Nadal: “I don’t consider myself one of the favorites here”

”I don’t consider myself one of the favorites here,”

”I would be lying if I say I feel that I am ready to win.”

”In terms of being favorites, the other names are more favorite than me at this time,”

”Every time you come back, you have doubts, you have the feeling that you are far from your best,”

”The only thing I can say is I need to play better, yes. But the only way to play better is to win matches.”

http://www.tennis.com/pro-game/2015/01/rafael-nadal-an-extreme-pessimist-ahead-of-australian-open/53641/#.VLvNSXv7_IV

There was a huge surprise at the Australian Open yesterday when Nadal said he doesn’t consider himself as one of the favorites for the title. This is the first time Nadal has ever said something like this at any tournament which is why this is such a big shock(yeah, joking). We know Nadal was gonna say this no matter what(he says it at every tournament) but I think it could be particularly telling in this case. I have already posted this topic on Facebook where we discussed it but I thought I’d open a discussion here as well, since I don’t have anything else to post about and my next post will only be on Tuesday as Roger is playing late tomorrow evening my time(7 pm local time). What do you think Nadal is trying to say? Does he really believe he is not one of the favorites or does he think he has a shot at the title? I think Nadal senses he has a shot here because of his draw. In Doha, he lost to Berrer but in the first set he played as well as I’ve ever seen him play.

Then he went on to win the doubles with Monaco. And now he has a cakewalk draw into the semis. Just what he needs to play himself into form before another meeting with his favorite punching bag. And no I’m not talking about Thomas Berdych. I’m talking about Roger Federer. Yeah, that guy who a lot of people are calling the GOAT. I know, I know, you don’t like the fact that I’m calling your favorite player someone’s punching bag, but it is the reality these days. We may as well face it. Since that fateful meeting in the 2009 Australian Open final the beatings have continued and gotten worse. With each successive meeting in Melbourne Nadal have needed fewer sets to get the job done. Last year he won in straight sets and it was hardly a contest. Only the first set which Nadal won 7-4 in the tie-break was somewhat competitive. In a way, I want a Fedal semi because what happened last year was unacceptable.

A formidable pair #Fedberg

If Roger wants to be the GOAT he needs another win over Nadal in a slam the way I see it anyway. We can make a lot of arguments about the match up issue and what not, but if we are honest with ourselves then the rivalry with Nadal is not acceptable for a GOAT. To me, he needs to at least prove that he can come back from all those beatings and get a win over Nadal in a slam. With his new found mental strength, Roger has already turned the rivalry with Murray around. He doesn’t have to turn the rivalry with Nadal around, but surely he can at least get another slam win over his nemesis. It’s no use to keep running away from it, neither as Roger nor as fans. Obviously a Fedal semi is far from a reality and both players could lose before the semis, but should it happen there is no reason Roger can’t turn things around. He has the mental strength now as well as the game plan with the help of Edberg.

Look I know Nadal can lose to Rosol or Anderson if they are in the zone, but he can make semis too. And downplaying his chances shows me he thinks the same thing, if anything. It’s not like Nadal can’t come back from injury and play the world on fire. In 2013, he came back from a seven-month break and hardly lost a match until after the US Open. Just utter domination. So there is no reason he can’t do it now, even though he is complaining about three different injuries. Nadal has always been extremely unpredictable to me and with him I take nothing for granted. I don’t even eliminate the possibility that he could win the title, in which case he would be well on his way to becoming the GOAT. One thing we know is that if we do have a Fedal semi Roger can’t afford to lose because it would crush his confidence if that happens, knowing that he is in top form and  Nadal is just back from an injury.

The ball is in your court.

Is Nadal one of the favorites?

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Posted in Australian Open, Grand Slams.

29 Comments

  1. Ru-an,

    I don’t know what to think about Nadal. On the one hand if he loses prior to the semis, we’ll say that he’s avoiding Roger when he’s playing well and Nadal isn’t. And if he reaches the semis that he’ll probably beat Roger and we’ll be upset as well.

    To be honest, we have to accept that there are some match ups which are not good for Roger’s game. I bring Davydenko into this because he HAS a winning record against Nadal and yet you could say that he was one of Roger’s punching bags.

    As much as I would want a win over Nadal in a slam, I eould WANT a Grand Slam title more!!!

    A Djokerer Final or a Nishikori – Federer Final would more than suffice and a win there would mean much more than 5 GS victories over Nadal.

    At the same time a win over Nadal would be epic. I feel that if Roger player Nadal in the 1st round undoubtedly he would beat him. But because Raga would play himself into form of he gets that far, I wouldn’t be so sure. Of course if it happens I know for sure that Roger won’t run away from it because he’s not a coward.

    But I have a feeling that Nadal will struggle… Will find out soon enough..

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  2. I was waiting for the usual Nadal propaganda machine to start…it’s really annoying. I wonder why people can’t see it for what it really is. But I don’t even know what it is anymore.

    Maybe he really believe it honestly, and this is how he prepares himself, by pretending he’s no good. It just strikes me as a bit sad that a great champion (for that is what he is, we must say it objectively) has to always take pressure off himself and play these childish games. Then as usual ‘by sheer force of will’ and ‘the heart of a champion’ he will beat a number of jokers easily. This is why I’ve always liked Djokovic more as he’s matured.

    I agree 100% with this blog. In the end there is no avoiding it and the bad head to head in Slams has to be fixed, even just a little bit. But I don’t think it will, sadly, as age catches up and that’s the way it is. Fed has got the skill still (which is itself amazing at 33) but after 5 5 set matches I think he’ll be sufficiently fatigued should he make it. Like last year, playing Murray in the QF is tough mentally and hard enough to get through. Last year Nadal had a bloody blister and still won pretty easily. Fed went on to have a good season anyway.

    I’ll still be watching anyway regardless :-) , because when it comes to Nadal it doesn’t really come down to winning and losing anymore. You know even in normal life you have to fight against something even if it will beat you in the end, out of principle…so yes in 12 days if we are lucky we will see him with the usual knee tapings, the grimacing and grunting on each strike of the ball, and OCD behaviour with the water bottles, the fist pumps, the moon balls, etc. As long as Federer doesn’t give up and fights instead of folding – well we can expect nothing more.

    Great post.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Cheers Bharata. Good comment from you too. Who am I kidding anyway, right? Every time Roger has to face Nadal I say yes Roger can beat him this time and that he needs a win over him blah blah blah, and then Roger gets slaughtered. Yet I can’t help but feel that last year was a very different situation where Roger wasn’t nearly in the form he is in a year later after having adjusted many things. Nadal on the other hand is in the opposite situation after having come back from injury. Surely THIS time there is a chance. I will stick to believing even after everything. Call me a fool but at least I am a brave fool. But after having said all this Nadal will probably lose before the semis.

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    Charlie Reply:

    I agree with what you said about last year’s performance being unacceptable. I would be satisfied with a 2012 AO or 2011 FO like scoreline, a few close sets and at least one going to Roger. That’s all I would expect really.

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    Bharata Reply:

    Hi Ru-an, you are definitely not a fool for believing this time is different. Federer has been on a great run of form since really the French Open. Apart from Paris (where he lost in the SF) and New York he has been in the finals or won everything he’s played. It’s awesome actually. And he is mentally tougher than before.

    Actually the fact you refuse to give up hope on Fedal cheers me up…since you are definitely pretty objective as a fan and realistic when it comes to Federer’s chances.

    No doubt though, Nadal will have an easier time to a SF if he makes it. It’s all about how to win points on a consistent basis against Nadal. He won’t make errors; he is a great passer from the baseline. He can play defence for 6 hours in a row and he seems unaffected by losing a close set. It seems the people who beat him were fearless and had nothing to lose. So I wonder how Federer can get into thta frame of mind?

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yeah I’m not sure Roger can beat Nadal when he is playing unreal defense for 6 hours without getting tired, but maybe with the combination of his new found mental strength and net game he can. His new mental attitude is pretty fearless I would say and the fact that he is very aggressive minded is very important against Nadal. I think a meeting between them now would be quite interesting.

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    Jiten Reply:

    If you are a fool, so am I. I also believe that Fed will beat Dull this time. It is karma man!! :-)

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  3. Great post as always Ru-an. I have the feeling Nadal won’t be getting anywhere near the semis too. Ever since RG (even before that) he just isn’t the same force of nature he used to be. There is something very wrong with this guy physically. Yes he had a great first set against “whatever his name was” in Doha, and did good in doubles but, it feels to me he is finally at that point where no magic treatments can help sustain his play style. He couldn’t in singles in Doha and in doubles the level is nowhere near that needed in singles, at least physically.

    2 or 3 years ago I would’ve never dared to say such a thing while many others did, but this time it feels different. It seems to me that this guy Nadal has finally hit that proverbial wall. I predict a vertiginous decline from here on until his career ends with the exact same “bang” it started with. It all just feels different.

    Of course this could all be just smoke and mirrors from the guy and he’ll just keep defying logic way beyond number 17. Only time will tell.

    P.S. Although this is my first comment, I’ve been reading your blog since 09 Ru-an. Keep up the great work. Cheers mate.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Hello Francis. Wow, since 2009? That’s a long time! :-) Thanks mate and great comment too. I happen to agree with you. It’s just that Nadal have proved me wrong so many times in the past that I have to assume he will prove me wrong again, just out of principal. I also think he may have finally hit a wall and that no magic treatments can help him anymore but I will only believe that for sure when I see it. Until then I can’t exclude the possibility that he will just go ahead and smash Roger’s slams record.

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    Francis Reply:

    True. “I predict” is just an unfortunate phrase when it comes to Nadal. “I will believe it when I see it.” is a lot more appropriate.

    And yes, since 09. After that infamous final in AO, in my search for answers, your post on the match was my only solace among all the “Roger should retire” and “changing of the guards” gibberish that inundated the net.

    Your blog has been an oasis since then and for that I thank you. We’ve been through a lot together your blog and I. Here’s to many more years.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Well that’s great to hear Francis because that is what I blog for, to share the tennis and Federer experience with people and hopefully make it better for them. So thank you for sharing that and I hope there will be many more years too. And judging from where Roger’s game is at there will be many more. Nadal may have traumatized Roger on the court but Roger’s love for tennis is too strong to let it be the end of him. That is something that is truly inspiring. I’ve been traumatized by life myself but I like to believe my love of life is too strong to let it be the end of me. So I draw inspiration from Roger.

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    Eric Reply:

    This is what I love about you and your blog Ru-an. What Francis so eloquently commented on is such a gift that you give to all of us. And I think the reason why you’re so special is demonstrated right there in your reply to him. You’re so real and human here that you create a space not only where we can discuss and celebrate Roger, but also find joy, solace, comraderie and more. Like you, I too have been quite traumatized by life and gain great inspiration and strength from the greatness of Roger. But it truly would not be the same without you and your unique space to share. Thank you again and always. And thanks Francis for bringing that up.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Well that’s what I love about your comments too Eric. You are so appreciative and knowledgeable about tennis that it is just a great pleasure to have to here. It is nice to share this with people but more so when they appreciate and understand it.

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  4. Typical Nadal downplays his chances, then it is all the more incredible when he wins…’Oscar’ season starting early. C’mon Roger x

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  5. No Ru-an, I don’t agree with the term you use: “Roger is Rafa’s punching bag”. That is way too harsh and quite unfair to Roger. In 2013 Rafa was one thing and one thing only: “totally unbeatable”. That year was Roger’s worst year. Still…. he was THERE to be beaten and destroyed by Rafa. Not once, but 4 times. In 2014 from Halle on, Roger was almost unbeatable. Then… Rafa was a no show. I am not kidding when I am saying that Roger could have beaten Rafa almost 7 times. Can you imagine what that would have done for Roger’s confidence?? What it would have done for the H2H?? Are we going to blame Roger for Rafa’s absence then?? Is it his fault that Rafa keeps losing whenever Roger plays great?? Yes, he loses to Rafa in slams, but he also BEATS him. Remember IW 2012?? I can still hear JMac saying that Roger is in one of his unplayable moods.

    Yes, we all know Roger cannot afford to lose in this SF. The critics reaction and ours will be the same: “If Roger so strong cannot even beat an injured Rafa, will he ever beat a strong Rafa?”.

    The only reason Roger will lose to Rafa in this SF is because of the match up and because he will be tired from the Murray-match and also because Rafa will have easy matches. Otherwise Roger will win.

    Last AO Roger did make it the 1st set to a TB in which he lost. He made one mistake after that, he lost faith. TODAY’S Roger loses the 1st set to the best players and then still fights on, something he didn’t do last year at AO against Rafa. But this year, he will make Rafa work for it. I really believe that.

    Ru-an, I am one of your biggest fan when it comes to your posts and writing, but calling him “Rafa’s punching bag” is a title Roger does not deserve.

    Katyani

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Relax Katyani. I don’t have it in for your favorite player. In fact I have been a fan since 2001 and watched him even before that. I have also had a blog about him for six years. Sorry if my statement offended you but I was just stating the truth the way I see it. Roger has lost their last 5 meetings and their last 9 meetings in slams(with the beatings getting worse). You don’t call that being someone’s punching bag? Fair enough but I do.

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  6. Great post Ru-an and great conversation gang. Of course Ru-an you are right. For a very long time now Roger has been so dominated by Rafa, that he barely even has posed a threat or puts up a solid start to finish fight. And yes, those players that have beaten Rafa are those that took him out of his game, went for winners, and blew him off the court. And yes, the match up sucks because of the moon balls to Rogers relatively weak BH. However, I submit this to you. There is no player, ever in the history of the sport, that has the offensive ability, precision, and variety to to control a match better than Roger. Nobody. When Roger is playing well, he is completely unstoppable. Unplayable even. And many times he has been that great against Rafa, many times, but often only for the first set. After that, the constant diet of high backhands starts to produce errors, Roger get bored, frustrated, and loses confidence, and then decides that he cannot win,and then falls apart. I submit to you that the most improved parts of Rogers game – his net game, backhand, and mental strength are exactly what he needs to push beyond the first set and control the entire match. Roger is in peak form. Rafa is working his way back. He is ALWAYS a favorite, and despite his bullshit, to think otherwise is ridiculous. But I truly believe Rogers chances are the best they are gonna get right here and now and I want that match to happen badly. Roger can beat him and doing so would be glorious indeed and set up a spectacular year.

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    Vily Reply:

    Nadal won today and I saw it. I am sick of his bullshit. Unless a miracle happens, he’s making the semis and probably the final..

    I just don’t see how Roger beats him. Unless Roger wins the 1st two sets which almost never happens against Nadal.. But I still want Roger to makes semis and hopefully go all the way..

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Well at least you want Roger to make the semis, even though you believe Nadal will be there to beat him. But don’t be so certain. Roger can win the first two sets I believe. Where in the past he didn’t take advantage after winning the first set I believe he could possibly do it now and win the second set too. Then his chances of winning increases dramatically. He is mentally a different animal now, saving match points and what not. So I think he can get it done now and wouldn’t mind seeing the match happen.

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    Vily Reply:

    I hope so, Ru-an! I hope so! Murray will be tricky though. I am excited for today’s match. The tournament starts. Yay! :-)

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Eric and great comment too. I definitely agree with you that this match has to happen, regardless of the outcome. In the past when Roger lost to Nadal it was exactly his mental strength and attacking abilities that deserted him. Now that he has upgraded those they need to meet again so I can see what the deal is. Who wouldn’t want to see a rematch? If fans don’t want to see it and have already decided that Roger will lose then they don’t believe in their player and that his new found mental strength and attacking game has any significance. What is the use of those things anyway if he can’t test it against the best? How will we know if it has any significance unless he tests it against Nadal? If Nadal wins and catches Roger’s slam count then he deserves to be the GOAT. Simple as that. Running away won’t do any good and is not deserving of GOAThood.

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    Gordon Reply:

    So true. I can’t wait for Fed to face Nadal again. Hoping that Fed has made some breakthroughs when he plays Nadal again!!

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    Alex Reply:

    Good comment Ru-an although in the end it will only be us fans here who will be making the point that Nadal avoided Roger whenever he was at a disadvantage. The history books won’t care.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Right Alex the history books don’t care. And it shouldn’t. Roger is the one that has played well for a year while Nadal has been been poor since the grass court season. There are no excuses if they meet this time.

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  7. Is he serious or is this false humility? With Nadal, one never knows.

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    Ben Chia Reply:

    Hi Rosem, seriously it’s false HUMILITY :-P
    With such a cake of a draw, Nadull is just spouting bull shit. He is probably filled with glee with the luck of his draw. Meeting fed in the semis? Who is going to bet against that horrific H2H? Personally, I would love it if Nadull actually “predicts” his early exit way before the semis. karma is a b*****. About time he should be getting his. Early exits in all 4 GS this year would be SO fitting. Sadly, Nadull always has some “magic potion” that makes him invincible each time he comes back from an extended break. So, yes I’m basically discounting his too often miraculous comebacks.

    Hi Ru-an, a great interim post while we wait for AO to shape up. As with any discussion concerning Nadull, the H2H always comes back to bite us (fedfans). But I reasoned with myself that it’s ultimately the last man standing that wins. So, screw the H2H. All fed has to do is beat Nadull back-to-back in their last encounters before one of them retires and that will seal the only flaw in the GOAT debate. With fed 5.0, why not?!

    Interesting to see how even ardent fans like @gordan and @vily has continued to keep the faith that fed will overcome Nadull one day in slams. Count me in guys! Federer all the way to the finals!!

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  8. Hey guys, currently watching Federer playing Lu in the first round. Court looks to be playing at exactly the same speed as last year. Cannot be considered slow at all if you ask me. Looks quite fast actually, not too disimilar to Brisbane.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yeah this is good news Alex, and Fed is all over the net. I started a live chat thread on FB btw.

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    Alex Reply:

    Commentator said that it’s these players that are making the court seem faster than it is even though the courts are quite slow as some players have said. Strange.

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