Tuesday, 31 January 2012
Well *yahoo*. My lovely friend, Rafan, had a question answered by Rafa in The Age's Q&A column ...
Question from Sam: Hi Rafa. Congratulations on your progress so far, hope you continue to win your matches! February is a quiet month for your fans as you often don’t play, but in February 2010 we had the Shakira Gypsy video and in February 2011 the first Armani photos came out. Have you got any treats lined up for us in February 2012?! Buena suerte!Rafa says: Yes I do. I have some days of work with my sponsors during this month.
Hhmm ... well Rafa's being a bit vague here and what we were hoping for were treats already done to be published in February, but it seems Rafa has misunderstood and is just doing some promo work instead. :D
However, these may be a day early, they may be out-takes from Rafa's 2010 Clive Brunskill shoot, but wherever they came from - I salute you - because they have cheered up what is going to prove to be a lonnnng Rafa-less month. *Yahoo*
Credit : Getty/Clive Brunskell via @RafaelNadalFC
Sunday, 29 January 2012
This Twitter message was sent by Feli. Its not directly sent to Rafa, but the use of the word "amigo" - to me - instantly made me think of him. But here's the translation ... what do you think?
"Dear friend, could tell you many things but do not fit here. one word sums it up .. THANKS"
As expected, Rafa provided several positives to take from today's match in his press-conference. I always link them in this blog because we can always take so much from them. His depth of honesty is fantastic, and he doesn't spare his feelings. Here it is anyway and take the time to read it. You can't fail to be lifted by it ...
"I wanted to win, but I am happy about how I did. I had my chances against the best player of the world today. I played one against one. For a long time I didn't felt that I was playing in less advantage than him, you know.I didn't play at lower level than him for a long time, so that's a very positive thing for me. I am very happy about my mentality tonight, the mentality worked like in my best moments.So very happy about the beginning of the 2012 season. That's all that I can say."
"So very happy for everything. Very happy with my level during both weeks. Is the moment when I realize the whole tournament did I well. I did a lot of very positive things, much more than in 2011 for the most of the time.I played more aggressive. I played with more winners than ever. My serve worked well. The mentality and the passion was there another time better than probably never another time.Forget about that knowing that I really had real, very real chances to have the title and to win against a player who I lost six times last year.But I didn't. I never put him in this situation during 2011, all 2011, so that's another positive thing for me. I didn't have mental problems today against him. I had in 2011 all these mental problems. Today I didn't have. I compete with normal conditions against him, no?"
"I don't know if I express very well, but is something that maybe you understand. So today I had this feeling, and is a really good one. I enjoyed. I suffered during the match, but I enjoyed all the troubles that I had during all the match.I enjoyed. I tried to be there, to find solutions all the time. I played a lot with my heart. I played a lot with my mind, and is something that is nice to be around and not just play tennis."
No little match synopsis from me today. We're all Rafa fans here, so you'll have watched the match. And I guess I just want to speak from the heart.
I do this thing here because I'm a fan and I enjoy it. I love to watch Rafa play and I enjoy recording his career and life on my on-line scrapbook. And because I do a fan blog, writing as a fan, I don't need to be balanced or any of that sort of thing. I don't have to share a thought to any other player out there. Its all about Rafa. And as a fan, I was disappointed today, gutted for him. But even though I was feeling like that, I knew he'd go on to talk about all the positives from today and indeed he has if you go and read his presser. And he's right to, cos there are loads of them.
When the match was possibly on his racquet with a break in the 5th, leading 4-2 and being 30-15 up, going for a backhand down the line with plenty of space to aim at, for him to put a bit too much on it and it sail wide and the impetus swing back in Djokovic's favour, its gutting. But that's tennis. Its a big cliché, but sometimes matches are won by the slightest of margins and turn on a very few points. Its why we love it.
But lets think of the heart Rafa displayed to fight his way out of 0-40 down at 3-4 in the fourth set. How he came from behind in the tie-breaker, how he battled his guts out to put himself in a winning position. He held his nerve better, he played to win, it just wasn't enough this time. He made some mistakes, and it will happen until he fine tunes and gets his game back again, and perhaps for those 3 final games he was too defensive and too far behind the baseline - Rafa of old. But he didn't look like that hapless player, devoid of all ideas and confidence like we saw in 2011, with Rome and Wimbledon being the absolute low points.
I cannot begin to speak about how proud I am today of him. How he conducted himself in the best possible manner, how he displayed courtesy to his opponent in his victory, how he carried himself with grace in his own defeat. My admiration for this man is immense. I have never, ever known a competitor like him, a sportsman like him. His talent and his work ethic which has taken him from a so-called clay court specialist to being a multi-Slam winner is staggering. But its not just the tennis player ... its him, and it always has been. He spoke with total dignity today, he played like a warrior ... "Don't worry, he is Nadal" was once the old family motto. He didn't quite make it today ... but he's getting nearer.
VAMOS Rafa!! I am so very, very proud of you.
Saturday, 28 January 2012
Rafa posted this picture for us on his Facebook, but all I could think of was the last mis-hap he had when at a Japanese restaurant. :D
Here's what he had to say, but I'm just thanking God that he has all of his fingers intact for tomorrow ...
"We have a dinner at the hotel's Japanese restaurant with some of my team! Many hours to the final. I'll have time to think about the match."
I'm nervious ... and it seems Rafa may be. He posted this at 4am in the morning. #sleepisfortheweak
Friday, 27 January 2012
Its the most telling statistic in men's tennis. The GOAT, the Greatest Player of All Time, has never been able to dominate his closest rival and with this week's losing match to Rafa, the H2H now stands at 18-9 in Rafa's favour.
So lets discuss this. Now it has forever been dismissed as an unreal statistic because they have largely played on clay. Hhmm. Or its simply because Rafa is just such an awful match up for Feds. Aaah, so their results don't count then because Feds is always at such a huge disadvantage because of said match up; but the awful match up Rafa has against Djokovic, well, in that instance results do count, even though Djokovic would have to win a further 19 times to Rafa's 0 to make their H2H read as the Rafa/Feds one does today.
Feds is now a 30 year-old-man, so maybe results now don't count also because of that. But then when he faced an 18 year-old-boy, they did. And of course when Rafa wasn't good enough to meet Feds in all those hardcourt finals, that skewed it, but now that Federer hasn't been good enough to meet Rafa in finals, we'll gloss over that, shall we?
Rafa is the clay court specialist. Federer being a 6 time Wimbledon winner, 5 time US Open winner and a 4 time Australian Open winner, well its safe to say he can be considered the grass/hardcourt specialist, eh? But whereas Rafa trounces Federer on the clay 12-2, poor old Feds suffering from that dreadful match up (which miraculously disappears indoors), well, this grass court/hardcourt genius can only muster a 8-7 advantage on those surfaces. Dash that match up. But note that they have played 14 times on clay, and 13 times on grass/hardcourt. Skewed?
Anyhow ... the purpose of wrapping words in this post was seriously only a way of introducing this lovely sideshow of their matches. Hehe ... ;)
Where Rafa features heavily ...
Who doesn't like a bit of cheese now and then? ;)
So now we know. Rafa's opponent in Sunday's final will be the PoD who beat Andy Murray in 5 sets today.
"Start the season with the final here is a fantastic start and that gives me a lot of confidence — I'm going to try my best."
And so you will, Rafa. VAMOS!!!
Credit : @MagdalinaM
Thursday, 26 January 2012
Can you believe it? He's in the final !!!!!!!!!!
Oh this boy never disappoints, but at the start of his match with Roger Federer, Rafa looked anything but at ease, Feds was playing a stormer, he raced to a 4-1 lead and our Rafa had hardly contained his nerves and got out of the blocks. But he won a service game, and then a couple of un-cute shots from Feds gave the advantage back to Rafa, and he broke back. And with another service game won, it was back all level. But then nothing gave and we were into a tie-breaker which Rafa wasn't so good in, Feds was, and he took it by 7 points to 5.
At the start of the second set, *yikes* Rafa got broken - what a dreadful start! But our boy isn't a champion for nothing, and he immediately broke right back. But Rafa was getting into his groove now, and starting to feel the game, and with another break, Rafa led the set at 5-2 when the Australia Day fireworks came and the players had to stop for around 10 minutes. The commies were chortling with glee in that they came at a time when all the momentum was with Rafa, and Feds may be the one who would benefit from the break. But no ... he was the one who had to serve after the re-start ... and was woeful, with Rafa breaking to take the second set, 6-2.
Game on ...
When Rafa held 3 break points at the start of the 3rd set I was willing him on ... come on, come on! But they were squandered. And ridiculously, Feds was working his way right back into this set. He broke Rafa, but again, Rafa broke right back, and the players played on till 6-6 and once again, we had a tie-breaker.
This time, Rafa was sensational and he raced ahead to a 6-1 lead. Come on Rafa, you can do it, just DO it!! But no, Feds, clawed his way back. 6-2, 6-3, 6-4, 6-5 ... Come on Rafa!! but thankfully he took his one remaining set point and there he was ... he was in the lead at 2 sets to 1.
The fourth set was a case of each man holding onto his serve, till it was levelled at 4-4. With Feds serving, Rafa started to turn the screw. He hung in there and took the game to deuce. You could feel it coming, you could sense it was going to happen and then there we had it ... Rafabreak!!
With Rafa serving for the match and me barely being able to breathe, it became quite an intense affair and nervy for Rafa. Feds got it to 30-40 with a break point, Rafa came back. Advantages swopped between both men when in a rally exchange, Rafa was scurrying all over the place and hit a hopeful lob. It landed plumb on the baseline when Feds must have been wishing for it to go long, and then he hit a smash out with the court at his mercy. Saved. Rafa got himself to match point again, and I'm so excited, I can't even remember the play that won it!!
But I remember the outstretched arms of victory - missed the exchange at the net as I was running around my lounge like a looney - and loved that Rafa then went back onto the court, sunk to his knees and raised his fists into the air. The winner! He's in the final.
Rafa, gracious as ever, applauded Federer off the court. He's delighted he's in the final ... we're delighted he's in the final. Whoever he gets, whether its Murray or the PoD, he's reached his fourth consecutive Grand Slam final across all the services and is the fifth man in the Open Era to ever have reached all the GS finals twice.
The records are mounting up Rafa. Keep yourself safe till after Sunday; watch out for vicious, attacking hotel armchairs, stay away from hot plates, keep your fingers out of the reach of stingrays and come onto the court on Sunday ... and play your blinkin' heart out.
Wednesday, 25 January 2012
Yeyyyyyyyyy !! The return of an old favourite feature ...
OK, its not THE FeliScarf that we've been watching, but its yet another example of the array that Feli has at his disposal. From the heat of Australia back to the brrr of Madrid, just for our benefit. Thanks, Feli ... ;)
This is Rafa and Feds back in 2005 prior to the French Open semi-final.
Feds was right in the middle of his pomp years then ... and I'd stopped watching tennis for two years. Because of him. I just didn't like his tennis, and I liked him even less, and I certainly didn't like the way the media at large spoke of him as some Deity that we should be #humbled to live amongst. Nothing's changed with them.
But I happened on that semi-final because I'd heard about this 19-year-old kid who was causing ructions during the clay court season that year ... and not only was he the complete antithesis of Feds - which instantly made him appealing - I'd just never seen anything like it before. The power, the heart, the fighting spirit ... and he won, and I loved him for it. I know I watched the final, but my memory is so scant about it ... but it was that French Open semi-final that introduced me to Rafa. I just followed him quietly for the next year, just dibbing in and out, checking up on his results ... but it was Wimbledon 2006 when I completely fell in love with him.
I'd really started to become a fan by then, and when he played Andre Agassi in what turned out to be Andre's last match, and the respectful way he treated Andre, and the wonderful things he said about him during the on-court interview which was a departure from Wimbledon decorum, but done especially to mark the occasion ... well that was it. I loved Rafa, and I have never looked back.
But it was that first semi-final back in 2005 that started it all ... and I hope with all my heart (and never mind Laver's gut) that Rafa does it.
Good luck, Rafa. All our support is totally with you. Just try your best ... and don't you dare Vamos responsibly ...
Rafa met Rod Laver yesterday and was as respectful as you would ever expect, although for me ... I found the thing a little bit contrived. But what else would these things be?
What amused me was when they were directed to pose for the photographs, Rafa was keen to hand his Blackberry to Toni to make sure he captured the moment for him.
Laver admitted that he only watch a set and a half of Rafa's match against Rolf - so not when Rafa was at his best then - and I've read that Laver (the Fed fan) feels in his gut that Feds will be in the final. More like with hope in his heart.
But a nice moment for Rafa to capture for the memory bank ...