• Nadal withstands charge from Brands to win Paris opener

    5/27/13 4:39 PM | Cheryl Murray
    Nadal withstands charge from Brands to win Paris opener Rafael Nadal faced down an inspired Daniel Brands, but the defending champion found his game to advance to the second round.

    For a set and a half, Germany's Daniel Brands played fantastic, hard-hitting tennis and kept Rafael Nadal from imposing his game. But the Spaniard used his mental toughness and an improved first serve to win 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-4, 6-3.

    Brands seemed to take Nadal by surprise, especially in the opening set. Nadal did not play particularly badly, but Brands employed the Gulbis tactic, namely taking it to Nadal's forehand with huge groundstrokes and robbing the Spaniard of his depth of shot. It worked -- at least for a while.

    The German got his only break of the match with Nadal serving at 4-5 in the first set to give the crowd hope of seeing an upset.

    Nadal began to make adjustments as the second set got underway. He didn't make much headway on the Brands' serve, but he pressed on his own serve more and ended up holding most games quite comfortably.

    Brands started the tiebreaker with a winner for the mini-break, but after going up 3-0, the German fell victim to Nadal's force of will. The world No. 3 earned the mini-break back and played some of his best tennis of the match to earn his own mini-break and eventually the second set.

    From there on out, Nadal took the match in hand. The Spaniard finally found his favored aggressive clay court game to win the last 2 games in fairly comfortable style. Brands had a couple more chances to break Nadal's serve, but the defending champion served beautifully in the big moments to stave him off.

    Nadal awaits the winner of Martin Klizan and Michael Russell in the second round.

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Klizan must be there somewhere in the stadium I guess (judging from his pick) but he could have chosen a better image - is he ugly or shy? :P

Shireling , 5/27/13 5:31 PM

Nice try, Brands.

#Vamos Rafa

nadline , 5/27/13 5:52 PM

Rafa will be playing Klizan for the first time too. I have never paid any attention to Klizan, never seen him play. What's his game like? I knew what to expect from Brands because I'd seen him play.

rafaisthebest , 5/27/13 6:14 PM

Rafa had it tough only 'cause he was playing at about <insert number less than 5 here, negative numbers are allowed> percent. Brands threw everything at him and it still wasn't enough and know the drill. Oh and Vamos to finish it up, very important, don't forget. Hashtag optional.

xrf , 5/27/13 6:15 PM

RITB, Isn't Klizan another big guy with a big serve? Don't worry, Rafa is now well prepared :)

deuce , 5/27/13 6:23 PM

he is a BIG guy :(( :D

rafaelo , 5/27/13 6:31 PM

All these unknowns wanting to make a name for themselves at Rafa's expense..............but Rafa says......No, no, no!!!!!

Good luck against Klizan!


Monalysa , 5/27/13 6:40 PM

does any one have rafa's presser transcripts?

rafaelo , 5/27/13 6:43 PM

Rafa said that the match felt like the soderling match in 2009...hmmm

atul1985 , 5/27/13 6:48 PM

oh! does he mean the knee? or the style of play?!

rafaelo , 5/27/13 6:49 PM

The style of play off course...said nothing he could have done for the most part of 2 sets. Just like that fateful day in 2009

atul1985 , 5/27/13 6:56 PM

yup! big hitters and same strategy!

rafaelo , 5/27/13 7:03 PM

Rosol possibly ahead.

chr18 , 5/27/13 7:15 PM

Big hitter, big servers don't worry me at RG. Like today showed, clay is demanding physically and to maintain a high level of play for 3 straight sets (which is needed to beat Rafa) is nigh impossible. Soderling was aided and abetted by Rafa's knees in his highway robbery.....

rafaisthebest , 5/27/13 7:24 PM

Devarmann up next for Fed.

Will be another tough challenge in his stacked quarter but Fed looks extremely sharp.


Conspirator , 5/27/13 7:25 PM

Go Somdev

atul1985 , 5/27/13 7:29 PM

No, public sod matches with with "llitle buts" are illegal.


Conspirator , 5/27/13 8:09 PM

I hate to curb your enthousiasm though.


Conspirator , 5/27/13 8:10 PM

BTW folks whats news on the court speed, the tennisballs etc this year? How are they playing? ny feedack, news?

sanju , 5/27/13 8:52 PM

seventeen (twenty), you don't worry half as much about your old man as you do about Rafa. Why is that. Are you resigned to the fact that he is on his last legs?

nadline , 5/27/13 9:07 PM

Remember twenty, BOTH hands.


Conspirator , 5/27/13 9:14 PM

The hydra has forgotten that Rafa beat Sod at Roland Garros in 2010?
chr18, if Rosol ( or Brands or Monfils) was Fed's first round opponent at RG, darling Fed would have been flying by now to Halle to get some practice for Wimby.
I know Rosol is a legend for you but expect Rafa to thrash him this time.

holdserve , 5/27/13 9:30 PM

Fed? He'd have a punctured lung from not getting out of the way!

Candid post-match presser from Rafa...


Conspirator , 5/27/13 9:38 PM

Many players employ coaches for one reason and one reason only - how to beat Nadal. He is the only player that puts a feather in their cap. Beating the other top players doesn't seem to have as much kudos as beating Rafael Nadal, on any surface.

nadline , 5/27/13 10:01 PM

^^thats rubbish, beating Fed brings tears to their eyes.
On clay however you do have a point...

Twinge , 5/27/13 10:11 PM

Berdych must be cursing his luck for getting Monfils in the 1st round.
Have you seen the score of Stepanek-Kyrgios, that must have been tense!
All in all, a good day for us Rafans - 1 gone, 6 to go.
Tomorrow we'll see if Novak has a Djoker up his sleeve :P

Shireling , 5/27/13 10:23 PM

Wise words from Tignor...


Conspirator , 5/28/13 3:46 AM

Conspirator, you are hilarious. Please tell me you are in NYC or close environs; I would love to treat you to a drink before the US Open. :-)

mara002 , 5/28/13 5:35 AM

BTW folks whats news on the court speed, the tennisballs etc this year? How are they playing? Any feedack, news?

sanju , 5/28/13 6:01 AM

Sanju, it felt very slow when Rafa was hitting and very fast when brands was hitting:)
I think court conditions are normal...some commentators are saying that the balls are heavy

atul1985 , 5/28/13 6:13 AM

Thanks Atul

What is it that suits Rafa , heavy balls , slow court?

sanju , 5/28/13 6:17 AM

I think Rafa would like the courts to be reasonably quick so that he can hit more winners against tougher opponents as the tournament progresses. Not sure about heavy balls if it aids Rafa or vice versa

atul1985 , 5/28/13 7:09 AM

What I am interested in is: what do fellow Rafans do during a Rafa match and things are not looking good for Rafa, like yesterday when Rafa was down a set and 3-0 in the 2nd set tie breaker?

I cover my face with my hands and peak through my fingers, squinting mercilessly and groan audibly if Rafa loses a point! When it has felt really dire in the past I have been tempted to take the dog for a walk but have yet to do that. To date, I have toughed it out, yes, yes I have.

rafaisthebest , 5/28/13 7:09 AM

RITB : I freak out, act nervous, keep mouthing lines ' Rafa has won the match' multiple times I stay alone as my family is in a different city from where I work in India , so its more difficult when you feel nervous , if you have a fellow Rafan to watch together , it gets easier :-)

And you all like watch every match of his, I dont as I feel nervous and it gets too mch . I watch the more important ones. This year I watched IW - Gulbis, Fed, Berdy, Delpo , MC - None ,Barcelona - Only final against Nico, Madrid - Final against Stn and QF against Ferrer (2nd set onwards) , Rome - Semi full and final against Fed watched 2nd set onwards

RG I plan to watch semi

sanju , 5/28/13 7:26 AM

And somehow I dont know why if Fed and Novak lose early in a tournament, I somehow dont feel that nervous for Rafa in any tourney :-)

sanju , 5/28/13 7:31 AM

I just keep walking around the house :D

rafaelo , 5/28/13 7:32 AM

sanju! Fed is okay! It's novak who I want him out :D

rafaelo , 5/28/13 7:39 AM

Monalysa, 5/27/13 6:40 PM

Now what makes you say that? It's my understanding that all tennis professionals try their best to win matches regardless of who's in front of them.

ts38 , 5/28/13 7:47 AM

ritb: i closed livescore, open CNN webpage and look for the most distressing news to read before coming back to peek at the score again :-)

phoenix , 5/28/13 7:47 AM

RITB, I will share something which I did yesterday when rafa was down 0-3 in the breaker. I switched off the cooler which I had switched on from the beginning of the match...and see, I worked:-)

atul1985 , 5/28/13 8:19 AM

i think it was more painful if you are at the office and just monitoring the score than if you are watching it live...

phoenix , 5/28/13 8:31 AM

^ agree, watching live scores is horrendous....:(

deuce , 5/28/13 8:41 AM

exactly deuce, i thought about you and envy your colm nerves yesterday... :-)

phoenix , 5/28/13 8:53 AM

No one wants to be around me when I am watching Rafa play. I am a bundle of nerves. By the time I woke up way too early, Rafa had already won the second set and was up a break in the third set. So I missed the most nerve wracking part of the match. I know that when I saw the score for the first set, I kept rubbing my eyes because I thought that I was still too sleepy. But once I was wide awake, I realized that Rafa was in quite the battle.

I tend to pace around while I watch. I have to be quiet in the early morning hours so I just clench my fists or wrap myself up like a pretzel! :)

phoenix and atul,

Your stories were quite funny! The things we go through to cheer on Rafa. Just think, it's one match down and six to go!

Nativenewyorker , 5/28/13 9:05 AM

Hahaha! We should all compile short videos of ourselves going through "Rafa-torture" and send them to Rafa! I'm sure he would enjoy.........

rafaisthebest , 5/28/13 9:17 AM

ritb, don't give him any more ideas. one match torture is enough for one GS...

phoenix , 5/28/13 9:28 AM

^^^You mean he might actually torture us on purpose? Okay then, idea binned.........

rafaisthebest , 5/28/13 9:43 AM

I just keep walking around the house :D
, 5/28/13 7:32 AM

Good idea for people who are on heavier side. Stress + brisk walk, sure fire weight

Better we spot jump/jo than walk, even faster weight loss :-)

sanju , 5/28/13 10:20 AM

I meant jog above :-)

sanju , 5/28/13 10:21 AM

@rafaisthebest, 5/28/13 7:09 AM

That's interesting. I have been known to go and watch it in another room on a different TV, hoping that might make a difference. I did that during the Isner match last year and it worked. I get so jittery that I start panting; my feet and hands start itching like mad and I have to take anti-histamine tablets to relieve it.

My latest action is to go to the cheering thread on VB and just look at my cheering post of Rafa flushing his opponent down the toilet, smashing him like a dead horse, blowing him up and the VBers Cheer Leader emoticons cheering him on.

I try to avoid TT now because it's too depressing when Rafa's got a fight on his hands.
However, it's far more impressive to win a difficult match than to waltz through an easy match .

nadline , 5/28/13 10:29 AM

sanju, believe it or not! i some time do that! do some footwork too :D

rafaelo , 5/28/13 11:02 AM

*some timeS! :D

rafaelo , 5/28/13 11:06 AM

he..he.. in a situation like that, I simply switched off the TV, shutdown the computer and suspecting myself the jinx. But after 2 minutes, I start to login again to take a peep on the scoreboard and and if the score is favorable, I switch the TV on and resume watching the match. But if Rafa totally runs out of luck and can't seems find solution to avert the invitable defeat, I just simply think the entire Rafa Brigade taking a solace with the thought of I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE SUFFERING hehehehe.

Raindrops , 5/28/13 11:29 AM

nadline..You forgot your lucky top story? Didn't you have that superstition too?

Oh we people, how crazy we behave for Rafa who does not even know we exist :-) Hehe

sanju , 5/28/13 11:40 AM

raafelo - footwork as in?

sanju , 5/28/13 11:42 AM

I love all the above coping strategies. I used to do the ironing until the day I burnt a hole in my favourite duvet cover because I was transfixed during a tense tie break. Now I mostly cook for the freezerbiscuits: cakes, batches of soup, bolognaise sauce, whatever. By far the most calming activity is making jam or chutney. You should see my store cupboard!!! For matches that I'm not stressing over = like Deuce yesterday = I give myself a manicure and the toes get a pedicure too if it's a five setter.

ed251137 , 5/28/13 11:59 AM

just on my toes :D;)

rafaelo , 5/28/13 12:16 PM

Thank you Rafans for your responses! At least next time I am going through Rafa-torture I will think of what each of you is possibly doing at that very moment, that should help, I hope!

rafaisthebest , 5/28/13 12:22 PM

sanju, the lucky top has been abandoned because Rafa lost a match whilst I was wearing it. I think it was the last time he lost to Davy. I have no idea where the top is now, I think it got the message.

Actually, I'm trying to get rid of all my Rafa anti-jinx routines because I don't think what I do or not do makes any difference.

So ed, you didn't have time for a pedicure yesterday, then. If I'm watching a long match that I'm not particularly invested in, I've sometimes watched an old Rafa match on my laptop at the same time.

nadline , 5/28/13 12:26 PM

With any luck they wont get done at all during any of Rafa's matches.

BTW: batten down the hatches everybody. Revealing our guilty secrets will be declared an 'open season' by the resident trolls from now on.

ed251137 , 5/28/13 12:57 PM

Looking on the bright side regarding the match yesterday, Rafa did have a bad call at 15:40 on Brands serve to break for a 5:4 lead; who knows what would have happened if Rafa had won the first set, he could have gone on to win in straight sets.

nadline , 5/28/13 1:02 PM

nadline , 5/28/13 12:26 PM

'Actually, I'm trying to get rid of all my Rafa anti-jinx routines because I don't think what I do or not do makes any difference'
... how could it make a difference? and what would you do if it actually did?

Shireling , 5/28/13 1:03 PM

Actually Shireling, I had a top that worked for a while. Rafa was losing so I went and put it on and guess what, he won the match.

However, there are millions of Rafa fans out there who have their own little ticks and I'm sure non of us affect anything.

nadline , 5/28/13 1:43 PM

Let's just say that my own OCD rituals start to surface. Talking to the TV, saying "No aces, no service winners, no double faults, get it back deep Rafa before every serve."

Squirming works also. Lots of deep sighing. Yelling loudly when he starts turning the match around.

Oh, and scotch of course.

I watched the Brands match on my PVR and was so glad I didn't watch it live.


Conspirator , 5/28/13 3:24 PM

mara002, 5/28/13 5:35 AM

Would love to see the USO live one day. NY is my favourite city. Lots of fun.

No, I'm Canadian but I'll take a rain check on that drink in case I ever get there during the USO!!!


Conspirator , 5/28/13 3:27 PM

Eurosport are going to show the Nadal/Brands match during the rain delay. Funny that the Fed vs Whoever it was 1st round match hasn't seen the light of day again. Rafa's matches are so watchable.

nadline , 5/28/13 3:31 PM

Haha, you guys make me laugh, however I thought I was bad!! Yesterday, i came to work after having left home and thinking that Rafa was in control of things. When i arrived at the office I see Rafa had lost the first set! I just felt a rush of blood from my toes to my head, and immediately I felt like I was getting a diarrhea.....yes you heard me!..................I had to immediately rush to the toilet..............all the while I had a meeting to attend!!!!.............Boy oh boy, Rafa is really not good for my dignity, nor my health and sanity!!!..........but Im!!!

Monalysa , 5/28/13 4:12 PM

me I just lose it when he plays against Djokovic.. the way Rafa's body language starts to show that he's giving up.... not in all matches mind you!.. it makes me be insufferable for the rest of the day, sometimes I can't even get any sleep.

Shireling , 5/28/13 4:24 PM

@ Shireling, I lose sleep too sometimes when he loses, it depends on the match! But Rafa is good at helping us get over his loses!!

Monalysa , 5/28/13 5:56 PM

Shireling, 5/28/13 4:24 PM
that's exactly how I felt most of the times...I do eventually fall asleep but I hate when I wake up the morning after Rafa lost the match...the first thing that comes to my mind when I open my eyes is this sad feeling like I had failed in something myself...It gets really painful when Rafa loses...last year after that Rosol match I cried like a baby...those were the toughest times of my life...
I have the same ritual that I follow every time Rafa plays...the only thing I would say is that now I am glad to learn that I am not the only one being so superstitious...Rafa does make us act crazy, doesn't he? However, I will not reveal my secret rituals because I still firmly believe they work :)

Vamos Rafa!

natashao , 5/28/13 6:42 PM

I forgot to mention, watching him play feels like you are sitting in a barb wire where you need to keep your balance and be cautious at the same time with the pins poked at your arse. You can't get comfort sitting even you pad the couch with the velvet pillow. Too much energy expended just watching him play really, that you are always wishing the ball not to touch the net EVERY FREAKING SHOT he makes.

Yeah that lose of sleep is happening to mee too.

Raindrops , 5/28/13 6:51 PM

Geez, it's like Dr.Phil and Oprah in here. Senility's ugliest impact.

Between rafa and his farts, all psychiatric and psychosomatic disorders must be covered.

novakisthebest , 5/28/13 9:23 PM

@ novakisthebest

Have you ever visited Roger Federer's official website?..........................thought so!

Monalysa , 5/28/13 9:46 PM

@ novakisthebest

At least on here we are haivng a laugh at our own expense but over on that site, I seriously worry about those Fedfarts................senility?....................there no word for it!!!!!

Monalysa , 5/28/13 9:50 PM

An indication of how insular the French are, Henri Laconte has just said that Monfils is the only player who can come back from 7 months out with injury and win a Challenger tour, Nice and beat least Rusedski mentioned that there is another guy by the name of Nadal who also came back from 7 months out and has reached 8 finals, won 6 including 3 M1000s.

nadline , 5/28/13 10:03 PM

@ Nadline

You're so nice..............insular you call it?!

Monalysa , 5/28/13 10:39 PM

ed251137, 5/28/13 12:57 PM,

Well wouldn't it be a nice change if the resident trolls used real facts stated by the rest of us, as opposed to making up all that nonsense about us out of thin air?

Nativenewyorker , 5/28/13 10:50 PM

NNY: You have a point. Hadn't considered it from that angle.

ed251137 , 5/29/13 12:03 AM

@Conspirator -

Which side of Canada? I'd been thinking about sneaking up for a minute for Rogers Cup - I love Montreal; aren't the boys supposed to play there this year?

Maybe we can take turns hosting/hostessing. :-)

mara002 , 5/29/13 1:12 AM

hey rafa fans ! just wanted to drop my view points on rafa's 1st match....I say, CHILL OUT!

-I do not see anything worrying...honestly... Rafa OFTEN plays badly in his opening match at RG, esp the opening set ! even the 2008 rafa barely won the opening set of the tournament against belucci 7-5 after being down 3-5 ! In his next match against nieminen, rafa played poorly for a few games and I remember people wondering if something was wrong with the knees but from then on , WOAH ! till he bit that goodness!

-Rafa himself always says he is very nervous in his opening match at RG...its just that he is nervous ! no matter how many times he wins RG he will be like that..

-Moreover, daniel brands played VERY WELL...he was hitting the ball SO DAMN HARD ! as rafa said it , rafa did not have time to set up for his shots througout the match,,,being the opening match, he was bound to struggle ...the only dark period to me was when rafa lost serve in set 1,,,that was BAD... Otherwise, I felt rafa played decent ! He hit some really good backhands (always makes me delighted when he does that) ..I am not worried about the forehand, its obv going to be there in the next matches ! ROS, well he can struggle with that shot but the ROS he showed in rome against berdy and fed was outstanding, he can get it..

Rafa is going to be FINE...if i see him struggling again in rnd 2, i will be worried but I am confident he will be firing ! Rafa is winning RG, i have faith in my man !

vamosrafa , 5/29/13 8:00 AM


I also try not to read too much into Rafa's first match. But I do like to get a look at his game, how he moves on the court, his serve, his ROS, of course the groundstrokes and court positioning. I know that he is always nervous and with a guy like Brands playing out of his mind, that can make it even worse. But at least in a best three out of five match, there is time to turn it around.

At one point during the match they put up the serving stats and Rafa's were amazingly good. But Brands' were even better. The thing about guys like Brands is that they can't keep it up over a best three out of five set match. Sooner or later, the serve won't be quite as effective, the UE's will start increasing with more missed shots. I remember in the tb when it was 2-3 Brands and he hit a huge serve that forced Rafa to practically run off the court to return it. Then Brands had the easy volley for the winner, but he hit it into the net. That made it 3-3 and Rafa really never looked back.

I think Rafa should improve with each match. That is what I look for. Whether it's the backhand, the ROS, the forehand, volleying at net, court positioning, whatever. Usually as Rafa moves through the first week his game starts to come together and by the second week he is peaking into his best form.

Nativenewyorker , 5/29/13 9:19 AM

well said NNY ! that is exactly how rafa plays himself into peak form ! I am counting on it like I always do :) VAMOS

vamosrafa , 5/29/13 9:27 AM

I wished he peaked sooner and just perched up there for a while, say three or 4 GSs :)

Shireling , 5/29/13 10:45 AM

@1:12 AM

oooeeeeeeeeeee a cyber romance in the offing

ed251137 , 5/29/13 11:36 AM

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