Category: All, News, News - Federer, News - Nadal, Results, Results - Federer, Results - Nadal, Rivalry

Montreal – Federer and Nadal both out, Rafa now world No. 3

Bad news for those of us hoping for a quick renewal of the rivalry between Nadal and Federer.

Roger Federer looked like he had but an easy cruise into the semis before Tsonga pulled off a miraculous recovery from 5-1 down in the third to take out the match, 7-6 (7/5), 1-6, 7-6 (7/3).

Rafael Nadal was looking competitive in the first set against Del Potro, and one had the feeling that if the first set tie breaker had gone his way, this could have been a great match. But somehow, the gas seemed to run out and the second set was a straightforward affair for the Argentine. Rafa was sent packing – 7-6, 6-1.

Of the two, Roger’s loss was perhaps the more inexplicable as he had looked very good early on.

To make matters worse for the Mallorcan, Andy Murray’s win over Tsonga in the semi meant that the four year Federer/Nadal stranglehold over the one-two positions on the ATP rankings come to an end – and Nadal slips from the top two for the first time since July 2005.

Nadal and Federer have both now moved on to Cincinatti, and Nadal had this to say after his loss:

“It’s normal… After two months out of competition it’s tough to play at that level.”

Category: All, News, News - Federer, News - Nadal, Results, Results - Federer, Results - Nadal

Montreal – Roger and Rafa both advance to 3rd round

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have both won their second round matches at the Rogers Cup in Montreal.

Federer played first, and although the match was tight, he won comfortably in the end, defeating local Canadian Frederic Niemeyer 7-6, 6-4. He’ll play fellow Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka in the next round.

Nadal looked decidedly patchy against David Ferrer. He broke straight up thanks to a poor initial service game from Ferrer, but then struggled with erratic shots and uncharacteristic errors. He was up 4-3 in the first when some knees gave out – fortunately for Rafa’s it was not his this time – it was his fellow Spaniard instead who succumbed to pain in the joints.

Rafa (and us!) will have been disappointed not to get more match play – he sure looked like he needed time on the courts. But a win is a win, and he’ll be well rested to face Philipp Petzschner of Germany in the next round. 45th ranked Petzschner upset Tommy Robredo today and though on paper it will be an easy match for Rafa, he seems to be on a good streak of form, and the Mallorcan will surely not take anything for granted.

Category: News - Nadal, Results - Nadal

Rafa back, downs Djokovic!

Well, it was not quite that simple, but the good news is that Rafa and his knees survived the first round doubles match at the Rogers Cup in Montreal.

He and his partner Francisco Roig successfully defeated Djokovic and Vemic of Serbia, 7-5, 6-4 to advance to the second round.

Category: All, Gossip - Nadal, News - Nadal

Interview with Rafael Nadal – Marca

Front page of Marca - photo links to article

There’s a great interview with Rafa in the Spanish sports newspaper, Marca.

The article is in Spanish so I will translate some key points below. You can see here the original interview in Spanish and here an automatic google translation.

Rafa says:

- he is returning because he has got his confidence back

- not sure if he is at 100% – he won’t know that for sure until he starts forcing himself in competition

- decided today to play in Montreal, had several good days training with less pain

- schedule for this year is: Montreal, Cincinnati, US Open, Copa Davis if selected and there are no reverses, Bangkok, Peking, Shanghai, Paris and London

- winning Wimbledon, Australia, Olympics, David Cup (though not in final himself) were very happy moments, being number one was a consequence -was happy for two months after winning Wimbledon as it was one of his life long dreams.

- will play again in Madrid, yes it does make a difference that it is in Spain. This year was a mistake to play there, but you do not know your limits until you go past them.

- Federer deserves to be back where he is, and is the best in history from the times that Rafa has lived. Rod Laver was probably best ever, but you can’t really ever say that, and also you have to wait until Federer finishes his career.

- does not believe he can match Fed’s 15 grand slam titles – is thinking now of tomorrow, of training for Montreal, and trying, win or lose.

- sent Roger congratulations by SMS on victories at Wimbledon, French Open and birth of daughters, and received a reply each time.

- pain never disappears completely – it is always there, after a month and a half off it hurts even more when you start.

- has not enjoyed the time off, is an active person and it is hard not playing tennis, playing football. Did enjoy the successes of Spanish athletes – Pau Gasol, Contador and the swimming championships. Was not saturated from tennis.

- when he lost to del Potro in Miami he had commented that “he knew why he lost, but would not say”. Admits in this article that although will never discuss personal issues, there were family problems, and when you are away, that does affect you.

- separation of his parents was not the reason for his losses.

- never reads or listens to press about him.

Category: All, News, News - Federer, News - Nadal, Rivalry

Roger vs Rafa – What can we expect for the rest of 2009?

Roger has completed phase one (birth) of his parenting duties, and Rafael Nadal is recovering steadily from his knee injuries.

So if babies and knees allow, what can we expect in the way of Nadal vs Federer match ups this year?

Can Rafa make up for the disappointments of Roland Garros and injuries to win the US Open and match Roger’s career Grand Slam (all four majors in a career)?

Can Roger overcome midnight baby calls to round out a sensational list of achievements for 2009?

Well we are in for some real treats – see the chart below for full schedule!

August 10th - Rafa back from injury to defend his 2008 title at Montreal
ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Montreal, Canada, Rogers Cup, Outdoor, Hardcourt

August 17th – can Roger or Rafa beat defending champ Andy Murray in Cincy?
ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Cincinatti, USA, Western & Southern Financial Group Masters, Outdoor, Hardcourt

August 31st - the big one. Can Rafa win the US Open this year to match Fed’s career Grand Slam?
US Open, New York, USA, Outdoor, Hardcourt

Davidoff Swiss Indoors
500 Basel (SUI) hard [i]
BNP Paribas Masters
1000 Paris (FRA) hard [i]
Barclays ATP World Tour Finals
WTF London (GBR) hard [i]

October 12th - Shanghai becomes a ATP 1000 event for first time. Whose name will be first on the winner’s trophy?
ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Shanghai, China, Outdoor, Hardcourt

November 9th - Roger and Rafa will have their work cut out to “knock out” defending local champ, “Ali” Tsongas
ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Paris, France, BNP Paribas Masters, Outdoor, Hardcourt

November 23rd - Grand finale for a magnificent year. Who will claim the ATP tour champion title?
ATP World Tour World Tour Finals, London, UK, Outdoor, Hardcourt

Category: All, News, News - Nadal

Rafa. Return. Confirmed.

Great news.

Toni Nadal – Rafa’s coach, mentor, and uncle has said in a radio interview with Radio Marca in Spain that Nadal will play at Montreal, which starts on the 10th August

“Rafa will play in Montreal. It’s a good piece of news for us”.

Toni did however express some doubts as to what level of performance we can expect from the world number two:

“The level that he can offer is another matter. I suppose that he will not be in very good shape. He’s been training well, but not forcing himself too hard. To see his real level of form we’ll have to see him competing in a real match”, said Toni.

“There is no particular objective at this stage. Just to start getting back in form. Get to the US Open with assurances. We’ll see if he can get back in form in the next two tournaments and arrive well”

He also said that getting back to number one was now somewhat secondary for Nadal.

“What we are worried about is getting back into shape for playing and giving the best. Later we’ll see if Federer, Murray, Djokovic… beat us”.

This is great. I’m very pleased to see the Nadal camp facing up to the reality of Rafa’s injuries, and placing a focus on the US Open and his long term career, ahead of the short term aim of getting back to Number One. If he can stay well, keep playing, we all know that there is only one man that can really challenge Nadal on the court, and that is a rivalry that will blossom in 2010.