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Old 06-20-2006, 03:45 PM   #751
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From Tennis Week:
Quote:
Has Nadal Conquered Federer?

06/20/2006

"No two men can be half an hour together, but one shall acquire an evident superiority over the other." — Samuel Johnson

"To be the best in the world you have to get blood on your hands."
— Phil Anselmo


What is Roger Federer feeling now? Has he been wounded psychologically? Could all these defeats at the hands of the mighty Rafael Nadal be inflicting some kind of permanent damage? The Spaniard has won six out of seven from Federer and actually it could have very easily been a perfect seven had he not blown a two sets and a break lead in the Key Biscayne final last year.

Odd things happen sometimes when the great champion loses his confidence. Bjorn Borg lost the Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals to John McEnroe in 1981 and his psyche suffered so much by those those failures that he suddenly left the game at age 26. Lennox Lewis was losing a viciously violent fight to Vitali Klitschko in 2003, but luckily won when the referee controversially stopped it after round six because of Klitschko's cuts. Lewis, who had earlier stated a goal of three more fights, never fought again, turning down offers of $20 million for a rematch. It was evident Lewis was unsure if he was the best anymore.

In individual sports, when the great champion questions himself in his own mind — Am I still the best? — it is the beginning of the end. All of the contenders sense the vulnerability and begin to plot their moves. We have witnessed the demises of many champion boxers and tennis players, such as Marvin Hagler, Evander Holyfield, Roy Jones, Martina Hingis, Serena Williams and Mike Tyson, to name a few.

Nadal seems supremely confident he will dethrone Federer, and the process apparently is underway before our eyes.

"He is the best player in the world. The most complete player I have seen in my life," Nadal says. "But he can't keep playing like this forever.""

It's debatable right now if Federer is actually even the best player in the world — he's not even the best player on the court when he stares across the net at the clay-court conquistador who has had his number so often it's the tennis equivalent of speed dial.

When he enters into a tournament now, the people are buzzing about Nadal. Roger may have the ranking points, but Nadal clearly is his superior. Just as it took one man, Buster Douglas, to overthrow Tyson as the king, maybe Nadal is the man who will befall Federer. As unbelievable as it sounds, Nadal may ruin the spectacular reign of Federer.

I believe Nadal may have destroyed the career of Guillermo Coria. We know Coria was devastated by that weird loss to Gaston Gaudio in the 2004 French Open final. It is suspected Coria's possible use of injury gamesmanship during that match backfired and may have cost him the Grand Slam victory. But last year, Coria was still a major force on clay, until he lost that five-hour, fifth set tiebreak marathon to Nadal in Rome, ultimately enduring a heart-breaking 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(6) defeat.

Coria has never been the same since that moment and his career has tumbled into crisis. Perhaps Coria has come to believe in his own mind he will never be able to overcome Nadal, and that he foolishly squandered his one and only chance to win Roland Garros. And thus, without the fuel of hope to inspire him, he is a lost man on the court. A man without hope is a man...

You have to wonder at this point if Federer possesses the confidence, passion and the strength to defy this rampaging Spanish bull. We know Nadal has hopes. We know Nadal believes and is now aiming to show he can win on the grass at Wimbledon and that he can attain number one. And if the young phenomenon truly believes he can achieve those accomplishments, Mr. Federer may soon have plenty more problems to deal with. It's all been so marvelously clever the way Nadal has treated the subject of Federer. With nothing but gracious respect the 20-year-old only speaks kind words of his adversary.

"Everyone knows I like Roger," he says. From Nadal, there is never any criticism, truculence or even a hint of any malice towards Roger. Federer, on the other hand, has shown glimpses of irritation at Nadal. This year he accused Nadal's coach, uncle Toni Nadal, of illegally coaching from his box. He called Nadal's game "one-dimensional" before this year's defeat at Monte Carlo.

Last year at the French Open, Federer seemed slightly annoyed when reporters told him that Nadal said there was "no favorite" to win Roland Garros. "That's an interesting way to put pressure on people," said Federer. "It's clever. He's not stupid. I think there are a number of favorites here, and he knows well who they are."

In the aftermath of Nadal's victory over Federer in the French Open final, the Swiss stylist issued a subtle slight at Nadal by calling him "a grinder" immediately after the match.

Let's be blunt now, Nadal has pushed Federer around for 14 months and so far the Swiss gentleman has had no answers, no effective counterattacks. The ruthless bullying on the court just continues on. It's an intriguing clash of wills between the two strongest tennis players on earth today, a compelling drama with many chapters to read in the future. What ideas will Federer devise on how to halt this domination at the hands of Nadal? What can Roger do to circumvent his failings in the psychological warfare department? Is Nadal much smarter than his young age would suggest? Is he actually more intelligent than Federer is on court, using that higher tennis IQ to be able to outplay him five consecutive matches? Has Federer been intimidated by the intensity and fury of his powerful rival?

The greatness of Roger Federer has been tested, it has been questioned. The answers must come soon. Another possibility in this fascinating battle is that there is ample hope for Federer. Assuming, of course, that Nadal has not broken his spirit, Roger may actually become stronger from these defeats. Former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis was unexpectedly knocked out twice in his career. Imagine being knocked out with one punch in front of the world. Imagine the difficulty of trying to regain confidence to absorb a punch. Then you have to recover your status while discouraging all the eager attackers. In an awesome display of courage and perseverance, Lewis actually came back a better, smarter and more complete fighter and is now regarded as one of the best in history.

The same agony was suffered by Federer's personal friend, the 1996 Olympic gold medallist Wladimir Klitschko of Ukraine (the two met last year at an award show in Europe and became friends, Klitschko told me). Klitschko was the heir apparent to Lewis, until he was devastatingly knocked out twice by Corrie Sanders in 2003 and Lamon Brewster in 2004. But Klitschko maintained that, despite the horror of those humiliating losses, he never lost confidence in himself. He figured out why he lost, fixed the errors and resumed his lifelong ambition. And Klitschko has succeeded to this point, by impressively defeating the hardest knockout puncher in the world last September, Samuel Peter of Nigeria, and Chris Byrd this past April to win the IBF Heavyweight title. Klitschko, age 30, considers his failures in the ring to be valuable learning experiences and actually believes he needed them to make him a complete fighter.

"I needed to experience losing to become a champion," said Klitschko. "I never lost my confidence. I am complete fighter right now. Experience — you cannot buy in the shop. You have to gain it with your own skin and your own body with your own mind and through the time. Experience which people are making and they have to learn from those experiences. And they have to get better."

Klitschko, written off by most of the experts as lacking resilience and a strong jaw just a few years ago, proved his heart and mind were much stronger than anyone imagined. And he now appears poised to dominate the heavyweight division for several years.

No one knows how Federer will come back from his setbacks, maybe not even Roger Federer himself.

The decision is his to make. Or is it Rafael Nadal's?
http://www.sportsmediainc.com/tennis...&bannerregion=
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Old 06-21-2006, 02:57 AM   #752
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thanks mallorn for the article

"It's all been so marvelously clever the way Nadal has treated the subject of Federer. With nothing but gracious respect the 20-year-old only speaks kind words of his adversary.

"Everyone knows I like Roger," he says. From Nadal, there is never any criticism, truculence or even a hint of any malice towards Roger. Federer, on the other hand, has shown glimpses of irritation at Nadal. This year he accused Nadal's coach, uncle Toni Nadal, of illegally coaching from his box. He called Nadal's game "one-dimensional" before this year's defeat at Monte Carlo."

yes, nadal is humble, respectful and smart towards roger, he never say a bad word towards him, but still he receives so many criticism, which is so unfair

nadal although is only 20, is as mature as a 30's, his parents should be very proud to raise such a great champion and also a great person
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Old 06-21-2006, 06:00 AM   #753
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Rafa's 2nd World Cup article for Deutsche Presse-Agentur translated in English:-

Quote:
monstersandcritcs.com

My World Cup: Raul showed what he really can do
By Rafael Nadal Jun 20, 2006, 23:20 GMT

London - To suffer and to win: Spain's victory over Tunisia on Monday was even more than that.

First of all, it is most important that we have made our mark at top level. In contrast to Spain's debut match, on Monday we demonstrated something more, something new: This team knows how to suffer, how to play while suffering. I believe this is very important.

We have developed strong pace and rhythm. We played the ball well throughout the match, we passed it rapidly and confidently, without giving up, suffering but knowing what to do. Even when we lost the ball, we continued to play the good football we started with the other day. I believe this is also very important.

We started the first half a little disorderly and in two opposing counterattacks we did not look good. But from the 20th minute onward, we started to get things together and imposed our game.

We may still be a little short on skill, but I don't think we played badly. We had plenty of opportunities in a match played with great intensity.

I believe coach Luis Aragones' line-up changes had the desired effect.

Raul has demonstrated once again who he is. He is always a player to be reckoned with. If he had to prove himself - and I don't believe he did - he proved himself. He took to the pitch fighting, put his stamp on the game and scored a goal that was as important for him as it was for the team. A great player!

In addition, we have a team now with many alternatives, which is also an important fact, because a team with many facets has more solutions to problems.

Cesc Fabregas, who had a great game, also impressed me. His assist on Fernando Torres's goal was fantastic. Joaquin and his fluid play on the right side also were impressive.

To sum up: I saw a team with a will to win, which continues to entertain us. I believe much of this is due to the trainer. He can motivate others, he has experience and a lot of character. This has helped us greatly.

This victory will continue to give hope, and is a credit to a Spanish team which everybody is beginning to admire.

The celebrations in Madrid's Plaza de Colon, which I have been watching on television, have also impressed me. I cannot remember having seen anything like it with any other Spanish team.

I see a country at one with the national team. We all appreciate entertainment and this team is very entertaining. From here I would like to congratulate the team and say to the players that I am very proud of them.

The next game is going to be important, although Spain is already through to the last 16, because in that game we will be able to see other players and a lot of other things.

I really enjoyed the second game and I look forward to seeing a different line-up and alternatives. We will perhaps discover new aspects of the team. It is also an important game for confidence and commitment to see if we really are better than before.

We need to go on the pitch convinced that we can and must win. This is very important, in my humble opinion, with regard to the confidence of the team.

And a word or two about the other teams:

Brazil is improving little by little. In their last game they were not allowed enough space to show their true potential, but when the game permitted, they showed their quality. Currently they are not fully convincing but they have fearsome players who want to win and who at any time are capable of scoring a goal.

France is a different matter. I saw a French team devoid of ideas. They seem to be stuck in a rut and they will have everything to do in their last game. We've seen glimpses of how then can play but the team, I believe, lacks vision and is playing without any clarity at all.

Argentina. Along with Spain, Argentina is my favourite team so far. They have a team that can play on both wings, very fast and with a lot of character. The team I saw the other day was not a football team, but a steam-roller. What a game!

Spain and Argentina have played the best football in this World Cup. Argentina are unpredictable, they showed this by not fielding Messi from the start of the game. For me, Messi is one of stars of the World Cup.

Ukraine deserves mention because they achieved a surprising result against Saudi Arabia, which showed that Spain beat a team that was nowhere near as weak as people would have us believe. A result which was equal in merit, if not greater, to Spain's first win.

(Rafael Nadal, exclusively for Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa)
© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
http://sport.monstersandcritics.com/..._really_can_do
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Old 06-21-2006, 06:24 AM   #754
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thanks veyonce

nadal is also a football expert
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Old 06-22-2006, 02:42 PM   #755
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hehehehe Rafa and I share exactly the same idea on football !!! He is totall right about France....we are in the dark

Argentina is my favorite too, i'm having so much fun watchin' them spending great time on the field ....same for españa and its baby stars !!!
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Old 06-22-2006, 02:45 PM   #756
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Rafa on the ATP site especially for the WC 06' !!!

I must confess: I don’t know where to start from. If I can remember right, this is the first time I’m writing a column for any publication.

I love soccer and the World Cup fascinates me! My uncle Miguel Ángel played in the past three World Cups (United States, France and Korea/Japan) and because of that my family and I become apprehensive before the World Cup’s kick off. I have to say that this time I was not as nervous as the previous World Cups because I had my focus (and nervousness) in Roland Garros.

Unfortunately I haven’t had much time to watch the matches, although I did manage to see a few. The match I enjoyed the best so far was Argentina against Côte d'Ivoire. I also enjoyed watching Sweden, even thought they were unable to impose their style: counterpunching.

Spain has a young but experienced team. Most of the Spaniards play for good European teams, which make them more used to the pressure of important matches.

Spain also has an experienced coach in Luis Aragonés. My uncle Miguel Angel played for him in Mallorca and said that Aragonés is one of the most incredible coaches he has ever played for.

I think that Spain must believe that they can win the title. Maybe that’s what has been missing for them to win their first World Cup trophy.

We have a lot of great players in the Spanish soccer team but I believe that the mental aspect is a key factor that will determine whether we will win or lose. In my opinion Germany and Italy are teams that in the past were better prepared mentally and because of that they have been so successful.

Without a doubt, Brazil is the favorite. I think that they have a dream team, however there is a big gap between being the best and winning it all. There are also many aspects that can help or thwart the teams during the World Cup such as pressure, luck, etc… especially in the second round, when losers go home.

Underneath Brazil, there are many teams at the same level. I believe that England has a very compact team; that the Germans are usual winners and are playing at home; that France is a mystery; and Italy always has a shot. Not to mention Argentines always play their hearts out.

Before I finish this column I must say that I’m extremely happy for winning Roland Garros. I hope that when the World Cup ends our players can feel the same joy as I did. This would mean that we would have won the World Cup. Go Spain!!!



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Old 06-23-2006, 02:59 AM   #757
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McEnroe, 47, to play ATP doubles at Stockholm in October
June 22, 2006
CBS SportsLine.com wire reports

STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- John McEnroe will return to the ATP doubles circuit in October, teaming with Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman at the Stockholm Open.

McEnroe's entry announced Thursday continues an improbable doubles comeback to the ATP Tour that started in February, when he and Bjorkman won the SAP Open doubles title in San Jose, California.

"I look forward to playing with Jonas, and our goal is without a doubt to win the whole tournament," said McEnroe, who retired in 1992 after winning 16 Grand Slam titles -- seven singles and nine doubles.

McEnroe, 47, last played in the Stockholm Open in 1985, when he won the singles event for the fourth time. His first victory came in 1978, when he defeated Bjorn Borg on his way to the title.

French Open champion Rafael Nadal and American James Blake will headline the singles draw for the tournament, which will be played Oct. 7-15 in Stockholm's Royal Tennis Hall.


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Old 06-24-2006, 06:01 AM   #758
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Excerpts from an article on Andy Murray's fitness regime:-

Quote:
The Financial Times
Growing past the pain

By Neil O'Sullivan

Published: June 24 2006 03:00 | Last updated: June 24 2006 03:00

Those lecturing Murray on his fitness invariably advise that to go the distance on the court and in
s career he must put in the miles in the gym as well as the practice court.

"You can do both," he says. "You can play tennis for six hours or you can do two-and-a-half hours oftennis and two hours offitness. It just depends what you prefer."

He mentions the 20-year-old Spaniard Rafael Nadal as an example of someone who says he's never been in the gym and lifted weights, while others, such as the world number one Roger Federer, prefer to do weights and to have a specific programme.

"You look at Nadal and he's so strong you think, 'why can't everybody just be on the court all the time?' But I prefer to change it up a bit and do a bit of tennis and a bit of fitness, which probably keeps you more interested in being on the tennis court for six hours a day."
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2f862f10-029...0779e2340.html
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Old 06-24-2006, 11:35 AM   #759
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Inside Tennis July 2006




By Matthew Cronin

Rafael Nadal is about as modest as a young champion as you can find.

Who else would stop top ranked Roger Federer 1-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (4) to successfully defend his French Open title and then go on to call his foe “the best and most complete player ever” in his championship speech?

Only Nadal, a Majorcan of modest means who was brought up to be a polite man of generous spirit. But what the 20-year-old Spaniard said is not true this year because there’s only one man who has been worthy of being called dominant in 2006 and that’s the smiling Spaniard himself.

“It’s true that if Federer loses no matches whatsoever, I will not be No. 1,” Nadal said. “ I have to improve. But with the points that I’m winning, if Federer hadn’t been there, I would have been No. 1. But we are at a time when the No. 1 is the most consistent player in tennis history, so you have to take this into account. Secondly, I believe that he’s been at the top of the game for two years. He’s playing his best tennis. He will not be able to play that way all his life. It’s true for me also, but I’m a bit younger. I can prepare myself well, and maybe when he comes down a little, then I might be able to have the sufficient level to become No. 1. “

That day may be coming sooner than anyone thought.

It was an incredibly significant victory for Nadal, not just because he defended a Slam title for the first time and won his record 60th straight victory on clay, but also because he proved that Federer does not have enough confidence to contend with him in long rallies.

“It’s the first time in his eight Grand Slams that he really faced adversity,” former French champ Mats Wilander told Inside Tennis. “The key is that Nadal wants it and Roger doesn’t. The other guys usually don’t give Roger the opposition that Nadal did. Nadal said, ‘I can do this for two weeks.’ Roger is relying on shotmaking while Nadal is depending on his aggressive mentality. Roger is saying, ‘Get away from me, I just want to hit a winner.’”

Nadal has beaten Federer all four times they have played in ‘06 and every occasion was a final - in Dubai, Monte Carlo, Rome and now Roland Garros. He has faced down a man who was once unbeatable in finals, a guy who holds the record of most consecutive finals won at 24.

But that streak ended last November in a loss to David Nalbandian in the Tennis Masters Series Shanghai and while Federer has been very good since then, he hasn’t been able to find a way to negate Nadal, whose rock solid defense and brilliant bursts of offense are too much for him.

Nadal is not only in Federer’s head now, he is playing over the Swiss’s head on big points and seems to know that if he brings his “A” game on court on any surface except for grass, that he will eventually wear Federer down. “What is important is that my attitude was always positive,” said Nadal, who has won 14 finals in a row. “I had a winner’s attitude. What is positive is maybe that I was not playing at my best level, but I still maintained an excellent attitude.”

That’s what happened on Sunday on Paris, when Federer came out pumped up and flew all over the court, banging winners, serving big, approaching the net and telling Nadal that he had the right stuff to hit through him.

Rafa was nervous and slow of foot and had no depth on his shots.

But he knew he still had time to wake up and once he did early on in the second set, he was the far better player. His hooking lefty forehand ate Federer’s one-handed backhand alive, his backhand was steady and deep, his passing shots were accurate and close to the lines; and his first serve bounced high and wasn’t attackable.

He was stronger and faster under the hot sun and even when he grew nervous while trying to serve the match out at 5-4 in the final set, he calmed himself down and knew going into the tiebreaker that if he kept playing heavy, he’d cause Federer to crack.

And the long-haired, bucking Spanish bull was right again.

The crowd was pleading for Federer to pull off a miracle, but he couldn’t push himself far enough into the court. He committed three errors to go down 2-5 and even though he played two strong service points to claw back to 4-5, Nadal calmly stepped up to the baseline and stared him down. The lefty banged another swerving service winner and on match point, took a full swing on a forehand volley and found a sharp angle.

“I was surprised that at 2-1 in the tie breaker, that Federer was not more aggressive,” Wilander said. “‘I’m playing sh----, but I’m here for the same reason as you are and I’m ahead right now.’ Show me a little fist pump or something! Federer is not closer to winning, he’s only closer to prolonging the pain.”

Federer looked confused and depressed, while the boyish Nadal rolled around the clay, celebrating his 60th straight win on dirt.

“He’s the best clay courter now and maybe the best of all time,” Federer said. “He’s a fighter and a grinder and it makes it hard to beat him. He moves very well. I had chance to win it I couldn’t use my chances and it was a pity.”

For all the talk of men’s tennis’ best rivalry since Sampras-Agassi, this one is becoming decidedly one-sided with the Spaniard holding a 6-1 edge. Certainly, their matches have been close, but in the tiebreak at Roland Garros, it was obvious to everyone in attendance who the more self-assured player was.

“I can’t do more than try,” said Federer, who complained about the slowness of the court on a hot, sunny day in Paris. “ Both of us have this unique opportunity that we haven’t seen in such a long time in tennis. [Life] goes on, right? I got the grass court season coming up, and looking forward to that one.”

Federer said that he wasn’t emotionally devastated by the defeat and can move on to Wimbledon, where he is attempting to four-peat. But after taking four losses to Nadal in the last five months, he’s not the same mental rock that he was after going back-to-back at Indian Wells and Miami.

The Swiss seems to be a little in denial.

“I’ve had worse than this,” Federer said. “I am at a different stage in my career now than I used to be where every loss was another world. That’s not the case anymore because I tried so hard and I know I left everything out there, and maybe I missed a few opportunities. Maybe [I’ll] hear that for years, but that’s my problem. It was a good tournament after all for me, first time in the finals. You got to also see the positive and that’s what I usually always do, even though maybe, at the end of my career I missed the moment to win the French Open today. But it didn’t happen, so I got to create this opportunity once again.”

At the very young tennis age of 20, Nadal is only going to get better. His serve is good but not great, he could improve his volleys tremendously and become more aggressive with his returns.

Just imagine if and when that happens.

It’s doubtful that Nadal will be much of a factor at Wimbledon, not because he is primarily a baseliner, but because he needs to flatten out his forehand more before he can make an impact on grass.

But when the season rolls on to the US hard courts this summer, that’s when the world will see whether Federer can amp up his game enough to maintain his No. 1 rankings and whether Nadal’s heavenly, clay-tinted spring form will transfer onto cement.

But looking at the two when they came off court on a hot Sunday in Paris, it sure appeared like the ebullient Nadal was the king of the world, red dirt on his back or not.

As Nadal added later, Roger may reign over much of the world, “just not here.”

© 2006 INSIDE TENNIS All rights reserved
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Djokovic after his Madrid 2009 Semi with Rafa: “Next time I’ll probably take two rackets on the match point and try to hit with both of them. It’s frustrating that when you play so well you can’t win.”

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Old 06-25-2006, 09:52 AM   #760
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Thanks, veyonce!

From The Sunday Herald:

Quote:
Love Rivals

Natasha Woods reports on the burning ambitions that define and separate, yet also bind together, the fates of the World No 1 Roger Federer and his main challenger Rafael Nadal

ONE has won 60 straight games on clay. The other recently equalled Bjorn Borg’s record of 41 successive victories on grass. One is quite simply the best player in the world and more than capable of turning Wimbledon into his own personal fiefdom, yet it is the other who has dominated their meetings.

In a sport where the battle lines are drawn by white chalk and the setting is distinctly gladiatorial in nature, the rivalry between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal has the potential to capture the public imagination in a way that may yet echo the days of John McEnroe and Borg.

The lefty versus the righty, united in ambition but separated by style and temperament. As alike as fire and ice, yet intrinsically bound to each other. It is what tennis needs. It is what each player needs.

As Martina Navratilova once tellingly observed about her long battle for supremacy over Chris Evert, their enduring duel brought out the best in each other. “If you tried to make the perfect rivalry, we were it,” Navratilova said. “I still have a closeness with her that I will never have with another human being because of what we went through together.”

However as Federer and Nadal prepare to begin their campaigns at the All England Club, the seedings committee having reflected their world rankings by setting out a path which could lead to a final between the pair, it is pertinent to question whether this is either the right place or right time to expect their duel to reach epic proportions. Or whether it ever will.

For a start, the classic rivalries have a longevity not yet matched by this battle between a 24-year-old Swiss star blessed with such precise grace and touch and a muscular, exuberant 20-year-old Spaniard who is the epitome of the buccaneering baseliner.

So far Federer versus Nadal is nascent in nature. They have met only seven times and never on grass. The younger man has lost only once to the World No 1 and while that record reflects his mastery on clay, he significantly still leads Federer 2-1 on hard courts.

However the greatest sporting rivalries spring from collisions on the grandest of stages; hence Navratilova faced Evert in sixty finals. While few have come close to matching that, even more recent duels have seen the likes of Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi meeting 34 times – five of those in major finals.

The Borg-McEnroe battle transcended tennis for just three glorious years, yet in that time they met in four Grand Slam finals. So far Federer and Nadal have met only once on that stage.

That was back in May* at Roland Garros, when Nadal successfully defended his French Open crown. Now to Wimbledon, where Federer will be looking for his fourth successive title and Nadal has never got beyond the third round. Indeed until the Stella Artois tournament earlier this month, the Mallorcan had never managed to win more than two consecutive matches in any grasscourt tournament.

What strange kind of rivalry is this, you might ask, where the type of playing surface seems to suggest they will never meet in circumstances when they can produce their best simultaneously?

However such a view doesn’t fully recognise their mutual talents and ambitions. Nadal is not your typical Spaniard. Unlike many of his predecessors, who took the view that grass was for cows and invariably “suffered” an injury just before the Wimbledon fortnight, Nadal has a respect for the history of this place and a desire to go with it.

“It is the tournament I have most illusion to play well in,” he said earlier this year, while his tennis shoes were still clogged with red clay. “It is a beautiful sensation to play on grass and I have the feeling I will improve on it. My expectation is to improve, but I’m not going to win 60 consecutive matches on grass.”

Hence the biggest ambition he has is not to extend his winning run at Roland Garros, it is to emulate Manual Santana, Spain’s last and only men’s singles champion at Wimbledon. The year was 1966, when the attention of most was focused on another sporting triumph.

Federer’s game is superior on grass, but Nadal’s powerful groundstrokes and his ability to stay in rallies makes him a genuine threat, even if his most difficult adjustment concerns his movement on a surface that does not reward the sliding and gliding into the ball with which brings profits on clay.

Tim Henman, who has more reason than most to regret the slowing up of Wimbledon’s courts, has suggested it would be dangerous to write Nadal off on any type of surface, even if the Briton feels it is unlikely. “I just like the attitude that he wants to come and play,” said Henman. “Irrespective of whether he loses in the first round or makes the final, you know he is going to be out there to better himself as a player.”

Similarly, Federer’s competitive fires are stoked when he steps out on to Nadal’s favourite surface. Back in May* Federer was denied his eighth Grand Slam title, and the only one that still eludes him, by the Spaniard. Yet Federer was not at his best at Roland Garros.

A better measure came earlier in the season in Rome, in a five-hour, five-set final, which saw Federer 4-1 up in the deciding set and then holding match points on Nadal’s serve. But he still lost. And there were signs that Nadal’s winning run was getting under his skin, for the normally cool Swiss was angered by some illegal coaching from the sidelines by Toni Nadal, the player’s uncle.

Psychologically, Nadal might just have the upper hand, but the sight and feel of grass under his feet will undoubtedly provide Federer with any lift he might need. He is the king here and Nadal, despite his impressive record against him, suggests that situation is not about to change.

Asked what the difference was between them, the Spaniard didn’t cite tactics, or styles or personalities. He merely remarked that Federer was better than him. In truth, it is a respect that is mutual. For while the whole tennis world hopes this is a battle for supremacy which will rage on for years, the pair seem determined to prove they can leave their intensity on the court.

One anecdote will suffice. At a tour event in Basel last year neither was fit to play, but Nadal came to town anyway and booked into a hotel. On a Sunday night before the tournament began there was a knock on his door and Federer was there, just to welcome him to his hometown and check Nadal was all right. They chatted for an hour.

So different, but with so much in common. Ultimately they want the same thing and that has the makings of a compelling story. Over the next fortnight we will discover whether Wimbledon’s grass will provide a compelling chapter or a more familiar tale of Swiss superiority.

25 June 2006
*That would be June.
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Old 06-25-2006, 10:12 AM   #761
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From The Sunday Times
Quote:
The Sunday Times June 25, 2006

When his eyes turn black, you’re a dead man

PROFILE Rafael Nadal

He has the guile of John McEnroe, the film star appeal of Ilie Nastase and the all-conquering promise of the young Boris Becker. Rafael Nadal is a handsome killer who threatens Roger Federer’s reign as the world’s top tennis player and tomorrow he will bring a dangerous crackle of electricity to Wimbledon.

The Spaniard from Majorca turned 20 during the French Open earlier this month, retaining the title that he snatched last year when he became the first teenager to win a men’s grand slam event since Pete Sampras took the US Open in 1990. Nadal’s victim in the final was Federer, the once invincible Swiss champion who now feels he is being stalked by his nemesis.

The All-England Club may be able to tone down Nadal’s pirate pants, garish shirts and bandanna, but not the war cry “Rafa, Rafa” from his growing army of fans. His admirers include McEnroe, who predicts that he will become one of the great players, and Tim Henman, who describes him as “phenomenal”. He has in buckets what most modern players lack — charisma.

For Jimmy Connors, the Spaniard’s passion for the game is his pre-eminent quality. Like the American, Nadal is a left-hander with a lightning-fast top spin forehand, a reputation for never backing down and shark eyes that seem to turn black just before he tears his opponent to pieces.

The difference is that when Nadal steps off the court, the assassin reverts to a shy, self-effacing youth. “I am a simple boy,” he told The Sunday Times recently. “I like simple things. I like being with my family. I like fishing in a boat.”

Wimbledon will not be plain sailing. Although seeded number two to Federer’s number one, Nadal is a clay court player and painfully aware that he suffers from his compatriots’ standard handicap: the lack of rain in Spain, which makes grass a trickily unfamiliar surface. Wimbledon has been won by only one Spaniard, Manuel Santana in 1966.

Nadal’s best performance at Wimbledon was in 2003 when he reached the third round. Injury kept him away in 2004 and last year he suffered a second-round defeat.

He has acknowledged the problem: “I’m not going to win 60 consecutive matches on grass. I need to change a lot of my game and my mentality, too.” Yet the grass of SW19 tantalises him: “My tennis dream is to win Wimbledon. It would be a beautiful moment to have success there.”

A question mark hangs over his fitness, as well. To gain experience on grass, he flew straight from Paris to London for the Stella Artois championships at Queen’s Club, but was forced to retire with a shoulder injury during his quarter-final match against Lleyton Hewitt, the eventual winner. His left arm, corded with muscle, had powered his 60-match winning streak on clay, but it finally gave out and prevented him serving. He immediately flew home to Majorca for treatment.

Nadal is a driven man, not least by his rivalry with Federer, whom he has beaten in six out of their seven encounters. Aficionados believe that Nadal has established the psychological edge. In Paris, the usually imperious Swiss looked anxious and flat-footed as his opponent fired forehand winners from improbable angles, targeting the increasingly errant Federer backhand. Nadal has him in his sights: “He is a number one. He is there to be beaten.”

Nadal owes his positive mental approach to the constant presence of his Uncle Toni, a former tennis professional who nurtured his skills from the age of three and remains his coach. “I think that having my uncle and coach with me has been the best for me,” he said. “He is uncle first and coach second. It is a nicer life to travel round with your uncle there. My family can’t come to all matches, but I always have my family there in my uncle.”

His tight-knit family remains the most important thing in his life. “My goal is to be happy,” he reasoned. “My family make me happy. It is my number one wish for them to be all healthy.” It is an outlook endorsed by Uncle Toni: “He works hard and he looks after people. He’s a nice boy.” It is thanks to Toni that his protégé never throws tantrums: he threatened to order his nephew off the court if he threw a racket or skied a ball in frustration.

Touchingly, this child-man still lives with three generations of his family under one roof in the Majorcan town of Manacor. His grandparents, Rafael and Isabel, are installed on the ground floor. The first floor is occupied by Uncle Toni, his wife and three daughters, and the second floor by his parents, Sebastian, the owner of a double-glazing factory, and Ana Maria. The top floor is the domain of Rafa and his younger sister, Maria Isabel.

He may be revered in Spain, but at home nothing has changed. He still goes out with his childhood friends on Friday nights and the locals treat him just the same. He likes to fish in the early morning, taking a boat out to sea and watching the sun rise. “Why should it change?” he asked.

Even the legions of girls who flock around the swashbuckling sensation have little appeal. “I’m not interested in that sort of girl,” he told The Daily Telegraph recently. “I would like to have a normal girlfriend, preferably from my home town, who doesn’t look upon me as anything other than a boy who lives down the street. I would like to meet a girl with her own career, who doesn’t want to change her life for mine.”

As a young boy he disliked tennis, preferring football. “That was my real love,” he declared. For a while he wavered between the passions of Uncle Toni and Uncle Miguel, a footballer known as “the Butcher of Barcelona” who played for Spain in three World Cups and had a successful club career with Barcelona and Real Mallorca before retiring at the end of last season. From the age of three, Toni encouraged him to play tennis for fun alongside his football practice, but soon noticed his proficiency.

When Nadal was eight and a promising striker for a local football team, he won the regional tennis championships for under- 12s. Then clubs began inviting him to play for them and, to improve his game, Uncle Toni encouraged his right-handed charge to play with his left hand.

“He noticed that I was playing forehand shots with two hands, so one day he told me to try with one hand. I used my left foot in football, so I thought I should try that. I did. It worked.”

By the age of 12 he had won the Spanish and European titles in his age group and was playing either tennis or football all the time. At which point his father made him choose between the two sports so that his school work did not suffer. “I chose tennis. Football had to stop straight away.”

From then on his life was structured around tennis: school from 9am until noon, tennis from 12pm to 2pm, lunch, school in the afternoon, then another two hours of tennis in the evening. At 14 the Spanish tennis federation urged him to leave Majorca to train in Barcelona, the centre of Spanish tennis, but his parents wanted him to continue his schooling and his father paid for his training at home.

Nadal was relieved: “It didn’t matter how many tournaments I could win, there weren’t enough in the world to make it worth living away from my family.” The decision, most of his circle agree, was crucial to his emotional and physical trajectory. At 17 he was ranked in the world’s top 50.

Uncle Toni taught him to embrace losing, something that he hated as much as pain. “My uncle keeps saying that losing is important in this game. If you play tennis, you lose — that’s how it is. Only one person can win every game in a tournament. No one man can win every tournament. The best players lose: everybody loses some time.”

He must have been a terrible disappointment to his mentor: he kept winning. Last year he took 11 singles trophies, equal to Henman’s total haul. He has netted £3.9m in winnings and about £10m in contracts and deals. Typically, he says that he has no idea how much he is worth, claiming: “I have never played for money.”

His goal is disarmingly simple: “My ambition is to be a very normal guy. A very humble guy. To play tennis and to be the best. And when I’m done, I just want to be at home with my family.”
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Old 06-27-2006, 01:49 AM   #762
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Default Re: >> Rafa news and articles <<

Quote:
globeandmail.com

Federer, Nadal among entries in 2006 Rogers Cup
Canadian Press
POSTED AT 5:34 PM EDT ON 26/06/06

Toronto — World No. 1 Roger Federer of Switzerland and defending champion Rafael Nadal of Spain headline the field for this year's Rogers Cup men's tennis tournament.

American Andy Roddick, who won the title in 2003, is also entered in the Aug. 5-13 tournament at Toronto's Rexall Centre while Andre Agassi will make his final appearance on Canadian courts. The American recently announced he plans to retire after the U.S. Open.

Nadal defeated Agassi in last year's final in Montreal.

Other players included on the entry list Monday include third-ranked David Nalbandian from Argentina, No. 7 James Blake from the United States and ninth-ranked Lleyton Hewitt of Australia.

Eight of the 64-draw positions are reserved for qualifiers and four spots are held for wild card entrants at the discretion of Tennis Canada. These players will be announced at a later date.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servl...s/OtherSports/
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Old 06-27-2006, 03:58 AM   #763
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Quote:
The Sun Exclusive

Rafa's the Naddy now

Tuesday 27 June 2006
By JANINE SELF

RAFAEL NADAL used to be just a kid with a famous footballing uncle.

But the Spaniard’s second consecutive French Open triumph has made him determined to take Wimbledon by storm.

And Miguel Angel Nadal, who won five La Liga titles and a European Cup during eight seasons with Barcelona, admits he has been eclipsed as the biggest star in the family.

Nadal junior, 20, due to face Brit Alex Bogdanovic in the first round, hopes to go beyond the third round at the All England Club for the first time.

His uncle said: “These days I’m known as the uncle of Rafa, the famous tennis player.”

Miguel, 39, also won 62 caps for Spain and played in three World Cups before retiring in 2005 after a second spell at Real Mallorca.

SunSport’s exclusive snaps from the Nadal family album show Miguel with Rafa, aged three, in 1990 when he starred for Mallorca before his move to the Nou Camp a year later.

Tiny Rafa was football mad, but already showing signs of a budding future in tennis as well as developing passions for fishing and golf, while growing up in Majorca.

The decision to concentrate on tennis has paid off to the tune of £3.84million in career earnings so far.

And Miguel is proud to have swapped places with Rafa as the star name in the family.

Miguel, who is still a keen tennis player and Rafa’s fitness trainer, added: “I started playing tennis with Rafa when he was an infant — I can’t beat him anymore though!

“I signed for Barcelona and he continued with his progression. He very quickly reached a level where you could see he was special, but I didn’t get angry when I lost.

“We don’t play to compete, it’s just hitting the ball between each other.”

Everything was in place for Rafa, ranked No 2 in the world, to succeed from an early age with another uncle, Toni, as his professional coach.

Toni taught Rafa to play left-handed to have an advantage against opponents even though he has always done everything else with his right. And Spain’s former tennis ace Carlos Costa helped guide his career once he made a breakthrough.

Miguel said: “When Rafa was born I became a professional. Now I have retired. The cycle of life takes you to this.

“But apart from me being his uncle and him being my nephew the whole family is happy that things are going so well for him and people are taking notice.”
http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,3-2006290415,00.html
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Djokovic after his Madrid 2009 Semi with Rafa: “Next time I’ll probably take two rackets on the match point and try to hit with both of them. It’s frustrating that when you play so well you can’t win.”
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Old 06-27-2006, 06:42 AM   #764
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Default Re: >> Rafa news and articles <<

Vote For Rafa For ESPY 2006 Awards!!!!

http://espn.go.com/espy2006/

He is nominated in the following categories:

Best Male Tennis Player
Best International Athlete

The ESPY Awards will be held on 16 July 2006 9pm ET and hosted by Lance Armstrong.
__________________

Djokovic after his Madrid 2009 Semi with Rafa: “Next time I’ll probably take two rackets on the match point and try to hit with both of them. It’s frustrating that when you play so well you can’t win.”
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Old 06-27-2006, 06:55 AM   #765
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Default Re: >> Rafa news and articles <<

Done, thanks Veyonce.
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