Federer Breaks Record for Most Weeks at #1, Nadal Withdraws from Olympic Games

Hi there Fedfamily, I hope you guys are doing well. I feel like I owe you a post. It’s nice to see you guys leaving comments on my blog even though I’m not posting. There is the Fedfamily as a whole and then there is the Fedfamily of this blog, which have a unique flavor to it. I appreciate you all hanging around while I’m making some big changes in my life and I’m happy with how things have worked out. I have settled more over here in the US now and will be staying in one place from now on at my new job with regular hours. This will make it a lot easier for me to blog and keep up with the tennis world.

We are currently at a very exciting and privileged place as Fedfans. We were waiting for #17 for a long time and wasn’t sure anymore if it would come. But it all came together for Roger and us at that special tennis court which is the centre court of Wimbledon. All those tough losses and frustration was suddenly all worth it. We hung in there and came out triumphant. So I am proud of you guys and proud of Roger. It was all just so peRFect and worth reliving again and again. A 17th slam title, a 7th Wimby title, and back at the top of the rankings. Simply amazing. In a sene this is the best time to be a Fedfan.

This is like the third coming of Roger. First he was in his prime where he was piling up the slam titles one after the other, looking unstoppable. Then a certain Spaniard showed up who turned out to be Roger’s nemesis. He broke Roger’s heart at Wimby ’08 and then went on to shatter it at the Australian Open the following year. It was desperate times but the second coming was at hand. Roger went on to win his first French Open to complete the career slam and then broke Sampras’ slam record at Wimbledon right after. As Fedfans we were triumphant once more. Our waiting had paid off.

Roger then added one more slams to his tally at the following year’s Australian Open after losing it in such a heart breaking fashion the year before. It seemed things couldn’t get any better, but we wanted more. Roger then went through another ‘slump’, but this one was much longer. He was slamless for more than two years, suffering many tough losses in the process. It all started turning around after the US Open last year. Since then Roger has been on an incredible run, and it was really just a question of time before he would break through at slam level again. As of the beginning of this week he broke Sampras’ record of 286 weeks at #1.

Since the rankings only changes at the beginning of each week he is guaranteed to stay at #1 for a 287th week. Yet another incredible achievement. This all at 30 years of age in a brutal sport where there are always young players looking to make a name for themselves. I mean physically and mentally it is one of the toughest sports out there, which is why so few players achieve much after the age of 30. Yet here is Roger at age 30 winning the most prestigious tournament in the world and is right back on top of the tennis world. Unreal. Where do we go from here? Well as Fedfans we remain greedy. We always want more, no matter how much Roger achieves.

And there is nothing wrong with it. We have to keep setting new standards if we don’t want to stagnate. Why settle for less if we can have more? Realistically Roger can win more slams, so there is no need to be satisfied right now. This is the third coming of Roger and we want it to last as long as possible. We have waited long enough for it. So next up is the Olympic Games which is kinda special because it will be held at Wimbledon. The Olympics is not particularly special to me as a fan, but it would just make Roger’s resume that more complete if he does have a gold medal in singles. And I really like his chances.

He is coming freshly off center court from a 7th Wimbledon title and must be the overwhelming favorite for the title. Especially after Nadal withdrew. I also read today that Nadal will take a 15 day break to recover from his injury that he apparently got at Wimbledon. I guess Nadal is always injured after he loses. The bottom line is he played well against Rosol and was beaten by the better player. There is no doubt about it. This is now the same thing that happened after another shock loss to Soderling at the French Open. He skipped Wimbledon that year as well. I’m starting to think it is his ego that is hurt, not his body.

I mean Nadal always seems to be injured anyway. I just don’t trust the guy. Anyway it is a big loss to the event and Roger would have had a good chance at beating Nadal at the Olympics. So it’s a shame he isn’t playing, but it also helps Roger’s chances. We saw what happened after Nadal lost at Wimbledon and now he is out of the Olympics. The stars are once again aligning for Roger. I’m not trying to jinx him or anything folks. I just have a good feeling about it. But for me the big one is the US Open. If he wins that it will confirm that he is back for good. Nadal already looks like he won’t be much of a factor there, although you can never really tell with him.

If he does take off 15 days it means he will miss Toronto and maybe even Cincy. That wouldn’t help his preparation for the US Open and he may well lose before the semis. But even if he does end up playing Roger there it would be a good opportunity for Roger to beat him. I think after what transpired the last three years at the US Open Roger badly wants that title and he is almost destined to win it. I also hear the conditions may be faster there this year which will also help him. We will just have to see. I think until the end of the year Roger can win several more events. His best chances will come at the Olympics, Cincinnati, the US Open, Basel, and the Masters Cup.

But of course he will have chances at Toronto, Shanghai, and Paris too. I think he can realistically win five of the events left that there is to play. But mostly I want to see him win the US Open. If that is the only tournament he wins until the end of the year I’d already be a happy camper. And then of course I want him to end the year ranked #1. For that he may need to win two more events, which is easily doable. There is an exciting time ahead now until the end of the year. We have realistic hopes now of him doing great things until then. Like I said, the US Open is the key. If he wins there then you can expect a lot more from him in 2013…

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53 Comments

  1. Yes Ruan, what a great Wimbledon we have seen and the final against Murray was Roger at his best and nr 1 again a record which will stand forever I think Like you wrote early I felt for Murray too.If he is in another final and not against Roger I really hope he wins.

    And now The Olympics at Wimbledon again his home court where it all started. It would be so special see him with a gold medall. But I agree the USO is more important and for ones he don’t met Djokovic in the semis

    This week is a really great for the family with the twins birthday at 23 of July. Was so special see them in the arms of Mirka and grandmother clapping for daddy Roger was so happy like he said to Sue that’s the best.

    As for Nadal I totally agree each time is the same story and what I don’t understand is that all the media believes him. Every he loss it because he is ailing but if Roger loss then he is in decline.
    Now I hope he will stay from the court for a long time.I really can’t watch a match with his gamesmanship.

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  2. So glad you are back. I definitely agree with your comments. I am so glad you are enjoying the USA. My country and the greatest!!!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Pat yes it’s a great country and I am enjoying it.

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  3. Mr. Ruans, do you have a heart and soul?…..You always mention the Holy name of Jesus (Jesus Fed)but you are using Jesus’ name in vain!….Everytime you write something Nadal is always in your blog and continuously trashing him. Federer is back to #1 and he won Wimbledon, just thank God and don’t trash Nadal all the time. Keep an open mind and put yourself in the footsteps of Nadal, and you were chosen to be a flag bearer for Spain, of course it is a great honor and you would go in a heart beat but his injury is not fake(everytime he losses) like what you always say. This is a Federer Blog not a Nadal Blog. I have been reading the official websites of Novak, Nadal, and Rogerfederer official site and the writers are very professional and they don’t say bad things about Federer. You have to let go and leave Nadal alone. I am sure if Federer reads your blog he will call you up himself to stop you from doing this. I hope someday you will remember what you are doing…..maybe when you get injured or get sick and then people will say you are faking!!!Leave Nadal alone and just write something about Federer in your Ruansfedererblog. May God forgive you and may He show you the right path to do good to others. May God Bless You!

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    Jiten Reply:

    If you cannot take it, simply leave this blog. We don’t need your expert opinion. We already have Ru-an as our expert. Just leave the Fed family alone!

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    Dave Reply:

    Another holyroller nut ball taking things far too seriously. PROJECT YOUR OPINIONS ELSEWHERE! As far as Nadal is concerned is that he uses the injury card, poor me excuses everytime he fails to go deep in a slam or when he lose to Federer. NADAL requires no sympathy but extreme criticism just as Federer receives.

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    Dave Reply:

    Also Ruan got a lot of criticism for the praise he bestowed upon Nadal for the fight he put up at the Australian Open 2012. I would say that he has been quite fair to most of Federer’s opponents. If you don’t like what is being said here, go rummage over at Nadal’s site or Djokovic’s site, now they don’t say anything bad or criticize Federer in a negative way. Yeah right!

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    Jose Reply:

    Agree to Mary, For Roger to be great, Nadal need not be bashed like this. I being a Federer fan , would like to see Federer thrashing Nadal rather than disgracing Nadal. Its true that Nadal sometimes does unsportsmans like behaviour, like taking too much and disrupting opponents rhythm as much as possible. But if u consider the intensity, there is no one better than him. I am hoping that Nadal returns healthy and Federer thrashes him and reduce the Head to Head record.

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    rich Reply:

    I agree totally, that tennis bloggers should leave alone the bum-scratching, tic-ridden, grunting, bicep-flexing, fist-pumping, time-violating, on-court coaching, ‘shoulder-jolting’, forever injured but oh-so humble noble ambassador of Spanish sport and concentrate on what really matters. Like when Roger next gives him a good schooling. (And also whether Nadal is ducking the tougher drugs testing programme at the Olympics – the ITF programme is a joke – because we know his battered knees are going to be fine on hard-courts(!) in a few weeks. Yeah, right.)

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  4. Thanks for the post Ruan, Good to know u r getting Settled finally. I am waiting for Roger to beat the record of Steffi Graf of Total weeks as No 1, 377 Weeks. It may look unreal, but what is wrong in dreaming..

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  5. Agree with your analysis, Ruan. Had a few laughs, too, with your digs at the Nadal bs. But Roger is back. Unbelievable. I think at Wimbledon he showed us a mental toughness that has often been missing in recent years. Great to see. We know that Roger would love an Olympic singles gold but as tennis fans it’s the tally of majors that really counts. So good luck for gold, Roger, but the USO is where it all gets serious again. You never know what’s gonna happen in sports – and we sure saw a lot of that at Wimbledon – but if Roger stays fit he could still add to his incredible record. By the way, a friend of mine, who was a former pro player, says, count Djoko out – he’s done – and to dial in the Fed for next year. A lot of tennis to be played before then, so hopefully we can sit back and enjoy the show.

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    Chris Reply:

    Why count Djoko out?

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I have the same question Chris.

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    rich Reply:

    Fair enough question. It did surprise me that he did say it. It was a text comment so I didn’t get an explanation but I am picking that he believes – for whatever reason – that Djokovic has peaked in ‘011, that since the AO this year he has been unable to regain his acendancy over Nadal, while his loss to Roger at Wimbledon took him back to before his ‘011 peak, when he more often than not lost to Roger. So, either Djoko has peaked physically and can’t regain the level he was at last year, or his confidence will have taken a battering with his sequence of losses to Nadal and now Roger at Wimbledon. Either way, my pro friend thinks the Roger we are now seeing is currently a better player than both Djoko and Nadal – and will be next year, too. Whaddya reckon?

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    Chris Reply:

    I don’t count him out, why should I? He could not repeat his run from last year, but that does not come as a surprise, on the contrary. Djoko has hardly dropped, making a GS title in AO, then losing to Nadal in Roland Garros (final) and to Federer in Wimbledon (SF). He might slip a bit more but I expect him to rebounce and take back his #1. I see him dominating this game once Roger loses his top spot again, and find it much easier to see Nadal as a spent force. But he seems to eat lots of fresh vegetables and drink healthy cow milk to recover quickly from his injuries inflicted by the ATP schedule… Pobre muchacho

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    rich Reply:

    So when do you see Roger losing the top spot? I see that Steve (below) says he, too, thinks Djoko is burned out. He could be right. I believe Djoko has to win the USO to reverse the slide in his dominance.

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    Chris Reply:

    Hmmm, I learn a lot from people like you and Steve, obviously from Ruan as well, but I can’t see why Djoko should be burned out, for as much as I respect your opinions. Murray might just lose his faith, Delpo seems to be a one-slam wonder, but Djokovic has shown consistency and has fought his way to the top despite of playing in the Nadal/Federer era. Both Nadal and Federer have lost dominance but have been able to stay close to the top and rebounce eventually, why should Djokovic not be able to do it? I believe he is a fighter, he is ambitious, he is sufficiently relaxed, he has little or nothing to prove, and he has no injuries or major mental issues to drown him. He has been losing to Nadal and Federer lately, but who will blame him? That’s how his career started anyway. There is nothing wrong with losing to any of these two guys. I think that for the next 12-18 months we will not see one single player dominate the slams, I can actually imagine that we will have 3-4 different grand slam winners over the next 4-5 slams. I hope that Nadal is a spent force, I think his natural physics will at some point not respond to the unnatural treatments anymore. I can see Federer reach many more semi-finals and finals, eventually adding another couple slam titles, but I doubt he will be the dominator again. Too many players out there know and believe that they can beat him. And at some point one of the young guns will rise to the occasion and a new generation of players will want their share of titles.

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  6. I’m glad you ‘re settled in the States, Ruan, and that you found a new job there with regular hours. I hope everything continues to go well for you. You deserve it.
    Thanks for your blog post. I enjoyed it a lot and agree with you that Roger probably would have beaten Nadal in the 2012 Olympics if they were to meet. Unfortunately it won’t be the case.
    You write also in your post that, i cite : «Nadal already looks like he won’t be much of a factor in the US Open, although you can never really tell with him. If he does take off 15 days it means he will miss Toronto and maybe even Montreal. That wouldn’t help his preparation for the US Open and he may well lose before the semis. But even if he does end up playing Roger there it would be a good opportunity for Roger to beat him ».
    I tend to be more cautious in estimating Nadal’s chances with regard to the US OPEN. I wouldn’t write him off yet, though I strongly hope Roger gets a chance to play and beat him in the US Open.
    In fact all we know for sure is that Nadal’s knees are bothering him to a certain extent and that he’ll not only miss the Olympics this year but also Canada and maybe Cincinnati as well. But we don’t have any details on the nature of his current knee condition.
    Is his current knee issue more serious than it was before he played Wimbledon ? We don’t know for sure. All we know is that minor knee injury concerns and shortened practice and preparation time for an important event don’t seem to stop Nadal. He came into this year’s Australian Open with less practice time and minor knee injury concerns but was still able to endure very long matches in Australia, made the finals , and almost won. He also had a foot injury prior to last year’s US Open, and still made the finals at the USO Open too.
    So I’m inclined to think Nadal and his team have learned to manage his preparation time and know very well how to prepare him for the big events, despite him having some issues or injury concerns. As a matter of fact I don’t think Nadal needs more preperation time than anyone else on the tour. What he needs is finding and feeling the good sensations. Sure, the good feelings and sensations no doubt come by training more and practising a lot. But the nice sensations rapidly come back by winning matches as well imo. Winning some matches is all he needs I think to raise his level and become dangerous.
    Hopefully everything works out well for Roger in the immediate future. I strongly hope as well that Roger won’t be too fatigued coming into the US Open, as I assume Nadal will be playing the US Open this year as well and will be well rested and fit. His freshness may offset his lack of preperation time, and give him an advantage over the rest of the field in the finals, if he were to reach those.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Wilfired. Agreed that NAdal can never be counted out even though he is going to miss Toronto it seems. But lets face it, Cincy is not a good hunting ground for him and what will his confidence be like going into the USO after losing 2nd round at Wimby? I just don’t see him going very deep. I’d be surprised if he makes semis. And if he does it may not be a bad thing if Roger faces him, even though he can end up in Djokovic’s half. We will just have to see I guess, but I don’t see Nadal being much of a factor until next year.

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    rich Reply:

    But isn’t that typically what happens with Nadal every year (barring 2010)? He is a spent force in the second half of the year. Everybody tires during the season – even Roger – but with Nadal the decline is spectacular. Yet he is supposed to be the most tireless athlete we have ever seen in this sport.
    If I didn’t know better I might think he was cycling on and off drugs.

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    feddybear Reply:

    with the USO in mind – i think if Fed makes a deep run in London next week than he’d be better off skipping Canada. he doesnt have a lot of points to defend there, it is a slow court, and he would like to be fresh for NY after a grueling year so far.
    Fed is a champ in scheduling and managing his time on and off court so i am sure he will be ready for the second half of the seaon, as always.

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  7. I am sorry to disappoint you, i know that you don’t like to read this, but Nadal “injuries” always mean “doping” injected in his knees…

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    rich Reply:

    Or maybe somewhere else. Why is he always scratching his a*se?

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    jason Reply:

    HAHAHA… you just took those words out from my mouth! Yes, that’s my concern exactly. If we recall he withdrew from Wimbledon 2009 after that loss in FO to Soderling, he came back guns blazing in 2010. And remember… he ALMOST won the Rafa slam, if not for Murray to stop him in the AO 2011. It seems the dope needs some period of time before it works wonders.

    Heck, it’s like the US Federal Reserve implementing QEs (basically printing money) everytime the stock market goes down significantly. Every iteration the effect gets diminished. I hope this guy experience the same, too: the magic potion no longer works. Then we will see perhaps a fairer competition.

    2010 US Open he was lucky there was a sandstorm. It slowed down the court and Djoko 2.0. hadn’t arrived. It will be very pleasing if this guy gets eliminated in the early rounds. He deserves it.

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  8. Ruan great analysis as always,we true fans always believed,i never doubted he would win one,all of my friends were just telling me to dream on and i did.What was pissing me off last two years that people were writing Fed off after losing very close matched playing top 2 guys,only few points difference and people were saying he is too old and crap like this.I said few times in this forums,until he hangs up his tennis racquet and stop playing his beautiful tennis,never(Fed doubters)never count him out.It was long two years,tens of ours(at least mine)sweated t-shirt and nerve wrecking moments but i never stop believing and Ruan you were on the same boat.I even stopped writing here for many months,just could not read people doubting him.
    Yes guys this is the best time for us real fans to enjoy.It was just so perfect when he has done it,best feeling in long time,best day of my life after long time(ok when my daughter was born was the best one),i just enjoyed so much and now he is best of the best,goat,whatever you want to call him,his achievements are untouchable for long long time if ever.
    So be happy guys and next time when he looses important match don’t forget what did he achieved and how happy you were back then.Roger is playing legend.

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  9. Forgot to say on the last post: wonderful comments from all, especially Veronica, our ever-cheerful virtual bartender (are drinks still on?) Glad your back is better, and you’re a true fan to suffer along with Federer!

    Ru-an, glad you are settling down in the US and that you are still taking time off to make such great posts on this blog.

    I agree with your main thesis: why be satisfied with standing still? Life is all about constantly seeking out new challenges. As long as Federer plays, he plays to win and so why shouldn’t we keep rooting for him to win? He’s worked so hard to return to #1, I am sure he will work even harder to stay at the top now that he is there.

    A lot of people think Federer’s main goal in regaining #1 was merely to climb one tiny notch higher on the mountain than his predecessors and that now that’s achieved, he is satisfied and has no incentive to continue fighting for the top spot. I beg to differ–climbing mountains is what he was born to do and now that he’s labored past a particularly difficult stretch, he’s planning on climbing a whole lot higher to show us just how far up one can go.

    I’ve predicted another sustained era of Federer dominance and that possibility is now within reach if Federer can maintain his momentum for another three months or so. If he can end this year at #1, I give him a good chance at keeping the top ranking next year, possibly beyond.

    We’ve waited a long time for this and endured many dark days along the way, we should enjoy it as much as we can while it lasts, for it won’t be forever. This is better than his first period of dominance because we have the memory of the tough times to make it even sweeter and more poignant.

    Regarding Nadal the Ever-Injured, I don’t think he’s hurt at all; he’s just dogging everyone until he can get his “knee treatments” to make him strong. Because he relies so much on intimidation and mind games to induce errors from his opponents, he must maintain the myth that he only loses when injured, otherwise players will stop psyching themselves out against him. Rosol punctured that aura of invincibility in a big way and Nadal is eager to stanch the bleeding.

    He also doesn’t want any more losses on his record, and is taking the easy way out, just as he did at Wimbledon ’09 and Miami this year: you can’t lose if you don’t play. A real sporting fellow, that Rafael Nadal!

    I do think that this year will finally see the first Federer/Nadal battle at the USO, whether in the semis or the final. We’ve been one point away from it the last two years running so clearly it can’t be avoided much longer.

    After indifferent performances in Toronto and Cincinnati, Super Duper Nadal will most likely show up at Flushing Meadows and roll to at least the semis without the loss of a set. The chances of a second Rosol are pretty slim. So Federer will almost surely be facing him, and will need to produce a higher level of tennis even than he showed against Djokovic and Murray to prevail.

    Main thing now is for Federer to do well at the Olympics so he can stretch his narrow lead over Djokovic and maintain the #1 ranking. This is absolutely crucial.

    Then too, the chance of winning an Olympic gold medal on the hallowed lawns of Wimbledon is a once-in-a-century opportunity and Federer will be eager to seize it.

    This may well be where the decision to skip Monte Carlo to conserve energy and avoid burnout really pays off. Toronto is iffy because it begins the day after the Olympics conclude and the courts are a little slower, but he should at least be able to improve on his point total since he lost so early there last year. He has a better chance at Cincinnati because the courts are faster and he can cut the points short with first-strike tennis.

    Then he will have to give his all to try for a sixth US Open title. A win there would virtually seal the year-end #1. But the competition will be tough; both Nadal and Djokovic will be gunning for it, possibly Murray will be in contention too. Del Potro’s current level is hard to tell but Federer might have to deal with him.

    After that he will probably take some time off before preparing for the indoor season, where I expect him to do extremely well.

    Like you, Olympic tennis doesn’t generally excite me, but since it is at Wimbledon and it’s so important to Federer’s career, I will be following it more closely.

    Finally, we should take heart at the fact that every year since 2004, the winner of Wimbledon has ended the year at #1! So our man has a great chance at being in the top spot at the end of November.

    Go Roger!!!

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    Chris Reply:

    Roger Federer winning Olympic Gold would be huge for us in Switzerland, bigger than any additional Grand Slam. I am just worried that at some point the hunger for more will disappear. As a father of 3 year old twins he will soon realize how joyful it is to just play with them and enjoy them, he might start to feel a sense of ‘having realized all his dreams’ and become satisfied. If this happens, when it happens, I’ll try to feel happy for him, because he deserves it after giving us fans so much. But as a fan, it will of course mean that we will have to say goodbye at some point. If our man has still several years in him, I’ll be happy to follow him through, but I won’t be getting angry and disappointed each time he suffers losses…

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    AR---- Reply:

    No need to worry about that, Chris.
    http://tennis-singles.blogspot.com.au/2012/06/federer-does-not-think-of-retiring-and.html

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    Chris Reply:

    Thanks for sharing. A bit of funny translation, probably google translate, but still giving hopes…

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    Wilfried Reply:

    I felt like responding to your comment and I hope you don’t mind my response.

    According to your post you assume Nadal is dogging everyone basically for two reasons:
    1) first of all because he wants his “special treatment” to get stronger;
    2) because he doesn’t want any more losses on his record in order to maintain the myth that he is invincible when he is not injured.

    Here is a respectful response to your point of view.
    First premise: Nadal is dogging everyone else until he can get his special “knee treatments”.
    Well, Steve, I also think Nadal resorts to the use of certain banned stuff because of all the circumstantial evidence available that’s pointing to it (in the words of Niel). But a clear proof of this has never been disclosed and probably never will be given the many interests involved in this matter. It remains as a result of it an element of level-headed speculation and one of the reasons many fans dislike Rafael Nadal. As I share your thoughts , there is no reason to develop them any further here.
    Second premise: Nadal is dogging everyone because he’s afraid of losing in order to protect his reputation and records.
    Let’s look a bit closer at this premise.
    Is Nadal afraid of losing from the immensely talented Roger Federer? Though certainly aware of the gap in talent between him and Roger, Nadal considers this gap as narrow enough to overcome the disadvantage and to have a chance to beat Roger in slams and elsewhere, at least if he feels fit enough to compete well. An objective observer can easily understand Nadal’s way of thinking because in slams the guy has fashioned himself a 4-0 winning record against Roger on clay (FO) , a 2-0 winning record on slow hard court ( AO) and a 2-1 losing record in Wimbledon (but won the last match of those 3). Considering this H2H in slams vis-à-vis Roger Federer, you gotta tell me why Rafael Nadal should be afraid of losing from Roger ? I’d like to hear your arguments. Well, you could bring up that Roger still has a winning record in Wimbledon. Yeah, is true. But Nadal won the last match between the two of them. And when he can win against Roger at Wimbledon once, I don’t see why he shouldn’t be able to win a second time or even a third time as well. Your argument against this point could go like this: yeah Nadal’s win was only possible because Roger was still recovering from mono, when Roger was far from his best. Is true too, but why should I accept the mononucleosis-argument to explain Roger’s losses if you don’t accept Nadal’s possible injury excuses for his losses. You also could have brought up – as a reason for Nadal’s running away from competition – that he might be affected by the loss from Lukas Rosol and therefore mentally unfit to play a ‘resurgent’ Federer at the moment. You choose not to make allowance for this type of argument. My question is than, if it’s not mentally nor injury nor physical form, what is it than that should make Nadal afraid from a ‘resurgent’ Roger? The surface of the courts maybe?

    Next contender: is Nadal afraid of losing from Novak Djokovic to protect his reputation and record ?
    Well, if this premise were to be true, then I invite you to explain me why Nadal didn’t run away last year when Djokovic was making a habit of crushing him time and time again ? Instead, he kept showing up, final after final, taking the beating with a conflation of despair, heart and dignity. The repeated beating by Djokovic certainly didn’t do any good to Nadal’s reputation nor to his H2H with Djokovic. But Nadal kept showing up until he finally found a clue to beat him again.
    Is Nadal afraid of losing from the rest of the field to protect his reputation ? Could be. But I doubt he is.
    Just my view on the matter.

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    rich Reply:

    Some thoughtful points there, Wilfried. I don’t think Nadal is afraid of losing to Roger – but he is afraid of losing. That sounds contradictory but when Roger and Nadal meet it is generally on the Spaniard’s better surfaces, where he knows he has the edge. However I think that Nadal hates losing more than almost anything. He plays to avoid errors – he won’t take risks (but forces his opponent to) and, all too often, when it looks like he could lose he suddenly develops an “injury”, or later suggests that he was injured. It looks like an excuse, and I’m betting it is. Hence, his fans take the view he only loses when he is “not 100% healthy”. Of course, it devalues his opponent’s win. That’s a man who can’t stand to lose. The irony is that apart from the sustained drubbing he took from Djokovic last year – which he seems to have completely turned around – Nadal’s losses are often at the hands of rank outsiders. On that day in their life they play without fear, and he can’t change his game to adjust to theirs. Maybe Roger doesn’t exactly fear him, but we see him lose self-belief when he plays the Spaniard. How rarely do we see Roger play his best tennis against Nadal? If he does, it is usually outside the slams. No, I don’t think Nadal is ducking Roger. I think Nadal is ducking something else.

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    steve Reply:

    Wilfried: you make some good points. I tend to agree with Rich: Nadal isn’t afraid of losing to Federer, but he is deathly afraid of losing, period.

    As Rich has pointed out, despite Nadal’s edge in H2H against Federer, he is more likely to be beaten by lower-ranked players. It was only three years ago that the then-unknown Robin Soderling knocked him out in the fourth round of his favorite major.

    He will never come close to Federer’s incredible records of consecutive quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals in the Grand Slams. Nor will he be able to dominate an entire season, going deep in nearly every tournament and winning the vast majority of them, as Federer did in 2004-06. He can only dominate on clay; it appears that it’s too taxing on his body to boost him for anything besides the Grand Slams.

    Heavy hitters can simply blow him off the court, if they’re having a good day, and he will have no answers because of his defensive game. Federer has sufficient variation to fashion solutions to these players, so he almost never loses early in Grand Slams.

    Because Nadal is more susceptible to defeat by a wider variety of players, he has fewer chances to win Grand Slams. If he is to beat Federer’s record (and I think that’s his main motivation), he must convert a very high percentage of his finals into wins; hence Djokovic’s rise was very damaging to him.

    In 2011-12, Nadal made 5 consecutive major finals, a remarkable accomplishment. But he lost all three non-clay finals, a 40% success rate in that run. He also lost 4 Masters finals, which would have put him at 25 Masters titles by now.

    If Nadal was a more versatile player, he might have been able to stave off Djokovic in one or two of those finals, as Federer did to Nadal himself in 2006-07. However, his one-dimensional game meant he was unable to do so on any surface. Luckily for Nadal, Djokovic appears to have burned out and will no longer be a serious threat to him.

    After finally beating Djokovic, Nadal had a great chance to go on another tear this year and win Wimbledon and USO as he had in 2010. Rosol stopped him cold. Now he will most likely have to wait until clay season next year to start winning titles again–and who knows what will have happened by then?

    He’s not getting any younger, and even though his miracle “knee treatments” and strategic tanking of all non-clay and non-Grand Slam tournaments (save IW and Miami) will keep him playing at a high level for a while yet, it will only get harder from here on out.

    I expect the frequency of Rosol-like upsets will increase slightly in the future. And even if it’s, say, only two losses in three years, it makes a significant impact on his chances of catching Federer.

    So he must do everything he can to diminish the likelihood of another such upset. He’s already won the Olympics: no need for him to play and risk incurring another loss to a journeyman so soon after the Rosol debacle, which would set tongues wagging, tarnish his aura of invincibility, damage his win-loss record, and underscore his vulnerability to opponents who will be encouraged to try even harder the next time they see him across the net. The Olympics are best-of-three until the final, so the chances of an upset are even higher than in a Grand Slam.

    That it’s unsporting and unprofessional to skip out on tournaments just because he doesn’t feel he can win–well, we know such things matter very little to him as long as he gets his way. He has made clear that he considers the rules are for other people, not him.

    Benito Perez-Barbadillo, Nadal’s PR man, (who also works for Djokovic) is certainly earning his keep this month. Team Nadal is in full damage control mode, playing up his injuries to garner sympathy and excuse away the loss to Rosol. I also suspect that he timed his exit from the Olympics to draw maximum attention to himself and overshadow the proceedings (even if it means upstaging his countryman Pau Gasol, who will bear the Spanish flag in his place).

    Many of the tennis media (notably Courtney Nguyen of Sports Illustrated) are writing articles that suggest his withdrawal makes the tournament illegitimate and the winner will have an asterisk by his name because of Nadal’s non-participation. I don’t think these articles are a spontaneous outpouring, but the result of years of careful cultivation of the media by Nadal’s team.

    More than any athlete I have known of, they go to unprecedented lengths to control every aspect of the sport just to ensure their man can win. Nadal’s three failed attempts to change the tour schedule (more clay tournaments, then a two-year ranking system, then attempting to shorten the season to boost the importance of the clay run in the rankings) all bespeak a desire to stack the structure of the entire tour heavily in his favor so that he can more easily win tournaments and remain at #1.

    I’ve never heard of such a systematic and thoroughgoing attempt at complete control of a sport just to benefit one athlete. In time, perhaps, the true scale of this effort will be revealed to the world at large. For now, however, we can only speculate based on scanty evidence.

    [Reply]

    rich Reply:

    Well argued, Steve. To me, it comes down to this. When Roger wins, the game wins. Tennis is made greater as a sport. When Nadal wins – well, Nadal wins.

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    Wilfried Reply:

    Thanks for taking time off to write your insightful comments, Steve. I don’t have time to write a long post at this moment, but will try to post later.

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    Wilfried Reply:

    I share your opinion that Nadal most likely is aiming Roger’s slam tally and probably dreams of catching up with Roger… This dream will not come true .
    The loss from Lukas Rosol means for Nadal imo more than just an upset. I also think it has seriously shocked his confidence. Nadal enjoys a reputation of being mentally much stronger than Roger, but i’m not so sure this view is completely justified. I think Roger has a stronger personality and a more balanced confidence than Nadal, which enables him to better cope with setbacks. Roger can get annoyed by a loss but doesn’t lose confidence easily. I don’t think this is not always the case for Nadal. I don’t think he is afraid of his opponents. Instead he is overconfident a bit, at least at surface level. When Nadal is competing he walks, runs and jumps on the court with an attitude and aura like saying to his opponents “I’m Rafael Nadal and you’re not…and take it or leave it” . He sometimes doesn’t even bother to inform himself properly about his opponent (didn’t know Rosol’s age for instance). At the same time he rarely considers himself as the clear the favorite for a victory. Why hating your losses so much and being down, if you didn’t consider yourself as the real favorite anyway? Why not properly inform yourself about your opponent, if you hate to lose so much? It all doesn’t look and ain’t very logical to me. To me all these aspects hide a basic lack of confidence in his own abilities and make him more susceptible to losing confidence after each loss. Which in turn increases the likehood of another loss. His hate of losing as well as his sudden withdrawels could have a lot to do with a clear unbalance between between his aims and dreams on the one hand and the level of his talent and confidence on the other hand.
    Other item that i’d like to touch on is the skipping of tournaments because you feel you can’t win them. I fully agree it is indeed low sport ethics. But we’re not sure that he is skipping them deliberately.
    As far as Nadal’s respect for the ATP rules is concerned, barring his possible use of doping products, the only rule he manifestly doesn’t seem willing to cumply with is the time-rule between the points. But maybe this rule shoud evolve a bit as courts have been slowed down and raquet and string material have changed as well. Besides I think the compliance with rules is a very complex issue which one should approach with a certain caution. A flexible and pragmatic interpretation of the rules is sometimes desirable. Federer for instance enjoyed himself a very flexible interpretation of the rules with regard to his MTO in the first set of his match against my countryman Xavier Malisse. If the strict respect of the rules would have been enforced, Roger might not have ‘survived’ that match against Xavier.

    [Reply]

    Wilfried Reply:

    With regard to the “careful cultivation of the media by Nadal’s team” remark, I read the following post of a certain Sushruta whose comments seems to confirm your view.
    “ With all due respect, that’s a very naive standpoint you have taken. With Nadal, he has abused the trust people place in a player time and again. He has repeatedly been dramatically vocal about his injuries claiming them to be the greatest tragedies of all time and so has his uncle. For all the talk about his injuries there have hardly been any occasions where he has missed a major tournament. Rafa has the additional advantage of being Spanish that much of what he states never gets to the attention of the English speaking media. When Federer has a bad back or Djokovic is injured or any other player for that matter, do we ever get to read any details of it? Yet, visit the fan site Vamosbrigade and every one of his ardent admirers is intricately aware of the minute details of every single injury Nadal has ever had and every single treatment he has even been administered. His doctor gives frequent interviews to the Spanish press. All this is not possible without the implicit consent of the Nadal team. Like it or not, no matter whether there is truth to it or not, the Nadal team has made a spectacle and a reality show out of his every injury. And suspicious patterns exist for a reason. Nadal is a person of confidence and he derives his confidence most from clay and grass. So he is unlikely to be as affected by a Dodig loss at a Masters event as he is by a Soderling loss at RG( where he is unbeatable) or an even more shocking loss at Wimbledon( where he has been nearly unbeatable). Added to that, do not forgot that Rafa has revealed later in his book that the reason for withdrawing from Wimbledon was more mental than physical( and he added a plethora of reasons for this including his parents divorce). So what version are we to believe this time? It is easy to believe that he has chronic knee pain and that arises at the most inopportune moments but it is also a convenient mental crutch to lean on (ironically) whenever he is struggling with confidence. My understanding of human nature tells me that both versions are possible and my study of patterns inclines me to lean towards the latter explanation. In my mind, he doesn’t do it for other people or to convince others but like I said above he leans on that aspect whenever things deviate from his expectations;
    To add to that- according to the articles from his team, he was facing knee problems since RG. If that is the case, why did he play Halle right away? And not only did he play singles, he also scheduled himself to play doubles only withdrawing after he was upset by Kohlschreiber. What kind of scheduling is that? The same thing happened during his withdrawal from Miami. He lost to Federer at IW and then withdrew from the SF at Miami stating that he had knee issues from the time of IW. And yet he scheduled himself for both singles and doubles at IW and for both at Miami as well.”
    http://www.thenextpoint.com/?p=2318&tw_p=twt

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  10. Ruan, thanks for the post. good to have you back. hope everything goes well for ya in the US and your new life. land of opportunities no? opportunities to see Fed, i hope!!

    anyhow, exciting times indeed, Fed never lost faith and proved what a champion he really is. i dont like to get into the GOAT debate but it is really hard to argue against Roger now… he has conquered almost every peak possible on every surface against any kind of player. really nothing else to prove.

    does that mean he is “back for good”? i am not sure what that means. dont think he will dominate the next 2-3 years the way he did in his hey-days and i dont expect him to. but as long as he posses that burning desire to be the best he will be contender in every tournament, and there are still some peaks ahead.
    hope he will take this years olympics and USO with his gorgeous tennis.

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  11. I feel like it was just yesterday when Roger slumped to world #4 because he had been off on his break after the US Open last year and Murray had won a couple of tournaments. I just wanted him to get back to #3 by the year ended, and he came out and won three consecutive tournaments.

    If you look at where Roger has come since the US Open, it’s been incredible. Winning in Paris, a title that seems to have eluded him, picking up a record 6th title at the Barclays, and then continuing his run into the 2012 season, and I had the best feeling about this year. I knew it was going to be great. I know this is sort of minor, but he also evened his head to head record with Murray, so now Nadal is the only player to hold a better head to head with Roger. I mean, things are just going into Roger’s favor, and I never get sick of talking about it.

    His chances are looking extremely good after his big win at Wimby, and I really see him picking up a metal this year! I actually wouldn’t be surprised if somebody like Ferrer.. Tsonga.. or maybe even Isner steps up and is able to win a metal. That’d be nice.

    But also, if Roger could win the US Open, it would just make things even more sweeter than they already are. And I totally agree that it would be great confidence leading into 2013!

    [Reply]

  12. Also, Ru-an, now that you live in the US, do you have any US players that you’ve become a fan of? ;-)
    It’s nice that you get to be a part of the US when we’ve got athletes like Serena Williams, Bryan Bros, Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Tyson Gay, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh… the list really goes on…

    [Reply]

  13. Ruan.I might just ask you a favour.Just go and post something in the comments about Federer and how he is the GOAT so that Some Fed haters like T.Ruffin and Sam HAddad are put in the place at B/R.I feel i should not stoop that much low to correct them.But even u should not stoop that low.Just making a point over here to you -the best federerer blogger on the net today.

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  14. US Anti-Doping Agency banned Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral. He was associated Dr. Ignacio Muñoz who works with the Spanish Tennis Federation and who has worked with Rafael Nadal. Clear cut indications that Spanish Tennis is not as transparent as it looks.

    [Reply]

    rich Reply:

    The head of WADA says there could be “hundreds of athletes” who are drugs cheats at the London Olympics. Well, we can guess that at least one of them won’t be there.

    [Reply]

  15. I think Rafa only has 8 more great chances to win majors and catch up to Fed’s 17. 8 more majors will take us to the US Open in 2014, and by then, Rafa will be 28. If his knee problems keep coming up and he cannot stay healthy, that could be the wind-down of his career at the highest level. If, of course.
    And apart from Roland Garros, it will be harder for him to win Slams. He’ll have Djokovic, Murray, Delpo, Tsonga, Berdych, and others who either remain very strong or improve a great deal (like Delpo, Raonic, Tomic, etc). And obviously Roger is still very strong and if he can get an 18th Slam, I see no way Nadal catches up. I see him getting to 14 at most if I’m being honest with myself.

    [Reply]

  16. So we waited for 2.5 years to get the elusive no.17, Similarly we’re waiting for more than 5years since a thing happened at the 2007 wimbledon final. yes. Beating nadal in a GS final or semi-final. He has a poor 2-8 record against nadal. So i think in US open he has a fair chance as the draws will pit semis between rafa-novak as per the current rankings if its upheld till US open. We all know how rafa-novak will play in a five set matches. So definitely that’ll help roger to beat whoever comes into the final after much wear-n-tear… So Mission next Rafa

    [Reply]

    rich Reply:

    I agree, Mahe. Roger has pretty much done everything you might ask of his genius, but there is a remaining challenge: to defeat Nadal at least once more in a Grand Slam. Then we can all die happy.

    [Reply]

    Kyle Reply:

    Of course, there is always the chance of a Federer vs Nadal semi in New York, though I hope that doesn’t happen. Federer/Murray and Nadal/Djokovic semis would be much better.

    [Reply]

    rich Reply:

    Agree.

    [Reply]

  17. Ruan, great post. The wait has definitely been long but well worth it. For the future, even though as happy as a Fedfan can be right now, I hope/want him to achieve a few feats to attain immortality (isnt he there already?)

    First, win an Olympic singles Gold medal to complete his resume. Thats the big miss in his long list of accolades even though some people say they dont care about the Olympics. Roger himself does and this year is his best chance.

    Second, win a record 6th USO (am I correct here?) and beat Nadal on the way. That will be major SWEET, and end the year at #1 for the 6th time.

    Last of all, defend his Wimbledon title next year and hold the record to himself. Am I too greedy?? LOL

    ps Welcome back to the US. Where do you live if you dont mind? Wanna play some tennis? :-)

    [Reply]

    amine Reply:

    You can also add a fifth australian open (another record), the calender grand slam (you can always dream with Federer because nothing is impossible for him), most match wins in roland garros (he needs 4 or 5 wins), win montecarlo, rome and shangai, the davis cup. Its important I think for his motivation that he will have more records to break. He can also break the record of consecutive slam participation, most number of tiltles (106).

    [Reply]

    Kyle Reply:

    I’m not looking further than getting his first gold. And then #18 in New York. And then winning his 7th YEC. And then #19 in Australia. And then his non-calendar Slam in at Roland Garros. And then his 8th Wimbledon.
    Hey, one can dream…..

    [Reply]

    amine Reply:

    And his non-calendar grand slam at Roland Garros by beating Nadal in the final

    [Reply]

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