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Old 05-29-2006, 07:31 PM   #76
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Default Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

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?!"
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Old 05-29-2006, 07:49 PM   #77
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Default Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

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.
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Old 05-29-2006, 08:23 PM   #78
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Default Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

From the RG site too.
Quote:
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.
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Old 05-29-2006, 08:32 PM   #79
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Default Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

From Reuters:
Quote:
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/news...DAL-QUOTES.XML
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Old 05-29-2006, 09:00 PM   #80
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Default Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

"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...
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Old 05-29-2006, 09:07 PM   #81
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Default Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

Quote:
Originally Posted by RogiFan88
"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.

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!
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Old 05-29-2006, 11:17 PM   #82
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Default Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

Yes I remember when Rafa was playing in the U.S. and it was windy--he didn't seem to like that at all But now 54 wins and counting And since he already has the record he can now put all that behind him and just forcus on his tennis Congrats to Rafa Poor Kim I believe he will be lucky if he can manage to stay on the court against Rafa
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Old 05-30-2006, 02:50 AM   #83
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Default Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

Quote:
Originally Posted by mallorn
Oh, I hope you're right.

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!
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Old 05-30-2006, 06:22 AM   #84
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Default Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

I hope so RogiFan, I do hope so!
And I hope the weather will get less windy.
Vamos Rafa!
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Old 05-30-2006, 11:16 AM   #85
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Default Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

Lots of articles after Rafa's ugly but historic win yesterday.

From ESPN
Quote:
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.


"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.



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/ten...ory?id=2462389[/quote]
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Old 05-30-2006, 11:18 AM   #86
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Default Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

From Sporting Life:
Quote:
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/n...Nightlead.html
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Old 05-30-2006, 11:20 AM   #87
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Default Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

From The Columbian News:
Quote:
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/APStor...6news32074.cfm
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Old 05-30-2006, 11:24 AM   #88
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Default Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

From The Times
Quote:
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...202300,00.html
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Old 05-30-2006, 11:25 AM   #89
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Default Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

And from AP via Forbes
Quote:
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/...ap2779835.html
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Old 05-30-2006, 01:06 PM   #90
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Default Re: *~*~Vamos Rafa at Roland Garros!!! ~*~*

Quote:
"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.
bless him

thanks for the articles

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

Vamos Rafa
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