• Nadal begins Australian Open campaign against Kuznetsov

    1/15/12 5:25 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Nadal begins Australian Open campaign against Kuznetsov Rafael Nadal will kick off his 2012 Australian Open on Monday against qualifier Alex Kuznetsov. John Isner is also in action, facing wild card Benjamin Mitchell.

    (Q) Alex Kuznetsov vs. (2) Rafael Nadal

    Nadal will play the last match on Hisense Arena during Day 1 action at the Australian Open. The world No. 2, who triumphed in Melbourne three years ago, is looking to rebound from a relatively lackluster fall swing and a semifinal loss to Gael Monfils that opened his year in Doha. Nadal last won a title at the 2011 French Open and his last hard-court winner's trophy came in Tokyo during the fall of 2010.

    Up first for Nadal is Kuznetsov, a 24-year-old American. Kuznetsov has spent most of his career on the Challenger circuit and he owns a mere 4-14 record at the ATP level. However, he should be playing with confidence having come through qualifying. Kuznetsov, who qualified for a Grand Slam for the second time, beat Yuichi Sugita in the final round on Saturday. Count on Nadal ending his opponent's run in three quick sets.

    (16) John Isner vs. (WC) Benjamin Mitchell

    Isner and Mitchell will also be squaring off for the first time in their careers when they wrap up Monday's schedule on Court 3. Mitchell is a 19-year-old Australian who played the first ATP main-draw match of his career in Brisbane, where he lost to Tatsuma Ito 6-4, 6-2. Ranked 227th in the world, Mitchell obviously needed a wild card to bypass qualifying and gain direct entry into the Australian Open.

    Coming in as an overwhelming favorite in this one, Isner is looking to bounce back from a surprising second-round loss to Bobby Reynolds in Sydney. The 6'9'' American generally does his best work on American hard courts, but he advanced to the fourth round in Melbourne in 2010 and reached the third round last year before losing to Marin Cilic 9-7 in the fifth set. Isner in straight sets is the pick.

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Vamos Rafa

nadline , 1/15/12 9:59 AM

Rafa talks about Roger's attitude to the tennis calendar debate:

"I disagree with [Federer]," Nadal said in quotes published by the new agency EFE. "It is very easy to say, 'I am not going to say anything, everything is positive' and come off as a 'gentleman' and burn the rest. But it is not like that. We each have our opinion and maybe he likes the circuit. I like it too and I think it's better than most sports, but that does not mean it cannot be better and you can't change things that are bad." 15797&zoneid=25

nadline , 1/15/12 10:22 AM

Vamos Rafa and good luck. Re quote from Rafa's interview above - well said.

schatz , 1/15/12 10:59 AM

Yes well said Rafa! Rafa getting very out spoken these days. I hope he speaks for himself more and stops Toni from talking too much to the press.

luckystar , 1/15/12 11:17 AM

Ah well, one so-called Rafa nemesis, Davydenko, bites the dust...................

Vamos Rafa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

rafaisthebest , 1/16/12 5:49 AM

I am a bit late to this party. I almost forgot that the tennis would be today, because we are a day behind Australia. So Rafa will soon be on!

Thanks to nadline for those comments from Rafa! Good for him! Stay positive and go for it.

Oh and I am not honestly surprised that Davy is out. I said that I didn't expect him to get far.

Nativenewyorker , 1/16/12 6:47 AM

Have to say Nadal looks really good so far.

samprallica , 1/16/12 7:43 AM

, 1/16/12 7:43 AM

I'll take your word for it, I only have the scoreline to go on. My TV company is not showing Rafa's match.

rafaisthebest , 1/16/12 8:18 AM

Why is Rafa wearing strapping around his right knee? That freaked me out when I first saw him. I hope this is nothing serious. He seems to be moving quite well despite it.

I think Rafa looks pretty sharp. He is serving well, groundstrokes are accurate and powerful.

Score is 2-1, Rafa serving up a break.

Nativenewyorker , 1/16/12 8:32 AM

Easy hold for Rafa, up 3-1 in the second set.

Nativenewyorker , 1/16/12 8:34 AM

Yes, Rafa looks good, but Kusnetzov is rubbish. The bit I just watched he kindly sent the ball straight back to Rafa...3 times!

deuce , 1/16/12 8:37 AM

Really poor game from Kuznetsov. Rafa breaks again to go up 4-1.

Nativenewyorker , 1/16/12 8:37 AM

On the contrary, I think Kuznetsov serves well and he has hit a few winners.

I waited all night to watch this match because I wasn't sure when it would be on so I hope Rafa wraps it up soon so I can have a nap.

nadline , 1/16/12 8:40 AM

I said that his last service game was poor. He was making errors. It's not his serving, it's his shots. Now Rafa is up 5-1 and cruising.

I see more errors creeping into Kuznetsov's game.

Nativenewyorker , 1/16/12 8:44 AM


I agree that Kuznetsov is rubbish, however I am just trying to look at Rafa's serving and the quality of his shots. This guy has pretty much come unglued now and just got broken again, second set Rafa 6-1.

I am grateful for an easy opponent as Rafa gets the feel of the court and tests his shots. What concerns me is that heavy wrapping around his knee. I wasn't aware that he had any kind of injury.

Nativenewyorker , 1/16/12 8:46 AM

Second set in the pocket. Rafa was having some knee problem during the DC final. I hope the strapping is just for precaution. Why Rafa keeps double faulting these days? Is that something to do with his knee?

luckystar , 1/16/12 8:50 AM

Rafa can't win. When he says he is injured they slate him, when he says he is 100% fit, they slate him. Chris Bradnam on Brit Eurosport is whingeing that players should be honest and say they are not fit if they are not, because evidently Rafa is not 100% fit but he says he is.

nadline , 1/16/12 8:59 AM


Good question. I know that he had a knee problem during the DC final, but that was over a month ago. I can't remember the last time I saw him with this kind of heavy strapping on his knee. I guess it's acting up again. I always get nervous when there is any sign of injury.

At least this is going to be an easy one for Rafa. He can test his knee and get a feel for the court conditions. I believe he is playing on Hisense.

I am now watching on They have been moving around with the coverage on espn2. They switched to the Isner match.

Nativenewyorker , 1/16/12 9:01 AM

Of course NNY, you're concerned about your favourite. Hope Rafa's bandage is just precautionary.
Come off it nadline, isn't he 200 and something in the rankings, and looks it!

deuce , 1/16/12 9:01 AM

The commentators on aren't saying anything bad about Rafa at all. However, I just switched over to the online coverage. The commentators on espn2 did mention the knee strapping and were wondering how serious it was, but said that Rafa's movement has been fine.

Nativenewyorker , 1/16/12 9:08 AM

Very convincing win. 64 61 61, No 167 or not

Rafa's 1st serve % was very high.

Vamos Rafa

nadline , 1/16/12 9:22 AM

Kuznetsov wasn't all too bad to be honest, just lacked consistency like most first rounders do. Nadal looked solid, aggressive and much better than I've seen him in a while.

samprallica , 1/16/12 9:23 AM

beautiful game from Rafa...such an encouraging first round math...nice and easy, exactly what he needed...not to much running for Rafa, which is also great given the strapped knee...I hope Rafa is is nice to see him smiling like this...what a sweet guy our Rafa is...

Vamos Rafa!!!

natashao , 1/16/12 9:32 AM

Kuznetsov was Jnr RG champion.

nadline , 1/16/12 9:42 AM

Rafa's next opponent is Tommy Hass. I also saw that Ljuby is already out. After Haas, it would be either Lucas Lacko or Donald Young.

I don't think Rafa was tested by this kid, but he did seem to be working on some of his shots. I saw one of the better angled cc backhands at one point in the third set. Rafa seemed to be working on that one. I just got the sense that Rafa was getting his feet under him. From what I could see, his movement was good so hopefully that knee is nothing serious.

Rafa's serving stats were quite good. I remember he served 68% first serves in, about 80 something % first serve points won and about 65% second serve points won. He had a lot of winners and very few unforced errors.

All in all, a nice workout for Rafa to get started. Nice to see him starting on the first day of play, too.

Nativenewyorker , 1/16/12 10:06 AM

Yes happy for the win. The courts at the AO seem rather slow. Hopefully Rafa can hit his shots flatter and not allow his opponents that much time to get to his shots.

Meanwhile, Fed has to beat his opponent 7-5 in the first set. His opponent certainly can serve big.

luckystar , 1/16/12 10:24 AM

After Rafa won the 1st set easy I went out to do my errands.......................easy peasy!!!!


rafaisthebest , 1/16/12 10:37 AM

Regarding the bandage on Rafas knee...its heavily bandaged in a way it would be if you fell and seriously scraped your knee...he may have had a tumble and is protecting it just in case he lands on it accidentally again

isabeau77 , 1/16/12 11:01 AM

Here we go again..Rafa..whats up with you? I am tired of this injury list

Was it perhaps because of the weather that you felt you needed a bit more strapping on your leg, extra protection?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, that's not the reason, no? I gonna do because I think, you know, doing this band there, I don't want to create mystery or nothing. I gonna say what happened.

I had a fantastic week of practice with nothing of pain, no one bad feeling on the knee and no one place on my body. So I was really, really happy with everything.

But yesterday afternoon happened the more strange thing ever happen to me. I was sitting on a chair in the hotel. I felt like a crack on the knee, but is nothing really strange. Happens lot of time with articulation, movement, articulation. Nothing strange.

I stand up. I felt the knee a little bit strange. I moved the leg like this two times to try to find the feeling. After the second time, the knee stays with an unbelievable pain completely straight. I really couldn't move the knee like this (indicating just a little bit). I have no movement on the knee.

I have a hard afternoon. I did all the tests. Came here for ultrasound. Went to hospital for MRI. I just can say thank you very much to the tournament for all the facilities give to me on a Sunday. Not easy to find places, and they make fantastic work for me. So I just can say thanks to them.

And, seriously, yesterday during the evening I wasn't hundred percent sure I would have chance to play, because with the movement of that knee I felt that I will not be able to play.

I did a lot of treatment. The MRI was positive. Nothing wrong shows the MRI. So that's always a lot of calm. But still the knee, you know, with the pain.

Finally what happened is with the movement, articulation, probably pinch maybe the tendon little bit or something that put the tendon completely straight.

That's why yesterday we did a lot of work during the evening. At the end of the night with a lot of pain, but I finally really had the full movement of the knee. I wake up today morning with a little bit better feeling. I did all the treatment. I was all the day doing the treatment.

I started the match with a little bit of scare at the beginning, and nervous because I was really disappointed yesterday. But, you know, after the first 10 games that was scare, I started to play with normal conditions.

The best thing is I felt the knee very well. So is something that I really don't understand why happened everything, but I am really happy that today I was ready to play and I played a fantastic match.

sanju , 1/16/12 11:36 AM

Rafas take on what he said about Roger..Yes Rafa you talk a lot, please dont talk a lot and take extra pains to explain everything..focus on your tennis

Q.Have you had a chance to speak to Roger, following your comments yesterday, regarding the problems on the tour?

RAFAEL NADAL: No. But, anyway, probably yesterday what I said I said. Probably I am wrong telling that to you, especially because these things can stay, must stay in the locker room.

I always had fantastic relationship with Roger. I still have fantastic relationship with Roger. That's what should be, in my opinion. Don't create crazy histories about what I said yesterday, please.

Just I said, because, you know, we can have different views about how the tour need to work. That's all.

Do you plan to speak to Roger soon to try to explain what you meant yesterday, maybe to apologize?

RAFAEL NADAL: No. You know, what I said I said. I feel sorry for say that, especially to you. Because when I say that, I have to say him personally. But that's it. Forget.

I do not talk anymore. During the two weeks, you can try very hard to asking me a lot of things. Yesterday, you know, I started, and I say I don't want to talk anymore about this. Finally I talked to much as usual. That's not gonna happen again.

I advise all of you. You can try hard, but I gonna talk about tennis. If I am here two weeks, if I am here two days, I gonna have less work.

sanju , 1/16/12 11:42 AM

Looks like injury and Rafa go hand in hand..he gets injured sitting on a chair too..Its too much troublesome for his fans to go through all this to be frank

sanju , 1/16/12 11:45 AM

pheewwwwwwwwwwwww !!! THANK GOD nothing was seen in the MRI ! I was soooooooo worried as i read an article on and then rushed to to get the full presser ! rafa will be okay :)

vamosrafa , 1/16/12 1:08 PM

Congrats Rafa for the win. Was not sure when it would be played so unfortunately did not see his match. Eurosport are broadcasting on 2 channels so not sure who is going to be on where. Looking forward to seeing some of the match in the reviews today. Happy that some of you who did see the match seemed to think Rafa played well - that will do for me.

schatz , 1/16/12 1:30 PM

Yes Rafa plays well today. Hopefully his knee is OK going forward. I hope he remains fit and healthy the whole season, goes all the way to the final here and if possible wins this whole tournament, so that no one can accuse him of using injury as an excuse for his loss. I'm really sick of all these accusations.

luckystar , 1/16/12 3:26 PM

If Nadal actually plays the way he did today, and is able to impose himself similarly in later rounds - not that it will be easy given the astronomically higher quality he will have to face - I think he actually has a great shot at winning this thing. He's being aggressive, the serves down the tee and out wide on the deuce court look better than was the norm in 2011, and his inside out forehand clicked. It still remains to be seen how people will exploit his backhand, but it won't be as easy on this surface, as say... the WTF.

samprallica , 1/16/12 3:30 PM

congrats nadal and nadal fans.

In famous tennis forum. Whose fan being the most troublesome annoying, and questionnaire taken. The 1st place is always a nadal fan. not a fan of Roger or Novak, etc.

And a disagreeable player questionnaire is taken. Nadal is 1st ranks sometimes. The usual annoying noisiness in which he has it clearly, or doubtful gamesmanship are reasons. and his arrogant fans are also reasons.

This forum is a gathering of Nadal's fanatic fan. just hell

nadal = too noisy annoying always. gamesmanship. Fake time-out. self-centered ego time. excuse injury. always exaggerated appeal of self condition. looks down on Sampras and past players.
and arrogant annoying blind fan most.

really sick

tennisnba , 1/16/12 4:26 PM

to samprallica.

Are you Sampras's fan? He was one of the players of a favorite. for me. Nadal made the remark which insulted Sampras and past players.

What do you think about it?

tennisnba , 1/16/12 4:34 PM

tennisnba - feel sorry for you being able to produce such nasty content - it never varies and is always the same. Methinks you could be a reincarnation of Fleur - there cannot possibly be 2 people who are able to come up with the same drivel.

schatz , 1/16/12 6:02 PM

Current ATP-rankings

1. Djokovic 12 500 pts
2. Murray 8 750 pts
3. Federer 8 670 pts
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