Rafael Nadal, Roland Garros magazine

Prior to Roland Garros 2015, Rafael Nadal talked to Roland Garros Magazine about his past decade at Roland Garros. Here are a few extracts:

2003 and 2004: injuries

In 2003, I was high enough in the rankings (No. 87) for direct acceptance into the main draw but I hurt my elbow, so I had to withdraw.

In 2004, I had a bad left foot injury and I was off from April until July. This time though I came to Paris as I was invited by one of my sponsors. It was the first time that I’d been at Roland Garros. I was on crutches, but it didn’t stop me from going all the way to the top of the stands at Philippe Chatrier Court. I sat on one of the seats to the right of the court to drink in the atmosphere. It’s a fond memory for me. I was disappointed not to be able to play but deep down, I knew that sooner or later I would be able to take part in the tournament.

Tennis on clay:

Tennis on clay is the most complete expression of the sport as far as I’m concerned. The rallies are longer since the surface is slower, so you have to construct every point and implement a strategy to try to grind down your opponent. You need to be more patient, know how to defend and find a way to take control of points. And if you like this surface and feel at home on it, Roland Garros is obviously the temple of clay. It’s a unique point in the season.

2005, first Roland Garros trophy:

I’d won a lot of titles on clay – in Brazil, Acapulco, Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome, so I had a lot of confidence. I knew that I had the game and the strength to go deep. During the tournament, I just took one match at a time, but I knew that if I played my best, I could achieve something.
When I see myself in 2005, I see a player with an incredible energy and enormous powers of concentration. I was on such a good form. I played with real intensity and passion. I was young and I had a carefree attitude you would expect of a 19-year-old. In the final against Mariano Puerta, I knew that it would be a difficult match and that’s what it was. But I knew that anything was possible. This win will always be a key moment in my career. In the space of two months, I went from No. 50 in the world to winning Roland Garros. I handled it well in my head, because after this win, I stayed the same, I carried on working hard to keep on the right path as best I could.

It’s true that after that first win, I thought “That’s it, my dream has come true, so now the rest of my career, I will be calmer.” But I’d got it all wrong. Because each season, it was the same thing – you’re nervous, you want to win because you want to get back that indescribable feeling of emerging victorious at a Grand Slam tournament. So this feeling of calm that I thought I had got with that win turned out to be very temporary because a few months later, the tension and the desire to give it my all came back – stronger than before.

Not only the King of clay:

Winning at Roland Garros gives you the strength and the confidence to win elsewhere. Because when you start winning, you get into a virtuous circle: winning boosts your confidence, it makes you calmer, you gain more experience and it gives you a healthy dose of positive energy. Roland Garros is therefore a unique tournament in my career because it also enabled me to win on hard courts, on grass and everywhere else. In 2005, a lot of people thought that I could only play on clay, but after I won the French Open, I went on to win the Masters 1000 in Montreal and the tournament in Madrid (then played on hard courts), so I was good enough to win on other surfaces.

2008, 2012, 2014:

Lots of things have happened to me at Roland Garros. 2008 for example was the year that I was further ahead the pack than ever before. I didn’t drop a set and think that this is the tournament where I played my best tennis.
In 2014 against Novak Djokovic, it was the toughest final physically. I’d never felt that tired – at the end of the first set as well. It was very hot, humid and muggy even though it had been quite cool throughout the fortnight. My body struggled with it. I also had some fitness problems during this tournament.
In 2012, I had cortisone injections to play because my knee was hurting. Thee was another year, I forget which one, when I also needed injections, this time on my foot. But injuries and fitness issues are part and parcel of being a tennis professional. With hindsight, I can see that the injuries led to me missing some important moments and tournaments but at the same time, they allowed me to put into perspective everything that I’ve achieved.

Rafael Nadal, Roland Garros Magazine

2009:

That defeat in 2009 was a hard one to swallow, I won’t deny that, but at the same time it wasn’t a tragedy. You mustn’t blow it out of proportion. I’d won the tournament in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008. And I told myself that I wasn’t going to win Roland Garros every year and that’s normal, I can actually lose, I know that, so I went home and decided to prepare as best I could to try to win it again.

2010:

It was a very special victory. Even if I didn’t drop a set this year, it wasn’t as easy as in 2008. I was coming from a long way back. 2009 was a very tough year, both personally and physically. I hurt my knee before Roland Garros then after that it was my stomach muscles during the American swing. I went through some bad times. And after all that, I came back and won Roland Garros again. I was very, very emotional, and this win was the starting point of an exceptional period because I went on to win Wimbledon and the US Open. And once again it all started at Roland Garros.

Source: Roland Garros Magazine

Also read:
Roland Garros 2005: Nadal defeats Puerta
Roland Garros 2014: a fan’s perspective on Nadal’s win
Roland Garros 2015 coverage

Finally some live tennis! My first live tournament of the year!

My first memories of Roland Garros are from the early 80’s, watching Lendl, Wilander, Navratilova, and Evert battle on one of the 3 French TV channels. And of course like every French people, I remember Noah’s historic win over Wilander in 1983, his overwhelming joy and his run to embrace his father.
Leconte booed during the trophy presentation in 1988, Edberg heartbreaking defeat against Chang in 1989, Agassi flashy outfits, Graf-Seles breathtaking final in 1992, Guga samba tennis in 1997… Time flies.

May 2004: my first trip to Roland Garros. Agassi, Safin, Ferrero, the Williams sisters, I finally got to see some of the best tennis players I had watched for years on TV.

Marat Safin, 2004:

Marat Safin, Peter Lundgren

Marat Safin

Fabrice Santoro and Peter Lundgren, 2004:

Peter Lundgren, Fabrice Santoro

Juan Carlos Ferrero, 2004:

Juan Carlos Ferrero

From then I was hooked, and Roland Garros 2004 was the first of many tournaments I’ve attended over the years: the US Open, the Queen’s, Bercy, the Lagardère Trophy, the Optima Open, the Open GDF Suez and of course Roland Garros (in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012).

Roger Federer, 2006:

Roger Federer

Ilie Nastase, 2007:

Ilie Nastase

Novak Djokovic, 2008:

Novak Djokovic

Court Philippe Chatrier, 2010:

Court Philippe Chatrier

Rafael Nadal, 2011:

Rafael Nadal

Maria Sharapova, 2012:

Maria Sharapova

The excitement of the first tournaments slowly let place to a kind of “been there, done that” feeling, but there’s
nothing like watching a sporting event courtside. Not only can you see and hear everything as it happens, but you also really feel part of the event. Of course, you don’t get the benefit of all those fancy TV replays and close-ups but you avoid annoying commentary.
One of the best thing is court-hopping. Wandering around the grounds with a simple 24€ pass, you get to see as much or as little of the event as you want: watch Sharapova practicing on court 12, Hewitt playing on court 7 or a Goerges-Stosur doubles match on court 16.

I’ll be onsite the first week, covering the tournament for Tennis Buzz but also guest posting for Grand Slam Gal.

London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games posters
London tube stops re-named for Olympic stars
Win an ITF Olympic Book

Fashion and gear:

adidas unveils Great Britain Olympic kit – designed by Stella McCartney
Andy Murray adidas Olympic kit
adidas unveils Australian Olympic kit
Andy Roddick’s new Babolat Propulse 3 Stars and Stripes shoe
Caroline Wozniacki’s Olympic outfit
Caroline Wozniacki 2012 Olympics adidas dress
Olympics French adidas athletes by David Ken
Ralph Lauren unveils US Olympic Team closing ceremony outfits
Ralph Lauren unveils US Olympic team opening ceremony
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 2012 Olympics adidas outfit
Li Na Nike Olympic kit
Roger Federer 2012 Olympics outfit
Venus Williams creates new collection for 2012 Olympics
Spanish Olympic team kit and uniform
Russian and Ukrainian Olympic kits
German Olympic team uniform

Marketing:

Pantene supports the Olympics: Healthy Is The New Beautiful campaign
Coca Cola “Eight-Pack” of Athletes for London 2012 Olympic Games
Juan Martin Del Potro in Coca-Cola commercial for London 2012
adidas wraps the Metro during the Olympic Games

A trip down memory lane:

1996 Atlanta Olympics: Gold medal for Andre Agassi
Nadal – Gonzalez Beijing 2008

Results:

Career Golden Slam for Serena Williams and the Bryan brothers
Gold medal for Murray
2012 London Olympics medallists

Polls:

Which country will win the most tennis medals?

  • USA (34%, 50 Votes)
  • Russia (18%, 27 Votes)
  • Spain (15%, 22 Votes)
  • Switzerland (9%, 13 Votes)
  • China (7%, 11 Votes)
  • Serbia (7%, 10 Votes)
  • Other (4%, 6 Votes)
  • Italy (2%, 3 Votes)
  • Great Britain (2%, 3 Votes)
  • Germany (1%, 2 Votes)
  • France (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Australia (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 149

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Who will win the women's gold medal?

  • Serena Williams (46%, 70 Votes)
  • Maria Sharapova (33%, 50 Votes)
  • Agnieszka Radwanska (9%, 13 Votes)
  • Victoria Azarenka (5%, 7 Votes)
  • Caroline Wozniacki (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Angelique Kerber (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Petra Kvitova (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Sam Stosur (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Other (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Kim Clijsters (1%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 151

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Who will win the men's gold medal?

  • Roger Federer (51%, 95 Votes)
  • Rafael Nadal (18%, 34 Votes)
  • Novak Djokovic (14%, 25 Votes)
  • Andy Murray (6%, 12 Votes)
  • Juan Martin del Potro (5%, 10 Votes)
  • Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (3%, 5 Votes)
  • Other (2%, 3 Votes)
  • David Ferrer (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Tomas Berdych (0%, 0 Votes)
  • John Isner (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 185

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Nadal had an exceptional year in 2008: he reached the semifinals of the Australian Open for the first time, won a fourth consecutive Roland Garros title and captured his first Wimbledon after an unforgettable thriller versus Roger Federer.

Rafa also represented Spain at the Beijing Olympic Games. After a tough three sets battle against Novak Djokovic in semifinal, he beat Fernando Gonzalez in the final to win his first Olympic gold medal.

Rafael Nadal

Fernando Gonzalez

Rafael Nadal

There’s not a lot to say about this match, a baseline battle with some spectacular points.

Rafael Nadal

This silver medal was the third olympic medal for Gonzalez: at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Fernando and doubles partner Nicolas Massu gave their country its first ever Olympic gold medal, when they defeated Nicolas Kiefer and Rainer Schüttler of Germany to win the men’s doubles tournament. He also won a bronze medal in the 2004 men’s singles.

Fernando Gonzalez, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic

Tennis was part of the Summer Olympic Games program from the inaugural 1896 Summer Olympics, but was dropped after the 1924 Summer Olympics.
After two appearances as a demonstration sport, it returned as a full medal sport at the 1988 Summer Olympics and has been played at every edition of the Games since then.

Do you watch tennis during the Olympics Games? Do you think tennis is really part of the Olympics family? Please share your thoughts.

Remember when Ivanisevic used to say every game he played, there were three players that could surface anytime: Good Goran, Bad Goran, Crazy Goran. The same could be said about Marat Safin.

A larger than life persona and one of the most charismatic tennis player ever, Marat is a man capable of blowing away any opponent or blowing up himself. A man capable of overwhelming the great Pete Sampras to win the US Open at only 20. A man capable of pulling down his shorts to celebrate a point. A man capable of showing up for a tournament with two black eyes.

Marat Safin

I’ve always been a big fan of Marat: sometimes I loved him, sometimes I hated him but now I really miss his game, his humor and his crazyness.

Part 1: 15 to 8
15 – Shanghai 2009: Just shut the fuck up and play
14 – US Open 2009: Everybody is an underachiever
13 – Hamburg 2000: a beer with Guga
12 – Hopman Cup 2009: black eyes
11 – US Open 2008: foot fault
10 – Wimbledon 2007: the spaghetti
9 – French Open 1998
8 – Wimbledon 2008: worst challenge ever?

Note: it’s not a ranking of Marat’s achievements, these are just 15 moments of Marat’s career which reflect “Marat being Marat”.
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