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Old 06-04-2006, 11:14 AM   #151
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Default Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

From ESPN:
Quote:
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/ten...ory?id=2469409
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Old 06-04-2006, 11:14 AM   #152
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Default Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

From The Sunday Times:
Quote:
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...209979,00.html
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Old 06-04-2006, 11:15 AM   #153
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Default Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

From The Independent:
Quote:

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

No gifts for Nadal
This article has a funny paragraph:
Quote:
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. 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

Nadal wins 56th straight clay-court match
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Old 06-04-2006, 01:42 PM   #154
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Default Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

Rafa's post match interview is finally up.
Quote:
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? 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.
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Old 06-04-2006, 06:38 PM   #155
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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 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 I hope Rafa is ready for Hewitt. Vamos Rafa
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Old 06-04-2006, 07:45 PM   #156
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Default Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

merci la MONF' , thanx to gael monfils who beat Blake today, if Rafa beat Hewitt.........Let's be in final ....waiting for Rodge
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Old 06-04-2006, 08:44 PM   #157
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Default Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

Yeah, at least Blake eliminated from the way.
Quote:
Q. You peeled it first? WTF?

RAFAEL NADAL: (Untranslated answer in Spanish.)
I think Rafa said exactly 'WTF' only in Spanish.
Should this go to 'the most stupid questions asked by journalist'-thread?
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Old 06-04-2006, 09:15 PM   #158
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Default Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

Quote:
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).


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 Good luck
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Old 06-04-2006, 09:31 PM   #159
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Default Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

Yes, Maria, I think the question belongs in the Stupid Journalist Questions Thread. You should post it there.

The list of obstacles for Rafa en route to the title needs updating. One item is off (Blake ) but a new one added:
the record,
the tabloid pictures,
the doping rumours in the French press,
the rain delays,
the strings problem,
the red hot (chili peppers ) PHM,
the very hostile French crowd,
the treacherous BANANA!
Hewitt who has nothing to lose,
the shin hit on the van door,
...what's next?

Rafa's blog is updated. http://www.atptennis.com/en/blog/nadal.asp
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Old 06-04-2006, 09:41 PM   #160
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Default Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

Vamos Rafa, it's time to beat Lleyton
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Old 06-04-2006, 09:50 PM   #161
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vamos Rafa at RG,you can beat Hewitt
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Old 06-04-2006, 11:21 PM   #162
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Default Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

Quote:
Originally Posted by MariaV
Yeah, at least Blake eliminated from the way.

I think Rafa said exactly 'WTF' only in Spanish.
Should this go to 'the most stupid questions asked by journalist'-thread?
I had the same thought and it's already there.
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Old 06-05-2006, 03:33 AM   #163
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Default Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

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

Quote:
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.
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Old 06-05-2006, 06:52 AM   #164
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Default Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

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.
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Old 06-05-2006, 10:32 AM   #165
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Default Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

I looking forward to see the match Rafa-Hewitt.
Vamos Rafa!!!!
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