• Nadal one win away from Vina del Mar title

    2/10/13 4:59 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Nadal one win away from Vina del Mar title Seeds have tumbled left and right in Vina del Mar, but the one constant has been Rafael Nadal. After seven months on the sidelines, Nadal can return with a title when he faces Horacio Zeballos on Sunday.

    Rafael Nadal and Horacio Zeballos will be going head-to-head for the second time in their careers when they do battle in the final of the VTR Open on Sunday evening. Nadal dominated their only previous encounter 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 in the second round of the 2010 French Open.

    The fifth-ranked Spaniard may not be in French Open form just yet, but he is arguably closer than anyone could have hoped after seven months away from tennis due to a knee injury. Nadal has clobbered the opposition this week in Vina del Mar, rolling over Federico Delbonis, Daniel Gimeno-Traver, and an in-form Jeremy Chardy.

    Zeballos isn't a tougher opponent on paper, but the unseeded Argentine is playing some of the best tennis of his life right now. In fact, Zeballos has won 19 of his last 20 matches dating back to last fall--a run that features three clay-court Challenger titles. So far at this event he has taken out Diego Schwartzman, Pablo Andujar, Albert Ramos, and Carlos Berlocq.

    This, of course, is a steep and abrupt step up in quality of opponent for Zeballos. He is by no means a pushover on this surface, but Nadal has heated up with every match and the top seed should roll in straight sets.

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RickyDimon , 2/10/13 5:55 AM

Expect Nadal to be extra sharp in this match. 6-0 6-0 :-)

Vamos !!!

Raindrops , 2/10/13 7:07 AM

raindrops, lol...I think Rafa will gift Zeballos a few games...

Vamos Rafa for two titles today!

natashao , 2/10/13 11:28 AM

Natashao, I know. It was just a bait for crocodiles (to irritate the likes of tennisnba a.k.a. maxi in particular and her fellow fedfarts) lol.

Raindrops , 2/10/13 2:06 PM

6-1 6-1

vamosrafa , 2/10/13 2:43 PM

I think it will be either Ricky's or vamosrafa's prediction. I would be surprised to see Zeballos get any more than that.

Nativenewyorker , 2/10/13 8:03 PM

Rafa won the first set in tiebreak but lost the second in tiebreak too! Looks like Zeballos plays like nothing to lose, I think (not watching) so Rafa better be more calm and stable to win in three sets!

luckystar , 2/11/13 12:20 AM

zeballos inspired! hitting quality is excellent. Rafa playing decent...not at his best but certainly not bad tennis...he needs to be careful

vamosrafa , 2/11/13 12:47 AM


nadline , 2/11/13 12:59 AM

Nadal is finished. This tournament was vital for him. Cant believe he's done. He'll be lucky to stay in the top ten this year.

willmw101 , 2/11/13 1:02 AM

Conrg8s to Zeballos for first title and first ever Top 10 wind!!

Played like a ROSOL!!

KMA , 2/11/13 1:04 AM

I think Zeb served very well if I'm not wrong. Well it'll get even tougher at Brazil, as Almagro will be there. I think Rafa has to rethink about playing doubles at Brazil, should take it slowly and not rush by playing too much within a week. Luckily there's a week's rest between Brazil and Acapluco, so at least he'll have some rest and regroup to start the 500 event.

luckystar , 2/11/13 1:04 AM

rafa looks crushed

willmw101 , 2/11/13 1:08 AM

Don't understand such negative thinking. He's doing well to reach the final, and I expect him to improve at Brazil. Players will take advantage of his lack of match fitness now but they won't for long, this is clay, not hard courts that Rafa is coming back to, so he'll need shorter time to get back on track. It's not like he loses in the first or second round.

Well, he certainly disappoints the Chilean crowd and organizer, for what more to have Rafa's name on the trophy, for he may never play here again! Maybe he'll come back some day and has his name on the trophy then?

luckystar , 2/11/13 1:09 AM

of course he will improve, but so will the field. HE NEEDED this title to kickstart his confidence.

willmw101 , 2/11/13 1:12 AM

This must be a big blow for Rafa. He looked tired. Maybe it was a mistake to play the doubles as well, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. Maybe it was too much to expect him to walk straight into a win.

I hope it goes OK for him because if he takes too long to come back he might call it a day. I can't believe I'm saying this, but even I am being realistic now. Its a long road back.

I hope Rafa does find a way because tennis will be the poorer without him.

Vamos Rafa

nadline , 2/11/13 1:16 AM

Wasn't Rafa supposed to win this 6-1, 6-1?

aegis , 2/11/13 1:22 AM

Tennis will never be the same again

willmw101 , 2/11/13 1:22 AM

Sigh. So what do you all expect? If his opponents play inspiring tennis, Rafa will have a hard time beating them, and that happens even when Rafa is at 100%. Rafa is a positive person, if not be wont come back so many times from injuries and becomes a better player. As long as his knee is not giving him problems, he'll become better as the days go by. Maybe he should rethink his court position on clay, not standing too far away from the baseline and be able to get to the drop shots on time.

PS. And that's why I don't like such predictions of 6-1,6-1 scores for Rafa, as his opponents would play with nothing to lose attitude on clay to give Rafa a hard time. Remember Sod at Rome and then at RG in 2009? Don't underestimate his opponents, even on clay.

luckystar , 2/11/13 1:25 AM

Zeballos was the aggressor in the match.He hits hard and with a surprising amount of spin.

stratocast51 , 2/11/13 1:26 AM

Maybe it's too early to pass judgement on his future. It would be interesting to hear what he has to say. Maybe he doesn't have such high expectations about his prospects so soon after coming back like other people have, so he will be able to put it in perspective.

Still it's very sad that injury has put him in this position. Very sad.

nadline , 2/11/13 1:28 AM

Zeballos was playing out of his mind tennis. Incredible. You don't see a 70+ ranking player hitting every damn ball to the lines like this everyday.

Credits to him, he deserved the win.

Rafa is not at 100% yet, that's obvious and NORMAL. But hey, were you expecting the Rafa of 2008 to be playing here ?

Just give the guy some time.

Emiliano55 , 2/11/13 1:31 AM

I can't believe you guys making such a big deal out of this tourney...Rafa hasn't played for 7 months and he is suddenly expected to be superior?! Only those who don't have a clue about sports may think that way. This means nothing to Rafa...he is on his way back and this tourney is only a warm up event...I also think we should give credit to Zeballos who played brave and attacking tennis...Rafa lost because he is still rusty, he is careful about his knee and did not chase every ball and because this is only the beginning and he knows he has long way to go...there should be no excuses for Rafa as Zeballos was hitting SO hard and gave his all...he reminded me of Rosol simply because he had nothing to lose and played relaxed...he really deserved to win tonight...Rafa on the other hand is still cautious with his game and not fully fit and concentrated...but I know Rafa will be just fine...give him a break with those negative and pessimistic comments...

Vamos Rafa!

natashao , 2/11/13 1:32 AM

The point is is that rafa didnt play badly. Zeballos didnt fear nadal on clay at all. Thats awful news for rafa

willmw101 , 2/11/13 1:34 AM

Perhaps Rafa should rethink the way he plays on clay. Maybe he should put in more aggression, relies a bit more on his serves and returns to get cheap points for him and not sticking to standing far from the baseline and losing grounds to his opponents, especially when he's facing aggressive opponents. He lost to players playing aggressive tennis and swing with nothing to lose, like Sod, Nole on clay, Delpo at the USO and Rosol on grass.

luckystar , 2/11/13 1:35 AM

luckstar, that wont happen so whats the point of suggesting it?

willmw101 , 2/11/13 1:36 AM

I don't think Rafa played aggressively. He looked tired and he wasn't mentally on the ball because he played the wrong shots at times. On the other hand, Zeb hardly put a foot wrong, he did everything well and throughout the match I couldn't see how Rafa was going to win playing like that. Zeb was the better player today.

nadline , 2/11/13 1:36 AM

Congrats to Zeballos. He played a very strong match on both offence and defence taking advantage of a weary Rafa in the third set. Rafa's shots especially in the third lacked pace and depth. Although he looked disappointed, I'm sure he will put it in perspective. He needs these challenging matches to get his strength and endurance back.

Zeballos was genuinely thrilled to have won and deserved the match on a very strong effort. His ranking will move up about 30 spots to around 43. He will have a story to tell his grand kids. Not many can say they took one from Rafa on clay.


Conspirator , 2/11/13 1:43 AM

So the better player wins today, nothing to complain about. Rafa would've to get better in order to win the next event. There're even more tough clay court players waiting for him there at Brazil - Giraldo, Bellucci, Almagro - all are hitting hard and playing aggressive tennis, so more hard times ahead.

Zeb is playing well this whole tournament, beating seeded players to reach the final so he gives Rafa a hard time. I hope Rafa learns from this and plays more aggressively from now onwards. An aggressive Rafa is the hardest to beat player on earth, his rivals all know that. I hope Rafa/Monaco win the doubles title now, if not Rafa has to think of coming back to Chile again next time, to have his name on the trophy (singles or doubles) to 'repay' the kindness shown to him by the Chilean people. I do think having the top player(s) name on the trophy or at least in the winners list would enhance the prestige of the tournament.

luckystar , 2/11/13 1:48 AM

"RT @RomiCvitkovic RT @adel1609 #Nadal-I will never forget this week. Being here in front of you once again is already a great accomplishment

Conspirator , 2/11/13 1:58 AM

Alexandra Willis (@alex_willis)
Posted at 9:02 PM February 10, 2013 on Twitter
"RT @TomPerrotta: Words for the worried: Nadal's loss is meaningless. Hadn't played in 222 days! Tennis isn't that easy, even for him. A+ for a first event."

Conspirator , 2/11/13 2:00 AM

Actually I am relieved Rafa lost. Everyone seemed to have forgotten he was coming back from a long lay off. If he had won, there would have been more pressure on him to win the next two. Now Rafa can relax and focus on improving each day rather than winning minor tournaments. If he wins, that is a bonus. But that isn't the objective of his decision to play the golden Swing.
I feel sorry for the Fedfarts who will probably have to raise funds and find space in the Fed temple for statues of Zeballos and all those who might beat Rafa before he is match fit.
The thing with Rafa in 2009-2010 was that just when Fed farts were rejoicing thinking he was done, he came back.
Hopefully he will do the same this time. But if he doesn't, then he will definitely retire for I am sure he wouldn't want to play when he can lose to anyone.

holdserve , 2/11/13 2:00 AM

Rafa on Facebook...

Enhorabuena a Horacio por su gran victoria. Ha sido una semana muy especial para mi. Gracias por vuestro apoyo incondicional.

Congratulations to Horacio for his great win. It's been a very special week for me. Thank you all for your unconditional support.


Conspirator , 2/11/13 2:11 AM

He doesn't lose to anyone! Zeballos played inspired tennis to beat a not so match fit Rafa, credit to him. Rafa didn't lose to Chardy, a 27th ranked player, so he's not losing to anyone but the inspired players playing the match of their lives. We said that for Sod, and then Rosol, I think Zeb would fall into that category too, for I don't think a better Rafa would lose to Zeb on clay.

Zeb would be facing Almagro in Brazil in the early rounds, he's likely to fall short there as he's exhausted after this big win. Still, he's a better player than Rosol so I expect him to do better than Rosol in the tours in future.

luckystar , 2/11/13 2:15 AM

"I think it will be either Ricky's or vamosrafa's prediction. I would be surprised to see Zeballos get any more than that."



rfzr , 2/11/13 2:39 AM

well strange to see how people write off players like federer nadal so soon nadal is still the favorite for RG and he will improve gradually it wont be a big surprise if he doesnot even win a masters at clay this year GS is a total different game

isfand , 2/11/13 2:49 AM


Do you need a life or what? Interesting that you just quoted my prediction and no one else's and then your stupid facepalm thing. You have been instigating and harassing me at every turn and I am not about to take any more of your infantile nonsense and behavior.

Now are you going to do a facepalm for Ricky for his prediction? Or is your agenda just going after me? Because that's all you do. Post those stupid vamoses to make fun of Rafa and his fans. You make me sick. A pathetic loser who has nothing better to do! So sad!

As for Rafa, everyone has pretty much summarized what happened. As far as anyone who would jump all over Rafa and even dare to say that he will retire, that is really sick! But I guess for some people it's all about kicking someone when they were down.

This is why I was trying to say that we shouldn't get too carried away. Lucky and Conspirator said it well. Rafa was always going to be vulnerable in this first tournament. He wasn't really challenged by other players, so he looked good. But this guy Zeballos came out and went for his shots. He seemed relaxed and maybe sensed that this would be his chance to get a win over a Rafa just coming back from a long layoff. He played very well and deserved to win.

Rafa did look sad on the sidelines after the loss. I am sure that the win would have done him good, but it's not the end of the world. Only for those who hate Rafa and want to see him out of the game. Now at least we can put this in perspective and realize that it is going to be a long road back. Rafa is not anywhere near his best form. Rafa said that losing in tournaments like this wouldn't be as bad as at RG.

Rafa has time to try to get back to his best form. But there will always be haters like rfzr and others like him who have to make fun of him or his fans. Just when we thought he would blow Zabellos off the court, it became a real match.

I can handle Rafa losing. I can't handle the meanness, pettiness and spitefulness of some people here who have to go on a campaign of personal attacks.

Nativenewyorker , 2/11/13 2:56 AM

Oh, so Rafa lost both finals! Too bad for him and the supportive Chilean. He has to come back next time to win for them! I hope Rafa learns from these two defeats quick enough for his next event. Rafa seems to have this nervousness problem especially when coming back from injuries. I think he should learn to use his aggression when he's nervous instead of becoming defensive when he's nervous or feeling less confident. Even though Rafa approaches his matches with a strong desire to win, it seems that he's also afraid to lose and so he'll play conservatively when not confident. He'll never play a match feeling there's nothing to lose, so we may never see him swinging freely and hitting the lines always, I'm afraid.

luckystar , 2/11/13 2:58 AM

Something was telling me yesterday that Rafa will lose today and I was like 'lets not get too ahead of ourselves with scores of 1 and 1'

This title was for sure very important for Rafa and I hope he doesnt feel gutted and deflated. I think match fitness did him in here and if people say he was tired etc, it surely was match fitness . Ofcourse the mental toughness and confidence is not there.

He took 9 months last time to win a title but that was all HC, I hope and pray he gets back to winning ways soon.

The title was important but in hindsight it takes the pressure off and for confidence any title will do good out of the 3 events in Feb

sanju , 2/11/13 3:49 AM

sanju, even I was constantly thinking of it going to 3 sets and Rafa losing. It doesn't mean that we can foretell but simply that our brain was reminding us of a similar occasion when Rafa went to the final but couldn't close out. Davydenko at Doha in 2010?
Rafa was tired, nervous or just did not feel motivated? Anyway, the winner's check means more to Zeballos than to Rafa. So that is the positive.

holdserve , 2/11/13 4:19 AM

It was only the first tournament back for nadal, so we shouldn't be THAT shocked that he failed to win the tournament. The positives were that he improved from match to match,and with more tournaments under his belt I am sure he will be in good form at the french open.

tj600 , 2/11/13 4:29 AM


I just wanted to thank you for the words of support and reason. We have to see the big picture. This is one step on the road back. It's nice to know that there are others here who may not specifically be Rafa fans, but who can put things in perspective. I have zero tolerance for the nastiness and cheap shots. It's gutless and cowardly to kick someone when they are trying to come back.

I am just annoyed that I got caught up and went with the lopsided predictions. Zeballos had to realize that this might be his only shot at beating a vulnerable Rafa coming back from a long layoff. He played like he had nothing to lose. I think Rafa ran out of gas in that match. So now he knows where he's at right now. He knows that this is going to be a long road back with losses and victories.

I know that this loss will not have any impact on Rafa's comeback. For anyone who makes the mistake of writing off Rafa, he will end up proving you wrong as he has done in the past!

Nativenewyorker , 2/11/13 5:45 AM

Have people forgotten that even Rafa himself said before beginning the tournament that he might not make it out of the second round? Come on, everybodyguys! The man has been gone for 7 months.


mara002 , 2/11/13 7:26 AM

willmv101 is the stupidest rafa fan on earth, are you retarted? ignore this poster's comments, he/she kept on saying last year rafa had zero chance at RG and we know rafa owned RG.

Leaving for class now, will post my thoughts after coming back ...I watched the entire match, no reason to be so much negative. The tournament was easily a postitive outcome for rafa overall

vamosrafa , 2/11/13 7:46 AM

I think someone posted on another forum that Rafa said he still lack some core strength and power as he couldn't push off too much on his legs. He's still a bit slow on his reaction time, and that would improve as he regains his match fitness and stamina. Of course it would be nice if he can win his first tournament when back from injury but that's not meant to be. Have to feel for Zeballos too, for this is his first ATP title. He said he'll never forget this win as its over the king of clay, well done to him.

Rafa will only get better from now on, after testing himself here at Chile. He should be getting used to competition now, after playing eight matches here in total. I hope to see the aggressive and confident Rafa soon. Vamos!

luckystar , 2/11/13 8:00 AM


I want to hear what you think. But I have been trying to temper expectations for Rafa. I do think this tournament was a great place to start his comeback. I guess when he sailed through his matches, it was only natural to believe that he could win the title.

As long as the knee holds up, that is the most important thing of all. Rafa had the chance to test the knee under the stress of competition. He also got valuable match play. I have to think that he has a better idea of where he is now. He knows that this will be a gradual process and it will take some time for him to build up conditioning, stamina and strength.

I have no idea what was going on with willmw101 and those comments. It didn't sound like a Rafa fan at all. We have to realize that there will be ups and downs, some great victories and some losses along the way. We can't get crazy every time Rafa loses.

I didn't realize that Brazil is an indoor clay court with altitude. I wonder how Rafa will adjust to those conditions. At least I can look forward to seeing Rafa again in another tournament!

Nativenewyorker , 2/11/13 8:06 AM

I think Rafa's expectations were not as high as everybody else's. He's always insisted that he is working up to MC. Still this kind of loss inspires the locker room that they can go for it but not only against him but against all the top players. After all they have lost and been challenged to lower ranked players recently.

Rafa fans just have to be calm and not expect too much too soon.

nadline , 2/11/13 8:11 AM

^^^After all, they [other top players] have lost to and been challenged by lower ranked players recently.

nadline , 2/11/13 8:32 AM

Rafa lost 7 times in row against Nole, and what was his comment after last defeat:" I am getting closer!"
After 7 months without a single match, he' back and he reach the finale. Only complet idiot or (worse) willma can say that's bad for confidence.
Welcome back, Spanish warrior!

zare , 2/11/13 9:01 AM

Well I remember in 2010 Roger was asked mid 2010 after Rafa had won RG and Wimby about what he thought of Rafa not winning a title for 9 months 2009 August - March 2010 and then completing clay slam & Wimby - his response - 'I never had any doubts about Rafa coming back. Hes an incredible champion. Let us not forget he reached finals like Shanghai and even had few match points in Doha against Davydenko in those 9 months, it just didnt go hs way and he lost few close matches but now they are going his way. Dont write an incredible champion like Rafa off'

I would for sure reflect on those words by Fed and attach weighttage to it rather than some good for nothing moron pronouncing ' Nadal is finished' claiming to be a Rafa fan. I would prefer to put this loss down to match fitness and speed on court not being optimal and am also going to temper my expectations for Brazil and Mexico .

sanju , 2/11/13 10:02 AM

Well I remember in 2010 Roger was asked mid 2010 after Rafa had won RG and Wimby about what he thought of Rafa not winning a title for 9 months 2009 August - March 2010 and then completing clay slam & Wimby - his response - 'I never had any doubts about Rafa coming back. Hes an incredible champion. Let us not forget he reached finals like Shanghai and even had few match points in Doha against Davydenko in those 9 months, it just didnt go hs way and he lost few close matches but now they are going his way. Dont write an incredible champion like Rafa off'

I would for sure reflect on those words by Fed and attach weighttage to it rather than some good for nothing moron pronouncing ' Nadal is finished' claiming to be a Rafa fan. I would prefer to put this loss down to match fitness and speed on court not being optimal and am also going to temper my expectations for Brazil and Mexico .

sanju , 2/11/13 10:02 AM

I like jinxing myself. That should be fairly obvious.

willmw101 , 2/11/13 10:57 AM

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