Vamos for 9th!

April 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

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After a strong practice with Janko yesterday, Rafa took part in the draw ceremony at noon today :

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And also managed to make an 18 year old very very happy 🙂 Happy Birthday Sara 🙂

Practiced with Milos Raonic:

3 easy-peasy steps to the Monte Carlo Masters 😉

Step 1:

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Step 2:

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Step 3:

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See? It’s as simple as that 😀

Rafa also attended the Bacardi Champions Drink Responsibly Event in Monaco.

I think he is the only person living/dead who looks SOOOOO good in Pink 😉 It looks like one of those really comfy Cashmere buttery tees one slips into. ( ok stopping my swooning now 😀 )But I guess, I won’t be able to order a drink if he was to be my potential bartender 😉 ( the word potential always reminds me of the potential match-ups, once draws are released, and everybody scratches their heads and ponders over potential quarter final and semi finals clashes 😉 )

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It was a glorious mañana. As glorious as can be, on a court, that practically juts into the beautiful mediterranean. Rafa practiced for 2 HOURS!!!!!!!!! today, and being the buena gente that he is, he did his rivals the courtesy 😉 to post that on Twitter 😉 I am just teasing, but Rafa did cheekily add the 2 hours at the end of the tweet 😀 Looks like someone is on fire already 🙂 #Vamos

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Speaking of the Draw…here are the “potential” clashes for Rafa en-route to the historic 9th 😀

2nd Round: The winner of Aussie’s Marinko Matosevic or compatriot Fernando Verdasco.
3rd Round:  The winner of Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci or Germany’s Philip Kohlschrieber
Quarters: Janko Tipsarevic ( one day the Serb could be cast on Miami Ink 😉  or Baguette bread ( French) Gilles Simon
Semis: The newly minted world no.2 Andy Murray
Finals: Novak Djokovic or Delpo

I am excited to see Ernests Gulbis in Novak’s part of the draw. He’s so funny, they need to erect a statue in his honor at Madame Tussaud’s 😀  And people need to pay to see this Latvian cuckoo! He opens against John Isner ( Serve as big as the Empire State ) and could potentially play Novak, in the third round. The lefty half of the draw, is quite challenging with big clay courters like Juan Monaco, Tomas Berdych and Juan Martin Del Potro, on the same side of the subway map 😉 . And not to forget Benneteau ( who upset Roger in straight sets ) and Jerzy Janowicz, who is an ATP find! Novak has to get through a tough section to “potentially” meet Rafa.  Speaking of the right half, Baby Federer could meet Janko in the second round, and the first round between Spain’s Roberto Bautista-Agut ( who is surprisingly good) and France’s Gilles Simon, will be interesting to watch, as Agut has some very good shots in his arsenal. He played extremely well against Nole in Dubai, and created the same angles as Djokovic,accurate and unreturnable. He lacks playing experience, just like Gulbis lacks any mental fortitude. At one point Verdasco was considered the shadow of Rafa, as was evident in the 2009 Australian Open semis, but he quickly lost steam. Being a lefty and banking on past experience ( he did beat Rafa on the hated and banned blue clay last year) he could be difficult to put away, but overall he’s not scary in the sense, that his shots are very predictable unlike say a Delpo’s or Gulbis’s. Both gave Rafa such a hard time at Indian Wells, creating impossible shots out of thin air and making Rafa cover so much ground, by hitting crazy angles. The good news is that this is clay, which allows for sliding, and Rafa does have a pretty straight forward draw as compared to Novak. Rafa’s head to head with Tsonga is interesting. Not only has Rafa beat him on clay ( they have met only once), but he owns him on hard courts as well ( which is Rafa’s most hated surface). Tsonga did beat Rafa at the WTFs ’11, but Rafa has never won the WTFs, so Tsonga can’t be patted on the back for his effort back then, and Rafa did beat him in Miami last year. His head to head with Nico  is lopsided as Rafa owns Nico 9-0. Kohlscrieber  did beat him in Halle last year,but Rafa has successfully defeated him in their last eight meetings. As far as the rest of the subway map is concerned, Rafa need not be worried, although I am a little worried about Andy 2.o. Historically, Andy has never even made a clay final, but with his new training blocks, re-booted body and Ivan Lendl and slam dunk status,my feathers are a bit ruffled. ( Ivan is scary expressionless, he always looks like the agent from Matrix who eerily calls Keanu Reeves: Mr. Anderson!)

Irrespective of outcome, 😀 they should remove this:
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and replace it with this: 😉

Spain

Speaking of the mini-tennis, in front of Hotel de Paris, it was a mini match between Novak and Andy. Novak looked relaxed and fit. And Andy was surprisingly smiley and just as relaxed. The mini tennis court was flanked by fans ( one fan asked Djokovic about Pierre…) and reporters alike, and here’s a snippet off Youtube:

This article drives home very interesting points, especially the one about the world no.1 trying to find an in, to derail the clay no.1. The world no.1 and 2 may be lost to Rafa and Roger, but as far as clay is concerned, it has been a Rafa-centric universe. This summer it’s not just about the ninth crown at Monte Carlo, but an eighth Barcelona title, 7th in Rome,3rd in Madrid/Hamburg, and a legendary 8th in Paris. Rafa’s eighth at Paris is very likely, despite his greatness plagued by self-doubt and a certain Serb, standing in his shadow, adamant to be the seventh man in the Open Era to complete a Career Slam. But Rafa has had enough of  being on the sidelines, and while many speculated his return to form, irrespective of him not feeling 100%, he has had a stellar comeback- a man on a mission,hungry for more. Andy has big plans to go deep this year, but with clay not being his area of expertise and Wimbledon just around the corner, his body language should show where his “real” conviction lies. It’s a shame Roger and David will not contest at Monte Carlo. Roger rejoins the tour after a two month hiatus on the red stuff at Madrid. Thankfully, none of us have to put up with the hideous blue clay anymore, I mean what were the ATP thinking? That’s right..the ATP weren’t thinking, it requires a certain grey stuff 😐 Ferru is out with thigh injury and he hopes to rejoin the tour very very soon. What is with all the injuries plaguing the tour all of a sudden? And not just Tennis mind you…Kobe was badly injured during a Lakers game, and it looked painful 😦
The never ending debate is whether Rafa can become the greatest of all time? For me, he already is and I can’t see why he can’t bag two slams a year to inch closer to Roger’s 17. The rankings don’t matter and neither does the head to head ( he has a head to head advantage over MOST rivals). What really matters, is whether he can remain fit and healthy and kick the chronic tendinitis to the curb. Martina beat it, and so can he. Andy and Nole are both amazing, with their sheer athleticism and determination to hang in there till the very end, but there will not be another Rafael Nadal. 🙂

Good luck Rafa 🙂 La fe mueve montañas…
Rafael Nadal breaks a new record winning his seventh straight Monte Carlo Masters title

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The Forehand Times III

March 24, 2013 § 1 Comment

Abrazos Rafans 🙂

Rafa has yet to update us with an R&R tweet 🙂 Which just goes to show, how much, being home, after such an incredible comeback means to him!! 🙂 He looks Caribbean comfortable in his comfy jumpers,lounging around under a mountain of throw pillows, in the tranquility of his house, his beaming smile denting his face. Last updates included him visiting his doctor Dr. Sanchez in Vitoria & celebrating La Roja with his friends. And despite the “overload” of back-to-back tennis tournaments, the positive trend in his recuperation continues. He will begin practice in a few, and I will surely keep you posted on his smiley practice sessions. For now, @RafaelNadalfc have posted a great spanish interview, taken a few days back in Palma, Mallorca. Rafa feels upbeat and full of joy 🙂 #vamosRafa 🙂

Check out this fun cliff jumping video to keep the energy up….awesome beats to keep your morning jog company 😉

And before signing off, I have this brilliant collage of his comeback via ESPN. Enjoy ! 🙂

http://espndeportes.espn.go.com/videohub/video/clipDeportes?id=1753634&cc=7586

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It Must be Love

March 18, 2013 § Leave a comment

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                                                                                                                                  Menu for Rafa’s Party: 🙂

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upcakes…. 🙂

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elebration is sweeter with a menu full of calories 😉

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orgot to add the crackers in the previous cupcakes..so… 🙂

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PARTEE on the rocks!!!!

To write a coherant review, my mind needs to be at a 100% 😉 What a win. What an effort. Rafa your love for your love is contagious. 🙂 Your never wavering aim, that mental fortress which cannot be beat down, that level of dedication and that unsurmountable passion…words fail me, and I am at a loss to sum up my feelings for you. I have loved all sport, and had several favorite athletes. But what I am feeling right now, is so special, I have this surge of pure admiration and love for you. 600th match win! First hard court tournament victory! a phenomnadal comeback….. noone could ask for more.You included!! The look of pure delight on your face…I think more than the victory, your smile, your attitude in adversity, your positivity, everything about you is a beacon of hope! You have inspired a generation. Can’t wait to see you on your beloved clay. Enjoy your time off Rafa…you have more than deserved a few days off 🙂 #Vamos #Campeon #Comeback #Sheerpassion

And now, some tweets congratulating Rafa…

A Few Good Men

March 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

While some people dream of success, Rafael Nadal stays awake to achieve it. A true champion, his comeback has been a relentless, audacious display of self-belief and all those lost months, can finally be put behind him.Nearly a year without any hard court action, everybody just presumed that Rafa would be headed home after Acapulco. After all, here was a surface he had vehemently chastised..But to the delight of his fans, and the disdain of the tennis world, Rafa let his “heart” take him to his first hard court of the season. And besides, in his own words, Rafa had nothing to lose, just everything to win, after being out of competition for 7 months. We rarely see the homebody say that he would rather have an early exit, than to go back home and wait for the European Clay Season. It was smart of him, to use actual matches as practice, against the best-of-the-best, to feel the competition and thrive at the highest level. And today, he is in his fourth final since his comeback last month. His de-seeding of top seeds started in Brazil with Chardy, followed by Almagro in Acapulco, and an unforgettable, thrashing of David Ferrer, to lift his second singles trophy. Indian Wells, was the meeting of the “fab 4” after nearly a year, and everybody had warm words of welcome for Rafa. Tournament owner, Larry Ellison, being a fan of Rafa, the person, and the player, attended every match of his with  “smells like teen spirit” enthusiasm. Rafa’s comeback was further consolidated, with his win over Roger Federer. In the semis today, the fatigue of playing Gulbis and Federer, had him move around the court with caution, but overall his errors were numbered. And winners ,inspired. Tomas Berdych kept Rafa on his toes, with his in form winning streak, which was to come to an end very soon.
Novak, all smily, entered the near packed stadium, with a fired up Argentine, on his heels, for the second semi final match of the afternoon. It was one of those one-sided matches, one, Novak Robotic, could win with his eyes shut. Call it fatigue from playing back-to-back since December, or that Del Guapo was on fire, it was one of the best matches of 2013. The relentless Argentine refused to budge, and the smouldering celsius, added more fuel to his fire, as he matched Djokovic stroke to stroke. The punishing sun of California, was not easy to battle, as both players were out of breath and had ice towels around their necks during breaks and change-overs. The heat was bothering Juan Martin, more, as opposed to Novak, but instead of choking, he more than held his own, as Novak’s unforced errors egged him on. He didn’t lose faith after Novak clinched  the first set 6-4. It is commendable, his return after 3-0 down in the second set. We were treated to classic volleys, scintillating slices, and a mentality, that got Del Guapo his U.S. Open Trophy all those years ago. Just like Rafa, he was sidelined with injury, and although he is still trying to find his U.S.Open Championship form, it is safe to say, that he is as close as can possibly be. He beat both Andy and Novak, in back to back matches, and  has had a tremendous opening of the 2013 season with a win at Rotterdam.

Who would have thought, that the BNP Paribas Showdown in New York, would actually pan out to be a real showdown? 🙂

The hot desert air, and high bouncing courts have favoured Rafa, and it helps that he has a head to head advantage over Del Potro (7-3).
Rafa has won consecutive matches against the inspired Argentine; his only losses coming in 2009. His most memorable win coming at Davis Cup 🙂 But there is no room for complacency here, nor is it the time to pick favorites. Rafa needs to get into his best attacking self, and tire out Delpo, because at one point, his back-to-back 5 hour matches with Andy and Novak is going to bother him. Rafa needs early breaks and needs to hold, because the spirited Delpo, is known to bounce back from the dead ( read: 3-0 down today against Djokovic, a set down against Murray). Rafa should flatten out his shots, and make Delpo run around, because Delpo has the same game plan, as was evident at that exhibition in MSG. If Rafa mixes up his shots, and avoids going into longish rallies and can avoid over-topping, he has a real chance. On the other hand, Delpo is going to use his towering height to full effect, as was witnessed in his match with Djokovic tonight. They were just running from one side to the other, and Delpo was coming out on top, when engaged in long rallies. It will be an interesting match-up and promises to be a scorcher. Win or lose, all that matters is that Rafa is happy, and he’s more than happy all right! He’s had a dream comeback, something he did not expect to happen just one month into his return. #HappyRafa

Rafael Nadal will open the Davis cup final

 

The Forehand Times

March 16, 2013 § 8 Comments

Wow…. I mean WOW!

Inspired to quote the great Billie Jean King to felicidades Rafa : ” A champion is afraid of losing. Everybody else is afraid of winning.”

What a match!!! Simply ravishing tennis 🙂

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Here are some of the congratulatory tweets. #RafaNadal is trending now…  🙂

Rafa being Rafa after his semi final win 🙂 #Rafafam

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Braveheart

March 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

Nelson Mandela once said: “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers his fear.”

And we were treated to one of the most courageous displays of self-belief tonight. What a night. One that will go down as one of the best matches for Rafael Nadal. What a comeback! Every single day of struggle in those last seven months, was avenged tonight, and with so much respect for his opponent at that. Roger was struggling early on, with his back, and that look Rafa had when he won, just goes to show his upbringing. He could have fist pumped and vamosed throughout the match, because of so many vintage Nadal winners, but he was somber in his celebration. Torn up for his friend, who was struggling. Ironic, considering it was him, who is not at a 100%. Every day you either reflect on scars or courage. Rafa is the one who has roared in losses, because he knows his own mettle. He knows he can come back better. Not one loss has put him down. Paso-a-paso, he is finding his footing again.From beating world no. 4 and now world no.2,he will slowly and steadily make it back to the top, and who knows whether he will triumph over Djokovic or not. But for tonight, no more what-ifs and contemplations. Tonight is all about his roaring victory that has consolidated his return. The king is back, and hungry for more. Rafael Nadal is made of a miracle fibre called courage. There are so many positives to draw from tonight’s victory, not just in terms of his physical movements, but also what it meant to him, to beat his hero, arguably the best player of all time- Roger Federer. And I think more than his training blocks, it is his self-depreciating manner which has helped him in becoming one of the greats himself. The atmosphere tonight was electric.The crowds didn’t come to pick a winner. They were simply there to experience greatness. I believe that in life, it is important to sit in on greatness. Be it in a conference of a great leader sharing his philosophy, a businessman delivering a keynote, or an athlete doing only that 1% extra, that makes him great. We are the masses. It just needs that one mental push, that one click in our minds, that movement or that one trigger word in a speech, that can change our lives. We can triumph over our shortcomings and walk with winners. Some may argue that how is tennis important in building character? I would say, that any sport for that matter, if played from early childhood, has the same impact as good parenting. In this time and age, we are living the blessing and curse of social media. I was given my first cell phone in high school, and today, companies like Fisher price, produce a rattle toy cover for iPads. The child who struggles with speech, is a champion at fruit ninja. Rafa is barely older than me, and I can guarantee that if you ask him, he will vouch for the fact that, other than his upbringing, it is coming from an island country of Mallorca, that has helped shape who he is today. When Justin Gimelstob asked him that when did you realise you were special? Rafa said “never”. That little word, is not only the contribution of his great family values, but also of the fact, that he comes from an island country, as opposed to mainstream London or New York. The Nadals were offered a scholarship to send their little prodigy to Barcelona, to train at one of the best tennis facilities in the world, but they turned it down, saying that greatness can be achieved, irrespective of infrastructure. And that is the moral of the story : Bloom where you are planted. I don’t cult worship Rafa. But I can’t help bond with his moral fibre. His tough mentality. His sunshiny approach to life. His positivity radiates out, diminishing his personal crises, that would have put a better man down. If he would not have struggled so much in his young life, would not have overcome his physical limitations, neither of us ( him and his fans) would be satisfied and lavish in his victories.

Gulbis was the better player last night. But Rafa was more courageous. A mental brute, if you will. The difference between the fearful and the braveheart is that the braveheart hangs in there for a trivial extra minutes. Thats all. It was so tough to see the match yesterday, especially the first set, where Rafa was nowhere on the scoreboard or the court. At the end of the day, it was the match between physical and mental, and mental capitalised. The way he swung right back, and didn’t budge till the very end, showed all the work his team and him have put in, into building Rafa 2.0. Why do you need the old Rafa, when you have a newer and better Rafa? Ok, he is smarter and will not run down, every ball, but isn’t that we all want? To have him healthy and playing for a longer time? 🙂

Tonight’s match was my views of Rafa from my last post.I said that he is known to raise his standards against better players, and then there is no stopping him, as displayed in Acapulco. And who else than Roger to bring out the best in him? True, Roger was struggling with his movement, but Rafa was on fire, and held his own from the very first point. He was dominant and calm and peacefully-aggresive ( not sure if that is a word 😉 ). He just realised what was at stake tonight. It was kill or be killed. The first set just took off for the stratosphere, for Rafa, with vintage movements, killer service holds and gut-punching returns off the Federer serve.
He won a whopping 82% on his first serve, and a 67% on his second. He did not face any break points to begin with, and ironically, on the second return points he converted 69% into winners. There was a gulf between total points won by Rafa and Roger, Rafa winning 77% as opposed to Roger’s 57. Backhands were landing beautifully, and thankfully inside the court. No sea of unforced errors tonight 🙂 Lack of mobility from Federer,add to that flashes of Rafa’s old championship form,the second set was also fairly easy to clinch. Unforced errors kept Rafa from holding at 3-0, and Roger got his first break on Rafa’s serve. Rafa broke right back and was on serve at set point. There was no on-court celebration, for obvious reasons,but Roger will be back! 🙂 . Since he has a little over 24 hours, to play Berdych, I think the revelry will continue well into the night.Lavish in it Rafa, for you deserve it. Brindar por : to a new beginning! #Vamos Rafa!

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Thoughts on the upcoming semifinals: Rafa leads 12-3 against Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych. He’s had 10 consecutive wins against Berdych since 2007. The last time they played together was at the Rome Masters in 2012, with Rafa winning in straight sets : 6-4, 7-5. But nevertheless, Berdych has held his own in a few impressive matches in Rafa’s absence. He’s beat Roger in back to back tournaments that they have clashed in, but historically suffers against Rafa. I hope that trend continues. Next up, are interesting quarter match-ups between Jo Willy and Novak Robotic. And Murray v/s Delpo. Both 1 & soon to be no. 2, have head to head advantage over their opponents, so it will be interesting to see, whether Jo and Juan, step up, or let Batman and Robin run them over!

Enough about them… 🙂 Rest up Rafa…you owe it to yourself 🙂

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To conclude:

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Smiling so wide my face hurts…Oh Rafa! I am so happy that I can’t find larger synonyms for happy 🙂

Abrazos to all Rafans around the world 🙂
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