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  • Nadal, Tsonga square off in semifinal

    4/19/13 7:16 PM | Kelli DeMario
    Nadal, Tsonga square off in semifinal Eight-time defending champion Rafael Nadal is set for a semifinal meeting with World No. 8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Saturday. The winner moves on to face either World No. 1 Novak Djokovic or Fabio Fognini for the championship title.

    World No. 5 Rafael Nadal holds a 7-3 series advantage over World No. 8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga entering into Saturday's semifinal. The Spaniard won their only previous meeting on clay, having secured a straight-sets victory during 2011 Davis Cup competition.

    Nadal is through to the final four after surviving a tricky three-sets match with Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov. The 26-year-old held on to win in two hours and 9 minutes, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4.

    "I know that when you have these tough matches, it is decisive to keep fighting," Nadal explained. "If you keep fighting, you will lose some ones, but you will have a chance to win a lot of ones, too.

    "I gave that fight. Finally he had his chance, and I had my one, and I converted. That's it. I think I played better the last couple of games. Obviously I'm trying to find better rhythm all the time. In my opinion, I did it in the end. It was great.

    "(The quarterfinal) was a fantastic victory for Jo because (Stanislas) Wawrinka is a very dangerous and complete player," said the eight-time defending champion. "He came to this match playing very well. That's a lot of confidence for him, too. We'll see. I have to play aggressive. I have to play my game. If I am playing at the level I played the first set (against Dimitrov), I really hope that I will have chances."

    Nadal is seeking his fifth ATP World Tour final of the season.

    Tsonga advanced to his first Masters 1000 semifinal since 2011 after ousting 13th seed Stanislas Wawrinka early Friday. The 28-year-old Frenchman came through the match in two hours and 11 minutes, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.

    “It's an incredible challenge (to face Nadal),” Tsonga admitted. “He won eight times here. Anything I might achieve will be just a bonus for me. I have no longer any pain in my legs because I know I'm going to play a player that's a lot better than I am on clay. But I do have some weapons. I have everything to win and nothing to lose.”

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Comments



#Vamos Rafa

nadline , 4/19/13 9:14 PM


Yes, you fought bravely Champ, even if it was clear the situation got a little ehm, complicated in the last 2 sets. But like a true champ you stayed colm and took the one chance that came your way.

TBH, I am more relaxed about JWT than I was about Dimitrov.

Go get it done, champ.

Vamos!!

rafaisthebest , 4/19/13 9:24 PM


Rafa has always been so level-headed! A good head he has on his shoulders, that Rafa!!!! He is always so poised about the way he looks at his game, his performance and life in general. As much as Rafa loves to win and compete, he takes loses with the same sentiment..............its just a game at the end of the day!!! Thats why when his game is not on I try not to get too nervous bcos I know he takes things in stride and never gives up until its over. He always feels better about his loses that we his fans do!!!

VAMOS, Rafa!!!!

Monalysa , 4/19/13 9:32 PM


Let's hope Tsonga has a big breakfast because sometimes he comes on court hardly fitting into his clothes and very sluggish.


#Vamos Rafa

nadline , 4/19/13 9:50 PM


The back injury is not something serious in my opinion.Had it been serious,he would have had difficulties while serving. I do not think his serving was affected much...I hope whatever the problm is goes away quickly. Its normally actually as rafa puts it..these tweeks and niggles will surface as he is subject to intense competition..

vamosrafa , 4/19/13 9:55 PM


@ nadline, I dont mind if Tsonga is sluggish!! Dont want him playing so aggressive that he makes Rafa end up causing more sufferng to his back. I want this to be a routine win for Rafa!!!.............i know, wishful thinking, right?!

Monalysa , 4/19/13 9:59 PM


the only concern was that rafa was not killing the sliced balls from grigor as he normally does! volleying was also below par..come on champ,trounce tsonga in 2 !

vamosrafa , 4/19/13 10:03 PM


vamosrafa,

I am glad that you are here posting your thoughts. I respect your knowledge and your observations. I won't get to see the match until 5:00 pm when it will be replayed on the tennis channel. So I am anxious to get a sense of what happened and what's going on with this back injury.

On vb there were members who watched the match and gave their thoughts. They didn't think that Dimitrov played all that great in the second set, that it was more Rafa not playing like himself. They said that his shots didn't seem to have any pop on them. Also, someone mentioned stats for points won at net and it was quite low. I don't remember the exact numbers, but we all know how good Rafa is with his volleying.

Someone did say that when Rafa took off his shirt there was the physio tape all along the lower part of his back, I think on the left side. I am hoping that it's nothing that will bother him in his next match, maybe just a little niggle from not playing.

I am wondering if it was the weather conditions. We know that sometimes Rafa has trouble in damp, wet conditions because his topspin isn't as effective.

I think it's going to be tough against Tsonga. It all depends on Rafa. I think he did need to be challenged in some way. He looked rusty in his first two matches and was overhitting his forehand and also dumping shots into the net. But his first two opponents couldn't capitalize.

I don't think Rafa is going to trounce Tsonga. I would love it, but I think it's going to be a tough one. I am planning to stay up to see it live. I skipped last night to get some much needed sleep, but I really want to watch this one.

Nativenewyorker , 4/19/13 10:15 PM


hi NNY, good to see you posting :) Yes the analysis by members on VB is correct ! rafa was below par in set 2...

Rafa's forehand was a sign of concern actually. He was hesitant..not putting away short balls and missing routine shots ! May be the positive thing is that rafa will now come prepared mentally and with treatment taken before the match...he took treatment for this one during the match so I am hoping he comes in almost free of pain...may be painkillers can relieve him off the pain he has..

I expect rafa to win in 2 sets.I do not expect tsonga causing much trouble for rafa to be honeest..I am confident rafa is going to raise his level

vamosrafa , 4/19/13 10:59 PM


vamosrafa,

Reading my previous post I don't think that I made it clear that these vb members were actually there watching in person. Some of them are at MC and posted their thoughts on what was going on with Rafa.

So you agree with their observations that it was Rafa's level of play that dropped. I will get to see the match soon, so I can try to see for myself what was going on. Rafa not hitting his forehand well is a real concern.

So you still think that Rafa will beat Tsonga in two sets. I feel good when you are confident. For myself, reading everyone's thoughts has helped but I always like to see Rafa and get a sense about what is going on.

Tsonga had his troubles putting away Stan. I only saw the first set of that match and it appeared that Stan was rolling over him. But I couldn't stay up any longer at that point. I think the tennis channel is replaying that match now. I may take a look to see how Tsonga looks.

I know this is Rafa and this is clay and he has been able to deal with Tsonga, but this back injury is a worry and also the fact that Rafa is still rusty. Hopefully the match with Dimitrov was a wakeup call as you said. Usually Rafa responds well when he is challenged.

Nativenewyorker , 4/20/13 1:25 AM


Be brave, keep your mind sharp and stay fit, Rafa!

Vamos!!!

Augustina08 , 4/20/13 11:59 AM


I am on a trip to Washington DC and in fact had to leave on a plane when Rafa was playing that second set with Dimitrov...However I was confident that no matter what Rafa would win that match...I will most likely miss the semi with Tsonga but all I want to say is that we should have more faith in Rafa and should cheer for him with more optimism...
Rafa has never played well against the young raising stars especially when not having to know enough of their game...Dimitrov sure has bright future in tennis...

Vamos Rafa! Lift that trophy of yours in MC!

natashao , 4/20/13 12:52 PM


I am on a trip to Washington DC and in fact had to leave on a plane when Rafa was playing that second set with Dimitrov...However I was confident that no matter what Rafa would win that match...I will most likely miss the semi with Tsonga but all I want to say is that we should have more faith in Rafa and should cheer for him with more optimism...
Rafa has never played well against the young raising stars especially when not having to know enough of their game...Dimitrov sure has bright future in tennis...

Vamos Rafa! Lift that trophy of yours in MC!

natashao , 4/20/13 12:54 PM


So it is obvious now, rafa is definitely struggling with his back..he is not serving well and the forehand is terrible at the moment...no depth in the shots either

vamosrafa , 4/20/13 1:29 PM


tough hold ! go rafa go ! keep fighting...

vamosrafa , 4/20/13 1:31 PM


Rafa needs to retire, this is a joke, he is playing at a fraction of his ability. He just needs to accept that he's not going to win Monte Carlo this year. If he makes it past tsonga he will get thrashed by Djokovic if he's playing like this.

willmw101 , 4/20/13 1:33 PM


terrible conditions out there ..soo windy

vamosrafa , 4/20/13 1:33 PM


I hope this break puts Rafa in a better mood now. He is looking a bit grumpy atm.


Vamos Rafa

nadline , 4/20/13 1:35 PM


I would love to know if this is an injury which will go away with rest before Madrid or whether rafa is damaging himself by playing now. His forehand and serve are do off

willmw101 , 4/20/13 1:37 PM


break ! vamos !! rafa's backhand has been the only positive so far..he has hit some spectacular backhand passing shots and the backhand aint breaking down ..he hit two good inside out forehands too in the last game :)

@willmw, i would love to disagree with your negative comments but I have to agree here...if rafa is not able to raise his level , he'l lose to djokovic in the final...should we count on fognini to do some tommy haas magic? :P its blustery today as well haha

vamosrafa , 4/20/13 1:38 PM


@nadline, true ! rafa is unhappy out there ! I hope this love game cheers him up a little...borg is watching too , come on rafa !:P

@willmw, i do not think this injury is serious..it will go away ..

vamosrafa , 4/20/13 1:40 PM


rafa is serving slower than usual..I know he does not put in his maximum in the serve on clay but this is slower than average...is the back bothering his motion? I hope the back issue just goes away miraculously :(

vamosrafa , 4/20/13 1:43 PM


I dont find Rafa grumpy, I find he's just calm. Rafa is playing as hard as he fels he needs to! If he beats Tsonga he knows he may have to play Novak...................why waste unneccassary energy here.................even on a good mood!!!!

Monalysa , 4/20/13 1:45 PM


Don't really understand how rafa is so easily winning this set. He is playing so badly, makes you wonder about tsonga

willmw101 , 4/20/13 1:48 PM


some good tennis from rafa ! convert the set point boy

vamosrafa , 4/20/13 1:49 PM


Vamossss Rafa

gr8nadal , 4/20/13 1:50 PM


Rafa: 5 winners, 4 UEs,
Time between points: Rafa 21s, Tsonga 26s

rafaisthebest , 4/20/13 1:50 PM


no, it says more about rafa..despite playing poorly by his standards, he can dismantle decent opponents ! 5 winners 4 unforced errors..hmm..the error count is impressive but rafa needs to hit more winners ..go champ! I surely saw improvement as the set progressed

vamosrafa , 4/20/13 1:51 PM


Rafa is playing at what............55%....................and hes won the set.

Rafa is playing as hard as he needs to, and I find him moving well! Just hope he plays more aggressive so he can wrap this up in two!

Tsonga is playing the occassion, and not Nadal!

Monalysa , 4/20/13 1:51 PM


Rafa is smart knowing that he cant be too aggressive bcos its windy!!!

Monalysa , 4/20/13 1:54 PM


Rafa is playing smart in the wind. He's at 55% because the conditions are awful and because he knows Tsonga is struggling. He's giving Tsonga enough rope to hang himself with.

cherylmurray , 4/20/13 1:56 PM


Monalysa I don't think that's the main reason he's not being aggressive. He has zero faith in his forehand at the moment.

willmw101 , 4/20/13 1:57 PM


Oh my goodness. That was a positively horrific game from Tsonga.

cherylmurray , 4/20/13 1:57 PM


@ cherylmurray.........absolutely!!!

And Rafa plays best in the wind!!

Monalysa , 4/20/13 2:00 PM


Where is Nadline?...............sleeping!

Monalysa , 4/20/13 2:01 PM


The reason tsonga will never ever beat rafa on clay is because he lets rafa push him bak so far behind the baseline, tsonga can't step up and hit the ball on the rise. Contrast that to Djokovic and you have te reason why Djokovic is tougher on clay than tsonga.

willmw101 , 4/20/13 2:02 PM


true, rafa is holding back because of wind but lack of faith in his forehand is also a factor...tsonga started the match playing well, it has gotten worse for him with every game

vamosrafa , 4/20/13 2:03 PM


cherylmurray , 4/20/13 1:56 PM

Spot on.

rafaisthebest , 4/20/13 2:04 PM


Rafa playing a little bit better

willmw101 , 4/20/13 2:05 PM


Every body starts well against Rafa.................!!!!

Monalysa , 4/20/13 2:05 PM


Shot!!!!!............And who says Rafa has no faith in his forehand!!!!!

Monalysa , 4/20/13 2:08 PM


Sometimes I do not understand some of the comments here. Why should Rafa play at more than 55% in this match, against this opponent, in these conditions, against this opponent's game, knowing that a bigger challenge awaits in the final?

Isn't the point to win as efficiently as possible?

rafaisthebest , 4/20/13 2:10 PM


Rafa has re-found the depth on his forehand. As I suspected, he just needed to work himself back into form.

cherylmurray , 4/20/13 2:14 PM


But Cheryl why does he look so grumpy and reserved when he wins a big point?

willmw101 , 4/20/13 2:16 PM


Tsonga gets one break back. Too little too late, maybe?

rafaisthebest , 4/20/13 2:16 PM


Savage shots from rafa!!!

willmw101 , 4/20/13 2:19 PM


Passing shot of the tournament from Rafa sets up 3 match points......

rafaisthebest , 4/20/13 2:19 PM


willmw - He doesn't look the lest bit grumpy to me. Conditions like these require concentration. I think he's just focused.

cherylmurray , 4/20/13 2:19 PM


Willow, y r u asking Cheryl?!!

Monalysa , 4/20/13 2:21 PM


and just like that, Tsonga playing out of his skin.

cherylmurray , 4/20/13 2:26 PM


C'mon Rafa, time to put this to bed..........

rafaisthebest , 4/20/13 2:28 PM


Outrageous!!!!

Monalysa , 4/20/13 2:30 PM


Those three match points look big now

willmw101 , 4/20/13 2:31 PM


Untidy from Rafa, very untidy........am not worried though......yet.

rafaisthebest , 4/20/13 2:31 PM


that was an excellent service game.

cherylmurray , 4/20/13 2:37 PM


WTF u couldnt serve like that back at 5:1....................Rafa!!!! Making Tsonga look so much better than he is!!!

Monalysa , 4/20/13 2:37 PM


Now Rafa cannot close out matches??

rafaisthebest , 4/20/13 2:41 PM


Terrrible

willmw101 , 4/20/13 2:42 PM


Rafa look so ammaturist out there!!!

Monalysa , 4/20/13 2:42 PM


Rafa's back doesn't want a third set. If this goes 3 tsonga will win

willmw101 , 4/20/13 2:44 PM


Normally when rafa is on the back foot momentum wise he plays aggressive tennis but he's not doing that, he's playing v defensive. Weather conditions becoming heavy

willmw101 , 4/20/13 2:47 PM


Rafa is in the final again.....

Vamos!!

rafaisthebest , 4/20/13 2:49 PM


That was some great play by Nadal in the breaker. Jo-Willy was really outstanding in that second set.

Well done to Rafa holding his nerve there.

cherylmurray , 4/20/13 2:49 PM


10th final for Rafa, nice to see him there again. Good effort from Tsonga in the 2nd

Shireling , 4/20/13 2:49 PM


Not impressed!................but if thats how he needs to get match play well............

Monalysa , 4/20/13 2:50 PM


or maybe not the 10h, whatever.. he's there :)

Shireling , 4/20/13 2:51 PM


Deserted my post and came home to find out what was happening - just in time to see the tie break. Yipppeeeeeeeeeeee.

Will watch the replay later to see the whole match.

ed251137 , 4/20/13 2:52 PM


I am very impressed with the way Rafa held his nerves. It tough out there, especially when the other player thinks he's got nothing to lose.

#VAMOS

nadline , 4/20/13 2:52 PM


@Mona, I was actually impressed by how Rafa held his nerve in that Tsonga onslaught! 21-12 Winners-UEs, much better stats compared to yesterday for Rafa.

Vamos!!

rafaisthebest , 4/20/13 2:53 PM


The commies paid Rafa the ultimate compliment which I totally agree with. One of them said that Rafa has got so many layers to his game that it's difficult to have a strategy against him. Some people like to call him defensive but nothing could be farther from the truth.

Good competitive match with is more enjoyable when watching the replay as a Rafan.

#GOTE
#trending

nadline , 4/20/13 2:58 PM


I said about Rafa holding his nerves even before I saw Cheryl's post and ritb has just made the same point. It's a strength more than anything to be able to play your best when you are in a tight spot.

nadline , 4/20/13 3:01 PM


@nadline, that is why I never panicked even when Tsonga forced a tie break, you just knew he could not sustain that level. But his opponent has to not only know that, he then has to fight the urge to "respond" which would be completely the wrong tactic.

Even if He had forced a 3rd set, Tsonga's level would have come down and that is when Rafa would have tightened the screw, inch by inch.

#chinesetorture

rafaisthebest , 4/20/13 3:06 PM


What I am not impressed with is the fact that Rafa, esp. when serving for the set/match just completely loses focus and gets himself in that type of predicament!!! It has happened WAY to many times! Oh yeah, he is able to steady himself and pull out the win but one day it may come back to seriuosly haunt him, perhaps 2'row!!! It just rediculous!!!! I rarely see that happen with the other players.......its just not cute anymore......................my heart cant take it!!!!!

Monalysa , 4/20/13 3:09 PM


........and Rafa needed to get re-acquainted with tie-breaks at MC, the last one he played at MC was in the semis in 2009.

rafaisthebest , 4/20/13 3:09 PM


okay rafa thought the match was over at 5-2 and then he was surprised seeing Jo play crazily well at some stages...Rafa responded realy well at 5-5 and then the toe breaker was played splendidly well...

I am confident..Rafa played some great tennis when he had to...He also raised the power on his serve when down 2 break points at 5-3.. Rafa is ready for djokovic! bring it on !

I am not totally counting out fognini's chances against nole though...rafa just spoke about how difficult the conditions are today ! Its tricky out there

vamosrafa , 4/20/13 3:10 PM


@ ribt..............but why must it be forced to a 3rd when ure serving @ 5:1?!!! Isnt that completey laxadasical?!!!!! (not sure if word but heard it b4......lol!!)

Monalysa , 4/20/13 3:12 PM


Congratulations to Rafa on the win! Vamoooossss!!!!

Today, Rafa's mind went to the locker room too soon - the 'lion' on the other side of the court was still alive and capable to fight.

Augustina08 , 4/20/13 3:13 PM


Monalysa, how do you know that Rafa lost focus. There was another player on court who is a capable tennis player, with nothing to lose and wanting to win as well. No one is going to hand him a match on a plate and with the scoring system in tennis, you should never lose hope.

Whilst it's heart rending for the fans, it's the kind of win that gives players more confidence in their game.

nadline , 4/20/13 3:14 PM


lol, good one RITB !

NNY will be glad to see rafa through in 2 sets ! SHe'l wake up to some good news :) Looking forward to the support of all of you in the final tomorrow...NINTH consecutive title it gona be if rafa makes it :O i wonder where is that achievement going to rank in the all time greatest achievements in the open era

vamosrafa , 4/20/13 3:14 PM


Mona..Djoko has not been able to serve out matches too..Ive seen him broken no less tahn like 4-5 times in past few months..yest too Niemenn broke him wen he served for the match and Tsonga >>>> Niemen

So whats final take Rafans? Good or okayish? Comments are all mixed here even if I just ignore willnws anti jinx extremist comments. Worried about Djoko tomm seeing Rafas play last 2 matches, comments on back not encouraging either.

I say bring Djoko on, its a gamble actually, if Rafa beats Djoko, hell gain mental advantage, if Djoko beats rafa, Djoko will gain advantage.

But like 2010, Rafa can work himself into form too slowly for RG , he didnt beat great competition in 2010 xcept Fed in Madrid

sanju , 4/20/13 3:14 PM


@Mona, completely agree with you, to give up 1 break can be termed unfortunate but to give up 2 breaks is egregious. Having said that, if it had been Rafa was playing a consistent opponent like Novak, Fed or Andy I would have been worried because that would have signalled a definitive swing in momentum. With Jo-Willy, he blows hot and cold.

So, my point is this: if it had been those other three, Rafa would have stepped it up right after the first break. In this instance, he just stayed in travelling gear.

rafaisthebest , 4/20/13 3:17 PM


I see this match kinda similar to Berdy match in IW..Grigor similar to Gulbis and this similar to Berdy..In Berdy match too Rfa needed like 4 match points to close though he came from down to win 2nd set..here Rafa was up 5-1 n 7-6..grrr

sanju , 4/20/13 3:17 PM


My take.....................not to good!!! At this stage Rafa needs to be winning more emphatically!!! Rafa played WAY better at IW!!!...............chups!!!! Honestly, if Novak wins his match, and from whats im seeing Novak is playing quite well in this current match, Rafa needs to come in the final much much much better than he did today, or there is NO doubt he will lose!!!!

Monalysa , 4/20/13 3:20 PM


^^^Monalysa, I'm lost for words.

nadline , 4/20/13 3:23 PM


Hahaha, I am loving this! This is the roller-coaster life of a Rafan! Yesterday it was @Mona keeping our spirits up, today we are helping keep HER spirits up!

rafaisthebest , 4/20/13 3:26 PM


^^^You couldn't make it up!

nadline , 4/20/13 3:29 PM


After 2 games, Monalysa assessed Nole's to be playing quite well, forgetting that Rafa was actually leading 61 51 before things changed.

#classic bias

nadline , 4/20/13 3:32 PM


@ Nadline..............so am I!!!!

@ RIBT.....yesterday Rafa started off well, but all of a sudden his form dropped and I felt there was something wrong, and also, I did not feel that Dim had anything to take Rafa down with, so I did not lose hope!! Today, with Tsonga, after serving for the match at 5:1 TWICE and having oppotrunities to break after literally sailing through in inexplicable at this stage!!! He needs to get his mind in gear..........!!!!! He is not playing like the KING OF CLAY!!!!

Monalysa , 4/20/13 3:32 PM


That should be 62 51.

nadline , 4/20/13 3:33 PM


Oh, so Novak is not playing well?!! For someone who has a bad ankle I think he is doing very well, and if he lets Nini back into this match, I will be equally lost for words!!!

Monalysa , 4/20/13 3:35 PM


Monalysa, where did I say that Novak is not playing well? I said you made your assessment after 2 games and that's hardly the time to assess someone's form.

nadline , 4/20/13 3:45 PM


rafaisthebest, 4/20/13 3:26 PM

Exactly!!! I thought I heard my grandmother who misplaced her bandana (with Rafa authograph in it) and mistaken thought someone has stolen it hahahaha. Anyway, like Billy Joel said, Monalysa is always a woman and look at her, she seems can't get over with that 5:1 hahahaha.

Vamos Rafa !!!

Raindrops , 4/20/13 3:48 PM


More to come Monalysa, being a Rafan, you should learn by now how to COLM yourself.

Raindrops , 4/20/13 3:52 PM


COLM?!!! Its good to see u guys so 'colm" about Rafa's performance today!!!

Lets wait and see how well you guys remain "colm" tomorrow!!!!!

VAMOS!!!!

Monalysa , 4/20/13 4:20 PM


Looks like majority Rafans here feel that Novak will eat Rafa up tomorrow..leading the way is Monalysa and willnw (well he always thinks anyone and everyone will eat Rafa up)

I expect mach to be very competitive tomm and it can go either way. Will be interesting to see predictions from all analysts

sanju , 4/20/13 4:59 PM


Meanwhile, enjoy elegance!

http://tinyurl.com/bwykj6m

Augustina08 , 4/20/13 5:00 PM


Normally, I always expect Rafa to win, esp on clay but if Rafa's performance today in the 2nd set is anything to go by...............im on the fence for this one!!!!

Monalysa , 4/20/13 5:06 PM


I am missing natashao..and her confidence on Rafa

The utter lack of faith in Rafa on this board is appalling. I ahve never ever seen Fed or Djoko fans give up on him.

I always am nervous about Rafa in his matches but I thought most of you ahve better confidence, looks like not..apart from 3-4 posters here, hardly any have confidence on Rafa.

sanju , 4/20/13 5:11 PM


Rafael Nadal's interview after SF in Monte Carlo 20/04/13 (in English)

http://www.youtube.com/(watch?v=gVPNlEzHA_I

Rafa says Tsonga started to play aggressively and he (Rafa) stopped to (...?) his legs.
Rafa looks COLM.

Augustina08 , 4/20/13 5:17 PM


I also think Nole has the edge but one should not forget that he has the edge because Rafa is still rusty and 3 months back we did not know when he would come back and Nole himself is very confident right now. One should not forget that Rafa is against the most in form player of last 2 years and also the world No.1 . There is no shame on being an underdog against such a guy.

Just to put things in perpective, since his coeback, Rafa has played 5 consecutive finals, beaten Ferrer,Federer, Berdych, DelBoy and Tsonga. These are 5 of the top 8 players. He has also won against good players like Nico, Dmitrov and Gulbis .

Anyday, I would take this comeback after a longish break. I guess this is as good as it gets. Apart from one freakish loss, he is unbeaten in last 5 tourneys. One more thing I liked about Rafa's comeback is that he has very quickly regained his mental toughness. He has won so many tight 3 setters and these wins will stand him in good stead as the season unfolds.

Even if he loses tomorrow, he has more than one month to get charged up for Roland Garros which is the ulimate clay court goal.I would rather see Rafa lose in Masters1000 and get ready for Roland Garros then have a season like 2009 where he won almost everything and then got injured and ran into Soderling on a cold damp freakish day.

fedexal , 4/20/13 5:21 PM


Excerp from Rafa's pressor:

"It's great for me to be in the final," said Nadal. "It's fantastic news, playing five tournaments in a row after injury, being in five finals in a row is great. I'm very happy for everything. We'll see tomorrow. It will be very tough.

"[Djokovic] brings you to the limit of your game if you want to have chances to win. I know I have to play better than what I did today and yesterday to try to win tomorrow. I have to play more aggressive. These kind of matches are special all the time. I am very happy to have the chance to play these kind of matches another time."

At least he knows what he has to do! And its also good to see he is looking forward to the challenge: that might not be a good thing for Novak!!!

Monalysa , 4/20/13 5:26 PM


Rafas toughest and sternest test tomorrow after his comeback..tats for sure..

sanju , 4/20/13 5:34 PM


Let me speak for myself....................I dont doubt Rafa's ability to beat Novak, let me clear this up right now!!! What i am extremely disappointed about is the fact that he allowed the second set to run away from him for NO reason at all!!!!! Rafa cannot give Nole ANY reason to have hope about beating him!! With an iffy ankle Novak looks very strong and confident..................I hate him going into a match with Rafa with that sentiment. i wanted Novak to have doubts going into the final but after Rafa's performance today, Novak surely believes he has a huge chance............

However, after reading Rafa's pressor, he seems to be looking forward to steadying the ship and take it home!!!..................i feel a little better!!!

VAMOS!!!!

Monalysa , 4/20/13 5:35 PM


fedexal , 4/20/13 5:21 PM

My sentiments exactly!

rafaisthebest , 4/20/13 5:38 PM


Ladies and gentlemen, name one athlete, other than Rafa, who has taken a 7-month injury lay-off and come back to reach the finals of EVERY tournament he has entered?

#Respect
#Insane

rafaisthebest , 4/20/13 5:42 PM


I'm not getting out there against Nadal to play my best, I'm getting out there to win", says Djokovic.

sanju , 4/20/13 5:52 PM


I dont doubt him!!!

Monalysa , 4/20/13 5:55 PM


rafaisthebest that is insane. At his best there is no question whatsoever that rafa's best will beat djokovic at his best on clay. However I do not think rafa is close enough to his best to beat djokovic tomorrow.

willmw101 , 4/20/13 6:02 PM


I read that Fognini called for a trainer two times. It seems that it was not a tough task to beat him.
---8-time champion Rafael Nadal, top-ranked Novak Djokovic set up repeat Monte Carlo final
Excerpt: ---Fognini made 26 unforced errors and was jeered off the court at the end of his first Masters semifinal. The Italian called for a trainer at 4-1. At the next changeover he called the trainer again, pointing to his left shin as the trainer sprayed and taped it. The Italian lost his serve again in the next game as Djokovic wrapped up the set without facing a break point and converted two of his four chances on Fognini's serve. Fognini quickly left the court as boos rang down from the stands. ---
http://tinyurl.com/cfftsft

Augustina08 , 4/20/13 6:19 PM


Monalysa, if you think Nole doesn't have doubts about facing Rafa, you are mistaken. Neither of them is going to take it lightly.

nadline , 4/20/13 6:29 PM


This is from a poster on Tennis-X. I will have to watch the match again.......not sure if I watched the same match!

Excellent, excellent, excellent match by Rafa.

First of all, BAR 5 games in the 2nd set there it was one way traffic except for one game in the first set, were Rafa in composed fashion handled 2 BP?s.

Now those 5 games:

On Jo?s serve he did not miss a single first serve during that period- insane serving!

Yet, Rafa still got some look in?s- taking it 30 and even having 3 MP?s.

Really pleased how he was returning there facing fireball?s from Jo.

Then on his own serve, bar 2 unusual error?s by Rafa he did not play bad at all.

Unlike yesterday, here Rafa actually played very well and consistently under pressure in these 5 games.

What was the issue was ?.. TSONGA.

Jo was playing pressure free, shackles off tennis. He was playing amazingly well, going for high risk shots- and they were coming off.

As the commentator said, in his mind the match was over: so he had nothing to lose. Why not play some shots with the crowd behind his back?

He went to the net a unbelievable 35 times- winning 25 points!

Ultra aggressive!

The good thing for Rafa is neither Novak or Fabio are anywhere near as talented as Tsonga or Grigor at the net.

So all in all: Tsonga played fabulously for 5 games like we know he can- and whenever ANY player get?s on a hot streak there isn?t much ANYONE can do on any surface in the face of it.

You just have to see if you can ride it out.

And this is what pleased me about Rafa here:

Under real pressure, with the opponent firing on all cylinders- Rafa stayed consistent, kept great depth on his shots, the FH/ BH stayed strong and he hit some amazing winner?s when he went for them.

The way he stepped up in the TB under tremendous pressure: crowd supporting their country man rooting for a 3rd set, opponent on fire- was just brilliant stuff from Rafa.

He held his nerve well there IMO.

ULTIMATELY:

Much, much, much improved by Rafa.

He was tested here- and you rather be tested than not going into a possible tough final.

Yet, he was serve was fabulously strong- 1st and 2nd serve- under tricky, windy conditions.

The UE?s for the match was just 12- much, much improved than the 36 the day before.

The FH/ BH was consistent, strong and with depth- and the winner?s counted reflected this: 20 plus in just 2 sets!

Overall all fabulous stuff from Rafa, he is battle hardened by 2 tough matches from highly talented player?s and he got better from the last match to this one.

As a fan, IMO he is looking good when he and most folks recognize: he can actually play much better tennis!

That?s a brilliant position to be on- onwards and upwards I say.

VAMOS RAFA!

Monalysa , 4/20/13 6:29 PM


I am quietly confident................Rafa will prevail.

rafaisthebest , 4/20/13 6:49 PM


Barcelona draw. Dont see Novak or Murray there!!!

http://alturl.com/jownh

Monalysa , 4/20/13 7:00 PM


"Let?s hope rafa brings the curtain down on the greatest broadway show of all-time:
Dislocated ankle Drama queen"

Raise your hand if you find this funny!!!!....................lol!!!!

Monalysa , 4/20/13 7:04 PM


willmw101 , 4/20/13 2:05 PM

Rafa must have been lights out tennis. It caused willmw to actually post a postive compliment while Rafa was playing. :D

Rafa for the win tomorrow 6-4 6-4

vmk1 , 4/20/13 7:05 PM


Btw guys, the average time taken between serves for the match was monitored as follows: Rafa, 21 seconds and Tsonga 26 seconds.

Vamos Rafa!!

rafaisthebest , 4/20/13 7:11 PM


It's great to see that Rafa beat Tsonga and is in the finals again! I recorded the match, but haven't watched it yet. So it seems that conditions were dreadful and Rafa had trouble closing out the match.

I am really surprised by some of the negativity regarding Rafa facing Nole in the final. It had to happen at some point. Also, some Rafa fans don't seem to realize that when Rafa is off for some weeks, then he is going to lose some of his form. This is just the way it is with Rafa. I expected him to struggle and be tested. Also, now he has this back thing going on.

I think that Rafa is going to be ready for Nole. He has the heart of a champion. Rafa had the much more difficult opponent. Fognini was a joke and if anyone judges Nole's readiness by that scoreline then they are kidding themselves.

Now I am off to watch the match!

Nativenewyorker , 4/20/13 7:56 PM


vmk1, 4/20/13 7:05 PM

That's such a funny observation. I found Wills' running commentary during a tense match (think it was the I/W final) deeply disturbing and in fact was very rude to her. Then somebody explained it was her way of handling stress when Rafa is under pressure. Now at least I understand where she is coming from but nonetheless it is still mighty difficult to deal with when the rest of us are hyperventilating during the match.

Thank goodness for the sanctuary of Deuce's red and gold sofa.

fedexal, 4/20/13 5:21 PM
Thank you for your sane, balanced perspective. Doubting Thomases: please read, digest and memorise!

ed251137 , 4/20/13 8:47 PM


ed, not that it particularly matters on a tennis forum, but its he, not she.

willmw101 , 4/20/13 10:43 PM


Raise your hand if you find this funny!!!!....................lol!!!!
Monalysa, 4/20/13 7:04 PM

That line is not funny, it's pathetic and disrespectful. Yuck!

danica , 4/20/13 11:18 PM


Wills. That explains everything ;-

#SorrySir

ed251137 , 4/21/13 12:31 AM


Oh, lighten up Danica, will yuh!! Im sure even Nole will find it funny, considering how much he likes to impersonate the tennis players and all!!

Monalysa , 4/21/13 2:24 AM


I'm sorry, it's nothing personal :), but I really disliked that line. Or do you think that Nole maybe impersonated somebody? :)

Don't you see that it is journalists who write about Nole's injury constantly, not Nole whining about it. Ricky here mentions it in every of his texts as if he writes them for the first time readers who have no clue about what is happening in the world of tennis.

I am all for jokes and fun, laugh at myself and wouldn't mind having somebody impersonate me. I would be greatly amused to see how people perceive me. But that line you posted was really low. Maybe it's the kind of humor I don't understand. I am guessing that my compatriot Nole wouldn't understand it either, just like we couldn't understand what was funny about Roddick's take on his MTOs.

danica , 4/21/13 3:41 AM


Don't you see that it is journalists who write about Nole's injury constantly, not Nole whining about it. Ricky here mentions it in every of his texts as if he writes them for the first time readers who have no clue about what is happening in the world of tennis.
danica , 4/21/13 3:41 AM

Remove the word "Nole" and replace it with "Rafa" and you get the essence of what we Rafans have been saying all along.............

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 8:25 AM


@Mona, just to give you some perspective on Rafa's performance against Tsonga yesterday:

Remember the Roger-Tsonga match at Wimby which Roger lost in 5 sets? Roger cruised in the first 2 sets and then Tsonga turned it on, jack-in-a-box like in the 3rd set, just like he did against Rafa yesterday in the 2nd set. At Wimby, Tsonga proceeded to take the 3rd and 4th sets and the difference there was that Roger panicked and sought to match Tsonga's energy, thereby expending his own. Now Roger has never been a good 5-set player, his genius has always been in finishing his Slam matches in 3. Once you stretch him to 5, you have a chance, the stats show that. Tsonga exploited that at Wimby. What Roger needed to do was play "rope-a-dope", especially knowing his dislike for going the distance, let Tsonga tire himself out instead of giving him energy to feed-off by going toe to toe with him.

Rafa yesterday, employed the right strategy. He played rope-a-dope and let Tsonga expend himself, biding his time to pounce. And that is what he did in the tie breaker. That single backhand volley Rafa scooped off the baseline off his shoelaces and planted right on Tsonga's baseline when it looked like it was going out was the rope-a-dope killer punch, Tsonga folded after that.

Rafa conserved energy. Now watch him unleash hell against Nole.........

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 9:31 AM


@ 9:31 AM

That's an interesting point re: Roger and 5-setters. Hence his comment that it's not necessarily the best man who wins when it goes to 5 lol.

I watched yesterday's replay late last night. With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight it was clear Rafa was not about to kill himself when Tsonga piled on the pressure. Luckily he pulled the trigger at the right moment and didn't let the match go to three sets. That could have been bad news.

Civic duty calls again so am going to have to miss the match this afternoon but will be with you all in spirit.

#AnkleVersusBack

ed251137 , 4/21/13 9:59 AM


@ RIBT, got yuh!!!!

Monalysa , 4/21/13 2:16 PM



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