Rafa has won the Swedish Open after a 2-6 6-2 6-4 victory over
Tomas Berdych in the Final. Apologies for the lack of updates over the weekend, I had to go away for a couple of days. On
Friday, Rafa beat Juan Carlos Ferrero for the 3rd time this year, with a 6-3 6-3 victory. Rafa then faced a 3rd straight Spaniard
when he faced Tommy Robredo in the Semi Final. Rafa took the first set 6-3, and despite almost letting a 4-0 lead slip
in the 2nd he won through 6-3 6-3. Today Rafa was upset with himself in the first set of the final, as he dropped his serve 3
times as Berdych claimed the opening set 6-2. However, Rafa hit back strongly and took a 4-0 lead with some impressive play,
before eventually taking it 6-2 to level at 1 set all. The final set was tight, Rafa claimed a break of serve in the
5th game, and served out the match although he had to save a break point when serving for the match at 5-4. Rafa said afterwards,
"I didn't play well today. In the first set, I couldn't do so much. He made few mistakes. It was tough for me. I played more
aggressive in the second set and hit the balls deeper. Taking a 4-0 lead was good for my confidence. It's incredible to have
won seven clay-court titles this year." Rafa has now won an amazing 29 matches in a row on clay!
Unfortunately Rafa and Juan Monaco were beaten in the Semi Finals
of the doubles by no.3 seeds Acasuso and Prieto. Despite taking the first set, Rafa and Juan lost a tight match. Rafa has
the next week off, before heading to Germany for the Mercedes Cup.
Rafa is into the Quarter Final of the Swedish Open after an impressive
6-2 6-4 win over Alberto Martin. Rafa began well, getting into his rythym early on, sealing an early break and never really
looked back from there. Rafa will face Juan Carlos Ferrero for a place in the Semi Final. Rafa leads the head to head 2-0,
winning both matches this year in Valencia and Barcelona. Rafa and Juan Monaco teamed up to defeat Jarkko Niemenen and Robin
Soderling to reach the Semi Finals of the doubles, where they will face Jose Acasuso and Sebastian Prieto, the number 3 seeds.
Rafa returned to form with a convincing 6-1 6-1 victory over Juan
Monaco to reach Round 2 of the Synstam Swedish Open in Bastad. Rafa looked back to his best and showed no signs of his recent
injury problems on his knee. Rafa was comfortable throughout the match against his doubles partner for this week, and goes
on to face Alberto Martin in Round 2. Martin also had an excellent result in Round 1, defeating Agustin Calleri 6-1 6-1. Rafa
has faced Martin once before, winning the Brazil Open final 6-0 6-7 6-1 in February of this year.
Rafa and Juan Monaco teamed up to defeat Lindstedt/Mayer 6-4 6-4
in the 1st Round of the doubles In Bastad. They will face Niemenen/Soderling in Round 2 on Wednesday. Rafa and Juan are facing
each other in the singles, that match will be tomorrow.
Rafa will face Juan Monaco in the First Round of the Bastad Open
in Sweden as he looks to bounce back after his disappointing Wimbledon. The pair have never met before, but ironically have
joined up to play doubles together in this tournament. They will face Lindstedt/Mayer in the 1st Round. The tournament begins
on Monday as Rafa looks to come back into form on the clay.
Rafa and Feliciano have pulled out of the doubles at Wimbledon
due to several reasons. Rafa said his knee was troubling him during his singles match, and is also suffering with fatigue.
Lopez is still involved in the singles and they have therefore withdrawn. Rafa will head back to Spain, before his next tournament
in Switzerland starting on the 4th July.
Rafa has been beaten 6-4 4-6 6-3 6-4 by Gilles Muller to exit Wimbledon
at the 2nd Round. It is a hugely disappointing to defeat for Rafa, especially as he had many chances to win the match, but
Muller produced a lot of good shots on big points. It all looked great when Rafa went 0-40 up in Muller's nervous opening
service game, but Muller produced some big serves and held on. Both players then held serve pretty comfortably, until at 4-5
down Rafa produced a rather poor service game, and was broken to 0 to lose the first set.
The second set began similarly to the first. With Muller serving
at 2-2, Rafa missed a total of 4 break points, many of his returns were landing too short and Muller was given an easy forehand
putaway often. In the following game it was Rafa's turn to save break points, 3 in total although the 3rd was a bad miss by
Muller. Rafa finally managed to break Muller at 4-4, on his 9th break point Rafa decided to chip and charge and Muller's forehand
pass went into the net. Rafa served out the set despite falling 15-30 behind, sealing the set with a superb lob.
The 3rd and 4th sets were extremely similar. Rafa had break points
to go a break up in both, but was unable to convert. Muller broke Rafa at 4-3 in the 3rd, Rafa fell 0-40 behind and saved
2 of the break points but Muller took the third and served out the set. Similarly in the 4th set, Rafa had 2 break points
at 2-2, missed them and was broken in the following game. He then didn't really come close to breaking Muller, who was serving
very well by now and closed out the match 6-4 4-6 6-3 6-4. It is a tough defeat for Rafa to take, the main difference was
break point conversions. Muller was 3/10, Rafa was 1/13.
Rafa is still involved in the doubles, he and Feliciano Lopez defeated
the Czech duo Rikl/Cibulec 6-3 7-6(3) 7-6(9). They will face Slovakian duo Hrbaty/Mertinak in Round 2.
Rafa is into the 2nd Round at Wimbledon after a straightforward
6-4 6-3 6-0 over Vince Spadea. Rafa will be extremely happy to have made it through, it is his first win on grass for 2 years
and it was a good start to his campaign. Rafa almost got off to the perfect start, he won the toss and elected to receive,
and he gave himself a break point but Spadea saved it with a big serve, and held on. The first 6 games all ended up going
with serve, Rafa's forehand not working as well as he would've liked, and Spadea playing some nice tennis. Rafa got the break
in the 7th game though, as Spadea made a few unforced errors. Rafa held to lead 5-3, and although he missed a set point in
the following game, he served out the set and pumped his fist in celebration.
Rafa raised his level considerably at the beginning of the 2nd
set, making Spadea run all over the place and getting the break to lead 2-1. Spadea took treatment for an injury which was
affecting his movement, and it also became a problem when serving. However, he fought on bravely and put up a good effort,
but Rafa was beginning to dominate the rallies, and Spadea never threatened on the Nadal serve. Rafa clinched the set by breaking
once more at 5-3 to lead 2 sets to 0.
Rafa continued his good form in the third set, and ran away with
the match as Spadea began to suffer. Knowing his movement was restricted, Spadea began to go for his shots and began to make
a lot of unforced errors. Rafa was being extremely solid, and was entertaining the crowd with some exceptional passing shots.
Rafa broke to lead 2-0, and managed to hold his next service game despite facing his first break point of the match and led
3-0. He quickly finished off the match, clinching the 3rd set 6-0 when a Spadea shot went long.
Rafa will be happy with his performance, he made just 8 unforced
errors and got better as the match went on. In round 2, he will face Gilles Muller. Rafa has a 2-0 record against him, although
they have never met on grass. Rafa and Feliciano begin their doubles campaign on Wednesday against Czech duo David Rikl and
Rafa has been handed a relatively kind draw for the 3rd Grand Slam
of the year, Wimbledon. Importantly, Rafa has managed to avoid many of the dangerous floaters in the draw. Rafa will begin
his campaign on Tuesday against American Vince Spadea in the first round. Spadea leads the head to head 1-0, having won a
tight 3 setter in Madrid last year on hard. Should Rafa win, he would face Gilles Muller or Felix Mantilla
in Round 2 and has a potential 3rd round clash with Richard Gasquet. Rafa's section of the draw can be found here.
Rafa has also entered the doubles, and teams up with good friend
Feliciano Lopez. In the first round they will face David Rikl and Tomas Cibulec of the Czech Republic. Their section of the
draw can be found here.
The Wimbledon seedings have been announced. Rafa, despite being
no.3 in the world has been seeded no.4, due to previous performances on grass. The top 5 is:
1. Roger Federer (SWI)
2. Andy Roddick (USA)
3. Lleyton Hewitt (AUS)
4. Rafael Nadal (ESP)
5. Marat Safin (RUS)
The draw is tomorrow (Thursday)
Rafa has confirmed that he has pulled out of the Ordina Open in
Holland, and will take a few days well deserved rest before heading to Wimbledon, the 3rd Grand Slam of the year. Rafa will
head to Britain probably on Tuesday or Wednesday, he has currently been relaxing in Spain, giving several interviews to the
media, and resting his weary legs! In an interview with a British newspaper, Rafa said it would be a dream to do well
at Wimbledon but he is realistic and it would be a big achievement just to win a few matches. He said he realised what he
needs to do to improve on grass, and would be working hard on his serve and volley game and he could hopefully challenge for
the title in a few years. Rafa gave lots of praise to Roger Federer, saying finishing no.2 in the world would be like finishing
no.1 because Federer is so good!
I will be going to Wimbledon as many days as possible, and will
hopefully get to see Rafa. Expect to see a lot of photos, and hopefully Rafa can get a nice draw and make it as far as he
Apologies for the late update, problems with my internet connection.
On Wednesday, Rafa's 24 match winning streak was brought to an end as he was beaten 4-6 7-5 6-3 by German wildcard Alexander
Waske in Halle. Rafa is not likely to be too upset by the defeat, it is his first match on grass for 2 years, and he was still
a little fatigued from his French Open triumph. Rafa pulled out of the doubles soon after and will head back to Mallorca
for a short break. He is due to play the Ordina Open next week but it is unclear whether he will stick to this schedule,
he may skip this event and head over to Britain early to prepare for Wimbledon.
Rafa has confirmed he will definitely play in Halle beginning today,
despite his incredible efforts at the French Open. Rafa has decided to get in some grass court matches before Wimbledon in
2 weeks time, and will have the week off next week. It is likely Rafa won't have to play his first round match until Wednesday,
when he will face Alexander Waske in their first career meeting. Waske is tricky on grass, he has a big serve and it will
be Rafa's first grass court match for 2 years. Rafa will also play doubles with Feliciano Lopez, and they will face Nicolas
Kiefer and Alexander Waske (again!) in the first round.
Great news for Rafa, when the rankings are released today he will
take the no.1 spot off Roger Federer in the ATP Indesit Race, and rise to a career best no.3 in the ATP Entry Race. Fully
deserved after his fantastic season, and current 24 match winning streak.
Rafa is the French Open 2005 winner!!! Rafa defeated Mariano Puerta
6-7(6) 6-3 6-1 7-5 in 3 hours 24 minutes in an excellent final.
Rafa got off to a great start, breaking Puerta in the opening game
after a slightly edgy start from the Argentinian. Rafa held onto his serve well in the following game, saving 2 break points
the first with a great drop shot and the second with a good serve to open up a 2-0 lead. Puerta managed to get in the scoreboard
in the following game, saving a break point with a big forehand. Nadal held to lead 3-1, and had more break points on the
Puerta serve at 15-40. Puerta decided to take an injury time out on an injured thigh, and came back to hold in the game. Rafa
was then broken in his next service game, Puerta beginning to hit much more aggressively and he levelled at 3-3. The next
6 games all went with serve, and the first set went to a tie break. After the first 4 points went with serve, Rafa got a minibreak
to lead 3-2. However, this was the start of a run of 7 points against the serve, and Puerta had a set point at 6-5. Nadal
did extremely well to save it with a big backhand, but Puerta gave himself another at 7-6, and had Rafa on the defence the
whole point, Rafa's lob just going wide to hand the opening set to the Argentine.
Rafa managed to put the disappointment of losing an extremely long
opening set behind him well. He broke Puerta after an extremely long game, finally clinching the break at the 4th opportunity
to lead 3-1, and held serve comfortably to lead 4-1. Puerta held, as did Nadal to leave Puerta serving to stay in the set
at 2-5. Rafa had a set point at 30-40, but Puerta produced a gutsy 2nd serve ace, and held onto his serve with a stunning
diving volley. Rafa was not to be denied, and held onto his serve to 0 to level at 1 set all, 6-7 6-3.
Rafa continued his roll at the beginning of the third, breaking
in the opening game after a netted Puerta backhand. Rafa crucially held serve after being down 15-40 at 2-1, the first break
point saved with an ace and the second after a backhand error from Puerta. Nadal clinched the double break in the following
game after some excellent forehands, and held serve to lead 5-1 despite being taken to deuce. Puerta was seemingly beginning
to tire, understandable considering the extremely long fortnight he's had, and been taken to 5 long sets in his last 2 matches.
Rafa clinched the 3rd set with another break, Puerta double faulting on set point and Rafa had a 2 sets to 1 lead.
Rather out the blue, Puerta began to find a second wind at
the beginning of the 4th set. Despite Rafa taking a 30-0 lead on his serve, Puerta began to unleash on some forehands, and
managed to get the early break. However, Rafa showed great character to get the instant break back after 2 terrific passing
shots, 1 off either wing. At 3-3, Puerta applied a huge amount of pressure and gave himself a huge opportunity at 0-40. Rafa
somehow managed to hold on, producing some big serves at an important time. Puerta was beginning to land with his big shots,
and held serve to 0 to level at 4-4, before breaking a slightly negative Rafa to serve for the set at 5-4. Puerta led
40-15, and had 2 set points. Rafa saved the first with a nice backhand pass, and then the second after a long rally when Puerta
only just missed a diving volley. A good serve gave Puerta a 3rd chance, but he netted a forehand. Rafa then gained a break
point when Puerta missed with a forehand, and sealed the break with a stunning reflex volley at the net. Rafa held serve to
move within a game of victory at 6-5 in the 4th set. Nadal took the first point, but Puerta levelled at 15-15 after an epic
rally. A brilliant backhand winner down the line moved him within 2 points of victory, Puerta brought it back to 30-30 with
a forehand winner crosscourt. Rafa produced a lovely forehand winner down the line to give himself championship point, which
he clinched when Puerta hit a forehand wide, Rafa collapsing to the floor in celebration of his first ever Grand Slam title.
Rafa's first act was to go over and shake hands with the King and Queen of Spain, and then climbed up to celebrate with his
family. Rafa then had a short sit down, and shed a few tears before being presented with the trophy by French football legend
Zinedine Zidane. Many Congratulations Rafa, a very worthy winner. I have hundreds of pics to go up, and they will be
doing so shortly.
Rafa is now scheduled to play in Halle next week to kick off his
grasscourt season before Wimbledon. At this time we are unsure if he will in fact stick to this schedule, after this fantastic
2 weeks in France.
Rafa has celebrated his 19th birthday by reaching the French
Open final after a fantastic fighting 4 set win over Roger Federer 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-3. It was a brilliant effort from Rafa, neither
player was at their best throughout the match, but Rafa battled past the world no.1 and booked a Final spot against unseeded
Argentine Mariano Puerta. The players had to endure a long wait before the match, there was a 90 minute rain delay, and the
first Semi Final went to 5 long sets, won by Puerta after over 3 and a half hours.
When the match finally started at around 6.15pm local time, it
was Rafa who got into gear quickly, benefiting from a couple of errors from Federer to break in the opening game. Rafa was
well on top, and was controlling many of the early exchanges and testing Federer's backhand which was not firing, and Rafa
clinched a double break to lead 4-1. However, this began a run of games against the serve, Federer got one of the breaks back
to trail 4-2, but was broken again by Rafa for 5-2. Rafa missed a couple of set points on his serve and was broken once more,
but incredibly broke Federer for a 4th time to take the set 6-3 in an edgy set where most points were decided on errors.
Rafa held serve to open the 2nd set, but Federer soon raised his
level and showed everyone just why he is number 1 in the world. Out of nowhere he began to crack forehand winners, and was
getting a lot of joy hitting to Rafa's backhand, which Rafa made quite a few errors off. Federer took 5 straight games and
looked certain to take the second set. However, as always Rafa fought hard, and got one off the breaks back to apply pressure
to Federer at 5-4. The Swiss star managed to hold serve comfortably and levelled at 1 set apiece.
The 3rd set was crucial, as it became clear that light would not
last out for 5 sets, so whoever took the set knew they could not lose tonight. Both players had begun to raise their
level by now, and there was some high class rallies. Rafael got the first break in the set to lead 4-2, and let out a
huge "vamos" but was broken back in the following game. Both players then held serve, until at 5-4 up, Rafa found himself
with 2 set points at 15-40 on the Federer serve. Unfortunately, Rafa lost his footing on the first, and netted a backhand
pass on the second. He managed to regroup and won himself a third set point, which he took after a great defensive lob kept
him in the point, and then he finished it with a forehand drive volley.
Rafa lost concentration for the only time in the match at the beginning
of the 4th set, and played his worst game of the match to go a break down early on. Rafa began to settle down once more, and
kept in touch at 3-2 down but still trailing by a break. This is when we saw his best tennis of the match, a superb game
to break back and level at 3-3 followed by a gutsy service hold. Rafa was only 2 games away from the final, and took a huge
step towards it by breaking Federer again for a 5-3 lead. After the match in Miami nothing was taken for granted, and many
observers felt nerves might hinder Rafa. He proved everyone wrong by playing a faultless game, hitting a couple of superb
forehands and clinching the game to 15 and a spot in the final! Rafa said afterwards "It's incredible to be in the final and
beat the number one in the world. Being in the final is a dream. I've just beaten the man who's the number one to me, not
only for his tennis but also as a person."
Many congratulations to Rafa, and lets hope he can finish the job
on Sunday and clinch his first of hopefully many Grand Slams.
Rafa takes an incredible 23 match winning streak into the final,
and is full of confidence. Rafa leads the head to head 2-1, winning the last 2 meetings including this year in the Semi Final
of Acapulco. All 3 meetings have come on clay, Puerta winning in 3 sets in a French challenger event in 2003, and Rafa winning
in straight sets in Umag in 2003. The match will be played on Sunday, both players get a well deserved day off after a tough
2 weeks. Good luck Rafa!!
Rafa has reached the Semi Final of the French Open after a straight
sets 7-5 6-2 6-0 victory over a fatigued David Ferrer. Ferrer had to play his 4th Round match with Gaston Gaudio yesterday
due to the rain delays, and it went to 5 sets and last over 4 hours. It soon became apparent that this was a major factor
in the match today.
Ferrer looked a little nervy early on, and Rafa capatalised with
a break instantly after a couple of errors from Ferrer. It looked like Rafa would take the opening set, he was holding serve
relatively comfortably until when he led 4-3, Ferrer upped his game and broke back, before holding to lead 5-4. Rafa looked
in major trouble at 0-40 down, but somehow held on to his serve to save the set. At 5-5, Rafa produced a marvellous game to
break the Ferrer serve. The point which finally clinched the break was a fantastic forehand pass, and despite having to save
a break point in the next game, Rafa held serve and took the opening set 7-5.
It soon became clear that Ferrer didn't have too much left in the
tank. Rafa broke early in the 2nd set, and then clinched a double break and led 5-1 in quick time. Ferrer called for the trainer,
and was suffering from lower back pains. He managed to hold serve, but Rafa closed out the set easily, taking it 6-2 in 38
minutes without facing a break point.
Rafa got off to the perfect start in the 3rd set, breaking Ferrer
to 0 in the opening game to virtually seal the match. Ferrer fought hard, and had 2 break points in the following game
but was unable to take them. Rafa put the result beyond all doubt by breaking once more in the following game, despite Ferrer
leading 40-0 on his serve. Ferrer all but gave up after this, and Rafa eased through the rest of the match, taking the final
set 6-0 in 24 minutes, losing just 8 points in the set to book a spot in the Semi Final.
Rafa will face the biggest match of his career in the Semi Final,
a clash with World No.1 Roger Federer. Federer is desperate to win this title, it is the only Grand Slam he has not won yet
and he has not dropped a set on his way to the Semi Final. The head to head is tied at 1-1, although they have never met on
clay. Rafa won the first meeting in Miami last year, winning 6-3 6-3. They also met in the Miami Final this year, where Rafa
held a 2 sets to 0 lead before Federer came back to win in 5. The winner of the match will be strong favourite to take the
title, as the bottom half of the draw is relatively weak compared to the top half.
Rafa is into his first career Grand Slam Quarter Final, after completing
a 6-4 3-6 6-0 6-3 victory over Sebastien Grosjean. After the match was suspended yesterday due to rain with Rafa leading 3-0
in the third, the players came back out today, later than expected after a long women's match beforehand. Rafa came out the
blocks well though, and broke Grosjean instantly to virtually guarantee himself the set. Rafa held serve, and then broke Grosjean
once more to clinch a 2 sets to 1 lead.
The fourth set was incredibly entertaining, with a lot of fantastic
rallies. Grosjean started it off well, and had a couple of chances to break Nadal in the 3rd game, but Rafa held on well.
Both players held confidently, until when Nadal led 4-3*, Grosjean played a pretty awful game on his serve, making 3 straight
unforced errors to hand Rafa the break and leave him serving for the match. Rafa showed no signs of nerves, and soon had 3
match points at 40-0. Grosjean saved the first with a big forehand but Rafa clinched the match on his 2nd match point.
Rafa now faces David Ferrer for a place in the Semi Final on Tuesday.
Rafa leads the head to head 2-1, winning both the matches they've played this year in the Masters Series in Rome and Miami.
Ferrer defeated Rafa in Stuttgart last year in a match where Rafa had match points. The match will be 3rd match on the Lenglen
court, with the winner to face Roger Federer or Victor Hanescu. Good luck Rafa!
Rafa's 4th round match with Sebastien Grosjean was abandoned due
to rain, with Rafa lead 6-4 3-6 3-0* in a controversial encounter. Rafa got off to a great start, quietening the French crowd
with a break in the 5th game to lead 3-2. Rafa struggled in a few of his service games, but didn't face a break point all
set, and closed it out 6-4.
The huge talking point was at the beginning of the set. In the
opening game, Rafa had a break point, and after a forehand looked to go long, Grosjean hit a weak response and Rafa hit a
forehand winner. Grosjean wanted the umpire to check the mark, but he refused as he said Grosjean had carried on playing.
This resulted in a huge protest from the French crowd who stood up and booed for around 15 minutes, not allowing play to resume.
When play finally did restart, many of the points were played during a lot of noise, and whenever the umpire called out
the scores there was a lot of hissing. Rafa was definitely affected by this, he carried on very professionally but was broken
back for 1-1. Rafa went up a break once more to lead 3-2, but then lost 4 straight games as Grosjean was cheered on by the
Rafa regained his composure superbly in the third set however,
clinging onto his serve before breaking Grosjean with an excellent recieving game. The rain began to fall, and Rafa held serve
to lead 3-0 before the players had to come off, and play was abandoned for the night. Rafa will come back tomorrow, and be
2nd match on the Chatrier after Henin-Hardenne v Kuznetsova, as he seeks to make his first Grand Slam Quarter Final.
Rafa defeated Richard Gasquet 6-4 6-3 6-2 in an extremely impressive
performance to reach round 4 of the French Open. The match was billed as a potential clash of the tournament, but Rafa was
far too consistent for Gasquet, who showed signs of brilliance but gave away too many cheap points to threaten Nadal. Rafa
got off to a perfect start, silencing the crowd by breaking in the opening game. Rafa held his serve comfortably throughout
the set, not facing a break point although he had to come back from 0-30 when serving for the set at 5-4, which he did
by taking the next 4 points.
Gasquet gifted Rafa a break in the opening game of the second set,
with 2 double faults and a couple of bad errors. However, Rafa let the Frenchman back into it with a poor service game of
his own, and was broken back instantly. This lifted the French crowd, but Rafa one again broke the Gasquet serve to lead 3-2
after some impressive groundstrokes, and broke once more at 5-3 to clinch the set after an outrageous backhand pass from well
behind the baseline.
For the 3rd straight set Rafa broke Gasquet in his opening service
game and led 2-0, but once again he slipped up on his own serve and Gasquet levelled at 2-2. However it was clear from Gasquet's
body language that he didn't feel he could come back from 2 sets down in the blazing heat, and he made an awful lot of unforced
errors, conceding 4 straight games as Rafa ended up a comfortable winner. Rafa will have to face the crowd again in Round
4, when he faces another Frenchman Sebastien Grosjean who came through a 5 set battle with Radek Stepanek. The pair have never
met before, as Rafa looks to make the Quarter Finals of a Grand Slam for the first time in his career. He has played extremely
well so far, not dropping a set so hopefully he can keep it up!
Rafa is into Round 3 of the French Open with an impressive 6-2
6-2 6-4 victory over Xavier Malisse. Rafa got off to the perfect start, breaking Malisse in the 3rd game of the match after
a big forehand gave him an easy volley. Rafa got a 2nd break when leading 4-2, when he hit an excllent backhand down the line
which Malisse could not reach, and Rafa served out the set to take it 6-2.
Rafa began the 2nd set well, breaking Malisse straight away and
seemingly well in control of the match. However, the Belgian hit back straight away after a poor service game from Nadal and
went into a 2-1 lead. However, Rafa upped his level and began to hit some excellent forehands and took control of the match,
breaking Malisse twice to lead 5-2, and served out the set to 15 to take a 2 set lead.
Rafa carried on his excellent form at the beginning of the third,
and broke Malisse to love and led 3-1. This prompted a change of tactics from the Belgian who began hitting a lot harder and
going closer to the lines, which paid off as he broke back to level at 3-3. However, Rafa broke once more to lead 4-3 with
a fantastic drop shot, and although he failed to take a match point on the Malisse serve at 5-3, he held serve to book a spot
in Round 3.
Malisse played his part in a very exciting match, in which Rafa
will be pleased to come through in straight sets. Rafa will face Frenchman Richard Gasquet in an eagerly anticipated 3rd round
match between the two 18 year olds. Rafa leads the head to head 2-1, winning the last 2 meetings but both have been very tight
3 set wins, the last coming not long ago in Monte Carlo. Gasquet will also have the crowd firmly behind him and it will definitely
be Rafa's toughest test so far at the French Open. The match is scheduled for Thursday and will almost certainly be on the
Chatrier court. Lots of photos will be up later.
Rafa got his French Open campaign off to a comfortable start with
a straight sets victory over Lars Burgsmuller. Rafa was playing his first ever match at Roland Garros, having pulled out with
injury the last 2 years, but started off confidently. Rafa took the first set easily 6-1 , breaking the Burgsmuller serve
twice, and not facing a break point as he won 10/10 points when he made his 1st serve.
The second set was much tighter, as Burgsmuller began to have a
bit more success on his serve. Both players held throughout the set, and it ended up in a tie break. Rafa faced his first
real crisis when Burgsmuller went into an early 3-1 lead, but Rafa upped his level and took 6 out of the next 7 points to
take a 2 set lead.
This seemed to break Burgsmuller, who didn't put up much of a fight
in the final set, Rafa raced through it 6-1 in just 22 minutes to book a Round 2 spot with Xavier Malisse. Rafa won their
only previous meeting 6-0 6-3 in Monte Carlo this year, and will be confident he can win once more. The match will be played
on Wednesday. Rafa's post-match interview can be found in the articles section of the site.
Rafa will kick off his French Open campaign on the opening day,
as he takes on Lars Burgsmuller on Monday. Rafa will play 2nd match on court 1. The order of play is shown below, good luck
Court One 11am Start (Local Time)
Meilen Tu vs Kim Clijsters (14) Womens Singles 1st Round
Rafael Nadal (4) vs Lars Burgsmuller Mens Singles 1st Round
Virginie Razzano vs Dinara Safina (25) Womens Singles 1st Round
Michael Llodra vs Fernando Gonzalez (25) Mens Singles 1st Round
Rafa has been handed a tough draw for the French Open, beginning
on Monday. Rafa was pushed up to 4th seed after Lleyton Hewitt's withdrawal but could have been given a
much easier draw. In Round 1 he will face Lars Burgsmuller, and if he came through that would face either Xavier Malisse
or Mardy Fish in Round 2. Rafa will not be too disappointed with that, however, he faces a possible 3rd Round match with
French hope Richard Gasquet who has been in great form.
Rafa has played Burgsmuller once, at Indian wells last year winning
The full draw can be found here
Rafa will be seeded no.5 for the 2nd Grand Slam of the year, the
French Open. The draw will be made on Friday, and Rafa is currently preparing himself for a tournament he is tipped by many
to win, although it is going to be extremely tough. Rafa will head to Paris in the next few days, and get in some heavy practise
before it starts, having not played a competitive match for 2 weeks when the tournament begins on Monday 23rd May.
It is confirmed that Rafa has pulled out of Hamburg, citing fatigue
and blisters on his hand. "I'm not 100 percent and I only risk worsening the injury", said Rafa. It means Rafa will not play
any competitive matches until the French Open, which begins 2 weeks today. Rafa will take a few days rest, and will begin
practise when his blisters heal.
Rafa produced the most remarkable performances in one of the best
matches seen in years as he defeated Guillermo Coria in 5 sets, 6-4 3-6 6-3 4-6 7-6(6) in 5 hours 14 minutes. It is Rafa's
5th title of the year and his 2nd Masters Series title. Rafa
got off to a bad start, playing a sloppy game to go down a break early in the set. Coria had chances to get another break,
but failed to so and was made to pay when Rafa hit 2 great passing shots to break back and level at 4-4. Rafa then held, and
applied the pressure in the next game and found himself with 2 set points. Coria saved the first with a good volley but Rafa
took it on the second with a slight mishit off the forehand.
Rafa looked to have the momentum, but Coria broke after some great
drop shots to take an early lead in the second set. Rafa broke back to level at 3-3, but then was broken straight back
after a poor game. Coria held, and then broke Rafa once more to take the set 6-3 and level at 1 set all.
Rafa put the disappointment behind him well, and broke Coria in
the opening game of the 3rd set, and again in the 3rd game and opened up a 4-0 lead as Coria's level dropped. Rafa served
for the set at 5-2, but Coria fought well, and got one of the breaks back. However, Rafa broke Coria straight back in a game
with a massive number of deuces and took a 2 sets to 1 lead.
The 4th set started well for Coria, as he broke and held to take
a 2-0 lead. Rafa broke back and soon levelled at 2-2, but lost his serve once more as Coria played a great game to break.
Finally both players held serve a couple of times, and although the games were close neither faced break points until Coria
served for the set at 5-4, Rafa missed a break point and Coria held to level once more at 2 sets all.
Rafa looked a little tired at the beginning of the 5th set and
Coria took advantage, breaking in the opening game. It looked pretty much all over for Rafa as Coria broke again to take a
3-0 lead. Rafa refused to go away, and got one of the breaks back with a superb drop shot. Rafa then held from 0-30 down to
stay in touch at 3-2 down, before showing great fight and breaking once more to come back to 3-3. At 4-4, Rafa crucially saved a
break point and held to lead 5-4. Both players then held to 30 and Rafa took a 6-5 lead. Coria once more had to serve to stay
in the match, and Rafa managed to get a Championship point at 30-40, which was saved very well by Coria, and he held to take
it to a final set tie break. Rafa started off the tie break strongly, and soon had a 5-1 lead after some excellent points.
Coria took 3 straight points to pull it back to 5-4, but Rafa got 2 more match points after a Coria forehand went just wide.
Rafa hit a big forehand on the first match point which also landed just wide, and then double faulted and it was tied at 6-6.
Rafa managed not to get frustrated, and got his 4th championship point after a long rally, and finally clinched the match
in 5 hours 14 minutes when a Coria volley went long.
Congratulations to Rafa on winning a truly incredible match. He
is due to play another Masters Series in Hamburg starting on Monday, but his confirmation is in doubt due to the number of
matches he has played recently, and also the fact he has some bad blisters on his hand. He is due to face Igor Andreev in
round 1 who was the last player to defeat him on clay. The match is scheduled for Tuesday.
Rafa is into his 3rd straight Masters Series final after a titanic
3 set victory over David Ferrer in Rome, winning 4-6 6-4 7-5. Rafa got off to a confident start, breaking Ferrer and went
into a 4-2 lead. However, Ferrer started playing some great tennis, and began outplaying Rafa, taking 4 straight games to
take the first set. After both players broke early in the second set, Rafa broke to love to lead 4-3. Ferrer broke straight
back to level at 4-4, but Rafa shrugged off the disappointment and broke once more, and managed to serve out the set and level
at one set all.
Rafa started off the final set well, breaking to lead 2-1. Once
more he was broken straight back as Ferrer began to refind his form of the first set. Rafa then hit straight back again, breaking
for a 3-2 lead and then both players managed to finally hold comfortably a couple of times, and Rafa served for the match
at 5-4. Rafa gained himself 2 match points at 40-15 with a forehand winner, but Ferrer fought back, saving the first with
a forehand winner and the 2nd when Rafa's passing shot went wide, and went onto break and level at 5-5. Somehow Rafa managed
to put this to the back of his mind, and broke Ferrer to 0 to once again serve for the match. This time he didn't falter,
and held to 15 to book a place in the final against Guillermo Coria. They have met twice before, in the Monte Carlo final
a couple of weeks ago which Rafa won in 4 sets and Coria winning in straight sets in at the same tournament in 2003. Good
Rafa produced a battling display to fight back from a set down
and defeat Radek Stepanek to reach the Semi Final in Rome. After a tight start, Stepanek began to play some intelligent tennis.
Rafa was unable to find any sort of momentum as he was taken out of his comfort zone, Stepanek playing a lot of drop shots
and mixing his game up a lot, staying back occasionally and then venturing to the net. He was also returning extremely well
and broke when Rafa served for the first set at 5-4. He then held and when Rafa was serving at 5-6, Stepanek put a lot
of pressure on and managed to break once more to take the first set 7-5. Rafa looked frustrated, but managed to get a
crucial break at the beginning of the 2nd set and soon clinched a double break advantage at 3-0. It soon became clear
that the first set had taken a lot out of Stepanek, and Rafa was punishing him with some penetrating groundstrokes.
Stepanek was broken for the 3rd time as Rafa took it easily 6-1. Both players held comfortably in the first 3 games of the
final set, before Rafa played his best game of the match, breaking Stepanek after a series of excellent passing shots. This
killed off Stepanek, and Rafa booked his place in the Semi Final by breaking again to lead 5-1 and served out the match to
win 5-7 6-1 6-1 in over 2 hours. It was a great effort from Rafa, battling back from losing a tough first set, and he raised
his game sufficiently to win, not facing a break point in the 2nd or 3rd set. Rafa faces David Ferrer in the Semi Final as
he looks to reach his 3rd consecutive Masters Series Final. The head to head is tied at 1-1, Ferrer winning the first meeting
on clay in 3 tight sets last year, and Rafa winning 6-4 6-3 in Miami just over a month ago.
Rafael produced in my opinion one of the best performances of his
career as he defeated Guillermo Canas 6-3 6-1 to reach the Quarter Final of the Masters Series in Rome. After a tight opening
couple of games, Rafa upped his level and began to ran away with the match with some superb play. Canas although rallying
well from the back of the court was unable to come up with any winners, Rafa defending extremely well and also coming up with
numerous winners, he broke twice in the first set, taking it 6-3. Rafa continued his sensational form in the 2nd set, hitting
some unbelievable shots to quickly take a 3-0 lead. Canas held to pull back to 3-1, but it was to be his last game of the
match as Rafa continued to dominate, taking the match 6-3 6-1 without facing a break point. It was a truly brilliant
performancy by Rafa, and he now faces Radek Stepanek for a place in the Semi Finals. Rafa has won both their previous meetings,
including a straight sets win in Barcelona 2 weeks ago.
Rafa reached the 3rd Round of the Masters Series in Rome after
a comprehensive 6-1 6-1 over Victor Hanescu. Rafa broke in the opening game, but then struggled on his serve, not making many
first serves but he managed to hold after saving a break point. Rafa then broke again to lead 3-0, and held before Hanescu
finally managed to get on the scoreboard. However, Rafa was far too strong and held before breaking for a 3rd time to take
the set 6-1. Rafa continued his dominance, racing into a 3-0 lead in the 2nd set and ran away with the match, winning 6-1
6-1 in just 68 minutes. Rafa was not really forced to be at his best, but will face a much tougher time in round 3 against
Guillermo Canas. They have met once before, Rafa winning 7-5 6-3 in Acapulco this year where he went on to win the title.
Rafa produced a brilliant display to defeat Mikhail Youzhny 6-0
6-2 and reach the 2nd round of the Masters Series in Rome. The first game saw the best from both players, Rafa grabbing the
break after some quality baseline exchanges. Youzhny began coming to the net but Rafa was producing great shots off both wings
and broke twice more to take the first set in just 22 minutes without dropping a game. Youzhny finally got on the scoreboard,
holding to 0 at the beginning of the 2nd set, raising his arms aloft to the amusement of the crowd. However, Rafa once again
raised his level taking 4 straight games to lead 4-1. Youzhny broke for the only time in the match after a sloppy game from
Nadal, but Rafa broke straight back and served out the match to love, finishing with an ace. Rafa will face Victor Hanescu
in round 2, they have met once before in Sopot last year, Rafa winning 6-4 6-4.
Rafa will face Mikhail Youzhny in the 1st Round of the Masters
Series in Rome, Italy. Rafa leads the head to head 2-1, winning twice this year including the epic 5 set match at the
French Open where he saved a match point. Rafa also has Canas and Safin in his quarter but will be satisfied with his draw.
On Sunday Rafael will have a friendly knock-about with Andre Agassi in front the Castel Sant Angelo near Saint Peter's cathedral
to publicise the tournament.