January 26, 2015 § Leave a comment
A week full of positives,a week full of hope,sheer power of will, and a week full of Rafa- could it be more happy and overwhelming?
Rafa opened his calendar year with a magnificent straight sets win against the most difficult first round opponent, Mikhail Youzhny. Many were disappointed that he wasn’t at his very best tennis wise and confidence wise, but Id taken Rafa’s pre tournament presser to heart. That he will go day by day and not expect much given the lack of match play in the last seven months. All that he can hope for is live to play another day.
And he did more than that in his second round match against Tim Smyczek. First and foremost Id like to congratulate Tim. He is exactly like an up and coming player should be. Level headed, practical and he’s something even some veterans on tour aren’t – a class act. The problem started at the end of the first set when Rafa went into the locker room and puked and after breaking back in the second set he started feeling dizzy. The trainer gave him a medicine and he was still scraping through the set, the humidity adding knots to his upset stomach. At one point Rafa wasn’t even running for Tim’s fabulous down the line winners or attempting to pick up his serve in the third as he doubled over exhausted-as he’d again gone back to puke after set 3. Not only was Tim playing the match of his life (He considers Rafa to be his idol and has studied him like his fans do, which became part of the problem). But Rafa was determined to not let the bad luck of AO continue and he was determined to give it his all. The pain and the suffering were obvious and his face was as white as a sheet, and even Tim admitted in press that Rafa was playing his C or D level game and he sensed that he wasn’t well which is precisely why his confidence upped. And my god Tim 60 plus winners (although Rafa has around 50 UFES which is thoroughly unusual) and he didn’t let of , did not choke but credit to him and credit to Rafa for hanging on. That match did wonders in terms of his confidence that I am Rafa Nadal- and I will not surrender. I also feel that because he’d played just a couple of matches the last 7 months the rust has not let him train at full tilt because he was not only sick but also fatiguing and cramping in different parts of his body. And he was playing Tim for the first time and someone who was very comfortable with Rafa’s topspin.Im also going to vote for Tim for the sportsmanship award because he let Rafa have a first serve at 6-5 in the final set when a fan distracted him and the umpire was confused whether to give him his first serve back or not. Rafa even clapped him off the court.Tim thought it was the right thing to do and kudos to him of that. Rafa had 3 MPs at 6-5 but lost all of them so haters cant even say that Tim’s generosity led him to lose the match. actually f the haters my heads splitting open the stress was too much but I never did believe that he would lose I was just waiting for him to win.
Next up, was Dudi Sela of Israel, another player, who was potentially dangerous because Rafa hadn’t played him in his career and these journeymen have nothing to lose and come out guns blazing.
Literally sat with a fire extinguisher through the two sets -Rafa was so so good.His backhand was another level today and he was firing all cylinders from the very get go – being super aggressive and the only game plan was to keep this match short and sweet. The first two sets were done and dusted in 57 minutes. My Vintage Nadal ❤ was at his very best-serving and volleying, his touch at the net, both forehands and backhands working well, smashes you name it and it was there- especially the down the line winners.
What is quite normal is a slight dip in form because he exhausted all his reserves in set 1 and set 2 by playing super aggressive- so naturally a lot of UFEs crept into the third. His UFEs alowed Sela to hold comfortably and made him more confident hence every point was a rally and you can imagine if Rafa only converted 7/18 BPs how irrelevant Sela’s game really was. He just let go off the pedal the slightest, clearly feeling day before yesterday’s post fatigue stress and lack of confidence, and Dudi suddenly woke up and went toe to toe with Rafa. He had some amazing winners and drop shots as well.
Rafa fortunately decided that he had to kick into another gear if he had to win in straights and he saved all 7 BPs like a baussss and finally put Sela under pressure when he broke and held for 6-5. And what a way to finish for both my faves- Maria sealed with an ace and a kiss, and Rafa hit an inside out forehand winner on MP.
Next up was world no. 15 Kevin Anderson: it won’t make any difference if you started watching from the second set, so start there, that was better than vintage Rafa, because old Rafa would run every ball down, the vintage new Rafa played lights out aggressively and smartly. I like the fact that his forehand and movement were in sync and his backhand almost shamed his forehand it was so bloody good.
I like that even if he hasn’t hit 100%, his aggression is 200%, its like hes telling his mind that ok sure you are shanking but those are good shanks, atleast you’re not floating in the centre of the court with moonballs and short returns. People go to the drawing board for a match, Rafa designs his drawing board in his head mid match. Im the first set his return stance was what it is vs Andy or Novak, like he was returning from Sydney, and couldn’t get any rhythm going and Kevin was winning his service games easily and there was no pressure. But as soon as he got comfortable further back to return from Mallorca, he was having much more success and he was able to get a good range and depth on forehands and backhands equally and his aggression put pressure on Kevin to melt and wilt and hit very crucial unforced errors. The game at 5-5 had 6 BPs starting from 0-40 down and 2 ADs for Kevin- but here Rafa saved all in warrior mode and took a lead for 6-5. A lot of people said that Kevin choked away the set, but when you’ve just lost 6 BPs and Rafa has crushed your hopes and dreams, very few people can come back to their senses. Rafa smelt blood and it was a blink and miss opportunity which Rafa took. Third set was a lot closer but again, Rafa was determined to hold his serve and then see whats going on.
This is positive in the sense that Rafa had more than chances vs Nick at Wimbledon which he couldn’t take, beating a servebot in straights is no easy feat. Rafa will be thinking on the lines of -We went there and did that. We were dealt the most difficult first round as compared to the other big 4 members, and we dealt with that. We came back from a collapse and survived and that was another feat in the second round. Next Sela was another opponent who was brand new and with nothing to lose, we beat him silly, and then the world no.15, who was practically a first meeting because they had only played each other once before, so that doesn’t count in the “i know his game” category. And most importantly, we made second week.
And each match has been better not just by a slight % but by leaps and bounds. If we go out we go out by trying our best so no pressure again- one match at a time 🙂
Full studio interview: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2fisrp_studio-interview_sport
This cute moment on court : https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen/status/559235249364672512
It means so much to him : https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B8LXOXFIQAAzoSd.jpg:large
Next up- Tomas Berdych
#VamosRafa 🙂 x
January 19, 2015 § Leave a comment
Rafa opened his match by match bid for the new season with a smooth victory over tour veteran Mikhail Youzhny, beating him 6-3 6-2 6-2 at the Australian Open.
Rafa served at 85% and 100% in the first two sets and overall won 61% of his first serve %s. Much of todays focus was on strategic placement of balls instead of running ragged in rallies. There were amazing smashes, down the line winners, amazing serving and hands at the net, and most importantly he only faced one break point which he saved and didn’t let go off his pedal on the match. Everything worked today. On to the next one. #VamosRafa
Full Match: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2f2j01_ao2015-r1-rafael-nadal-vs-mikhail-youzhny-1st-set_sport (set 1)
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2f2j23_ao2015-r1-rafael-nadal-vs-mikhail-youzhny-2nd-set_sport (set 2)
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2f2lbj_ao2015-r1-rafael-nadal-vs-mikhail-youzhny-3rd-set_sport (set 3)
Post Match interview:
Rafa Nadal Kia Open Drive: ❤
Rafa’s press conference:
January 17, 2015 § Leave a comment
As usual 3 of the Big 4 are on the same side of the draw, whereas Novak gets a free pass to the final. But for a change Rafa’s is a fairly balanced draw except for a tough opening round opponent. But even then, its not a surprise but a tour veteran hes played 16 times. As the bottom half plays on Monday, Rafa’s third on Rod Laver Arena of the morning session.
Yesterday, Rafa along with
Caroline Wozniacki played rooftop tennis at the Crown Towers for a Babolat commitment for his new racquet called the Aeropro Play which records the match play and pretty much analyses the shots and the impact zone etc like the IBM Logistics.
Rafa has a new sponsor in Dekton by Consentino offering indoor and outdoor surface solutions, as they are a part of his Rafa Nadal Academy.
As part of the promotion for Babolat Aeropro Play, a new commercial featuring Rafa pre connected and Rafa post connected was released and he’s beyond adorable here.
Rafa’s press conference was held today and here are a few pictures from Getty Sport, the press transcript and the video. He seems relaxed and motivated to finish strong as always and its great to see him in such good spirits.
January 16, 2015 § Leave a comment
Rafa’s night in sunny Melbourne was set- to play fast 4 tennis with his friends- a junior Australian player Omar Jasika, awesome serving Mark Philippousis and his deja vu compatriot at Australian Open, Fernando Verdasco. The Margaret Court Arena, with the fastest retractable roof installed, was dappled in purple in pink, 7500 spectators awaiting the champion to inaugurate the arena.
The setting was right out of a hollywood movie with Rafa’s name written in the hollywoodized bulbs that have seen the vanity vans of Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and several popular print ads. The hologram of Rafa’s summer set fist pump was dancing across the court and the DJ was belting out groovy tunes from decades past and new. After some dancing and mixed doubles action, Rafa was introduced on court and there was a commotion as the ringing of welcoming him rebounded off the gorgeous chevron patterned roof.
Through the purple and white fog amid dancing laser lights, emerged Rafa in his gorgeous kit for Australian Open. Its one of my favourite kits till date so well done Nike!
The rules of fast4tennis was simple- each set consisting of 4 games, no ad scoring and a tie breaker after 3-3. Rafas scorching returns and amazing serves was too much for both Mark and Omar but in a rematch of their 2009 epic, Rafa and Fernando went the distance and Rafa beat him yet again in 5 sets.
It was an unbelievable night and the atmosphere electric. Pasting some of the pictures of Summer Set and the full match down below. #VamosRafa 😀 x
January 13, 2015 § Leave a comment
I’m happy to report that Rafa started 2015 positively- this time winning the doubles title in Doha. Although many were disheartened with his loss to a journeyman called Michael Berrer in singles, I saw something that has been missing for more than a year. His aggressive play, taking of his forehand early, and going down the line as much as possible. He’s cutting rallies short and being active inside the court instead of just the baseline- which clearly shows that he’s willing to let go of his comfort zone to save his body to play for a longer period of time.
Michael Berrer could teach some class to the young and most definitely to the veterans who ride the hype and are obnoxiously arrogant. In his post match speech he kept it curt because he realises that the media is no one’s friend or enemy. He said that Rafa was coming off playing only 7 matches in 6 months and that he lost because of the rust. Which is true and Roig echoed the same sentiment in his post match analysis that Rafa over analysed his bad game in the second set and then proceeded to lose because of his nerves.
Rafa then stayed back to practice 3 hours everyday with Juan Monaco and also beat Novak Djokovic and Filip Krajinovic in straights 7-6 6-1. He then won the doubles title with Juan Monaco and was very happy with the win and remarked that doubles or singles- it doesn’t matter, as long as he’s begun a year winning a title which is positive.
Im not going to over analyse the loss in singles and mull over the lack of miles on his legs playing just doubles. Yes the preparation for Australian Open is not ideal, and yes we need a workable draw on the lines of the U.S. Open 2013, but unless he can get his groove back, no draw is good or bad. He’s also not a science experiment that we can conduct what if experiments on him and cry over spilt milk. He’s happy and positive and I know he will try his best, and thats all I can hope for. I am a realistic fan and have a very level headed approach to Rafa- rarely anything sends shockwaves through my system because of the immense faith I have in him. I believe him so much so that he can be championship points down and I trust him to win the set anyway leaving the opponent baffled.
This is Rafael Nadal we are talking about. Someone who never gives up. And he has a stubborn fan in me, who will never give up on him. 🙂
Please enjoy the hot shot from Doha and the trophy ceremony videos i’ll paste below, and some gorgeous pictures of The Carismatica and Pico :))
ON TO AUSTRALIA #OiOiOi #VamosRafa ❤
January 1, 2015 § Leave a comment
Rafa rang in the new year with the customary pit stop at the world class MWTC for the Abu Dhabi exhibition by toting the most adorable and dorky hat ever! 😀
He begins his 2015 calendar tomorrow and he plays Andy Murray in his first match back. Yesterday, they had a practice hit
Rafa also struck a pose wearing a very fashion forward two toned sneakers in front of the Yas river front.
Rafa held a kids clinic in the tennis village. The ever charming and megawatt smiling personality was an instant hit with the kids and as it is kids love Rafa- its his personable demeanour. After which, he went on a signing rampage for thousands of fans while eating a lollipop nonetheless! 😛
Some practice pics and videos:
The pre tournament presser and video: