Nadal - Federer, 2009 Australian Open

Excerpt of Rafael Nadal‘s autobiography Rafa:

“Going into the Australian Open in 2009, I felt my chances of winning were as good as they had been at Wimbledon six months earlier. I had, in other words, a good chance. The ball bounces higher than it does at the US Open, so it doesn’t fly so fast and it takes my topspin well. What I hadn’t reckoned on was a semifinal like the one I had against my friend and fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco. I won, in the end, but I had to battle so hard and was left so physically destroyed by the end of it. For most of the one and a half day of preparation I had for the final against Federer, I was convinced I had absolutely no chance of winning. The only time I’d felt like that before a Grand Slam final was at Wimbledon in 2006, but that was because I did not believe, in my heart of heats, that winning was an option.
Before the Australian Open final in 2009 it was my body that rebelled, begging me to call a halt. It didn’t cross my mind to pull out of the match but the result I anticipated, and for which I strove mentally to prepare myself, was a 6-1 6-2 6-2 defeat.

The semifinal I played against Verdasco was the longest match in Australian Open history. It was incredibly tight every step of the way, with him playing spectacularly, hitting an extraordinarily high percentage of winners. But I somehow held on, on the defense but making few erors, and after 5h14, I won 6-7 6-4 7-6 6-7 6-4. It was so hot on court that the two of us rushed to drape ice packs around our necks and shoulders in the breaks between games. In the very last game, just before the very last point, my eyes filled with tears. I wasn’t crying because I sensed defeat, or even victory, but as a response to the sheer excruciating tension of it all. I had lost the fourth set on a tie break, and that in a game so tense and in such conditions, would have devastating had I not been able to call on every last reserve of mental strength I’d accumulated over fifteen years of relentless competition. I was able to put that blow behind me and begin the fifth believing I still had it in me to win.

The chance finally arrived with me 5-4 and 0-40 up on Verdasco’s serve. That should have been it, with three match points, but it wasn’t quite. I lost both the first and second points. That was when it all got too much for me and I broke down; that was where the armor plating fell away and the warrior Rafa Nadal, who tennis fans think they know, revealed as the vulnerable, human Rafael.
The one person who didn’t see it was Verdasco. Either that or he was in even worse shape than I was. Because his nerves got the better of him too. In a moment of incredible good luck for me (and terrible luck for him), he double faulted, handing me victory without me having to hit a shot. Both of us fell flat on our backs, ready to expire of physical and nervous exhaustion, but it was me who made it up first, stumbling forward and stepping over the net to embrace Fernando and tell him it was a match neither of us had deserved to lose.
The match ended at one in the morning, and i did not go to sleep till after five. […]

“No sooner had the match got under way than the the aches began to recede. So much so that I won the first game, breaking Federer’s serve. Then he broke me back, but as the games unfolded I found, to my great relief, that I wasn’t out of breath, and while my calves still felt heavy, there were no signs of the muscle cramps I had feared. And none materialized, despite the match going to five sets. In the end, as Titin says, pain is in the mind.

If you can control the mind, you can control the body

I lost the fourth set, as I had done against Verdasco, after going two sets to one up, but I came back, my determination bolstered and my spirit enhanced by the surprise and delight I felt at having made it as far as I had without falling apart. At 2-0 up in the fifth set I turned to where Toni, Carlos, Tuts and Titin were sitting and said, just loud enough so they could hear, in Mallorquin, ‘I’m going to win’. And I did. Toni had been right. Yes, I could. I won 7-5 3-6 7-6 3-6 6-2 and I was Australian Open champion; to my astonishment I had come back to life, and there it was, my third of the four Grand Slam titles, now my sixth overall.”

Last part of JC’s 2009 European tour: Wimbledon. Check out part 1: Madrid and part 2: Roland Garros.

Guided Grounds Tours

Wimbledon for me was the crowning star stadium of tennis – where so many growning up as boys and girls have dreamed of getting to ever since they first hold a racket or watch it on TV.
That year, I was lucky enough to see center court on the first year that they put up the retractable roof completed.

Side Courts

Constant Gardener

Show Court

Centre Court (2)

JC at front row of Wimbledon Centre Court

Wimbledon Museum

When you purchase your entrance ticket, you can enter with or without the museum option. I would definitely opt to see it, if you have not been before or are a fan of the game/history. It has many amazing tennis artifacts dating back over a century and a half.

Wimbledon Ball evolution

Wimbledon outfits for women

Nadal shoes:

Rafa shoes

Nadal and Federer 2008 outfits:

Rafa and Fed outfits

Read the complete story on tennis-8.com

Thanks to JC for sharing his pics and anecdotes about his 2009 European tour.
Next stop of JC’s European tour: Roland Garros

How do you get into the French Open, sit in the reserved box seats just behind the Tennis Magazine team, and then watch Nadal play live just a few feet away on center court (Court Philipe Chatrier) – all for just 19 Euros?
Answer: Benny Berthet Day. This exhibition day is held each year on the eve of the tournament; the profits are donated to various charities. This is similar to the Arthur Ashe day event held at the US Open annually. The public can attend 1-set matches with most of the top players spread out across the top 3 courts. Many of the French tennis starts come out for kids to get autographs and pictures.

Roland Garros Ticket

French Open Map

Matches on Benny-Berthet Day

JC at French Open

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Thanks to JC for sharing his pics. Read the full story on tennis-8.com.

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SC Map

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Thanks to JC for sharing his pics and anecdotes about his 2009 European tour.

On this self-guided five-city tennis journey, I flew to Spain, France and Great Britain to retrace the footsteps of the tennis legend and my personal hero – Rafael Nadal. Along the way I discover many wonderful cultures and met individuals from all walks of life, all of whom celebrating tennis.

From the Bull-fighting in Madrid, to the Picasso Museum nestled in the Gothic quarters of Barcelona; I wanted to explore Nadal’s homeland of Spain both as a traveler and as a tennis fan.

First leg of the tour: the Madrid Open

Some pics of Palacio Real, Parco del Retiro and Plaza de Toros:

JC at palacio real

Lake 3

Plaza de toros (largest in Spain)

Bullring - wide view

La Caja Magica – the Magic Box – home of the Madrid Open:

Madrid Open Front Gate

Madrid Open Center Court - Caja Magique with retractable roof (3)

JC at Mardid Open

Yellow and Red

Women’s final: Dinara Safina defeats Caroline Wozniacki 6-2 6-4
Women's Final changeover view

Safina and Wozniacki at Women's Final (14)

Safina and Wozniacki at Women's Final (7)

Men’s final: Roger Federer defeats Rafael Nadal 6-4 6-4 (it was the day after the thriller semifinal opposing Nadal and Djokovic)

Roger at Madrid Open

Rafael Nadal entering (4)

Practicing Serves

Read the complete story on tennis-8.com