*Sighs* Hot on the heels of hearing that Shakougar is in town, how nice to see the appearance of Xisca at Wimbledon. She appears in this clip catching up with Rafa after his practice, and he bestows on her a lovely little kiss and there's some nice, tender inter-action between them. Lovely to see.
Even if it does break my heart. *Sniff*
Wednesday, 30 June 2010
Typical!! You ask hundreds of questions on previous blogs and then the first two you ask on this one get answered at once!! Hehe.
And its not strictly true, Rafa. You can't get hold of that lilac top for love nor money. What I didn't add was that he was wearing that top on the day we met him; when I snuggled into his side and there he was right beside me. I told Rafan I want one - not to wear - but to snuggle up to in my bed. For some reason ... she thought it funny ...
I was wondering if Nike custom-make some of your clothing, as I particularly like the lilac velour traning top you were wearing last week, but it doesn’t appear in your catalogued items. Julie
RN: Yes, they are taylored but I believe everything is at the shops on different sizes.
In your blog from the French Open you said that you would try to go and see “Love Never Dies”, the sequel to “Phantom of the Opera” when you were in London. Have you managed to do that, and if you did, what’s the review? Julie
RN: Didn’t have the chance during Queens. Clearly during Wimbledon because of the distance, the time, etc. is more difficult. Maybe in NY if they play it there.
Tuesday, 29 June 2010
In Rafa's blog on Sunday, he talked about how his team were fed up of his pasta and that they decided to go into the city to Rafa's favourite restaurant (and our Saturday night treat the week before) El Cambio de Tercio. But damn Rafa ... why couldn't you have paid a visit the week before??? So whilst he filled his blog with guff like this ...
"... I got back to my house and we decided to go out for dinner to the city. I had not done it all week so my team was kind of tired of eating always my pasta... So we went almost straight from the end of the work with media etc to my favorite restaurant in London. You have heard many times about it, El Cambio de Tercio. I was so happy for yesterday's win that I just said, OK, let's go wherever you guys want! ..."
... we've now foung the real reason for the visit. Aye Rafa ... there was one little detail that you missed out. HER. Shakougar. Who didn't even face the ignominy of pouring rain, mud and wellies at Glastonbury and then just floated fragrantly back to London town for a night out ... with YOU!! *grr*
I'm sure she has a secret job as Vice-President of the Vamos Brigade.
At least you had the decency to hide subversively in the corner when the picture was taken in the restaurant.
Unlike her who was blatently on show during your match yesterday ...
Xisca must have the patience of a saint ...
Rafa took on Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu in his fourth round match following the furore and nonsense after the weekend. Even with Rafa's right knee issues, I wasn't particularly worried about this opponent as he's never trouble him before and again, it proved to be the case.
Rafa put in a solid performance, slow to start, but he eventually romped away with it 6-4, 6-2, 6-2. His cross court backhand was a particularly lovely shot today. Interestingly, with Rafa a set up, about to serve for the second set, and obviously with all the momentum with him, Mathieu took a medical time out. *Tumbleweed* ... and that's representative of the total outcry that that particular MTO expended. Funny that.
There's not much to be said on the right knee injury and when questioned about in his presser, Rafa was non committal and said it was fine. A report today on 606 from someone who was at the match said that Rafa was wearing blue tape along his right thigh which you would assume was something to give some aide to it.
And so to the quarters ... and that ugly Sod. Literally. I hope Rafa gives him a pasting which fills his dimples in so that they won't be on show at the end of the match tomorrow. Rafa has been eschewed from Centre Court in favour of girly Feds (obviously) and Mandy Murray (obviously). But strangely I think 'the People's Court' on Number 1 might suit him better. Less of a stuffy atmosphere, and Rafa - for whatever 606 say - is a huge favourite at Wimbers. He won't be able to execute the excellent retrieving game he displayed in the French Open due to the surface, a game plan which totally wiped the Sod out as he threw everything at Rafa and still it didn't work. But he's still experienced enough on this surface to take it to him.
Come on Rafa ... you can do it, you can DO it!!
Sunday, 27 June 2010
... typical day at the office then for a Rafa fan, eh?
Just to get the stats out of the way first, Rafa struggled to get through in another 5 set epic, having to fight back again from 2 sets to 1 down to prevail as follows ... 6-4, 4-6, 6-7, 6-2, 6-3.
Rafa faced yet another of those bish-bash-bosh players which a huge serve and a heavy forehand and Rafa struggled to make in-roads into either. Half the time he looked like he just didn't know what to do. He benefited from a first game break in the first set and as is now becoming usual against a player of the style of Philipp Petzschner, a few slack points in his own service game means a set gone. The usual happened in the tie-break, ie. Rafa lost ... but these things always favour the heavy server. But early in the fourth set whilst Rafa had had break points of his own and an easy service game, and with all the momentum swinging his way ... he had a medical time out.
And this is where the furore erupts. Earlier Rafa had had the trainer out to check out his left arm, but then subsequently waved him away from the problem. But then in the 4th set after the trainer had made his initial assessment on Rafa's right knee ... you know that singular area that Rafa has such a long history of injury in - the trainer, yes the trainer, called a medical time out. To add insult to injury whilst Rafa was having treatment, the umpire, French git Cedric Mourier, warned Rafa for coaching. Rafa was rightly outraged, and said so.
So farce ends up into chaos and we then have the so-called objective commentators in Boris "I will support the Kraut opponent whatever" Becker and wimpy old Andrew Castle, then effectively calling Rafa a cheat. Because of course he wouldn't possibly call the trainer for any genuine injury reason, Rafa would only do it to buy time and upset the rhythm of his opponent. Sure he would, and SHAME on them for suggesting it. So of course the flames are now fanned and the abuse of Rafael Nadal continues. And then there is the further ignominy of Mourier giving Rafa a violation for coaching.
Its at times like this that you question the worth of supporting a player at all. Its exhausting. And its not Rafa per se, its the fall out from him. The way this young man is treated by the average "tennis fan" or how he is projected in the media. Because simply put ... he is not Federer. He is his antithesis and worse than that ... he beats him. Because you see as opposed to 'sublime', 'graceful', 'balletic', 'scary good' ... Rafa is 'beast', 'brutal'. And a blind eye won't be passed over any short-comings (of which there are none, actually, save to say taking 5 extra seconds to serve) in other quarters simply by the nature of the fact of being "British". It saddens me in so many respects in the appalling way that Rafa is treated. To the name-calling, the disparaging of his tennis style, that he's only a clay court player regardless of winning 2 slams on each of the grass and hardcourt surfaces.
But to label him a cheat, to effectively say he is feigning injury as a means to off-put his opponent is now, fundamentally beyond the pale and is so offensive that I can barely speak. I cannot, and will not accept any statement such as, "Rafa Nadal. Yeah a champion, but a bit of a cheat". One day I might be able to look back and see the sense of it all. I may really get to find out and understand why a goofy, adorkable, un-sophisticated young man from Mallorca is the subject of such abject hate by all those who don't support him.
Irrespective of Becker's and Castle's crass statements, in his press conference Rafa revealed that he is having trouble with his right knee. He went on to explain that in Miami, the issue was in the left one. Remember his swearing outburst and him beating the knee against Roddick? He stated that he played through the pain in Monte Carlo, but his decision to skip Barcelona was made so that he could have the time out and take new treatment on the left knee which worked a treat. His right one was holding up fine, and he could afford to play not quite at 100% on the more forgiving clay surface.
But the right knee is now the one to trouble him, and he will have no choice but to tough it out for the rest of this tournament. He has, however, now announced his decision not to play in the Davis Cup against France after Wimbledon - a decision that seems to have been made days ago so Rafa is obviously suffering with the pain - the theory being that he can have time off, have the same treatment to his right knee and return for the US hardcourt season in the best possible shape he could ever be to give himself - for once - a real good crack at it,
So what of Wimbers? His next opponent is Paul-Henri Mathieu. Not someone renowned for a ball basher game and someone Rafa should beat even not at his best. The tests are to come though as little David Ferrer could prove trickier than anything the Sod has had to face yet, but Rafa is looking at a potential Sod quarter and a Murray semi.
But this is Rafa, and he's at his favourite tournament. And we know, that he will give it his absolute best shot and will try beyond the realms of his capability to do so. After all ... he is Nadal.
Friday, 25 June 2010
And to finish off Rafan's week, she topped it all by having this question answered in Rafa's blog ...
Do you find it hard to get out of the habit of “cleaning the line” with your foot when you change from clay to grass? Sam
RN: That’s a very good and funny question. Can’t do it here so no habit like that here.
I felt sick to my stomach for most of it. Rafa played Robin Haase ranked 150 in his second round match. Haase has been out with injury and so had fallen down the rankings, and he was an opponent that Rafa had never played before.
He seemed rather tight in the first set and they matched each other until Rafa served at 4-5, was 30-0 up, but a double fault and a miss later brought Haase back into it and the poor game continued till he was broken and before you knew it, he was a set down. Rafa recovered in usual Rafa style to take the second 6-2, and he started well in the third to leave us all thinking that business would be as usual and he would get a handle on this match.
But no. Haase - who looks like Ruud Van Nisterooy's younger brother - served like a demon, and once again Rafa just had the one loose service break which was followed up by a game of 4 straight aces by Haase and there you had it ... the third set was gone 6-3.
My nerves were at breaking point then because there was nothing else for it ... Rafa would have to go to 5 to take the match. He stormed back in the 4th and handed out a bagel set and there were we, the crap shoot of the 5th set.
After being battered in the 4th, Haase found his serve again, but Rafa managed a break in the 5th set which was greeted with one of his all time best celebrations ... a massive leap in the air and a spectacle of fist pumping that was not for the faint hearted. Rafa then held, as did Haase, but Rafa stepped up and served the match out.
Pheweeee ... totally nerve wracking. Lets not have any more of them for the rest of the tournament. Eh, Rafa?? ...
Wednesday, 23 June 2010
Tuesday, 22 June 2010
The defending Wimbledon champion took to the Centre Court today 2 years later to defend his 2008 crown. Welcome back Rafa.
He returned to the rapture that he deserves as we love him so much in the UK, and he got off to a flying start against his first round opponent - Kei Nishikori - as he took the opening set 6-2 in just over half an hour. They matched each other to 4-4 in the second till Rafa broke and served out for the second. He then broke serve again in the first game of the third, but lost his own a little later until he once again broke at 4-4 and served it out.
To think I stood next to this man on Sunday and then you see him as you usually do ... down the television screen. I called my puppy Rose, "Rafa" tonight. Am I obsessed?? Anyhow, Rafa marches on to the next round.
Monday, 21 June 2010
Miri - who runs Nadal News - very kindly published my account of mine and Rafan's meeting with Rafa yesterday. Even if she did make a joke about us remaining anonymous ... hehe.
Sunday, 20 June 2010
I’ve been discussing with Rafan today one of my little life theories ... that we all have “pockets in time” when we are truly happy; when you are experiencing something so good, so fabulous, that its over with in a flash and you can barely believe either whilst its happening or when its over, that it actually did occur.
Well, Rafan and I today had one of those moments.
We planned a little jaunt to London town for a good, old girlie weekend. Friday was taken up with lunch (inclusive of chocolate éclair) outside in the sunshine in Kensington, followed by a visit to the Victoria and Albert museum whilst we both waxed lyrical and I stifled the sobs over the Grace Kelly collection. Her fabulous clothes, bags, shoes and hats. Perfect. Then it was off to Leicester Square to catch the latest Sex and the City movie. Now neither of us had great expectations of this film, being both (a ) MASSIVE fans of the series and (b) HIDEOUSLY disappointed with the first movie. But it was an absolute hoot. Laughs, tears, glamour, great shoots and a good story line that never had us twitching in our chairs. Following that, we went for pizza and beer and made the trek back to the hotel.
Saturday was the day we had planned to go to Wimbledon. We had planned lunch with our Rafateer friends – Pearl and Mrs L – in Wimbledon village (seeing as they live 10 minutes away) which meant that we had decided to go to the All England Club before-hand, just to see who, you know, we might *spot*. By the time we had got round to the Player’s Entrance - the doorway to which is shielded by a fence covered in the famous ivy - we could already see that Rafa had arrived and was waiting to have his bags checked and be let through by security. Dash and damn it!! We had missed him arrive by probably a matter of minutes!! Anyhow, I managed to shout out “Good Luck, Rafa”, but there was no reaction. We hung around to see what other players we might catch, and we saw the lovely Juan-Carlos Ferrer, Sharapova, Isner, Baghdatis, Tsonga – and that’s as much as I can remember. Time came for lunch, and we had a very agreeable time catching up and laughing and joking before heading back into the city.
That evening we had booked for El Cambio de Tercio ... a restaurant that Rafa often frequents when in London town and mentions quite often in his blogs. So it was our “hommage” to fangirl-dom and off we went with a hope in our hearts that *you-know-who* might turn up for a night there, but we were to enjoy it, regardless. And we did ... the restaurant is small and intimate, Spanish in decor and flavour and with what felt like half of Spain in there. We were lead to our table and *screams* *somersaults*, we immediately clocked Deliciano Feliciano Lopez 3 tables down. I then clocked Rafan’s latest squeeze from Eastbourne – Nico Almagro – in the table behind us ... so whilst we didn’t have the main course, we had a delicious starter and a bleurgh fish course (he he). Deliciano’s table was in a bit of an alcove, and whilst I could keep giving him the passing look, poor old Rafan missed out. However, when he got up to leave ... OMG we were treated to the full magnificence of him. The tallness, the cheekbones, the hair, the eyes and ... his fabulous ass contained beautifully in a good pair of jeans. Heaven. Rafan was nearly choking on her bubblegum ice cream dessert as he stopped right behind my chair to acknowledge a couple of fans and if I had leant backwards, I would have actually touched that magnificent muscle!! Erm readers ... his ass, not his hmm hmm!! Do we need to mention the food?? Oh OK, slightly pricey but it was also a tremendous meal ... fantastic food. So when it was all over, we marched towards South Kensington station with our tummies full and our hearts swelling and chuckling away on what a good evening we had had.
And so to Sunday morning. Our original plan was to be all cultural and visit the Henry Moore exhibition ... but stuff that, Rafa was in town!! As I’ve reported, we missed him by minutes on the Saturday morning by arriving at 10.30 am, so we decided that we would get there half an hour sooner, just in case this creature of habit kept to the same plans. We’d covered miles in the previous 2 days, had a couple of late nights and a lot of fun, so dragging our tired old selves up those hills of Wimbledon was a fair old task of endurance. Well, it was for this old Dame as Rafan was trouncing ahead on adrenalin. So we got there at 10 am and waited at the gate to the Player’s Entrance. There wasn’t another soul to be had, I tinkered with the idea of sitting down on the kerb to wait, but knew that my old bones wouldn’t make the trip back up, so elected to stand.
And then just 20 minutes later it happened ... it was like this sceptre of light was upon us ... a heavenly mist descends, and an angel in white tracksuit bottoms and a lilac velour top with his signature bulls horns comes walking down the hill ... flanked by his trusty steeds – Toni and Mayo. Its amazing that whilst I can still see the pictures in my head, the next events become blurry, because although you can see it all happening, it just takes on this dream-like quality. Another two guys appeared who looked like groundsmen for the Club and he signed pictures for them. But then it was just me, Rafan ... and Rafa.
He was there before us, but he was ready for work. The serious face was on, that ‘game face’ that we all know so well. He was very polite and accommodating, but Rafan and I were mindful all the time of our own manners, and not to make too much of an imposition. He signed a campaign book I have of the AW77 ads (my favourite) and I got his full signature. He signed a tennis ball for Rafan that Marc hit to the crowd last week at Queens and she managed to retrieve, along with signing a Wimbledon bear. Rafan asked politely if she could possibly have a picture, which he agreed to – and I did the honours – but then he started on his way and my heart pounded cos I so wanted one too, so Rafan squeeked up and he looked at me and said something ... maybe it was ‘you too?’, and he walked back to stand with me. I think I said something like, “so sorry to impose, Rafa. Thank you, thank you” ... and he put his big bear paw in the small of my back and then “click”. I said ‘thank you’ again and then I’m so glad that I managed to get out ... “Good luck, Rafa. You can do it!” But there wasn’t a sound from him, just a bit of a look ... and off he went to his work.
After its all over, you feel like kids again. To laugh and to hug and to high 5. And then we sat on that kerb (irrespective of the bones) to look at our spoils and laugh some more ... whilst a photographer took our picture – so if we appear in some local rag, what a pair of muppets we will look. But once again ... we are so lucky, lucky, lucky to have this experience. To love tennis and to follow and love a player that is so giving of his time. Someone who is going about his business, and is serious about his work ... but he’ll still take those moments out to greet his fans. And to allow them to have these momentous events to treasure.
So what a great weekend, topped to perfection by our lovely, lovely Rafa. He truly is such a special person, and from the highs experienced in Rome, to today’s meeting ... I cannot believe just how lucky we were. All down to him.
The serious business of Wimbledon starts tomorrow. Rafa will be playing on Tuesday as second seed. He wants this trophy back so badly ... and there’s two ladies floating on a cloud right now who want it so much for him too.
Wednesday, 16 June 2010
The funniest thing was ... he travelled by Easyjet. Since the thread today contained a pathetic *nudge nudge* comment that Rafa had switched his Asian 500 series tournie from Beijing to Japan "because the tournament director offered loads of $" (sic) - like money is such a motivator in Rafa's scheduling - to then see him boarding a budget airline had me *guffawing*.
Sunday, 13 June 2010
Oh Rafa. You are just truly adorable. This interview was aired just before Rafa's match on Thursday when I was at Queens. The phone went pinging off as I was there, just to be reminded how lovely and wonderful he is. And "they" call this guy fake. You just stay as sweet as you are, Rafa ...
On Thursday, on the west side of London, Wooffs and Rafan teamed up once again ... this time to actually watch Rafa, and one year on from when we first made our acquaintance. Sadly this year, I wasn't treated to one of Rafan's impressions of Rafa's hip swirling movements, nor did she have to hide half her dinner under mussel shells as it was "winking" at her.
Hard to think its been a whole year and yet it seems like yesterday. I got an early indication last year that she was an autograph 'ho as she asked for Sam Torrence's. This time round she got Rafa's, and oh ... she also jinxed Marin Cilic as she asked for his. But that serves him right - the lanky streak of p*ss - that subjected Rafa to a bit of a hiding that I actually got up blinking early for one Saturday morning last year. She even admitted once again, that she would even go and ask Feds for his !!!! *shameful*
But we had a great day, as always, and the account of it all was written by Rafan, posted on Nadal News here ...
And believe it or not, the pair of us also appear in this clip ...
A long and tiring day, but with great company, and the excitement of Rafa. Lets see what our 'girlie weekend' will bring ...
Rafa stepped out on to the hallowed turf - this time at Queens - in his preparation for Wimbledon ... and the English "summer".
His first opponent was Daniel Marcos and he despatched of him in rapid fashion with a scoreline of 6-2, 6-2.
Next up was Denis Istomin and the day that Rafan and I eagerly attended. We weren't, however, treated to much of a tennis show. The weather was particularly bad. It was freezing cold, there was a squally wind, and the match was interrupted for a rain delay. Rafa eventually prevailed in a 7-6, 4-6, 6-4, but it was a dreadful match and one of the worst I have ever seen him play. There was a bit of a scare as Rafa took a medical time out, which has since proved to be a slight hamstring strain. Tricky conditions, but ordinarily he should have put this guy away with better ease.
Rafa's quarter-final opponent turned out to be the dream ticket ... Feliciano "Deliciano" Lopez. Feli is twice a quarter-finalist at Wimbledon, so knows his way around a grass court. And so it proved in this match. It was, actually, a delight to watch. Massive variety of shots, some lovely rallies and tremendous serving by Feli. Feli's serves and aces and his great application of 'slice' ultimately did for lovely Rafa as he finally lost to a Spaniard for the first time in 700 thousand, million years. The scoreline read 7-6, 6-4 to Feli.
So what to make of this tournie? Well ... I think it proved that Rafa was a bit mentally fatigued which is hardly surprising considering the run he has just been on. I always pity that there isn't enought of a break from the clay season before the grass starts, as Rafa for 5 out of the last 6 years has come from a French Open final straight onto it. He also immediately pulled out of the doubles following the loss and probably took the first flight home for a couple of days golf and rest before back to practice next week. In a bizarre sort of way, the defeat was probably the best result as it means 10 days before Wimbledon starts and a chance for him to relax and re-group. Enjoy your rest Rafa, and come back blazing for Wimbers ...
After two years, Rafa finally arrives back at Queens to undertake his clay to grass transition prior to Wimbledon. It was with such sadness that we heard last year that he was to abstain from attending due to injury ... and just joy of joys to have him back here this summer. Where he is loved and where he belongs!! So after lifting the French Open trophy, having a meal out with his family and team to celebrate the night before, the next day brings him to England via the Eurostar ... where Wooffie and Rafan are waiting to see him!!!
The English translation can be found on the link below ...
Saturday, 12 June 2010
Gooffy? Damn right he is ... and we *love* him for it ...
This video clip of him with all the characters is just hilarious ... classic Rafa!!!
Link to the trophy ceremony and the interviews ...
Rafa's Spanish on-court interview (with translation underneath)...
"I came here ready to win, having won the previous tournaments I came here thrilled, but it has been a long way filled with hard work. I played better in the semifinals but not before, today’s has been a very nice match with a very tiugh opponent; I have had to open his backhand o that he wouldn’t feel comfortable on court, I have been alright phisically and mentally.
It’s an exciting day, a really difficult year and a very important tournament wich I have put a lot of work into. I couldn’t hold my nerves nor my anxiety, I was thinking about what had happened end my defeat last year but I have been able to overcome that. I’m very grateful for everybody’s support, including the crowds here, better than in previous years. This year I’m having a great season, the most important thing is to have Roland Garros in my hands, not being number 1.
At the end of the match, when you are aware that you are going to win, I’ve had a very big sag, a tremor I couldn’t control and a horrible serve. I will celebrate by training tomorrow in Queens."
Link to the on-court interview with John McEnroe ...