• Nadal faces Almagro for Barcelona title

    4/27/13 9:10 PM | Kelli DeMario
    Nadal faces Almagro for Barcelona title Defending champion Rafael Nadal looks to raise his eighth title in Barcelona, as he takes the court against fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro. The countrymen are slated to contest their 10th career meeting in Sunday's final match.

    World No. 5 Rafael Nadal holds a 9-0 series advantage over World No. 12 Nicolas Almagro entering into Sunday's title match. The two last met at the 2013 tournament in Acapulco, where the second seed recorded a semifinal victory in straight sets.

    Almagro has lost eight consecutive clay-court sets to Nadal since their 2010 meeting in Madrid.

    Nadal is through to his 77th ATP World Tour final after defeating 5th seed Milos Raonic in the semifinal, 6-4, 6-0. The 26-year-old has not lost a set all week, having completed both the quarterfinal and semifinal with a 6-0 mark in the second.

    "(He) is playing great and having a fantastic week," Nadal said of his compatriot. "Tomorrow will be the most difficult match of the week. Hopefully I can play my best match and take my chances."

    Nadal is seeking his 54th career title on Sunday.

    Almagro advanced to the last match of the tournament by virtue of his straight-set win over Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber. The 27-year-old needed under an hour to seal the semifinal victory, 6-2, 6-1.

    "I think I played one of my best matches here in Spain," Almagro explained. "I felt really good all the time during the match. I'm really happy to be in my first final in Barcelona. Every match I play against (Nadal) is fantastic. I'm ready for everything, so we will see what I can do on court."

    Almagro will attempt to win his 13th career title on Sunday.

    Prediction: Nadal in straight sets.

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Almagro will lose easily

tennis2011 , 4/27/13 9:16 PM

Greetings Mr Almagro. My name is Mr Nadal and I will be serving you tonight. Can I interest you in a breadstick or two?

woodenracquet , 4/28/13 12:50 AM

#Vamos Rafa

nadline , 4/28/13 10:25 AM

Still trying to get my head round the fact that Rafa has been in the final of EACH tournament he has entered this year, this after a 7-month hiatus. 6, to be clear. Folks, there are those who said Rafa would never again reach the commanding heights of the tennis elites, some who said it would take him a year, at least, to begin challenging the top guys.......

Is Rafa for real? I am beginning to suspect we have an alien in our midst.......

rafaisthebest , 4/28/13 11:42 AM

This match proves why Almagro can never challenge the best players in the world

tennis2011 , 4/28/13 5:29 PM

Yes, well done Rafa! So pleased with your win here, title no.8 at Barcelona. Rafa's title streaks at MC, Barcelona and Roland Garros may never be repeated by anyone else going forward! Rome too! What a player! What records! Vamos Rafa!

luckystar , 4/28/13 6:22 PM

Congrats Rafans!!

However I still think Rafa has some work to do before he gets more match fit and can claim Nole. Hes def better this week than last , hope he will continue to get better

4 titles after his prediction of 7 till Wimby still stands :-). Lets see which of next 3 he captures, hope he loses Madrid n captures Rome, RG, Wimby :-)..bein greedy aint I?

sanju , 4/28/13 8:48 PM

Ye and please whats with this losing thw 1st/1st 2 service games..You dont want match practice at the cost of losing right Rafa? :-)

sanju , 4/28/13 8:52 PM

There's no question that Rafa still has work to do to get match fit. However, he took some big strides forward at Barcelona. In the match with Raonic, Rafa seemed to be getting it together. Then against Almagro, he played his best tennis since he came back at MC. He is definitely getting better as he plays more matches.

I don't know what's up with this business of losing his serves early in the first set. Rafa will have to deal with that because when he's playing the top players he won't be able to get away with that. I am just glad that after a slow start he produced some great tennis. I really loved that tweener shot in the second set. I think playing Almagro forced Rafa to raise his level of play.

It's interesting that everything is all about Nole again. Even the tennis channel commentators seemed to have forgotten that Rafa beat Nole three straight times last year during the clay season. It seems like Rafa has to prove himself all over aagain. We know that Rafa was nowhere near his best when he played Nole in the MMC final. Yet Nole still had to be at his best. Nole may think he can take out Rafa any time he pleases on clay, but Rafa will have something to say about that!

Rafa has two more tournaments before RG. He is only going to get better. Also, I noticed that when Rafa took off his shirt after the match, he wasn't wearing the tape on his back! Good news!

Nativenewyorker , 4/29/13 3:58 AM

NNY: The tweener was late in lst set at 5:4 !!

Again the disparity in commentating/reporting. When Roger pulls it off it's talked about ad nauseum and we see endless action replays. When Rafa does it, it's treated as a run of the mill event.

ed251137 , 4/29/13 6:53 AM

I for one am happy everything is about Novak again, takes the pressure off Rafa. In fact, I am hoping the noise levels rise to a level where Novak is favourite for RG and beyond.

Rafa's been through so much already, just let him get on with his business in peace. Next up: Madrid.


rafaisthebest , 4/29/13 8:19 AM

ed251137, 4/29/13 6:53 AM,

Yes, when I saw the match again tonight I realized that the tweener shot was in the first set!

As for what ritb said above, I don't care if they talk about Nole as the favorite for the clay season or RG or whatever. However, the commentators on the tennis channel said that Rafa wasn't playing as well as he did last year. Hello! Last year Rafa wasn't off for seven months! I think what he has accomplished since coming back, has been nothing short of amazing. Then they said that while he is playing well enough to beat Almagro, he isn't ready for Nole. So everything is about Rafa having to beat Nole. Maybe the commentators should wait and see how things play out in Madrid and Rome. Who knows, maybe Nole won't get to meet Rafa. We don't know how the draws will look.

It was the Goodall brothers who were doing the commentating and while I usually enjoy them, I was a bit put off by how they were kind of measuring Rafa against the fact that he lost to Nole at MC. Everyone knows that Rafa was nowhere near his best in that match. I just dislike this idea that whatever Rafa does has to be measured by the marker of - is it good enough to beat Nole!

I think winning Barcelona took some of the sting out of the loss at MC. We know that this tournament is very important to Rafa. Getting that eighth win has to be really good for his confidence. He's not wearing the tape on his back, his game is starting to come together and now after two tournaments in a row, he has a week off to take it easy.

Well done, Rafa!

Nativenewyorker , 4/29/13 8:59 AM

nny, you know Rafa has never been the pundits' favourite and you know why: his presence is an inconvenient reminder that calling Fed "GOAT" has to come with a caveat! Isn't this the same Tennis Channel which asked the question: Is Novak the new King of Clay?

So, all I am saying is: Rafa getting no respect? Get used to it, especially if he has the audacity to add to his Slam tally! Why do you think Novak is now being "bigged up" as The One to stop Rafa on clay? Simple, they are desperate for Rafa to stop adding to his Slam count. Poor Novak is being used as a pawn in all this, do not for one minute think they have suddenly discovered a new love for Novak. It's all about Fed, and protecting his legacy.

Thankfully, all this snide talking does not get to Rafa, he has a good support system around him which shields him from nonsense.

Everyone, even the naysayers, know that this is a more potent Rafa we are looking at here. Raf is making the best start to a season in his career to date, this after being sidelined for 7 months! Insane, and this is what is concerning them.

Of course Rafa is not yet playing as well as he did last year, he missed the second half of last year! Do these people think we are as stupid as they are?


I just hope Rafa continues improving and arrives at RG in a good competitive condition.

Am so looking forward to Madrid!

Vamos Rafa, Hala Madrid!

rafaisthebest , 4/29/13 12:20 PM

RITB: well put!

In 2011 Rafa had his lowest mood tennis-wise starting the first week of RG and made comments about feeling he'd competed for a huge number of years and feeling burned out. He improved his mood and tennis by the later part of the second week and won his 6th RG despite being off his best level.

In 2012 Novak for the first time made the RG final. They made them play even when the court conditions were beyond anything playable (meaning playable at a slam final level of standard, not having fun playing in the rain with a friend)... when the balls were water-logged and the clay was turning to mud. It looked to me that those decisions by the organizers were a means to try to help cause a possible upset that otherwise Novak's level was not going to pull off. Nadal still won in 4.

In 2013 Rafa may not reach his best level by the end of the RG ... his level of 2008 or 2010 for example), but likely it will be enough to lift the trophy for the 8th time... and if not he will have come very close despite coming back from a 7 months break. Put these three years together and the 7 RG's so far and it is almost beyond comprehension. Add to this 2 slams on grass and 2 slams on hardcourt (so far) and it becomes clear that almost all put-downs of Rafa over all the years by professionals and fans are complete garbage.

chlorostoma , 4/29/13 3:46 PM

Rafa's performance in the first part of this year was quite simply amazing. But it is a bit of an albatross for him too. The level of expectation is now so high it must put a strain on him. This might be why he has started slowly in many of his matches and why he looks unusually tense when the scoreline is against him. I agree with everything that has been said about the way commies take delight in referring to his past losses and seem to talk up all his opponents - as if four titles this year are neither here nor there.

ed251137 , 4/29/13 5:01 PM


Nice to see you posting here! It's really unfortunate if this is all about protecting Fed's legacy. The tennis channel and its commentators should be celebrating Rafa's accomplishments. This is something that we may well never see again. It's history in the making! To think that watching Rafa have this great comeback isn't something in and of itself something extraordinary, is just disappointing.

The tennis channel may have asked the question is Nole the new King of Clay, but I have found their commentators to be knowledgeable and fair. It's much worse when watching ESPN. I remember too well listening to Darren Cahill and Chris Fowler discussing Rafa's comeback as they were about to cover the semifinal at I/W with Berdy. They seemed very pessimistic and skeptical. I found it infuriating. Of course, after Rafa beat Berdy easily in straight sets they had to back off their earlier comments. Cahill even said initially that he thought Berdy had a good shot at beating Rafa! So I find their commentary much more biased.

I know that Rafa doesn't measure where he's at with his game by the caveat of - is it good enough to beat Nole. He has his own standards. So do his fans. I measure how Rafa played yesterday by the quality of his tennis. It was unfortunate that the Goodall brothers decided to bring Nole into the conversation after this latest victory. They did give Rafa credit for his eighth title at Barcelona, but then felt compelled to move on to discussing if he was ready for Nole. Rafa's victory stands on its own.

Nativenewyorker , 4/29/13 6:26 PM

I just had to laugh at listening what the commentators were saying about Rafa in his matches with Raonic and Almagro.

The highlight of the weekend for me was seeing Rafa's vast deeply happy smile when the final was over. It just made me smile.

chlorostoma , 4/29/13 7:41 PM

After his disappointing 2nd round exit in Barcelona, Ferru has been granted a wild card entry into the Portugal Open taking place this week. He will be the top seed.

Vamos Ferru!!

rafaisthebest , 4/29/13 9:31 PM

Current ATP-rankings

1. Djokovic 12 500 pts
2. Murray 8 750 pts
3. Federer 8 670 pts
4. Ferrer 6 970 pts
5. Nadal 6 385 pts

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