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Monday, February 2, 2009

RAFAEL NADAL - HARD WORK, TALENT AND HEART and FEDERER'S NO. 1 SUPPORTER

IT'S HIS HEART THAT PUTS RAFA ABOVE THE REST

Rafael Nadal is a different kind of champion. As a Rafa enthusiastic fan, it is easy to gush after watching his Australian Open '09 five set semi-final match against his countryman, Fernando Verdasco in an outstanding match, but then he followed that up with a five set match with Roger Federer in the final. And though Rafa won February 1st, the Grand Slam on a hard court for the first time in his 22 year old life, what makes him so Rafael Nadal is the way he handles himself.

Imagine being 22 years old and knowing exactly how to put everyone at ease in a publicly uncomfortable situation. It wasn't scripted. It was just Rafa being Rafa.


...this appears to be the underlying resolve of Rafa...
persistence and determination.


Above photo credits: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Photo credit: Robert Prezioso/ Getty Images

Photo credit: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images



Above photo credits: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images



Above two photo credits: Mark Dadswell/Getty Images

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Roger and Rafa at Trophy Ceremony
Uploaded by gzos09





Photo credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images




Rafael Nadal
Above photo credits: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
except the one noted to
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Photo credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images


"Nadal seemed pained by Federer's anguish.

'Roger, sorry for today. I really know how you feel right now,' Nadal said. 'Remember, you're a great champion, you're one of the best in history. You're going to improve on the 14 of Sampras.'"

Source: www.huffingtonpost.com


Photo credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Photo credit: Scott Barbour

Roger Federer couldn't control his emotions and cried throughout. A man crying in front of male tennis legends. I cannot assume to know what these men would have done in a private scene with Roger crying, but there they all were in public with 15,000 people in the arena and many more watching on jumbo trons, as well as those of us who got up in the middle of the night to watch live.


Above two photo credits: Lucas Dawson/Getty Images

When I, as a female, have cried in front of the man in my life, he was useless. He didn't know what to do, so he did worse than not console me, he vacated the situation.

Rafa Nadal gave up his moment of the grandness of winning his first hard court Grand Slam. Rafa gave it up to Roger. I think I read Rafa's lips when he met Roger at the net after the match and saw him ask "Are you all right?" Then when Roger fell apart on the trophy presentation podium, Rafa went to him and put his arm around Roger. And in his acceptance speech, Rafa acquiesced the moment for himself and gave Roger love and adoration.

This was not for show. It was not pretentious. It was genuinely human. How refreshing.

It has nothing to do with the number of years that we live...this kind of wisdom and emotional intuition. Rafa's family deserve commendation for raising such a human being who leads the way as a legacy for human sensitivity, modesty and decency.

Rafael Nadal is not afraid to show emotion or compassion. If there was such a thing as a SuperMan, this moment personified it for us.

Rafa showed the world how to be gracious. And no one has more heart than Rafa - that is what puts him above all the rest.


Photo credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The way the Trophy Ceremony was handled...What was the Australian Tennis President thinking?

Just Rude

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The President of Australia Tennis speaks at the Trophy Ceremony
Geoff Pollard is the name I came up with,
although I googled and I don't feel completely satisfied
that this is the name of the Australian Tennis Association's President


At the Championship trophy award ceremony, the President of the Australian Tennis said, "If this country were to adopt an international sports star, it would be this man: Roger Federer." He also said that "Roger is the favorite (tennis player) in the world". Containing personal preferences at the Championship Trophy Award Ceremony would seem to be a prerequistite for the President of the Australian Tennis. Especially at the award ceremony, with the Champion of the Australian Open '09 standing there. I also took note that the Australian Open television camera (which I watched on live stream) "parked" the camera on Roger during almost all of the time at the change overs and even after Rafa won points, a typical time the camera would have been on the winner of the point. I kept waiting and waiting for the camera to leave Roger and go to Rafa during these change overs. But it seldom did. We females like to watch when Rafa changes shirts, and the other seemingly mundane things he does. If he hadn't had a physio come and massage his legs a couple of times, we may never have gotten the director/producer to put the camera on Rafa at these times.


Photo credits: Mark Dadswell/Getty Images

I read at
www.vamosbrigade.com that the Australian Open online front page didn't have a picture of Rafa at all in the run up to the final match, but it had two pictures of Roger. I don't know that, but it would fall in line with the things I did notice. It appears there is a bias. For Roger Federer. Maybe, KIA, GE Money and Garnier should ask that the bias not be so blatant. It isn't good for business.

Special note: Please forgive the font variations. I can't get them to be uniform.


Photo credits: Lucas Dawson/Getty Images

As Alan Jones says

Nadal must rank as one of the all-time great athletes.

He was on court on Friday night for five hours and 14 minutes.

Then, 40 hours later he was back against a remarkably gifted player, and outlasted him in another four and a half hours of often breathtaking tennis.

At a time when every person seemingly from politicians down wants to drown us in doom and gloom, these remarkable athletes liberated us.

It was just breathtaking to watch.

And you had to marvel at what the human spirit can rally itself to deliver, and what athletes at the peak of their physicality are able to execute.

In the sweep of history we have just seen some of the very best that's ever been played.

Whether the players are the very best ever is to speculate needlessly. Read the full article.

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It has taken me a long to load the pictures of Rafael Nadal from the Final - Championship Match of the Australian Open '09. At zimbio alone there are 231 pictures. I will post more later. Just too late now to do more.

Rafael Nadal
Defeat leaves Roger Federer a broken man

Federer: unable to contain his emotions after the match

Written by Neil Harman, Tennis Correspondent, in Melbourne

Source: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/ ... 634909.ece

Three years ago, on the identical spot, Roger Federer wept in Rod Laver's embrace, having won his seventh grand-slam tournament. Yesterday, as Federer broke down in uncontrollable sobs at the prize-giving, the record-equalling fourteenth title as far away as ever, Laver was standing a yard from him, not knowing what to do.

Actually, no one knew whether they should look at Federer or look away.
It required Rafael Nadal to walk on to the court and throw his sturdy left arm around the Swiss to prevent any more shuffling of feet and wringing of hands. It was the Australian Open's version of the Duchess of Kent and Jana Novotna at Wimbledon in 1993, but without the mawkishness.

Federer was unable to speak because Nadal, in winning his first Open at Melbourne Park - his first hard-court grand slam title, the one it was reckoned might forever elude him - had dashed another presumptuous theory. Having prevailed in five hours and 14 minutes on Friday night and into Saturday morning to defeat Fernando Verdasco, his compatriot, Nadal gave Federer a 24-hour head start to recover from his semi-final and had the stamina, the brutish game, the willpower and the absolute faith to wear the great Swiss down 7-5, 3-6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-2 in another sapping four hours and 23 minutes.

Has there been a player like this piece of Majorcan granite? Of 15 matches in which he has been forced to play the full five sets, he has won 12. Federer's record is 13-12, which indicates a frailty in his make-up that might yet prevent him from securing the record held by Pete Sampras, the American. For as long as Nadal is around, that is. And he knows it.

Think of three recent examples: the Italian Open final of 2006, when Federer had two match points against Nadal and tossed in two astonishingly poor forehands; the matchless Wimbledon final last year when the Swiss came back from two sets down to take it into a decider and missed a forehand on match point as twilight fell; and the last, and surely the most destructive, which came yesterday as Federer collapsed, his mind frazzled and his right arm failing him as Nadal dug in and refused to countenance defeat.

Federer put a lot of it down to serving poorly and in the middle of the second set, a long way away from the finality of defeat, he missed 11 consecutive first serves. In the third set, which Nadal won by playing a near-faultless tie-break, Federer had break points - two lots of three in consecutive games. Everything was a terrible chore.

But that is what makes Nadal such a champion. Put it into his head that he cannot win - and the schedule here, with one semi-final taking place a full day before the other, is something tennis at this level ought not to tolerate - and he accepts the challenge head on. When the world No1 lost the fourth set, which he really should have won, having allowed five break points to slip through his fingers for a 3-2 lead, one assumed the momentum was with Federer. But that was never the case. At the match's end, and although it took three match points to see Nadal home, Federer was visibly coming apart at the seams.

When he beat Juan Martin Del Potro, the sixth-best player in the world, for the loss of three games in the quarter-finals, Federer said that as the contest drew to a close, he was simply happy to put the Argentinian “out of his misery”. Five days later, and he knew how that felt. Not at all nice.

The crowd, as it always seems to be anywhere other than Spain, was firmly in the Swiss's corner. “Everyone's favourite player,” as he was introduced at the post-final ceremony, just before he could not hold back the tears. “Not everyone,” a lone voice responded and it must have felt to Nadal that lone voices were all he could call on.

But to look at his support team yesterday - uncle Toni, his coach, Sebastien, his father, and Rafael, his physical trainer - in the front row, was to be privy to something intriguing. Even when their boy was down, when to the rest of us he had to be playing on fumes rather than adrenalin, they could not stop smiling. We know that this is the Spanish disposition, but it was as if they knew something those outside the circle required four hours, 23 minutes to ascertain. That Nadal would be holding new silverware.

They know what makes him tick, why he is such a special individual, why he owns a 13-6 lead over Federer.
Coming into this final, Nadal had won 18 sets and lost two; Federer the same. Nadal had won 123 games and lost 68; Federer's figures were 123-67. They may have been that close statistically, but yesterday came down to one man getting inside the other's head and turning it into mush. Hence the breakdown later.

Discussing it, Federer could barely raise his eyes from beneath the rim of the cap pulled low. “In a fifth set, anything can happen,” he said. “That's the problem. Not usually the better player always wins. It is just a matter of momentum sometimes. Maybe I should have never been there in the first place. I played a terrible fifth set. I kind of handed it over to him.”

If one may presume to quibble with Federer, he did not so much hand it over to Nadal as it was ripped it from him - there is a difference. In the first four sets, there were ten occasions in which Nadal was 15-0 down on his own serve and won the game. As Ivan Lendl, the remarkable Czech who won eight grand-slam singles titles (Nadal now has six and surely no one will be able to stop him winning a fifth French Open in June), once said: “There are two important points in tennis, the first one and the last one.”

The last one and the final word went to the champion. He said sorry to Roger and wished him good luck for the rest of the year. He will need it.
Source: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/ ... 634909.ece


Rafa Outduels Roger To Reign In Oz By Tennis Week
Sunday, February 01, 2009

Source: http://www.tennisweek.com/news/fullstory.sps?inewsid=6626299

Rafa Nadal now holds three major titles simultaneously as well as the Olympic gold medal.

Rafael Nadal transformed exhaustion to elation and elevated himself into the rare air of tennis history as a major champion for all surfaces today.

In an an enthralling display of grit and guts, the top-seeded Spaniard captured his first career Australian Open championship, fighting off second-seeded Roger Federer, 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-2, in a dramatic duel that spanned four hours, 23 minutes, concluding shortly after midnight in Melbourne. Nadal is the first Spanish man to win the Australian Open.

When Federer sent a forehand beyond the baseline, Nadal crumpled to the court in triumph staring straight up at the sky in exhilaration. At the age of 22, Nadal has already surpassed Federer as the World No. 1 and with six Grand Slam titles to his credit, Nadal now owns three of the four majors — Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the Australian Open — as well as the Olympic gold medal, solidifying his status as an all-time champion, who has Federer's number on court and is rapidly rising up the list of Grand Slam champions. The only man in the Open Era to have won six Grand Slam titles at a younger age than Nadal is Bjorn Borg, who was 22 years, 1 month when he claimed his sixth major.

The match began with the prospect of Federer tying Pete Sampras' record of 14 career Grand Slam titles, but based on Nadal's dominance of Federer in their head-to-head series, the muscular Mallorcan must be considered a threat to challenge that record himself.

Unleashing upper-cut topspin forehands with the strength of a power lifter performing one-armed curls, a pumped up Nadal simply overwhelmed a fragile Federer in the final set, knocking the three-time champion out in a match that furthered the growing divide between the two as Nadal beat Federer for the fifth straight time in extending his advantage to 13-6 in their head-to-head series.

When the title was on the line in the final set, Nadal imposed his strong will on the match, while Federer wilted. Nadal won 16 of 19 points played on his serve in the final set and did not face a break point, while Federer, who found himself pinned his backhand corner fending off Nadal's baseland barrage, simply could not gain ground on the Spaniard in suffering another emotionally-ravaging loss to his rival.

The anguish of a heart-wrenching loss bubbled to the surface as a tearful Federer tried to pinch back tears during the award ceremony. But it was all too much and the tears flowed from the proud champion, who had fought back from a two-set deficit to defeat Tomas Berdych in the fourth round then scored crushing conquests of Juan Martin del Potro and Andy Roddick, entering the final in fine form.

"Maybe I'll try later I don't know...God it's killing me," Federer blurted out in exposing the raw emotion of a wounded champion as he struggled to find the words to express his deep disappointment and frustration.

"I don't want to have the last word. This guy deserves it," Federer said after regaining his composure.

Reducing Federer to tears with a ruthless fifth-set performance, the champion showed his class in victory in consoling Federer in his victory speech.

"Remember you are a great champion, you are one of the best in history," Nadal said. "Congratulations for all your career; it is always a pleasure to play with you. Best of luck for all the rest of the season."

Nadal is the first man to hold three major championships on three different surfaces simultaneously and is the fourth man in history to win Grand Slam titles on three different surfaces after JimmyConnors, who won the US Open on grass, har tru (this is what is in the article- I don't what "har tru" is) and hard court, in addition to his Australian Open and Wimbledon titles on grass; Mats Wilander, who won the Australian Open on grass and hard court, Roland Garros on red clay and the US Open on hard court; and Andre Agassi, who was the last man to win all four majors at least once during his career.

Nadal's competitive character carried him to his sixth Grand Slam championship on a day in which he was fighting both Federer and lingering fatigue from his five hour, 14-minute victory over fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in the semifinal that was the longest match in Australian Open history.

Looking drained in the fourth set, a resilient Nadal dug down deep to somehow summon a rousing revival, while Federer floundered in framing some shots beneath the burden of pressure posed by a fifth set.

For the first time since Mats Wilander outdueled Pat Cash, 8-6 in the fifth in the Oz Open final 21 years ago, the title match went the distance with repercussions beyond the boundaries of the baseline.

The clash of champions who had combined to collect 15 of the last 16 Grand Slam championships marked the first time Nadal and Federer faced off in a major final outside of Paris and London.

The Rod Laver Arena court served as a historic crossroads: Federer was aiming to win his 14th career major and tie Pete Sampras' all-time record, while Nadal was bidding to become the first man to hold three major titles on three different surfaces simultaneously.

They faced off in the final set with two disparate records going the distance: Nadal was 11-3 in five-set matches, while Federer posses a 13-11 record in five setters, including his five-set loss to Nadal in a classic, four hour, 48-minute Wimbledon final last July.

A tense Federer hit his fifth double fault to fall to 30-all then found himself cornered by Nadal's relentless assault on his backhand. Unable to produce an answer for the heavy topspin from Nadal that bounded up shoulder high and made him look like a man trying to shrug a shot-put off his shoulder, Federer missed a backhand wide then netted a backhand to drop serve and fall behind 1-3.

Falling off a forehand to his left, Federer committed his ninth error as Nadal gained a 40-0 advantage. Federer crept to within 30-40 and was leaning to his left in anticipation of the wide serve to his backhand. But Nadal, who had served almost exclusively to Federer's backhand on the ad side, flipped the script, slid a serve down the middle that surprised the Swiss and held for 4-1.

Federer held at love for 2-4 and Nadal, gaining strength with every swing of the racquet, responded with a love hold to move to within four points of the title.

Struggling to stave off Nadal, Federer fought off two match points. A fan in the crowd called a Federer shot "out" prompting Federer to pull up short. He may not have even caught up with Nadal's drive anyway, but had no chance after the out call.

The third set proved to be a pivotal point in the match.

Nadal dug out of a deep 0-40 deficit in the ninth game of the third set, benefitting from some passive play off the Federer return.

A backhand winner crosscourt follow by a fierce inside-out forehand winner enabled Nadal to erase the first two break points. On the third, Nadal hit a second serve into Federer's hip, Federer tried to run around his backhand, but was slightly flat footed when he struck his shot and slapped a tentative forehand return into net. Nadal had
nullified three break points in succession.Reaching back to fire his third ace of the match to earn advantage, Nadal held for 5-4 when a Federer forehand
floated deep.

Two games later, Nadal's legs crying out for a reprieve, but his will had not withered as he found himself facing double break point. On a second serve, Nadal pushed Federer behind the baseline, burst forward into net and forced Federer to net a flat backhand. Unleashing an upper-cut, off forehand Nadal saved the second break point.

Coaxing an error from a running Federer forehand, Nadal negotiated another grueling service game — saving six break points in the two-game span — to hold for 6-5.

A Federer drop volley failed to dip, Nadal ran it down and Federer's full-stretch forehand stab volley was called good. Nadal challenge and replay showed the ball strayed wide of the sideline. Instead of 40-15 it was 30-all and when Federer laced a crosscourt forehand wide he was facing set point.

Now it was Federer's time to stiffen his resistance. He drew a forehand error from Nadal to save the set point. The game escalated into three deuces before Federer fired an ace out wide that drew a long look from Nadal, but no challenge.

A tie break would decide the third set.

Mis-steps in the form of forehand errors saw the two exchange mini breaks.

Federer stabbed a biting backhand volley that spun sideways away from Nadal to even the tie break at 3-all. But a wild, wayward forehand from Federer's racquet handed Nadal a mini-break and 4-3 lead. Attacking Federer's backhand, Nadal crushed a short-angled forehand winner crosscourt for 5-3.

Careening from corner to corner on a full sprint, the stretched out Spaniard knifed a backhand volley winner to earn set points at 6-3. A demoralized Federer sent a second serve that skipped off the top of the tape and strayed beyond the service box. Federer walked to his court-side seat with head slightly bowed facing a two set to one deficit.

The effort exerted by Nadal to save six break points and fight through the third set took a toll at the start of the fourth.

Federer danced around a backhand and fired a forehand return winner followed by one of his best backhands of the match that eluded a sprinting Nadal. Two points later, Federer left Nadal flat-footed with a forehand winner crosscourt to collect the break and a 2-0 lead.

At 30-all, Federer cracked an inside-out forehand that seemed destined to die against the back wall. Nadal, who covers the court with the urgency of an EMS worker, refused to let a would-be winner expire on his watch. Racing to his left he lined a forehand down the line that Federer could not handle. Instead of a game point, Federer was facing break point and Nadal quickly converted to get back on serve at 1-2. A convincing hold put the set back on serve at 2-2 and set up a pivotal fifth game.At 15-30, Federer did not do enough with a forehand volley, blocking it right back down the middle and Nadal made him pay with a punishing pass crosscourt to earndouble break point. Federer saved the first on a Nadal error and the second with a stinging backhand winner down the line.

Displaying acrobatic athleticism, Nadal soared for a high backhand overhead and a surprised Federer missed a forehand reply to drop to deuce. Pounding away at the Federer backhand with a punishing flurry of forehands, Nadal elicited a backhand error from Federer for his third break point. Federer was fortunate to get away with a drop shot that sat up.

One of the best points of the match saw Nadal flick an improbable forehand down the line for his fourth break point. Federer fired an ace to save it but Nadal came right back for his fifth break point. A spinning second serve into the body and drew a mid-court reply, Federer hit a forehand winner to even at the sixth deuce.

A draining, near 12-and-a-half minute game that spanned 20 points reached its climax when Federer won successive serve-and-volley points — stabbing a backhand volley for game point and holding on a forehand drop volley — in scraping through to hold for 3-2.

Hooking a forehand crosscourt wide of the sideline to hand Federer break point, Nadal swiped the sweat from his face, but couldn't shake Federer from his back. Driven back beyond the baseline, Nadal framed a forehand off his Babolat frame to drop serve and fall behind 2-4.

Empowered by that break, a fired-up Federer followed with a love hold to extend the lead to 5-2. Stepping to the line to serve for the fourth set, Federer successfully challenged a double-fault call then slashed a service winner and forcing forehand to reach set point. He closed to level the match and force a decisive fifth set only to see Nadal call upon his inner-reserves and elevate his emotion and play to take the title.

Richard Evans' complete match report to follow.
Source: http://www.tennisweek.com/news/fullstory.sps?inewsid=6626299

Want more?

Nadal and Federer: greats, but not the greatest

Spain heralds "King of Australia' Rafael Nadal

Once in running for best ever, now Federer can't beat Nadal

Nadal's hold over Federer makes everything possible

Nadal Era Arrives

www.australianopen.com



Above photo credits: Scott Barbour
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Rafa interviewed by ESPN2
Uploaded by pepe1721



Some bits of the match from ESPN and Rafa speaks



www.vamosbrigade.com
A Fan-based website and forum for Rafa


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3 Comments:

At February 2, 2009 at 6:19:00 AM EST , Blogger impressme123 said...

The most happiest person in tennis game May god bless you cont..........................
send flowers

 
At February 12, 2009 at 10:19:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been searching the net all morning trying to find something on the most embarrassing speech I've ever heard at a tennis final, and your blog is the only place I've found it! I watched Geoff Pollard's terrible speech and thought I was imagining what I could hear coming out of his mouth. No one else believes me that these things were said. Didn't he even say something like, "Well Nadal, unfortunately there can only be one winner..."? I'm SURE that's what I heard. I'm still dumbfounded and am amazed that no one has kicked up a stink about it. I honestly felt embarrassed to be Australian that evening. Nadal deserves a medal for putting up with it.

 
At February 12, 2009 at 10:48:00 PM EST , Blogger ilovemylife said...

It was an out of body type of Championship award ceremony. Hard to understand how celebrating the loser was more attended to - than the winner of the AO 09. I can't remember that moment of the comment you asked me about...it may very well have been said. It's just that my memory of it isn't positively sure at this time.

It certainly was a memorable ceremony...more for Geoff Pollard's words and behavior than for Rafa's first hard court Grand Slam victory.

 

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