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The Radical Conventional 09/15/2010 - 12:33 PM

104068554 by Pete Bodo

Mornin'. I'm coming off eight hours sleep for the first time in weeks, so watch out, keyboard! Ha. Seriously, though, a regular night's sleep in the cool, tangy country air is tonic for the soul and mind. And I find it helps me think clearly and maybe get a little further under the skin of things, including the huge achievement of Rafael Nadal.

The problem for me on the night of the U.S. Open men's singles final was having to choose between writing a "gamer" (a story emphasizing the match play and its attendant details) or a "reaction" piece analyzing the big picture meaning of the match, and how Rafa managed to complete a career Grand Slam. I felt appropriately torn. Whichever I chose, I had to ignore some tantalizing issues. But as journalists have been said to be the authors of "the first draft of history," I thought I ought to go with the Big Picture piece. Besides, you all saw the match—you didn't need my eyes to tell you what just happened.

It's a pity, in a way, because I am still trying to figure out how to explain why this final seems likely to lodge in my mind as one of the best tennis matches I've ever seen; it's right up there, as of now, somewhere in the top half-dozen. That's because I've rarely seen so compelling a display of the pure, shotmaking sensibility that Novak Djokovic brought to the court, nor the gale-force power, consistency, and athleticism of Nadal. And while Novak hit the most glorious winners, one of my match notes says I've never seen anyone hit a tennis ball as persuasively as Rafa Nadal.

Roger Federer (don't ever expect me to write about Rafa without Roger's name lurking eight or 11 characters distant) routinely produces magical shots, and he's been as close to an embodiment of quicksilver as anyone who ever played this game. But nobody, including Federer, swings the racket (at least on the forehand side) with the unique combination of raw, explosive power and absolute control as Nadal. Every decent player can do this now and then—time the arrival of a ball and generate adequate racquet-head speed and force to hit the most punishing shot of which he is capable. But nobody can do it as routinely, and make it so intrinsic a part of his game plan, as Nadal.

The sheer brutality of a typical Nadal forehand is a quality that attracts some and repels others. Those who are put off by it might appreciate the gladitorial splendor a bit more if they also acknowledged that to belt a ball with such force requires enormous natural power (is there a better one word description of the essence of life in all its forms than "power"?), applied in a very different way than, say, crushing the skull of a sabertooth tiger with a rock. To hit a tennis shot the way Nadal does repeatedly also demands exquisite timing, body control, and an astonishing degree of discipline and self-assurance—the latter being qualities we generally hold in the highest regard. Each swing of that piledriving forehand basically shouts, "I was born to do this."

Nadal's self-assurance—or should I say, the self-assurance expressed in the shots he hits and the way he hits them—is a radiant, somehow soothing thing to behold. Whatever else you say about it, the only thing you know for sure is that he can't possibly do that thing he's doing any better. It's a fully-realized idea. Don't you wonder how it feels to Nadal himself to hit that shot, a jolt of satisfaction that can only be blunted by the startling frequency with which he must experience it?  Most of us get to experience that feeling now and then, but rarely in an undertaking involving ball and racket, and never with such frequency.

I don't think you can appreciate what Nadal brings to the table without backtracking to his early days on the ATP tour, or without contemplating the sometimes fierce disdain some have for Nadal. Think of it this way: If you look out your window and see your neighbor walking to the bus station on his hands, you're likely to jump up and shout: Kids, come quick, Kowalski is walking to the bus upside down! But see it repeatedly, and by the third week you're likely to just glance up and mutter, Look at that silly Kowalski, those socks don't even match his shoes!

That's how it is with Rafa; he's turned the radical into the conventional. To say he plays "ugly" tennis has evolved from an aesthetic and already somewhat irrelevant observation into an astonishing declaration of ignorance. A bitter fan of one of his rivals can cling to it; any port in storm and all that. But the reality as I see it is that Nadal figured out a new way to accomplish the paramount goal in tennis, or any game: to win.

The more important truth is that Nadal plays "successful" tennis, and that matters. It's why they keep score, and also why we can appreciate beautiful tennis as well. I don't think you would sell many tickets to a tennis match if it were just a demonsration, like dance, even if the star were as gifted and eye-pleasing a player as Federer. And if you still haven't gotten over that that "ugly tennis" hump, just try to appreciate that a player who hits his forehand like David Ferrer—in other words, a wonderful, effective, even pretty forehand—can only aspire to be as good as Ferrer, which is danged good, but nowhere near as good as is Nadal.

I don't know that Nadal will transform tennis, re-making it in something like his own image the way the trinity of Jimmy Connors, Chris Evert and Bjorn Borg did when they showed up at roughly the same time with their two-handed backhands—the repercussions of which are still being felt. That's a big ask, because what Nadal does calls for a potent combination of superior, natural and learned abilities not easily distinguished from each other. Nadal may not transform the way the game is played, but there's no doubt in my mind that Nadal is essentially a transformational character, pointing the way toward a place that perhaps nobody else can reach.


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Posted by i come from anon 09/16/2010 at 04:49 AM

Normally, I don't agree with your views and analyses, but time to use and time to construct.. that was a beautiful insight.

Posted by thebigapple 09/16/2010 at 06:05 AM

Everyone loves a winner.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro believe!. 09/16/2010 at 06:32 AM

Three days and I see the RW, rafa's world party isn't over, spare a thought for Women's tennis. Be careful what you wish for, just saw the promo for Vee and Ree at the Fed cup. Huber and Oudin who questioned their patriotism for not playing will now be bench warmers for two of the greatest players in the game, and Venus, the actual American player who got little support from the American crowd when she played the dubious "jersey girl" Kim are the only team that can win for America's fed cup. Isn't irony great???

Posted by Roddick fan from Virginia 09/16/2010 at 06:49 AM

While I hope that S and V actually do Fed cup, their past history says 1 or both will not be there. The best for all would be for Venus to be no1, Oudin 2, and M-Sands/Huber doubles, Serena cheerleading.

Posted by Roddick fan from Virginia 09/16/2010 at 06:54 AM

That even gives Italy a chance believe they have a chance to win and S and V are Olympic qualified in 2012.

Posted by Kombo (GOATarded) 09/16/2010 at 06:58 AM

* Doesn't spare a thought for WTA. 6-2 6-1, awful stuff, a parody of a contest. Just the latest egg laid by WTA in a GS Final.

There's too much cooing and nurse-Betty-ing when it comes to Rafa's world ending injury trouble. Several players have had it much worse with nowhere near this much fuss made about it. Could one of the more diligent posters post a list of time players have missed due to injury?

Posted by Sal Anthony 09/16/2010 at 07:14 AM

Dear Mr. Bodo,

I still remember Nadal repeatedly falling down at Wimbledon as he tried to figure out what to do against Federer on the latter's man preferred surface. Who would have believed that he'd take him to five sets next time out and then take him out altogether the time after that?

I see Nadal crushing Federer on clay and then finally annihilating him, conceding precisely four pathetic games to the "greatest player of all time", and then reducing him to tears on the hardcourts of Australia, and I also see him consoling the most successful, winningest player of all time, demonstrating a type of class I've never seen, a profound respect that comes from the soul, but from a ferocious soul that knows the man he just conquered will never conquer him.

And now I see Nadal, a player I always, always, always, wanted Federer to beat, transform his serve in a matter of days and overcome Djokovic on his best day to become U.S. Open champ and complete his personal Grand Slam.

But what I really see is courage personified. Bruce Lee used to speak about laying your life before your opponent as you sought martial glory, and this is what Nadal does on every single point, and it is why Federer will never defeat him in any meaningful way, and it also why it is absurd to think of Fed as Nadal's superior.

NO ONE is Nadal's superior, at least no one that has ever played. One just watches what this man wills himself to do, and you realize that what it will take to break that will hasn't been invented yet.

Cordially,
Sal Anthony

Posted by rudy3 (proud Rafaelite since 2005) 09/16/2010 at 07:31 AM

I'm late to the party, but just wanted to say thanks Pete for this wonderful post.

Still basking in the glory of the Golden Careeera Slam...who'd a thunk it? Its a dream come true for this proud Rafaelite.

Posted by Carol 09/16/2010 at 07:32 AM

Sal Anthony, great comment, well said

Moderador, what about Tennis fan?

Posted by lilscot 09/16/2010 at 07:42 AM

Kombo: 6:58 a.m.

Oh please don't. After such an amazing Open it would be such a shame to kill the buzz with yet another endless and pointless conversation about whose injuries are worse than others, or whose are real and whose are fake, etc. What a monumental waste of time.

Posted by gauloises 09/16/2010 at 07:42 AM

"There's too much cooing and nurse-Betty-ing when it comes to Rafa's world ending injury trouble. Several players have had it much worse with nowhere near this much fuss made about it."

Word. People talk like he hardly played in 2009 when he actually played almost a full season. I know it's unfortunate for him that the part he did miss included defending his Wimbledon title, but really now.

Luckily I'm doing my bit to even the whine quotient. Did you know Delpo has played four matches this year? Think about that.

(Yes, I am going for the spree threadkiller label.)

Posted by lilscot 09/16/2010 at 07:46 AM

OMG, I see the bitter party is still having a hard time. Nothing nice to say so might as well resort back to the old whining about how Rafa is treated so preferentially by the media about his injuries yada yada yada. You'd think you'd get bored of that already but apparently not. *rolls eyes*

Time to back slowly away from the computer and come back when the boo-hooing has stopped.

Posted by gauloises 09/16/2010 at 07:50 AM

Hey, I wasn't whining about preferential treatment by the media. I was more whining about the fandom. Don't put words in my whines.

Also, I don't think two posters constitutes a party. I think we're currently more of a bitter tete-a-tete.

Posted by Carol 09/16/2010 at 08:02 AM

What a beautiful final, both players played theis best. I've never seen Nole playing so well before. I can watch that match hundred of times

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 09/16/2010 at 08:09 AM

Hey, Carol,

Yes it was a great match and I thoroughly agree about Nole, he did fight magnificantly ! I can't tell you how proud of Rafa !

Posted by Neveah*Free Weezy! Vamos Rafa!* 09/16/2010 at 08:14 AM

Morning Everyone!

Lovely read Pete...I partied 3 nights in a row and now I'm soo sick but it was all worth it!

Nole, Sweetness, In my excitement,I forgot to say how so proud of you I am and welcome back!

Rafa...2010 U.S.Open Champion,That's music to my ears! Congratulations, you're my Goat baby!

Reading these threads, some posters have absolutely no class.

Rafa fans, don't let the haters ruin this for you, they aren't even worth it.

Posted by liza 09/16/2010 at 08:40 AM

Before people get their knickers in a twist about undue prominence being given to Rafa's injuries they should note that the poster who listed all of Rafa's major periods of injury was doing so purely for malicious purposes - to make yet another baseless insinuation about performance enhancement. ie when Rafa is injured, rehabs and trains and comes back to the tour looking (gasp!) fresh and rested there is clearly something fishy going on - if you live in bizarro bong smoking conspiracy theory world that is. If your favourite player is not assaulted with ped accusations from jealous little troll boys every time he wins something, count yourself lucky folks.

Oh and VAMOS Rafa!! I hope you carry on annoying inadequate basement dwelling losers everywhere for years to come with your unconventional playing style, killer bod and most of all guts.

Posted by Master Ace 09/16/2010 at 08:49 AM

Davis Cup Semifinal Lineups:

France vs Argentina (7:30 AM - 9 AM - 7 AM)
Michael Llodra vs Juan Monaco
Gael Monfils vs David Nalbandian
Arnaud Clement/Michael Llodra vs Eduardo Schwank/Horacio Zeballos

Serbia vs Czech Republic (9 AM - 9 AM - 8 AM)
Novak Djokovic vs Radek Stepanek
Janko Tipsarevic vs Tomas Berdych
Viktor Troicki/Nenad Zimonjic vs Jan Hajek/Ivo Minar(Only player guaranteed to play the double tie is Zimonjic)

Other lineups later...

Posted by Novela Nadalesca/Celia 09/16/2010 at 08:53 AM

Don't know if this has been posted or not, but tennis channel is re-palying the u.s.open men's final right now.

Posted by Master Ace 09/16/2010 at 08:55 AM

Sokol,
If you are reading, Vera is not playing Tashkent next week. She will return at Tokyo.

Posted by gauloises 09/16/2010 at 08:56 AM

OK, just to clarify: I wasn’t insinuating fakery or preferential treatment in the media or doping or, in fact, trying to ruin anyone’s ‘vamos Rafa!!!!’ fun. Just venting a little accumulated annoyance at repeatedly hearing the events of Rafa’s 2009 season (excluding the good ones of course, but definitely including the three times that Delpo beat him) written off as meaningless because of injury. My stuff, did not mean to cause a mini furore. Yes, Rafa has struggled with injuries in the past and probably will do so in the future, yes, it is terrible, and no, this is probably not the best time to be talking about it.

But as a casual glance at any of the other threads will tell you, I obviously don’t know when to shut up. So I apologise and please ignore me. I will be quiet now.

Posted by Sherlock (AgnostiGoat) 09/16/2010 at 08:59 AM

Actually, G, I think it's an ok time to talk about it. :)

Posted by gauloises 09/16/2010 at 09:03 AM

Ssssh, Sherlock, you hater ;)

Posted by d 09/16/2010 at 09:06 AM

J: you refer to my comment as a:
"Despicable iconoclasm from an obvious Nadal hater."

I guess we can infer that you see Nadal as an icon, and that you hate (despise) haters. Guess it's OK when you do it, eh? And really, if he is an icon, then surely we sorely need iconoclasts, or we're all (Nadal included) in danger.

I would say really there is no hatred, but more a "yecch, do I have to see this again?" feeling inspired by Nadal's style.

As far as proefessionalism, granted Nadal does not threaten the lives of linespeople by promising to shove balls down their throats, menacing his racquet in their faces as he screams expletives at them; he's too well-behaved (in the knuckles-rapped by nuns Catholic school tradition) to descend to that level of degradation. But he does prance around the court glaring, sneering, delaying, controlling, and generally trying to intimidate. And what does any of that have to do with tennis? And how does it fit with his sweet little lamb act that immediately follows the slaughter?

Granted, it did provide a moment of supreme humor when Soderling decided he'd had enough and beat his chest at Nadal as though to say, "nobody intimidates me!"

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Did Do It For Wayne! 09/16/2010 at 09:12 AM

Master Ace I posted Australia's DC line up on the other thread.Didnt know we could use this post.

Thanks for the main DC schedule.

G. Thanks for the answer regarding Richard Gasquet

Posted by GB 09/16/2010 at 09:15 AM

Here's the extra Rafole bromance that Mr Rick was talking about:
http://www.tinyurl.com.au/s7p
Rafole FTW! Too adorbz

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Did Do It For Wayne! 09/16/2010 at 09:19 AM

GB Hmmm I really didnt need to see that again

Thanks anyway

As I stated Rafa was caught up "in the moment"

Posted by gauloises 09/16/2010 at 09:24 AM

I've been avoiding watching that video because I thought it would be a bit like a knife in the heart as post-Nole loss things tend to be. And it was - but it was also extremely adorable. And a 100% lovely gesture by Rafa.

Thanks GB.

Posted by Master Ace 09/16/2010 at 09:25 AM

Aussiemarg,
I have not been to the other thread yet therefore, it is the reason I posted here.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Did Do It For Wayne! 09/16/2010 at 09:30 AM

Master Ace Thanks.Lady Julia is still going on about you know what.I think its safe to stay here myself lol!

War and Peace has nothing on that other post

*rolls eyes*

Posted by Neveah*Free Weezy! Vamos Rafa!* 09/16/2010 at 09:33 AM

Awwww GB, that was soo sweet!!!! Thanks for sharing...:)

He is the most sensitive tennis player I've ever seen and I absolutely love it! What a wonderful job his parents did!

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Did Do It For Wayne! 09/16/2010 at 09:37 AM

Neveah LOL!

Sometimes over sensitive?

Posted by Neveah*Free Weezy! Vamos Rafa!* 09/16/2010 at 09:43 AM

Aussiemarg - *Giggles* If I were looking for something bad about Rafa, I'd definitely use that video for evil!!;) hehe and the fact that he does wear alot of pink...Hmmmmm....LMAO I'm just kidding Guys! *spanks my hand* Bad me, I apologize! :)

Posted by coolh 09/16/2010 at 09:44 AM

Posted by Kombo (GOAT-curious) 09/15/2010 at 01:48 PM
He picks his butt an awful lot, clearly an attempt to cheat by distracting his opponents.

1.He was fined for getting coached by sly uncle tony during a match this year.
2.he beats federer by irritating him-player got to wait on him for coin toss,to start.He has to get towel betewwn every point.irritating.
3and there is the whisper of steroids.....

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Did Do It For Wayne! 09/16/2010 at 09:46 AM

Neveah Please dont

The "pink" subject is a No No with me

I still dont think I will ever get over it LOL!

Though in way isnt it refreshing to see younger men of Rafa's generation being able to "express"

I was brought up in a era of Men are Men lol!

Posted by Neveah*Free Weezy! Vamos Rafa!* 09/16/2010 at 09:49 AM

Aussiemarg - You wouldn't happen to have a can of that spray I've heard about?;) Extra Strength please!

Posted by Master Ace 09/16/2010 at 09:49 AM

Davis Cup Weekend Matches(* - number 1 players on team)

World Group Semifinal Lineups:

France vs Argentina (7:30 AM - 9 AM - 7 AM)
Michael Llodra vs Juan Monaco*
Gael Monfils* vs David Nalbandian
Arnaud Clement/Michael Llodra vs Eduardo Schwank/Horacio Zeballos

Serbia vs Czech Republic (9 AM - 9 AM - 8 AM)
Novak Djokovic* vs Radek Stepanek
Janko Tipsarevic vs Tomas Berdych*
Viktor Troicki/Nenad Zimonjic vs Jan Hajek/Ivo Minar

World Group Playoff Matches

Israel leads Austria 1-0 (started today - 5 AM - no play - 7:30 AM)
Sela* defeated Haider-Maurer 6-4,6-1,6-3
Levy vs Melzer*
Erlich/Ram vs Melzer/Peya

Colombia vs United States (11 AM - Noon - 11 AM)
Lineups to be announced later

Germany vs South Africa (5 AM - 9 AM - 5 AM)
Kohlschreiber* vs DeVoest
Mayer vs Van Der Merwe*
Beck/Kas vs Coetzee/Moodie

Sweden vs Italy (9 AM - 8 AM - 7 AM)
Vinciguerra vs Starace*
Soderling* vs Fognini
Aspelin/Lindstedt vs Bolelli/Bracciali

India vs Brazil (2 AM - 5:30 AM - 2 AM)
Bopanna vs Bellucci*
Devvarman* vs Mello
Bhupathi/Paes vs Melo/Soares

Australia vs Belgium (9 PM Thursday - 11 PM Friday - 9 PM Saturday)
Hewitt* vs Darcis
Ball vs O Rochus*
Hanley/Hewitt vs Darcis/O Rochus

Kazakhstan vs Switzerland (4 AM - 4 AM - 2 AM)
Golubev* vs Chiudinelli
Kukushkin vs Wawrinka*
Korolev/Schukin vs Allegro/Lammer

Romania vs Ecuador (4:30 AM - 5 AM - 4:30 AM)
Hanescu* vs Endara
Ungur vs G Lapentti*
Hanescu/Tecau vs G Lapentti/N Lapentti

Posted by Neveah*Free Weezy! Vamos Rafa!* 09/16/2010 at 09:53 AM

Aussiemarg - Exactly what I meant. It's good for boys to see you can be sensitive and still have that killer instinct. That comes from upbringing, lots of love at home.:)

Posted by Kwaku 09/16/2010 at 09:53 AM

Christopher,
Maybe Murray also said it, but Federer certainly did:
"Even Federer is in awe of Nadal's unique talents on the red stuff, telling CNN "it's like playing someone with two forehands.""
I found it at
http://edition.cnn.com/2010/SPORT/tennis/05/13/nadal.french.open/index.html.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Did Do It For Wayne! 09/16/2010 at 09:55 AM

Neveah Well you want to go back to the other post.

Its now become longer than Gone With The Wind

Ask Team Nadal I think he/she might have some cans left lol!

Master Ace Thanks for the rest of the DC schedule

Posted by Christopher 09/16/2010 at 09:58 AM

Kwaku- Thanks for pointing that out. My guess it even more players think it!

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Did Do It For Wayne! 09/16/2010 at 10:00 AM

Kwaku I cant get into that link at all

Posted by manuelsantanafan 09/16/2010 at 10:01 AM

One of the most laudable aspects of Rafa's personality is his common sense. For example, when asked how he compares with Federer, Rafa answered:

"[T]alk about if I am better or worse than Roger is stupid, because the titles say he's much better than me, so that's the tru[th] at that moment."

Rafa says this, even tho he has a 14-7 head to head advantage over Federer (6-2 in their meetings in the majors).

One can just imagine how, if Rafa were a member of the WTA, and had 13 singles majors titles like Serena Williams--far fewer than Court, Graf, Navratilova, and Evert each won--and the less than 40 WTA titles Serena Williams has won--far fewer than Court, Graf, Navratilova, and Evert each won on the women's tour--and Rafa were asked if he were the women's GOAT, how Rafa would respond to such an idiotic notion.

Posted by TeamNadal 09/16/2010 at 10:02 AM

Neveah....just in, special edition troll spray...here you go:

http://i56.tinypic.com/2uic5g8.jpg

Posted by manuelsantanafan 09/16/2010 at 10:02 AM

One of the most laudable aspects of Rafa's personality is his common sense. For example, when asked how he compares with Federer, Rafa answered:

"[T]alk about if I am better or worse than Roger is stupid, because the titles say he's much better than me, so that's the tru[th] at that moment."

Rafa says this, even tho he has a 14-7 head to head advantage over Federer (6-2 in their meetings in the majors).

One can just imagine how, if Rafa were a member of the WTA, and had 13 singles majors titles like Serena Williams--far fewer than Court, Graf, Navratilova, and Evert each won--and the less than 40 WTA titles Serena Williams has won--far fewer than Court, Graf, Navratilova, and Evert each won on the women's tour--and Rafa were asked if he were the women's GOAT, how Rafa would respond to such an idiotic notion.

Posted by Master Ace 09/16/2010 at 10:03 AM

Aussiemarg,
You are welcome.

Posted by Novela Nadalesca/Celia 09/16/2010 at 10:03 AM

Tennis Channel actually showed the entire trophy presentation! Why couldn't they have done the final? Everyone else did.

Posted by Kwaku 09/16/2010 at 10:03 AM

AM, the final dot/point/period somehow got into the link. Try now:
http://edition.cnn.com/2010/SPORT/tennis/05/13/nadal.french.open/index.html

Posted by Headless 09/16/2010 at 10:03 AM

"Vera is not playing Tashkent next week. She will return at Tokyo."

good for her. Thanks, MA, for the update

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 09/16/2010 at 10:04 AM

I've watched the last four games of the set at least 5 times this morning. This is the last time I am even going to post on this topic.

There is NO SIGN OF CHEATING !!!!

Posted by tina (forever proud to be in the "Đ-block") 09/16/2010 at 10:05 AM

Before I get caught up in Davis Cup again, I just want to say that after the excellent ESPN program on the Martina and Chris, I am convinced that rivalry remains the gold standard in the sport, of either gender. Even if one seemingly cannot write about Nadal without mentioning Federer within the same sentence.

I love the Rafole bromance and look forward to many more meetings between those two. I adore them both, and the rivalry still holds intrigue.

Posted by Neveah*Free Weezy! Vamos Rafa!* 09/16/2010 at 10:08 AM

****Laughing soo hard at TeamNadal!!!!!*** haha I love that!!!! *sprays this thread* hehehe

Posted by TheMightyFunk 09/16/2010 at 10:10 AM

Samantha Elin: If you are around - I posted this from Jon Wertheim's mailbag in a previous thread (can't remember which - there are so many!) specifically for your benefit, if you hadn't already seen it:

Wozniacki fans, check out the forthcoming book "Én bold ad gangen" by Anders Haahr Rasmussen. If we make enough noise, maybe it will get translated to English.

Posted by Neveah*Free Weezy! Vamos Rafa!* 09/16/2010 at 10:12 AM

Hi Lynne!

Thanks for that, now maybe some people will stop accusing him..but I doubt it! *Shrugs*

Posted by klondike 09/16/2010 at 10:13 AM

My issue with Nadal's game is that it represents the natural evolution of a game that's almost totally driven by racket and string technology. Hit the ball as hard as possible with the absurd maximum topspin technology allows to ensure it doesn't go out, and may the guy with the biggest arm win. Not sure that's a game I like watching much anymore.

Posted by TheMightyFunk 09/16/2010 at 10:14 AM

kwaku @ 9:53 am and Christopher - I wouldn't be surprised if Murray heard Federer say it and then said it himself, given his propensity demonstrated lately to try and emulate Federer in everything from crying at the AO championship ceremony (although he has a lot of work to do in that dept to catch up with the Fed) to talking about pacing himself for the grandslams :)

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Did Do It For Wayne! 09/16/2010 at 10:15 AM

Lynne I have "frezzed" the match point frame with my husband 10 times over

To both our eyes there is No Sign of Cheating.I have posted that on the other post as well.Which is now into The Gone With The Wind Saga LOL!

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 09/16/2010 at 10:20 AM

Aussiemarg : My husband thinks this site is weird ! Lol, at Gone with the Wind !

Neveah : Hi :) Having said my bit, must go do some chores. See you later.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Did Do It For Wayne! 09/16/2010 at 10:25 AM

Lynne I can tell you what my husband said I would be moderaated LOL!

Quite frankly people are entitled to their points of view

Though I think this has got out of all proportion.Lady Julia also brought up the same subject just before Rafa was to play the final? strange that.

Posted by tan 09/16/2010 at 10:29 AM

hi everyone.

nadal's achievement is awesome!!!

but i have a question that i realize has not been answered by the media. what are nadal's training methods? i have never read about it. where does he train? how long does he train? with whom does he train? and actually the first question is who is his fitness trainer? those people deserve kudos. but again who are they? we heard about safin's trainer and and murray's trainer and fed's trainer and agassi's trainer, etc. et.c but i have never heard anything about nadal's. thank you!!!

Posted by Nam1 09/16/2010 at 10:37 AM

". where does he train? how long does he train? with whom does he train? and actually the first question is who is his fitness trainer? those people deserve kudos. but again who are they? we heard about safin's trainer and and murray's trainer and fed's trainer and agassi's trainer, etc. et.c but i have never heard anything about nadal's. thank you!!!"

Perhaps because you are not a Rafa KAD you are not aware; but for us rafa fans , we are certainly aware of what training Rafa does, look on youtube, there are 2 long 10 min segments on his traning; Rafa's trainer is always in his box; his name is Rafael Maymno and there is another one in Mallorca that Rafa metioned in his victory speech at USO; that guy is featured in the video

I will try to find the links.

Posted by Christopher 09/16/2010 at 10:38 AM

"I just want to say that after the excellent ESPN program on the Martina and Chris, I am convinced that rivalry remains the gold standard in the sport, of either gender."

Tina-- I have seen the program but I couldn't agree more about the Martina and Chris. Evert arguably has the greatest mind (in the sense of concentration, if not strategy) in the history of the sport and I still think Martina, in a certain sense, is the greatest tennis player ever.

And for those who think Evert would not match up against today's players, let us not forget that she and (especially) Martina, were more than competitive with Graf, who was a match for Hingis and Davenport, who were a match (on good days) for the Williams sisters, etc.

Posted by Jay 09/16/2010 at 10:42 AM

Great article, Pete (sorry that I'm late to this party). You touched on one of the very things running through my mind during the US Open final--the one-offness of Rafa.

First of all, most players are not lucky enough to have an Uncle Tony or coach to recognize that, although they may be natural righties, their tennis would be better played as lefties. That's almost freakish prescience.

I also wouldn't expect to see anyone trying to copy Rafa's style of play--lets not forget that not too long ago, the talking heads were saying that his technique would not work on faster surfaces, and was so hard on his body that his career would be shortened. Better not try it at home, kids--he's a professional.

Like other posters, I believe that other players would do well to incorporate his attitude, especially his (and others, notable Djokovich) determination to improve, even if he has to make some adjustments--not necessarily major changes. IMO stubbornness is holding back some of my favorite players--another discussion.

Today it seems like a played-out myth ascribed to some former No. 1's that clay court greats couldn't have similar success either on grass or on hard courts. I remember Rios, Guga, Moya, Seles, Agassi and Courier, for example, dismissing their own chances at Wimbledon, either in theory or in fact(by not showing up). Agassi won there despite his own beliefs. Perhaps Rafa's legacy and influence will be to dispel that myth, especially should other Spaniards and South Americans--perennial threats on clay, begin to win grass and hard court majors.

Regarding his serve...I remember either McEnroe and/or Wertheim noting that as early as a couple of years ago that Rafa was hitting into the 130's in practice. So, I expected him to eventually incorporate bigger serving into his matches. I don't believe that it was an overnight revelation, but like most things in his career, part of a well thought-out strategy.

So, rather than looking for the next Rafa, I'd be anxious to see the next great player who'll be called sui generis.

Posted by tan 09/16/2010 at 10:48 AM

thank you nam1. no, i am not a rafa-kad. but how can you not appreciate his achievements, like federer or sampras or lendl, etc. etc. before him.

it's amazing the media doesn't focus more on how he trains. like when safin came back from his wrist injury or agassi came back from his dark years, they talked on and on during matches about their trainers and what they did to get fit again. you never hear this info with rafa. you just hear about his grip changes or how he has flattened the ball which is something different.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 09/16/2010 at 10:50 AM

"Hingis and Davenport, who were a match (on good days) for the Williams sisters, etc."

Hingis H2H against Venus Williams, despite Hingis being 6 inches shorter: 11-10 Hingis

Hingis H2H against Serena Williams, despite Hingis being much smaller: 7-6, S. Williams.

Hingis was competive against both the Williams sisters throughout her career, despite being much smaller.

Posted by Kwaku 09/16/2010 at 10:53 AM

I have googled for Murray saying the two forehand thing but nothing.
However this is interesting:
http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?p=2433339

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Did Do It For Wayne! 09/16/2010 at 10:55 AM

Kwaku I have pointed out in the past how Rafa can slide on clay like Murray has pointed out.

I think many people often dont see that.It is a huge advantage as Murray pointed out.

Posted by zenggi 09/16/2010 at 10:56 AM

Pete,
Nice article on Rafa and his unique play style. Also that you give a little bit of love to Novak. He played a great tournament as well.

MA,
Thank you for posting the DC-matches. I'll follow the France-Argentina closely. Between Llodra and Mónaco, I chose Llodra. Between Nalbandian and Monfils, El Rey. No doubt at all. I hope they are both ready to give us a great weekend of tennis.

Posted by zenggi 09/16/2010 at 10:58 AM

Gauloises,
If you are lurking, when are you going to Bercy?

Posted by ladyjulia 09/16/2010 at 11:12 AM

AM,

"Lady Julia also....strange that."

Thank you.


Posted by ladyjulia 09/16/2010 at 11:17 AM

Nice article, Pete..I don't really understand why the term "ugly" tennis is used. Especially, since Rafa started to play aggressive more and more since 2006 or something. I recall hitting him many winners that were very risky shots to undertake in Wimby finals more than once. Or it is the brutality that contributes to the ugliness?

I never read much about the term being associated with Murray or Djokovic either.

Ofcourse, beauty lies in the beholder and all that...

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Did Do It For Wayne! 09/16/2010 at 11:18 AM

LadyJulia No worries.As you did bring it up before Rafa played the final

I am done with it ok.You have said you lot on the other post if you want to keep carrying on I suggest you go back there.

Thanks.

Posted by Kombo (GOAT-curious) 09/16/2010 at 11:19 AM

"what it will take to break that will hasn't been invented yet."

I've seen him visibly accept defeat, twice against Murray and once against Delpo (the 3rd consecutive time Delpo had beaten him).

Posted by Kombo (GOAT-curious) 09/16/2010 at 11:20 AM

lilscot, don't just tell that to me, tell it to the folks who go there all the time.

Posted by ladyjulia 09/16/2010 at 11:26 AM

AM,

I was just surprised to see my name mentioned here when I had not yet even commented on Pete's article or on any other comments here.

And thanks for the suggestion.


Posted by ladyjulia 09/16/2010 at 11:29 AM

AM,

Though to be fair, that topic seems to have found its way here. So, it was fair on your part to bring me in too...and you are entitled to calling my actions "strange" as well. As much as I am entitled to thank you for it :-)


Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Did Do It For Wayne! 09/16/2010 at 11:33 AM

This post is about Petes thoughts and soo far we have had some wonderful posters who have made great insightful comments

I hope this continues.A pity some people have to Rain On Rafa's Parade.

Posted by ladyjulia 09/16/2010 at 11:34 AM

PEte,

"That's because I've rarely seen so compelling a display of the pure, shotmaking sensibility that Novak Djokovic brought to the court, nor the gale-force power, consistency, and athleticism of Nadal."

Rafa and Novak had always good matches with each other...and I think this aspect was seen in their other matches as well. The only difference was that the stakes were no not so high when they played the other times. Though the #2 ranking was at line sometimes when they played...

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Did Do It For Wayne! 09/16/2010 at 11:35 AM

Ladyjulia Final comment from me.I am done.Move On.

Posted by ladyjulia 09/16/2010 at 11:36 AM

AM,

LOL you should say that when I was writing my 11.34 post.

Posted by claudia celestial girl 09/16/2010 at 11:41 AM

Jay - It was in a Wimbledon 2008 interview after the Gulbis match that Chris Fowler and Darren Cahill asked Rafa about Brad Gilbert's comments about clocking Rafa serving at 140 mph - was Rafa trying to improve his serve? Rafa demurred saying that 140 was 'too much', but Cahill insisted that BG was really good with the clock. Rafa went on to say that he was required to improve his serve (or words to that effect). This interview is available on Youtube somewhere. It was on ESPN.

Also in the Hit for Haiti #1 at the 2010 AO, Rafa made a enigmatic comment about not wanting to 'reveal my new serve yet...'

In 2008, Rafa was hitting nowhere near 136 (his fastest USO speed on serve). So I agree that Rafa has been working on this serve speed improvement for along time. Not just 2-days prior to the 2010 USO.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Did Do It For Wayne! 09/16/2010 at 11:42 AM

Yes I should have.Though apparently you cant move on

Pity I will just scroll you from now on.

I suggest you do the same with me

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Did Do It For Wayne! 09/16/2010 at 11:43 AM

Well I am out for awhile.

Posted by Christopher 09/16/2010 at 11:49 AM

MSF-- Indeed. I think the later days of Hingis versus Serena and Venus were more stuck in my head. I think (though correct me if I'm wrong) they she was less successful then.

But the numbers you bring up strengthen my point, that there's a very direct line of competitiveness from Evert to the present players, just as there is from Laver, etc. to today (a point I'm sure you agree with).

Posted by Goldilocks 09/16/2010 at 11:50 AM

Sorry, as usual late to the party. I still can´t believe it. I mean, did Rafa win the US Open 2010 trophy? REALLY? OH. MY. GAWD. He did the impossible. Since after the Wimbledon triump this year, I was living in cloud cuckoo land, dreaming of Rafa as the US Open 2010 champion. Now I don´t have to do that. He really is the US Open 2010 Champion. YAYYYYYY. Atta Boy! A million congratulations to Rafa on this amazing achievement! May you stay healthy for the rest of your tennis career!

The Rafa-Nole bromance warms the cockles of my heart. Seriously though, Nole has totally won me over at this US Open. Wow, I can honestly say: "There´s a good head on that pair of shoulders." I have always liked him but now I adore him as much as I adore Rafa. I can watch this final to my heart´s content. Here you see both guys putting their hearts and souls into this match, from the first ball to the last one. Really incredible ball-striking. WOW!!!!!!

I´m really looking forward to Rafa-Nole, Rafa-Andy M, Rafa-Roger and Rafa-JMDP rivalries. Bring on 2011!!!!!!!

As for the match point, I´ve watched the last two games so many times, I believe it was the crowd (I mean several people from the crowd) telling Rafa where to serve, not his team. Rafa said they told him where to serve, I believe he meant the crowd, not his team. There´s no way Rafa could hear his team shouting anything to him with all that loud cheering from the crowd.

Once again, CONGRATULATIONS, RAFA. You are now continuing to reap the rewards of your hard work. KEEP IT UP, MY GOLDEN BOY!

To all my fellow Rafa fans: Let´s celebrate until the cows come home.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 09/16/2010 at 11:55 AM

GB: the vid you posted at 9:15 is so *squeeee* I just can't stand it!!!

I'm too busy trying to figure out today's travel plans to read all the posts but just wanted Ladyjulia to know I *flove* her and always enjoy her posts as well. :)

ok, I gotta go do googlemaps and all that..

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Did Do It For Wayne! 09/16/2010 at 12:02 PM

Goldilocks I just caught your post before I left

Long time no see here

It still hasnt sunk in for me yet.I have rewatched the game 5 times now lol!

Great to see you posting.


Posted by sally 09/16/2010 at 12:07 PM

GB-thanks so much for that video.
of course i couldn't see that on
espn. they want you to get emotionally
invested in this tournament for 2 weeks
and then at the end they can't be bothered
to show the winner holding up the trophy.
at least i should be thankful that game
show host dick enberg wasn't doing the
trophy ceremony. for two nights i
saw not one ball hit on espn or cbs
why bother showing this tournament if
they are going to do such a lousy job.

Posted by Goldilocks 09/16/2010 at 12:08 PM

More squeeee-worthy pics of our Champion.

http://cowbell.typepad.com/forty_deuce/

A guy in a suit. My heart misses a beat just looking at those pics. What a sight for sore eyes!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 09/16/2010 at 12:10 PM

goldilocks: had to comment. rafa in a dark suit makes me faint. okay, now back to my real life...

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Did Do It For Wayne! 09/16/2010 at 12:11 PM

Goldilocks Many thanks for those photos

He does do suits well lol!

Posted by Goldilocks 09/16/2010 at 12:20 PM

Hi AM,

Thanks! After Roland Gaross, I promised myself I wouldn´t post here until Rafa won the US Open. I didn´t wanna jinx him.

Now that he´s won it here I am posting again. I must admit I love this site, I love the posters and most of all I love all my fellow Rafa fans. I miss all of you.

Posted by Goldilocks 09/16/2010 at 12:27 PM

Hi Annie,

He sure is one good looking guy.

Here´s more:

http://www.menstennisforums.com/showthread.php?t=141616&page=226

Good luck to you and your son on your college hunting! It´s not easy I know, I´ve experienced the same with my four sons.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Did Do It For Wayne! 09/16/2010 at 12:29 PM

Goldilocks LOL! Well it worked

Hey he won Wimbledon as well remember

The Channel Slam twice now.Like who would have dreamt that in a million years after you know what happened.

Also not dropping a set at RG.He and Borg are the only 2 players in the history that have achieved that.Vilas has done that once.

Another great stat.I have compiled a full stat on Rafa and what he achieved on the other post if you care to take a look.

Keep posting ok.I think the jinx has been broken lol!

Posted by sally 09/16/2010 at 12:32 PM

it must be nice to be rafa
he has a great life

Posted by Jay 09/16/2010 at 12:40 PM

Thanks Claudia. Sometimes I remember comments and can't place them.

I do recall that immediately after winning in Paris, at the end of an interview, Rafa said to J. Mac "see you in NY (or at the US Open)". It was curious, because Wimbledon was the next major. In retrospect, it seems that he had a plan!

Posted by Sher 09/16/2010 at 12:46 PM

The thing about Rafa is that instead of focusing on the "brutal" aspects of his game, he focuses on finese. He, unlike some of his fans, realizes the value of artistry in the game, the same way he realizes that a great serve is, when all is said and done, still a great serve. It may not be transformational but it sure wins you points.

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 09/16/2010 at 12:48 PM

Klondike,

I see what you're driving at, and in many ways I agree. Of course, the all-copurt game that employs all the spins and utilizes the entire court, often finishing with a volley winner or passing shot, is an exciting form of tenis to watch 9and to play, when the knees can stand it). And maybe we're heading toward a day when people will complain, as they did in the Sampras-Ivanisevic-Rusedski-Stich era, that winning by one big swipe at the ball is not very interesting, or good for the overall health of the game. Of course, what these players do at the professional level is rarely reproduced at the rec and amateur levels. Sure, I run up against some pretty big ground strokes at the 5.0 level, buut none that are simply unreturnable on a frequent basis.

I'be always been a believer in the pendulum swinging, and that what is working so well today (the big inside-out and inside-in forehands) may give way to another more evolved style in the future. Then again, it may be that tennis as a sport has finally "grown up" and achieved a certain normalization -- a perfection of form, if you will -- and the pendulum will never swing fully to the other side. But something tells me that we'll see couple of kids who aren;t afraid to get passed show up and give the Nadal's of the world all they can handle.

Remember, we saw a glimpse of it when Tsonga beat Nadal in the 2008 Australian Open semifinal with wide serves and multiple forays to the net that ended in touch volleys.

Posted by Goldilocks 09/16/2010 at 12:51 PM

AM, I watched him claiming his trophy live at Roland Gaross. He was such in a good shape I knew that he had a very good shot at Wimbledon, almost like I was so sure he´d win it Federer or no Federer. Just a feeling I had while watching him at Roland Gaross. I was telling my daughter who was with me, that Rafa´s form was scary good, this bode´s well for his second Wimbledon title. My daughter reminded me to take one point at a time, one game at a time, one set at a time and one match at a time, you know my usual mantra. But when you watch Rafa live, you just get the feeling that there´s no way this guy will lose to anybody anywhere, not really anywhere, I was so sure of Wibledon, not so much of the US Open. That´s why I made that promise, silly I know, but it worked. Yayyyyy, our guy is the US Open 2010 Champion. OMG! Unreal!!!! Pinch me, guys. Tell me it´s real.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa Did Do It For Wayne! 09/16/2010 at 12:57 PM

Goldilocks I remember you telling me that you would be in Paris with your daughter for RG.

To me thats the surface he will always shine on.I too have seen him play on the clay.I feel he was born on clay.One cant appreciate him as much I feel than to see him do his magic on that surface.

Hey maybe we will have to keep pinching each other till it finally sinks in lol!

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