• Djokovic, Nadal renew rivalry in Monte-Carlo final

    4/21/13 12:12 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Djokovic, Nadal renew rivalry in Monte-Carlo final The first 2013 installment of the Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal rivalry will take place on Sunday in Monte-Carlo. Nadal is one win away from his ninth consecutive title at the event.

    Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will be squaring off for the 34th time in their careers when they clash in the final of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters on Sunday afternoon.

    Nadal leads the head-to-head series 19-14, including a dominant 12-2 on clay. The Spaniard won their first nine encounters on the slow stuff before Djokovic scored a measure of revenge two years ago in Madrid and Rome. Their three most recent meetings came during last spring's clay-court swing, with Nadal prevailing in Monte-Carlo, Rome, and at the French Open (all in title matches).

    Djokovic finished runner-up to Nadal last season (and in 2009), but his return trip to the final was never a sure thing. After sustaining an ankle injury earlier this month during Davis Cup action, the top-ranked Serb needed three sets to get past both Mikhail Youzhny and Juan Monaco. However, he picked up the pace to beat Jarkko Nieminen and Fabio Fognini in straight sets. Overall for his 2013 campaign, the Australian Open champion is 24-2.

    "Djokovic brings you to the limit of your game if you want to have chances to win," Nadal assured. "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."

    Nadal struggled against both Grigor Dimitrov and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in his last two matches, losing a set to Dimitrov and squandering a 5-1 lead in the second set against Tsonga before clinching it in a tiebreaker. The world No. 5 opened with easy victories over Marinko Matosevic and Philipp Kohlschreiber and he is now an outstanding 21-1 for the season.

    "Whenever you play Rafa, you know what to expect," Djokovic noted. "You expect the toughest challenge possible on clay. I'm ready for that. I'm very happy that physically, mentally, emotionally I have been improving as the tournament was going on. Each day I feel better on the court, more confident."

    That is good news Djokovic, who always has to be considered an underdog on this surface against the King of Clay. If he is close to 100 percent, though, a high-quality thriller has to be expected. Nadal in three entertaining sets is the pick.

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Agree with both of them. They take out the best of each other. Let's hope for a great match.

danica , 4/21/13 2:08 AM

Ricky, nice to see u pick Rafa!!

Monalysa , 4/21/13 2:27 AM

RT @juanjo_sports: "I hadn't noticed this, but tomorrow will be the 11th (!!!) straight time Djokovic and Nadal will face off in a final. That's just nuts."

Novak has won 7 of those finals meetings. This is a stat I want Rafa to get on top of quick, even if he is on top in the overall H2H. Rafa used to be the King of Finals. Novak put an end to that. I want that reclaimed, that is why he has to win today.

Vamos Rafa!

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 8:53 AM

Stay focused like a laser beam and be strong like steel, Rafa!


Augustina08 , 4/21/13 8:55 AM

So excited for this! Watching tennis again for the first time since the AO, all the best Nole!

mriiidula , 4/21/13 8:58 AM

^^You are the second Nole fan I have heard say this, no doubt there are plenty more who share your feelings. And yet Nole has been playing on Tour since AO2012, seems to me the only variable that's changed is that he is playing Rafa, no?

Which kinda proves what we Rafans (and Johan Lindhal) have been saying all along: Rafa has charisma.

I am also looking forward to this match, the best 2 players on Tour at the moment going toe to toe.

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 9:17 AM

Expecting good match,

atpresent situation & form, pick --Djokovic is 3 sets

anji123 , 4/21/13 9:27 AM

Welcome back! ;)

danica , 4/21/13 9:46 AM

Can not wait... In two hours we are of to Monte-Carlo Rolex Club. Weather... better condition than yesterday... clear and nice sky over sea, but very cloudy over mountains.

zare , 4/21/13 10:31 AM

I m so worried that these 2 will kill each other..Already both not in top shape..Nole with ankle and Rafa with both back n knee..I wonder if either or both aggravate their condition, what will happen.

I dont want a certain No 2/3 to lick the wounded chops and make an attack, I prefer him earning it rather than taking advantage of injury of his rivals.

sanju , 4/21/13 11:14 AM

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 9:17 AM

Or perhaps we have other things to do, no? Although I agree with you, this is a mouthwatering prospect - watching Nole play Rafa or Fed are the matches I look forward to the most.

samprallica , 4/21/13 11:25 AM

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 9:17 AM

As samprallica pointed out, I actually did have other things to do :) I randomly happened to check Tennistalk and saw that it was the MC final, so yes, I am gonna watch tonight since it's Nole playing Rafa (I also like Nole v Andy) and it should be great. Tennis has really missed the 'Rafa element' so I'm glad he's back.

danica, 4/21/13 9:46 AM

Thank you! :) Hope tonight goes well ;)

mriiidula , 4/21/13 11:32 AM

zare, 4/21/13 10:31 AM

You're watching live? Wow do keep giving us updates! ;)

mriiidula , 4/21/13 11:35 AM

Have a gr8 day :) And if u should see Andy on the practise court, give him a big hug from me ;)
Seconding danica, nice to see u back :)

deuce , 4/21/13 12:13 PM

Good to see nole's support piling up on TT just in time ;) We also have the neutrals like duece :) what's your pick duece?

I think rafa has a slight edge over nole but my main concern is rafa's erving...I hope rafa can come out and serve at his usual level..he was rolling way too many serves against tsonga as it has been reported that he has tweeked a muscle between his rib cage...I hope the painkillers keep the pain away..

Nole is certainly the man who has the weapons to really unsettle rafa on clay over the course of an entire match...GO RAFA GO! The best forehand in the game vs the best backhand in the game !

vamosrafa , 4/21/13 1:31 PM

Zare I have no idea which monte carlo you are allegedly in but the weather is certainly not clear and nice sky as you describe. Cold conditions here and definite chance of rain. Advantage Djokovic.

Vamos Rafa

willmw101 , 4/21/13 1:33 PM

are you in MC willmw101?

vamosrafa , 4/21/13 1:34 PM

i agree that these weather conditions favor djokovic but hey, matches are not decided on weather conditions alone!! there is much more to it... what about wind though?

vamosrafa , 4/21/13 1:39 PM weather-forecast/1097282 rain expected at 3pm local time! damn

vamosrafa , 4/21/13 1:41 PM

May the best man win! That would be the chap from Mallorca, obviously...........

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 1:44 PM

lol, ritb. :)

zare -- I am suitably jealous. I had the chance to go to Monte Carlo for the week a few years ago. It is an INCREDIBLY beautiful tournament. Enjoy!

cherylmurray , 4/21/13 1:46 PM

Vamos Rafa

nadline , 4/21/13 2:00 PM

Yes I am vamos rafa. This will be my last post as will be focusing on the tennis. Now you all won't have to put up with my posting ;)

willmw101 , 4/21/13 2:00 PM

Drizzling in MC......

Good luck, Rafa!!!

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 2:02 PM

Players leaving the court.....raining. Steady downpour. Rafa was looking wistfully up at the skies........

God must be a Serb......

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 2:05 PM

Rain!! Such a dampener. Literally.

Hi deuce!!:)

mriiidula , 4/21/13 2:05 PM

rain. Bah.

cherylmurray , 4/21/13 2:06 PM

I've been away for the weekend and just come back in the nick of time.

It's raining???????? Oh Dear!

Vamos Rafa

nadline , 4/21/13 2:07 PM

hey look it's raining

ts38 , 4/21/13 2:09 PM


vamosrafa , 4/21/13 2:10 PM

Heavy conditions favored the Djoker at RG last year so maybe there's a chance of an upset. Hey zare if you find will there smack him upside the head. ;-)

chr18 , 4/21/13 2:15 PM

Wait a minute. On TC they said that they were able to cover 1 court in the event of rain. So are we going to have indoor clay?

chr18 , 4/21/13 2:17 PM

hahaha..willmw101 and zare at the same venue! any updates on the weather???hate rain delays

vamosrafa , 4/21/13 2:18 PM

Monday final.

nadline , 4/21/13 2:20 PM

^^^Question mark.

Rafa is not going to go out there unless it's dry. That fiasco of playing in rain at the FO will not be repeated.

Vamos Rafa

nadline , 4/21/13 2:22 PM

For goodness sakes, they knew it was going to rain, why not consider a Monday final? I hate these games.....stop, start, stop, start!

Monalysa , 4/21/13 2:24 PM

Comms said rain is expected to continue till 17h00, and MC does not have flood lights, no?

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 2:26 PM

I'd much rather they postponed it to Monday and have a proper match than stopping and starting.

nadline , 4/21/13 2:28 PM

Seriously on the Tennis Channel they said they were able to cover one court in the event of rain which they knew was forecast for this weekend. Why don't they cover a court and get the match going?

chr18 , 4/21/13 2:28 PM

Do not tell me it is a monday final !!! pleaseeee ! I have a full day of classes tomorrow and I hate to wait 24 hours more :(

vamosrafa , 4/21/13 2:29 PM

chr19, because it's an outdoor tournament and it's the final.

nadline , 4/21/13 2:29 PM

Neil Harman ?@NeilHarmanTimes 37s Sunshine out now in Monte Carlo, the covers coming off. We should be starting in 20 minutes

nadline who said Monday final?

sanju , 4/21/13 2:33 PM

I said question mark.

nadline , 4/21/13 2:34 PM

I heard that too, chr. Haven't seen any evidence of it though.

cherylmurray , 4/21/13 2:35 PM

ay dea which live stream works in India..every stream has ads galore popping up and keeps saying server not found. Hate it when ESPN/Star Sports/Ten Sports none show it live and have sum F1, Barclays league going on

sanju , 4/21/13 2:35 PM

Sunshine coming out ! they are taking the covers expected to start in 20 minutes

vamosrafa , 4/21/13 2:35 PM

Remember Wimbledon final last year?

chr18 , 4/21/13 2:36 PM

Ughhh, I set my alarm clock at 5am, jumped out of bed like the house is on fire, turn the TV on, and what do I see?! Rafa vs. Tsonga :(((.

If this doesn't start within 15 minutes, I am off to bed and, see ya whenever I wake up ;). Can't add to sleep deprivation anymore.

danica , 4/21/13 2:37 PM

Well they postponed Rome last year to Monday..

chr..does MC have a roof even? I doubt

sanju , 4/21/13 2:37 PM

I do not think the centre court has a retractable roof...

vamosrafa , 4/21/13 2:40 PM

chr19 wants it to be indoors because he thinks Rafa will be at a disadvantage but Rafa beats Nole indoors as well.

nadline , 4/21/13 2:41 PM

willnw gets so nervous..if hes not tweeting here non stop to take off the pressure..wonder how hell take destress watching the match live..God save ppl sitting next to him..hopefully sumones head doesnt get smacked :-)

sanju , 4/21/13 2:42 PM

They're on court! Thank God!

danica , 4/21/13 2:45 PM

How to trace willnw in MC crowd!!! Find out the guy who will be cursing Rafa at his each and every mistake, making predisctions about his season and would be sitting in Rafa's camp.

fedexal , 4/21/13 2:47 PM

sanju , 4/21/13 2:47 PM

sanju, i am in Pakistan and we have access to same sports channels so I can understand your frustration ! Here is a link i found to be working well :) ml

vamosrafa , 4/21/13 2:48 PM

willmw,be careful. Uncle Toni may let one rip in case you curse his nephew too much

vmk1 , 4/21/13 2:49 PM

Zare and Willmw together :)), hahahaha!

danica , 4/21/13 2:51 PM

Bright sunshine!

nadline , 4/21/13 2:52 PM

It's comical how everyone wants to go back to 2011. Is it because they don't think the 2012 Nole can't beat Rafa?

nadline , 4/21/13 2:54 PM


danica , 4/21/13 2:56 PM

Nice service game for Nole.

cherylmurray , 4/21/13 2:57 PM

early days but i smell a repeat of Madrid 09. :(

dejan1989 , 4/21/13 2:59 PM

Borg. <3

cherylmurray , 4/21/13 3:01 PM

both guys pasting the lines. Good stuff.

cherylmurray , 4/21/13 3:03 PM

Both players seem very tense...

rbennett , 4/21/13 3:04 PM

break point Nole.

cherylmurray , 4/21/13 3:06 PM

2:0 Nole.
Am liking it so far :)

danica , 4/21/13 3:06 PM

30-30..come on rafa !

vamosrafa , 4/21/13 3:09 PM

Still early days to be happy abt that break, especially coz it looks like hes gonna return the favour..

mriiidula , 4/21/13 3:09 PM

danica, you have such a lovely way of cheering. :)

cherylmurray , 4/21/13 3:09 PM

Great play from Djokovic

rbennett , 4/21/13 3:12 PM

#Vamos Rafa

nadline , 4/21/13 3:12 PM

Rafa's backhand not up to scratch so far. If he gains confidence on it, this could be a very long day.

samprallica , 4/21/13 3:13 PM

Thanks Cheryl ;)

danica , 4/21/13 3:15 PM

beautiful from Nole so far. That was a great point.

cherylmurray , 4/21/13 3:17 PM

#Vamos Rafa

nadline , 4/21/13 3:18 PM

Jesus, this is like 2011 Djokovic, I don't think anyone can live with him when he's playing like this.

rbennett , 4/21/13 3:18 PM

Nole is playing at an insane level right now. I am really loving this.

samprallica , 4/21/13 3:18 PM

Set over, methinks

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 3:18 PM

Holy Cow!!! 2 breaks down. Well, the only way now is up!

vmk1 , 4/21/13 3:19 PM

Holy Cow!!! 2 breaks down. Well, the only way now is up!

vmk1 , 4/21/13 3:19 PM

geeze. Nole on absolute fire.

cherylmurray , 4/21/13 3:20 PM

Rafa, wake up!

#Vamos Rafa

nadline , 4/21/13 3:21 PM

Has Rafa ever been handed a bagel or breadstick at MC?

samprallica , 4/21/13 3:21 PM

Wide, wide gap in performance between the 2, right now.........far, far too wide

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 3:21 PM

C'mon Rafa!!!!!!!!!!! *heart attack*

martine75 , 4/21/13 3:21 PM

5-0! Lets go Noleeeee
Great play from him, so nice to see

mriiidula , 4/21/13 3:22 PM

Djokovic is just all over Nadal. shades of 2011 here.

cherylmurray , 4/21/13 3:24 PM

I'm just numb!

Vamos Rafa

nadline , 4/21/13 3:25 PM

haha, headache for all Rafans.

Rafa saves 2 set points so far.

Vamosss !!!

Raindrops , 4/21/13 3:27 PM

Novaks just come there to win and prove a point..period..and Rafa is low on confidence..he doesnt believe in himself v/s Nole..maybe the streak pressure is getting to him too.

sanju , 4/21/13 3:27 PM

Nothing is working for Rafa..........

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 3:27 PM

3rd set point saved again hehe

Raindrops , 4/21/13 3:29 PM

some big serves keeping Rafa from the bagel so far. We'll see if he can hold onto some of his tattered pride.

cherylmurray , 4/21/13 3:29 PM

Not just a headache, Raindrops, blooming migraine right now........

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 3:30 PM

Ah well no bagel. Nadal to win in 3.

samprallica , 4/21/13 3:30 PM

Nole just unable to win 2 points in a row there. 5-1.

mriiidula , 4/21/13 3:30 PM

Vamos!!! Vamos!!! Tight hold!! Just hang in there Rafa. This cannot last forever!!!! Vamos *FFist Pumpp*

vmk1 , 4/21/13 3:30 PM

woooohoooooooo he didn't get bagle hahaha...

What him from here !!!


Raindrops , 4/21/13 3:31 PM

Rafa not playing badly...Nole is playing in God mode..nothing Rafa can do here

atul1985 , 4/21/13 3:32 PM

*** WATCH him from here

Raindrops , 4/21/13 3:32 PM

Rafa looking to at least not be embarrassed. A break here would be good for second set confidence.

cherylmurray , 4/21/13 3:33 PM

Djokovic's level is dropping now

rbennett , 4/21/13 3:33 PM

God atleast not a bagel or breadstick thankgod..that would have been humiliating

sanju , 4/21/13 3:34 PM

Nole drops his level just a bit and thats enough. It must be pretty bad having to play your absolute best to win and then do it on a surface thats not your best against the king of that surface.

samprallica , 4/21/13 3:34 PM

Oh well, avoids a bakery product............

Lots of work to do for Rafa in the coming tourneys........

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 3:34 PM

5:2 Nole.
Bad :)

danica , 4/21/13 3:34 PM

Go Rafa! Go Rafa! Vaaaaamos!!! C'mon!!!!!! Fight! Fight! Fight!

martine75 , 4/21/13 3:34 PM

Rafa needs to hold here....losing 3-6 should give him confidence for the 2nd set

atul1985 , 4/21/13 3:35 PM

Oh please samprallica, this is a walk in the park for Djokovic's, enjoy, honestly. We won't begrudge you........Nole is having a party!

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 3:37 PM

Nice point from Rafa.
Oh, c'mon Nole, wrap that stupid set up! :))

danica , 4/21/13 3:38 PM

no breadstick either....

Vamos Rafa !!!

Raindrops , 4/21/13 3:38 PM

He is not lol. Nadal seems to be winning all the set points. Thats not easy to deal with.

samprallica , 4/21/13 3:40 PM

Imagine what a boost it would be for Rafa if he is to win this set after 5:0, 40:0 down! Rafa has done it before.. so not impossible.. Rafa! Rafa! Rafa! Vamos!!!

martine75 , 4/21/13 3:40 PM


mriiidula , 4/21/13 3:41 PM

A double fault to lose it. Well, I must say I am very satisfied with that set from Nole. Could have been better, but its not quite 2011 is it?

samprallica , 4/21/13 3:42 PM

There he loses servem, set and confidence again

sanju , 4/21/13 3:42 PM

Djokovic's halfway to the title, Rafa's still finding his way out of the locker room, lol.......

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 3:43 PM

Breathing somewhat easier now :)

danica , 4/21/13 3:43 PM

I cant believe this,frankly. I dread the monster 2011 Djoko coming back again. But still its not over until its over. To be fair, this is the first time, Rafa is facing this level after his injury breeak. Anyway onto Set 2. Need some help from Nole to pull this one out of the hat

vmk1 , 4/21/13 3:44 PM

Djokovic fist pumping all over the place, Rafa very subdued........

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 3:44 PM

Well this is Rafas toughest match yet. Rafa out on a 7 month injury , facing toughest opposition on return and Nole wants to beat Rafa on clay and take MC so cant get any tougher for Rafa anyway.

Rafa can beat Fed, Berdy, Tsonga, Ferrer..but Nole is the real challenge for him - mental and physical both

sanju , 4/21/13 3:46 PM

I can't believe this either. Where the heck was this Nole for a good 1 and a half years?

samprallica , 4/21/13 3:47 PM

Tommy Haas in the audience looking really, really HOT!!!!

martine75 , 4/21/13 3:48 PM

Rafa's problem is playing defensively.

Vamos Rafa

nadline , 4/21/13 3:48 PM

The difference in energy levels is quite startling, tbh. Djokovic's now toying with Rafa............hmmmmm, is that wise?

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 3:49 PM

Rafa's problem is that Nole is playing like an absolute beast. He's even taken to toying around with drop shots and volley lobs. Sorry guys, I just cannot be as generous as the two lovely lady Nole fans.

samprallica , 4/21/13 3:49 PM

Guys, you know it's not over after just one set. One set in bag is nice, but faaaaar from over specially if you face Rafa, AND on clay, AND in MC. There is a lot to be played. Still hoping for the Nole's first title there.

danica , 4/21/13 3:49 PM

This aint over yet though!! Nole being made to run like that Duracell bunny..

mriiidula , 4/21/13 3:51 PM

Its okay Rafans, how many of us frankly expectedRafa to beat Nole? I didnt..too early in his comeback to expect him to beat Nole.

sanju , 4/21/13 3:51 PM

^^ Lol you're right danica. I'm getting way ahead of myself here. Nadal is still the king of clay, and that has been beyond dispute for ages. Not over till it is over.

samprallica , 4/21/13 3:52 PM

The way Novak is playing, hard to believe this would be his first title here........

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 3:53 PM

I will do a 100 push ups if Rafa wins set 2.

vmk1 , 4/21/13 3:53 PM

Ricky - your pred all set to be wrong :-)

Cheryl - What was your pick? Did you make a pick?

sanju , 4/21/13 3:53 PM

Davis cup final against Delpo 2011- lost 1st set 6-1, won match, IW final, lost 1st set against Delpo..won match

Maybe I am dreaming the impossible because Nole >>>>>>> Delpo

sanju , 4/21/13 3:55 PM

See, Rafa coming back. This Nole fan just hopes it's not going to be like the IW final.

danica , 4/21/13 3:56 PM

danica..Nole >>>>>>>>>>>>> Delpo..I just wrote above

sanju , 4/21/13 3:57 PM

Why are you guys so confident that Rafa is going to lose? Its not over.. Rafa is not one to just lay there and let his opponent take him down without fighting? C'mon! Vamos Rafa!!!

martine75 , 4/21/13 3:58 PM

Rafa's decision making letting him down. Lots of times he could have pulled the trigger DTL but he hesitated.........should have broken Djokovic's here......

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 3:58 PM

Yes, I noticed just when I posted. Well, you know that saying about great minds thinking the same :).

danica , 4/21/13 3:58 PM

what coming back danica? 2 break points squandered

sanju , 4/21/13 3:59 PM

Oh dear..Rafa not playing with calm

atul1985 , 4/21/13 3:59 PM

Rafa to his credit is fighting his heart out. Nole is just timing the ball unbelievably well its unreal. I can't believe he played as badly as he did through the spring and summer last year.

samprallica , 4/21/13 3:59 PM

rafa played the last game very well..he just could not put ball away with his forehand on break point..he is definitely making inroads...nervous times now, given djo's return and the way he is striking the ball , I am very nervous whenever rafa is serving

vamosrafa , 4/21/13 4:02 PM

sampra - fighting herat out but tactics? sanding so far behind baseline, wrong judgements like not going for DTL, not sliding well to forehand side

JUst fighting doesnt suffice

sanju , 4/21/13 4:03 PM

amidst everything I just love Nole's sportsmanship. Its second to none.

fedexal , 4/21/13 4:04 PM

wow, incredible forehand DTL from rafa to finally finish off the an ace ! rafa playing much better is a level field in set 2 so far...

vamosrafa , 4/21/13 4:04 PM

Thank you, Rafa. At least you will not be eating bakery products if Nole goes on to win this in 2

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 4:04 PM

Patrick Mouratoglou ?@pmouratoglou 1m #Rafa would slide on his painful leg. Maybe a consequence of his knee problem this non sliding, but looses efficiency.

As per Serenas coach, Rafa not sliding to forehand side because of knee and thats making him lose efficiency

sanju , 4/21/13 4:06 PM

Thanks Fedexal!
Not many are willing to acknowledge that!

Oh, no, Nole. Come back!

danica , 4/21/13 4:06 PM

Rafa is really looking rusty.........

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 4:07 PM

Argh! Break to Rafa. Come on Nole, back to the drawing board!

samprallica , 4/21/13 4:07 PM

Well, that "rusty" just broke Nole :(

danica , 4/21/13 4:07 PM

rafa has been the better player in set 2 after being dominated in set 1...he has the momentum! now pleasseeee avoid a break here !!!

vamosrafa , 4/21/13 4:09 PM

Not betting my house on that break, danica, we've seen how Novak's been able to break Rafa at will..........

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 4:09 PM

sanju , 4/21/13 4:06 PM

I don't think that is completely accurate; Nole's varying the depth and angle on his shots and the majority of his shots to the forehand are either brutal or neutral. Nadal isn't being given much of a chance on the forehand and he isn't using the inside out effectively. Now that doesn't require sliding.

samprallica , 4/21/13 4:11 PM

yes, but that was in the first set. Second set is starting all over again. And Rafa is playing better.

danica , 4/21/13 4:11 PM

VAMOS ! here comes the passing shot ! these are the shots that fie rafa up! wooops..killer return from the serbian, 40-40 ! HOLD RAFA

vamosrafa , 4/21/13 4:12 PM

It's more a case of Novak losing concentration t some crucial points in the 2nd than Rafa upping his level, imho

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 4:15 PM

Finally a clean game from Nole.
C'mon now!

danica , 4/21/13 4:16 PM

Well Nadal is actually using his IO forehand better now when he gets the chance. Novak has made the tactical error of playing one ball too many crosscourt to the Nadal backhand though.

samprallica , 4/21/13 4:16 PM

Hope nole breaks back now.

mriiidula , 4/21/13 4:18 PM

quick hold from nole..rafa has been the slightly better player in set 2..he is playing the long rallies muchh better...i was praying rafa holds on to that game at 2-5 in set 1 but it was not to be ... We have seen rafa steady his ship several times against federer on clay..can rafa do it here? I can recall mindblowing comebacks against federer to garner some strength here... arrgghhh 0-15 :(

vamosrafa , 4/21/13 4:18 PM

Rafa cant consolidate a break at all

sanju , 4/21/13 4:20 PM


danica , 4/21/13 4:21 PM

It's 2011 all over again....Nole targeting Rafa's backhand drawing errors....

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 4:22 PM

This game is crucial, if Nole holds serve..fat chance Rafa will hold serve serving to stay in the match

sanju , 4/21/13 4:23 PM

Awesome! 30-30 though

samprallica , 4/21/13 4:24 PM

Rafa's backhand has been shaky today...and nole breaks down rafa's backhand ...he really has got the right tactics ! even though federer has a much better forehand than nole but I prefer the way nole uses his forehand against rafa, much more intelligently..

Looks like nole is going to hold with ease...6-4 looks like a good possibility...oh my rafa surely did not like what i said, BIG forehand

vamosrafa , 4/21/13 4:24 PM

Both players' grunts are getting louder and louder..

mriiidula , 4/21/13 4:25 PM

How the heck did Rafa miss that? Nole is getting into his head again. I haven't seen anyone streak as much as Nole does against Rafa.

samprallica , 4/21/13 4:26 PM

Oh Dear!

Vamos Rafa

nadline , 4/21/13 4:26 PM

I think rafa will get broken here...too bad

atul1985 , 4/21/13 4:27 PM

Every great streak comes to an end is the eventual reality

sanju , 4/21/13 4:28 PM

I honestly expected Rafa to lose but in 3 sets..Too much to expect him to beat a hungry Djoko so early in his comeback

sanju , 4/21/13 4:30 PM

rfzr where are you? :D

samprallica , 4/21/13 4:30 PM

Rafa should not have taken his whole family to MC, it's too distracting.

nadline , 4/21/13 4:30 PM

Rafa is fighting ! He is still there...and look how well he dictates the opening point ! come on!!

vamosrafa , 4/21/13 4:32 PM

Ughhh, Nole must hold...

danica , 4/21/13 4:32 PM

Ok Nole, the backhand!!!! Play it to Rafa's backhand!

samprallica , 4/21/13 4:33 PM

I am finding some of Rafa's forehand misses baffling, truly bafflin

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 4:33 PM

Its not at alll over!! Rafa may break here..

mriiidula , 4/21/13 4:34 PM

WHY THE HELL did rafa miss that short forehand :@ another good pnt though it is 15-30 anndddd a miss from djokoviv !! double break point !! PLEAASSSEEE BREAKKKKK

vamosrafa , 4/21/13 4:34 PM

Seems like Rafa will break. This is an awful game fro m Nole.

danica , 4/21/13 4:35 PM

Bad game from Djokovic then.

rbennett , 4/21/13 4:36 PM

Too good! Nadal played a phenomenal game there, IO forehand firing like crazy. Seems like my prediction holds, Nadal in 3.

samprallica , 4/21/13 4:36 PM

6-5 Rafa

RickyDimon , 4/21/13 4:36 PM

3 missed backhands in a row. Oh nole you're better than that..

mriiidula , 4/21/13 4:36 PM


RickyDimon , 4/21/13 4:38 PM

Tiebreak time. Not sure I have the strength for this..

mriiidula , 4/21/13 4:40 PM

My god, what a return game!

rbennett , 4/21/13 4:40 PM

Can Rfa ever consolidate a break against Nole..Answer is No

sanju , 4/21/13 4:40 PM

Tie break.
NOW Nole! :)

danica , 4/21/13 4:40 PM

Simply phenomenal Nole.

samprallica , 4/21/13 4:40 PM

0-15, 0-30, 0-40, tiebreaker

RickyDimon , 4/21/13 4:41 PM

This is too crazy.. C'mon Rafa!

martine75 , 4/21/13 4:41 PM

Congratulations Novak, on your first MC title..........

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 4:41 PM


RickyDimon , 4/21/13 4:42 PM


danica , 4/21/13 4:45 PM


samprallica , 4/21/13 4:45 PM

6-2 , 7-6 is respectable

In 2011, he lost Rome 6-4, 6-4 (8 games) and he was beter in 2011 than what he is now today after 7 month layoff

sanju , 4/21/13 4:45 PM

2011 revisited...Rafa not playing with calm

atul1985 , 4/21/13 4:45 PM

I am sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo sad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well played Nole.

#Vamos Rafa

nadline , 4/21/13 4:46 PM

Damn... well, congrats to Nole and his fans! :( for Rafa and his fans!

martine75 , 4/21/13 4:47 PM

Well done Djokovic, too good today!

rbennett , 4/21/13 4:47 PM


Sorry guys for my outburst, but I simply have to!

danica , 4/21/13 4:47 PM

Well done Nole!! Congrats on your first masters in monte carlo..that too in straight sets! .at times he was simply unplayable, such a pleasure to watch. Cheers guys, danica& samprallica and all other Nole fans here *hugs*

mriiidula , 4/21/13 4:48 PM

I think Rafa has shown lot of aggression in this set. We know he can improve further . So there are lots of positives for him to take from this Masters . Nole would always be ahead for this win in terms of sheer momentum he is carrying right from the start of season.

Roland Garros is the ultimate goal. I hope Rafa recovers well in time for that. He can only get better .

fedexal , 4/21/13 4:48 PM

Congratulations Novak on your first MC win. Truly, truly impressive.

There is a massive, massive gap to Novak which Rafa has to bridge between now and RG. Does he have the time, that is the question?

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 4:49 PM

Congrats Nole.!!! But our man played awesomely to rally after that lop-sided first set. Onwards to Barca!!! The bigger prize is some distance away. And we also have the advantage of lesser pressure from now on.

vmk1 , 4/21/13 4:49 PM

WOW!!!!!! Amazing stuff Nole, that was a memorable performance. Danica, mriidula, and rfzr, wherever you're hiding, celebrate! I'd normally ask zare too, but he's having one heck of a party.

Loved the primal roar too for good measure!

Commies to the Rafa fans I think what today displayed is that he is still going to be very tough to beat. And the season has only just begun.

samprallica , 4/21/13 4:49 PM

Djoo is clear fav for RG thats is for sure. Only sad thing is he and Rafa may meet as early as qtrs

Yes its good the streak is over, less pressure henceforth

sanju , 4/21/13 4:52 PM

rfzr where are you? :D

hey sampra, good stuff. hope nole takes FO this year.

it seems nole achieves better results if i don't post :)

rfzr , 4/21/13 4:52 PM

Has Nole now won Masters in 8 different locations? mriiidula, you should stick around, there's little of us left these days :)

samprallica , 4/21/13 4:52 PM

Patrick Mouratoglou touched on a very important point, Rafa's lack of movement on his forehand side. He was favoring that left knee. I wonder if he has enough time to heal to a point where he can slide on that leg?

Well, Novak will DEFINITELY feel he has a chance at RG...........

All to play for......

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 4:53 PM

Guys how is Rafa taking the loss? How was the meeting at the net. Stops Rafa April streak,MC streak,become first man to beat Rafa on clay thrice and the list goes on. What a playaa!! But Rafa will be back

vmk1 , 4/21/13 4:54 PM

End of Rafa's streak at MC. So sad but that's how the sport is. This is just one of many tournaments they will play on and looking forward to the next one. So true, Rafa is still struggling and has not gained his old confidence on clay after long 7 months of injury break.

Congrats to Nole and his fans.

Raindrops , 4/21/13 4:54 PM

Rafa showed better aggression but after being 6 5 up, losing 11 of last 12 points due to many UE, now thats horrendous..its all mental. Nole is still in Rafas head occupying prime real estate

sanju , 4/21/13 4:54 PM

Yup samprallica just cincinnati missing from the collection :)

mriiidula , 4/21/13 4:58 PM

oh my, 18 winners to 35 unforced error is horrendous for rafa...still I am very disappointed he was unable to win the 2nd set despite leading twice..

anyway, congrats to djokvic and his fans...finally some one stands tall and snaps rafa's dream run at MC... off to barcelona now...not sure whether rafa is certain to play there

vamosrafa , 4/21/13 4:58 PM

I am here, calming down :))).

Great win for Nole. He now only misses the Cincinnati title to complete all the masters tournaments.

Great play from Rafa too, specially in that second set. I was never at ease, knew that he could come back. He fought valiantly, kudos to him. I don't think the gap is massive. Commies to the Rafa fans. He is still the man to beat on clay.

Nice to hear Serbian hymn ;)

danica , 4/21/13 4:58 PM

rfzr , 4/21/13 4:52 PM

Rubbish you were around in 2011, were you not? :) This has been a very satisfying win, given how he seemed to lose ground at IW and Miami.

samprallica , 4/21/13 4:58 PM

Congrats to Nole and his fans. Wish Rafa had at least won a set but i guess there will be other finals!!!

Rafa definitely will not be #4 at RG but Im sure as usual he will play the best he can!!!

VAMOS, champ!

Monalysa , 4/21/13 4:59 PM

Though it hurts me to say so, Djoko was the better player today. Rafa was too tentative and made too many mistakes. He allowed Djoko to boss him around. However, we can't change it. Nole won. I just hope Rafa doesn't take it too badly.

#Vamos Rafa

nadline , 4/21/13 5:01 PM

nadal humble as always at the presentation: 'thank you novak for winning my favourite tournament'

dejan1989 , 4/21/13 5:02 PM

Nadline, I don't think Rafa is going to dwell to much on this defeat. Novak was just too good. I think what's going to exercise Rafa's mind is how long it is taking to heal that knee because definitely he cannot challenge this Novak at below 100%. The clock is ticking for RG...........

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 5:07 PM

but Nole was also gracious "Thank you for allowing me to win this at least once" :)

Seems to me like Vajda, or his absence rather, was a big factor in Nole's performance during IW and Miami.

danica , 4/21/13 5:12 PM

Is Rafa's knee hurting or is he just afraid of stressing it?

samprallica , 4/21/13 5:12 PM

danica , 4/21/13 5:12 PM

Yup Vajda seems to have the magic potion.

samprallica , 4/21/13 5:13 PM

Rafans..dont have any expectations..we didnt have any expectations when he returned..he won 3 tourneys..likewise dont ahve expectations going forth..watever good comes lets be happy

Rome will be key for RG.. not Barca or Madrid

sanju , 4/21/13 5:14 PM

I was not quoting Yannick Noah.

samprallica , 4/21/13 5:14 PM

The key to RG winner 2013 will be the draw as Rafa will be seeded 5, if he falls in Ferrers qtr that would be best.

Also lets be happy Rafa n Nole played under 2 hrs and didnt kill each other out ..tats very important too

sanju , 4/21/13 5:16 PM

I know. No expectations is the way to go. This was one of the tourneys whose record was awesome. From now on whatever is won is a bonus. For now lets hope for a good showing in Barca

vmk1 , 4/21/13 5:18 PM

I was too nervous to note whether rafa was moving perfectly to his forehand side ..will watch it again..The primary tactic was to break down rafa's backhand..rafa upped the level of his backhand at RG last year so he is gona have to do it again..

@sanju, no..i have expectations and I will keep them....rafa is going to hit was not that djokovic dominated a red hot rafa..we know rafa was not his usual king-of-clay self throughout the week..

and yes, unless ferrer gets injured again, rafa is going to be no.5 at RG and a nole rafa qtr final would be a disaster for both

vamosrafa , 4/21/13 5:21 PM

I expected Rafa to win, I must be honest, better because I thought he's been playing better than Djoko this year. Today, I just don't know why he was so subdued; he was just not on his game.

Rafa can gain points in Madrid, although that might not be enough to take him to #4. I'm so sad. I want to see Rafa bossing everyone again, but I'll have to be

nadline , 4/21/13 5:23 PM

In a way this loss is good. Nole will be favorite going ahead in clay season and it will help Rafa. Rafa does not ahve any streak also in upcoming clay tournies, so its okay

sanju , 4/21/13 5:26 PM

My concern right now is not the draw or whatever, my concern is that knee because if it does not improve, he is vulnerable not just to Novak but anyone he meets at he quarters. Like I asked before, does Rafa have enough time before RG to sort that knee out?

At the moment, gotta pen Novak as the favorite for RG.

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 5:28 PM

I want to see Rafa bossing everyone again, but I'll have to be
, 4/21/13 5:23 PM

Will never ever happen again nadline cmon, hes 26-27, he will never boss the entire field, its not even realistc to expect . He will have his periods of great play, the titles and the hard losses like today hand in hand

nadline.. 1 more request. I have noticed, whenever you bring up 20th win for Rafa..he doesnt convert it, hence please dont bring it up wen he plays Fed or Nole again :-)

sanju , 4/21/13 5:30 PM

Guys, thats the thing I like about Rafa, if he is hurting you will never know and its nice to see that he and Novak exchange pleasantries and so we should take a cue from them!

I am sure Rafa will try to get fitter in time for RG! He will get better the more match play he there is a lot to look forward to!!!

Im still proud of Rafa, he has created a monster in himself so we always expect him to win, but making the finals and fighting is still commendable, esp. after coming from 7 mth layoff (not excuse).

I am convinced the Rafa will return in better form and he will continue to make us proud!!!


Monalysa , 4/21/13 5:30 PM

my concern is that knee because if it does not improve, he is vulnerable not just to Novak but anyone he meets at he quarters.

, 4/21/13 5:28 PM

RITB.. with that same knee he has beaten Federer, Ferrer, Tsonga, Berdy, Delpo after hi comeback. Lets not forget Rafa is a good match up for Novak. His top spin FH falls exactly in Novaks best hot CC BH and Rafa forgot I guess how he played Novak n 2012, he will ahve to learn it back.

sanju , 4/21/13 5:33 PM

Sanju,,teshenis still head and shoulders above the players you mentioned and that is great considering that long lay off. He only has one player, Novak, to get close to. While he can get past the others at less than 100%, hecannotnget past Novak at less than 100%. Even when Rafa was 100%, Novak took Rafa to the limit so any percentage drop off is going to make a significant difference, and we saw that today.

This is not to discredit Novak's win, he came prepared to win and he delivered. My point is that Rafa needs to come similarly prepared otherwise he will not deliver against the best in the world.

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 5:42 PM

Sorry for the gibberish, sanju, am posting from a phone. Meant to say: yes he is still head and shoulders.............

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 5:45 PM

@ Nadline:

"I'm so sad.".....................dont be. All good thing must come to an end, its the way you respond to it is what matters.

From that match, Rafa will be able to judge his form and fitness going into the other tourneys! Nole has to play at such an incredibly high level to beat Rafa aand yet Rafa is still able to break Nole so this loss to me is no big deal! However, Nole played great tennis, unlike Rafa, and so Nole deserves the win!!!

But Rafa will be always!!!! VAMOS!!!

Side bar: Rafa played a lot better at IW!!! Unlikein IW, Today, he was way to tentitive!

Monalysa , 4/21/13 6:16 PM

That was djokovic at 100% and rafa at about 75%.

When Rafa was agressive in that match and attacked short balls from djokovic (of which there were many), he was completely in control.

Really surprising to see rafa not convert the 2nd set, must be rust from not playing consistently for so long. Frankly this shouldn't be that discouraging for Rafa, he was far more tentative today than he will be at the french open.

Rafa should have taken that 2nd set and then probably would have run away with the match but it wasn't to be.

Djokovic played well but he'll know that rafa wasn't at 100%.

Congrats to djokovic, looked pretty solid, especially in first set.

willmw101 , 4/21/13 6:32 PM

Oh and for the record sanju, Rom will absolutely not be a good indicator of form for the french open. rome plays so differently to the french, they are completely different clay and types of courts. Rafa still favorite for french open.

willmw101 , 4/21/13 6:35 PM

Matt Cronin ?@TennisReporters 50m 2 simplify Novak v Rafa matchup: ND's BH holds up better vs RN's FH than anyones, can actually hit winner off it. Does great job taking......Rafa's high bouncing FH on rise. ND's FH better than RN's BH, Rafa still has trouble penetrating BH down line so Novak sits on crosscourt

Perfect analysis. Rafas BH DTL and CC has to click if he has to beat Novak.

I would add please closer to baseline Rafa..

sanju , 4/21/13 6:36 PM

Y maybe willnw..but from a mental toughness perspective it is important..Serving for set at 6-5 and then losing 11 of 12 points..thats jut not Rafa..inexplicable..more match toughness is required and if in Rome he n Nole square off good barometer to decide

sanju , 4/21/13 6:38 PM

willmw101, how did Rafa's movement look up close? Mouratoglou tweeted that Rafa was not sliding into his forehand as he should and was making small running steps as if he was on HC instead. Was that obvious to you?


rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 6:42 PM

1 very positive thing to take away from that match for rafa, was that whenever he played at a similar level to French open 2012, agressive yet controlled tennis, djokovic couldn't stay with him, middle of 2nd set was very good from rafa and pretty one sided in favour of the spaniard. I dont think djokovic can cope with that level. If Rafa can get back to that level consistently like last year then he should still beat djokovic relatively comfortably at the french IF they meet.

willmw101 , 4/21/13 6:43 PM

Yes RITB, but frankly I've noticed rafa doing that starting in Vina del mar. He still regularly slides outstretched with all the pressure on one leg, however more often than not he does a two footed side-slide in to the forehand especially when on the run.

Rafa's movement looked a little slower than usual although on the whole he looked fast round the court, it was really only stretching for balls that seemed to be below his normal form.

willmw101 , 4/21/13 6:46 PM

^^ LOL. And Djokovic simply didn't let his level drop, no?

samprallica , 4/21/13 6:47 PM

sampratica, were you watching the match? Nadal lost 11 of the last 12 points, the majority of which were unforced errors.

willmw101 , 4/21/13 6:57 PM

I was. But Nadal going ahead had a lot to do with Nole dropping his level.

samprallica , 4/21/13 7:14 PM

Rafans will remember that Rafa tore an abdominal muscle after coming back from a hiatus the last time, now he has a problem with a rib cage muscle. Rafa said this is normal after a lengthy stay away for competition. I hope he heals quickly and it is nothing to worry about. Unfortunately, Rafa cannot stop playing to let it heal properly, he has to continue playing and hope he gains strength that way.

Btw, willmw101, thank you for your positive prognosis on Rafa's prospects, very encouraging indeed. begs the question, where is this positivity when you are watching Rafa on TV and posting live? You literally drive everyone crazy!

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 7:15 PM

samprallica thats your take on the final, which match stats dont support at all by the way. However even if that were to be true, that shows that djokovic cant sustain a high enough level against nadal (when he's playing close to his best) on clay which puts djokovic's BEST OF 5 SET french open prospects clearly in perspective.

willmw101 , 4/21/13 7:21 PM

^^ Or that Rafa can't sustain a high enough level against Djokovic? Either Rafa dropped his level eventually or Nole raised his, no?

samprallica , 4/21/13 7:24 PM

If your implying that djokovic's level in monte carlo was higher than it was at the french last year then that is ridiculous. I saw no indication of that whatsoever. rafa has had no problem sustaining a high level against djokovic throughout his career on clay and I see no evidence to suggest that he will now face such a problem.

willmw101 , 4/21/13 7:31 PM

Nope Djokovic's level in Monte Carlo was pretty much up and down, but the final was different. And he was quite obviously tight in several passages of play at the French final last year.

samprallica , 4/21/13 7:46 PM

^^^ exactly. Good of you to agree.

willmw101 , 4/21/13 7:51 PM

sampra..Novak will be tight in every RG final he plays till he wins it..If its sum other opponent he wont maybe but with Rfa he will be tiht if its final

sanju , 4/21/13 8:18 PM

^^ Lol and you know Novak's mental makeup? He hadn't won Monte Carlo before and he knew there was quite a lot on the line in this final as far as the rest of the season goes. I fully expect Nole to walk out with calm determination like he did today - he's already been in the RG final before.

samprallica , 4/21/13 8:40 PM

^^^Don't look now, @samprallica, but you are chiding @sanju for the very sin you are committing yourself, knowing what Novak's mental make-up is!

The line, ".......he knew there was quite a lot on the line in this final as far as the rest of the season goes."

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 8:45 PM

I agree with samprallica on this.
Novak was indeed at 100% but only consistently in the first set.
Rafa was playing well enough at say 80% & yet was almost bageled for his efforts only finding something in himself to claw back some self respect after Novak's level dropped a bit & some UE's came in.
Basically it required Novaks level to drop for Rafa to gain any traction in the match at all, from what I could see.
I don't know what would happen if both played at 100% simultaneously.
Certainly their game styles can let this happen as theyre very similar from the baseline, give or take a FH versus a BH.
Historically at least one would have to go with Rafa.
But it's whether Rafa can get to 100% quickly enough to do that.
And from this to me it remains to be seen if he can.
Anything less than his best might not cut it anymore.
Novak has proven time and time again now that he can hang with Rafa from the baseline and right now is considerably more solid in all respects.

Twinge , 4/21/13 8:52 PM

Phuuuuuuu.... just got back in hotel... and got wireless.
There were few of us, on Place Du Casino, celebrating. Ofc... casino after that... and normally loss :( .
But this was beautiful day in MC. Novak was solid rock! I was hoping that he will win, but in two sets? Congrats to Nole... new record holder in open era 8 of 9 Masters!
On the other side...congrats to Rafa's finale... All his successes after 7 month out of game.
Siting on balcony of my hotel "Reine D'Azure", sipping "Laphroaig"... and drying myself...
What a day :)

zare , 4/21/13 8:52 PM

I love Juan Jose's analysis, spot on: rafael-nadal-in-the-2013-monte-carlo-final/

Choice quote:

"Still, it?s worth remembering that even though Djokovic put together such fantastic numbers, he found himself on the verge of being pushed to a third set as Rafael Nadal served for the second at 6-5. Let?s also acknowledge that Rafael Nadal never really reached the heights of other years (though he did come alive at the beginning of the second set).

The point I?m trying to make is simple: Djokovic had to play at an incredibly high level to take today?s final. He was superb tactically, and found a way to overcome a few dips in form in the second set. And all of that was absolutely needed, since the margin for error against Rafael Nadal on this surface (and at this tournament) is very, very small. "

So, if Rafa was at around 80% as you say Twinge, and I will not argue with that assessment although 75% would be my preferred ratio, and Novak was at 100%, it gives me hope going forward unless of course Rafa gets stuck at these ratios forever, which let's face it, is really clutching at straws. Rafa may never get back to 100%, but he will improve on 75-80%. Question is: will/can Novak improve on 100%?

Juan Jose's anaysis implies that a small improvement on Rafa's part will go a long way towards levelling the playing field on this surface. I agree with him based on what I saw today. Will this incremental improvement take place in time for RG? I don't know, we gonna see, no?

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 9:39 PM

I never thought that I would come here and find that willmw was the one making the most sense and being the most reasonable and optimistic. I expected some to think that this will mark an end of an era. However, I don't think Rafa is going anywhere.

Some here have mentioned how good Rafa looked at I/W. That was after he had played for a period of time and had matches under his belt. He took a month off and it was like one step forward and two steps back. It was obvious that he was rusty and didn't have the rhythm and timing on his groundstrokes. The back issue is a direct result of not playing enough and being conditioned. This was what I was concerned about when he was off for a month. We could all see the difference. He has never come into the clay season with so little playing time. He struggled against Dimitrov and Tsonga when he couldn't close out the match. Rafa didn't have his mental focus and concentration.

Nole did come to win. Although he hasn't looked that good recently, in this match he was able to bring his best. Rafa seems to have forgotten how he beat Nole three times on clay last year. For those who persist in saying that it all comes down to Rafa's backhand not standing up Nole's forehand, then you have forgotten how Rafa was able to change his tactics last year. There is a way for him to beat Nole, but he has to be match fit and ready. He wasn't ready for Nole in this match.

I don't care if anyone chooses to write Rafa off or think that he can't beat Nole anymore. We heard a lot of that when Rafa suffered seven straight losses. Yet Rafa managed to find the answers.


Thanks for posting that analysis. Perspective is the order of the day. I also really appreciate willmw's common sense analysis of what happened here. At some point Rafa was going to lose and it's not easy to see it happen. But he will deal with it. There's a lot more clay tennis to be played.

Nativenewyorker , 4/21/13 9:52 PM

.....and another thing: If Rafa comes back after a 7 -month lay-off and is reaching the finals of EVERY tournament he enters, what does that say about the rest of the Tour, never mind Rafa himself? Who else on Tour can claim that, even without the "benefit" of a 7-month lay-off? And when all is said and done, he is the only man left standing to push the #1 player to put on a near flawless performance in order to beat him? And Rafans are supposed to be alarmed?

Don't get it...........

Hmmmm, @willmw101 is right, there is more to this Rafa than this loss suggests..............

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 10:09 PM

Nadline said she was sure Rafa would win because she thought Rafa played better than Nole this season. I don't see how Rafa's matches were better than what Nole showed at the AO and later. Rafa won against good and top 10 players but most of those matches were pretty tight. If it were Nole instead of Rafa, I would not have made any predictions so loud and with such certainty. I simply don't take anything for granted specially if you are up against the #1 in the world and after you had tight wins in two previous rounds. I was mildly optimistic about Nole's chances but choose to keep them for myself.

Still, it?s worth remembering that even though Djokovic put together such fantastic numbers, he found himself on the verge of being pushed to a third set as Rafael Nadal served for the second at 6-5." Oh please! Rafa lost that game without winning a point. It was because Nole was THAT good in that game. I don't see how mentioning this is important at all. Rafa failed to serve for the second set. But previously Nole failed to bagel Rafa, and failed to close out the match at 5:4. Nole made some unusual errors and that's why that final didn't last even less. But that's how matches are.

And speaking of perspective - Nole literally had NO practice on clay this season. He had couple of days on clay for Davis Cup match against Belgium. He payed one match there against Rochus. May I remind you that on the night he won the AO, he left for Europe to take part in that tie. Having injured his ankle two weeks ago, he only had an hour of practice per day starting Friday before the tournament started. And it was more testing his ankle than having a decent practice. It took Novak half the tournament to stop thinking about his ankle and move freely. In the first two matches, it was more than obvious his mind was nowhere on court.

So please, don't belittle his win. He was not 100% today. His service could have been better. But a win is a win.

danica , 4/21/13 10:22 PM

^^^chill Danica, Novak was amazing Today, there was a set of some the best tennis I've ever seen.
RITB You make it sound as if the onus is on Novak!
No, clearly the ball is now in Rafas court, he's the one with the question mark on him, the one that seriously has to improve here if he is to resist this challenge..
75% 80% or 100%, we actually saw Rafa at his best here too, just not for very long. He couldn't dig deep enough for long enough.
As sign that he is not there yet.
He's not sharp enough at the very highest level.
We can only talk in big ifs here, something I'm used to hearing and seeing as a muzz fan ;)
I don't know either how much Rafa can improve & recover to deal with the djoker but I think it's pretty much a given now that Novak, the world number 1, will be able to deliver his best and move up a gear when required to do so at crucial moments just about every time it matters.
The last 2 years has made that clear.
And no one can reasonably argue otherwise.

Twinge , 4/21/13 10:33 PM

So please, don't belittle his win.

danica , 4/21/13 10:22 PM

I am sorry you feel this way about Juan Jose's analysis. I have read the entire analysis. I found it thoughtful, respectful (to both players) and insightful.

You obviously do not share his take, each to his/her own. But having a different perspective to yours does not make for "belittling", sorry.

Suggest you enjoy Novak's truly deserved victory and not look for slights where they do not exist......seriously.

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 10:35 PM

No, clearly the ball is now in Rafas court, he's the one with the question mark on him, the one that seriously has to improve here if he is to resist this challenge..
75% 80% or 100%, we actually saw Rafa at his best here too, just not for very long. He couldn't dig deep enough for long enough.
As sign that he is not there yet.
He's not sharp enough at the very highest level.
We can only talk in big ifs here, ......

Twinge , 4/21/13 10:33 PM


Quit e agree, it's Rafa who has to raise his level!

Sorry if it appeared I implied otherwise. Novak (or any other player for that matter) has NOTHING to prove, he is not the one on the comeback trail! It is Rafa who has to prove that his long lay-off has not adversely affected his game.

Well, good in patches is not going to cut it to beat Novak or Muzza and Rafa said as much in his post-match presser.

I believe Rafa can go up a few gears, my fear is that he may not have enough time for RG, RG is not too far off............

rafaisthebest , 4/21/13 10:47 PM

thanks :). It's just because I read so many of such analyses after Nole's wins where he was not credited enough. Similarly, a poster on another thread thought Ricky's article on the match was rubbish. I guess, we are all a bit oversensitive when our fave is in question :).

danica , 4/21/13 10:51 PM


I must agree with ritb. You sound way too defensive considering your guy won the match. As far as being match ready, Nole has played much more than Rafa. He didn't have a seven month layoff. It's not about excuses or belittling Nole's victory. It's about keeping things in perspective. I am not about to write off Rafa because of this loss. I want to make that perfectly clear! If others wish to do so, then let them. Rafa was not at his best and Nole came out and played very well. He brought his game and deserved to win today.

I am putting this loss in perspective. It's not going to be the end of Rafa on clay. It doesn't mean that Rafa can't beat Nole. It doesn't mean that Nole is going to continue to beat Rafa and that he is the favorite for RG. I heard Rafa's interview on court after the match. He is handling this loss well. He may well have felt that it was going to happen.

It's unfortunate that Rafa had to take off a month and it was a step back. We could see it as Rafa struggled in his matches this week. He just wasn't ready to meet Nole at this time. Nole not having much practice on clay is not the same as Rafa having to be out for seven months. So let's just be real about that.

I am not treating this loss as the end-all for Rafa. I know better. Rafa had his chances, but couldn't get it done. He broke Nole's serve but then was broken back. However, people should not forget that Rafa changed his tactics last year and beat Nole three times in a row on clay, including RG. Rafa will need more time to get match ready, to get his rhythm and timing back.

While I can congratulate Nole on his victory, that does not mean that Rafa won't have his chances in the clay season. Rafa's not going anywhere. So please just chill out and enjoy Nole's victory. Just because Rafa fans choose not to treat it like Armageddon or the Apocalypse, is no reason for you to take offense.

Nativenewyorker , 4/21/13 10:53 PM

Rafa can certainly go up a few gears (as can Novak).
And by RG he just might make although I too am not sure there's enough time.
Particularly if he's not winning tournaments.
MC was always the place he got his confidence together for the clay and grass season.
I would think it would be crucial now for him to hold onto his other tournaments leading up to RG or we may have a new champion in Paris.
Momentum is an irresistible force in sport as it is elsewhere it seems.

Twinge , 4/21/13 11:02 PM

Rafa can certainly go up a few gears (as can Novak).

Twinge, 4/21/13 11:02 PM

Any evidence to suggest that djokovic can go up a few gears from the monte carlo final? I see no sign of this at all. Djokovic was playing as well as he can for the majority of that match, rafa wasn't. Very simple.

willmw101 , 4/21/13 11:36 PM

Well he'd hardly have to go up another gear from the first set now would he?
I mean would anyone have to?!?
Almost bageling a player who had won it 8 times before.
'Going up a gear' in this context would mean playing at that level the whole match
That's what I meant. Apologies for the conflicting re use of the term.
Although that surely would not be possible for anyone.
... nor required really.
I sense a lot of anxiety & worry in your posts willm101!
Hopefully Rafa will have an interesting & forceful response to this setback over the coming weeks
Because he clearly has considerable room available for improvement.

Twinge , 4/22/13 12:27 AM

^^ nonsensical. I'm actually unworried and v optimistic re rafa's clay court season and beyond, thanks for the concern though.

Now murray fans on the other hand have plenty to be worried about....

willmw101 , 4/22/13 12:48 AM

Really, oh should we be?!?
But I'm unconcerned about you will, I'm sure you'll be fine :)
Nor am I worried via a vis the clay court season believe it or not.
In fact I don't care at all!
Any points will do for these 6 short weeks on the dirt for us Muzz fans.
This is Rafa's time to shine & he is yet to do it so I don't understand why you wouldn't be worried at all, unless you are playing a teensy little trick on yourself.
Yes I think that might be it judging from the plethora of contrarian posting from you here.

Twinge , 4/22/13 1:06 AM

danica - Why and what are you so defensive about for Nole I fail to understand? Instead of enjoying his win, you are explaining why he deserves to win. He won it and the won who won it is the last man standing and the champion, no ifs n buts.

Twinge - Not sure why you so concerned about Rafa, such lengthy posts talking about Rafa and if he would be ready for RG :-). If he has to win RG , he will, if he isnt meant to , he wont, nothing anyone says here will change anything. The racquet will do the talking for everyone.

The draw is the intangible though in my opinion with Rafa at No 5, I am sureRafa is hoping he gets an easy quarter as much as the top 3 are to not draw him either in their quarter or half :-)

sanju , 4/22/13 6:24 AM

The day I hear Rafael Nadal worrying about the draw at RG is the day I will know for sure he is not up to the task. Any other surface, yes, not clay. Henceforth, Rafa should just concentrate on getting as many matches as he can, (and yes, that includes the evil Madrid) under his belt to improve his shot timing, shot placement decision making and stamina. Once he re-gains this, he can take care of anybody, at any stage of the draw at RG.

Rafa, unfortunately, is racing against time because the clay schedule is so compact.


rafaisthebest , 4/22/13 6:51 AM

@danica, this is my take on the post you referred to on the other thread:

Ricky said there is a new King of Monte Carlo. What the poster is saying is: perspective. Djokovic's was the better player today and he is the Champion, this year. Rafa has been the champion 8 consecutive years.

To put this into perspective. Nobody jumped around proclaiming Rafa the King of Wimbledon when he beat Federer for the first time there.

Personally, I understand the hyperbole from Ricky. Novak just snapped the longest running streak in tennis history, in terms of championships won. And it is Rafa at the receiving end......

rafaisthebest , 4/22/13 7:04 AM

i still haven't been able to bring myself to watch the MC final :-(

However I did see the presentation ceremony and was encouraged by his demeanour. He seemed genuinely relaxed about the loss - which is more than can be said about most of his fans posting above!

Re: the intercostal muscle strain. I've always understood this is an injury that can only be dealt with by rest and there's no hope of that before RG unless he withdraws from one of the tournaments.

What's your take on this? Was it a contributory factor in the strange up and down performance yesterday.

BTW. Where is Lucky - apart from one comment she has been absent for some time.

ed251137 , 4/22/13 7:18 AM


Rafa is going to have to get his rest where he can. He has to move right on to Barcelona, so maybe only one or two days off. Then I believe there is a week off before Madrid. As far as this intercostal rib muscle, I do think it was a problem for him. We saw what happened in that second set with Dimitrov. Something was clearly bothering him and he was having real trouble bending down to get to some of his shots. He seemed better in the third set after the taping. Even a little strain or niggle in that area would affect his serving and some of his movement. The last thing he needed with the worries over the knee, is another problem.

However, I still believe that lack of match play and fitness was the reason for Rafa's up and down performance. He even said as much in his post-match comments. He said that when he was serving after getting the two breaks in the second set, he didn't have the intensity in his shots. He said this is a result of not playing enough recently. He also said that he only was able to practice again once he got to MC. He said that wasn't enough for him to take on Nole in the final.

I have also been wondering where lucky is at this time. We haven't heard from her for a few days. That's not like her. I hope she's okay. I have missed reading her thoughts. I just think that it's important to put this loss in perspective. I am not ceding the rest of the clay season to Nole. I also don't think that it's going to be like 2011. Rafa was at least fighting in that second set. He wasn't just being passive and getting blown off the court like in the two losses in 2011. Rafa seems very calm about the loss and confident that he will get himself back where he needs to be. As far as the issue of having enough time, there are three tournaments before RG. That should be enough match play to get him into decent form, providing that rib thing resolves and he stays healthy. I am not even thinking about RG right now. There's still a lot of tennis to be played.

Nativenewyorker , 4/22/13 7:30 AM

"Twinge - Not sure why you so concerned about Rafa, such lengthy posts talking about Rafa and if he would be ready for RG :-). If he has to win RG , he will, if he isnt meant to , he wont, nothing anyone says here will change anything. The racquet will do the talking for everyone..."

Lol. I thought you were Nadline for a second.
I come here to talk about tennis & at the moment that means Novak and Rafa.
Certainly you all talk about Muzz a lot so why shouldn't I return the favour?
I'm not really 'concerned' about Rafa prospects, but I'm interested in the top 4 In general. I was, nevertheless, actually bored of this rivalry just a year ago, but clearly this match was going to be very interesting for a number of reasons, hence my posts, which relatively speaking are neither lengthy nor numerous. Don't read em if they bother you.
And what is it with glib philosophising?
I don't think I'm being that controversial at all but maybe we shouldn't talk about anything because it won't change anything?
Oh wait a minute, I knew that already.
It might make for a rather sparse tennis blog however Lol
Don't get too testy now Sanju ;)

Twinge , 4/22/13 8:58 AM

What energy Rafa gets when seeing Roger on the other side of the Net, now Novak gets when he see Rafa on the other side of the net. The match up is going to get more strengthened now on. RG is really slipping from Rafa this year unless somebody stops Novak before reaching final like 2012....

velliat53 , 4/22/13 9:13 AM

What energy Rafa gets when seeing Roger on the other side of the Net, now Novak gets when he see Rafa on the other side of the net. The match up is going to get more strengthened now on. RG is really slipping from Rafa this year unless somebody stops Novak before reaching final like 2011...sorry for the typo

velliat53 , 4/22/13 9:14 AM

velliat53 , 4/22/13 9:14 AM

So, in your opinion:
1. Novak is the favourite to win RG;
2. Rafa cannot defend his RG crown unless someone stops Novak for him, like in 2011. Please remind me, who stopped Novak for Rafa in 2012?
3. Henceforth, Novak is going to beat Rafa more often like Rafa beats Fed more often.

As Rafa would say, we gonna see, no?

rafaisthebest , 4/22/13 9:42 AM

...........Oh, how can I forget, there is a school of thought out there saying the rain delay stopped rain winning RG in 2012. Well, Rafa has friends in "high places" then. Hopefully, they will come to his rescue in this match-up in future, no?

rafaisthebest , 4/22/13 9:46 AM


Thanks for doing what I was going to do. However, I don't really want to try and counter the negativity and pessimism of other Rafa fans anymore at this point. I am going to put this loss behind me and look forward to Barcelona.

I want to just think happy thoughts about Rafa, who has shown such class and grace and wisdom in the way he is handling this loss. So the job is yours now! I am off to get some sleep and happy dreams about Rafa!

Nativenewyorker , 4/22/13 9:48 AM

In my post of 9:46AM I meant to say, "........there is a school of thought out there saying the rain delay stopped Nole from winning RG in 2012."

rafaisthebest , 4/22/13 1:00 PM

It is true Novak had the momentum winning 8 straight games when the rain started and there was a chance that he would have won the trophy had it continued without the hindrance of the rain.

When Novak was beaten lower ranked players in his own favourite surface,(Indian wells and Miami) he could defeat Rafa on clay. So what I wrote in my previous post looks ok. It is all mental toughness and focus. Novak has focus on RG this year and he will take it, we can see, should he meet RAFA in final!!

velliat53 , 4/22/13 2:13 PM

velliat53 , 4/22/13 2:13 PM

We heard you twice the first time, Rafa cannot beat Novak at RG, Rafa needs someone or something to stop Novak for him. Novak has focus on RG, Rafa does not. We will pray for Rafa.

In the meantime, I am sure you will be praying for Novak to draw Rafa in the quarters at RG since Rafa is almost assured of being a 5th seed at RG2013. Or are you saying Novak can only beat Rafa in a final?

rafaisthebest , 4/22/13 2:27 PM

Novak is doubtful to beat Rafa in QF but if he sees Rafa on the other side of net in RG final, it will be different. Novak will prevail., that is my opinion. He is very much focussed in Final and he believes he can beat RAFA. Federer hopes to beat Rafa as Nadline once said, but Novak believes he can beat Rafa. That make the difference.
in 2008 Monte carlo final, Fed was up 5-1 in the fist st but ultimately lost 7-5, 7-5 to Rafa. Here also Novak was 5-1 but Rafa could not re-do the same in this case.

velliat53 , 4/22/13 2:54 PM

Just to recap, @velliat53;
1. You are not belittling Rafa's 2012 RG win, just your opinion that Novak would have won had it not been for the rain;
2. Novak cannot beat Rafa in the quarters at RG, he does not have belief at this stage in the draw;
3. Novak can beat Rafa in the final at RG, his belief makes this certain.
4. Federer only hopes he can beat Rafa, he does not believe he can beat Rafa.

Well noted.

rafaisthebest , 4/22/13 3:04 PM

exactly. 4th point, credit to NADLINE who said that and I fully agree. Federer cannot beat Rafa on any surface, including grass as he is always tentative against Rafa who is confidence personified when facing Roger. The match up has become that way!!

velliat53 , 4/22/13 3:29 PM

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