• Nadal set for title defense in Barcelona

    4/21/13 10:01 PM | Kelli DeMario
    Nadal set for title defense in Barcelona World No. 5 Rafael Nadal returns to competition for the last week of April, as the ATP World Tour makes a stop in Barcelona, Spain for the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell. The Spaniard looks to win his 8th title at the tournament.

    World No. 5 Rafael Nadal is back on court following a runner-up finish at the Masters 1000 Monte-Carlo (lost to Djokovic). The 26-year-old Spaniard will be making his 9th appearance in Barcelona, having captured championship titles from 2005-2009 and 2011-2012.

    "I think it was a positive week (in Monte-Carlo)," Nadal assessed. "I didn't practice in Mallorca, I just practiced here before the tournament. Without much preparation, I was able to play in the final. This week is going to help me be fit for the next weeks.

    "I felt for moments in the second set, I played my best tennis of the week. So that's important. When I was doing that, I wasn't far off him. I need more matches to play with this intensity all the time. I need to be completely focused in every moment."

    Nadal leads a competitive half of the draw that includes (3) Tomas Berdych, (6) Milos Raonic, (8) Kei Nishikori, (9) Jerzy Janowic, (12) Fernando Verdasco, (13) Benoit Paire and (14) Grigor Dimitrov. Additional players in the same section are Radek Stepanek, Tommy Robredo, Pablo Andujar, Grega Zemlja, Albert Ramos and former World No. 3 Nikolay Davydenko.

    "Hopefully, I can play another great week in Barcelona next week (and) play some matches that will keep helping to put me in the 100 percent physical conditioning."

    After a first-round bye, Nadal is scheduled to open his campaign against either veteran Carlos Berlocq or fellow Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver.

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Rafa "I need to be completely focused in every moment."

So don't bring the whole of your family with you!

Vamos Rafa

nadline , 4/22/13 3:01 PM

Like the symmetry an 8th Barcelona title will have with 8 MC titles........

Good luck in Barcelona, Rafa!


rafaisthebest , 4/22/13 3:08 PM

When is Rafa's first match in Barcelona? My TV feed only starts coming through on Thursday.

rafaisthebest , 4/22/13 3:10 PM

Streamhunter are showing matches now.

nadline , 4/22/13 5:01 PM

Gulbis-Verdasco could be nice if Verdasco puts a fight, Gublis is still in good form

Shireling , 4/22/13 5:07 PM

I made this comment after Rafa's match against Dimi...........................Xisca not welcomed. From the time she showed up Rafa started playing poorly!!!! At first I thought it in jest, but Nadline, am with you on this one!!!

Monalysa , 4/22/13 5:13 PM

Nadal, and one more thing, Pleasssssssssseeeeeeeeeeeee try to stay closer to the baseline............geeeeeezzze!!!!

Monalysa , 4/22/13 5:25 PM


Conspirator , 4/22/13 5:51 PM

The baseline is a like a marker for Rafa's state-of-play. If he stands behind it, it means that he's not confident in his game which usually comes from an inability to move as well as he'd like (not counting his mental melt-down in some matches against Djoko-terminator 2011 ); this translates in a miriad of short balls handed away to his adversary. This to me is like the equivalent of lowering your guard in boxing, you let the other guy wear you down. Rafa knows this and yet he's uncapable of reversing it when he's not firing in all cylinders. Sometims it's almost painful to watch.

Shireling , 4/23/13 12:12 PM

The following link/ blog by Woofie is required reading for EVERY Rafan: ter-so-much-for-rafa-to.html

Why does it matter so much for Rafa to lose the French ... ??

OK ... I've not gone completely mad, and I know that's an odd post title, but I feel like I have to ask that burning question ...

Because the match was delayed a bit today, we were subjected to the blah, blah, blah of the Sky Sports commies, and the subject of Rafa's impending loss in a final at Roland Garros and Djokovic - seemingly being the one to do it - were tirelessly discussed. Feds' 2009 victory was glossed over because he didn't go through Rafa to win it, but a Rafa defeat seems to be the thing met with tireless anticipation in commentator and forum world.


I ask why because when Rafael Nadal's achievements as a tennis player are discussed, so often you will see his records caveated with, "aah ... but most of his Slam titles were won at the French Open", or "the vast majority of his Masters titles are clay court titles", and of course that clown Bodo branded him "lucky" that three of the nine Masters were played on clay. So in other words, his achievements are often denigrated because they're won on a sub-standard, skill-less surface where his particular "physical" style of tennis has dominated, and basically, they count for nothing in overall tennis achievements. Remember I wrote my "Why don't clay court titles count?" post discussing that very subject.

So if - in the grand scheme of things - winning on a specialist surface like clay isn't anything to write home about, why does it become so damned important to beat the dominator on that very same surface?? If they're a bunch of lesser titles to win, why would it be considered such an achievement to put an end to the reign of the very player who's proved himself to be probably the greatest advisory on it?? If winning 7 French Open titles and being a clay court specialist is not considered as good as say, winning 7 Wimbledon titles and being a grass court specialist ... why does anyone give a fig about someone other than Rafa winning a paltry clay court Slam anyway?? Do you see the dichotomy? Do you see why I struggle to understand why winning the French Open multiple times is caveated because Rafa is the surface specialist, yet the person defeating him will be lauded like he's achieved something tantamount to discovering the Holy Grail??

The defeat of Rafa on clay is greater than Rafa's combined achievements on clay?? It's just plain weird.

And because of Rafa's Monte Carlo loss today, over the next few weeks we will be subjected to endless copy of what is about to become at this year's French Open. I hope you're ready for it.

And my conclusions. Well ... it's personal, personal to Rafa, and not in a good way. It would be a very brave broadcasting station that started it's coverage of the lead up to the French Open and the actual tournament itself by saying let's cheer Rafa on to an unprecedented No. 8. Let's celebrate what he's achieved to date, let's champion how better he might make that achievement, and let's celebrate how we've been lucky enough to see this very special record in our lifetime. But that will never happen.

Because just like in certain quarters his Slam tally is scoffed at because it's largely built up via clay court wins, and that even though he's won 2 Wimbledon titles and been to another 3 finals, and he's won 2 hardcourt titles and been to another 2 finals ... it's always pointed out that he's yet to repeat his Slam success at both Australia and the US Open, blimey ... you'd think the guy was a failure.

Has there ever been one player who is so divisive? And why should it be that defeating Rafa on clay is a bigger story than any of his fantastic victories upon it?

Well I cherish the moments that I've witnessed Rafa's remarkable history making records since 2005 ... and for whatever obvious excitement a victory in a Masters final might be met with today ... the King is most certainly not dead, Mrs Djokovic ...

"Of course, I want to win Roland Garros. That's no secret ... "

It isn't Rafa ... it isn't ... and you winning it might not be the story everyone's looking for, but there's still plenty of us who will cheer you on your way.

rafaisthebest , 4/23/13 12:57 PM

So Rafa's 2nd round opponent will be Berlocq (sp), he gave Rafa a pretty good work out in Brazil.

Vamos Rafa!

rafaisthebest , 4/23/13 1:18 PM

Well at least Berlocq won't do the old Spanish fold.

chr18 , 4/23/13 1:24 PM

Thank goodness for that, chr18, Rafa needs a good need to let go of the "Spanish fold" conspiracy theory though, getting old....

rafaisthebest , 4/23/13 1:32 PM

Shireling , 4/23/13 3:13 PM

Rafael Nadal has 11 Grand Slam trophies, 22 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles, an Olympic gold medal and now, his own street in Guadalajara, Spain :) 28879049100.76928.243123739049614&type=1&theater

rafaisthebest , 4/23/13 6:56 PM

Rafa losing MC is stress enough without me having to read the slosh all over the internet. I don't need to be reminded that many were secretly, or not so secretly hoping that Rafa wouldn't go on winning it for ever and ever and, frankly, didn't care who did it.

ritb, thanks for Woofie's blog. No more needs to be said.

Vamos Rafa

nadline , 4/24/13 10:05 AM

It's funny how Djoker's losses at IW and Miami are quickly forgotten but they will ramble on and on about Rafa's loss at MC for ever.

nadline , 4/24/13 10:23 AM

Rafa has already moved on, so have I.

nadline , 4/24/13 11:50 AM

Djoker has learned to pace himself I believe. He has taken the Fed approach. When Fed was in his prime he wouldn't kill himself to win Masters events. He saved himself for the GS. I believe Djoker did as much at IW and Miami where he had nothing to prove. His main goal is winning RG so winning MC was an important step so he went all out.

chr18 , 4/24/13 12:53 PM

^^ Yup, it not that he doesn't want to win when he steps on to court, but he might not give the extra 10% required. I don't know about Indian Wells given the rhythm Delpo was in; and I still think he should have lost Miami in spite of extra effort but it seemed to be lacking against Haas.

samprallica , 4/24/13 1:00 PM

chr18 , 4/24/13 12:53 PM

Finally, we get to know why Novak is now your fav, he is like Fed.

Makes sense.

rafaisthebest , 4/24/13 1:05 PM

nadline , 4/24/13 10:23 AM

Novak is not yet the King of Hard Courts, so his losses there are just footnotes, for now.

Rafa is the King of Clay (he still is, in spite of some valiant attempts by some to crown Novak as such on account of his MC win), so his losses there are headline news.

And as Woofie says, the same people who have been on a mission to devalue Rafa's Clay wins are the same ones now beside themselves with the prospect of Novak winning at RG....................yes, RG is still a clay tournament last time I checked.

Kinda funny how Novak is pacing himself to win................. a tournament of little value, hey chr18.


rafaisthebest , 4/24/13 1:15 PM

Clearly he wants a career GS and then possibly a calendar GS. Fed is still my favorite player of course. I just don't like his chances of winning RG, been there done that getting old lol.

chr18 , 4/24/13 1:53 PM

And there is nothing wrong with a desire to complete a career GS and be on the way to a possible calendar slam. It's just sweet seeing you people's jealousy of Rafa's success on clay exposed.............that has to be the only reason you tried at every turn to devalue clay as a playing surface.

rafaisthebest , 4/24/13 1:59 PM

those who devalue clay will probably change their points of view if, say Novak, wins the next RGs, no?

Shireling , 4/24/13 2:53 PM

^^Don't mind the 'bots....

rafaisthebest , 4/24/13 3:20 PM

You never heard anyone diminishing wins on clay in the past. In fact it was considered quite the accomplishment. JMac and Sampras never managed to win RG. If it was easy, then they would have been able to do it. When Borg was supreme at RG, you never would have heard anyone trying to run him down.

That nonsense only started with Fed fans who couldn't deal with the fact that he couldn't beat Rafa! So all this propaganda was thrown around to try and make it seem like it wasn't such a big deal that Rafa was winning everything on clay. That's the only reason it started. It's garbage!

I also think the idea that Nole tanked or didn't want to win at I/W or Miami is probably one of the silliest things I have read! The idea that he wanted to lose in the fourth round to the likes of Haas in straight sets, is actually insulting to Nole!

I don't know where people get these ideas!


I wanted to thank you for posting the blog by Woofie! One of the best blogs I have read in a long time! It's about time someone said it!

Nativenewyorker , 4/24/13 8:18 PM

I believe Djoker did as much at IW and Miami where he had nothing to prove. His main goal is winning RG so winning MC was an important step so he went all out.

chr18, 4/24/13 12:53 PM

I disagree with your thinking here. He wants to break Fed's and Nadal records for Masters titles. Come on, he was extremely upset that he couldn't go deeper at IW and Miami. It's insulting to Haas to say that Novak did not put in much effort. Haas was very solid in that match, and is not like the other low-ranked olayers Novak draws in the early rounds. He's always given djoker a run for his money, and he deserves better. The fact is, Novak was spent from promoting himself with the American athletes and Sampras at IW, and he can't have it both ways, being in the spotlight and going deep, without putting in full effort practising.The way I see it nowadays with djoker is the fact that his draws are so easy that he feels he can win anything and can play himself into form. Fed used to do that also, but is unable to do that nowadays as age is catching up with him, and the lower-ranked players are improving.

Some of djoker's fans claim that he didn't have much practise time at MC. How do they know that? Were they with him 24 hours per day to know this for a certainty? He could easily have practised at night when no one was around. I read that a couple of his practise sessions were closed off. And, let's not forget that after Miami he played DC which gave him a lot of on-court time more than the other top 4 players. As I see it he was much more prepared than the other top 4 players.

scoretracker , 4/25/13 2:45 AM

There is a difference between not killing yourself trying to win and tanking or wanting to lose as you put it. I'll elaborate. It was clear that Delpo was divinely inspired by the appointment of an Argentine Pope that week IW started. He ran out of gas against Murray but still won. Then he ran out of gas against Djoker and won. How do you explain that? He's one of the least fit guys in the top 100. He was willing to die on court to win that week. Why should Djoker do that when he's won IW twice already? I think the cold and wind played a factor in the Haas match although he did play great. You can't win them all. In any case, losing early in those 2 tournaments helped him out. I would hope he would have learned from Nadal who tried to win everything and has been rewarded with a lot of 'off' time. He should have also learned from 2011 when his exhausting streak may have cost him his best chance to win RG. I'm glad Fed was the one who ended the streak of course however. So whether he's not going at 1000% every time he runs into a buzz saw or not, it doesn't hurt him in the long run to lose early in some of these non-GS events the same way it helped TMF!

chr18 , 4/25/13 3:35 AM


Nole won both I/W and Miami in 2011 beating Rafa and then he also won Rome and Madrid also beating Rafa. So it can be done. One doesn't have to sacrifice one for the other. I would think that Nole still wants to have his wins on hard courts. That is still his best surface.

You do draw an important distinction between not killing yourself to win versus tanking or wanting to lose. I simply do not believe that any of the top four meaning Nole, Murray, Fed and Rafa, would ever tank a match. I also don't know that I agree with your idea that Delpo was divinely inspired by the appointment of an Argentinian Pope. He was looking good even before that. He has been able to get into really good form but not necessarily as consistently as he would like. Delpo was just playing some great tennis. You just don't see Nole having trouble closing out a set and then going up 3-0 in the third set and then getting broken at least twice to lose the match.

I think there is a good deal of pride when you are the #1 player in the world. You don't want to lose your aura of invincibility by losing in the fourth round of a hard court Masters event to Tommy Haas. No disrespect intended to Haas in saying that. He was playing great tennis in Miami.

I also don't agree that Delpo ran out of gas against either Murray or Nole. He may not be the fittest guy on the tour, but we are talking about a best two out of three match, not a best three out of five set slam match. Murray wasn't playing great at I/W after taking off five weeks. So that had something to do with his loss. Also, Nole wasn't playing that great. I think Delpo got hot at the right time and deserved those two wins.

I don't know that it's necessary to sacrifice hard court Masters tournaments in order to win in the clay season. Nole didn't lose early in I/W. He got to the semis. He did lose early in Miami, but I don't think that helped him because he ended up hurting his ankle while playing DC.

Nativenewyorker , 4/25/13 4:47 AM

Rafa has to face another giant.
This Paire is being sold as having one of the best BH in the circuit... another talented French youngster ... maybe one of these years a Frenchman will win RG again.. who knows?

Shireling , 4/25/13 1:44 PM

Don't worry, Shireling, Paire has multiple personalities, let's see which one turns up. Don't expect any of them to trouble Rafa.

rafaisthebest , 4/25/13 2:21 PM

Current ATP-rankings

1. Djokovic 12 500 pts
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