Nadal bows out of second straight clay court tournament

Rafael Nadal goes down to fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro in three sets during quarterfinal action in Barcelona on Friday. Almagro is joined in a surprising semifinal lineup by Kei Nishikori and Ernests Gulbis.

For the second time in 44 matches, Rafael Nadal has lost at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell.

Nadal fell to Nicolas Almagro 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 in a quarterfinal stunner on Friday afternoon. Almagro had been 0-10 lifetime on 2-24 in total sets against his heavily-favored countryman, but he finally got over the hump after two hours and 47 minutes of play. For Nadal, it was his second clay-court setback in as many tournaments after losing to David Ferrer in last week’s Monte-Carlo quarterfinals.

The No. 6 seed’s upset breaks the tournament wide open for someone other than Nadal to capture the title for only the second time since 2004 (Fernando Verdasco won it in 2010, when Nadal did not play). Among the contenders is Ernests Gulbis, who took care of Teymuraz Gabashvili 6-1, 6-4. Gulbis faced no break points the entire way before having to come back from 0-40 down in the final game. The Latvian ended up saving five break points while serving out the match.

Gulbis interview:

Next up for the No. 9 seed is Kei Nishikori, who thrashed Marin Cilic 6-1, 6-3. Cilic was coming off a three-set marathon against Tommy Robredo on Thursday and he had almost nothing left for his Japanese opponent. Nishikori won a whopping five of eight return games to dominate in just one hour and 11 minutes.

“Gulbis is a tough opponent,” Nishikori assured. “He has a big serve and forehand, so it will be a really tough match. I have had two good matches and I am confident as well. It will be a good match.”

Nishikori converts a break point against Cilic:

37 Comments on Nadal bows out of second straight clay court tournament

  1. I think I can understand where Lucky is coming from. To have your integrity called into question is wounding as I know to my cost – particularly if the people calling you out are those you regarded as allies.

    Over the years Lucky has provided as with food for thought on an almost daily basis offering up perceptive, impartial commentaries on how she sees the situation at any given moment. Personally I am in awe of her extensive technical knowledge and encyclopaedic memory for the finer points of a player’s game and the matches they have played.

    When Lucky left TT I assumed it was because of the revolting trolls who invaded and ruined the site in the final months – I was not aware there had been other issues.

    • @ed,

      I agree with you. The comments directed to Lucky were intensely personal. To tell someone – I don’t care anymore, you’re not worth it – is really over the top. That’s uncalled for.

      I remember what it was like with scoretracker. That was the absolute worst. Public personal attacks on a tennis forum are hurtful. They are intended to humiliate and embarrass someone. Finally we have a forum here where we don’t have to be subjected to that kind of thing. But there are some who seem to think that they can say whatever they want if they don’t like what someone says.

      I enjoyed many discussions about all things tennis with Lucky at TT. I also learned a lot from her. She has a great tennis mind and can present her point of view backed up with stats and facts. It is true that Lucky left because of the trolls. She said as much. Now she is being criticized even though she’s gone. I wish that she was still here, but I respect her decision.

  2. I for sure enjoy rafaisthebest analysis and tennis knowledge, but what I love the most is her spirit, her humor and her eloquence…I love reading her posts…so there, we all have our favorite posters here… 🙂

    However I also enjoy reading other posts as well even though I may disagree with them…I have to admit I was sometimes mad at Sanju for his pessimistic approach but I learned that it is the way he is and I respect that 🙂 thanks to him I learned to lower my expectations which then helps me survive Rafa’s defeats better…so we all here learn something from each other…we are a functional community here, and a very direct and honest one, so that is why I love being here and I have no reason to go to other sites…Nole fans, at least those that I personally know hesitate to join us only due to the language barrier but they regularly read our posts…they will come, give them some time…

    And of course, let’s not forget our Ricky: he is the best of the best… 🙂

    Vamos Ricky! 🙂

    AND of course


    • natashao2013@April 28, 2014 at 1:07 pm
      —Nole fans, at least those that I personally know hesitate to join us only due to the language barrier but they regularly read our posts…they will come, give them some time…—
      I don’t miss any attackers.

    • ^^Ehmm, @natashao2013, you can stroke my ego anytime, Lol!

      Seriously though, I know I can be an a&*hole sometimes but an honest a&*hole nevertheless, no smoke and mirrors. And I honestly do not mind being called out for it, directly. And I will return the favour.

      I do not hold grudges, EVER. If we have a dust-up, I don’t hold back, BUT IT STAYS THERE, I absolutely refuse to carry negative feelings, ever. That’s how I am in real life. And that’s how I am on tennis forums too. 😀

    • Haha thanks natashao. Infact I always look out to you to give me hope when I like am mad at Rafa for just goofing it up and playing badly 🙂 You always used to see the silver lining in the cloud .

      However I maybe pessimistic most of the times but not always. Eg is USO 2013 final when all hell broke loose here after Rafa lost the 2nd set and Nole broke him to start the 3rd, I was the first one to see he is clawing back and said it out loud here that he is slowly finding his groove back and he did and broke Nole back and even won the 3rd.

      I have also gone on record here to say that irrespective of however abysmal Rafa is looking now, I would not be surprised if he wins Rome, RG and Wimby (yes Wimby) this year. Yes its more a wishful thinking on my part given Rafas current state and I am drawing my wishful thinking primarily based on how Fed turned his disastrous 2009 1st 4.5 months around by winning Madrid, RG, Wimby.

      So you see I can be positive at times too 🙂

  3. The nice Nole fans on TT didn’t really post that much not even when Nole was at the height of his achievements. The ugly ones won’t come here because their sole purpose for posting is to insult Rafa and they know they won’t get away with it here.

  4. And I enjoy ritb’s posts just as much. True.

    And fandom draws us in deep, doesn’t it? Lots of feelings, emotions, values mixed into it. Makes sports enjoyment what it is.

  5. Whenever I scroll through comments on other sites I find them boring as hell. Same old tit-for-tat, same old cliches, same old tedious monologues etc. etc. I thank my lucky stars to be part of this community. It knocks all the others into a cocked hat.

    • I long ago stopped reading any other site. That’s just me.

      And that includes reading articles elsewhere, for the most part.Thanks mostly to our own rafanik aggregators here who give us summaries, excerpts and links to useful articles… there is not even a need to go to Rafa sites, that’s how good it is here 🙂 — thank you very much aggregators! You know who you are :-).

    • :Like:


      “Psychologically, the underdog mentality could be exactly what Nadal needs to drive him out of his current state of slumber. If he waltzed into Roland Garros on a winning streak he might be far more vulnerable, but now, looking over his shoulder and driven by his own obsessive fear of failure, Nadal could be arriving at the introspective, neurotic sweet spot that suits him best.”

      “In the end, we might come to the realization that it wasn’t really blood we saw in the water. It was just a reflection of the sanguine desire of a man they call the king to once again prove his mettle”

  6. I have not gone through each and every post due to some time shortage but will briefly comment based on what I have read.

    my post was NOT directed to any one particular rafa fan here on tenngrand. Of course I am referring to some people and they know it so there is nothing hidden.

    whatever your points may be, I cannot decipher the reactions when a rafa fan here is being critical of rafa’s game OR he tries to praise rafa’s opponent ! Most of the times, I see emotion-driven personal attacks in response, nothing else. If you disagree with someone, use the wonderful tool of LOGIC.

    This would be a pretty boring place if everyone starts to agree with eachother. I encourage disagreements but in a respectful manner.

    Deucy is right about the mono-cultural thing too. Anyway, I am completely for avoiding these personal attacks and stuff. Its most fun to discuss tennis the way Luckystar does !

    I appreciate/encourage the contributions of many rafa fans here. They keep us really well updated about rafa and we are thankful to them. I am glad we are having this discussion where everyone is saying whatever they want to.

    apologies if anyone got hurt by my posts and dislikes them.

    • vamosrafa,

      Bravo! Well said! I don’t think you said anything wrong at all. You were just saying that we should all feel free to express our opinions without fear of retribution. There is no reason for personal attacks. It should never get to that point.

    • vamosrafa@April 28, 2014 at 7:19 pm
      —Deucy is right about the mono-cultural thing too.—

      Do you really miss attacks of the legion of the federazzi ❓ ❗

    • @vamosrafa, my take is as follows:

      1. No-one should be afraid to criticize Rafa, his team or any poster. They do not deserve to be called anti-Rafa or a lesser Rafan because they are critical of Rafa, his team or other Rafans.

      2. No-one should be afraid to criticize anyone who criticizes Rafa, his team or any poster, be it another Rafan or otherwise. They do not deserve to be called blind Rafans, or told they think they are more Rafan than anyone else, or that they are trying to appear more Rafan than anyone else. If you are comfortable criticizing someone, especially someone who is not available to defend themselves, you should be comfortable being criticized yourself.

      3. Rafa does not post on Tenngrand. He cannot defend himself to any criticism levelled at him here. So if he is criticized on here, why should those who defend him be vilified, or be silenced, or put on a guilt-trip? For a lot of people, it is a natural instinctive reaction to defend those who are not available to defend themselves. Or they could simply want to defend their hero, Rafa. Just as Novak fans, Fedfans etc would do for their hero. Most Rafans are content to be just that, Rafans. They do not want to claim to be morally superior, or more objective or more fair. They are happy being subjective Rafa fans. This does not mean they are anti-Fed, anti Novak or anything like that.

      4. It is always easier to see the speck in another’s eye. Just as it can be easy for me to call someone else’s remarks a personal attack, I should also realize that my remarks may come across as personal attacks to other people.

      5. Saying someone is being emotional is not an argument, it is closing a discussion, in not a very nice manner. Women are especially sensitive to being called emotional, the
      characterisation, especially if brought by a man, has negative connotations.

      6. Last, but not least. We should not forget this is an international blog, with posters from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds. So, opportunities for things being “lost in
      translation” are real.

      Just my tuppence worth. Thank you.

  7. @vamosrafa,

    For what it’s worth, I don’t think you have anything to apologize for. There will be attempts to rationalize what has been going on, but your points are well taken. I can support Rafa without going on a crusade to shout down anyone who may not like him. I have come to accept that not everyone in the world will love Rafa the way I do. I can’t control them or change their minds. All I can do is support Rafa in the best way I know how. I am not going to personally attack someone just because they criticize Rafa. I won’t go there. I don’t presume to run the world.

    I used to go after the haters, but now I believe it’s a waste of time. They are not worth it. It’s convenient to justify one’s actions by saying it’s all about protecting. Rafa. But Rafa doesn’t exhibit that kind of vengeful behavior. If Fed says things about him that aren’t nice, you don’t see Rafa responding in kind. He stays true to himself. He won’t lower himself to that level. If Novak is disrespectful to him, you don’t see Rafa behaving in a similar way. Rafa has his values. He lives by them. I think that’s another reason to admire him.

    There are many ways to justify bad behavior. People can be very self-righteous in doing so. But that will never make it right.

  8. Rafa was in peak form last year in Rome in semis and final against Berdy and Fed , we thought he had hit his stride. We then saw he completely regressed all of a sudden in RG 1st week and played really poorly in the 1st 3 rounds, even lost sets to unknown players. He slowly got it back 4th round and QF against Kei and Stan , with Novak it was up and down in semi (he was mentally solid in 5th set though and just did not relent) and in the final, he demolished Ferrer.

    What I am trying to say is you can regress from being in top form all of a sudden and you can also suddenly get your mojo back all of a sudden (eg in 2011 RG, Rafa played horribly in 1st 4 rounds but suddenly got it all back against Soderling in QF). Let us not lose hope. Maybe Rafa can /will turn it around and I hope he does.

    I have no much hope from Madrid at all but Rome is the key. If he wins Rome, he is very much in the reckoning for RG.

    • @ Sanju,

      I completely agree…I think that is exactly the kind of player Rafa is…he quickly climbs to the top when you least expect it (after the tough injury) and then drops down when you expect him to shine the most…last year’s Wimby was still a shock for me…I thought Rafa had momentum, he had his game, he had confidence at the high and yet he ended losing to WHOM?! (not even worth mentioning) So, as a result, I said to myself: ok, that’s it; Rafa may still win something till the end of the year, but had no expectations, especially for US swing”…and Rafa surprised me again… 🙂

      This is basically why I don’t believe those stories of how Rafa peaked early and his game deteriorating now, or Nole being at his peak at the moment ..bla..bla…makes no sense…they are momentum players, they are in-form or not, depends on many factors…

      Finally, I am not saying that I have any expectations for Madrid…I know I would be thrilled if Rafa reached finals, but with the level of play he is at right now I think it’s unlikely…but I would be lying if I said that I don’t have HOPES…I do…I’ll always will…

      Vamos Rafa!

      • natashao2013@April 29, 2014 at 11:01 am
        —last year’s Wimby was still a shock for me…I thought Rafa had momentum, he had his game, he had confidence at the high and yet he ended losing to WHOM?! —

        Rafa had a bad knee.
        An excerpt from Rafa’s interview in Cincinnati on August 14, 2013:
        RAFA: “My knee is healed, is working well for the moment. I felt more trouble on GRASS because the movements are less stable and I need to play lower than in the rest of the surfaces.”

      • Uncle Toni and Rafa both said he had had no time to prepare on grass for Wimbledon. My own feeling was that Rafa was not exactly unhappy about that 1st round loss 😉

  9. It’s true that Rafa struggled during the clay season last year. After losing in the MC final, he did win Barcelona. But I thought that he seemed to start hitting his stride at Madrid. That’s where I felt he played his best clay tennis up to that time. Rafa played his best in Rome. I thought that he was finally ready for RG. He had some good momentum after three wins leading up to the big one.

    However, he did seem to regress in that first week. It shows just how hard it is to do what Rafa has done year in and year out during the clay season and RG. But he got better and better as he entered the second week. He couldn’t close it out in the fourth set against Novak, but I think we saw one of his finest hours in that fifth set. Down a break, Rafa just rose to the occasion with some truly brilliant shot making.

    I don’t want to set expectations for Madrid, but I still have hope that Rafa can maybe turn it around. It’s a tough ask at Madrid because of the altitude and how the court plays. But I will keep the faith and stay up late if need be to cheer him on.

    I absolutely believe that Rome is crucial. If he can get it going and win, then he should have some good feelings heading into RG.

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