Take a Page Out of Rafa’s Book

Sure, I’ve been critical (overly) of Rafa and his rain saga (most recently Rome), which continues today in his QF match with Schwartzman. What a match. Diego is doing everything I hoped he might be able to do, which is stick around in these points, make all of those great reads that only the clay dog/god-types can make. Brilliant first set from the Argentine.

He even goes-up a break in the second, to serve at 3-2. Then the rain.

What Rafa does in these circumstances amounts to a lesson in life we should all embrace, include in our own bag-of-tricks, so we have that much more chance of success when difficulties arise.

He went inside and there he found Carlos, his coach. Not only did they use the break in the action to wait-out the rain; they also schemed. And with out knowing exactly what they came-up with in terms of adjustments to counter the Argentinian, first-and-foremost they made clear that when tennis resumes, Rafa will jump Diego. This is chess. This isn’t tennis, necessarily. This is strategy that involves a will to win that is both intense and very pragmatic. Diego had no chance serving 3-2 when play resumed.

This is what makes Rafa so successful. He breaks the match down into tinier, more digestible portions. He’s surgical. Rafa takes advantage, obviously and we should all, including his opponents, make note (wake the fuck up) and borrow some of this genius from the master.

6 thoughts on “Take a Page Out of Rafa’s Book

  1. Can’t disagree Matt. But it would have been more fun watching rafa trying to turn the tide of battle while under fire. The rain killed the drama. I guess we can’t expect much now from what remains of this match.
    In the other match I’m hoping for a Cilic win. I love Delpo but from what I’ve seen this year his backhand is not where it would have to be to give nadal any resistance. If your (RH) backhand is a weakness against rafa you’re cooked. But if we get damp conditions & a heavy ball for the semi then Cilic could give the spaniard some real headaches. He’s the one guy left who can channel Soderling. But given how rafa’s luck has run in this tournament I expect he’ll get the conditions and opponent he wants.


    1. Ha ha.

      I hope you read the tone in that piece. There’s appreciation for the way he manages; and also am more critical “wake-up!” Novak has been one of the only one’s in particular who has matched this kind of “F U” tennis. Pretty frustrating over the years watching guys just get steam-rolled not really on the basis of tennis, but on gamesmanship, calling a MTO, taking 10 minutes between points, etc. Nadal and Novak both pushed this bully-ball. Too bad there are so many players willing to be bullied.

      The Cilic/DelPo will be close. If Cilic can win in 3-4, he should be a decent opponent for Rafa, but I wonder sometimes about Marin’s stage-fright.


      1. Yep. 100% on board with all of that (including Marin’s proneness to stage fright).
        I agree with both sentiments: frustration at the pushovers who let themselves be bullied around, and a grudging respect for the bullies. You use all the weapons you have.
        I can only remember a couple of times when the cannon fodder refused to be bullied and deployed a bit of gamesmanship of their own (Berdych a few years ago had some run ins with rafa, right?)
        I find it hard to understand how on that sort of stage you would leave any stone unturned. But maybe the locker room hierarchy behind the scenes is a factor?
        Anyway I’m enjoying your commentary more than the tennis!


  2. That first set of Diego/Rafa was pretty sweet.

    We’ve brought this up before. Who has given Nadal trouble? Djokovic, Soderling, Tsonga, Fognini, Wawrinka and Ljubičić 😉 Ivan both as a player and a coach.

    What do all of those guys have in common? They can be assholes, aren’t afraid to tell Nadal to take that shit somewhere else (the Tennis Channel call on Nadal’s matches are pointing-out, by the way, that Rafa is taking over 30 seconds between points routinely. No warning or anything from the chair).

    Anyways, nice to see Diego put up a fight.
    And you’re right that the rain ruined that match/perhaps saved Rafa.

    Thanks for reading and commenting, Clint, as always.


  3. From the ATP website, a little article titled: Nadal Regoups Against Schwartzman, As Rain Stops Play

    “Rafael Nadal used a 40-minute rain delay to regroup and returned with greater self-belief to turn the tables on Diego Schwartzman in their Roland Garros quarter-final on Wednesday. Schwartzman deservedly led by a set and 3-2, but upon the resumption of play 10-time champion Nadal won three consecutive games for a 5-3 advantage in the second set, after a 20-minute passage of play between rain delays. Play was officially cancelled for the day at 7:30 p.m. local time.”

    Memo to the men’s field: Wake. The. Fuck. Up.


  4. Pingback: Strokes of Luck & RG SF – Mcshow Blog

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