just played his first match of the year on clay two days ago, and to say it did not go well would be the understatement of the season. The fiery Australian lost to someone named Marcos Daniel from Brazil. The rest of Hewitt's 2006 campaign hasn't been much better. He has reached the quarterfinals of the French Open twice, in 2001 and 2004. He won't get close to that far this time around.

Gaston Gaudio — He is lethal on clay, as we all saw in 2004. But Gaudio embodies the unpredictability of the French Open better than any other player. He could either win the tournament or lose in the first round. After losing to Robin Vik last week in a World Team Championships match, Gaudio said, "I think I have to start again from scratch. That's as bad as I'm playing at present. I am very frustrated and simply only bad on the court." Uh, sounds like a first round exit is the safer bet.

Guillermo Coria — He spared himself by withdrawing from the tournament. Coria cited an elbow injury, but more likely is that he understood how bad he was playing.

Miracle Workers?

David Ferrer — The Spaniard is ranked 15th in the world and clay is by far his best surface, so it would only be a miracle if he won the whole thing. Ferrer has the tools to do it, but probably lacks the mental game to survive two grueling weeks at Roland Garros. He's a good choice to reach the quarterfinals, but if he goes down a set to one of the big guns once he gets there, he'll probably go in the tank and not come out.

Jose Acasuso — Another clay-court specialist who will never do anything noteworthy on any other surface. But the Argentine has had a good summer on the dirt, and he gained some valuable experience last year at the French Open in beating Roddick on his way to the fourth round. Acasuso has stormed into the top 30 in the ATP rankings, so he should be seeded at this year's proceedings. That will spare some other seeded player a terrifying early-round matchup.

Nicolas Almagro — This probably evokes a who-in-the-name-of-Gustavo-Kuerten-is-he kind of response from most readers, as Almagro is a relative no-name despite his recent climb to No. 42 in the rankings. With any luck, however, the 20-year-old Spaniard will make his presence known at Roland Garros. His record in 2006 is a mind-boggling 17-6 and recently he's been as hot as the summer sun. So far on clay, he has reached the semis of Acapulco, the semis of Barcelona (lost to Nadal), and the quarters of Rome, where he lost to Federer 7-5 in the third set. Almagro also won his first ATP tournament in Valencia. Still, however, his ranking won't earn him a seed at the French. Sound the upset alert.

Bottom Line

The ingredients are there for a miracle of Kuertenian and Verkerkian proportions to take place once again on the hallowed grounds of Roland Garros. At the same time, however, the tournaments two biggest stars are more-than-capable of fending off the magic that the upstarts will attempt to throw at them.

So that leaves me with only one option for my fearless French Open predictions. On one half of the draw, I expect the unexpected. On the other half, order will be restored. Quite frankly, I am way too terrified (and also too smart) to pick against Nadal, so it will be Federer who bows out prematurely. Nadal, meanwhile, will storm through the field en route to the finals, where he will play the Martin Verkerk of 2006. Until the draw comes out, it is anyone's guess as to who that player will be.

What I do know, however, is that there's a reason why that player will be the "Martin Verkerk" of 2006 rather than the "Gaston Gaudio" of 2006.

Gaudio won the whole thing.

He didn't have to play Rafael Nadal in the finals.
http://www.sports-central.org/sports/2006/05/25/french_open_preview_nadal_repeat.php

The Daviator
05-26-2006, 12:42 AM
Good luck at RG Rafa :yeah:

Bagelicious
05-26-2006, 01:47 AM
That's a really good article. While RG is known for surprises, I think that a Fed-Rafa final is most likely. However, I agree that if there's an upset, it's more likely to be Roger who bows out early and not Nadal.

veyonce
05-26-2006, 09:02 AM
Telegraph

Federer fired up for the 'Roger and Rafa show'
By Mark Hodgkinson
(Filed: 26/05/2006)

Play on the crushed brick of Roland Garros will start on a Sunday for the first time this weekend, a move largely designed to please television executives.

And yet the money-men of the small screen should probably be more animated about the prospect of the third Sunday's tennis, and the glorious possibility of the next full-length episode of the 'Roger and Rafa Show'.

Everyone in tennis wants to see a final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Probably even Federer. Switzerland's world No 1 would dearly love to defeat Nadal to win the only grand slam title that has so far eluded him.

He could hardly have been more defiant yesterday about his chances against Nadal, undermining suggestions in the tennis world that Spain's world No 2, the defending champion in Paris, had "got into my mind".

Twice Federer has been defeated by Nadal on clay this season, at the Monte Carlo Masters in April and the Rome Masters earlier this month, having previously lost to him this year on the Dubai cement. Federer has lost to Nadal in five of their six career meetings, including their first encounter on red dirt in last year's semi-finals at Roland Garros.

But Federer indicated that the thought of a showdown with the young Spaniard does not scare him. Far from it.

"It could get into my mind," he said. "I could start thinking, 'I can't play against this guy, his game doesn't suit me'. I could start accepting the fact that I have been losing against him, but that would be a bad thing for me to do."

Instead Federer suggested that he is edging ever closer to defeating Nadal on clay, pointing to the fact that he held two match-points against him in Rome.

"I know I can wait for the day when I beat Nadal. I've surprised myself how much I've improved since Dubai, as when I played him in Monte Carlo and in Rome. I always felt that I played a bit better.

"It's also important for me to know, going into the French Open, that I can cope with such a weird-playing leftie," he said.

"With the lead that I have in the rankings [Federer has 7,010 points compared with Nadal's 4,545] Nadal must expect that on any given day I can beat him. That's definitely my advantage, that over the years I've created this confidence in myself, that no matter how badly a guy beats me up I know that I can come back.

"I've sent out a message in the last couple of matches. I really feel that I should have won that match in Rome. And I like to be challenged. It keeps me ready."

Victory in Paris would make Federer only the sixth man to win all four grand slams. He would also become the first man, since Australian Rod Laver in 1969, to hold all four titles at the same time, and keep alive the possibility of doing the calendar grand slam.



http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/main.jhtml?view=DETAILS&grid=&xml=/sport/2006/05/26/stfede26.xml

mallorn
05-26-2006, 10:28 AM
Here's the draw, courtesy of MadAliceCudlip of vr.com
http://img137.imageshack.us/img137/9879/draw21cj.th.jpg (http://img137.imageshack.us/my.php?image=draw21cj.jpg)

Rafa's first matches should be OK, but he's got Almagro, Blake, Safin and Gonzalez in his quarter. Plus he's got 12 (twelve!) Frenchmen in his half of the draw.

MariaV
05-26-2006, 10:37 AM
Naah, not that bad. Gonzo has shoulder problems or other injury problems, but will still take out Marat in the 1st, the French are not tough enough, and he can handle the likes of Almagro and GGL. :D
Good luck Rafael! All the way to the final and victory! :banana: :yippee: :bigclap: :bounce:

mallorn
05-26-2006, 10:39 AM
Maria, Marat's draw sucks big time, but I wouldn't put it past him to take out Gonzo. Remember, he wins when no one expects him to! :lol:

MariaV
05-26-2006, 10:44 AM
Maria, Marat's draw sucks big time, but I wouldn't put it past him to take out Gonzo. Remember, he wins when no one expects him to! :lol:
:tape: :tape: Well, this time I'm REALLY not expecting him to win so I'll be calm(er) ... hopefully. Gonzo's been doing too well lately for going down to Marat. Marat cannot get fit in 2 weeks, he lacks basic fitness he missed at the season's preparation and I wonder when/if he'll be able to get back to any sort of form. :o Enough of Marat topic here. At least he won't play Rafa. :wavey:

MariaV
05-26-2006, 11:52 AM
If someone hasn't seen it a the official RG site.
Open secrets (V)
By Benjamin Waldbaum and Andrew Lilley
Thursday, May 25, 2006

Rafael's return
The tournament is now only three days away, and the big names are beginning to pour into Roland Garros. The courts were packed as early as 9am, with world number ones Roger Federer and Amélie Mauresmo joining James Blake, Marcos Baghdatis, Marat Safin, Daniela Hantuchova, Ana Ivanovic, Paul-Henri Mathieu, Andy Murray, Gaël Monfils and Fabrice Santoro on the Parisian clay. Perhaps the real talking point was the arrival of the respective world number twos, however. Kim Clijsters knocked up on n°2 court for an hour, while current men's champion Rafael Nadal went straight to Philippe Chatrier court for a session with Carlos Moya towards the end of the afternoon.

mallorn
05-26-2006, 03:06 PM
Thanks to scoobsuk and jenanun who said that Rafa will be doing the ATP Blog from Paris. :D

This info came in their Fantasy Tennis update email:

http://atpfantasytennis06.enetpulse.com/images.mail/20060526/fantasy_email_3_07.jpg

I hope it won't be one distraction too many for Rafa! ;)

MariaV
05-26-2006, 03:19 PM
OMG Ahhh ahhhh *getting a panic attack* :eek: :eek:
Isn't this too much for him, I mean especially at RG??? :eek: :scared: :unsure: :scared: :unsure:

silver7
05-26-2006, 03:21 PM
Vamos Rafa!
Defend your title!!:)

mallorn
05-26-2006, 03:24 PM
^^^ Sometimes I get the impression that Rafa doesn't know how to say NO. :lol:

He's had a lot of distractions lately, no doubt about it. :(

He should be OK though, I doubt he'll put as much effort into this as Dima. He'll probably be recorded and someone will translate and post what he said. :shrug:

mallorn
05-26-2006, 08:09 PM
From Rafa's press conference earlier today, from MSNBC:
Nadal gets animated over coaching question

Spaniard says uncle is not illegally giving him instructions during matches

Updated: 3:52 p.m. ET May 26, 2006

PARIS - If Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are going to build a rivalry for the ages, it wouldn’t hurt the TV ratings or buzz factor if there were a bit of animosity — or at least a difference of opinion. Well, it looks like they’ve got the latter.

Both usually say all the right things about the other’s talent and place in the game, but a touch of tension arises when it comes to Federer’s contention that Nadal is getting coaching help during matches, something against the rules on the tennis tour.

The topic was raised Friday with Nadal after the French Open draw, in which both players appeared to avoid tough early matchups.

Asked whether his uncle and coach, Toni, provides in-match instruction, something Federer charged after losing their Rome Masters final this month, the reigning French Open champion gave the longest and most animated response of his news conference.

“If my uncle didn’t receive a warning in Rome, it must be because he was abiding by the rules,” Nadal said. “If my uncle was truly giving me coaching tips, he would have gotten a warning. All he was doing was spurring me on, saying, 'Vamos!' (Let’s go!) 'Venga!' (Come on!) 'Con fuerza!’ (Go for it!).”

Nadal said his uncle does the same sort of thing as “every coach in the world, or at least 90 percent of them,” adding that he thinks the rulebook needs updating.

“Explain to me: What kind of rule is this that coaches can’t say anything during a match? In what other sport does that happen?” he asked.

“I mean, you are paying your coach and taking him to Australia to have him do this during the matches?”

At that, Nadal rose from his chair to stand with arms crossed and lips sealed, turning his head from side to side like a spectator following the path of a ball back-and-forth over the net.

“That can’t be,” he said. “These are things that need to change.”

Otherwise, Nadal was quite deferential when talking about Federer, who’ll open his bid to complete a non-calendar Grand Slam on Sunday.

“I know he’s No. 1. He’s the best,” Nadal said. “He can beat me in every surface, any match.”

Really? Nadal is 5-1 against Federer over their careers, including a win in last year’s Roland Garros semifinals and the 5-hour Rome final. After the most recent loss, Federer said about Toni Nadal: “He was coaching a little bit too much again today. Yeah, I caught him in the act.”

So, is it a rivalry?

“We still haven’t played enough yet. Sometimes, a rivalry needs a win and a loss, a win and a loss. That’s not what’s been really going on,” Federer said. “He’s only been on tour for a couple of years. I think it’s heading into a very nice direction for tennis by having a player like him on tour.”

Nadal, who turns 20 next week, will play Robin Soderling of Sweden in the first round. A victory would be the Spaniard’s 54th in a row on clay, breaking the Open era record he shares with Guillermo Vilas.

“It’s amazing what he’s doing, it’s historic,” said No. 8-seeded James Blake, in the top 10 at a major for the first time.

The possible men’s quarterfinals are: Federer vs. No. 7 Tommy Robredo of Spain, Nadal vs. Blake, No. 5 Andy Roddick vs. No. 4 Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia, and Nalbandian vs. No. 6 Nikolay Davydenko of Russia.

Roddick is hoping to recover from an ankle injury, while Blake faces a potentially rough start, with big hitter Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand in the first round, followed by clay-court expert Nicolas Almagro of Spain.

Many figure the June 11 men’s final will be Roger vs. Rafa, a meeting between men ranked Nos. 1-2 and winners of the past four majors.

“I hope, obviously, I’m in the finals,” Blake said. “If I’m not, as a tennis fan, I’m hoping those two are, to see their rivalry continue.”

That forecast got a boost Friday, when past French Open champions Gaston Gaudio, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Carlos Moya all wound up in No. 3 David Nalbandian’s quarter.

Two-time major champion Marat Safin — unseeded and a candidate to fall anywhere in the draw — is in Nadal’s half, but not until the quarterfinal stage. No. 9 Fernando Gonzalez drew Safin in the first round. Another intriguing opening match pits two 19-year-olds pegged as future stars: No. 25 Gael Monfils of France vs. Andy Murray of Britain.

The women’s final eight could be: No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo of France vs. Venus Williams, No. 2 Kim Clijsters of Belgium vs. Martina Hingis, No. 3 Nadia Petrova of Russia vs. defending champion Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium, and No. 4 Maria Sharapova vs. No. 8 Svetlana Kuznetsova.

The woman Henin-Hardenne beat in last year’s final, Mary Pierce, pulled out of the tournament because of a right foot injury that’s kept her off tour since February.

“I don’t feel 100 percent ready to be competitive at this tournament,” said Pierce, the 2000 French Open champion. “I don’t know when I will compete again.”
http://msnbc.msn.com/id/12992349/

mallorn
05-27-2006, 09:11 AM
Very nice interview again, translated by Moondancer! :hug: :worship:
Interview with Sport24.com

« Federer is the number one »

Rafael Nadal is logically the big favourite. The Spaniard is looking to prolong his title. Interview.

By Guillaume Serres
At Roland-Garros

Sport24.com : Rafael, you come here this year as the title holder. Do you think that you will manage to repeat last year's tournament?
Rafael Nadal: I will try my best but you never know. If I play my best tennis, I think that I can win but it will be difficult.

Sport24.com: Last year, you were a young man taking part in your first Roland Garros. This year, the situation is different because you come here as the best player on this surface. Is the pressure different?
RN: We don’t share the same vision on things. Last year, when I came here, everybody was telling me: “you are the favourite”. Last year, I won and it was very hard.
Now, I have won it. This is important since it allows me to be more calm coming here. The pressure I feel is not different than what Federer, Gaudio, Moya or others must be going through…I’m training well and it’s my goal to play well from my first match. But, I’d like to remind you that it is not normal to win everything. That is not normal (laughter).

Sport24.com: Why are you so strong on clay?
RN: I think that I fight all the time. I play every shot at the maximum, I play every ball, every point at 100%. I don’t make a lot of errors and that’s important on clay. Beyond that, you’ll have to ask the experts who analyse my game. Me, I don’t know…

Sport24.com : You are only one win away from a new record of consecutive victories on clay, that you share with Guillermo Villas (red: 53 wins). Does that inspire you?
RN: I feel some form of joy thinking about beating that record. I'm head-to head with Vilas at the moment but there’s still one win to get. I will do my best, not to beat that record, but during the entire Roland Garros. I have a difficult first round against Robin Soderling. I will try to do my best during that match.

Sport24.com: After the Rome final, your last official match in two weeks, Roger Federer complained that you were being coached by your uncle Tony. What’s your opinion?
RN: The court. I have nothing to add to that.

Sport24.com: In Rome, Roger Federer was very close to beating you. Has this changed your state of mind? Are you in more doubt now?
RN (agitated): Each time, people tell me that Roger is more and more close to me. But Roger is the number one, not me! It’s me that’s getting more close to him and who has to do the catching up. In Monte Carlo this year, he was leading 4-1 in the tie break, in Dubai, the first set was nearly all him. Same with Rome. All the matches are tough against Roger, not only in Rome…

Sport24.com: But you win each time. Is it that it could have put you off balance, knowing that he’s so close?
RN: I stayed positive in my head. I always have a good attitude but he’s well and truly the world number one.

Sport24.com: To conclude, can you tell us what the difference is between the Nadal who’s there on that screen (with the trophy of 2005) and the one who is sitting on that chair?
RN: no difference, it’s the same.
http://www.sport24.com/sport24_article_actualite_sportive_tennis__roland_ garros___de_nos_envoyes_speciaux__federer_est_le_n umero_1__8686.html

mallorn
05-27-2006, 09:15 AM
The same press conference was the basis of this article from The Mercury News:
Posted on Fri, May. 26, 2006

Nadal, Federer getting testy in rivalry

BY CHARLES BRICKER
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

PARIS - Two days before the Sunday start of the French Open, the enormously popular defending champion Rafael Nadal seems to be everywhere, including deep within the psyche of World No. 1 Roger Federer, whose throne he rocks as no one else in tennis can.

There are still 15 days and six opponents to conquer before these two young, most luminous stars of the ATP tour could play each other for the seventh time and for the third time this year in a final.

But that's the match almost everyone tracking this Grand Slam wants to see - the man many already have anointed the greatest player in history against the powerful teenager from Mallorca, whose infectious personality and record-tying 53-match clay-court win streak have combined to make him the most commercially desirable player in men's tennis.

If Federer had been able to win more than one of these classic matches, this rivalry might be more amiable.

He hasn't, and a soft but palpable tension is beginning to pervade the two camps, apparently coming entirely from Federer, who has now lost four times in a row to Nadal, and five of their six confrontations overall, including last year's French Open semifinal.

There are two sources of Federer's increasing irritation. First, his inability to find a way to beat this one player, despite having two match points two weeks ago in Rome, and missing both times off his famous forehand side.

Second, his uncharacteristic complaint after the Rome final that Nadal's brother, http://www.cosgan.de/images/smilie/konfus/k020.gifTony, was coaching illegally from the player's box.

"He was coaching a little too much again today. Yeah, I caught him in the act," Federer told reporters, then went on to claim it wasn't the first time he's been annoyed.

"I told him (Tony Nadal) many times already, through the entire match in Monaco. But it seems like they don't keep a close enough eye on him."

Friday, Nadal refused to be drawn into the controversy. "The court is in the court," he begged off. "When anything pass in the court, that finish in the court. I don't have to say nothing about that, no?"

Whether or not Tony Nadal is shouting instructions in violation of the ATP rules in a match between these two goliaths of the game seems less significant than Federer's complaining about it.

It's likely that Federer's irritation is linked to his continuing failures against Nadal and to his uncompromising drive to win the French Open, the lone Grand Slam to escape him.

The two men met with reporters Friday with Federer pleasant, responsive but unsmiling and Nadal, who turns 20 on June 3, joking a bit, flashing his disarming, broad grin and displaying great respect for the man he has tormented.

"The press always say to me Roger is more close to you now. But Roger is the No. 1. I need to stay more closer than him, no?" he said, smiling.

There is no argument that Federer, who once won 24 consecutive finals, is No. 1 in the rankings, and by the prodigious margin of 2,465 points.

But there also is no argument about who is the king of clay. In the course of matching Guillermo Vilas' 53-match clay win streak, Nadal has won the past nine clay court tournaments he entered.

There are two key elements to Nadal's victories over Federer - speed and left-handed ground strokes.

Nadal's heavy forehand crosscourt shots bore in on Federer's backhand side, where he is less comfortable and, because he's such a great defender and retriever, Nadal is able to counter Roger's consistency.

There isn't a weakness in Federer's game, including a very fine serve. But his serve is less effective on clay, where the ball bites into the dirt and stands up more than races through the court.

After losing in four sets in the Monaco final on April 23, Federer decided he would be more aggressive off his backhand side and attack the net more at Rome, May 14.

That match went five hours and five sets and Federer not only had a 5-3 lead in the final-set tiebreak, but two match points. He hit one forehand into the net http://yelims4.free.fr/Pasdaccord/NonNon12.gif and the other long when he had a chance to seize control of those key points.

Was it bad luck or has Nadal gotten deep into Federer's emotional makeup? It's difficult to think of any other moments, against any other players, when Federer doesn't play the trump card when the money is on the table at ultimate moments in a big match.

"He made a mistake with two forehands, one which was quite simple for him," Nadal said.

Federer, of course, will never admit to mental weakness. Number ones don't do that. "I'm on the right track," he says. That means aggressiveness and more aggressiveness.

"For me just to hit it and move backward again, that's not the way I learned the game," he said. "My way of thinking is you come to the net and finish it at the net. That's what I'm doing pretty well at the moment, and that's what makes me win the matches."

It's not so easy to do with Nadal, however. His speed along the baseline means he usually doesn't have to rush his passing shots and, when he gets to his forehand, particularly, he hits with such heavy topspin that the volleys are often difficult to control.

This rivalry began at the Nasdaq-100 Open in 2004 with Nadal winning 6-3, 6-3 in the third round, at a time when Federer had won the 2003 Wimbledon and 2004 Australian Open.

A year later, in the Key Biscayne final, Federer had to rally from two sets down to beat Nadal for the only time. Since then, Nadal has won them all.

And if they meet in the final here and Nadal wins his 60th consecutive clay-court match, it can only add to Federer's frustration.

There will be the obvious comparisons with Pete Sampras, who also never won the French among his 14 major titles.

There also will be the hope of many Spaniards and, indeed, Nadal fans all over the globe that he is ready not only to beat Federer in Paris but at other Grand Slams as well.

It's no longer Federer and the rest of the ATP Tour. It's a two-man race.
http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/sports/14678658.htm

lilfairyprincess
05-27-2006, 11:29 AM
The same press conference was the basis of this article from The Mercury News:

http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/sports/14678658.htm

Mallorn where did u get that avatar...its GORGEOUS!! :hearts:
i think i will be stealing ti to use as a screensaver on my mobile phone :lol:

mallorn
05-27-2006, 11:52 AM
I thought Rafa's smile is avatar-worthy. ;)
It's from Rome. I made it from this picture:
http://img85.imageshack.us/img85/4152/0274cw.th.jpg (http://img85.imageshack.us/my.php?image=0274cw.jpg)

I don't mind you "stealing" it. :lol:

Agassi Fan
05-27-2006, 12:35 PM
Good luck!!!

sonia
05-27-2006, 06:15 PM
Vamos Rafa!! :bigclap:

mallorn
05-27-2006, 07:15 PM
There's an announcement of the blog on the ATP site:

http://img91.imageshack.us/img91/9464/blogatp8fq.jpg

Today, Rafa took part in the Benny-Berthet day. From the official website:
Benny-Berthet draws in the crowds
Despite the cloudy skies, the fans turned out in force for this year's Benny-Berthet day, brought forward to Saturday in a departure from the norm. Fabrice Santoro, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal played to a capacity crowd on the Philippe-Chatrier court while the other courts were similarly well turned out, and particularly those staging the qualifiers. Court number 7 saw Virginie Pichet, cheered on by Aravane Rezai's family among others, book her ticket for the finals shortly after lunch. Even the training sessions were held in front of packed stands, including a popular stint between Marat Safin and Olivier Rochus. And the youngsters were delighted with the opportunity to get close to their heroes, often more interested in their autographs than their aces.
Also, there was something called "Vach'Art" or cowparade, where players left their handprints on a huge cow. There's a lovely picture of Rafa in the official gallery:

http://img216.imageshack.us/img216/7533/0530xg.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

Thanks, Emily! :)

veyonce
05-28-2006, 07:22 AM
Eurosport interview with Rafa: Rankings Important

mms://vipeurosport.yacast.net/eurosport/2006/05/27/05_25501_4_57_0_320x240.wmv

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=CMPE80A4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jpQ4stepl8

http://media.putfile.com/Eurosport-27May06-Rafa-Interview

the_natural
05-28-2006, 08:26 AM
I just hope Safin doesnt make the Quarters, Hes known for using too much energy in the early rounds of the French so thats a plus, its just that if he makes it to Rafa it may really be a fight, Safin is always inspired and always enjoys himself when he is versing a great opponent, the big names like Roddick, Federer and now itll be nadal who will be riding that Clay court streak, he loves to prove himself as being a big gun but only when he comes up against the big guys, he plays like a fool against the "less important players" I want Marat to make a comeback cos im a big fan I actually wanted it to happen at the French, but not with him on Rafa's Side, I want Rafa to win it, I woulda liked to see Marat and Rafa in the final but Rafa is my home boy and deserves everything he gets, especially on clay!!! COME ON RAFA KEEP YOUR HEAD UP AND KEEP BELIEVING AND TAKE IT EASY!!! KILL EM ALL!!!!

mallorn
05-28-2006, 01:08 PM
There are some new long articles, so I'll just post the most interesting one here and links to the others if anyone's interested.

From The Independent:
Federer fired by Nadal phenomenon

World No 1 is 'excited' by the emergence of his brilliant shadow and anticipates thrilling rivalry

By Ronald Atkin in Paris
Published: 28 May 2006


When Roger Federer turned up to talk about his chances of winning what would be his fourth consecutive Grand Slam, it was disconcerting for the great man to be seated beneath a gigantic picture of Rafael Nadal, the reigning champion of Roland Garros and the man fancied by every bookmaker (at odds on, moreover) to extend his domination over the world's greatest racket exponent by lifting the trophy again.

Federer will today kick-start his campaign to add the French to the Wimbledon, US and Australian titles he has annexed over the past 10 months when he faces a local hero, Arnaud Clement, the first time Roland Garros has moved forward 24 hours from a Monday start. But it was inevitably Nadal who was on his mind, though he dismissed their confrontations as a rivalry, explaining the results had been too one-sided (Nadal leads 5-1).

"I think maybe it's getting there slowly," said Federer. "We still haven't played enough yet, and a rivalry needs a win and a loss, a win and a loss. That's not what's been really going on, he's been winning the last few. Though [Nadal] has only been on the tour for a couple of years, it's heading into a very nice direction for tennis by having a player like him. For me, once again it's an exciting time."

Federer was cut down by the Nadal combine harvester in last year's Roland Garros semi-finals, since when he has not been able to close the gap on an opponent who spent the winter rehabilitating a foot injury yet who has sprung into the clay-court season like a demented flamenco dancer.

Though not a topical, trendy metatarsal, Nadal's problem had its origin in a stress fracture in 2004. Then last autumn he damaged the tendon and muscles around the old stress injury. Now he plays with remedial inserts in shoes specially made for him by Nike. Specially labelled, too, with "Vamos" ("Let's go") on the left heel and his name on the right. Nadal has been vamos-ing through the clay season, winning consecutive tournaments in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome, where he survived two match points against Federer in a five-hour classic.

For the moment, his English does not come near matching the excellence of his tennis, but in both fields he tries, he really does. Pointing out that Federer is the world No 1, while he is only No 2, Nadal explained his continuing success thus: "I am positive always, no? I am very good attitude always. I always play my 100 per cent. I fight always. Every match, every ball. I don't have a lot of mistakes. And maybe in clay that's important, no?"

Tomorrow's first round against the Swede, Robin Soderling, should see Nadal shatter the record of consecutive clay-court victories which he currently shares with Guillermo Vilas on 53. But, charmingly, he stressed that records were not paramount in his thinking. "I'm going to be trying my best, not for the record, for Roland Garros." So Federer, and everyone else, knows the direction the exciting young Spaniard is pointing.

The draw was not kind to Federer, landing him in the same quarter as David Nalbandian, someone else who is capable of giving him a hard time, especially on clay. If the Argentinian avoids ambush before the last eight and if Federer overcomes him, a Swiss-Spanish final looks certain, since there appears no one capable of giving those "Vamos" shoes an extended run.
In nine of the past 10 years, the Coupe Mousquetaires has been hoisted by Latins, either from Spain or South America. The exception was 1999, when Andre Agassi completed his full set of Slam crowns. Sadly, the Bald One is absent because of ongoing sciatica worries, allegedly keeping his powder dry, and his hip free of pain, in readiness for one last charge at Wimbledon.

So the American battalion will be led into battle by James Blake, someone who has known, and continues to know, what it takes to play tennis in pain. So well has the popular New Yorker done this season that he is seeded eighth here, and it is bleak news for Andy Murray that, should he get past his keenly anticipated first round against his French teen counterpart Gaël Monfils (known as Sliderman in these parts), he would probably run up against Blake, though the American would need first to see off another Spaniard, Nicolas Almagro, not far behind Nadal in the vroom-vroom stakes.

Still, the cheery news for Murray is that this time a year ago he was competing in the junior event. And after this he will move on to the scene of 2005 triumphs at Queen's and Wimbledon.

The other Britons, Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski, should not be long in heading for the grass, either. After two winnable rounds, Henman - a semi-finalist here in 2004 - would run into Nalbandian, while Rusedski's fate, if successful in the first round, would be to clash with the Croatian Mario Ancic, who is formidable on any surface.

There are, without doubt, lurkers in the French field who can upset even the best clay people - the 6ft 10in Ivo Karlovic, whose serve can be hidden in low cloud; that mighty Chilean forehand smiter Fernando Gonzalez; Marat Safin if he stirs his stumps; Andy Roddick if his ailing ankle is better; Ivan Ljubicic on any favourable day. But it is hard to look beyond Nadal v Federer a fortnight today.

KING OF CLAY: ANATOMY OF A TENNIS POWERHOUSE WHO SIMPLY NEVER STOPS RUNNING

Heart
Not since the heyday of Jimmy Connors has tennis seen someone who fights for every point with such ferocity, which is why clay and its sliding qualities suit Nadal's style perfectly.

Muscles

The physical build-up has been going on since Nadal opted for tennis over football aged 12. It is directed by his uncle Miguel Angel Nadal, Barcelona's former hard-man defender.

Hands

A right-hander who was advised to switch arms to strengthen the left side of his body, Nadal has extra backhand power since it is his "natural" hitting action.

Legs

The crucial "engine" of every tennis player. Nadal's rigorous training programme ensures that he is one of the game's most durable runners and finest movers.

Feet

The source of Nadal's only fitness worries. Following a stress fracture in 2004, he damaged a tendon near the old injury last autumn and now wears shoes with special inserts.

http://sport.independent.co.uk/tennis/article620658.ece

Nadal looms as tennis' Man of Clay (http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/sports/14684269.htm)

All in the shadow of Nadal (http://www.sundayherald.com/55935)

mallorn
05-28-2006, 01:11 PM
The OOP for Monday is out, Rafa's first match is scheduled for tomorrow!

Monday, 29/05/06

CHATRIER 11:00 Start
Women's Singles - 1st Rnd.
Michaella Krajicek (NED) vs. Patty Schnyder (SUI)[7]

Men's Singles - 1st Rnd.
Sebastien Grosjean (FRA)[21] vs.Andrei Pavel (ROM)

Women's Singles - 1st Rnd.
Virginie Razzano (FRA) vs. Kim Clijsters (BEL)[2]

Men's Singles - 1st Rnd.
Robin Soderling (SWE) vs. Rafael Nadal (ESP)[2]

http://www.cosgan.de/images/smilie/musik/k015.gif

VAMOS RAFA!

http://www.cosgan.de/images/smilie/musik/k015.gif

estrela
05-28-2006, 05:18 PM
Good luck 2morrow Rafa :bounce: !!

I hope I can see him play :rolleyes: school

MariaV
05-28-2006, 05:22 PM
Yeah, VAMOS Rafa! :D :bounce: :bigclap: :yippee: I can see it! :woohoo: :D

Lopaka
05-28-2006, 07:45 PM
Sometime the ESPN2 commentary is not the best.

But hey seeing Rafa play on live television is the important thing. :woohoo:

mallorn
05-28-2006, 08:55 PM
Guys, Rafa's first blog entry is up.

http://www.atptennis.com/en/blog/nadal.asp

It's funny and very detailed, good start! :yeah:

atheneglaukopis
05-29-2006, 12:19 AM
Does anyone know where to find the Spanish original of his blog?

mamasue
05-29-2006, 01:28 AM
Does anyone know where to find the Spanish original of his blog?
I don't know if there was a Spanish original of his blog but here's a link to a good Spanish translation on VR.com -- http://www.vamosrafael.com/messageboard/viewtopic.php?p=428760#428760 :)

atheneglaukopis
05-29-2006, 02:33 AM
I don't know if there was a Spanish original of his blog but here's a link to a good Spanish translation on VR.com -- http://www.vamosrafael.com/messageboard/viewtopic.php?p=428760#428760 :)
Thanks, but it's pretty clear his blog was translated into English, and I'm interested in getting my hands on what he originally wrote rather than a translation of a translation (since my Spanish per se is dismal and consists of piggy-backing on my Latin). I suppose it's possible he just dictated it to a translator, since I could have sworn that there were Spanish originals to be found of Ferrer's and Acasuso's. :shrug:

mallorn
05-29-2006, 11:58 AM
Very interesting interview from El Mundo Deportivo translated by lucie :hug: of vr.com
Q. At the end of 2005, you were desperate for not finding a solution to your foot injury. Did you imagine that you would be so fine at this point in the season, ready to defend your RG title ?
Rafa. Things have changed a lot, I'm feeling so much better than I had anticipated. I already won four tournaments this year, two TMS (MonteCarlo and Roma) and Godo and Dubai, the two more important tournaments after the TMS in terms of points granted. I consolidated my position as world number 2, and am happy for that.

Q. You were crying tears of despair because of your injury. Now we see you crying tears of joy for winning titles.
Rafa. If I cried after these wins it's because I remembered all those bad moments I had been through.

Q. Last year you've been amazing, winning eleven titles. What do you value most, this wonderful season or your successful comeback after nearly four months off ?
Rafa. Every moment carries its own difficulties, but I value most what I'm doing now. After such a long time without competition, without even training, I couldn't imagine I would be feeling so fine. I am ten times better than I expected being after my injury.

Q. And now for Roland Garros, you are defending your title : does it put extra pressure on you ?
Rafa. I only feel the pressure of wanting to win. I'm very relaxed because I'm defending it after having won four tournaments. If I play normally in Paris, even if I don't win, I will carry on as world nr 2. I sure was more nervous before MonteCarlo : I had just lost in the first round in Miami and I was defending a lot of points. Everything was building up and everything was difficult, but I got over it, and this gave me confidence for Roland Garros.

Q. Do you think you are THE favourite ?
Rafa. No, I don't think I am the favourite. I'm not gonna be misled into this matter. I am one of the favourites, just like last year, but I am not the favourite. There are a few players who can win this tournament, and I am one of them.

Q. A few superstitions ? Will you repeat things you did last year ?
Rafa. No, I will do nothing special for this tournament, I will not train in a special way. I like to keep on doing the same routine.

Q. What would happen if you lost in Paris ?
Rafa. Well, that wouldn't be a tragedy. It is the most important tournament on clay, but other tournaments also matter to me, and I am fine with it. Moreover, losing in Roland Garros would be normal, winning wouldn't be !

Q. Do you have special memories of last year ?
Rafa. I have precious memories, but I also remember the bad moments I had. I know that this year too I will have bad moments, and I am mentally prepared to face them. If you want to win, you need to overcome these moments.

Q. Everybody is expecting a new duel with the Swiss Roger Federer.
Rafa. That would be good if I'd play against Federer in Paris, as we can only meet in the final ! It's always a nice match, full of emotion ; duels between the world nr 1 and the world nr 2 are always very special. I love playing him, not because he's Federer, but because I enjoy facing the world nr one.

Q. These matches help you and him further improve your game ?
Rafa. I watch him quite often, not because I have to play him, but because he's playing so well, and to try and play as good as him. It's actually impossible though, he's doing incredible things, many things I should copy.

Q. Is it frustrating to have Federer preventing you from reaching nr 1 ?
Rafa. I have to accept it. I'm very happy to be nr 2 with what i'm doing. In previous years, I would have been nr 1 with what I have achieved. Hewitt, Ferrero and Moya had less points than I have now when they were nr 1. Most players who have been nr 1 had less points than I have now. But I don't want to be obsessed by it. To be nr 2 is fine, and I need to carry on improving in case Federer weakens and an opportunity arises.

Q. Is your objective still to qualify for the Masters ?
Rafa. No, I am already qualified for the Masters - if no disaster happens. My objective is to finish the season as world nr 2.

Q. You had to give up playing Hamburg just after Roma. Were you too exhausted ?
Rafa. Even if many people think otherwise, Federer and I didn't go to Hamburg not because we were too tired but because there was a risk of injury. Hamburg is a TMS, with many points at stake. I really was annoyed not to be able to play there.

Q. Your health is a priority ?
Rafa. I know it from experience. To be healthy is the priority. Last year, I found it very difficult to give up certain things, this year it's easier for me to accept it, to listen more to people around me. If there are risks for my health, I'd rather not play, I've learned better now.

Q. In addition to the matches, you are involved in many public activities. Isn't it a bit too much for you ?
Rafa. When you are resting at home, you don't want to be bothered. But when I'm working, I want it to be as good as possible, because it's just part of the job - so I'd rather have fun doing it !

Q. Your family has been a great help when you were injured.
Rafa. I am glad to see them happy, they have helped me a lot and I will always be grateful to them.

Spanish original
http://www.elmundodeportivo.es/20060527/NOTICIA220807856.html
http://vamosrafael.com/messageboard/viewtopic.php?t=3518&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=220

mallorn
05-29-2006, 12:03 PM
I hope they won't jinx Rafa with the planned celebration of breaking Vilas's record. ;)
Guillermo Vilas plans to congratulate Nadal with a cake on the court
Guillermo Vilas is a regular member of Roland Garros audience. He sits on a box, dressed in black from the head to the feet, and there he is until Roland Garros doors are closed. Today he will be on the Philipe Chatrier in the fourth match of the day, the Rafa’s match, who he phone called a few days ago to congratulate although he first played him a joke harshly: “If you break my record, I will break your legs” said to Nadal who, on the other side of the phone asked “And who are you?”. :rolls: They get on well each other. The argentinian admires the game and the spirit of spanish Nadal and that’s why it’s planned for today that, after a possible victory for Rafa, the big ‘Willy’ downs to the court and brings him a cake with which he wants to celebrate the new record on claycourts.
(translated by Patxy of vr.com :hug: )

A new article from The Independent:
29 May 2006 13:53

Nick Bollettieri: Paris clay gives Federer chance of toppling Nadal

It is the rivalry that we've dreamed about for years. And after three head-to-head instalments already in 2006, and a fourth seeded to happen in the final of the French Open, Roger Federer v Rafael Nadal is truly developing into a classic series.

Federer is, without doubt, the best player in the world, all round, and in many people's eyes, already has a strong claim to be the most naturally gifted player who's ever played the game. I've already subscribed to that camp.

But Nadal, with his scorching current record run on clay, and his power, his energy, and his dazzling strokes under pressure, has all the ingredients to usurp the Swiss master, if he stays fit and hungry.

On head-to-head statistics, Nadal also has an advantage over Federer, winning five of their six meetings, including all three this year as well as last year's French Open semi.

With all that in mind, my expectation for this year's event at Roland Garros may sound a little strange. I expect Nadal to make the final whereas I expect Federer could stutter in the French capital - and I was honestly of that mind even before his less than perfect first-round win over the Argentine qualifier, Diego Hartfield, yesterday afternoon.

Yet I believe that if the final does pan out as the seedings dictate that it should, with Nadal against Federer, then I take Federer to win it. Why? First, because with every match on the surface, he's getting more acclimatised to the clay. You can see in his game that gradually the instinctiveness with which he plays on other surfaces - exemplified by his near perfection on grass - is coming into his clay-court game.

Not so long ago, you could actually see him thinking out shots on clay. For my money, he is thinking less and running on instinct more, and that's a good sign.

Second, the clay in Paris is better suited to his game than the heavier clay you find in Italy and Hamburg. If he is going to upset Nadal on clay, Paris is the place for it.

Third, the pressure is all on Nadal's 20-year-old shoulders. Sure, they're some shoulders, capable of stinging shots and carrying great hopes, but anything less than the title and he's fallen short of what's expected. He is the man that everyone wants to topple this fortnight, including Federer. That makes mental toughness every bit as important as physical skill and there are few as capable of serene focus as Federer.

My fourth reason for backing Federer, if he gets as far as the final, owes a little to faith in destiny. Until and unless Federer wins the French Open to complete his Grand Slam set then the minority of people who do not already feel him to be the very best in history will always have that gap in the trophy cabinet to point at.

Federer knows that too, and believe me, this is the one title now that he would delight in capturing. A danger-laden draw awaits him, but he has the desire and the ability to get through.

It is the rivalry that we've dreamed about for years. And after three head-to-head instalments already in 2006, and a fourth seeded to happen in the final of the French Open, Roger Federer v Rafael Nadal is truly developing into a classic series.

Federer is, without doubt, the best player in the world, all round, and in many people's eyes, already has a strong claim to be the most naturally gifted player who's ever played the game. I've already subscribed to that camp.

But Nadal, with his scorching current record run on clay, and his power, his energy, and his dazzling strokes under pressure, has all the ingredients to usurp the Swiss master, if he stays fit and hungry.

On head-to-head statistics, Nadal also has an advantage over Federer, winning five of their six meetings, including all three this year as well as last year's French Open semi.

With all that in mind, my expectation for this year's event at Roland Garros may sound a little strange. I expect Nadal to make the final whereas I expect Federer could stutter in the French capital - and I was honestly of that mind even before his less than perfect first-round win over the Argentine qualifier, Diego Hartfield, yesterday afternoon.

Yet I believe that if the final does pan out as the seedings dictate that it should, with Nadal against Federer, then I take Federer to win it. Why? First, because with every match on the surface, he's getting more acclimatised to the clay. You can see in his game that gradually the instinctiveness with which he plays on other surfaces - exemplified by his near perfection on grass - is coming into his clay-court game.
Not so long ago, you could actually see him thinking out shots on clay. For my money, he is thinking less and running on instinct more, and that's a good sign.

Second, the clay in Paris is better suited to his game than the heavier clay you find in Italy and Hamburg. If he is going to upset Nadal on clay, Paris is the place for it.

Third, the pressure is all on Nadal's 20-year-old shoulders. Sure, they're some shoulders, capable of stinging shots and carrying great hopes, but anything less than the title and he's fallen short of what's expected. He is the man that everyone wants to topple this fortnight, including Federer. That makes mental toughness every bit as important as physical skill and there are few as capable of serene focus as Federer.

My fourth reason for backing Federer, if he gets as far as the final, owes a little to faith in destiny. Until and unless Federer wins the French Open to complete his Grand Slam set then the minority of people who do not already feel him to be the very best in history will always have that gap in the trophy cabinet to point at.

Federer knows that too, and believe me, this is the one title now that he would delight in capturing. A danger-laden draw awaits him, but he has the desire and the ability to get through.

http://sport.independent.co.uk/tennis/article621246.ece

silver7
05-29-2006, 05:32 PM
Good 6-2, 7-5!!!Vamos Rafa!!!

silver7
05-29-2006, 06:17 PM
:bowdown::bowdown: 54th win! Rafa is the King of clay!:bowdown::bowdown:

MariaV
05-29-2006, 06:23 PM
Gosh I got nervous at 5-4 in the 2nd set when he lost his serve again. :o :o :ignore: :tape: Thanks God he got done in 3. And boy was it windy out there. :(
I hope it's gonna be better weather during the final bc Fed is a great wind player and wind levels the odds of course.
And awww how cute he was again during the ceremony. But Bimes and Vilas presented him a 'sample' of Roland Garros soil not the cake. :lol:
Felcidades Rafa and keep it going! :) :) :bounce: :bigclap: :yippee: :banana:

silver7
05-29-2006, 06:27 PM
Gosh I got nervous at 5-4 in the 2nd set when he lost his serve again. :o :o :ignore: :tape: Thanks God he got done in 3. And boy was it windy out there. :(
I hope it's gonna be better weather during the final bc Fed is a great wind player and wind levels the odds of course.
And awww how cute he was again during the ceremony. But Bimes and Vilas presented him a 'sample' of Roland Garros soil not the cake. :lol:
Felcidades Rafa and keep it going! :) :) :bounce: :bigclap: :yippee: :banana:

Nice Post!!:yeah: I total agree with you :)

mallorn
05-29-2006, 06:38 PM
What happened to my post? :confused:

Anyway, :woohoo: :yippee:

Thank goodness he won in three, I was getting worried in the second!

MariaV
05-29-2006, 06:39 PM
What happened to my post? :confused:

Anyway, :woohoo: :yippee:

Thank goodness he won in three, I was getting worried in the second!
I guess we all got worried. :lol: :o :hug:

RogiFan88
05-29-2006, 06:51 PM
Good 6-2, 7-5!!!Vamos Rafa!!!

Hey, where's the 3rd set score? 6-1 ;)

Felicitaciones, Rafa, on breaking the Vilas clay record! :worship:

Not so sure about the "award" tho... :p

silver7
05-29-2006, 06:57 PM
Hey, where's the 3rd set score? 6-1 ;)

Felicitaciones, Rafa, on breaking the Vilas clay record! :worship:

Not so sure about the "award" tho... :p

You know the 3rd set was so fast over so that I forgot it ;)

atheneglaukopis
05-29-2006, 07:31 PM
According to vamosrafael.com "[t]he promised cake never materialised," although I look at the trophy and it looks like a cake. This is the kind of thing Rafa should mention in his blog, if he's comfortable enough to tease. "And you wonder why I bite my trophies?!" :silly:

MariaV
05-29-2006, 07:49 PM
From the RG site.

Nadal rewrites clay court history
By Andrew Bogusch
Monday, May 29, 2006

Second seed Rafael Nadal overcame the elements and Robin Soderling on Monday to win his record 54th consecutive clay court match.

Nadal had been tied with Guillermo Vilas, who watched the defending Roland Garros champion deal with strong winds, a brief rain shower and the 21-year-old Swede in a 6-2 7-5 6-1 victory in two hours, eight minutes on Court Philippe Chatrier.

"Is very difficult," Nadal said of his record. "A lot of tournaments, a lot of matches. It's very difficult. I am very happy for that. Is important for me to be in history."

Nadal's last loss on clay came on April 7, 2005 against Igor Andreev in Valencia.

"He's a fantastic person. He's a friend," Vilas said of Nadal. "If I had to lose that record, I'm pleased it was losing to someone like that."

But Vilas hopes Nadal leaves his other record alone, a 46-match overall winning streak.

"[I] will be very upset if he breaks that one," Vilas admitted with a smile.

Nadal had little trouble in the first and third sets, but lost his way for a spell in the second, clearly agitated by the swirling winds.

"One of the worst days for play on clay," Nadal said.

A poor drop shot helped Soderling break to 4-2 in the second. And while Nadal broke right back, he needed six opportunities to do so. Then, Nadal failed to convert his first two set points as Soderling levelled the set in the tenth game. But the Swede's own poor play finally did him in. At 5-5, three consecutive errors allowed Nadal to break at love and eventually win the set.

"I have a little bit of a lag" is how Nadal explained his second set, during which he committed 20 unforced errors.

After the record victory, Vilas presented Nadal with a glass-encased transection of a Roland Garros clay court and the crowd watched a video tribute to Nadal's exploits at last year's event.

"He will inspire a new generation of players," Vilas said. "He is very good for the sport. It's a blessing to have a player like this in our sport."

Nadal celebrated as usual with a series of hopping fist pumps. Considering the poor conditions and his subpar form, he seemed more relieved than anything to be in to the second round.

"Most important thing today is the win," Nadal said. "First round is always tough. These conditions - best thing is the victory."

Next up for Nadal is lucky loser Kevin Kim, who defeated Julio Silva in four sets on Monday night.

mallorn
05-29-2006, 08:23 PM
From the RG site too.
Vilas: 'I'm very happy for Rafael!'

Monday, May 29, 2006

With a straightforward victory over Sweden's Robin Soderling this Monday, Rafael Nadal broke Guillermo Vilas' record of 53 consecutive wins on clay. The Argentinean legend was present on Court Philippe Chatrier to present the Spaniard with a special trophy, and spoke to us afterwards about how it felt to 'hand on the baton.'

How do you feel about Rafael Nadal beating your record of 53 consecutive wins on clay?

Guillermo Vilas: I held a number of records - there was the one on clay, which has now been beaten, and there was also the record of 46 consecutive victories on any surface. Nadal has beaten the first one, but no-one has got near the other one for the moment. These two records I held came to an end when I lost to Ilie Nastase, who was using the 'spaghetti racquet' (which was double strung to put more spin in the ball and was very soon banned). So you could say that it wasn't a fair result when my series of wins finally came to an end. And afterwards, I went on to win six or seven tournaments in a row. Having said that, Nadal is a really nice young lad and I'm very happy for him.

Is it harder to win a record like this now than it was back in your day?

GV: It's hard to compare the two, other than to say that I established my record in a single season and it took Rafael two years to beat it. That shows that I played more games than he does. The main difference comes from the fact that it was a lot tougher on the circuit in my day. You've got someone looking after you nowadays - one phone call and you can sort out all the logistics for the entire week. In my day, that wasn't an option, and a lot of players dropped out of the circuit since they couldn't stand all the hassle. There were very few direct flights in those days, so we had to stop off in between flights. It really was no fun, and it got to people in the end.

Have you spoken to Nadal about the record?

GV: Of course, I even called him the other day in Barcelona to have a bit of fun with him. I started off calling him all the names under the sun, and all he could say was "Who is this? Who is this?" He seemed pretty worried, so I told him "It's me, it's Vilas!" I congratulated him of course.

mallorn
05-29-2006, 08:32 PM
From Reuters:
Nadal bursting with pride after breaking Vilas mark

Monday, May 29, 2006 3:51:38 PM ET

By Simon Cambers

PARIS (Reuters) - Rafael Nadal was bursting with pride after he broke Guillermo Vilas's record of 53 consecutive claycourt wins with a 6-2 7-5 6-1 victory over Swede Robin Soderling in the first round of the French Open on Monday.

The defending champion's win over Soderling put him at the top of the tree in men's claycourt tennis in the professional era, surpassing the Argentine's mark set in 1977.

"For me it is special because it is 54 victories," Nadal said.

"It is very difficult. Very, very difficult. A lot of tournaments, a lot of matches. It is not normal because one day you can have bad luck, anything. I am very happy for that. It is important for me to be in history."

Nadal, the second seed, is looking to become the first man since Brazilian Gustavo Kuerten in 2001 to successfully defend the French Open title.

Being so close to the record, he said, had put him under extra pressure to beat Soderling.

"I thought about this record when I started to get close, so obviously it's something that you want to go for," Nadal said.

"When you (the media) said that the record was (close), that used to frighten me. I'd never thought about the record until now.

"When I got it, I think it's quite a nice thing to have. But it was difficult. It was very difficult. That's 54 matches."

Vilas compiled his winning streak in 1977, the year he won his only French Open title and the Argentine presented him with a special trophy on court after the match.

"I never saw him play but the people tell me he was very, very tough," Nadal said of Vilas.

Vilas also put together a run of 46 consecutive wins on all surfaces. Nadal came into Paris with 17 wins on the bounce and to get near that mark, the Spaniard would need to win here, continue his winning streak through Wimbledon and well beyond.

"If I do 46 and I win Wimbledon, I might as well retire," Nadal joked.
http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=tennisNews&storyID=2006-05-29T195018Z_01_L29230974_RTRIDST_0_SPORT-TENNIS-OPEN-NADAL-QUOTES.XML

RogiFan88
05-29-2006, 09:00 PM
"Next up for Nadal is lucky loser Kevin Kim, ..."

never a truer phrase spoken... poor guy, he won't know what will hit him... altho this time I w say he isn't such a "lucky" loser... ;)

mallorn
05-29-2006, 09:07 PM
"Next up for Nadal is lucky loser Kevin Kim, ..."

never a truer phrase spoken... poor guy, he won't know what will hit him... altho this time I w say he isn't such a "lucky" loser... ;)
Oh, I hope you're right. :devil:

Rafa was so nervous and frustrated today, I hope this was because of the record thing and also he's never liked the first round. Also the conditions were awful. Now that this is behind him he must get better and quickly!

16681
05-29-2006, 11:17 PM
Yes I remember when Rafa was playing in the U.S. and it was windy--he didn't seem to like that at all :ras: But now 54 wins and counting :yippee: And since he already has the record he can now put all that behind him and just forcus on his tennis :) Congrats to Rafa :dance: :lol: Poor Kim I believe he will be lucky if he can manage to stay on the court against Rafa :rolls: :crazy:

RogiFan88
05-30-2006, 02:50 AM
Oh, I hope you're right. :devil:

Rafa was so nervous and frustrated today, I hope this was because of the record thing and also he's never liked the first round. Also the conditions were awful. Now that this is behind him he must get better and quickly!

Kevin Kim a threat on clay? I doubt it... in fact, he's no threat anywhere on any surface.

Altho today's match wasn't pretty, Robin managed a few decent shots once in a while, enough to throw Rafa off-balance here and there. But clay is definitely NOT his surface and he's a toad anyway... not a guy I care for...

Nah, Rafa will cruise to the final, no probs! ;)

Hasta manana, Mallorn!

MariaV
05-30-2006, 06:22 AM
I hope so RogiFan, I do hope so! :D :D
And I hope the weather will get less windy.
Vamos Rafa! :bigclap: :bounce: :banana: :dance: :yippee:

mallorn
05-30-2006, 11:16 AM
Lots of articles after Rafa's ugly :p but historic :worship: win yesterday.

From ESPN
Updated: May 29, 2006, 4:19 PM ET

With Vilas in stands, Nadal makes history

By Greg Garber
Espn.com

PARIS -- How much does Rafael Nadal love clay? At one point in his Monday match with Robin Soderling, he asked the chair umpire to call for more of the terre batu from the groundskeepers.

In truth, the request was driven more by the wind swirling around Court Philippe Chatrier than any particular attachment Nadal has for the dirt itself.

Nadal defeated Solderling 6-2, 7-5, 6-1 in a first-round match that seemed far closer than the final result suggested. Maybe it's because Nadal was nervous. History will do that to you.

It was the 54th consecutive victory on clay for the ethereal 19-year-old, breaking the Open era record of Guillermo Vilas. Nadal lost to eventual champion Igor Andreev in the quarterfinals at Valencia last April and hasn't lost since.
http://img181.imageshack.us/img181/9882/espnclaycourts6ju.jpg

"It is special," Nadal noted later. "Is a lot of matches, not one day. Is very difficult. I'm very happy for that."

Vilas was on hand to congratulate Nadal and present him with a glass trophy that provided a cross section of the court upon which he triumphed.

"This, he deserved," Vilas said. "He tries hard. He wants to take his game further."

Nadal is the prefect storm of athleticism and ambition. At 6-foot-1, he is two inches taller and his muscles exhibit far greater definition than a year ago when he won his first French Open title here. He looks more like a linebacker -- OK, a free safety -- than tennis player. And he covers as much ground as any player; on the back of his left shoe it says "Vamos" and on the right is the corresponding "Rafa."

He has hoisted nine tournament trophies in between and has become, by most measures, the second-best male player in the world. It is worth noting that he has beaten the consensus No. 1 player, Roger Federer, five times in six matches.

http://img414.imageshack.us/img414/8297/nadalvilas3mq.jpg

And so, the achievement, a tribute to the Spaniard's passion and perseverance, raised immediate and obvious questions:

Will Nadal -- who is a sporty 8-0 in matches at Roland Garros -- ever lose here on the celebrated red clay? How many singles championships will he win? Can he eclipse the record six titles of the great Bjorn Borg?

The instant consensus this early in his career trajectory is, well, maybe.

Vilas was asked if he thought Nadal could win a second consecutive title.

"Yes, he can win a lot if he plays the way he plays now," Vilas said.

Mats Wilander -- before Nadal's victory here last year -- said the youngster might seriously challenge for the title for the next decade. Wilander was the first man in the Open era to win the French Open in his debut, winning the first of his three titles in 1982 at the age of 17. Nadal became the second.

But when it comes to the French Open, the only standard worth mentioning on the men's side is Borg. He was a towering presence at Roland Garros, winning 49 of 51 matches and those six titles in a span of eight years, including four straight from 1978-81. He retired at the age of 25 after the 1981 season.

In the wake of Nadal's record-setting performance, it would be easy to say he has a wonderful chance to equal or exceed Borg. The prognosis, for those of you seeking context, is not quite so lovely.

Mary Carillo, the incisive ESPN and NBC analyst, laughed when the Borg comparison was broached.

"If you want consistency, you have to have fitness," she said on a third-story terrace overlooking Court 5. "His body has to be as passionate as his heart and mind."

To this point, anyway, it hasn't been close.

Unlike Borg, Nadal has proved surprisingly fragile. It is instructive that he couldn't play in the first two French Opens he qualified for because of injuries; he damaged his elbow in a 2003 practice when his hitting partner playfully yanked the net up while he was attempting to leap over it. An April ankle fracture took him out a year later.

After playing a tour-high 89 matches last year (winning 79 of them), Nadal was exhausted. He withdrew from the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup in late October with a foot injury and didn't return until more than three months later in Marseille.

The champions with remarkable longevity -- Borg, Chris Evert, Andre Agassi -- had pristine games. Borg, for example, was particularly smooth and economical. The savage, headlong nature of Nadal's game is hardly conducive to consistency -- or longevity.

"I love his game," Carillo said, "but it's not exactly tight."

His weapon of choice, a hefty Babolat AeroPro Drive, is a cudgel, really. It is heavier than most on Tour (321 grams) and strung far tighter (24 kilograms of tension), too. That places a lot of stress on his joints. Factor in his slashing game of searing accelerations, his tightly, dense-as-plutonium spinning shots, and you have potential issues.

"I don't know how many he can win," Vilas said in a recent conference call. "Last year he won, so let's see what he does this year. That's the question mark that you have to ask about Nadal, because he's young. He has to repeat himself and win it two, three times. Then you can provide some idea." Exactly.

Recent results suggest that the rigors of today's professional game are working against Nadal as well. Review the list of recent French Open champions and you will not find much consistency in their results. At the age of 24, Gustavo Kuerten won his third title at Roland Garros in 2001. Since then? His furthest penetration was the quarterfinals only three years later that had the feeling of a last hurrah.

And what of Juan Carlos Ferrero? The King reached the semifinals here in back-to-back years and then progressed to the final and, finally, broke through as champion in 2003, at the age of 23. It seemed at the time he would be a perennial contender, but he followed that achievement with exits in the second and third rounds.

Guillermo Coria, the runner-up to Gaudio in 2004, looked like another usual suspect. He isn't playing this event, because of injury. Gaudio? He could be another one-time wonder after exiting in the fourth round last year.

On Sunday, Byung-Hyun Kim watched the San Francisco Giants' Barry Bonds' turn around one of his pitches 445 feet to center field. Kim's shame will be exacerbated by history, for it was Bonds' 715th home run, one more than the immortal Babe Ruth.

Playing the role of Kim on Monday was Soderling, a goofy, gangly 21-year-old Swede. He actually had numerous chances to carry off the second set, but Nadal was too tough in the critical moments.

A Reuters story early in the day featured Vilas quotes that sounded a little whiny.

"First of all, Nadal's performance is spanning over two years, which is not the same," Vilas told the news service. "Then, I have the feeling he added easy tournaments on his schedule just for that purpose."

In his press conference following Nadal's win, Vilas said all the right things.

"He's a great player -- he's very good for tennis," Vilas maintained. "He will inspire a new generation of players. Borg and myself, we made the other players train harder. We changed the game in that way.

"He's made the other players better also," he said. "He will make the other players feel they must be tougher."

Greg Garber is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
http://sports.espn.go.com/sports/tennis/french06/news/story?id=2462389[/quote]

mallorn
05-30-2006, 11:18 AM
From Sporting Life:
RECORD-BREAKER NADAL THRILLED WITH SUCCESS

By Isabelle Rondeau, PA Sport, Paris

Clay-court king Rafael Nadal was unable to hide his delight after setting a new record for consecutive wins on the surface and securing his place in the second round of the French Open.

The 19-year-old Spaniard routed Sweden's Robin Soderling 6-2 7-5 6-1 on Philippe Chatrier court to mark his 54th successive win on clay, beating Guillermo Vilas' previous record which had stood since 1977.

Nadal has won the last nine events he has played on the red surface, including Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome, and admitted passing the Argentinian's former leading mark was a great honour.

"This was very special for me to beat his record," Nadal said after his match.

"Winning 54 matches in a row on clay is enormous.

"I was too small to watch Vilas' matches on television but I am happy and delighted to write my name in the history books."

Nadal admitted his worst enemy was not Soderling but the blustery conditions at Roland Garros.

"Today was probably one of the worst days to play on clay, the wind was terrible," added Nadal.

"It was almost like playing on hard court for some points.

"This was a good test, I played good tennis in the first set before experiencing a lapse of form in the second.

"Then I recaptured my momentum and won. I felt a little bit under pressure but the most important thing was to win."

When asked about his rivalry with world number one Roger Federer, Nadal insisted they were not the only two players capable of lifting the French Open trophy on June 11.

"I never agree with the idea of favourites," added Nadal.

"For me the only favourite is the one who will lift the trophy.

"There is not only me and Federer who play good tennis on clay. A lot of players have what it takes to win the tournament."

(...)
http://www.sportinglife.com/tennis/news/story_get.cgi?STORY_NAME=tennis/06/05/29/TENNIS_French_Men_Nightlead.html

mallorn
05-30-2006, 11:20 AM
From The Columbian News:
Nadal Rafael Breaks Clay-Court Record

May 29, 5:02 PM EDT
By HOWARD FENDRICH
AP Sports Writer


PARIS (AP) -- Rafael Nadal's phone rang last week. On the other end was Guillermo Vilas, owner of four Grand Slam titles and the man whose 1977 record for consecutive victories on clay Nadal was approaching.

"I'm angry. You're showing a lack of respect for your elders," Vilas told the Spanish teen, tongue squarely in cheek. "If I see you, I don't know what I'm going to do to you."

Caught off-guard and uncertain whether Vilas was pulling his leg, Nadal stammered for a moment before catching on. Turns out, they saw each other Monday on center court at the French Open, and Vilas greeted him with a hug.

Nadal broke Vilas' mark with his 54th straight win on clay, beating Robin Soderling of Sweden 6-2, 7-5, 6-1 at Roland Garros begin defense of his first Grand Slam title.

"It's a lot of tournaments, a lot of matches," Nadal said. "Getting the record here adds something extra."

On-court trophy ceremonies usually are reserved for the closing weekend of a major tennis tournament. Yet after finishing off Soderling, Nadal was presented with a rectangular glass box containing the multiple layers of a clay court, and highlights from his French Open championship were shown on the video screens overhead.

A tad over the top? Perhaps. But everyone seemed to agree this is an impressive achievement.

"It may be similar to a Joe DiMaggio streak, where it doesn't seem like it's ever going to get broken," said the No. 8-seeded James Blake, who could face Nadal in the quarterfinals. "To win 53 matches in a row, you can't be a little bit better than the rest of the field. You have to be so far above and beyond."

Vilas, for his part, wasn't all that disappointed to see his record eclipsed. After all, until Nadal began getting close, the Argentine had no idea he even owned the mark.

"They never gave me any trophy or anything at the time," Vilas said, smiling.

Nadal improved to 8-0 at Roland Garros - he won the title in his debut - and he hasn't lost on clay since April 7, 2005, against Igor Andreev at Valencia, Spain. There were moments of shakiness against Soderling, particularly when Nadal got broken while serving for the second set at 5-4.

But Nadal reeled off six games to regain control, chasing down ball after ball to the corners. That's one of the traits that make him so tough on the surface, somehow putting his racket on opponents' apparent winners.

"It doesn't matter how many times you think you've put the ball away," Blake said, "it seems like he gets it back one more time."

Blake, who beat Nadal on a hard court at Indian Wells, Calif., in March, eliminated Paradorn Schrichaphan 6-0, 6-4, 7-6 (3) and now faces Nicolas Almagro, 19-6 on clay this year. Blake is 3-4 on the surface in 2006 and never has been past the second round at the French Open.

Because clay is considered something of an equalizer, dulling hard strokes and creating longer rallies than on grass or hard courts, Roland Garros often turns out surprising results.

There was little stunning about Monday's happenings, though, with seeded players going 25-3, including wins for Nadal's two immediate predecessors as French Open champion: 2003's Juan Carlos Ferrero and 2004's Gaston Gaudio. No. 16 Jarkko Nieminen quit because of stomach cramps, and the highest-ranked woman to exit was No. 18 Elena Likhovtseva, a 2005 semifinalist. She lost 6-1, 6-1 to Karolina Sprem, who upset Venus Williams at Wimbledon in 2004 with the help of an extra point mistakenly awarded by the chair umpire.

There were no such glitches Monday for the 11th-seeded Williams in a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Sybille Bammer of Austria. Williams has won five majors, including Wimbledon last year, but injuries limited her to 10 matches this season and affected her ranking. Even she didn't realize quite how much.

"What am I ranked?" Williams asked at her news conference. "What am I seeded?"

Duly informed, she said: "Well, I'll work on that. It's bound to go up."

Not if she keeps racking up 33 unforced errors, including seven double-faults, as she did Monday. To be fair, a swirling wind made its away across tree-dotted Roland Garros, kicking clouds of dirt into players' eyes and making balls move oddly.

"It just blew all the clay off the court, and there was, like, empty spots - you saw the concrete under the clay surface," said U.S. Open champion Kim Clisters, who won on center court before Nadal. "It was almost like playing on a hard court."

Maybe Nadal's victory shouldn't have counted toward the record, then.

Indeed, he appealed to the chair umpire to have more clay sprinkled on the court. Yep, Nadal loves the red stuff, the way it lets him slide, the way it holds balls up, giving him a chance to reach apparently unreachable shots.

"It's satisfying because he knows he's entered tennis history a bit," said Nadal's coach and uncle, Toni. "We know that the main thing is not to break these records, but to win tournaments."
http://www.columbian.com/news/APStories/AP05292006news32074.cfm

mallorn
05-30-2006, 11:24 AM
From The Times
Record-breaking 'Rambo' revels in the joy of pecs
By Simon Barnes

Our Chief Sports Writer is in Paris to see the impressive Rafael Nadal's strike an intimidating pose on court

YESTERDAY was the cue for Rafael Nadal to impose his presence on the French Open. Please note that I pick my words with some care: few players have such an imposing physical presence on the court, and fewer still have been at such pains to project it.
He strode on to court in a special costume. You would not think that it would work: such an elaborate personal superstructure generally hints at compensation for inferior performance. Not with Nadal: the fancy dress is all part of the package of intimidation. It is an extension of himself.

He wears calf-length shorts, or rather a pair of does-my-bum-look-hard-in-these trousers. Above that, the muscles-vest, a shirt cut back to the shoulders to give the best possible view of those impossibly pneumatic biceps. Me, I’d have thought that the brisk Parisian evening was a mite chilly for biceps-revelation, but then I don’t have sponsors to please or opponents to displease.

This is all topped off with the headband, and the combat- bedraggled hair. It’s all pure Rambo. That’s the obvious inspiration here: Sylvester Stallone on the rampage, looking for justice and not caring who gets in his way. The whole package reeks of the slogan from — to switch films on you — the original Dirty Harry movie.

With Nadal, you don’t assign him to a tennis match, you just turn him loose. He reminds me, more than anyone else, of Venus Williams: the same desire to use any means at hand to make an opponent feel small, unable to compete in terms of power. Show off that mighty bod, go on and win the warm-up. Hell, your opponent’s a break down before the start. That’s how Nadal played it against Robin Soderling, of Sweden, yesterday. First impose yourself and then go crashing and banging into his weaknesses to win 6-2, 7-5, 6-1.

Nadal makes tennis a thing of physical splendour. As opposed to Roger Federer, who makes tennis a thing of metaphysical splendour. And that, I suspect, is at the heart of the way in which Nadal has Federer rattled. Nadal gives the impression of a game based entirely on untamed power. There’s a good deal more to it than that, most notably remarkable accuracy and a wonderful feeling for the rhythm of a rally.

But it all comes in this package of unambiguous maleness. The man is an in-your-face testosterone overdose, and the performance seems designed to make Federer feel a bit of a wimp. Federer can do the most marvellous things with a tennis ball, but he can’t do that wanna-feel-my-pecs strut. Such small matters can get to a chap. Nadal turns 20 on Saturday, and is seeded to meet Federer in the final here. He now holds a 5-1 lead over Federer, after beating him in Rome 16 days ago in five sets, saving two match points as he did so.

Federer, peevish afterwards, complained that Nadal’s uncle had been coaching his boy on court. Maybe it was true, but it was the fact that it bothered a champion that was significant.

This is shaping up to be a fair old rivalry, and rivalries are the stuff of sport. The rivalries, I mean, in which each player finds in the other a kind of completion and reaches the best of himself through the other’s excellence. That is what happened with Björn Borg and John McEnroe. There are increasing indications that the same thing is happening here.

Nadal’s hand was strengthened still further by his breaking of a singular record yesterday. This was his 54th consecutive victory in clay-court matches and it beats the record of Guillermo Vilas, who was there yesterday. Vilas handed over a trophy to Nadal to mark the occasion but did not feel called on to overdo the moral generosity, still less the humility.

“First of all, Nadal’s record is spanning over two years, and that is not the same,” he said. Vilas’s record of 53 wins was set between May and September of 1977. “Then I have the feeling that he had easy tournaments on his schedule for that purpose.” Vilas pointed out that he had records of 46 consecutive victories on all surfaces, and of 14 tournaments in a calendar year. Beat that, kid. Vilas added: “They never gave me any trophy.”

As Vilas so astutely notices, times change and, barring the occasional match point to save against one of the greatest players that ever drew breath, Nadal is the undisputed master of the red dirt in the 21st century.

He is also pretty seriously excellent on hard courts and will be turned loose on England for the grass-court season, playing at Queen’s Club before Wimbledon. Last year when he hit the grass he looked as happy as a wet cat. This year, older, wiser, stronger and more packed than ever with self-belief, he will be ready to rumble.

But first the little matter of Parisian clay, and if all goes well, the next great episode in the budding rivalry. A sporting legend is taking shape before our eyes
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,5205-2202300,00.html

mallorn
05-30-2006, 11:25 AM
And from AP via Forbes
Associated Press
Nadal Breaks Clay Record at French Open

By STEVEN WINE , 05.30.2006, 06:17 AM

Rafael Nadal resisted any temptation to unleash his patented leaping uppercut or collapse to the court in glee. Instead, he simply walked to the net for a subdued handshake after breaking the Open-era record for consecutive victories on clay.

Nadal hopes to do more celebrating next week, following the French Open final.

Still, Monday's first-round victory over Robin Soderling was something to savor. Nadal even received a trophy for his 54th consecutive win on clay, which broke the record he shared with Guillermo Vilas.

"It's important for me to be in the history," Nadal said. "Fifty-four victories, it's very, very difficult. It's a lot of tournaments, a lot of matches. It's not normal, because one day you can have bad luck, anything."

The 2005 champion is seeded second and expected to renew his budding rivalry with top-ranked Roger Federer in the final. But even though Nadal is 8-0 at Roland Garros and unbeaten on clay since April 2005, he said winning the next five matches to reach the final won't be easy.

"It's more than two persons who can win here, a lot more," he said. "I don't think it's only Federer and me. I think there are about 15 players."

Among those joining Nadal in the second round were two other former champions, Gaston Gaudio and Juan Carlos Ferrero. Also winning was No. 8-seeded James Blake, one of three players to beat Nadal this year.

Winners in the women's draw included five-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams, playing only her 10th match of the year, and two-time runner-up Kim Clijsters. Both survived error-filled matches in windy weather.

Williams had seven double-faults and 33 unforced errors but beat Sybille Bammer, Austria, 6-4, 6-3. It was the first Grand Slam victory this year for Williams, who lost in the opening round at the Australian Open and was then sidelined for 3 1/2 months by injuries.

Even so, she considers herself among the title contenders.

"I don't think anyone wants to say, 'Yeah, I definitely want to play Venus Williams,'" she said. "I don't think that at all."

Clijsters committed five double-faults and 32 unforced errors but overcame a 5-2 deficit in the second set and three set points to beat Virginie Razzano 6-0, 7-6 (4).

The only seeded man eliminated in the first two days of play was No. 16 Jarkko Nieminen, who retired with stomach cramps trailing Raemon Sluiter 6-2, 7-6 (6), 2-1.

That left plenty of potential hurdles for Nadal, but he'll be difficult to derail, as Soderling can attest. Nadal beat him 6-2, 7-5, 6-1, undeterred by gusty, damp, cool weather and the pressure to break the record.

"It's one of the most difficult matches I've played," Nadal said. "Obviously there was a moment where I had difficulties. I was a bit nervous. That's mainly because on clay the conditions were difficult."

Wind blew clouds of dirt into the stands, leaving the court looking barren in spots.

"It's not a clay court; it's a hard court today," Nadal said.

But even on patchy clay, the Spaniard is tough to beat. He trailed 4-2 in the 68-minute second set but rallied, and beginning at 5-all he won six consecutive games to pull away.

The 19-year-old Nadal's domination on clay prompts speculation about how many Roland Garros titles he might win.

"He can win a lot if he plays the way he's playing now," said Vilas, an Argentine who won four Grand Slam titles. "Players are trying to figure out Rafael, trying to find something that he does wrong. You saw him today. He was very nervous because he feels the pressure. That also takes a toll on the players. Let's see what happens."

Vilas took part in a postmatch ceremony, with Nadal receiving as a trophy a cutaway sample showing the multiple layers of a clay court.

"If I had to lose that record," Vilas said, "I'm pleased I was losing it to somebody like that."
http://www.forbes.com/home/feeds/ap/2006/05/30/ap2779835.html

Jogg
05-30-2006, 01:06 PM
"I'm angry. You're showing a lack of respect for your elders," Vilas told the Spanish teen, tongue squarely in cheek. "If I see you, I don't know what I'm going to do to you."

Caught off-guard and uncertain whether Vilas was pulling his leg, Nadal stammered for a moment before catching on.

:lol: bless him

thanks for the articles :)

I'm sure rafa will be back to normal for thursday - his nervousness will be gone

:bounce: Vamos Rafa :bounce:

veyonce
05-30-2006, 03:36 PM
Rafa's 29 May 2006 Post Match Press Conference

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyuOZJFcVkU

http://media.putfile.com/Eurosport-Rafa-29-May-2006-Press-Conference

mallorn
05-31-2006, 01:00 PM
Gee, I'm so behind...damn work. :rolleyes: ;)

Some more articles. From The Age:
Clay king leaves rivals in the dust

http://img119.imageshack.us/img119/4219/wbbtennisnadalwideweb470x38709.jpg (http://imageshack.us)
Rafael Nadal with his trophy and former record-holder Guillermo Vilas.
Photo: Getty Images

May 31, 2006

THE King of Clay already conquered his own generation, so Rafael Nadal found a new challenge as he reached back into another era with his left hand and took out another legend on Monday.

On a crisp, windswept day at the French Open, the Spaniard won his 54th consecutive match on clay, surpassing Guillermo Vilas' Open era record of 53 straight wins.

Nadal defeated Robin Soderling of Sweden in the first round, 6-2, 7-5, 6-1. His most recent loss on clay was on April 7, 2005, in Valencia, Spain, against Igor Andreev.

"For me, it's special because 54 victories is very, very difficult," Nadal said. "A lot of tournaments, a lot of matches. It's not normal because one day you can have bad luck, anything. It's important for me to be in the history."

The precocious left-hander hit 54 before reaching 20 — his 20th birthday is on Saturday. Last year, he celebrated his birthday by beating Roger Federer in the semi-finals here on his way to the title.

Who knows what he will do for an encore? On Monday, Nadal wasn't about to spoil a party. Vilas was on hand to watch as well as participate in a post-match ceremony.

Belief in Nadal's ability was such that officials were poised to give him a glass trophy representing the geological formation of a claycourt. A loss, and the trophy probably would have landed on eBay by the end of the week.

Still, 54 didn't come without a brief spell of drama. Soderling broke Nadal's serve in the sixth game of the second set, and later had a game point for a 5-2 lead. The other area of concern came with wind gusts blowing the clay off court, making players and spectators shield their eyes.

Nadal wasn't pleased by the conditions and asked that the chair umpire have more clay put down during the second set. The King of Clay didn't want his kingdom vanishing, but his request was denied.

It didn't matter. Soderling put a forehand into the net on the final point. Nadal, though thrilled, somewhat tempered his celebration. He clapped his hands above his head in acknowledgement of the fans, and later hugged Vilas.

The second of three days of first-round action followed form, with the 18th-seeded Russian Elena Likhovtseva, who reached the semi-finals last year, the only upset, hammered 6-1, 6-1 by Croatia's Karolina Sprem.

Kim Clijsters blew hot and cold before advancing with a 6-0, 7-6 (7-4) victory over France's Virginie Razzano, while Venus Williams, who is seeded 11th, looked sharp enough in a 6-4, 6-3 win over Austrian Sybille Bammer.

"I'm fit and strong, pretty healthy," said Williams, whose year has been badly disrupted by injury. "I should be pretty fresh compared to some other players."

Another Russian, men's sixth seed Nikolay Davydenko, started with a 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 triumph against American Vince Spadea. His compatriot, eighth seed James Blake, overcame Thailand's Paradorn Srichaphan 6-0, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3).

Blake has not gone beyond the second round at Roland Garros and he next faces Wayne Arthurs' conqueror, Spanish clay specialist Nicolas Almagro.

But the day belonged to Nadal. Vilas' record, set in 1977, came to a halt in a controversial match against Ilie Nastase in Aix-en-Provence, France, when Nastase used a double-strung racquet, which was later banned.

"It was really the racquet," Vilas said yesterday, somewhat ungraciously. "I didn't lose against a player, I lost against a racquet."

Legends often have a problem losing certain records, and Vilas was no exception. In an interview before Monday's match, he downplayed Nadal's accomplishment, saying it came over two years and he thought Nadal added "easy tournaments" to his schedule to achieve the feat.

After Nadal's victory, Vilas opted to travel the high road. "Great player. Very good for tennis," Vilas said. "He will inspire a new generation of players. I think (Bjorn) Borg and myself, we made every player train harder, prepare physically to endure long matches. This guy is going to tell the guys to get tougher in their head, the way he is."

Nadal's next opponent is American Kevin Kim, a qualifying tournament "lucky loser", who defeated qualifier Julio Silva of Brazil, 7-5, 6-2, 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (7-3). Kim has never played, practised or spoken with Nadal. But there was a moment of connection with the Kim family and Nadal on Monday.

"My mum got his autograph today. So I guess I'm going down already," Kim said, smiling.

LOS ANGELES TIMES, AGENCIES
http://www.theage.com.au/news/tennis/clay-king-leaves-rivals-in-the-dust/2006/05/30/1148956347464.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap1

mallorn
05-31-2006, 01:02 PM
From The South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
FRENCH OPEN
From the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Nadal seizes the day on clay

54th consecutive victory surpasses Vilas' mark

By Charles Bricker | South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Posted May 30, 2006

PARIS ? Side-by-side flags above the Philippe Chatrier stadium court already were blowing in different directions when Rafael Nadal went on court near 6 p.m. to begin defense of his French Open title Monday.

Less than an hour later, with the temperature dropping into the 50s, the swirling winds became so bad that the irrepressible Spanish champion was moved to call this first-round match "one of the worst days for play on clay."

At one point, as the ground brick dust was blown across the court, Nadal's opening victim, Robin Soderling, pulled his shirt up over his face to keep from getting grains in his eyes. Eventually, Nadal had to appeal to the chair umpire to have crews throw more material onto the court because it was becoming dangerous to slide into the bald spots.

But as bad as it was, nothing on this second day of the tournament was going to prevent Nadal from surpassing the great Guillermo Vilas by winning a record 54th consecutive clay-court match, 6-2, 7-5, 6-1 over the tall young Swede.

Nadal's victory thrust him into the second round against lucky loser Kevin Kim, who needed four sets to get past another qualifier, Julio Silva of Brazil.

On balance, it wasn't a bad day at Roland Garros. Long before the weather deteriorated, No. 8 seed James Blake of Tampa blasted past another big hitter, Paradorn Srichaphan, to gain the second round against Nicolas Almagro.

Other winners: No. 6 Nikolay Davydenko, who beat Vince Spadea of Boca Raton, No. 10 Gaston Gaudio, No. 11 Radek Stepanek, No. 12 Mario Ancic and No. 13 Nicolas Kiefer.

Sixteenth-seeded Jarkko Nieminen quit his match with Raemon Sluiter, claiming an upset stomach.

No. 11 seed Venus Williams, in only her 10th match of the season but looking very quick and fit, swept by Sybille Bammer of Austria 6-4, 6-3.

She's into the second round with No. 2 Kim Clijsters, No. 6 Elena Dementieva, No. 7 Patty Schnyder, No. 8 Svetlana Kuznetsova, No. 9 Francesca Schiavone and No. 16 Nicole Vaidisova.

Even with Vilas in attendance, giving the day a celebratory feel, Nadal's victory seemed more like an anticlimax. Few if any expected him to lose to Soderling and, though he had some anxious moments in the latter stages of the second set, Nadal regained control in the third set and was off the court in two hours and eight minutes.

"Sure, sure I was a bit nervous," he said of his series of shanks and wild strokes in the second set. "The wind was unbelievable. I was down 4-2 and going to 5-2. The set was very complicated, no?"

It was particularly complicated for Nadal because he imparts so much spin to the ball, and on this day the ball was wiggling and knuckling as it was driven toward him by the slugging Swede. That made it tricky for Nadal to make contact in his extreme manner.

He was serving for the second set at 5-4 when Soderling finally scored on his fifth break point. But that was his last good streak of play.

Williams has a friendly draw -- at least through the first week. She'll next play Finland's only major woman player, Emma Laine, and that shouldn't be difficult.

There were no signs of the injuries that kept her out of a succession of tournaments this season. "I've been seeing myself progress, playing better and better each round. I'm strong, pretty healthy," she said.

She'll want to cut out some or all of the seven double faults she registered, but she'll want to keep attacking the net on the short balls. Williams was very effective inside the service line, converting 19 of 25 points she played at net.

Charles Bricker can be reached at cbricker@sun-sentinel.com.
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/local/sfl-french30may30,0,2883644.story?coll=orl-sports-headlines

mallorn
05-31-2006, 01:03 PM
Translated by Gaby of vr.com. :hug: :worship:
From Elpais.es (link from Moondancer!)

http://www.elpais.es/articulo/deportes/Federer/mucho/completo/elegante/elppordep/20060530elpepidep_1/Tes/

Nadal: "Federer is much more complete and much more elegant than me"
Manel Serras - Paris

EL PAIS - Sports - 30-05-2006

When Rafael Nadal (Manacor, June 3rd 1986) exploded, in 2005, the whole world was conscious that he would be a star on the tennis firmament. He won 11 titles, among them Roland Garros, and he placed himself as world's number two, right after Swiss Roger Federer, whom he's beaten four times in a row, the last time in Rome, where he saved two match points. In Paris, where yesterday he marked on 54 the record of consecutive victories in clay courts, after imposing over Swede Robin Soderling by 6-2, 7-5 and 6-1 -- he was tied at 53 with the argentine Guillermo Vilas--, and his participation in the final is expected. But his successes don't make Nadal lose sight on reality.

Question. How can you be so high up and still keep your feet on the ground?
Answer. I've never been floating high up. Whether I've won or lost, my motto has always been the same: to work every day so things won't twist the wrong way. It's the only way to achieve something.

Q. Last year you won 11 tournaments. You're on that road again...
A. No, no... I'm on a really great road, but not in the road to winning 11 tournaments again. I can't complain. I would've never imagined that, at this point of the year, I'd already have four titles out of seven that I've tried to win and that I'd only lost once on the first round. I think it's incredible.

Q. It's harder to stay there than to get there. Is that your case?
A. Everything's complicated, hard. When one becomes number two, you have to work really hard to defend the points and you play with a lot of pressure. On the other hand, when you're ascending (positions), everything comes really straight-forward. You don't think much. If you're young, your nerves don't oppress you or anything. When you're already up, you are the head of the series. If you know how to use it [the not confronting the best players at the beginning], it's hard to go too far back.

Q. Do you intimidate your rivals even before going into the court?
A. I always go with the intention of giving it a hundred percent. They know that and that helps me. They see me so determined that they get nervous.

Q. Did that help on the Rome final against Federer? You were down 5-3 on the fifth set and you kept on fighting.
A. I did what I always do: fight until the end. When you see someone in front of you that won't give up no matter if you're winning or not, you hesitate. Federer had all the chances to beat me. And I had the luck to avoid him beating me.

Q. Did you think at that point about the record of 53 straight wins on clay courts that you were going to tie?
A. Yes. It wasn't very important for me, but I started to value it as I got closer to beating it. It's hard to achieve that. And, on top of all, against the number one player and in a master series. It's not easy to win a master series. Juan Carlos Ferrero, that got to be number one, has won four; Carlos Moya, three; Lleyton Hewitt, two; Federer, the best player in history, 11.

Q. Do you like the statistics?
A. Yes. I rule myself based on its logic. I'm conscious of how much it takes to win so many straight matches and I'm surprised to have done it. You can always have a bad day. I looked at my results and truly I only suffered a lot in two or three of them. That means that I maintained a great level of focus. When problems arose, I got lucky, but I also was mentally strong.

Q. Do you think about renewing the RG title?
A. One always has the illusion. But the probabilities of winning are slimmer than one thinks. Having won in Montecarlo, Barcelona and Roma helps me because now I can confront Roland Garros with more tranquility, knowing that I've already accumulated many points. If I played a good tournament, and I don't mean winning, some catastrophe should happen in the second half of the year to make me not end at least among the top four by the end of the year.

Q. Do you already visualize a final against Federer?
A. No. I almost never think about the finals until they come. I only worry about my next rival. But there are too many things that you can't control. It would be my wish to play a final against Federer or some other player. But it's too soon to think about that.

Q. Everything seems to indicate that the ‘Nadal-Federer’ battle will mark history. How do you feel about this?
A. When I play against him, I always have the feeling that he's better than me. He plays more aggressive, has more ease on his volley, serves better, and has more resources to attack... I have to play my best and try to hold on as much as I can. My only possibility is to drive him to despair, make him realize that he should win a point plenty of times, that he should do something else that he doesn't do when playing against others, and try to place him in a situation more extreme than those that he's used to. And, then, anything can happen. Up until now I've had the luck to be in a better situation than him or that he's made a mistake when playing a point.

Q. Are you becoming Federer's curse?
A. No. He's a great player on court and an excellent person outside of it. I have a good relationship with him, although for me it's easier because I'm beating him. But he's human. We've seen him throw his racket, get mad when he's about to lose: against Nalbandian, against Almagro; against me, in Montecarlo, when he threw a ball to the sea. He's got attitude. But he's number one. The logic thing is for him to beat me.

Q. What makes you different from him?
A. He's more complete and more elegant than me. He's got every right shot. But he's also older [August 8th 1981] than me. The issue is to try to copy him. When one does it so well, you have to take his techniques as a model and better them. He's also colder and doesn't show his emotions much, especially when he wins. Maybe that's why he's so good. But I like to play with a bit more of blood, showing my feelings more.

Q. You seem prepared to win the Australian Open and even the US Open. What about Wimbledon?
A. I give myself three years to try it. In order to play well there you have to have good feelings with the court, and actually understand playing on grass. On a normal court, in ground, you have to have a really defined way of playing. Not on grass. You have to learn to move better, to run better, to serve better, and to move to the front or to the back..., get used to the sliding balls. I understand concrete and clay. I'm only missing grass. But when I retire, I want to have a clean conscience and know that I've done everything I could in order to play well on grass. It's a special tournament and I always look forward to playing it each year.

Q. You said while receiving your trophy in the Godó Tournament that you thank your parents for yelling at you when you do stuff wrong.
A. When I do things right, I know it. When I do them wrong, there's a lot of people around me that don't have enough guts to tell me so. They don't have the courage to tell me "Eh! Where are you going?". They don't realize that you're an actual person just like everybody else. However, my parents don't really care if I'm number two, or three, or 200. They treat me the same way. And I thank them.

Q. And don't you get mad at them?
A. Evidently, just like every other 19-year-old kid. When they tell me the same thing over and over again, I get annoyed. I'm proud and I can have strong impulses. But I end up realizing that I'm the one mistaken.

Q. Is it true that you've never thrown a racket against the floor?
A. I've never done it. I've always had the temptation several times, but I've always controlled myself just in time. Ever since I was a little kid, my uncle has educated me that way. I don't think I'll change.

Q. How do you control yourself?
A. I get angry very rarely. When playing against Federer, after losing 7-6 in the first set, I got to the tiebreak in the second and he was up 2-1. That's when I missed an easy volley on the net. That's when I was just about to throw my racket. It just was the object closer to me. But I said to myself: "Hold on". Had I thrown it when I was smaller, my uncle would have thrown me off the court.

Q. Have you argued with him? (Uncle Toni)
A. Plenty of times. In my formation phase it was really hard. When I used to go training, I felt almost upset. He always put tons of intensity in the training, always yelled at me a lot, he was always on my case... I guess all of that's helped me to be who I am and to have so much self-control.

Q. Why did he chose to make you play with your left hand when you were about eight or nine years of age?
A. There wasn't any other option. I was playing with both hands both the drive as well as the backhand, and I was even switching hands when going from one hit to the other. He decided that the time of playing with just one hand had come. He chose the left one because I played soccer with my left leg. I accepted because that's what seemed most appropriate for me too. I felt comfortable.

Q. What do you think when your uncle tells you that you're only the best when passing balls over a net?
A. He's a very special person, that thinks a lot and that, if you listen to him, says things that aren't the usual. You just have to do as he says.

Q. Do you feel privileged?
A. It's been hard to get to where I am now. When I was little, my friends went playing after school and I went training. But I've always loved sports: soccer, tennis, golf... that's what made it easier. Yes, I feel a bit privileged for doing what I love to do.

Q. Are your aspirations to have a great car, a huge mansion..?
A. Not at all. I live with my parents, very calm. I have a KIA that my sponsors gave to me because they sponsor me. And a Mercedes that I won in Stuttgart and that is still there. My illusion is to be happy. Have a small boat so that I can go fishing and... Not much more. Not having the best car, or the best computer, nothing of that kind. I don't need those things.

Q. Is your aspiration becoming number one?
A. My main objective is to become a better player and to be happy. Right now I have slim chances of becoming number one because I'm in a time period where I have to play against the best player in history. In any other time period I would already be number one because of all the points that I have. And that makes me very happy. But it's true that someday I'd like to become number one.

mallorn
05-31-2006, 01:06 PM
Translated by Moondancer of vr.com :hug: :worship:
Rafael Nadal starts his second Roland Garros, knowing that he will give it everything he has, as usual.

L'Equipe - May 29, 2006

He’s never lost in Roland Garros. Today against Soderling, he has beaten the absolute record of consecutive victories on clay (53), held by of Guillermo Vilas. He has an easygoing view on life and on tennis: do what he loves to do and give it everything he has without looking back. Rafael is not yet 20 years old but he already has a solid foundation for the construction of a career that could turn out extraordinary.

Q: What do you like about tennis?
RN: What I like about it? The competition!

Q: But what else?
RN: Er…well, what I like about it is that I love playing tennis, I like playing well. I love to find the sensation of tranquility on court. When I do find that within me, I tell myself that there is no reason for me not to gain the control of the match.

Q: Control of the opponent or of the match?
RN: The match, no matter if I’m in a defensive or in an attacking position since I like both very much. It doesn’t matter as long as I have control of the match.

Q: When you run back and forth on the courts all over the world, sometimes without showing any sign of letting go, we assume that you must be doing a lot of running in the streets of Manacor non-stop to get the level of endurance and resistance you have.
RN: Not at all. Me, I like to put in major efforts during training and when I prepare myself, when I’m on the court. But what I don’t like is “running for the sake of running”. That is really not my thing. It’s not that I train more than others but I work at 100% during the entire duration of the training session. I think that this is where I get my good physical preparation from.

Q: When you were 14 years old, you declined an offer from the Spanish Federation to come to their academy in Barcelona. You were able to enjoy being surrounded by your family in Manacor on your island of Majorca. Do you sometimes wonder if you would have become an even better player if you would have said yes to the Federation?
RN: Well, better…you never know. I’ve heard people say that I could have been stronger but I am happy with the choice that I’ve made at the time and I’m happy with the level that I have reached now. I think that it was very important for me to stay with my family rather than staying at a boarding school in Barcelona. This way, I could lead the life I liked.

Q: When you started to play tennis at the age of 3, you used your right hand to eat or to draw for example and yet, you played tennis with your left hand from the start and it’s an important element in your game. How is it possible that nobody convinced you at the time to play with your right hand?
RN: They never really questioned it at the time because I played football with my left fool so it never was a shock…

Q: Brad Gilbert declared recently that if he would go back on tour as coach, he would do it to coach you and nobody else. What do you think of that?
RN: Me, I want to stay with my uncle for as long as he wants to. I really can’t imagine having another trainer to be honest. It would really be odd. He knows me better than anybody else. I owe it to him that I am where I am now. I’m a believer in continuity.

Q: Could you describe this uncle of yours in a few words. He seems to have managed your trajectory, your personal development and your progress so well for 15 years now.
RN: Toni is somebody very special really. Very disciplined…I don’t know but he’s a hard worker who thinks a lot. He loves training and to train hard. He loves to push and he loves to see that I give myself a 100% during each training session.

Q: Toni was the target of criticism by Roger Federer because of the final in Rome. He complained that you were coached by your uncle during that match. A reaction?
RN: The court is the court and that’s where it’s got to stay. I have nothing to add to that.

Q: Still, could you please elaborate just a bit more? Is it true that Toni helps you during your matches?
RN: (hesitant at first but he’s willing to talk about it soon after that) There is nothing more or less than with other players. Toni tells me little things, he encourages me but all the trainers do that. In what other sport do you see a trainer who is static? In what sport is it forbidden? The umpire of the Rome final (the Italian Romano Grillci) understands Spanish. If I haven’t received a warning, it’s because he estimates that everything happened within the rules. In any case, I think that the coaching rules need to be modified.

Q: Andre Agassi has declared that you would lose 10 matches out of 10 against Federer if you had been a righthanded player and that your singularity is a huge factor in your level of play. Does something like that affect you?
RN: I will never say that being a lefty is not important but it is not the most important factor. The most important element is your mind, your mentality and that is something that does not depend on being a lefthander or a righthander.

Q: To explain the danger you represent for your opponents and in particular to explain your domination over Federer (5 to 1 in their head-to-head) people say that your most powerful weapon is your left forehand that goes to the backhand…
RN: It’s because it allows me to open up the court on their backhand side but you must not forget that others are in the exact same situation because their forehand goes to my backhand…I annoys me a bit that I have to hear that so often because the situation is the same on both sides.

Q: One of your most impressive qualities is your extraordinary ability to adapt (to a situation). How do you explain that?
RN: It’s not easy. When you’ve had to stay away from the tour for some time, it’s hard to find your rhythm of competition again and especially, a good level of concentration and even if you change surface, it’s important to win your first match – plain and simple. Once you’ve got that, everything changes. It does for me anyway.

Q: Do you take special care of your material. Certain players take special care of it as a matter of superstition. Are you like that?
RN: I’m not a maniac about that. I don’t really think about this sort of thing. I don’t think that things like the balance of the racquet is that important really. The tension of the strings? I have played the same tension all my life. The same with my grip. It’s impossible for me to talk about the balance of my racket frame. I don’t even know the weight of my racket. Once again: the most important factor is your state of mind and not the state of your material.

Q: And the tension of the strings? Some are obsessed about a precision within 500 grams.
RN: I keep things simple. If I feel that my shots go too far, I put a bit more topspin on the ball and my shots become heavier. It’s not that I play with the same tension in every tournament because it does certainly depend on the playing circumstances. It does happen that I go to the man who takes care of the strings to tell him that I’m not happy with the results but I often don’t change it in the course of a tournament.

Q: One would say that no external element can affect you. Nothing seems to disturb you; not your competitiveness or your confidence. Is that impression wrong?
RN: I’m just trying to be the best tennis player I can be. I’m happy when I play and even happier when I play well. I love the competition so much that I don’t have any problem being extremely concentrated during an entire match. I benefit from tennis! I think that I can say that I have fairly good mentality for this job.

Q: Recently, you could not that famous job of yours because of a foot injury that kept you at the sidelines for almost four months. There was even some talk of a premature end of your career. Were you that scared at the time?
RN: Some people said that I could never come back but people in my entourage have never though that, not my doctors and neither did I think that. Of course I shed tears when I could not play, when the pain wouldn’t go away. There were days when I would start again but I had to stop because the pain came back right away. It’s true that this was the most difficult period in my career but I never thought of stopping.

Q: Is there a player that makes you think: “I always play well against him, I feel that I’m in total control” or a type of opponent that suits you better than others?
RN: I’m not going to give any names but I prefer players who put rhythm into the match. Let’s just say that the Spanish style of playing suits me well for example (Nadal has won 26 of the last 27 matches against Spaniards). I like to counter topspin.

Q: Your interest in golf could be surprising to some. What pleasure do you take from that sport?
RN: I am calm for 3 or 4 hours, cut off from the everyday problems with nothing else to think about than playing golf and try to play well. Besides, it's often in a very beautiful environment so…

Q: But don’t you miss the physical effort in that sport?
RN: No, not at all because there’s also competition in that sport and I’m a person who seeks out competition. It’s a sport that requires concentration and I love doing that.

Q: What’s your level in golf?
RN: My handicap is 14

Q: Two examples of some of your most striking exploits: one is your victory against Coria in the final of Rome in 2005 after 5 hours and 15 minutes of intense battle and the other one is against Gasquet in Estoril in 2004 when you broke your foot during the match. What is your viewpoint on those two exceptional events?
RN: I was exhausted that Sunday after a beautiful victory 7-5 in the third set against David Ferrer (after a very intense 2 hours, 30 minutes) and on the day of my final against Coria, I could not hold my rhythm in my warming up session against Thomas Muster! However, after that there was this incredible match against Guillermo…I’m sure that I’m repeating myself but I think that it’s mostly a matter of mentality.
The situation was different against Gasquet. I did not want to stop because I had to do so in one of our previous duels in a tournament challenger of St.-Jean-de-Luz a couple of months before that. I wanted to keep on fighting until the very end. Sure, it was painful. But I won (6-4, 3-6, 6-2). After that, I was injured for a good time, that’s true but it did set my mind at ease (make me sleep well).

Q: Another characteristic of yours is that your incredible competitive soul seems to go hand in hand with the utmost respect for your opponent. Is that true?
RN: Sportsmanship is one of things that are important to me. I feel that it’s really good in a competitive environment to behave in a respectful way off and on the court. I believe that it’s important. In any case, it’s possible.

Q: After having qualified for the Davis Cup final in 2004 in Alicante, we remember that your first reaction was to salute the French team.
RN: Yes, but that’s a matter of education and profound sentiments. I was taught to act and think like that and so, it comes natural to me.

Q: How does it inspire you when people talk to you about “limits”
RN: Limits, that’s something you impose on yourself, I think. I believe that you can always improve and that nobody is perfect.

Q: Are you eager to find out how far you can go, where your limits are exactly?
RN: What interests me is to never find my limits!

Q: What are the odds you would put on Federer winning Roland Garros and what are the odds you would give to yourself on winning Wimbledon?
RN: The time that Federer will one day win in Paris looks near to me. He’s very close according to me. I think that the odds to win are great for Federer, even this year since he reached the final in Monte Carlo and in Rome…He doesn’t lose often on clay, does he? For me to win Wimbledon…that’s not really an item in the current news. I have much less experience on grass than Roger has on clay. But, I’m working on it and I do hope to make progress and why not win it one day. I’m going to play at Queens this year, and then I’m going to have a week of training in London. If I play well and luck is on my side, maybe I can make quite a bit of progress on my road to Wimbledon.

Q: Here you are, back in Roland Garros after your first title last year. What sort of memories came up first thinking about 2005 before arriving here?
RN:I remember a certain nervousness and I believe my first clear memories are from the match against Gasquet in the third round. There was a very strong atmosphere. I’m really happy to come back here and I’m eager to play…and to get a good result as well…

Q: “A good result”…do you say that to take away the pressure? Is there a high pressure on your shoulders by the way?
RN: Not at all really. Have you forgotten last year? It was my first time here and they were already expecting me to get it on my first try. The pressure was tougher to carry back then. There is less the feeling of ‘obligation’ this year but maybe there is less freshness this time because everything was new in 2005 when I discovered the tournament for the first time. But, I know that I’m a better player now. Most of all, the huge difference with last year is that I now already have a trophy standing in my room at home.


Julien Reboullet

Jogg
05-31-2006, 06:47 PM
LENGLEN 11:00 Start
Ana Ivanovic (SCG)[19] vs. Emilie Loit (FRA)
Dick Norman (BEL) vs. Gael Monfils (FRA)[25]
Kevin Kim (USA) vs. Rafael Nadal (ESP)[2]
C. Martinez Granados (ESP) vs. Kim Clijsters (BEL)[2]

:bounce: Vamos Rafa :bounce: Good Luck :yeah:

RogiFan88
05-31-2006, 08:13 PM
I won't get Rafa's match on TV unless there's no rain and everyone finishes in record time! :haha:

mallorn
05-31-2006, 08:55 PM
I'll be at work. :( At least I can record it though.

Or it could rain and then I might catch it live after all. :lol:

http://www.cosgan.de/images/smilie/musik/k015.gif

VAMOS RAFA!

http://www.cosgan.de/images/smilie/musik/k015.gif

mallorn
05-31-2006, 09:07 PM
It'll be on later than we thought, the OOP has changed:

LENGLEN 11:00 Start

Women's Singles - 2nd Rnd.
Ana Ivanovic (SCG)[19] vs. Emilie Loit (FRA)

Men's Singles - 2nd Rnd.
Sebastien Grosjean (FRA)[21] vs. Martin Vassallo Arguello (ARG)
T/F 6-1 4-6 6-4

followed by

Men's Singles - 2nd Rnd.
Dick Norman (BEL) vs. Gael Monfils (FRA)[25]

Men's Singles - 2nd Rnd.
Kevin Kim (USA) vs. Rafael Nadal (ESP)[2]

Women's Singles - 2nd Rnd.
C. Martinez Granados (ESP) vs. Kim Clijsters (BEL)[2]


I almost forgot to post this (hard to keep up with all the articles etc.). From Vince Spadea's blog from two days ago:

It Begins

Posted 5/29/2006 @ 2:27 PM

http://img190.imageshack.us/img190/1717/20060529a6tr.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

The French Open has started, the fans are excited, and the stands are as full as ever. But something is different this year: It's the first time that Roland Garros started on Sunday. I just finished practicing with Kristof Vlgien from Belgium, and now I'm coming to you from a computer in the men's locker room. Carlos Moya's coach is on a computer next to me, and Alberto Martin is on a computer next to him.

Rafael Nadal is chilling out in the players' lounge on the best seat in the house--the sofa in front of the 18 television monitors. Each one displays a match from a different court. Rafa's eyes are plastered to the one broadcasting the action on Philippe Chatrier stadium court. He looks like a kid watching a cartoon. Nothing distracts him. He's mesmerized. He occasionally spits out a comment or two in his high pitched youthful Spanish speaking voice.

Nadal is watching Roger Federer, of course. Roger was down two breaks in the first set, but he came back. He's winning comfortably now, but Rafael still watches, with his legs draped along the sofa.

Sitting next to Nadal is Argentine Fernando Gonzalez. The players' lounge is crazy with players, coaches, and friends. I've seen Martina Hingis, Kim Clijsters, Maria Sharapova, and Venus Williams.

Are you ready? If you're not ready, get ready.
I think I'm ready. It's here, live from the French Open, Vince Spadea reporting. Smashtennis.com. That's my word.
http://www.smashtennis.com/blogs/spadea/index.asp

MariaV
05-31-2006, 09:08 PM
I wish the weather in Paris would get better. I don't think Rafa likes it so rainy and windy. :( But the forecast is not too good, no?

MariaV
05-31-2006, 09:10 PM
Fed was lucky he got his match finished fast today. I hope Rafa can make it fast and easy tomorrow too.

mallorn
05-31-2006, 09:15 PM
I think it's the wind that really bothers him. The forecast for tomorrow is mostly cloudy, temp up to 15 degrees, but it'll probably be colder by the time he gets on the court.

I think the SL court is better though, the wind is less of a factor there.

MariaV
05-31-2006, 09:25 PM
Let's hope so Mallorn, let's hope so. :D
:wavey:

16681
05-31-2006, 09:51 PM
Keep that wind down please! I forget exactly which one of the earlier U.S. Tournaments that Rafa played in and I was afraid he was going to get blown away--no not by the person he was playing, but it was sooooo windy that it looked like it was all he could do to stand up on the court :eek: The wind was blowing the players clothes--now that could have gotten interesting :devil: But you could tell Rafa did not like the wind at all :eek:

MariaV
06-01-2006, 05:34 PM
Seems like Rafa's not gonna finish his match tonight. :shrug: I wonder if they're gonna start tonight even? Poor Rafa, his rhythm is gonna be completely f**ed up. :(

Andre forever
06-01-2006, 06:10 PM
STUPID WEATHER

mallorn
06-01-2006, 06:53 PM
Yep, very frustrating. :(

The new OOP for tomorrow:

LENGLEN 11:00 Start
Women's Singles - 2nd Rnd.
C. Martinez Granados (ESP)vs. Kim Clijsters (BEL)[2]

followed by
Men's Singles - 2nd Rnd.
Kevin Kim (USA)vs. Rafael Nadal (ESP)[2]

Men's Singles - 3rd Rnd.
Carlos Moya (ESP)[30]vs. Nikolay Davydenko (RUS)[6]

Women's Singles - 3rd Rnd.
Aravane Rezai (FRA)vs. Nicole Vaidisova (CZE)[16]

MariaV
06-01-2006, 07:10 PM
Yeah wow GREAT! :rolleyes: :( :mad:
Ah well, maybe I can see some replay later at night. Not that it really matters. You finish Kim off as fast as possible.

Jogg
06-01-2006, 09:03 PM
poor Rafa he must be so frustrated :(

Hope he can get it done as quickly as possible tomorrow :bounce: Vamos Rafa

mallorn
06-01-2006, 10:12 PM
Well guys, turns out it's a good thing he didn't have to play today. Check out Rafa's blog. :eek:

http://www.atptennis.com/en/blog/nadal.asp

rickyat
06-02-2006, 07:36 AM
Wow, he really lucked out!

MariaV
06-02-2006, 08:10 AM
Oh GOSH! :eek: :eek: Phew indeed! :lol: I bet it wasn't funny for him yesterday, poor baby. :hug: :hug: I hope he'll have more rackets strung for today and gets Kim finished off as fast as possible.
:wavey:

MariaV
06-02-2006, 12:49 PM
Well done Rafael! :D 6-2 -6-1 6-4 in 1 h 58 min.

Here the stats:


Kim (USA) Nadal (ESP)
1st Serve % 53 of 89 = 60 % 56 of 76 = 74 %
Aces 2 2
Double Faults 1 0
Unforced Errors 40 27
Winning % on 1st Serve 31 of 53 = 58 % 41 of 56 = 73 %
Winning % on 2nd Serve 16 of 36 = 44 % 15 of 20 = 75 %
Winners (Including Service) 20 27
Receiving Points Won 20 of 76 = 26 % 42 of 89 = 47 %
Break Point Conversions 0 of 3 = 0 % 5 of 15 = 33 %
Net Approaches 11 of 21 = 52 % 9 of 11 = 82 %
Total Points Won 67 98

mallorn
06-02-2006, 12:57 PM
It's a good thing he didn't have to play a tough match, especially that he called for the trainer for his right foot in the third set. No idea what happened there, Eurosport didn't show it and his movement afterwards was fine but still...it was worrying. :(

In fact I see this tournament as one big struggle for Rafa, both on and off court. So many things have happened, what with the record, the tabloid pictures, the doping rumours in the French press, the rain delays, the strings problem (how did that happen?!) and now his foot apparently bothered him. Grrrr, it's all so complicated. If he wins this thing I'll be sooo impressed.

I think I need Deprim. :rolleyes: :lol:

ETA German Eurosport commentators said he was treated for a blister. I guess that's not too bad.

mallorn
06-02-2006, 03:18 PM
Rafa's interview.
Transcribed Interview

Q. What book are you reading?

RAFAEL NADAL: Now, no one. I was beginning with DaVinci Code. But with the film be more fast, huh (laughter)? :p

Q. Could you talk about your match today, please.

RAFAEL NADAL: Maybe I begin bad. Beginning bad, a little bit nervous. I was not touching good the ball. After maybe I improve in the final of first set. In the second I improved and played better. In the third I made a break and finished, no?

But normal match. Nothing special.

Q. Right now it seems like no one can beat you on clay court. Why are you so much better than other players on clay?

RAFAEL NADAL: I don't think I am too much better than other players. Maybe all is tough. Every match is a different history. Every match have a difficult moments and tough moments.

I always try my best. I always try play hundred percent. But you never know, no? I know I can lose tomorrow, I can lose today. Every match, every day is difficult, no?

Q. How important is the warmer weather for your game?

RAFAEL NADAL: Today the court was very slow. For me, too much slow. Too much ‑‑ a lot of water on court. For that, was very slow, no? I prefer a little bit more fast.

Q. Are you a little more relaxed now that the record is out of the way? Can you play more relaxed now that you have the record and all that is finished?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, I am happy for the record. But for me the most important thing is Roland Garros. I was especially nervous in the first round, second round. Tomorrow I will be nervous ‑ for Roland Garros, not for the record. The record was very nice thing, but now I am playing a difficult tournament and I am thinking about that.

Q. What happened to your feet in the third set?

RAFAEL NADAL: My feet? In the third? Nothing. No, no, nothing. Nothing. First of all, this is not the bad foot, is the other one. Second, is just one problem with the tape. No, nothing in my foot. :D

Q. I heard a story that even if you play left‑handed, you are basically a right‑hander. Is that true or just a story?

RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, I'm right‑handed for eat, for take anything, for the position, for all, I right‑handed. But for play football and tennis, left.

Q. Why is that?

RAFAEL NADAL: I don't know. I can't choose that.

Q. Did a coach teach you to play left hand in your youth?

RAFAEL NADAL: Maybe, I can't ‑‑ if I have any coach now, he want to teach me play with the right, I don't going to play good with the right. You born with that, no?

THE MODERATOR: Questions in Spanish.

Q. You were asked whether the weather is going to help you. He said they watered the courts.

RAFAEL NADAL: The court was very slow. I think there was too much water. It was too wet. After that the ball I think is a little heavy and it sticks to the racquet. It's a bit difficult to play the balls.

I prefer the court to be a little drier. You know, you've got to adapt to circumstances.

Q. On Monday you won a match and got a trophy, then you didn't need to play until Friday. Do you feel this is a new tournament?

RAFAEL NADAL: No. I've been training. I trained yesterday. You know, you still feel a bit under pressure. No, no, every day I was looking at what was happening. I don't feel that I really switched off. I'm going to be playing ‑‑ I played today, but I don't think it's tougher than having played two days in a row, no.

Q. Vilas had a record at 25, and now you at 19 boast that record. Do you think you're going to break more records?

RAFAEL NADAL: When you won 52 consecutive wins, it would have been a shame not to break that record, but I don't think I'll break that record again.

Q. Until you're 25?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, if there's only one in history, I don't think I'm going to break all records. I think it makes sense, no. You know, these are opportunities you get once in your lifetime. Either you seize the opportunity or it passes you by.

Q. Last year you had to play Gasquet and Grosjean. Your next opponent is Mathieu, who was a hero and a villain. He's a dangerous opponent. How are you going to play him and do you know him?

RAFAEL NADAL: Yes, I've played him a few times. He's a good player. He plays quite well. He plays clean. He has a nice style. He's a good player and rather dangerous.

I think what's important is that I play well on that day. If I play well, we'll see what happens. But it's always going to be a tough match because he is a tough player and he plays well on clay.

I played him in Marseille this year and in Dubai, quarterfinals in Marseille and first round in Dubai. Marseille it was tough. Dubai I lost the first set to him. In Hamburg three years ago I played the first round. That was on clay, as well.

We'll see. It's going to be a complicated match.

Q. A question that has to do with my country, Chile. We had Rios, a left‑handed player, who withdrew. He was more or less at the same age of Moya. Did you see him play and what do you think about having to play people who are much older? Do you think that makes sense?

RAFAEL NADAL: You know, each person has their own life. Each person is different. Each person does what they can and what they want. If he withdrew, well, it's either because he couldn't continue or because he didn't really want to continue, or both. But I respect his decision. Each person makes their own decisions.

Q. Do you remember him?

RAFAEL NADAL: Yes, I remember him, yeah. Yeah, I remember him, obviously. He is an important player. He's a charismatic player. You know, I was a kid. Each match has its own history. I think the favorite here is Federer. :scratch: Something got lost in translation? We'll see what happens.

Q. Now you play Mathieu. Gradually you might be favorite. You're going to play a Frenchman. What is going to happen with the press and public?

RAFAEL NADAL: I'm carrying out an interview here. I don't feel any pressure. This is going to be a match here in Roland Garros against a French player who is playing at home. I think that's it. I don't think you need to interpret any more into that. It's just a tennis match. I don't think you need to think about too many things. I'll have to play well, and that's it. Don't try to put pressure on yourself to think, you know, is he Chilean or a Frenchman. It's irrelevant.

You need to focus, play well, and make sure you win the match. That's the most important thing.

Q. Tomorrow is your birthday. Do you want to say something about that? Are you going to celebrate? We had cake last year.

RAFAEL NADAL: We'll see. Maybe. We'll see what happens in the final. This year I hope I can celebrate the same way. But, yeah, why not have a party, but later.

Q. Apart from the results and opponents, what would you say about yourself? How do you feel about the way you're playing?

RAFAEL NADAL: Normal. You know, neither smashing nor anything painful, just normal. Nothing particular to say. I think I'm playing normally. I think tomorrow I'll play better than I played today. I think if I win tomorrow, I'll play even better because if I win matches, I tend to feel better.

You gain confidence, you adapt to the conditions. I think the most important thing is that I've won my first two matches. Tomorrow is a difficult match, but I'll try to win it. It's going to be difficult, but I hope I win it, then we'll see what happens.

Q. You said you play football with your left foot. What position do you like to play? When you played as a kid, what were you like?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, if you want to recruit me as a footballer, here I am. Goalkeeper, maybe.

Q. Have you solved the problem with the strings?

RAFAEL NADAL: Yes. That was the best item of news today because when I went to train, I saw the strings hadn't been set correctly. I thought, maybe that's what's wrong. Maybe it's not me who is playing so badly.

Saturday's OOP is out.

CHATRIER 11:00 Start
Women's Singles - 3rd Rnd.
Daniela Hantuchova (SVK)[15] vs. Nathalie Dechy (FRA)[21]

followed by
Women's Singles - 3rd Rnd.
A. Medina Garrigues (ESP)[26] vs. Kim Clijsters (BEL)[2]

Men's Singles - 3rd Rnd.
Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA)[29] vs. Rafael Nadal (ESP)[2]

Men's Singles - 3rd Rnd.
James Blake (USA)[8] vs. Gael Monfils (FRA)[25]

MariaV
06-02-2006, 06:13 PM
A big :hug: to Mallorn. Yeah, all kind of things happening but Rafa seems OK despite everything. :D
Maybe it's good he's kept alert & busy. And this doping stuff, geez, this is ugly but I don't think anyone beside some 'hatas' take it seriously. :hug:
And I'm HOPEFULLY gonna see the match tomorrow. :woohoo:
I wish you all a nice weekend. :)

Nothing much on the RG site.
Nadal, Blake score big wins
By Matthew Cronin
Friday, June 2, 2006

Defending champion Rafael Nadal crushed American Kevin Kim 6-2 6-1 6-4 to move into the third round on Friday.

American and eighth seed James Blake pulled off his biggest Roland Garros victory ever, upending red hot Spaniard Nicolas Almagro 6-7(5) 6-2 6-4 6-4 in a contest that had been stopped for darkness on Thursday.

In winning his 55th consecutive match on clay, Nadal played a relentless and consistent contest, rarely allowing the US veteran to shorten points and employ his favored hard court style.

Nadal nailed 27 winners and committed an equal amount of unforced errors, while Kim only managed 20 winners and committed 40 unforced errors.

Nadal will face streaking Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu in the next round.

MariaV
06-02-2006, 06:18 PM
Not much from Reuters either.
UPDATE 2-Open-Nadal shows no mercy, Mauresmo shines
Fri Jun 2, 2006 5:34 PM BST

(Adds Mauresmo, quotes, later games)
By Bill Barclay

PARIS, June 2 (Reuters) - A merciless Rafael Nadal left Kevin Kim gasping after a 6-2 6-1 6-4 victory over the American lucky loser at the French Open on Friday.

"It feels like you're in the Sahara and you just see the hills, and there's no ending," said Kim after the Spanish defending champion extended his record claycourt winning streak to 55 on Court Suzanne Lenglen. :lol:

Nadal, Kim Clijsters and Martina Hingis all recorded quick-fire second round wins after their matches were postponed due to rain on Thursday.

French top seed Amelie Mauresmo passed a tough test against world number 32 Jelena Jankovic with some assurance on centre court to reach the fourth round. She won 6-3 6-3.

Like Clijsters and Hingis, the Australian Open champion is seeking a first French Open title and so far has shown no sign of cracking under the strain of being the home favourite.

"I need to get stronger round after round and that's what I'm doing," said Mauresmo.

Wimbledon champion Venus Williams was too strong for Croatia's Karolina Sprem. The 2002 runner-up won 7-5 6-3 to set up a fourth round meeting with Swiss seventh seed Patty Schnyder.

Later in Friday's busy schedule top seed Roger Federer faces an accomplished claycourter in Olympic champion Nicolas Massu of Chile in the third round.

Russian fourth seed Maria Sharapova plays Australia's Alicia Molik in another third round encounter.


RAZOR-SHARP

Spaniard Nadal had not played since Monday but looked razor-sharp on Friday. He is unlikely to be daunted on Saturday, his 20th birthday, by third round opponent Paul-Henri Mathieu of France. Nadal has won all four of their previous meetings.
...

http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=tennisNews&storyID=2006-06-02T163349Z_01_L02414201_RTRIDST_0_SPORT-TENNIS-OPEN-UPDATE-2-PICTURE.XML

mallorn
06-02-2006, 07:13 PM
I've been kind of down recently so thanks for the :hug: Maria. :hug:

I love the metaphor in the quote from Kim. I've been to the Sahara so I can appreciate what he was talking about! :lol:

16681
06-02-2006, 10:30 PM
I've been kind of down recently so thanks for the :hug: Maria. :hug:

I love the metaphor in the quote from Kim. I've been to the Sahara so I can appreciate what he was talking about! :lol:
Congrats to Rafa on yet another clay win :) But what is this about doping allegations? JC was being talked to about it and it wasn't clear if they were talking about JC or Rafa?
I guess it could be both :eek: I can see with the year Rafa has been having why allegations would be made against him either people thinking he needed help getting that record or people just jealous because he has that record.
But poor JC has had a bad year :sad: How could you be cheating and yet have that bad of a year? I hate allegations :fiery: Get the story accurate or don't say anything at all about anyone :mad:

MariaV
06-03-2006, 10:03 AM
Congrats to Rafa on yet another clay win :) But what is this about doping allegations? JC was being talked to about it and it wasn't clear if they were talking about JC or Rafa?
I guess it could be both :eek: I can see with the year Rafa has been having why allegations would be made against him either people thinking he needed help getting that record or people just jealous because he has that record.
But poor JC has had a bad year :sad: How could you be cheating and yet have that bad of a year? I hate allegations :fiery: Get the story accurate or don't say anything at all about anyone :mad:
Mae dear, it was just some stupid French paper that wrote that some ppl have been saying the Spaniards are dubious (Rafa, JC and Corretja - can you imagine!). And the Spanish journos asked around about it from JC and maybe some others. But there are no real allegations or anything. I think it calmed down fast again. You know some journos just have to write something to get attention or whatever, or they have nothing better to write. :lol:

MariaV
06-03-2006, 11:25 AM
Btw girls, I just looked at the draw, and IF Blake wins vs Monfils today and next rd vs Haas or Djokovic (who are no great clay courters) he and Rafa could meet in the qf. Do you think Blake has got under Rafa's skin? Or is this kid absolutely immune to such things? At least I hope Rafa will beat the crap out of Blake should they meet. :devil:
And I mean Blake can lose to Monfils today, right? Sheesh, it has been long enough run for Blake.

MariaV
06-03-2006, 03:18 PM
Jesus Christ, Rafa's lost the 1st set 5-7. :o :o :o :help: :tape: :ignore: :unsure: :scared: :bolt:

mallorn
06-03-2006, 04:24 PM
Second set to Rafa 6-4. Rafa is playing better now, PHM looks a bit tired.

The match is taking an eternity.

NINA_BCN
06-03-2006, 06:36 PM
:woohoo:

mallorn
06-03-2006, 06:41 PM
Cakewalk draw my ass.

I'm so tired I'm not even up to :woohoo: ing. :lol:

djul
06-03-2006, 06:49 PM
first time I post here
I thik I am becoming a fan
Thank you M. Nadal :worship: :worship: :worship:
(french crowd is th eworst ever, don't care about these silly people)

16681
06-03-2006, 06:50 PM
Yes I think Rafa was trying to give us a little scare at first. And he certainly gave me one :scared: But Congrats on his win :) And on to the next Round :yippee:

sonia
06-03-2006, 06:51 PM
:worship: Well done Rafita!! :bounce:

wolviebabe
06-03-2006, 06:58 PM
I'll copy/paste what I've posted in another thread:

Nadal was interviewed by Alex Corretja at the end of the match and asked him about what happened when he was talking to the doctor.
Nadal said he choked on a banana he ate :p and he couldn't breath... and he said: " I was choking on the banana :banana: and they whistled at me, the bastards... hahaha."

That was funny.

mallorn
06-03-2006, 07:02 PM
Nadal was interviewed by Alex Corretja at the end of the match and asked him about what happened when he was talking to the doctor.
Nadal said he choked on a banana he ate :p and he couldn't breath... and he said: " I was choking on the banana :banana: and they whistled at me, the bastards... hahaha."

That was funny.
He said "the bastards"?! :eek: :haha: :haha: :haha:

The Daviator
06-03-2006, 07:05 PM
Well done Rafa! :bounce:

No more bananas ;)

wolviebabe
06-03-2006, 07:08 PM
Yup, he said "the bastards" ("los cabrones" in Spanish), but laughing at that. :lol:

16681
06-03-2006, 07:09 PM
I'm glad Rafa spoke out against the Fans, but why was he eating a banana while playing tennis? A quick bite on a change over? I don't think I have ever seen anyone eat a banana on court :lol: That would have been worth seeing, but I'm sorry Rafa choked and the Fans gave him a hard time :sad:

mallorn
06-03-2006, 07:09 PM
Yup, he said "the bastards" ("los cabrones" in Spanish), but laughing at that. :lol:
:haha: Way to go, Rafa!

I quoted your post in GM. ;)

mallorn
06-03-2006, 07:10 PM
I'm glad Rafa spoke out against the Fans, but why was he eating a banana while playing tennis? A quick bite on a change over? I don't think I have ever seen anyone eat a banana on court :lol: That would have been worth seeing, but I'm sorry Rafa choked and the Fans gave him a hard time :sad:
Mae, Rafa always eats bananas during his matches, and often he has a quick bite and then sprints to the baseline. I suspect he was in a hurry to swallow it and it got stuck in his throat. :o

wolviebabe
06-03-2006, 07:14 PM
I'm glad Rafa spoke out against the Fans, but why was he eating a banana while playing tennis? A quick bite on a change over? I don't think I have ever seen anyone eat a banana on court :lol: That would have been worth seeing, but I'm sorry Rafa choked and the Fans gave him a hard time :sad:

Really?. I did. Millions of times. Players always get a bite of a banana when they think the match is going to last a lot of time. :banana: :banana: :banana:

wolviebabe
06-03-2006, 07:15 PM
:haha: Way to go, Rafa!

I quoted your post in GM. ;)

No prob. :wavey:

flavia_am
06-03-2006, 07:36 PM
Rafa! Enhorabuena por tu victoria!!!!!!!! :woohoo: :woohoo::woohoo:
Y Muchas Felicidades por tu Cumpleaños!!!!!!!!! Muakssssssssssssss :kiss:


http://img2.menstennisforums.com/500/Rafaelillo6.jpg

mallorn
06-03-2006, 08:19 PM
From FoxSports:
Nadal outlasts Frenchman in marathon

PARIS (AP) - Rafael Nadal found his latest win at the French Open so taxing that he took a seat in the middle of a game and called for a doctor.

The problem apparently involved a bite of banana, and wasn't serious. A bigger issue for Nadal was Frenchman Paul Henri-Mathieu, who traded groundstrokes with the defending champion for 4 hours, 53 minutes before losing in the third round Saturday, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

Among Nadal's record 56 consecutive clay-court wins, the latest ranked with the most memorable - and it came on his 20th birthday. The epic first set alone lasted 1 hour, 33 minutes, and one game took 15 minutes.

A stadium filled with partisan Parisians hung on every point, rooting for an upset. Instead, Nadal improved to 10-0 at Roland Garros and remained on course for a much-anticipated showdown in next Sunday's final against top-ranked Roger Federer.

The match included a curious interruption at a pivotal moment, with Nadal serving for the third set at 5-4, 15-all. He hurriedly took a seat in his changeover chair, waved a banana peel at the chair umpire and pointed to his throat, as though the food he'd eaten during a changeover was stuck there.

Appearing anxious, Nadal conferred with a trainer and a doctor, then resumed play and closed out the set four points later to take the lead for good.

Even in the final set, the grinding nature of the rallies never slackened - the first game took 10 minutes. The wear of the match could make Nadal's fitness an issue in the fourth round Monday against two-time Grand Slam winner Lleyton Hewitt.

"You have to show him that you're there on the court to beat him," Mathieu said. "He's very, very good on clay, but I don't think it's impossible to beat him."

Also advancing were six players who earned fourth-round berths at a Grand Slam event for the first time - Shahar Peer, Anna-Lena Groenefeld, Alberto Martin, Julien Benneteau, Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo and Novak Djokovic.

The 19-year-old Peer became the first Israeli woman to reach the round of 16 at a Grand Slam event since Anna Smashnova did it at the French Open in 1998. Seeded 31st, Peer advanced by upsetting 2004 runner-up Elena Dementieva 6-4, 7-5.

"We have maybe four clay courts in Israel," Peer said. "The rest is just hard courts. But I think the way I play and the way I move, I can improve and play better and better on clay."

Others advancing included defending champion Justine Henin-Hardenne, whose opponent Sunday will be 2004 winner Anastasia Myskina.

No. 12 Martina Hingis, playing at Roland Garros for the first time since 2001, and No. 2 Kim Clijsters also won. No. 32 Gisela Dulko beat Shenay Perry 6-1, 6-1 in 52 minutes, leaving one American - Venus Williams - in the women's draw.

No. 8 James Blake, the lone American left in the men's draw, won a tiebreaker to pull even with Frenchman Gael Monfils at 2-6, 7-6 (2) when their match was suspended because of darkness.

Mathieu, seeded 29th, didn't figure to give Nadal much of a test. The slender Frenchman had lost all four of their previous matches, including two this year, and had won only one of his past 15 matches against top-10 opponents.

Perhaps his biggest claim to fame is that he's the last player to beat Pete Sampras - at Long Island in 2002.

But Mathieu played Nadal on even terms from the baseline, winning his share of long rallies, and came forward enough to keep the Spaniard on the defensive. Mathieu won 36 points at the net to seven for Nadal.

Nadal lost his serve six times and converted only eight of 29 break-point chances. But inexhaustible as ever, he kept scrapping.

On one point the crowd thought Mathieu had hit a winner and erupted, but Nadal scrambled to scoop the ball back and went on to win the rally.

In the third set, the Spaniard yanked a running forehand passing shot crosscourt from five steps behind the baseline for a winner. He then hopped across the court and threw a jubilant uppercut.
http://msn.foxsports.com/tennis/story/5662464

From Reuters:
Frenchman Mathieu rattles Nadal

Sat Jun 3, 2006 3:45 PM EDT162

By Bill Barclay

PARIS (Reuters) - A troubled and at times tormented Rafael Nadal stumbled through to the French Open fourth round on Saturday looking anything but the player who is deemed to be invincible on clay.

Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu gave the defending champion a nasty 20th birthday fright before the Spaniard prevailed 5-7 6-4 6-4 6-4 on a rowdy Roland Garros center court.

Mathieu was given little hope before the match but fed off the enthusiasm of home fans in the vertiginous 15,000-capacity arena, leaving Nadal looking clumsy and rattled in a match whose four sets lasted seven minutes shy of five hours.

The 29th seed became the first man to take a set off Nadal at this year's claycourt grand slam when the muscular Mallorcan erred with a forehand at 5-6. The first set alone lasted 93 minutes.

Mathieu's varied trajectory and angles troubled Nadal throughout, with his flat double-handed backhand often surprising the Spaniard who had not lost for 55 matches on clay.

Nadal dug in to take the next two sets but looked distinctly unhappy in the third set, first angrily arguing with the umpire over a line call and then calling a medical timeout mid-game after pointing anxiously to his throat.

With both players' socks soaked orange with clay dust Mathieu's will finally broke in the fourth set when he followed a double-fault with three forehand errors to lose serve at 4-4 and then flayed a backhand out on Nadal's first match point.

The fourth round is unlikely to be any easier for Nadal. There he faces Australian Lleyton Hewitt who beat Slovakian Dominik Hrbaty 7-6 6-2 6-2 in a display the former world number one described as one of his best on clay.

"My ball striking was great today. Right from the word go, I served as well as I've probably ever served, especially on clay," said Hewitt who is playing despite an inflamed ankle.

(...)
http://ca.today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=sportsNews&storyID=2006-06-03T194450Z_01_L03715131_RTRIDST_0_SPORTS-TENNIS-OPEN-SATURDAY-COL.XML&archived=False

mallorn
06-03-2006, 08:35 PM
From the official site:
Nadal survives Mathieu

By Matthew Cronin
Saturday, June 3, 2006

Rafael Nadal has never experienced a tougher match at Roland Garros and he almost didn't survive.

Needing to call upon all his tremendous reserves, the defending champion knocked off France's Paul Henri-Mathieu 5-7 6-4 6-4 6-4 in a spectacular four hour, 53 minute contest.

Nadal registered his 56th straight win on clay courts on his 20th birthday, but it was an exhausting victory. The two played 197 points, with Mathieu ripping 60 winners to 54 from Nadal, but the Frenchman committed 65 unforced errors to only 39 from the Spaniard.

Mathieu pressed the action during the entire contest, ripping crosscourt backhands and forehands, jumping on every short ball and winning 36 of his 61 net rushes. He showed Nadal that he wasn't going to be caught in endless crosscourt rallies.

"First of all, I showed I wouldn't be over impressed by him. You have to show him that you are there on the court to beat him. That's No1. He's very, very good on clay, but I don't think it's impossible to beat him. It's difficult, but it's not impossible. For a middle range player, it seems that his level is so high that it's impossible, but he can be beaten."

With the crowd roaring for an upset, Nadal continued to press Mathieu with his huge lefty forehand, pulled numerous passing shots out his magical bag and hammered away at his opponent's serves. Even though Nadal only converted eight of his 29 break points, the constant pressure he put on Mathieu took its toll.

In the end, Mathieu couldn't punch through Nadal's steely defense, nor match his speed and unwillingness to give in.

"If it had been my best tennis, I would have won," Mathieu said.

"The end of the first set was good. I had good shots. He always played well at the beginning of this set. It was very intense. It was difficult to hold the rhythm physically and mentally. It's difficult to keep the same level and the same rhythm for nearly five hours. I think I played well, but I have played better."

The match included a bizarre interruption with Nadal serving for the third set at 5-4, 15-all. He ran to his seat and sat down, waved a banana peel at the chair umpire and pointed to his throat and seemed to be on the verge choking.

"I don't know what happened, but it suddenly stayed stuck halfway through," Nadal said.

"I didn't really notice it at the beginning. At 15 love, I started being a little bit frightened. But I didn't want to stop in the middle of the game. I didn't think it would look very good. I lost the next point. I was paying more attention to my throat than to tennis. It was an important game, so I started being nervous. It's not that I couldn't breathe, but I did feel a very strange sensation. I thought, I've got to stop because I don't want anything serious to happen. Never mind if I don't look good."

But after he took a few slugs of water and conferred with a trainer and a doctor, he resumed play and eventually wore Mathieu down.

"I'm satisfied with my tennis," Nadal said. "I think I've made a quality leap over the past few days. I have a lot more security in my shots. I play them much better. I think probably this was not the best match of my life, but it was a very good match. But you have to keep in mind that nothing is ever easy, particularly when you're playing a

player who is playing so well. I knew this was going to be a very difficult match. I knew that anything could happen. This is an important victory for me."

Nadal will face two time grand Slam champion Lleyton Hewitt in the fourth round, whom he has never beaten.

"We've had tough matches every time we've played on hard court," Hewitt said. "But, he's an extremely tough player right at the moment, especially on this surface, as everyone's well aware of. So it's a matter of me going out there and sticking to what I want to do out there. I've still got to execute extremely well. And we know he doesn't give guys a lot of chances."

AgassiDomination
06-03-2006, 08:54 PM
The banana thing was gamesmanship.

Jogg
06-03-2006, 09:03 PM
Originally Posted by wolviebabe
Nadal was interviewed by Alex Corretja at the end of the match and asked him about what happened when he was talking to the doctor.
Nadal said he choked on a banana he ate and he couldn't breath... and he said: " I was choking on the banana and they whistled at me, the bastards... hahaha."

That was funny.

:lol: you tell them Rafa

the french crowd were disgusting to him :(

The banana thing was gamesmanship.

yeah right choking on a banana on his own serve when serving for the set was gamesmanship :rolleyes:

silver7
06-03-2006, 09:14 PM
I saw the match and it was a great match!:woohoo:
Thx Rafa that you won this great match :bigclap:

mallorn
06-03-2006, 09:17 PM
The banana thing was gamesmanship.
Yeah right.

People will always find fault with Rafa. Some would even love to see him choke.

MariaV
06-03-2006, 09:45 PM
Yeah right.

People will always find fault with Rafa. Some would even love to see him choke.
Ania & Co, I've given up arguing with morons in GM so you're on your own.
Geez. Hewitt is not gonna be any easier I'm afraid.

mallorn
06-03-2006, 10:10 PM
Ania & Co, I've given up arguing with morons in GM so you're on your own.
Geez. Hewitt is not gonna be any easier I'm afraid.
Fighting stupidity is Sisyphean labour. :rolleyes:

After today's match I would like to update the list of obstacles for Rafa en route to the title:
the record,
the tabloid pictures,
the doping rumours in the French press,
the rain delays,
the strings problem,
the red hot (chili peppers :p ) PHM,
the very hostile French crowd,
the treacherous BANANA! :eek:
Hewitt who has nothing to lose,
Blake looming in the QF,
…and the list will continue I'm sure. :rolleyes:

NaDALiTa
06-03-2006, 11:06 PM
this lack of aknowledge of the french crowd makes me so ashamed. They are so chauvinistic that when a french player is on the court, they do their possible to annoy him, by contesting the chair umpire who is always right and fair, or booing at the opponent :( :(
I feel Everybody want to see rafa lose.......when someone is being too talentuous and too strong it's the king of thing that could happen :( ...it's so sad

rafa will be stronger than it !!!


mallorn you forgot on your list , the french commentators : Guy Forget, Lionnel Chamoulaud, Nicolas Escudé and the other .....they behaved in a very bad way with Rafa today, making suspicions about his ability to play a 5 hours match

RogiFan88
06-04-2006, 12:47 AM
Hewitt's ankle is still bothering him and he said he has to ice it every day. He's hardly played any matches this yr, esp on clay, which is his worst surface, and Rafa will be keen for la revancha!

I w say, Rafa in 3... and he will take his time eating his banana fr now on. ;) Also after winning this marathon 4-setter, I think Rafa will have unbelievable confidence, knowing that he can get himself out of tough scrapes vs. an opponent who had no fear and played better than expected.

When I heard him say to Uncle Toni sth about "platano" I thought he said he wanted a banana, then when I saw him point to his throat, I realized that he had the banana stuck in his throat... meanwhile JMac was speculating cramps... duh! :lol:

MariaV
06-04-2006, 09:32 AM
Fighting stupidity is Sisyphean labour. :rolleyes:

After today's match I would like to update the list of obstacles for Rafa en route to the title:
the record,
the tabloid pictures,
the doping rumours in the French press,
the rain delays,
the strings problem,
the red hot (chili peppers :p ) PHM,
the very hostile French crowd,
the treacherous BANANA! :eek:
Hewitt who has nothing to lose,
Blake looming in the QF,
…and the list will continue I'm sure. :rolleyes:

:lol: ... chili peppers is good!:haha: :haha: What had PHM eaten yesterday to play out of his mind? (Mind you that he kinda didn't used to have any mind. ;))
And Blake is gonna be a horror .... supposed Rafa can get past Hewitt and Blake's gonna win over Monfils.

mallorn
06-04-2006, 11:13 AM
There are a zillion articles after yesterday's match, most of them with :banana: or "choke" in the title. ;)

I'm quoting the most interesting ones below and you can find the links to some others at the bottom of the last post.

From ABC News:
Nadal chokes on banana

Jun 3, 2006 — By Pritha Sarkar

PARIS (Reuters) - Rafael Nadal choked at the French Open on Saturday. Luckily for the defending champion it was only on a piece of banana.

"I took a little bit of a banana. It slipped through the mouth sideways. I don't know what happened but it suddenly stayed stuck halfway through," a bemused Nadal said pointing to his neck following a 5-7 6-4 6-4 6-4 third round win over French hope Paul-Henri Mathieu.

Nadal was serving for the third set at 5-4, 15-all when he suddenly sprinted to the sidelines and pointed to his throat as a trainer tried to assess the problem.

The move drew loud whistles and jeers from the crowd but Nadal was not about to let a piece of fruit scupper his quest to chalk up a 56th consecutive victory on clay.

"I played one point. At 15-love, I started being a little bit frightened," said the second seed.

"But I didn't want to stop in the middle of the game. I didn't think it would look very good but I then lost the next point.

"I was now paying more attention to my throat than to tennis. It was an important game, so I started getting nervous.

"It's not that I couldn't breathe but I did feel a very strange sensation.

"I thought, I've got to stop because I don't want anything serious to happen. Never mind if I don't look good. (It was) not my fault."

Nadal, still, went on to hold serve to establish a two sets to one lead.

Buoyed by the roaring support, Mathieu tried his best to ruin Nadal's 20th birthday celebrations but in the end, he did not have the energy or will to quell the Spaniard.

After almost five hours of high drama, Nadal finally booked a fourth round showdown with former Australian world number one Lleyton Hewitt.

"This was a fabulous match," said Nadal. "I knew this was going to be extremely difficult. Of course, he was playing at home.

"Apart from the pressure from playing at home, there was no pressure on his side.

"I was theoretically the favorite. He was liberated in his game. He was also playing very well.

"But I had prepared for this and the crowd wasn't a problem at any moment.

"I was very focused at all times and I tried to keep the right attitude, tried to think about staying calm and think about the final victory. I think that's the important point."

http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/wireStory?id=2036840&page=2

mallorn
06-04-2006, 11:14 AM
From ESPN:
Updated: June 3, 2006, 5:06 PM ET

Banana can't slow Nadal on his birthday

By Whit Sheppard
Special to ESPN.com

PARIS -- This couldn't have been the way Rafael Nadal wanted to ring in his 20th birthday. When his last guest, Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu, left the party after nearly five hours, the gracious host trudged slowly to the net and magnanimously bowed to his vanquished opponent.

Mathieu wasn't too concerned, though, about overstaying his welcome Saturday afternoon on Court Central at Roland Garros, cheered on by 15,000-plus throaty compatriots to an inspired performance in a third-round match at the French Open. The scoreline will read 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in favor of the majestic Mallorcan, but it's the courtside clock that gives a truer reading of the struggle that went into Nadal's victory -- his 56th consecutive on clay, extending a record he broke earlier this week.

Through point after point of lengthy baseline rallies, the sort that eventually drive Nadal's victims into demoralizing exhaustion, Mathieu stayed with his opponent for 4 hours, 53 minutes of exhilarating clay-court tennis, the sort that the 24-year-old from Strasbourg seemed destined for when he first burst onto the scene as a 20-year-old in 2002, winning two titles and marking himself as a player to watch.

But a crushing five-set loss from two sets up against Mikhail Youzhny in the decisive rubber match of the 2002 Davis Cup final against Russia and nagging injuries seemed to have a prolonged negative effect on Mathieu. His subsequent results have been decisively journeyman-like, with a career record of just under .500 (92-96) coming into this tournament.

A 93-minute first set kicked things off and the marathon built from there. Mathieu took the early one-set lead on his third set point when Nadal uncharacteristically missed a forehand drive. The thing is, the amount of effort it takes to win a set off of Nadal is oftentimes prohibitive. On the second set point alone, Mathieu hit three shots that would have been winners against most mortals, but each time Nadal chased the balls down and finally summoned an error from Mathieu.

The question remained: How close and how long could Mathieu stay with last year's titleist, who won more titles as a teenager (16) than every player but the one who established that mark -- six-time French Open winner Bjorn Borg.

Nadal doesn't get out-muscled by anyone on tour, at least not yet, but his all-out style of play is very likely to take a toll over the long term on his still-growing frame. He's grown two inches to 6-foot-1 since his win over Mariano Puerta in last year's final, and his legacy has grown commensurately as he's added to his record-breaking streak.

It could take something unforeseen to put an end to Nadal's streak and today he was almost waylaid by, of all things, a banana he munched on during a third-set changeover. A point into the ninth game, he pointed to his throat and called for the trainer. Mathieu was initially confused and, after the match, not thrilled about the delay in play.

"I think you have to wait at least [until] the end of the game to receive your treatment, not during the game at 15-All, 5-4 in the third set," Mathieu said. "I mean, this is tough."

Nadal said, "I take a little bit banana, like this. I feel [it] slip in the mouth and stay here (pointing to his neck).

"Just when I had the problem with the banana, the public [was whistling]. Sorry, not my fault. When I finish the match, the public [whistling], too. That's not nice because we play a nice match, a very good match."

Asked if he'd ever played another player with the sort of physicality that Nadal brings to the game, Mathieu, a thoughtful sort who's normally thorough in his post-match thoughts, simply answered, "No, he's the only one."

Two-time French Open finalist Alex Corretja knows what it takes to do well in Paris and commented on Nadal's physical skills and his mental approach.

"He's one of the greatest-ever physically," Corretja said. "Physically he's very good; mentally he's even better. The main reason he's winning these matches is mental."

Mathieu may have done Nadal's subsequent opponents here a favor. In the most physically demanding of the four majors, Mathieu kept him on-court for as long as it takes to fly commercially from Los Angeles to Washington.

Lleyton Hewitt, the 14th seed who once personified the type of tireless, retrieving tennis that Nadal has now elevated to an art form, is next up for Nadal in the round of 16.

Mathieu, though, was skeptical about his perceived contribution to the Tire-Out-Rafael-Nadal-Fund. "He's used to playing long matches. I remember in Monte Carlo he played four hours [in the final against Roger Federer]. I don't think he's going to be tired. I don't think it's going to make any difference."

http://sports.espn.go.com/sports/tennis/french06/news/story?id=2469409

mallorn
06-04-2006, 11:14 AM
From The Sunday Times:
The Sunday Times June 04, 2006

Nadal moves in for kill

NICK PITT AT ROLAND GARROS

Forget the village boy looks — Rafael Nadal’s a killer on clay, and he’s still the man Roger Federer wants to beat

There are two sides to this man-child phenomenon, Rafael Nadal, both extreme and hardly credible. He presents them both whenever he plays on clay, where he is all but invincible. First, he grinds his opponent into the ground, killing his challenge as ruthlessly as if he had been stamping on his throat.

A little later, the venom washed away with the red dust in the shower, his long black hair allowed to fall free and glisten, Nadal comes in sweet humility to the mandatory press conference, appearing reluctant to mount the platform on to which many players leap as if to a throne. Here is the boy of the village bearing flowers, his head inclined downwards, generous to his victim, self- effacing in his attempts at humour. And all who meet him in ordinary, domestic circumstances, testify to his unpretentious, gentle nature.

But the man who walks on to court shows no sign of goodness. With such a record on the surface, the firm stride and sure gaze of ownership is to be expected, and the chief impression, accentuated by the sleeveless top, is of muscularity, especially in the inflated biceps.

Like Guillermo Vilas, whose record for consecutive wins on clay Nadal eclipsed in the first round, he has a body that looks as if it was developed in the forge rather than on the tennis court. It is no accident that the three most formidable clay-courters since Bjorn Borg — Vilas, Thomas Muster and Nadal — have all been left-handed musclemen, and all as unyielding as cast iron.

But Nadal does not move or operate like a blacksmith. With his bandana and leggings, the style of the untamed, he brings to mind Geronimo or some other Apache squinting at the sun or tracking a cavalryman in the pages of Elmore Leonard.

Nadal on court is a horrible, cruel person, and his opponents know they are prey. Those who face Roger Federer can expect to have winners hit past them that will make them wince in astonishment, and may shatter illusions of reaching the very top, but to be beaten by Nadal is to suffer a prolonged agony. For although he can hit the pure, clean winner when he needs to, his preferred method is prolonged torture. Hit 30 good shots in a rally. That’s fine by him. He’ll hit 31 and the best will be the last.

Nadal’s explanation for his supremacy is straightforward. “Technically, I don’t make many errors,” he says. “Otherwise, all I can say is I am a fighter, that I contest every point and that even when a match is going against me I remain very determined. I never give up.” And although he won’t say it, he’s a killer.

Nadal has also managed the near-impossible by getting under the skin of Federer. The most obvious demonstration of his irritation came in their most recent encounter, the Masters Series final in Rome last month, when Federer let his composure slip by accusing Nadal’s uncle, Toni, of coaching during the match.

It seems to run deep. When Nadal first emerged as a serious threat, Federer refused to acknowledge its singular importance. Nadal was one of a group of opponents he had to watch, with Marat Safin, Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt and so on.

But several consecutive defeats by Nadal, together with the fact that Federer’s season and even his career could be defined by winning the French Open or not, has forced the world No 1 to admit that overcoming Nadal is his greatest obstacle and priority.
For Federer, winning the French Open is the gateway to the Grand Slam, the Holy Grail of tennis. It is extraordinary but true that for Federer winning Grand Slams is easier than beating Nadal. And when Federer analyses Nadal’s game, noting the predictable second serve and the tendency to hit short during the rallies, he wonders why he cannot exploit such obvious areas of weakness. The reason is that those weaknesses are protected by Nadal’s greatest strengths — his speed and resourcefulness at full stretch.

In the past, Federer has managed to overcome several players whose style had confounded him. Roddick, Hewitt, David Nalbandian and even Tim Henman all had good records against him. But he found them all out in turn, and usually to such an extent that once he had their number, they could hardly win a set. But before such irritants can be overcome, a good measure of realism is required, as well as great application. Whether Federer can beat Nadal may depend on the extent to which he privately respects Nadal’s abilities.

In public, he concedes little, which has been noted with regret by some of the old- timers. “In our day, the top guys on grass were Roy Emerson, Tony Roche and myself,” said Fred Stolle (who still won in Paris in 1965). “But on clay Manuel Santana was better. We always said he was better on clay and he said we were better on grass. I wish Roger would do the same with Nadal.”

The reason he hasn’t is probably that Federer has never had the pleasure of meeting Nadal on grass, on which he would hold all the advantages and would in all likelihood beat him with his usual ease.

A somewhat surprising danger to all concerned has emerged in the shape of Hewitt, who was quite brilliant in dismissing Dominik Hrbaty, a formidable man himself on clay, in straight sets, 7-6 6-2 6-2. Hewitt had hardly played on clay for two years and he aggravated a sprained ankle during the first round, so his win was one of great merit. “It was right up there with my best,” said Hewitt. “My ball-striking was great today and right from the word go I served as well as I ever have, especially on clay. He wanted to be the aggressor out there all the time, but I picked my moments to attack, to try to put him under as much pressure as possible. He doesn’t give you a lot of cheap points out there. You have to earn them.”

His ankle, though, still troubles him. “I’m icing it and getting physiotherapy all the time,” he said. “I’m just trying to get the inflammation down as much as possible after matches and to let it rest.”

According to the draw and seeding, Hewitt is due to meet Nadal — assuming Nadal beats Paul-Henri Mathieu — in the next round, a prospect that must be daunting, despite Hewitt’s excellent record against the Spaniard. But his success has come in Australia and on hard courts. Clay and Paris present a very different proposition. But with such speed and determination, Hewitt can never be counted out.

Another notable win was recorded by France’s Julien Benneteau over Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic, 5-7 7-5 7-6 6-3. Stepanek called for the trainer during the later stages of the match and did not feel well. Indeed, he was hardly moving above walking pace by the end.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2094-2209979,00.html

mallorn
06-04-2006, 11:15 AM
From The Independent:

Nadal digs deep to hit new heights

Young Spaniard in truly heroic form to subdue Mathieu and all of France in a five-hour epic

By Ronald Atkin at Roland Garros
Published: 04 June 2006

If there was anybody out there in the wide world of tennis who did not agree that Rafael Nadal was already a superman, they will have joined the club after the French Open title-holder, on his 20th birthday, pulled off a victory of quite astonishing bravery to defeat an inspired Paul-Henri Mathieu - and 16,000 of his compatriots and eager supporters packing the main stadium of Roland Garros - 5-7 6-4 6-4 6-4 in four hours and 53 minutes.

In terms of games played and time taken, this third-round match was nowhere approaching an epic. But the intensity and heart of both Nadal and his 24-year-old opponent were indisputably of epic proportions.

There have been many historic and unforgettable contests since Roland Garros was built in the 1920s to accommodate the demand generated by France's legendary Four Musketeers - Lacoste, Brugnon, Cochet and Borotra - but this was the finest I have seen in 30 years of covering the French Open.

Nadal even overcame a third- set encounter with a bothersome segment of banana, which needed treatment before it could be dislodged from his throat, to batter into submission an opponent who made his world ranking of 32 look ridiculous as he did to Nadal what the Spaniard has done to so many opponents by taking the fight to him, storming the ramparts and, at times, leaving the champion clinging on as if in the aftermath of a shipwreck.

Already in possession of the world record for successive wins on clay, and chasing his 56th straight victory on the red stuff, Nadal was taken aback as Mathieu, someone who has suffered well in excess of the normal ration of injuries, attacked the Pirate of Paris, rushing the net at every opportunity.

Nadal, the birthday boy who had come on court bearing cannon rather than candles, was outgunned at times in a bizarre opening of four consecutive breaks of serve. But of the subsequent three breaks in that one- and-a-half-hour first set Mathieu claimed a crucial two.

Much as Nadal's muscles rippled and his raking shots sent puffs of clay flying, it was Mathieu who took the eye with his fearless play. His frequent applications of fist to the heart area may have constituted showmanship but they told a true story.

Nadal's response was, of course, to go even harder into the contest, breaking Mathieu in the fifth game of the second set, following up by holding to love and defending that lead until the set was pocketed and the match levelled. Two hours, 42 minutes gone.

The third set was the most extraordinary of a gripping match, played out in the atmosphere of a Davis Cup final in a biased setting. Nadal led 3-1, Mathieu pegged him back to 3-3, the Spaniard's game-losing double-fault sparking a huge cheer.

In the seventh game a Mathieu serve to the sideline was called good, Nadal marked what he considered the offending spot and when the umpire, Andreas Egli of Switzerland, professed not to be able to spot the mark Nadal covered his face in disbelief, earning boos. Nadal's response was enthralling. Perhaps his greatest gift is to pull off forehands of power and deadly accuracy while running full tilt to his left. He executed two of these to win the game, at which the crowd interrupted proceedings for several minutes with an extended version of the Mexican wave.

Undeterred, Nadal swept the next two games and served for a 2-1 set lead. But with two points played in that game Nadal approached Egli, gesturing that he needed the trainer's attention and indicating he was choking as a result of the banana he had eaten at the changeover. He soon resumed. To boos, of course, but there was no choking on court as he moved to set-point, as he had done in the second set, with an ace, and then saw Mathieu project a backhand wide. Three hours 43 minutes gone.

Something, somebody, had to give. And in the fourth set it was Mathieu. After service breaks were exchanged, with every Nadal error cheered mightily, the Spaniard struck with an assassin's timing, breaking to lead 5-4 on the back of three terrible forehand errors from a tiring and desolate Mathieu.

It was time for the Pirate of Paris to close it out - and he proceeded to do so, moving to match-point with his sixth ace and winning what he called "probably the best match of my life, a fabulous match" as Mathieu floated a backhand clear of the baseline. Mathieu left to resounding cheers, Nadal, not too tired to scribble a few autographs, exited to a mix of boos and cheers - the latter from the Spaniards in the crowd.

On Friday, Kevin Kim had said that playing Nadal was like trying to cross the Sahara on foot. Yesterday Mathieu must have felt like someone challenging Antarctica in the depths of winter on a dog sled. But the right man won. It would have been a shame for Nadal to depart this tournament, especially on his birthday.

If he gets off the treatment table in time, Nadal will face Lleyton Hewitt in the fourth round tomorrow. It promises to be interesting, what with Hewitt overcoming an ankle injury to see off Dominik Hrbaty 7-6 6-2 6-2. There will be no prisoners taken, no whingeing permitted.

If there was anybody out there in the wide world of tennis who did not agree that Rafael Nadal was already a superman, they will have joined the club after the French Open title-holder, on his 20th birthday, pulled off a victory of quite astonishing bravery to defeat an inspired Paul-Henri Mathieu - and 16,000 of his compatriots and eager supporters packing the main stadium of Roland Garros - 5-7 6-4 6-4 6-4 in four hours and 53 minutes.

In terms of games played and time taken, this third-round match was nowhere approaching an epic. But the intensity and heart of both Nadal and his 24-year-old opponent were indisputably of epic proportions.

There have been many historic and unforgettable contests since Roland Garros was built in the 1920s to accommodate the demand generated by France's legendary Four Musketeers - Lacoste, Brugnon, Cochet and Borotra - but this was the finest I have seen in 30 years of covering the French Open.

Nadal even overcame a third- set encounter with a bothersome segment of banana, which needed treatment before it could be dislodged from his throat, to batter into submission an opponent who made his world ranking of 32 look ridiculous as he did to Nadal what the Spaniard has done to so many opponents by taking the fight to him, storming the ramparts and, at times, leaving the champion clinging on as if in the aftermath of a shipwreck.

Already in possession of the world record for successive wins on clay, and chasing his 56th straight victory on the red stuff, Nadal was taken aback as Mathieu, someone who has suffered well in excess of the normal ration of injuries, attacked the Pirate of Paris, rushing the net at every opportunity.

Nadal, the birthday boy who had come on court bearing cannon rather than candles, was outgunned at times in a bizarre opening of four consecutive breaks of serve. But of the subsequent three breaks in that one- and-a-half-hour first set Mathieu claimed a crucial two.

Much as Nadal's muscles rippled and his raking shots sent puffs of clay flying, it was Mathieu who took the eye with his fearless play. His frequent applications of fist to the heart area may have constituted showmanship but they told a true story.

Nadal's response was, of course, to go even harder into the contest, breaking Mathieu in the fifth game of the second set, following up by holding to love and defending that lead until the set was pocketed and the match levelled. Two hours, 42 minutes gone.

The third set was the most extraordinary of a gripping match, played out in the atmosphere of a Davis Cup final in a biased setting. Nadal led 3-1, Mathieu pegged him back to 3-3, the Spaniard's game-losing double-fault sparking a huge cheer.

In the seventh game a Mathieu serve to the sideline was called good, Nadal marked what he considered the offending spot and when the umpire, Andreas Egli of Switzerland, professed not to be able to spot the mark Nadal covered his face in disbelief, earning boos. Nadal's response was enthralling. Perhaps his greatest gift is to pull off forehands of power and deadly accuracy while running full tilt to his left. He executed two of these to win the game, at which the crowd interrupted proceedings for several minutes with an extended version of the Mexican wave.

Undeterred, Nadal swept the next two games and served for a 2-1 set lead. But with two points played in that game Nadal approached Egli, gesturing that he needed the trainer's attention and indicating he was choking as a result of the banana he had eaten at the changeover. He soon resumed. To boos, of course, but there was no choking on court as he moved to set-point, as he had done in the second set, with an ace, and then saw Mathieu project a backhand wide. Three hours 43 minutes gone.

Something, somebody, had to give. And in the fourth set it was Mathieu. After service breaks were exchanged, with every Nadal error cheered mightily, the Spaniard struck with an assassin's timing, breaking to lead 5-4 on the back of three terrible forehand errors from a tiring and desolate Mathieu.

It was time for the Pirate of Paris to close it out - and he proceeded to do so, moving to match-point with his sixth ace and winning what he called "probably the best match of my life, a fabulous match" as Mathieu floated a backhand clear of the baseline. Mathieu left to resounding cheers, Nadal, not too tired to scribble a few autographs, exited to a mix of boos and cheers - the latter from the Spaniards in the crowd.

On Friday, Kevin Kim had said that playing Nadal was like trying to cross the Sahara on foot. Yesterday Mathieu must have felt like someone challenging Antarctica in the depths of winter on a dog sled. But the right man won. It would have been a shame for Nadal to depart this tournament, especially on his birthday.

If he gets off the treatment table in time, Nadal will face Lleyton Hewitt in the fourth round tomorrow. It promises to be interesting, what with Hewitt overcoming an ankle injury to see off Dominik Hrbaty 7-6 6-2 6-2. There will be no prisoners taken, no whingeing permitted.
http://sport.independent.co.uk/tennis/article624601.ece

Nadal Doesn't Choke, Wins Match in Paris (http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2006/06/03/sports/s140629D99.DTL)

No gifts for Nadal (http://www.sundayherald.com/56077)
This article has a funny paragraph:
Against Mathieu, the first set alone took an hour and 33 minutes. When it started, Nadal was sporting a scraggy layer of manly stubble. By the time he had lost it and then ground his way back to level things, they were two hours and 42 minutes in and the five o’clock shadow was threatening to sprout into a full beard. :lol: Blackbeard-style facial hair would have gone rather well with the pirate pants he always wears but defeat would have clashed horribly with the birthday cake and candles.
Nadal shows resilience after drama with banana (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/main.jhtml?view=DETAILS&grid=&xml=/sport/2006/06/04/stnada04.xml)

Nadal wins 56th straight clay-court match (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13116088/ )

mallorn
06-04-2006, 01:42 PM
Rafa's post match interview is finally up.
Day 7 - An interview with Rafael Nadal
Saturday, June 3, 2006
Rafael Nadal
Player Overview


Transcribed Interview

Q. A banana stuck in your throat?

RAFAEL NADAL: (Nodding head.)

Q. How many bananas have you eaten in your life?

RAFAEL NADAL: A billion. Is the most easy question.

Q. What happened?

RAFAEL NADAL: I take a little bit banana like this. I feel slip in the mouth and stay here (pointing to his neck).

Q. You peeled it first? :rolleyes: WTF?

RAFAEL NADAL: (Untranslated answer in Spanish.)

Q. Next up Hewitt, are you a bit concerned maybe your energy levels might run a little low in the second week?

RAFAEL NADAL: Maybe this match going to be good for me, no, 'cause I wasn't playing very well. I was practicing with doubts. So today maybe I played the best match, no?

Mathieu, I think he play a very good match. Me, I begin with two breaks down, so that's not good for the confidence. But after I come back very well. I begin find the stability in the second with my serve, so that's decisive, no?

Q. Were you ever weary or tired in the match?

RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, I was tired. I play five hours.

Q. But yet you served your fastest ace in the last game.

RAFAEL NADAL: What, how kilometers?

Q. 206, I think.

RAFAEL NADAL: I play with 207 in the second. Because I have the same thing in every set. When I serve for the set in the 30‑15, in every game, in the 5‑4, 5‑4 and 5‑4, the last three sets, I can do the ace in the middle, in the 30‑15. Every set, 30‑15.

Q. So you forget being cansado?

RAFAEL NADAL: Sure, I was tired. But maybe Mathieu, too. Every person is tired after four hours, no?

Q. Does it bother you at all the noise from the French crowd either during the match or after? Does the reaction of the French crowd bother you at all?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, maybe the public is okay. Very good all the time. Support a lot his player. But very nice, no? I like a lot that. That's very, very nice. I have this sensation in Madrid, especially in the final. So that's very, very nice.

The public stay nice. But for me all match is good. Just when I had the problem with the banana, the public (whistling). Sorry, not my fault. And after in the finish of the match, finally he applauded me. That's good. When I finish the match, the public (whistling) too. That's not nice because we play a nice match, very good match. Maybe the public can support him a lot, but after I win. That's nice, too, no? For me is more nice. But now it's okay. The public, I stay very good. Very good, no problem.

Q. Next you play Hewitt. He beat you three times out of three. Is this a worry or not?

RAFAEL NADAL: Is a different surface, sure, that's the first thing. But after, sure, I have a difficult match. I play one of the last best players in the world in the last years. I going to have a very difficult match and I know that perfect. But I am not (indiscernible) for the three matches. I'm (indiscernible) because I play with a very good player in the fourth round of the French Open. It's a very good match.

Q. In the first set, Paul was hitting every line, every corner. Did you have a feeling that he couldn't keep it up or that you had to be more aggressive and try to meet him at the same level?

RAFAEL NADAL: I was thinking, I hope he going to stop a little bit because he was playing very good. But in the first set, I have a lot of chances. Maybe for the numbers, the normal is I won the first set because I have 4‑3, 40‑15, 5‑4, Love‑40, three times break up. A lot of chances and I can do. He will beat me the set. Okay, I can win the set, too. He's playing well, but I was playing well, too.

I was thinking he going to stop before, no, because he (speaking Spanish).

He played a very good match in all aspects.

THE MODERATOR: Questions in Spanish.

Q. This was a wonderful match, but you had nine breakpoints and you didn't take them. At the same time you didn't let that get to you. Where do you get that mental strength?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, this was a fabulous match. I mean, I knew this was going to be extremely difficult. Of course, he was playing at home. Apart from the pressure from playing at home, there was no pressure on his side. I was theoretically the favorite. He was liberated in his game. He was also playing very well. But I had prepared for this, and the crowd wasn't a problem at any moment.

I was very concentrated at all times and I tried to keep the right attitude, tried to think about staying calm and think about the final victory. I think that's the important point.

Q. Were you surprised that Mathieu played so well? Did you see danger of losing the match at any moment?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, surprised? I know that Mathieu plays very well. I've always played a tough match against him. I played him five times. I've won the five times. Every single time has been tough.

I knew this would be a tough match. For me, I mean, as far as I'm concerned, this is the best match he has ever played of those he played against me.

Q. In view of the problems you had to win this match, was it due to his game or because you couldn't find the right momentum?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I'm satisfied with my tennis, with my game. I think I've made a quality leap over the past few days. I have a lot more security in my shots. I play them much better. I think probably this was not the best match of my life, but it was a very good match.

But you have to keep in mind that nothing is ever easy, particularly when you're playing a player who is playing so well. I knew this was going to be a very difficult match. I knew that anything could happen. I'm really happy that I won this match which is an important victory for me.

Q. It has been said that the change since last year is an increase in experience, a little bit less wild.

RAFAEL NADAL: I'm not sure. I always said the first year you play, you're extremely fresh. It's not the first year you come to the French Open; it's when you start winning, when you start winning big tournaments, when you start winning important matches.

I think the first year, it's always easier. If you lose a match, obviously you're disappointed. It's much worse when you have consolidated your position at the top. It's true that last year I was sometimes tense. But the fact that it was my first year put less pressure on me. This year, I think I'm playing differently. I'm less liberated. But I think I'm better in control of the situation.

I don't think at any moment in this match I lost my concentration. I'm really happy and there's nothing more to say. I think there's only one aspect that I need to improve to play the next match even better: serve and backhand. I have confidence in my forehand. I'm happy to have won all these matches.

It's also important when my opponent is playing aggressively. The fact that the court is so big, sometimes I move away further than normal. This, of course, gives more opening to my opponent.

I was also trying to remember my training. I think that I've, in fact, improved my game bit by bit during the match. I was trying to move forward. I was trying to put my shots on the line, both forehand and backhand. I think it's playing well that really saved me in the important moments.

I need to analyze all this and see what I can do to improve on it.

Q. Can you tell us what happened with that banana?

RAFAEL NADAL: I've already explained it. I've explained it wonderfully in English (smiling).

Anyway, I had a piece of banana. I always have small pieces, normal. It just slipped sideways. Maybe I'd just been drinking. I don't know what happened, but it suddenly stayed stuck halfway through. I started to play. I played one point. I didn't really notice it at the beginning. At 15‑Love, I started being a little bit frightened. But I didn't want to stop in the middle of the game. I didn't think it would look very good. I lost the next point. I was paying more attention to my throat than to tennis.

It was an important game, so I started being nervous. It's not that I couldn't breathe, but I did feel a very strange sensation. I thought, I've got to stop because I don't want anything serious to happen. Never mind if I don't look good.

Q. Do you feel fit after that long match to play potentially a very long match against Hewitt?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, there's still a day's rest or practically two. I'm going to think about resting, about relaxing. Tomorrow morning I'll probably wake up a bit tired. That would be normal. Then I'll train a bit in the afternoon at about 4 or 5 for about half an hour or so, then try to put in a few good hours' sleep. That's what I need to do. I need to recover. I need to rest. That's it. I think I'll be fine in a day and a half's time.

Q. After the nine matches you've played here in Roland Garros, was this the most difficult? Did you ever get the feeling you could lose?

RAFAEL NADAL: I mean, obviously if you play four sets in five hours, I mean, obviously you get the feeling that at some time, some point, you could lose. I also got the feeling I could win. It came pretty close at 4‑3 in the fourth set 30‑All. I don't have too many problems with my serve. I can serve an ace or so.

Q. Could you tell us more about what you said in English?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I'm not too sure about that.

I think that was the critical point. I tried to be more aggressive in my game, but I was a bit tired at that point. Then I played a backhand down the line. I lost a point. I did the same again. Then I made an ace, four winning shots. I was more relaxed.

I got the feeling if I could win that game, I'd break the next.

Q. How do you feel about all these kids waving at you and congratulating you?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, of course, I'm delighted people are paying attention. That's a good sign. I always try to answer and respond as best I can. I always try to sign what people want me to sign, even if I'm losing, whether I'm winning or losing. It's very agreeable to have people supporting you and following your career. It's the nicest thing you can get.

Q. With Hewitt, you played many years ago. Do you remember that?

RAFAEL NADAL: Do you want to tell me about the last three matches. 7‑6, 7‑6, 3‑6, 7‑6 in Australia?

Q. The second match was five sets.

RAFAEL NADAL: I played him in Toronto, 6‑1, 4‑4, 30‑15, and I missed a shot, I remember that very clearly. Then in Australia, two sets to love, 4‑4, 15‑30. I went up to the net and he lobbed me.

Q. Did you get a present today for your birthday? What would you like to get as a present?

RAFAEL NADAL: I'm so happy. I don't need anything more. :hug:

16681
06-04-2006, 06:38 PM
Thanks for another great article Mallorn :) But I must admit I never knew Rafa ate bananas during a Match :) I'm so impressed at how well Rafa's English is improving :cool: And, of course, Rafa is always so nice with his fans. He really seems to appreciate them :) And I liked what he said about being nice to the fans whether he was winning or losing.
A lot of players are great about autographs when they win, but they act totally different when they lose :( Actually I think I would be happier to sign when I lost because that would let me know I still had fans that supported me win or lose. But most players don't act like that :sad: I hope Rafa is ready for Hewitt. Vamos Rafa :)

NaDALiTa
06-04-2006, 07:45 PM
:woohoo: :woohoo: merci la MONF' , thanx to gael monfils who beat Blake today, if Rafa beat Hewitt.........Let's be in final ....waiting for Rodge

MariaV
06-04-2006, 08:44 PM
Yeah, at least Blake eliminated from the way.
Q. You peeled it first? WTF?

RAFAEL NADAL: (Untranslated answer in Spanish.)

I think Rafa said exactly 'WTF' only in Spanish. :haha: :haha:
Should this go to 'the most stupid questions asked by journalist'-thread?

Jogg
06-04-2006, 09:15 PM
Q. Can you tell us what happened with that banana?

RAFAEL NADAL: I've already explained it. I've explained it wonderfully in English (smiling).

:lol:

thanks for all the articles mallorn :)


CHATRIER 12:00 Start

Men's Singles - 4th Rnd.

Alberto Martin (ESP) vs. Julien Benneteau (FRA)
Lleyton Hewitt (AUS)[14] vs. Rafael Nadal (ESP)[2]

Vamos Rafa :bounce: Good luck

mallorn
06-04-2006, 09:31 PM
Yes, Maria, I think the question belongs in the Stupid Journalist Questions Thread. :lol: You should post it there.

The list of obstacles for Rafa en route to the title needs updating. One item is off (Blake :devil: ) but a new one added:
the record, :worship:
the tabloid pictures, :(
the doping rumours in the French press, :mad:
the rain delays, :rolleyes:
the strings problem, :eek:
the red hot (chili peppers :p ) PHM, :hatoff:
the very hostile French crowd, :ras:
the treacherous BANANA! :help:
Hewitt who has nothing to lose, :boxing:
the shin hit on the van door, :o
...what's next? :scratch:

Rafa's blog is updated. http://www.atptennis.com/en/blog/nadal.asp

Björki
06-04-2006, 09:41 PM
Vamos Rafa, it's time to beat Lleyton :bounce:

maty
06-04-2006, 09:50 PM
vamos Rafa at RG,you can beat Hewitt ;)

atheneglaukopis
06-04-2006, 11:21 PM
Yeah, at least Blake eliminated from the way.

I think Rafa said exactly 'WTF' only in Spanish. :haha: :haha:
Should this go to 'the most stupid questions asked by journalist'-thread?
I had the same thought and it's already there. :wavey:

veyonce
06-05-2006, 03:33 AM
Nice clip of Rafa at Roland Garros 2006 & interview with Alex Corretja on Rafa: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7koqqgf-mPE


Roland Garros Official Site


Excerpts From Roger Federer's Post Match Press Conference on 4 June 2006

Q. I know it's boring to mention Nadal's name, but did you watch the game yesterday and any comments on it?

ROGER FEDERER: I saw the beginning and the end. I mean, it was too long to see it all, I guess. No, it was -- that's what I expected really. So for me that came as no surprise. I knew that if somebody can really give him a fright, that's Mathieu. That's what he did.

I think he fulfilled my expectations, what I see in Mathieu. You know, Raf, he's tough. He gets you in the end, maybe mentally or physically. I don't know, he's got more matches, knows the game even more, maybe is a little more talented. So maybe that got him through yesterday.

Q. Obviously, Mathieu is a different game than Hewitt. How do you see Hewitt against Nadal?

ROGER FEDERER: I think that's a danger match for Nadal because you could think, well, I mean, Hewitt has only played three or four matches in two years on clay, but that's exactly maybe why he's dangerous, you know.

They have I guess one match, and that's the one that Lleyton won at the Aussie Open. That's to his favor, even though it's on Australia where Lleyton feels most comfortable. I think that is a tough match to have.

questions was asked in french...
Q. I'd like to ask you the same question in French as in English. You watched Rafael Nadal yesterday. What did you think of it?

ROGER FEDERER: I think Mathieu played a very good match. That's what I was expecting. I think Mathieu is a very good player on clay. I knew he could be dangerous for Nadal, and he was for a number of sets, even until the end of the match. The match was very long. I only saw the beginning and the end. But I think he can be very satisfied with his match.

Q. Were you impressed by Nadal or is it what you expected?

ROGER FEDERER: No, I think it was normal.

the_natural
06-05-2006, 06:52 AM
I think he has 2 tough matches ahead, Hewitt is gonna be tough even though im sure he will win i dont think it will be ne less than 4 sets And im sick of seeing Rafa lose energy in these tough matches while federers opponents choke and play tentatively and lose easily, and his toughest competition have to knock each other out and wear one another down before facing him, thats not fair at all, I really dont know if Rafa can win this year, if he makes the final he will be tired, Monfils will have the french suppourt and will probably take a set because of wicked shots from "no where" and he could potentially push to 5 and then who knows with the french on his side, Djokovic is also playing unconscious tennis, If he meets rafa it might be like the MAthieu match except I think Djokovic is a better player and has more power, either way I feel his gonna lose 2 sets even if he makes the final and is gonna be worn down a lot. And in a best of 5 final im very worried for his chances against Federer, especially with how close it was in Rome I think Federer will be pumped and ready to pounce....

I didnt know Rafa much until after last years FO, and I didnt really see him play many matches till madrid, I watched all of Rome but would you guys say that Rome against Federer was some of his best tennis? Normal with a few raises, or was it "up and down" good mixed with some loss of concentration... I just wanna know that he can play better Because I want him to win the damn thing and everything is in Federers favour.

silver7
06-05-2006, 10:32 AM
I looking forward to see the match Rafa-Hewitt.
Vamos Rafa!!!!

naughty_sprite
06-05-2006, 02:08 PM
I looking forward to see the match Rafa-Hewitt.
Vamos Rafa!!!!

he's doing alright, hope its a 5-setter to be honest, its a good match!!

mallorn
06-05-2006, 04:02 PM
Well, luckily it wasn't a five setter, but it was another long match for Rafa. He started off great but wobbled in the second half of the second set, while Lleyton's play improved.

Rafa then managed to regain his focus and again played more aggressively in the second half of the third and throughout the fourth set.

It was a good test for Rafa, Lleyton played very well (especially in the second set) and I'm sure he'll be very pleased with the win. :yeah:

RogiFan88
06-05-2006, 04:12 PM
Mallorn, Lleyt surprised me w his game today! He did well to push Rafa! I was impressed, I have to say! But I knew that in the end, Rafa w win -- dropping a set is just a little blip. So is Novak winning? S be an interesting QF if he does. I like to see the young guys play each other! Lots to look forward to. ;)

mallorn
06-05-2006, 06:34 PM
^^^ I knew that if Rafa could take the third set, he'd win in four. But it was a tough test for him today, and I'm very happy with his play (except for the meltdown at the end of the second set).

:lol: He finally played a drop shot that made me :bowdown: rather than :o.

The interviews are up.

Rafa's post match interview:
Day 9 - An interview with Rafael Nadal
Monday, June 5, 2006

Rafael Nadal

Transcribed Interview

Q. It was a close game. Did you expect such a tough battle with him?

RAFAEL NADAL: I know every time every match is difficult always. I always think about I will have a difficult match. I think that before the match, of course. So I have some difficult moments, and I can beat ‑‑ I can win before, too, no?

Q. It's your fourth match. Are you satisfied with your first four matches? Do you feel every game you're feeling better?

RAFAEL NADAL: In every match?

Q. Yes.

RAFAEL NADAL: Maybe today I play the best match, especially in the ‑‑ I feel the ball my best feelings today in the tournament, sure, and especially first set maybe I play very good, no?

After, I have the control of the match in the second set, too. I have 4‑3 with break. But in that game, I was playing very bad. I serve very bad, and I finished the second set bad because I was serving bad.

And he, he's very competitive. So if you have some mistakes, some misses, so he going to be hundred percent after, no? So...

Q. Third set, 4‑4, breakpoint, then the dropshot. Was it the turning point of the match, in your opinion?

RAFAEL NADAL: This is very important moment because with this game I ‑‑ maybe in this game I won the match. But I have before one critic (sic) moment, in the 3‑2, 15‑40, in the third. That is the worst moment in the match, the more difficult in the match. The two dropshots, too.

Q. This allowed you to serve out the set. Having won that break, you were then able to serve out the set. You had a two‑sets‑to‑one lead. Did you feel totally in control of the match at that point?

RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, sure. When I beat the first set, I get a lot of confidence. After I play good at all time. Lleyton have some mistakes so I can come back and play good, no?

Q. Do you think that you pushed Hewitt to try to out‑pass himself, to try to play better than what he usually does? He knew that on clay you were better, and it forced him to make more mistakes than usual maybe.

RAFAEL NADAL: Me?

Q. No, Hewitt. You pushed Hewitt to play better than his usual standards, so he tried to surpass himself to reach your level on clay.

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I don't know exactly. But maybe ‑‑

Q. Maybe yes? Okay.

RAFAEL NADAL: No, no. I can answer. I understand 55%.

No, I don't know exactly which one is his level on clay.

Q. If this is his best on clay, he had to play better than that to try to reach you.

RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, I understand.

Q. Your dropshots came at critical moments always in the match. At very critical moments, does this decision come spontaneously or something you keep for the worst moments?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, I don't know, no, in this moment you think that and you do that. You don't think that before, no?

Q. 57 wins in a row on a clay court. Must not have been easy always. Two tournaments ago in Barcelona, you won the tournament and lost only one set. Jarkko Nieminen was winning 6‑4, 4‑1. What happened? How were you able to turn the match to your victory in Barcelona?

RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, I remember this match. I was playing normal, not my best tennis. Jarkko was playing very well. I was playing with little bit nervous, with more mistakes than usually. So after in the 4‑1 maybe I improve, I improve my level a little bit, and he had some mistakes. I can come back. When I win the second, maybe I finish the match, no?

Q. Third set, was it easier for you?

RAFAEL NADAL: Yes.

Q. Over eight hours in the last two matches, yet you still looked very fresh in the final set today. But if you have to go another long match on Wednesday, could your legs become an issue?

RAFAEL NADAL: Maybe I going to be better on Wednesday than today, no? Yeah, I think. Because today was tired, especially in some moments. I lost my concentration. I lost my concentration maybe because I am a little bit more tired than usually, no?

Q. Here (in the head)?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, because all these all go together. If you are tired legs, your mentally is difficult, too. All comes together. Maybe I feel a little bit tired. Sure, I lost my concentration for that in some moments, no?

Q. The record of Vilas of 53 matches on clay was interrupted by Nastase. Nastase played with a double racquet.

RAFAEL NADAL: Double cords.

Q. Then it was forbidden by the Federation. Could you allow your opponent to play with something like that to beat you?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, but I going to lose in this tournament or in the next or in the next. Every match is difficult. You look. So today I have difficult moments. Against Mathieu, I have difficult moments. Every match is difficult, and every match I can lose, no?

And Vilas, I don't know in these times.

Q. Hewitt had five double‑faults in the last set. Did you think he was getting tired?

RAFAEL NADAL: I don't know, no? Not for the tired (indiscernible) five double‑faults in the last set, no? But he had good chance in the third, and in the fourth he coming down a little bit. I don't know is for because he is tired. Because he won last match against Hrbaty easy. And today we play four sets, but not the toughest match in the history, no?

Q. Yesterday James Blake said Gaël Monfils is the best athlete he has ever seen on a tennis court. Can you comment on that opinion? >

RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, he's a spectacular guy, no?

Q. Many people say that you are the best athlete.

RAFAEL NADAL: I don't want the comparation (sic). Every is different. The physical is different, no? Because he is more agile. I have better resistance maybe. I have better resistance, I think. He is more spectacular, more agility. I have better resistance.

THE MODERATOR: Spanish questions.

Q. You didn't eat any bananas today, did you?

RAFAEL NADAL: Yes, I did. Come on, I swallowed ‑‑ I got one stuck once, but I'm not going to stop eating bananas because of that. Of course, I ate bananas during the match once in a while. With a great degree of caution, but I did eat bananas. :lol:

Q. You played a practically perfect first set. You had difficulties in the second. What happened?

RAFAEL NADAL: I wasn't able to keep my level up. It was a very long set, very aggressive. I think the court was a little bit faster than on previous days. He was really playing close to the lines. I think he was changing direction much easier and serving very well.

The truth is it was 4‑3 with a break, he was controlling the set. 5‑All, 15‑40, I think I was feeling a bit less fit, I had a bit of a slump. I was moving backwards. It's something I have to learn. It's something that happens to me once in a while. I've got to improve on that.

But Hewitt is someone, I mean, you let him grab a finger and he takes the arm. He's really a great competitor. He's demonstrated this on a number of occasions.

Q. The fact that there was a mistake against you, was that a problem?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, it's the kind of thing that happens. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I mean, it's not the first time that I take too much time and get a warning for it. But I need to recover. It's been five hours in my previous match. I also had a tough match against Kim. I've been playing a lot of hours on court. I really need to recover and breathe between points.

Yeah, I got a warning, but never mind.

Q. Can you tell us more about what happened with the ball boy. His nose was bleeding?

RAFAEL NADAL: Yes. Well, Hewitt played a very hard serve. It bounced off the plastic wall. It hit the ball boy in the nose. After I finished that first point, I looked back to see how he was feeling. I saw that his nose was bleeding. I asked the umpire to come and have a look, do something about it, because the poor kid had got the ball in the middle of the nose and was actually bleeding. I mean, something had to be done about it.

Q. Djokovic is now leading the match. What do you think about him?

RAFAEL NADAL: He's got a lot of potential. He's a very dangerous player. He's got very good shots. I don't know what his ranking will be at the end of the year, but I think it's going to go way up. I think he's a year younger than me. That's life.

Q. Last year you hadn't won a Grand Slam in your life at this level. Now you know what it's like. Today how do you feel about the possibility of being in the final and winning the tournament as compared to how you felt last year?

RAFAEL NADAL: Listen, I'm in the quarterfinals. I'm not thinking about the final yet. If I'm in a final, this means I'll be playing well and probably I'll be ready to play that final. For the moment, I'm playing a quarterfinal. It's going to be a tough match. We'll see what happens.

Q. You were asked about crucial points in this match, decisive moments. Can you tell us more about that?

RAFAEL NADAL: There were two crucial moments in the match after losing the second set, because a number of things could have changed in the second set, I think.

I think 3‑2, 15‑40 in the third set, that was a very important moment. 4‑All with a break. Then, of course, 6‑4, when I confirmed that break. But I think that's really what turned the match in my favor because I was really feeling confident. I really needed confidence to be able to finish this match.

Q. Did Hewitt say anything special? This is the first time you beat him.

RAFAEL NADAL: No. When the ball bounced on the net, I just looked at him and said sorry. He was laughing. I've always had a very good relationship with him. Every time we've played a match, usually he's won the previous matches. It's always been a very tough match, very close. He always had very good words for me in the past, as today. He always said that he liked playing against me. The match was always tough.

He's a very nice player. I like his game. I like his attitude. I like his style. I like the way he manages his matches. I mean, he lost today, but he's someone who is a real fighter. He has a very good game. He's never had a problem with me, nor I with him. He's always wished me good luck.

Q. Do you think you can compare yourself to him in terms of fighting spirit?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, we're different. I think we play differently. We have a different fighting spirit. True, we are two fighters.

mallorn
06-05-2006, 06:34 PM
Lleyton's interview:
Day 9 - An interview with Lleyton Hewitt
Monday, June 5, 2006
Lleyton Hewitt

Transcribed Interview

Q. Those cursed double‑faults. Is that essentially what did you in in the final set today?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It was only a couple of them. Yeah, two in a row, though. I don't know about that. You know, he's the kind of guy that was ‑‑ he was up a break in that situation anyway before then.

But, yeah, I don't think that was probably the reason why I lost the match today.

Q. Two and a half sets. Your accuracy with your groundstrokes was pretty phenomenal today. Can you comment on that a bit.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, it was good. I felt like I was hitting the ball well. You know, obviously the start of the match, he came out smoking it and hitting a lot of heavy balls out there. I couldn't really ‑‑ didn't get an opportunity to try and dictate. You know, when I got my half chance in the second set, I had to take it, and I was able to do that. I started serving really well, better than I've been doing all tournament.

You know, I think late in the third set and then the whole fourth set, my serve did go off, my first serve, more than anything. Yeah, that just made it a lot harder to put pressure on him.

Q. How did you feel physically throughout the whole game?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, pretty good considering I haven't played, you know, too many five‑set matches against players of the caliber of Nadal. Yeah, coming into the tournament, I wasn't really sure how I was going to, you know, pull up obviously. So, yeah, to get through the match physically, I felt pretty good.

But, you know, that doesn't mean a lot if you lose.

Q. When you play a guy like this, how important is it to be sort of in a cycle when you're playing a lot of big matches, you're expecting to get to finals, as opposed to maybe if you're not playing at that level? Is there a whole different level of sort of mental concentration, focus that you need out there?

LLEYTON HEWITT: In some ways, yes. But then I felt like today, you know, when the match was getting tighter at points, I felt like that's when I was actually getting on tops slightly out there, and especially in the second set when I tried to put some pressure on him and then had opportunities at 3‑2, 15‑40 in the third set.

You know, he's very much like I guess Federer, winning so many matches, that it's sort of second nature for him. They get down breakpoint and they expect to get out of it. That's why he's one of the best players in the world.

Q. You seem very relaxed and analytical about this particular match. Is that just the change in your life that's gone on that's made you this way?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. That's probably just the way you see me now. I don't know.

Q. He's near enough to unbeatable on clay at the moment. When you come off the court, is it a feeling of, How does anybody beat this guy, or do you come off thinking with a few more clues, next time you play him, you might have a couple of points that you take into it, a couple of factors that might make you a winner?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, obviously, he's extremely tough. But, you know, I still feel like there are small areas. As I said, you know, 3‑2, 15‑40, you have to take those chances against these guys, whether it's Nadal or Federer, the best guys out there.

Obviously, you know, if everything pans out, you'd expect Nadal to play Federer in the final here. Who knows what can happen. Roger is getting closer and closer every time they play. He's obviously doing something right. You know, but then again, he hasn't quite been able to get over the line either.

Definitely confidence‑wise, head‑to‑head‑wise, it gives Nadal a hell of a lot of confidence.

Q. Pretty key point there in the third set at 4‑4, breakpoint, the dropshot. Did you read the spin on that, or were you surprised when it touched down?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It was too good a shot anyway. I wasn't quite going to get to it, I don't think, anyway. Yeah, wasn't so much the spin. It sort of caught half the line, as well, sort of kicked sideways.

So, you know, wasn't a whole heap I could do about it. It was well‑played.

Q. Besides obviously the disappointment of losing the match, where do you feel you are now overall? You have four big matches on clay. Having not played for so many weeks, looking ahead into the grass as well.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, there's obviously ‑‑ you know, when I look back on it in a couple days, there's going to be, you know, a lot of positives I'm sure I can take out of the last week and a bit here. You know, especially, as I said, not knowing, you know, a week and a half ago whether I was actually going to be able to play anyway.

I went out there, gave everything I had. Felt like ball striking‑wise, I'm a lot more confident going into Queen's than I was probably coming into the French Open. Yeah, that gives me a lot of ‑‑ a lot more confidence, I guess. And obviously moving on to grass, it's never an easy transition, but it's one that, you know, I've been able to handle pretty well in the last, I guess, four or five years.

Q. It was a good test for you thinking about Argentina in Davis Cup on clay?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Never really thought about that. You know, going out there, obviously, this was a big enough test in itself, playing the best player on clay at the moment in the French Open, the defending champ. So, you know, I wasn't really focused about Davis Cup too much today.

Q. Going into the rest of the summer, how much confidence is it to come off a court now knowing you could compete when maybe you thought with injury that might not be the case?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, well, I think when I look back on it, you know, as I said, I think ball striking‑wise, I got better and better with every match that I played. Against Hrbaty, I struck the ball extremely well. Yeah, I know now, only play one tournament on clay, now we're on to grass, so it's a totally different situation.

But if I can take that same mentality out there onto the grass, you know, have a positive attitude out there, then, yeah, who knows, maybe I can be dangerous in the next month or so.

Q. I know what you say about Davis Cup being three months off, but it's your next clay court assignment. Do you feel the matches you have here will make you that much more confident going to Buenos Aires than you otherwise would have been?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I don't know. Davis Cup is a long way away right at the moment. Still two other majors, and obviously Wimbledon is more focused right in my mind at the moment.

Q. May seem obvious, but what is it like to play him on clay versus Rebound Ace or other surfaces? What are the in and outs of it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, you know, I felt Coria ‑‑ I never played Coria on clay. Looked to me a couple years ago, Coria moving on clay, Ferrero even moving on clay. But I think this guy, yeah, his movement on clay is exceptional. It's second to none, that I've seen. He makes you play so many more balls, normally you'd have winners. On clay he can sort of get enough on it to make you play a tough volley, whereas on grass or hard court, I think, you know, Rebound Ace, I think sometimes you have an easier volley at the net. It's a little bit harder for him to put something, you know, on a passing shot when he's six, seven meters behind the baseline, whereas on clay, he can sort of get away with it. He's so physically strong out there, as well.

Q. You're an underdog in this match. For many years, you were always a favorite when you played. Do you feel different on the court or is it like a regular match for you?

LLEYTON HEWITT: You don't feel any different on the court. Obviously you know that it's ‑‑ yeah, if I could have got over today's hurdle, then the draw really opens up, as well. You've definitely got that in the back of your mind, I think.

But, yeah, it wasn't a matter of thinking that I was a huge underdog where a couple years ago I would have been favored. He's obviously earned the stature to be favored in nearly every one of his matches now on clay. You know, that's something that comes with winning 60 odd matches in a row on this surface.

Q. For more than two sets of this match, you grinded very well with the guy. Didn't seem to be losing your patience out there, even when he was making spectacular returns. Was this a match where the frustration level finally broke you down in the third and fourth set, just got tired of grinding with him?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. You know, it was a matter of ‑‑ you know, against a guy like him, you've got to take your opportunities. You get that half short ball out there, you see the opportunity. I think 4‑All, 15‑All, I had a short forehand. I went back to his backhand, missed it wide. It's just small opportunities like that that you've got to take.

But then again, against a guy, he makes you go for that little bit more as well sometimes purely because, as I said before, he gets so many balls back out there on the run.

But, you know, I guess that's the way that got me back into the second set, was me going out there, being aggressive, going for my shots, staying positive out there. I don't think that really changed. I may have missed a few more balls late in the third and the fourth sets, but you've sort of got to go with it. It got me back in the match, as well.

Q. I heard you were not feeling well before the Hrbaty match. Is that true? If so, how close did you come to not playing it?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I wasn't going to walk on the court. And then, you know, just decided to see how I go.

Q. You were about to pull out?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I was vomiting in the trainer's room literally before I walked out.

Q. Then played one of your best matches.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah.

16681
06-05-2006, 08:44 PM
mallorn thanks for the articles again :) And Congrats to Rafa for yet another win :) But I'm becoming concerned about his on court time. I don't really follow Federer I just hear when he has won a Match, but I don't think his time on court is anywhere near Rafa's. If Roger and Rafa do meet in the Finals I'm afraid physically Roger is going to be the much fresher player :scared:

atheneglaukopis
06-06-2006, 12:38 AM
mallorn thanks for the articles again :) And Congrats to Rafa for yet another win :) But I'm becoming concerned about his on court time. I don't really follow Federer I just hear when he has won a Match, but I don't think his time on court is anywhere near Rafa's. If Roger and Rafa do meet in the Finals I'm afraid physically Roger is going to be the much fresher player :scared:
I haven't checked the math myself, but I trust the person who posted here (http://www.menstennisforums.com/showpost.php?p=3565683&postcount=1), and the difference is significant, although how much of that is due to resting between points, I don't know.

16681
06-06-2006, 03:25 AM
I haven't checked the math myself, but I trust the person who posted here (http://www.menstennisforums.com/showpost.php?p=3565683&postcount=1), and the difference is significant, although how much of that is due to resting between points, I don't know.
Ooops sorry I slipped out of the Land of Denial :eek: And I'm going back to the Land of Denial in a hurry :p

the_natural
06-06-2006, 08:16 AM
Im afraid that Djokovic will be tough :( Hes just hitting all his shots and opening his shoulders playing with nothing to lose, im afraid he will take a set, and I just feel that Rafa is gonna be really tired if he makes the final whereas Roger will be fresh as a daisy. Agghh Life is so unfair.

MariaV
06-06-2006, 10:13 AM
We'll see girls, we'll see, Fed's semi vs Kolya or Nalby could be a hard 5-setter and Rafa should do Djoko and Ljubo in 3. :D Hehe, I'm not good at predicting just having some fun. ;)

MariaV
06-06-2006, 10:17 AM
From the RG site.

Nadal to meet Djokovic
By Matthew Cronin
Monday, June 5, 2006

There doesn't seem to be a feat that Rafael Nadal can't pull off or a rivalry that he can't turn around.

Facing one of the few men who have had success against him, Nadal overcame a spirited effort from two-time Grand Slam champion Lleyton Hewitt 6-2 5-7 6-4 6-2 to advance to the quarterfinal.

The 20-year-old Spaniard had come into the match with a 0-3 record against the Aussie, but survived a super-aggressive attack from Hewitt, who cast aside his normal counterpunching style and attacked Nadal at every turn.

But after seizing the second set from the Spaniard, Hewitt couldn't maintain consistency on his first serve, was seriously troubled by Nadal's heavily topspinned forehand and couldn't return deep enough to make a major impression on his foe's serve.

"I felt like I was hitting the ball well," Hewitt said. "Obviously at the start of the match, he came out smoking it and hitting a lot of heavy balls. I couldn't really get an opportunity to try and dictate.

"When I got my half chance in the second set, I had to take it, and I was able to do that. I started serving really well, better than I've been doing all tournament. I think late in the third set and then the whole fourth set, my serve did go off, my first serve, more than anything. That just made it a lot harder to put pressure on him."

For Nadal's part, the Spaniard forced himself to stop playing so defensively after the second set and matched Hewitt drop shot for drop shot and backhand for backhand. While he didn't play the best clay court match of his career, he upped his level when he needed to, which is why he notched his 57 straight win on dirt.

"He's very much like I guess Federer, winning so many matches, that it's sort of second nature for him," Hewitt said. "They get down breakpoint and they expect to get out of it. That's why he's one of the best players in the world."

Nadal will face Serbian teen Novak Djokovic, who ended the hopes of French teen Gael Monfils 7-6(5) 7-6(5) 6-3.

Monfils, who won three five set matches coming into the contest, made a strident effort to break through to the quarterfinals, but played too inconsistently on the big points.

The 19-year-old Djokovic didn't play standout tennis in front of the partisan crowd, but served and returned better than his foe and showed off a more penetrating forehand.

But the Serb's run will likely stop against Nadal, who very rarely plays a loose point.

"He's a very dangerous player," Nadal said. "He's got very good shots. I don't know what his ranking will be at the end of the year, but I think it's going to go way up. I think he's a year younger than me. That's life."

veyonce
06-06-2006, 02:22 PM
Im afraid that Djokovic will be tough :( Hes just hitting all his shots and opening his shoulders playing with nothing to lose, im afraid he will take a set, and I just feel that Rafa is gonna be really tired if he makes the final whereas Roger will be fresh as a daisy. Agghh Life is so unfair.

I agree.. Djokovic is the upcoming player to look out for. Djokovic has a huge serve and he likes to serve and volley which we know is Rafa's weakness as seen from his matches with Mathieu & Hewitt. Rafa has been playing well so far except his break point conversions...

The semis are to be play on Friday and Rafa has only a day's rest while Roger has a full 2 days' rest. Hopefully Rafa will recover well and the past matches won't take a toll on his body... Crossing my fingers & toes for him to retain his Roland Garros title and for him to complete his blog with a bang... ;)

16681
06-06-2006, 02:40 PM
I agree.. Djokovic is the upcoming player to look out for. Djokovic has a huge serve and he likes to serve and volley which we know is Rafa's weakness as seen from his matches with Mathieu & Hewitt. Rafa has been playing well so far except his break point conversions...

The semis are to be play on Friday and Rafa has only a day's rest while Roger has a full 2 days' rest. Hopefully Rafa will recover well and the past matches won't take a toll on his body... Crossing my fingers & toes for him to retain his Roland Garros title and for him to complete his blog with a bang... ;)
The cards just seem to be stacked against Rafa at RG this year. First off I think Roger had the easier draw so he has spend less time on court and now if Rafa does make it to the Finals Roger will have more time off :rolleyes: It just doesn't seem fair :( And Roger came very close to defeating Rafa the last time they played :eek: But I guess I'm getting ahead of myself because he has to defeat Nole next.

MariaV
06-06-2006, 03:12 PM
Hey girls and boys! Rafa's up 1st on Chatrier tomorrow. I'll be stuck at work so cheer hard, OK! :bounce: :bigclap: :yippee: :banana:

CHATRIER 12:00 Start

Men's Singles - Qtr. Finals
Novak Djokovic (SCG) vs. Rafael Nadal (ESP)[2]

silver7
06-06-2006, 03:49 PM
Oh yes we will do!:)
Vamos Rafa!!!

MariaV
06-06-2006, 04:27 PM
Oh, and words from Tio Toni at the RG site if you haven't seen. :) RAFA WILL BE READY! :D
Toni Nadal: 'Rafael will be on top form against Djokovic'
By Georges Homsi
Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Coach (and uncle) of the world No2, Toni Nadal was very impressed by Paul-Henri Mathieu's play on Saturday in his third round match with 'Rafa'. Since then, the Spanish claycourt genius has also been taken to four sets by Lleyton Hewitt, but according to Toni, the 20-year-old should be on top of his game when he faces Novak Djokovic on Wednesday.

Rafael took five hours to beat Mathieu in the third round, then had another four-setter against Hewitt after that. Do you think that this will start to catch up with him this week?

No, after the way he beat Hewitt, I think that things will start to get better for him physically speaking. The match against Mathieu may have lasted five hours, but it was a lot quicker against Hewitt, and what with having two days off now, he should be fully rested and on top form for his quarterfinal on Wednesday. Saturday's marathon definitely took a lot out of him, though.

How do you think he has been playing up until now?

Rafael's played well, there's no doubt about that. We knew before the match that it would be tough against Mathieu, but it ended up being even harder than we thought, since Paul-Henri played some excellent tennis throughout the match. When that happens, you just have to hang in there and fight for every point, which is what Rafael did.

Next up is Novak Djokovic, who has been the surprise package at Roland Garros this year…

This will be a tough match, since Djokovic is very young and highly talented. He has enormous potential. Rafael will have to be on top form to get through.

mallorn
06-06-2006, 04:33 PM
Thanks, Maria!

I'll be working until 1 pm, so I can only cheer him on later. Let's hope he can do well without us. :unsure: ;)

Of course Rafa first needs to beat Nole, but looking at the big picture I must say, (as much I would like to believe Uncle Toni) unless Rafa manages to play two quick matches, which doesn't seem likely, defending the title will be EXTREMELY difficult if he plays Roger (and let's face it, who is going to take him out? Everyone goes to pieces or has cramps before they even get on the court. :rolleyes: ). The way Roger's draw has turned out he'll be fresh as a daisy, even if he plays a five set SF. And don't you just love how Fed fans go out of their way to convince everybody that Roger has so much tougher draw than Rafa? :lol:

Nalbandian, who is supposedly so dangerous to Roger, just dropped the third set against Davydenko 2-6. That won't help his fitness, even if he comes through.

MariaV
06-06-2006, 05:23 PM
Ania, don't underestimate Nalby. ;) I hope he manages to bother Rogi at least a bit.
And Rafa can make it fast tomorrow (and hopefully he WILL do it), and semis vs Ljubo (or Benneteau, OK) shouldn't be THAT hard any more, Ljubo's not THAT tough. The megachoker PHM got us all by surprise. ;) :rolleyes:
Anyway. :hug:s to you. We'll be all freaked out IF the megafinal should take place on Sunday. Gosh, I need to keep away from here then. :o :o

MariaV
06-06-2006, 05:27 PM
Shall I bother you to death? Match report from the RG site that hasn't been posted here I guess.
The clay king marches on
By Andrew Lilley
Monday, June 5, 2006

The gritty Aussie tried his hardest, but in the end, there was no stopping the claycourt king. No2 seed Rafael Nadal booked his place in the quarterfinals with a 6-2 5-7 6-4 6-2 win over No14 seed Lleyton Hewitt, extending his winning streak on clay to 57.

Despite a shaky start by both players (the match began with three consecutive service breaks) it was Nadal who found his rhythm first. The defending champion held his serve to love in the fourth game, and then stunned the 2001 and 2002 ATP race champion, who had no answer to the Spaniard's slingy, wristy forehands, solid backhands and inch-perfect drop shots.

Despite only proclaiming himself to be "80 per cent fit" after his ankle injury suffered in the first round at Pörtschach two weeks ago, Hewitt moved freely around the court, but failed to combat Nadal's sheer variety of shots, allied to his metronomic consistency.

Nadal broke again to lead 5-2, and served out to take the first set in a comparative stroll on the back of 15 winners.

Hewitt, cheered on by his showbiz wife Bec, made a better fist of the second set, and even seemed to have knocked the young Majorcan off his rhythm for a while. This did not last long, however, and the seemingly inexorable break came in the seventh game as Nadal suddenly upped his game and seemed capable of hitting a winner on every point.

What goes up, however, must come down, and Nadal proceeded to make an absolute hash of his following service game. The winners all became tramline or net shots, and from a seemingly comfortable position, he suddenly found himself serving to save the set. Hewitt pushed him to a deuce, but Nadal held, then raced to a 15-40 lead on Hewitt's serve. The baseball-capped Aussie fought back, however, and held his service to lead 6-5. Game 12 saw two net cords, both of which dropped in favor of the Adelaide righty, and we were level at one set all.

Having lost a set for the second consecutive match, the claycourt maestro decided that it was time to get down to business. His beady-eyed stare became more focused, and his game more aggressive. He forced three break points in the fifth game, but again the Australian rose to the challenge. Fighting fire with fire, he forced Nadal onto the back foot, held his service then earned two break points of his own. As on a number of occasions throughout the match, however, Hewitt put far too many drop shots onto lefty Nadal's forehand, and the chance was gone.

The Australian No14 seed would come to rue this generosity. Nadal showed him how to lay down a proper drop shot, stole a break and then served out to love to take a two-sets-to-one lead.

Nadal took an early stranglehold on the fourth set with a break in game three, but as in the first two sets, the long-haired lefty immediately handed back the initiative, this time double-faulting to allow Hewitt to break back.

After a few dicey moments, though, Nadal's rhythm returned, and he broke Hewitt for the second consecutive game on the back of some powerful forehands. This time, the lead was his for good, and the only thing that would halt his progress momentarily was when a ball-boy had to leave the court with a nosebleed. After Hewitt saved five break points, Nadal broke again, helped by the Aussie double-faulting twice, then served out to secure a four-set win.

Having won 16 titles as a teenager, equaling Bjorn Borg's feat, he was "halted" in his bid for the record by his 20th birthday on Saturday. He may have another achievement in his sights, however - his opponent today was the youngest ever world No1 when he reached the top spot in November 2001, aged 20 years, eight months. Nadal has until next year's Australian Open to sneak ahead of current incumbent Roger Federer, and the way the two are playing, few would bet against them meeting in Sunday's final here.

NaDALiTa
06-06-2006, 05:37 PM
Hi everybody :wavey:

Rafa have just been interviewed by french TV, it was pretty boring and Rafa didn't seem in a good mood.....for sure they asked him always the same questions (Federer, the record, Wimbledon , football etc...) , it was pretty funny because they questionned him about his girlfriend he said he was single and he still have time to find someone .....Rafa, Toni didn't learnt you that lying is wrong :lol: :lol: :lol:

mallorn
06-06-2006, 05:57 PM
Ania, don't underestimate Nalby. ;) I hope he manages to bother Rogi at least a bit.
And Rafa can make it fast tomorrow (and hopefully he WILL do it), and semis vs Ljubo (or Benneteau, OK) shouldn't be THAT hard any more, Ljubo's not THAT tough. The megachoker PHM got us all by surprise. ;) :rolleyes:
Anyway. :hug:s to you. We'll be all freaked out IF the megafinal should take place on Sunday. Gosh, I need to keep away from here then. :o :o
I don't know about Nalbandian...somehow I don't see him seriously pushing Roger. I hope I'm wrong, because I really want to see Roger pushed, I want him to feel he's playing in the most difficult tournament in the world; so far he's hardly broken sweat. I hate that 99% of the players have no belief whatsoever that they can take a set off him, let alone a match. Too bad Mario was exhausted today, his attitude looked good but his body let him down.

Maria, "Rafa" and "fast win" don't belong together. :lol: He knows how important it is to keep the matches short at this stage, but still, I wouldn't be very surprised if he played another long match tomorrow, dropping a set out of the blue like he did yesterday.

And SF could be tricky as well. Ljubicic is very confident, and we know what happened in their last match (ok, it was indoors, but still). Benneteau on the other hand would have crazy crowd support, and we also know how unpleasant this could get.

I've been really fed up with MTF recently; if it's this bad already, I don't know what's going to happen in case of the megafinal. :o

mangoes
06-06-2006, 05:57 PM
Thanks, Maria!

I'll be working until 1 pm, so I can only cheer him on later. Let's hope he can do well without us. :unsure: ;)

Of course Rafa first needs to beat Nole, but looking at the big picture I must say, (as much I would like to believe Uncle Toni) unless Rafa manages to play two quick matches, which doesn't seem likely, defending the title will be EXTREMELY difficult if he plays Roger (and let's face it, who is going to take him out? Everyone goes to pieces or has cramps before they even get on the court. :rolleyes: ). The way Roger's draw has turned out he'll be fresh as a daisy, even if he plays a five set SF. And don't you just love how Fed fans go out of their way to convince everybody that Roger has so much tougher draw than Rafa? :lol:

Nalbandian, who is supposedly so dangerous to Roger, just dropped the third set against Davydenko 2-6. That won't help his fitness, even if he comes through.


But Ania, Roger did have a draw filled with more experienced clay courters. Those in Rafa's draw were suppose to be quick, easy opponents. Surprisingly, that didn't happen. That doesn't make Roger's draw easier than Rafa's draw. It just means that Rafa came up against some tough obstacles that no one, including Rafa, expected. PHM caught Rafa, as well as all of us, but surprise. Hewitt's match was similar to Massu's match against Roger. Rafa faces easy Quarter and Semifinal opponents while Roger has to go through Nalbandian........so ultimately, I think the scales have become balanced between the both players...........and hopefully, both will be in the final on Sunday.

I don't know about Nalbandian...somehow I don't see him seriously pushing Roger. I hope I'm wrong, because I really want to see Roger pushed, I want him to feel he's playing in the most difficult tournament in the world; so far he's hardly broken sweat. I hate that 99% of the players have no belief whatsoever that they can take a set off him, let alone a match.


That's exactly how I've been feeling about Nadal :lol: :lol:

mallorn
06-06-2006, 05:58 PM
Hi everybody :wavey:

Rafa have just been interviewed by french TV, it was pretty boring and Rafa didn't seem in a good mood.....for sure they asked him always the same questions (Federer, the record, Wimbledon , football etc...) , it was pretty funny because they questionned him about his girlfriend he said he was single and he still have time to find someone .....Rafa, Toni didn't learnt you that lying is wrong :lol: :lol: :lol:
:lol: Rafa is really stubborn about this.

MariaV
06-06-2006, 06:36 PM
I don't know about Nalbandian...somehow I don't see him seriously pushing Roger. I hope I'm wrong, because I really want to see Roger pushed, I want him to feel he's playing in the most difficult tournament in the world; so far he's hardly broken sweat. I hate that 99% of the players have no belief whatsoever that they can take a set off him, let alone a match. Too bad Mario was exhausted today, his attitude looked good but his body let him down.

Maria, "Rafa" and "fast win" don't belong together. :lol: He knows how important it is to keep the matches short at this stage, but still, I wouldn't be very surprised if he played another long match tomorrow, dropping a set out of the blue like he did yesterday.

And SF could be tricky as well. Ljubicic is very confident, and we know what happened in their last match (ok, it was indoors, but still). Benneteau on the other hand would have crazy crowd support, and we also know how unpleasant this could get.

I've been really fed up with MTF recently; if it's this bad already, I don't know what's going to happen in case of the megafinal. :o
Naah, you're too pessimistic Ania! ;) VAMOS Rafa tomorrow! Show that you can do it in 3 too! :D :bounce: :bigclap: :bounce: :bigclap: :bounce: :bigclap: :bounce: :bigclap:

MariaV
06-06-2006, 06:42 PM
But Ania, Roger did have a draw filled with more experienced clay courters. Those in Rafa's draw were suppose to be quick, easy opponents. Surprisingly, that didn't happen. That doesn't make Roger's draw easier than Rafa's draw. It just means that Rafa came up against some tough obstacles that no one, including Rafa, expected. PHM caught Rafa, as well as all of us, but surprise. Hewitt's match was similar to Massu's match against Roger. Rafa faces easy Quarter and Semifinal opponents while Roger has to go through Nalbandian........so ultimately, I think the scales have become balanced between the both players...........and hopefully, both will be in the final on Sunday.



That's exactly how I've been feeling about Nadal :lol: :lol:
Hey, nice to see you here! :wavey:
And even if the megafinal will be too much for me and I might get a heart attack or something I wish a GREAT GREAT final. :)

NaDALiTa
06-06-2006, 06:49 PM
:lol: Rafa is really stubborn about this.



they have been trapped together and he did as if nothing happened :lol: what a funny chico :haha: :haha: He shouldn't have said that he was single now all the girls in Paris will try their chance !!!! :eek: :devil:

mallorn
06-06-2006, 07:06 PM
But Ania, Roger did have a draw filled with more experienced clay courters. Those in Rafa's draw were suppose to be quick, easy opponents. Surprisingly, that didn't happen. That doesn't make Roger's draw easier than Rafa's draw. It just means that Rafa came up against some tough obstacles that no one, including Rafa, expected. PHM caught Rafa, as well as all of us, but surprise. Hewitt's match was similar to Massu's match against Roger. Rafa faces easy Quarter and Semifinal opponents while Roger has to go through Nalbandian........so ultimately, I think the scales have become balanced between the both players...........and hopefully, both will be in the final on Sunday.
I'm not talking about whose draw was THEORETICALLY more difficult. I think there's no point in arguing about this, because a/ there would never be an agreement (how do you measure which of the two match-ups is more difficult for the players: Roger-David or Rafa-James?) and b/ in the end it just doesn't matter. You play against the players who managed to win in the previous round, not the ones that were supposed to win. So Roger was supposed to play many clay courters - did he? No. Tomas and Mario were supposed to push him - did they? No. So what's the point of arguing that they could've been more difficult? They weren't. Rafa and Roger are dealing with reality, not what ifs.

BTW I didn't expect Rafa's match against PHM to be quick and easy, he's always been a difficult opponent, I knew the crowd would get involved - and to make matters worse for Rafa, PHM played a really great match.

I don't expect Rafa's QF and SF matches to be easy either, especially with the amount of time he spent on court, but again - it doesn't matter what you and I think/expect. We'll have to wait and see.
That's exactly how I've been feeling about Nadal :lol: :lol:
:eek: Oh wow, you don't think he's been pushed? Playing two very difficult matches back to back, spending more time on court than anyone? I guess you want him to face MP in a fifth set and won't settle for anything less. :p

mallorn
06-06-2006, 07:08 PM
Naah, you're too pessimistic Ania! ;) VAMOS Rafa tomorrow! Show that you can do it in 3 too! :D :bounce: :bigclap: :bounce: :bigclap: :bounce: :bigclap: :bounce: :bigclap:
Yes, Rafa, please show us that you haven't forgotten how to win in straight sets. :p ;)

:bounce: :bounce: :bounce:

mallorn
06-06-2006, 07:09 PM
they have been trapped together and he did as if nothing happened :lol: what a funny chico :haha: :haha: He shouldn't have said that he was single now all the girls in Paris will try their chance !!!! :eek: :devil:
He must be in DENIAL. :shrug: :lol:

Castafiore
06-06-2006, 07:21 PM
I've been really fed up with MTF recently; if it's this bad already, I don't know what's going to happen in case of the megafinal. :o
I fear for that as well, Ania. Any hope for a civilized MTF is probably futile... :bolt:

That's exactly how I've been feeling about Nadal :lol: :lol: :wavey: ,Mangoes
Well, he's been pushed already so can you stop wishing it now... :awww:

I don't know if you've seen PHM's matches against Rafa but I was very aware of Paulo's ability to push Rafa but I admit that his persistence amazed me. The commentators here kept saying from the first set: "how long can he keep up, he's playing out of his mind, this won't last"... and I kept nodding in agreement but he just kept going. That match wasn't very good for my nerves, I can tell you. :unsure:

mangoes
06-06-2006, 07:57 PM
:eek: Oh wow, you don't think he's been pushed? Playing two very difficult matches back to back, spending more time on court than anyone? I guess you want him to face MP in a fifth set and won't settle for anything less. :p


This is the first time that I felt that someone other than Roger stepped up to the plate to try and compete with Rafa during the WHOLE clay season..........so, yes, I was very happy.....and I do think he has been pushed enough...............Right now, I just want both guys to reach the final...........and then we will part ways on who should win ;)

I think both fan bases are a bit nervous. When Roger had to go through Almagro and Nalbandian in Roma, Fed fans felt complete despair over him next having to face Nadal........so we do understand why you guys are nervous. The plus is that these matches aren't daily and I really do think Rafa will be just fine physically for the final. He is extremely physically fit.
_________________________

Ania, if this had been a hard court, I would have readily said Rafa's draw is harder than Roger's draw, as I said during IW. I thought the IW's draw was tougher for Rafa and the Miami's draw was easier for him........but, as was the case with PHM, who on earth thought Moya would even take Rafa to three sets, muchless, win the match.........

mangoes
06-06-2006, 08:14 PM
I fear for that as well, Ania. Any hope for a civilized MTF is probably futile... :bolt:

:wavey: ,Mangoes
Well, he's been pushed already so can you stop wishing it now... :awww:

I don't know if you've seen PHM's matches against Rafa but I was very aware of Paulo's ability to push Rafa but I admit that his persistence amazed me. The commentators here kept saying from the first set: "how long can he keep up, he's playing out of his mind, this won't last"... and I kept nodding in agreement but he just kept going. That match wasn't very good for my nerves, I can tell you. :unsure:

:wavey: Hi Castafiore..........yes, I only wished for one person to come out and not play with fear against Nadal. But, I never thought for one second that PHM was going to win. Anyway, yes, I want both Roger and Rafa to reach the finals so I'm hoping both guys have an easy road this week to the final.

Unfortunately, this clay season has been filled with nerves for some Fed fans, including myself. The worst tournament I've been through with Roger was Roma. Three straight matches sitting on the edge of my seat :( ......:lol: So, I'm happy the clay season is nearly finished :D


Hey, nice to see you here! :wavey:
And even if the megafinal will be too much for me and I might get a heart attack or something I wish a GREAT GREAT final. :)

:wavey: Hi Maria..........Yes, I think that's the one thing we will all have in common on Sunday :lol: :lol:

RogiFan88
06-06-2006, 08:30 PM
I'm looking forward to Rafa/Novak match tomorrow -- it s be very interesting. As I said before, I love the young gun matchups cos they're the future of tennis [exc Rafa cos he's already the present].

;)

As for Rogi spending less time on court, he usually does anyway -- it's just the way he plays tennis vs. Rafa, like other guys who excel on clay, w their style of tennis they just extend the rallies -- all it is is claycourt tennis. Simply a different way of playing.

Jogg
06-06-2006, 09:05 PM
Yes, Rafa, please show us that you haven't forgotten how to win in straight sets. :p ;)

:bounce: :bounce: :bounce:

yes please Rafa :bigclap:

have seen any of Novak's matches so don't know how he is playing but judging from his results I think we may be in for another tough match, am hoping not though, dont think my nerves can take much more :o

mallorn
06-06-2006, 09:24 PM
Ania, if this had been a hard court, I would have readily said Rafa's draw is harder than Roger's draw, as I said during IW. I thought the IW's draw was tougher for Rafa and the Miami's draw was easier for him........but, as was the case with PHM, who on earth thought Moya would even take Rafa to three sets, muchless, win the match.........
Personally, even if I didn't expect Rafa to lose, I thought the Moya match would be very difficult - not because I think so about every match Rafa plays :p but based on their previous matches and Carlos's level. World Beater and others laughed at me and said Rafa's draw was a walk in the park. :o

About Rafa's fitness - yes, he's super strong and fit, but he's not a machine. He's got his limit like all players, and I'm not sure how close he is to this limit. I hope very far, but he did play much longer than the other QFinalists, which is not exactly an advantage. So yes, I'm nervous.

Andre forever
06-06-2006, 10:41 PM
:(..i hope RAFA is having a GREAT rest today for tomorrow's match...

im wishing him good luck and i hope he wins

rue
06-06-2006, 11:35 PM
I know he will be able to get through Djokovic and whomever he will have to play to reach the finals on Sunday, but he needs to make sure that he reaches the final feeling physically good. If he is to meet Federer, then he needs to be well rested and ready to battle him. He should be fine and good enough to successfully defend his title.

veyonce
06-07-2006, 02:26 AM
Danger ahead as Federer eyes history
By Mark Hodgkinson in Paris
(Filed: 07/06/2006)

Just as Roger Federer occasionally pauses before a point to tap the frame of his racket against his shoes so as to gently remove any excess red brick dust, he did not have too much trouble in ridding himself of Mario Ancic at Roland Garros yesterday to move into the semi-finals of the French Open.

One tap, two taps, and the Croatian was gone from the world's premier dirt-court tournament, with Federer only experiencing a little hold-up at the start of the second set on the way to a 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 win that puts him within two victories of taking the only grand slam title that has so far eluded him. Still, for all the class that came from the swings and swishes of Federer's racket, there are dangers ahead for Switzerland's world No 1. And he knows that.

Federer will next play David Nalbandian, the Argentine third seed having last night reached his first semi-final at Roland Garros with a 6-3, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 defeat of Russian Nikolay Davydenko. Nalbandian can be an awkward opponent when the mood takes him, and he has won six of his 11 meetings with Federer, though the Swiss did beat him during their last encounter when they played in last month's semi-finals of the build-up event in Rome. Federer and Nalbandian may well go the distance.

And should Federer negotiate Nalbandian, he would expect to face the menace and energy of Spain's Rafael Nadal, the defending champion and world No 2, in Sunday's final on the Philippe Chatrier Court.

Nadal today meets Serbian teenager Novak Djokovic for a place in the semi-finals, where the winner will face either Croatian Ivan Ljubicic or Frenchman Julien Benneteau. Should Nadal defeat Djokovic, and so extend his unbeaten run on clay to 58 matches, he may well have a less draining semi-final than Federer. And Federer needs no reminding that Nadal leads their their head-to-head 5-1, including all three occasions that they have met on the red dirt.

The sense of history has been palpable at Roland Garros during Federer's matches here. Federer has become obsessed about the possibility of becoming only the sixth man to win all four grand slam titles, after Americans Don Budge and Andre Agassi, Australians Roy Emerson and Rod Laver, and Britain's Fred Perry. The famous five could soon become six.

And, after winning the Wimbledon and US Open titles last season and this year's Australian Open, Federer has the chance to become the first man since Laver in 1969 to hold all four grand slam titles at the same time. Only two men have done so previously, and both did it in the same calendar year, with Budge achieving the grand slam in 1938, and Laver managing it twice, once as an amateur in 1962, and then seven years later as a professional.

The term 'grand slam', borrowed from the green felt of the bridge tables, was first used as a way of recognising Budge's achievement, but a 'Roger Slam', though not in a calendar year, would arguably be a greater feat than that managed by Budge and Laver, as the strength in depth in the draws has increased immeasurably since those days.

Should Federer complete the 'Roger Slam', the calendar grand slam would then become a real possibility. And should he manage to do so, the French Open would almost certainly be the trickiest of the four for him to win.

If Federer leaves Paris as the French Open champion, he will be expected to go on to win Wimbledon on the lawns of the All England Club and also the US Open on the fast cement of New York City. Until Federer arrived on the scene, it had been thought that no one would ever win the grand slam again during the modern era.

By reaching the semi-finals, Federer has equalled his best result at Roland Garros, having made the last four here last year, when he lost over four sets to Nadal.

Perhaps the speed of Federer's victory against Ancic had something to do with the fact that he was required across Paris last night for a black tie dinner, where he was officially recognised by the International Tennis Federation as the men's world champion. Federer would not have wanted to have arrived late and flustered. Even when it comes to his off-court arrangements, the Swiss likes everything to be just so.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/main.jhtml?view=DETAILS&grid=&xml=/sport/2006/06/07/stfed07.xml

veyonce
06-07-2006, 02:29 AM
If Rafa & Ljubicic go through the semis, it will be one of the rare tournaments wherein the top 4 seeds are in the semis... So far, Roger did not have any tough matches so far and for sure he is busy taking notes from Rafa's matches with Mathieu & Hewitt..


Starting to worry about Rafa after reading his blog entry, hope it won't affect his match today....

Excerpts From Rafa's Blog Entry of 6 June 2006:-

That has been about it today. I am feeling a little tired, but that is normal. I've played a lot of matches and it's been a week and a half in Paris as I arrived here the Thursday before the tournament. But I will be ready to play tomorrow and I know it will be a difficult match against Djokovic. Unless you follow tennis you may not have heard a lot about him but he is a very dangerous player with a big game and he will have nothing to lose. He's only 19, so it's a rare time that I will be playing someone younger than me.

I had a very early dinner tonight and now I'm ready to go to bed. I hope I can fall asleep quickly as I have an early wake-up call. I am playing at noon.

mallorn
06-07-2006, 12:28 PM
Rafa won 6-4, 6-4 ret.

It's sad that poor Nole had to retire, I hate when a player is injured. But I am relieved that it wasn't another long match for Rafa.

I must say Rafa played an awful second set, he completely lost the plot when Nole took the ITO. Rafa, you can't think about your opponent retiring, you must play your game! :smash:

MariaV
06-07-2006, 12:31 PM
Ania, did you see some of it?
Yeah, this still wasn't the best Rafa. Some very silly mistakes and Nole's bh dtl and dropshots were quite effective. :(
I hope to see the replay in peace tonight.

MariaV
06-07-2006, 12:33 PM
Stats. Not that they matter much.
Djokovic (SCG) Nadal (ESP)

1st Serve % 49 of 67 = 73 % 47 of 59 = 80 %
Aces 2 3
Double Faults 3 0
Unforced Errors 29 13
Winning % on 1st Serve 27 of 49 = 55 % 30 of 47 = 64 %
Winning % on 2nd Serve 4 of 18 = 22 % 7 of 12 = 58 %
Winners (Including Service) 27 20
Receiving Points Won 22 of 59 = 37 % 36 of 67 = 54 %
Break Point Conversions 3 of 6 = 50 % 5 of 7 = 71 %
Net Approaches 9 of 18 = 50 % 10 of 14 = 71 %
Total Points Won 53 73
Fastest Serve 207 km/h 183 km/h
Average 1st Serve Speed 185 km/h 167 km/h
Average 2nd Serve Speed 157 km/h 148 km/h

Björki
06-07-2006, 12:38 PM
good luck for the SF :bounce:

mallorn
06-07-2006, 12:42 PM
Ania, did you see some of it?
Yeah, this still wasn't the best Rafa. Some very silly mistakes and Nole's bh dtl and dropshots were quite effective. :(
I hope to see the replay in peace tonight.
I saw it from 5-4 in the first set, I'm going to watch the first set later.

The second set was a disaster on Rafa's part, he clearly thought he had won and just lost his concentration. He was broken back twice :o, it really should have been 6-0. Of course, it was just a matter of time, because Nole couldn't serve, but Rafa should have closed the second set much sooner. He just loves to play long matches. :rolleyes:

NaDALiTa
06-07-2006, 12:52 PM
It's a great thing that this match lasted 2 hours, i have to say that i felt that Nole called the physio on purpose on Rafa's serve so that he dsturbed him .He already did it against Monfils in the USo which have made Gael furious. I'm not the only one to think it , because even Toni Nadal said he was suspicious about Nole's interruption, during the match while he was interviewed by french TV !!
I hope i was wrong because i don't like this kind of benhaviour on a tennis court. Moreover i'm up to think that he quited the game because he knew that winning two sets against Nadal would be impossible :( :(

It's a pity because he is an amazing player, with a lot of easiness in his game.

Rafa today didn't play very well, he lost too much time, i mean he can finsih the point in one shot but he uses 3-4 to finish it, for me it's a sign that he isn't that good physically, i hope he'll have some rest today and tomorrow, he'll train peacefully !!

i have the feeling that Rafa is under presure, at least he has more presure than last year even if he says the contrary !

vamos Rafita

silver7
06-07-2006, 01:01 PM
Good luck now in SF Rafa!

texasgirl
06-07-2006, 01:10 PM
i have the feeling that Rafa is under presure, at least he has more presure than last year even if he says the contrary !

vamos Rafita

I agree with this observation. He puts on a smile but he is not enjoying this. The eyes tell a very different story.

NaDALiTa
06-07-2006, 01:33 PM
I agree with this observation. He puts on a smile but he is not enjoying this. The eyes tell a very different story.


He fakes his smiles, yesterday he was interviewed by the french TV, he resulted very nervous,he didn't watch the presentator in the eye ...i've never seen Rafa so shy and nervous :confused:

I feel it too on the court, he is always looking for Toni with his eyes as if he was lost, his eyes seems empty, empty of his eternal willing :confused:

as Shakira's "hips don't lie" .....be sure that Rafa's "eyes don't lie" too :angel:

texasgirl
06-07-2006, 01:57 PM
Last year he was nervous too but there was an eagerness and joy still in his eyes. I think the French crowd hurts him more than he lets on. Rafa is a people pleaser so bad reactions from a crowd hurt people like that. It seems he always plays the local favorite in tournaments so he is the villain. But he wants to be loved.

the_natural
06-07-2006, 02:37 PM
We'll see girls, we'll see, Fed's semi vs Kolya or Nalby could be a hard 5-setter and Rafa should do Djoko and Ljubo in 3. :D Hehe, I'm not good at predicting just having some fun. ;)


HAHAH yeeehh u were wrongg, he did it in 2 ;) LOL Thank you fortune has finally smiled on him, the kid deserved a break, I just hope he relaxes now he seems a bit nervous no?? I dunno, he seems to be playin more defensively than usual, might just be me but i really feel that the pressure is gettin to him just a bit, like hes not as aggressive at the begginin of the matches as he should be and the one against hewitt he started pulling the wicked winners out towards the end of the match, ones that he usually can pull from the word go, and he seemed a little bit tentative at times.

Come on boy you have won 58 straight, it happens for a reason, because you are the greatest ever to step on clay (Well equal with Guga, sorry I just love Guga too much) believe and swing freely and show these b!@tches why you are the "KING OF CLAY" Show em whose their daddy!!!!

16681
06-07-2006, 03:28 PM
Yes thankfully Rafa finally got a break on his time on court :) And you were right he did deserve a break :) Now it is on to the next round :dance: Vamos Rafa :)

lilfairyprincess
06-07-2006, 04:13 PM
hey everyone :wavey: i can't believe i havent been arond much during RG..but i've been watchin all of our rafa's matches and i'm rooting for him all the way!!:bounce:

I agree with this observation. He puts on a smile but he is not enjoying this. The eyes tell a very different story.

i too agree with this! something just isn't right this yr...rafa definitely doesnt look as comfortable on court and he certainly isn't playing as well as last yr either! i just hope that he is doing the bare minimum in each of his matches so that he can arrive fresh and ready for the final (hoping he gets there!) But i really just wish tha rafa would be SERIOUSLY tested so that he can show to everyone that he is able to play is best when its needed...i'd be nervous if the first time he comes up against stiff competition is roger in the final :scared: because i have a bad feeling that with rafa's current game, roger might have an easier match than we had all hoped for :sad:

vamos rafa!!!!!
:secret: and vamos david too!!!!

mallorn
06-07-2006, 06:59 PM
:wavey: lilfairyprincess, where have you been? :)

I don't really want Rafa to be tested any more than he has been, because in his case it means spending five hours on court :o and he's already put in too much effort in his previous matches. Maybe I'm in DENIAL ;) but I'm not that worried about his level picking up for the possible final, because he has the ability to adjust his level to the opponent's. I also remember this: he wasn't playing well early on in MC and then he suddenly came up with the goods in SF and final. In Rome on the other hand he played his best tennis at the beginning of the tournament and the final was really difficult.

Last year he was nervous too but there was an eagerness and joy still in his eyes. I think the French crowd hurts him more than he lets on. Rafa is a people pleaser so bad reactions from a crowd hurt people like that. It seems he always plays the local favorite in tournaments so he is the villain. But he wants to be loved.
I think you may be right. The crowd have been pretty mean to him, and for no reason really. They don't just support the French players against Rafa, but pretty much everyone. It must hurt at least a little bit. If I were him, I'd be thinking "Well do you want the Super Final or not? :mad: " I guess though that he's used to the crowd by now, because he experienced it last year as well.

He's probably more nervous than last year, with all the added pressure (or should I said pression? ;) ) both on and off the court. The list of obstacles I made earlier in the tournament wasn't really a joke...Maybe if he gets through to the final he'll feel better, because then even more pressure will be on Roger (yes, I think Roger will be in the final).

Some people have been saying that he isn't playing that well. In fact I have a laugh every time I hear or read an "expert" opinion about Rafa's play, because there's just no agreement. One expert says he was ordinary, another that he was great, Rafa says "The first set was the best I've played so far," and an expert says he was lousy in sets 1 and 2 etc etc. :shrug: Everyone says something different, as if they were watching different matches. :lol: So I don't care, I think so far he's played within himself and adjusted his level to the opponents' and the lost sets were more to do with silly lapses of concentration than with overall bad play.

mallorn
06-07-2006, 07:03 PM
From the official site:

Nadal cruises into semifinal
By Matthew Cronin
Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Rafael Nadal won his 58th consecutive match on clay and cruised into the semifinals when Novak Djokovic retired down 4-6 4-6 with what appeared to be a back injury.

"I was good," Nadal said. "It was relatively short, and I'm very pleased. I was playing well until Djokovic started having trouble. That made me lose my concentration. I didn't really understand what was going on. But in any case, it's my fault if I lost my concentration."

In a solid yet unspectacular performance, Nadal stayed well behind the baseline and out-steadied his foe, but only played ambitious tennis when his back was against the wall - which was rarely.

Djokovic attempted to trip up Nadal, mixing in drop shots with hard forehands and big serves, but in the first set failed to execute on numerous sitters.

In the second set, Djokovic took a medical timeout after being broken to 0-3 and laid on the court while being stretched out by the trainer.

"I started second set with an unlucky start," Djokovic said. "I had couple chances to win my first game. After that, I felt the pain in the back. I was sliding a lot and making quick moves. And since then, I couldn't serve one hundred per cent. I didn't move for the balls which were really far away."

The 19-year-old Serb made a strident effort to push at Nadal after that and came up with some tremendous forehands and deep backhands, but the Spaniard was more self-assured that his foot speed and heavily
topspinned strokes would carry him through.

After Nadal held to win the second set 6-4, the Serb retired.

"It's difficult to play against Nadal on this surface, on his favorite surface, where he feels most comfortable 'cause if I want to win points, I have to earn points, I have to make points," Djokovic said.

"I was trying to make as short as I can the points, to make winners, to be in the control of the match, which I did in some stage. And I'm pretty unhappy that it finished like this because I think that Nadal is for sure the best on this surface, but I was feeling really well on the court, I was fighting 'til the end, but I just couldn't hold on anymore because I don't think it would… it wouldn't bring me good, that's for sure, if I would continue playing with the pain in the back.

"This is not the only tournament in the year. So I think I made the right decision. I don't like to retire. Even with the sore back, I think I played equal match with him."

Djokovic ended the match with 28 unforced errors to only 13 from the Spaniard. Nadal, who was seriously pushed by Paul Henri-Mathieu and Lleyton Hewitt, is having to fight significantly harder than he did last year in winning his first title.

"I have spent a lot of time on courts," Nadal said. "There have been times during the tournament where I've been very happy. In any case, it's very true, it's good that I do not waste too much energy. And as you get older, you know that you must not waste too much energy because then that can backfire… so you've got to try to control yourself. In any case, it's a good idea to have a little bit of tension. But I don't think I'm under more stress this year than last year."

Nadal will face No4 Ivan Ljubicic, who trounced France's Julien Benneteau in straight sets, also on Wednesday.

"My tactic is always to play my game," Nadal said. "It doesn't matter who's playing. First of all, you've got to say, 'I'm going to play well,' and then you adjust minor details according to how you're playing. Then you play your game."

mallorn
06-07-2006, 07:05 PM
Rafa's post match conference:
Day 11 - An interview with Rafael Nadal
Wednesday, June 7, 2006
Rafael Nadal

Transcribed Interview

Q. Were you surprised when he retired? Could you feel on the court that he was injured, so injured, to retire?

RAFAEL NADAL: Yes, I surprised, no. I surprised for maybe because he ‑‑ I saw him. He had some problems in the second, but he's still playing good.

But after, in the third, he begin, and I saw him and he serve a little bit slowly. So in the third point, I surprise because he say stop.

Q. In your last match you said that you felt a little bit tired. Did you feel that way today, or was it better today, no more tired today?

RAFAEL NADAL: If I feel tired? No, I don't feel tired, no, no. Today I was good. But I lost little bit my concentration in the second with his problems, no? Because I don't understand very good that, no, because he has a lot of problems. Every time, when he serve, he puts the hand on back, and after he play normal point. So I don't understand very good, and I lost my concentration a little bit, no?

Q. But he said two times that he felt on the court that you were not so comfortable on the court. He had the impression that you were not so comfortable. Do you feel that way?

RAFAEL NADAL: No. No, no. I feel good. I feel with confidence. I play better and better. And I was playing very good maybe in the first set. In the second, too. But when I had the problem ‑‑ when he had the problem, I lost my concentration. But before that, 6‑4, 3‑0, I playing good, with confidence and improving in my game, no? The worst thing in the game, my game today, I think is the serve. But the rest, good. For me.

Q. This is the first time you are playing with Djokovic. What can you tell about his game? How would you describe this match?

RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, he's a young player. He's very aggressive. And he is young, no? He can improve. He serve well. He had a very good ‑‑ he has a very good forehand. The backhand is okay, too.

He gonna be a very good player in the future, sure, no? I don't know if this year he gonna finish in the Top 10. I don't know. But in the future, he gonna be there, I think.

Q. Next match, it could be Ljubicic. Could you comment on that player.

RAFAEL NADAL: Or Benneteau.

Q. Yeah. Your feeling on both players.

RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, will be a tough match in semifinal, sure, no? When any player arrive to semifinal, he's playing good, no, sure, with confidence. Any player gonna be tough. Maybe is a different player. But any player, I need to play good and I need to stay hundred percent concentration for try the victory, no? Every match will be difficult.

Q. You say that Djokovic is a young player. It's same age of yours. Just few months less. What do you think is the difference between you and someone like Djokovic? Is experience? Is physic? Is what?

RAFAEL NADAL: I don't know. I don't know exactly. But is clay. I think clay, I have little bit more confidence. My game is ‑‑ I think my game adapt better on this surface. And after, I have little bit more experience than him, no? For me, he is the first year, no, first complete year. I saw him last year playing good sometimes. After, he play bad because this year I was thinking he gonna be in the top 15, top 20. But he was beginning very bad the year. I didn't listen him very, very much. I don't know which one is his best result. His best result is here. But before this, I don't listen him a lot.

But he has a very good potential, no? And some players begin before and some players begin a little bit late. But you never know, no?

Q. What is the one or two things in your game that you think you can improve the most?

RAFAEL NADAL: I can improve all. I can improve the technical. I need improve a little bit ‑ not a little bit, a little bit much ‑ my serve. I was serving good, but today I serve little bit more slow, so tomorrow I gonna practice.

After, sure, I can play little bit more aggressive, especially when I have the chance for be the ‑‑ for convert the winner, especially with my forehand, I need improve that, no? Sometimes I play with the statistic, no. I play like this (speaking Spanish.)

Sometimes I need play little bit more aggressive with my forehand and my volley, but I am practicing a lot my volley and my slice. I am improving.

Q. If you say that you think you can improve everything, do you understand that that could be frightening to the other players?

RAFAEL NADAL: I can improve. But they can improve, too, no?

Q. You're back in the semifinals here. Last year everything was new, first time playing Roland Garros. But you're here again. Can you compare the two feelings or the progress to the tournament last year versus this year?

RAFAEL NADAL: Last year and this year is different moments, different situations. Sure, is a different year.

But last year I play with ‑‑ is my first year here. Maybe I remembered. I just have some problems in the match of David Ferrer, but just in the first set, and against Grosjean with the show.

But I won more easy last year, no? I won the first round 6‑2, 7‑6 ‑‑ no ‑‑ 6‑1, 7‑6, 6‑1. 6‑3, 6‑2, 6‑3 with Malisse. With Gasquet, 6‑2, 6‑3, 6‑4. Against Grosjean, I lost one set. Against Ferrer, I have the problems in the (inaudible) because he was playing well. But after, he finish the physical, I remember last year, the day before he play a lot of time against Gaudio.

But this year I have a more difficult matches, no? I play five hours against Mathieu. Against Hewitt, difficult moments. Today, not. And the first two days, not much. But I have more hours this year, no, on court.

Q. Can you compare your level this year versus last year?

RAFAEL NADAL: I don't know, no. I don't remember exactly last year. But now I am playing good. Maybe I am arriving in the semifinals with my best level in the last two weeks, no? So that's the most important thing. And I don't want to think if I am playing better this year or last year.

I think this year I am better player, no? But I don't know if I am playing high level this year than last year, no? But I know I am a better player this year.

Q. Djokovic told us he felt he had the match under control till his back problems. Do you agree with that? >

RAFAEL NADAL: Oh, yes (smiling). :lol:

I don't know. If he say that, it's okay. I don't need to answer that, no? But he had the problem in the first game or what? Because I don't remember, no. I have break, break, all time up in the score, no?

Q. What do you think about the semifinal of Nalbandian against Federer. Is a favorite in this your match for your side?

RAFAEL NADAL: Who is the No. 1? He is the favorite. But for sure, Nalbandian can beat him, no?

THE MODERATOR: Spanish questions, please.

Q. At least this was a short match.

RAFAEL NADAL: Yes, it was relatively short, and I'm very pleased. I've been playing well until Djokovic started having trouble. That made me lose my concentration. I didn't really understand what was going on.

But in any case, it's my fault if I lost my concentration. In any case, it's a good thing to have had a short match today.

Q. Would you prefer to play Federer or Nalbandian if you reach the final?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, no, I don't like to say that. We'll see. We'll take one match at a time. I don't want to speculate.

Q. Otherwise, if one of them does win?

RAFAEL NADAL: We'll talk about that next time.

Q. You had a good backhand against Mathieu. Are you sad this is a short match today or is it good to have a short match because you'll feel better physically?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I prefer to win in three sets, obviously. For Djokovic, well, I would have preferred to have won in three sets. The match was going well with 3‑0, 15‑30. But in any case, I think this was good training. What we managed to play, it was a good match.

Well, in any case, this will be positive for the semifinal because I'll manage to rest more.

Q. Whether you play Ljubicic or not, your match against Ljubicic in Madrid, was that one of your best memories in your career?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I've got a lot of good memories, but it's always nice to win at home in Madrid. In this case, it's a very good memory. The public was great.

Yeah, it's a very good memory.

Q. For a long time he was saying that he wasn't feeling very well. He continued to play well. In 15‑30, were you surprised by what happened?

RAFAEL NADAL: Yes. It surprised me. He was showing that he wasn't feeling very well, but he was signing to his back every time he lost a point.

So after that ‑‑ but anyway, it's my fault. I was losing my concentration at 30‑Love. But he continued to play. Obviously, he was playing. He was serving at 105, so it surprised me in 15‑30 that he retired.

But I suppose he was not feeling well, because you don't retire from a quarterfinals in a Grand Slam unless you're not feeling well.

Q. Sunday is getting close. How are you feeling physically, and what's your state of mind?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, it's Friday still, so I'm thinking about Friday rather than Sunday. I think that this is my best moment really, as far as the way I'm playing and the way I feel, yeah.

Q. Well, we don't want to guess anything, but Federer‑Nalbandian, what do you think about that match? >

RAFAEL NADAL: Tough. Tough match.

Q. Is it going to be tough? Is it going to be long?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I don't know. But if everything goes normally, I've seen them play, both, and it's going to be a match where Nalbandian is going to have to play his game. I think it's going to be a good match.

But I don't know. It's going to be a tough match but an evenly balanced match, I don't know. I think one will trump the other, but I think it will be a very balanced match.

Federer is having very good results. He's used to being in the semifinals of a Grand Slam tournament. But it's going to be a tough match. I wouldn't like to bet on that one.

Q. You said a while ago that 4‑1, 0‑30, or 30‑0, you lost your concentration. That's happened to you before. Is there a special reason for that, or is there an explanation?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I don't know. I'm still playing. It's difficult to answer that question. I'm going to try to do my best. When you lose your service, well, you know, you've got to then refocus on the following game.

Well, this is something that's happened to me a few times, but I hope it won't happen again.

Q. Ljubicic is playing against Benneteau. Are you going to play differently according to who it is of these two you play?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, my tactic is always to play my game. It doesn't matter who's playing. I think, first of all, you've got to say, "I'm going to play well," and then you adjust minor details according to how you're playing. Then you play your game. But we'll see who I play against.

But normally I should play my own game, and if I play well, I can lose or I can win. But that's what I'll try to do.

Q. We see that you're not so happy as you are last year. Is it because you feel you have more responsibility? Are you trying to save energy? Are things getting rather serious? >

RAFAEL NADAL: No. I have spent a lot of time on courts. There have been times during the tournament where I've been very happy. In any case, it's very true it's good that I do not waste too much energy. And as you get older, well, you know that you must not waste too much energy because then that can backfire so you've got to try to control yourself. In any case, it's a good idea to have a little bit of tension.

Well, I don't think I'm under more stress this year than last year.

Q. Which is the greatest surprise for you this year in Roland Garros?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, the way the draw looked, it surprised me that Ferrer is not here. You know, if you look at the draw and you see who's in the semifinal, well, you can see, when you look at the ranking of the players and look at who's in the quarterfinal and who's in the semifinals, really what surprised me is that Ferrer isn't here.

Q. And physically, you feel well?

RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, yeah, I'm feeling fine. I didn't feel too tired after Hewitt. I'm sure that for Friday I'll be in good shape, yeah. Hasn't been too tiring, and I'm feeling fine. I have no problems. Yeah, I'm feeling fine.

Q. We can see that a lot of players look at the coaches: Ancic, Monfils, all those. This is probably because this is a very tough tournament, and it's also been a very tough season on clay. Don't you think at some point that you're stronger than them, that you have more strength, energy than them?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, no, I don't think about any of that. I don't feel stronger than anybody else. I'm happy that I've been feeling well and, you know, if they need to call their trainer, well, you know...

One of my goals here was not to get injured, as well as having good results. One of my goals was not to have any injuries. I've been playing a lot of matches, but I've been feeling fine. I'm very happy.

But, you know, it's normal. We play very long matches, and Ancic, with Federer, he was feeling a little dizzy. And with Robredo also vomited on the court. But it's because these matches are very long and if you're not too used to it. For us, who are more used to playing on clay, maybe we resist a little bit more but sometimes we have a difficult time as well. We also feel the pain. It's not always easy to play four, five sets with such high‑intensity matches.

Q. Federer is No. 1, but you have a positive record against him on different surfaces. Do you feel that you're No. 2 or that you're No. 1?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, it's a strange question. He's No. 1. I'm No. 2. I feel I'm No. 2, which is what I am.

How many points does he have? 7,000. Nobody else in the history of tennis has ever had that. Nobody has had such a high‑ranking No. 1, if you like.

So, yeah, he's No. 1.

Q. (No microphone.)

RAFAEL NADAL: Yes. Maybe Blake will win over me. It doesn't mean he feels like he's a No. 2 if he's No. 7.

NaDALiTa
06-07-2006, 07:22 PM
It's very contradictory and strange, Rafita says he is playing quite well and everybody think the contrary (i do think it too) , he seems very confident when he is speaking to the press it's odd because last year it xas the opposite situation !!!


i'm really proud of Rafita for the last sentence on Blake !!!!!! :woohoo:

the_natural
06-08-2006, 07:20 AM
Well i think he will play his best in the final just because theres no more holding back, no more worrying about conserving energy, just go for it. Thats what champions do anyway, I believe Nadal is a champion not a kid who is just talented, people who are just talented can play exceptionally to make the final and then start tensing up thinking about how close they are to the crown and not concentrate on winning the final match (See bagdhatis), I am Hoping nadal will prove his brilliance by making the final and just unleashing because once he makes it ALOT of pressure is off, all he has to do is win that match and he can pull out all the stops to do it too, I believe he will be INSPIRED to play great tennis in the final just like in rome when he was down, and even at barcelona when he had his match points, he didnt withdraw into his shell, he started attacking harder.

Just worried about Ljubicic, that guy has alotta energy to burn and can conserve energy with that serve but he doesnt have as great a ground game as it may seem, its good but the wicked topspin of rafa would give him real trouble cos Ivan is a very "manufactured" (i.e. STIFF) player and should have trouble with that type of ball. Comeeee ONNNN!!! Conserve energy Rafa, win comfortably!!! I hope Ivan comes to net a good deal (outta frustration from not winning baseline rallies fast enough), cos Rafa can work on Passing shots which he will need against either of his potential opponnents for the final. One thing thats a bit of a worry im not sure about Ivans backhand, its a strenght but im not sure if he is troubled by high balls, anyways his backhand hits to Rafas forehand, itll be a real test if both are firing, itd also train him for playing Nalbandian...

Do you think he will try and work his backhand more by hitting to Ivans forehand (which is Ivans weaker wing)??

MariaV
06-08-2006, 08:57 AM
Ivan can exploit Rafa's bh like Paulo and the dropshots like Nole did. I haven't been impressed by Rafa's game at RG so far but who knows how Rafa will play tomorrow. :shrug: I am not too excited somehow. OK, he'll get to the final but I'm really not sure he can pull it of against Fed yet another time. :o

Edit: Yeah, the pressure seems to be a bit too much for Rafa (and me too ;)). :o

MariaV
06-08-2006, 05:52 PM
Rafa plays second tomorrow.

CHATRIER 13:00 Start

Men's Singles - Semi
Roger Federer (SUI)[1] vs. David Nalbandian (ARG)[3]

followed by
Men's Singles - Semi
Ivan Ljubicic (CRO)[4] vs. Rafael Nadal (ESP)[2]
:scared: :unsure:

Andre forever
06-08-2006, 05:59 PM
GOODLUCK RAFA

16681
06-08-2006, 06:42 PM
Vamos Rafa :)

NaDALiTa
06-08-2006, 08:26 PM
oh i'm damn scared for tomorrow !!!!!!


Vamos Rafita no deja ni siquiera una pelota !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jogg
06-08-2006, 08:33 PM
Some people have been saying that he isn't playing that well. In fact I have a laugh every time I hear or read an "expert" opinion about Rafa's play, because there's just no agreement. One expert says he was ordinary, another that he was great, Rafa says "The first set was the best I've played so far," and an expert says he was lousy in sets 1 and 2 etc etc. :shrug: Everyone says something different, as if they were watching different matches. :lol: So I don't care, I think so far he's played within himself and adjusted his level to the opponents' and the lost sets were more to do with silly lapses of concentration than with overall bad play.

:yeah: he's been doing enough to win and thats all that matters at the end of the day. Although he will have to step it up tomorrow - I am a little nervous its going to be a tough match. I wish that his match tomorrow was on before the Federer Nalbandian match. If that match goes long then Rafa and Ljubicic could end up having to come back on Saturday morning to finish their match, not good for final preparations.

Vamos Rafa :bounce: :bounce:

RogiFan88
06-09-2006, 01:09 AM
Ivan can exploit Rafa's bh like Paulo and the dropshots like Nole did. I haven't been impressed by Rafa's game at RG so far but who knows how Rafa will play tomorrow. :shrug: I am not too excited somehow. OK, he'll get to the final but I'm really not sure he can pull it of against Fed yet another time. :o

Edit: Yeah, the pressure seems to be a bit too much for Rafa (and me too ;)). :o

:wavey: Maria!

I think if Ivan plays the way he played vs. Julien, I don't think Rafa will have a tough time beating him. I didn't see the whole Ivan match but it wasn't THAT easy considering the scoreline. I'm not too sure about Ivan's record in the BIG matches and isn't this his first slam SF? Besides, clay isn't his best surface even tho he can play well on most surfaces. I don't know, it seems to me that Rafa will come out focused, determined, having worked on his serve and other areas he wants to improve, as he does, and he knows he can beat Ivan, esp on clay, esp at RG.

Altho I was surprised at Lleyt's perf vs. Rafa, taking a set off him but that's because he hasn't played much at all and who knows what HIS form was like [Rafa said that he was tired and sort of let that 2nd set go by, having had a little lapse in concentration], we've been watching Ivan play throughout the year and we more or less know how he's been playing.

I'll be a bundle of nerves overnight and tomorrow morning wondering about how Rogi will do vs. his all-time nemesis and true rival, Nalby [who is confident about this match, of course -- he is one guy who is definitely NOT intimidated by the No 1]...

Let's see who makes the FINAL...

So I say: Allez, Rodgeur! and Vamos, Rafa! Ajmo, Ivan! and Dale, David! They're all good players who deserve to be into the SF.

[meanwhile, tossing and turning tonight... :p ] ;)

The Daviator
06-09-2006, 02:13 AM
Good luck tomorrow Rafa :yeah:

mallorn
06-09-2006, 08:44 AM
Everyone's pretty nervous, I see. Me too. :unsure: :lol:

Ivan has the game to hurt Rafa, if he plays well, that's for sure. All their matches have gone the distance and included a TB. :scared: Still, I'm less nervous about Ivan than I would have been about Blake because at least Rafa has a positive H2H against him, even though they've never played on clay. Like Jogg though, I'm worried about the scheduling - I would hate to see Rafa's match stopped because of darkness, which is a possibility considering how long it takes him to finish matches in this tournament. Maybe Ivan won't want to play long rallies though. ;)


http://www.cosgan.de/images/smilie/musik/k015.gif

VAMOS RAFA!

http://www.cosgan.de/images/smilie/musik/k015.gif

almouchie
06-09-2006, 08:47 AM
it sure looks like a tough match up
hope to see nadal manage the match well
& not let ljubo dictate
hope ljubo isnt having a great serving day
good luck
& rafa to final

MariaV
06-09-2006, 08:51 AM
Maybe Ivan won't want to play long rallies though. ;)

That's exactly what I hope. I think Ivan kinda said he'll try to keep the points short so.. we'll see. Uhhh ahhh. :scared: :unsure: :bolt:
*is off to finish the work before the torture begins*

mallorn
06-09-2006, 09:01 AM
*is off to finish the work before the torture begins*
Heh. I finished work yesterday and am on holiday now. I've got all the time in the world to think about the upcoming match and get more and more nervous...

the_natural
06-09-2006, 12:06 PM
I just want Ivan to go down in 3, the guy has choked so many times in his career in the past year and a half i want him to choke again, I mean im like a fan of his but he doesnt deserve it NOT NOWWW!!! The guy cant play finals I just wish Rafa would get a break for once, such a tiring draw hes faced, and even the djokovic match wasnt a total cake walk like Berdych who only took 1 and half hours or so.... Pleaseeee can some divine entity give Rafa the strength to defend RG this year!?!?!? Jesus, Allah, Buddah HELLLLLLPPPPP!!!! (Sorry I just want this kid to win, he deserves it he is such a pure and gentle soul and such a hard worker :sad:

NaDALiTa
06-09-2006, 01:07 PM
i'm about to die of nervousness


vamos Rafitaaaaaaaaaaaa puedes hacerlo !!!!

mallorn
06-09-2006, 01:12 PM
Yeah, I've had enough time to work myself into a state of panic. :scared: :lol:

Please Rafa, make it easy on everybody's nerves.

mallorn
06-09-2006, 04:47 PM
:woohoo: :woohoo: :woohoo:

Rafa won in straight sets! In less than three hours! :eek: ;) :yeah:

He played so well throughout the match. :hug: Not even I was worried he'd lose it. :lol:

NaDALiTa
06-09-2006, 04:48 PM
OUF (that's the way we sigh in France) Rafa done it, he is wonderful, he played his best match today, and it could be a good sign for Sunday, he felt so relieve when he won :woohoo: :woohoo:

vamos Rafita mio !!!!!!

MariaV
06-09-2006, 04:50 PM
Uh oh. Sheeesh! 6-4 6-2 7-6 (7).
Here the stats.

Ljubicic (CRO) Nadal (ESP)

1st Serve % 61 of 104 = 59 % 65 of 95 = 68 %
Aces 10 7
Double Faults 5 0
Unforced Errors 33 16
Winning % on 1st Serve 42 of 61 = 69 % 51 of 65 = 78 %
Winning % on 2nd Serve 22 of 43 = 51 % 17 of 30 = 57 %
Winners (Including Service) 43 41
Receiving Points Won 27 of 95 = 28 % 40 of 104 = 38 %
Break Point Conversions 1 of 2 = 50 % 4 of 9 = 44 %
Net Approaches 29 of 43 = 67 % 18 of 24 = 75 %
Total Points Won 91 108

The stats don't look bad. :) But it still took damn long again 2 h 49 min. :(
Lovely Rafa fans and Fedtards lurking here, I dunno how I'll survive the final. :unsure: :scared: :bolt:
Anyway, take care everyone, I hope to be back some time. ;) :wavey:

MariaV
06-09-2006, 04:54 PM
:woohoo: :woohoo: :woohoo:

Rafa won in straight sets! In less than three hours! :eek: ;) :yeah:

He played so well throughout the match. :hug: Not even I was worried he'd lose it. :lol:
:lol: Yeah, I wasn't worried either. :) I even got home soon after the match had started. Hopefully he can play as well on Sunday so there won't be any controversy. :hug: :hug:
Now I need to see what Fed was about today, what I heard - not THAT impressive.

16681
06-09-2006, 05:36 PM
Congrats to Rafa on his win today :) My only concern with him meeting Federer again is the difference in the amount of on court time. I think Federer had the easier draw between the two of them. Vamos Rafa it's time to win another Title :)

MariaV
06-09-2006, 05:58 PM
From the RG site. :)
Nadal sets up showdown
By Andrew Bogusch
Friday, June 9, 2006

Rafael Nadal made a showdown with Roger Federer in the Roland Garros final a reality Friday with a 6-4 6-2 7-6(7) victory over No4 seed Ivan Ljubicic.

The defending champion kept the Croat subdued through the first two sets, but Ljubicic found his rhythm in the third to force the tiebreaker, only to sabotage himself with some poor decision making.

Nadal converted his third match point with a forehand passing shot down the line that curled into Ljubicic's body, forcing an errant volley. It is his 59th consecutive victory on clay, but more importantly, it puts Nadal alongside Federer in Sunday's final, the match-up the tennis world has been craving for two weeks.

As Ljubicic struggled with his first serve, Nadal built 4-1 and 5-1 leads in the first two sets to take firm control of the match. But in the third, the 27-year-old Croat found his serving stroke and reigned in his ground strokes.

Twelve quick holds produced the tiebreaker. Thanks to an ace and a forehand Nadal could not handle, Ljubicic led 4-2, but could not keep the advantage.

Serving 5-3, he gambled with a big second serve and double-faulted. An ill-judged backhand drop shot followed to bring Nadal even. Ljubicic navigated two match points, but not a third thanks to that nasty passing shot.

Ljubicic was clearly perturbed with Nadal's slow play throughout the match, which brought a time violation from chair umpire Carlos Ramos at one point. The two players barely shook hands after the match, and Ljubicic refused to do an on-court post-match interview, clearly in a bad mood. :lol:

Nadal has won four straight meetings with Federer, starting with last year's semifinal triumph here. In their last match, Nadal won in five sets in just over five hours to claim the Rome title earlier this spring.

mallorn
06-09-2006, 06:45 PM
Rafa's interview:
Day 13 - Interview with R.Nadal
Friday, June 9, 2006
Rafael Nadal

Transcribed Interview

Q. So, Sunday, Federer versus Nadal, No. 1 versus No. 2, very big match. In fact, is it a bigger match for you than it was last year at this time? >

RAFAEL NADAL: No, I'm very happy for stay in this final. I know you speak a lot about this match before the tournament. I always say when he wins sixth match before, so now we win this match, no? Now we play this final.

Sure, is a nice match. Is No. 1 and No. 2, so that's nice. And I don't know, no, I gonna try my best.

Q. Are you surprised, or you was waiting for this moment? I mean, you won six match, but you was quite sure you won this match and you was quite sure that Federer won this match or not? >

RAFAEL NADAL: Repeat.

Q. Are you surprised about you play this final against Federer?

RAFAEL NADAL: I know if I arrive to the final, I have good chances for play against him, no? So is not surprise for play against him.

But, sure, the normal is not play this final. 128 ‑‑ 126 players want to play this final. Every tournament is tough. Now we are in the final, so I am very happy for that. But I know is very tough and very difficult, no?

How much time ago with ‑‑ I don't know?

Q. '84.

RAFAEL NADAL: '84 against the No. 1 and No. 2, so is tough.

Q. What was on your mind when you were down 5‑3 in the tiebreak?

RAFAEL NADAL: I was thinking I have it very tough because he don't lose any point in the tiebreak with his serve. And in the game, the last games, too, because he was serving unbelievable in the third set, no? He was serving very good first and second. And after he had a good shot, he play a good shot with a forehand or backhand and go to the net. So was very difficult, no? He had a very good percentage inside.

Q. Did you feel the pressure at the time?

RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, I'm in the semifinals of Roland Garros. So, sure, I feel the pressure, no?

Q. Overall, in the tiebreak you hit three aces. You must be very pleased by that?

RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, I'm happy, no, I played very (speaking Spanish.)

Q. You were brave or you risked.

RAFAEL NADAL: I risk (laughter)? I risk a lot with myself because I had three aces in the tiebreak. So that's not normal, no, especially if you lose my serve.

So I am very happy. I play first point, and after two important points, outside in the deuce. So I play very with a lot of risk, and this time I can convert.

Q. We are all very excited about this coming final. I mean, Paris is excited and the tennis world in general is excited. Do you think we might encounter a level of tennis in this final that can make people's even interest to tennis come back in the real sense, in the worldly sense, after the loss of the interest to tennis in general over the past years? We have reached a level of final that became very exciting.

RAFAEL NADAL: (Through translation.) I didn't understand anything. :haha:

Q. Are you, yourself, as a player, excited about the level of tennis we might encounter in the final?

RAFAEL NADAL: I am excited 'cause I play the final of Roland Garros, sure. Is same thing if you play No. 1 against No. 2, so that's nice. But maybe the final of Grand Slam always is exciting, no? For me, always is a big match.

Q. Roger is such a fantastic player. What has been the key to your success against Roger?

RAFAEL NADAL: I don't know. I don't know, no? I only play my hundred percent. I need play very good match if I want to win. I need play my best for try the victory. If I don't play my best, I gonna lose, sure.

Q. Does it help you that you are left‑handed? Is that an advantage for you, do you think?

RAFAEL NADAL: Always is the same. Always the same question: Is advantage or disadvantage to play with the left‑handed?

I don't know. For me, is not a special advantage and not disadvantage. For me is the same because I ‑‑ because always you had the forehand against his backhand. Yes, but he had the same, forehand against my backhand.

Q. How realistic is it to expect you to play well on grass after the French Open?

RAFAEL NADAL: I don't know, no? I have the mind in this final. But, sure I want to play good on grass. Like I love to play on this surface. I enjoy a lot. But I need improve a little bit for enjoy more, no?

Q. You think you can have a good run at Wimbledon?

RAFAEL NADAL: I don't know, no? I don't know. I need improve my tennis for play good there. But my special goal is in two, three, four years have a chance for have a good result in Wimbledon, no.

Q. In English, I know we are Spanish, but it's okay, just to practice, you know. One of the characteristics of the great champions of tennis is to serve well when they need it. You do it. You can do that in Deco Turf, Rebound Ace, also grass. What's your opinion?

RAFAEL NADAL: (Smiling). Yes. Is a characteristic of the big servers.

Q. Of the big champions of tennis.

RAFAEL NADAL: I don't know if the characteristic of the big champions play good and serve good in the difficult moments. The characteristic of the big champions is play good in the difficult moments, with the serve, with the backhand, with the forehand, with the drop, with the lob, anything, no? But play good in difficult moments.

Q. You're a young guy. Young guys tend to like to go out, hit the ball, beat people, get the titles. Do you have any awareness or feeling about the historical importance of a rivalry like this? What is your opinion about that?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, I don't know, no? Maybe we have different age. That's important thing. He had five more than me?

(Through translation.) Is he going to be 25 or is he going to be 24?

RAFAEL NADAL: (Back into English.) That's not the same age. I know I'm one more, one less. But, sure is nice, no, for me very nice stay No. 2, no? So is nice play ‑‑ now we gonna have the fourth final in the year, so that's good for the tennis maybe. I don't know if is a big rivality (sic), but I enjoy play these big matches, no?

Q. Are you familiar with Ali‑Fraser?

RAFAEL NADAL: Maybe I wasn't born, no?

Q. You played more hours than Federer. Could it be a problem on Sunday?

RAFAEL NADAL: Maybe not. I can have problem with his game, but for that because I played the two ‑‑ the last two matches is the slowest, no? Not slowest; the shortest. The shorter, no, so I have the last days I can improve in my physical performance, so for Sunday I gonna try my best. And if I am not at my hundred percent, I gonna be my hundred percent. I gonna try my best.

Q. Do you think it was fair for the umpire to give you a warning for slow play?

RAFAEL NADAL: Can you repeat, please?

Q. The warning the umpire gave you in the first set for slow play, did you think that was fair?

RAFAEL NADAL: I always play the same. Today is the day of I go faster, but today the umpire say I don't know. But every time ‑‑ he put me pression all the time. I go fast today. I don't...

(Through translation.) I'll explain that later in Spanish.

RAFAEL NADAL: (Back into English.) I go fast. The umpire put me a lot of pression all the time, no? But I always have the same time, not today more than yesterday and yesterday than until 15 years, 13 years, I play the same, no?

Q. What do you most admire about Roger Federer? >

RAFAEL NADAL: I don't know. Maybe he's a normal guy. He's one of the best of the history. He's a superstar of the world ‑ not just in tennis, in all sports. He's a normal guy. He's a nice guy. I have a good relation with him. He's a good guy. I admire his humble, no?

Q. After Rome he said a couple of things about Toni and coaching. Have you and he discussed that at all? Have you and he spoken about that?

RAFAEL NADAL: I don't know, no? I don't know if he speaking with Toni, but maybe not. But Rome is Rome, Paris is Paris, and we can forgot, no?

Q. Bjorn Borg started as a clay court player, then he went on to win five times Wimbledon. Nobody was expecting that from him in those years. Do you think your game can also switch to grass, and can you also, you think, become a consistent Wimbledon player?

RAFAEL NADAL: I don't gonna win five Wimbledon for sure. But I gonna try my best for have a good result in Wimbledon, no? I want to play good. I want to improve. And also, for instance, I am very young, just some days ago. So I am young, I can improve, no? I want to play good there because I want to have chance in all the Grand Slams, no? So that is a very important Grand Slam. And anyway, I want to have any chance for win, no?

Q. Obviously, Ljubicic is not a big fan of you because he said he would love that Federer beat you on Sunday. > :rolleyes:

RAFAEL NADAL: Okay. Is okay. I don't have any problem.

THE MODERATOR: Spanish questions, please.

Q. Rafael, you're here in the final. This is relief for you, or isn't it?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, it's not relief. I'm very happy. You know, this is the final of Roland Garros. I hope it's not going to become compulsory for me to play every year the final here.

No, it's not relief. I'm happy that everything's going well and that it's been a very good season on clay for me. If I win one more match, then I'll beat an absolute record on clay that cannot be improved upon.

So, no, it's not relief. I don't feel relief. It's difficult to be in a final such as the final of Roland Garros. But, no, it's not relief. I just feel happy about it.

Q. Ljubicic said that it's ridiculous the amount of time you take in between points and that the umpire only warned you once because he had to do something. But then he let you do that, and he would love Federer to win and that everybody wants Federer to win.

RAFAEL NADAL: Is that what he said, that everybody wants Federer to win? Well, great. Great. That's not a problem, you know. Everybody is free to say whatever they want. They'll make friends in the course.

No, I know that everybody does not want Federer to win. I know that. You've got to learn to control yourself when you lose a match, not after you lose a match you can just go about saying anything. I get on well with Ljubicic. I don't want to lose that good relationship with him. I don't think that will be the case.

Now I think that we'll have to put pressure on the umpires so that he puts pressure on me if there's a problem with time. The umpire maybe didn't manage the situation properly, because I was going much faster than the other days. Carlos Costa said, "C'mon, Rafa," when his coach was also calling.

I don't know, you know. Each person does what they want. I realize that there are a lot of people who want me to win, and I'm very relaxed and I'm playing well. I've been on the circuit for many years, probably more than him, and I've never had any problems with anybody. I've always behaved properly. So I'll go on behaving the way I behave, and I'm very happy the way I relate to other people. I also get on very well with all the umpires, so maybe, I don't know, he just had something against me this one.

I'm just relaxed, just as relaxed as I've always been. That sort of statement doesn't really affect me. I have never spoken badly about him. I thought he was a nice guy, and so all I'm saying is that, you know, when you lose, you've got to control yourself and not just go on to say anything. That's what I try to do when I lose, you know, just keep under control.

Q. You jumped up and down when you won that match just like you did last year. I don't know if you'd like to comment on that.

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, yes, it's the fourth final we're going to play this year, and I'm very, very happy about it. Ljubicic was a complicated match because he's a good player, and he was serving very well. It was difficult to win the points.

At the end, when I won that last point, the matchpoint, well, yeah, I was really delighted. I was very, very happy.

Q. How are you going to play the final if you want to win?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I'm gonna have to think about that one and we'll see. We'll see. I've got to think. I've got to play my own game. I've got to play maybe a little bit more aggressively.

Q. You've played Ljubicic. Was that useful to fine‑tune your shots and to prepare for the match with Federer?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I'm very happy. It's the match that I've played in a more serious way. It's been a serious match, especially with my service. I've never lost my concentration, and he was serving well. He was also putting pressure when I was serving, but I reacted well.

The third set, I had a good backhand. I've improved my game and, yeah, I think I'm at a very good level.

Q. If you analyze the tournament, from the beginning until now, do you have the feeling that there's a major difference between you two and the rest of the players on clay?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, I don't think there's a major difference. I think things happen and the people who deserve to win, win.

I don't think there's that much difference. I'd say the same thing that I said before I started the tournament. You can win matches, you can lose them, it's the same thing, and each tournament is different. I don't think there's that much difference between me, Federer and all the players.

Q. Americans talk about your rivalry like Ali‑Fraser. Do you know about that?

RAFAEL NADAL: No. What year was it?

Q. '70.

RAFAEL NADAL: No, I wasn't even born.

Q. You never watched them?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, I watched videos of Muhammad Ali, but it's a long time ago.

Q. Do you still play with your PlayStation? I've seen this is something that you do.

RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, I play from time to time, you know. When I've got a bit of free time in my hotel room, I play, yeah, my PlayStation.

I can see that some players drop out, so you've got to end up playing on your own. It's a bit complicated.

Q. There's quite a bit of tension. Manacor is getting ready. There's a giant screen in the football stadium and racing course. That maybe is the other side of Roland Garros. Your people, in your hometown.

RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, they're really happy. It's great that all that is happening, that people are watching me play, that they take an interest. That's great. I'm really very grateful for all that interest.

Also in the whole of Spain, because every time I go somewhere in Spain, people support me, and I'm really grateful to all countries, really, because everybody treats me really well, but especially Spain. There's a lot of emotion when I travel anywhere in Spain. It's very nice.

That's why, you know, when Ljubicic loses and said what he said, well, that doesn't bother me because I'm relaxed, I know that things are fine, and it's not because Ljubicic says that that, you know, it's necessarily true.

Q. If you don't have rivals to play PlayStation with, maybe you can ask Federer to play with you?

RAFAEL NADAL: I don't know whether I will go that far (smiling).

But, nah, I don't think so. I don't think he can beat me in the PlayStation. I don't think he trains enough for that. :D

MariaV
06-09-2006, 06:47 PM
JEEEEEEZ how long. :haha: :haha:

mallorn
06-09-2006, 06:51 PM
^^^ I know! :lol:

Ivan's interview, much shorter:
Day 13 - An interview with Ivan Ljubicic
Friday, June 9, 2006
Ivan Ljubicic

Transcribed Interview

Q. Did this match go pretty much as you thought it would? Did you think this match developed pretty much the way you thought it would, a test of your shot‑making against his speed and his shot‑making as well?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, more or less, it's what I expected, of course, him fighting, running for every ball; when he could, taking control of the point.

Yes, more or less, that was it.

Q. I know you're obviously very disappointed with the end result, but it did look as if you played an outstanding match from the word "go." Is it pretty demoralizing when he's getting everything back?

IVAN LJUBICIC: No, it's not demoralizing, that. Many other things are demoralizing. Not him running around. That's what you have to expect when you're playing against him. It's just that that's his game, you know.

If you go out there and think that he's not gonna get it back, something that you don't expect and you are not in good position.

Q. Was there anything that you were unhappy about with Rafael's play today? You looked a little bit unhappy with things at the end of the match.

IVAN LJUBICIC: Oh, no. I was just disappointed that I lost the match.

Q. You weren't worried about the amount of time he was taking between points?

IVAN LJUBICIC: That's not my issue. That's umpire's problem. I am surprised how much they let him do it, because, you know, they give him one time violation, but didn't seem like change something. I think the umpire should be more aggressive on that because it's ridiculous how much time he takes between points.

Q. He was only warned once.

IVAN LJUBICIC: My feeling is that the umpire does it just that he can say he did it and then, you know, nothing anymore, because it's not like something change after that. He just kept doing what he was doing.

Q. Why do you take so many risk in the tiebreaker at 5‑3 in the second ball?

IVAN LJUBICIC: I felt I can go for it. I made couple. I missed that one. It was bad decision. After we realized that. But if I made it, it would be perfect decision.

Q. After the final in Rome, Roger Federer was complaining that Toni Nadal was coaching his nephew from the player's box. Did you have any experience like that today?

IVAN LJUBICIC: No, not today. I have to say that, I mean, it's too far away, you cannot say. But I had bad experience in Miami when I lost to him. Toni was telling him a lot what to do, yes.

But not today. Today, maybe yes. The stadium is so big, you cannot realize that. In Miami we played on a grandstand, so it's so small you can actually hear everything.

Q. Do you feel that you were at your maximum in the first two sets, because you play much more better in the third?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, you know, it takes time actually to realize how to play first and, second, to adjust also because it's the first lefty in a while for me. And also, you know, I have to adjust my serve as well. I think in the third set I served much better, much smarter and everything. It does take a little time.

I think I had chances in the first actually when I broke him back, and I had chances maybe to rebreak him again to get to 4‑All or maybe 5‑All. Unfortunately, I didn't make it. But second set was clear for him. And the third set, I played good set but unfortunately didn't make my chances.

Q. Do you have an opinion about what may happen in the final on Sunday, and do you care who wins?

IVAN LJUBICIC: Well, I would love to see Roger win it. I think everybody will because it would be nice. He is the best player probably ever in tennis and it would be, I think, nice to see him lifting the trophy here.

MariaV
06-09-2006, 07:14 PM
Ivan bitchy as usual. ;) I really don't mind him complaining, I take him as he is, I've nothing against him, I'm an :angel: like Rafa. :)

RogiFan88
06-09-2006, 07:34 PM
Congrats, Raf! I knew it w be a straight-set victory! Now Rafa can relax a little cos it's only Rogi he has to play in the Final! :lol:

MariaV, YOU don't know how you'll survive the final? Think about me? Rafa doesn't have to do much to win this again while for Rogi it will take nothing short of a miracle for him to win the slam that he's never felt comfortable at nor ever focused on in his career.

If I don't return to this forum after the final, you'll know why...

mallorn
06-09-2006, 07:43 PM
Rafa doesn't have to do much to win this again while for Rogi it will take nothing short of a miracle for him to win the slam that he's never felt comfortable at nor ever focused on in his career.
Beating Roger is "not much"? After all those close matches? After what happened in Rome? :eek:

If I don't return to this forum after the final, you'll know why...
This match could take a lot of casualties. :lol: :hug: MTF may be a little empty from Sunday on. ;)

MariaV
06-09-2006, 07:44 PM
Congrats, Raf! I knew it w be a straight-set victory! Now Rafa can relax a little cos it's only Rogi he has to play in the Final! :lol:

MariaV, YOU don't know how you'll survive the final? Think about me? Rafa doesn't have to do much to win this again while for Rogi it will take nothing short of a miracle for him to win the slam that he's never felt comfortable at nor ever focused on in his career.

If I don't return to this forum after the final, you'll know why...
:hug:
Rafa may have a bad day on Sunday and Fed play his best clay court tennis he's showed this season. :)
I mean actually I don't understand why ppl make it a matter of life or death, it may be one of the last chances for Fed but Rafa will have a lot more, and in other GSs too, as I don't really see anyone else rivalling Fed and Rafa in the near future.
I understand why some players are so 'not nice' to Rafa as they cannot figure him out, they 'seem' in control but it's still Rafa winning in the end. Seems it's not THAT easy to figure him out. Only Fed might succeed.
OK, I'm really off now. :wavey: