Tennis Prose



No Man Alive Can Beat Nadal On Chatrier

By Scoop Malinowski

There is no man alive on planet earth who can defeat Rafael Nadal on court Philippe Chatrier at Roland Garros. Dominic Thiem tried today and with his inferior defensive skills and less offensive creativity, became victim no. 11.

If HG Wells Time Machine was able to transport the all time list of great clay court players to challenge Nadal in a fantasy French Open, they would all go down in flames.

Gustavo Kuerten would see his backhand battered into submission. Kuerten showed incredible clay precision in winning three titles in Paris but he also suffered several bad losses, indicating a lack of consistency that Nadal would surely expose and exploit.

Bjorn Borg would be blasted off the court and run ragged, unable to physically keep up with Nadal, much like a great light heavyweight boxer always fell short when he challenged a heavyweight champion.

Rod Laver would endure the similar fate of Borg, his lack of firepower would allow the King of Clay to dictate and dominate the action in three routine sets.

Marat Safin certainly had the flat ball firepower to hurt Nadal – but the odds of Safin showing up with his A plus game are too remote to be expected to produce one of the biggest upsets in tennis history.

Robin Soderling could duplicate his miraculous 2009 knockout of Nadal but would Nadal do things differently? Would he alter his gameplan? Would Rafa be extra motivated to avenge his conqueror? Yes, yes, yes.

The summary of this year’s Roland Garros mens draw is that there is no man alive who can beat Nadal. If Mike Tyson was a tennis pundit, he would say it like this: “Nobody can challenge Rafael Nadal with their primitive skills. He’s sending everybody to Bolivian (sic).”

Even the so-called greatest player of all time flinched for the last two years at the idea of daring to compete against Nadal on Chatrier. Even the greatest player of all time knows his limits.



  • Michael in UK · June 10, 2018 at 6:29 pm

    Thanks for this piece Scoop.
    Nadal was hugely impressive today, what amazing tennis.
    I wonder what Federer thought of both Nadal and Thiem? Murray too.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 10, 2018 at 6:41 pm

    Michael, Nadal has never looked better and at this rate he is going to topple RF’s 20 total. No doubt of that. Some day Fed will lament these two years when he opted out of entering Roland Garros, two chances for him to add to his major title total. As I see it, there is absolutely no doubt Rafa will be considered the Greatest tennis player of all time when the dust settles and the chips all fall where they will. 23-15 h2h was the omen.

  • Duke Carnoustie · June 10, 2018 at 7:36 pm

    I second this because watching this made me realize that will all due respect to Fed, Rafa is the greatest. Winning one Slam 11 times is astounding and he has multiple Slams on grass and on hard court. Also we know Rafa has beaten FEd at SW19 while Fed has not beaten him at RG.

    If you look at Rafa’s comments from his 2011 book, he discussed how Fed was an easier opponent than Novak. He didn’t say that but his comments bear looking into. He said his game plan vs. Fed was to hit to his backhand and that he felt he could stick with Fed and make Fed make errors. Rafa said Novak was a different matter although he said high balls give Djoker problems.

    I really think the Rafa v. Djoker matches showcased some of the highest quality tennis I ever saw.

    Rafa will catch and surpass Fed’s Slam total. I submit that beating Rafa at RG in best-of-5 is the hardest thing to do in sport. Thiem had a good game plan of going for winners and he had more winners. Yet so difficult to hit winners on a consistent basis against Rafa. At 3-0 in the second set, the match felt close and also finished at the same time.

    The Soderling match is the most stunning in tennis history and resulted in Fed having won RG and Rafa not having one more title there.

    Rafa’s dominance is so great that Fed refuses to enter RG or play on clay. And Fed is a terrific clay court player for sure. So that sums it up.

    I witnessed greatness today and so did everyone else.

  • catherine · June 11, 2018 at 2:47 am

    Off topic but previous thread getting long and still RG related so I’ll put it here. Interesting.

  • catherine · June 11, 2018 at 3:13 am

    Of course people are free to continue discussing Nadal on this thread πŸ™‚

    Has Rafa ever mentioned consulting a psychologist or ‘mental coach’? Some players have discussed it – others probably have gone that route but kept it quiet.

  • Hartt · June 11, 2018 at 7:12 am

    Catherine, thanks for the link. I knew about Alexis Castorri working as a sports psychologist for Lendl, he had high praise for her and recommended her to Andy Murray. But had not realised it was Castorri who has worked with Halep for the past 2 years.

  • Hartt · June 11, 2018 at 7:19 am

    Catherine, am so glad I took up your suggestion about Rudolf Molleker and added him to my youngsters list. I just saw him win a match over Struff in Stuttgart. Rudolf won the first set, lost the 2nd set TB, and won the third set. He had at least 25 aces! (Struff had something like 21.)

    Rudolf is just 17, doesn’t turn 18 until late Oct, so he is a couple of months younger than Felix Auger-Aliassime. If you did not know his age you’d think it was a seasoned pro on the court. He is big for his age, looks about 6’2″ and is very composed.

    I don’t know if he can continue at this level, but what I saw today was very impressive, he is certainly a youngster to keep an eye on. He faces the 2nd seed Pouille next.

  • catherine · June 11, 2018 at 8:16 am

    Hartt – someone here first mentioned Molleker I think, and remarked he looked like a young Boris Becker – might have been Duke, can’t recall. I remember Becker winning Wimbledon at 17 ! Now that was something. Rudolf has a chance to do the same as he doesn’t turn 18 until Oct πŸ™‚

    I knew vaguely about Castorri, but like you didn’t know she had worked with Simona for so long. Probably has made a big difference.

    I ‘m pretty sure Kerber consulted someone last year – came up in an interview she did for the Porsche programme in Stuttgart, she didn’t say so directly that I could see but you could read between the lines. Would have been in Germany since I doubt Angie would trust anyone but a German with her innermost thoughts.

    We know Konta had the sad experience with her mental coach. I haven’t heard that she’s hired anyone else.

    Wonder if Garbine has one ? Some work to be done there. And CoCo ? Good career openings πŸ™‚

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 11, 2018 at 8:36 am

    Duke, Thiem was very good but Rafa has better defense and more offensive variety. Rafa said after the final he lost to Djokovic in 2015 that it was the best most perfect tennis he ever saw anyone ever play against him. It’s pretty strong statement and it basically is Rafa saying Djokovic’s best tennis is superior to Federer’s.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 11, 2018 at 8:38 am

    For Molleker to beat a seasoned, powerful veteran like Struff is a major accomplishment. Add another future star NEXT GEN to the long list.

  • Chazz · June 11, 2018 at 8:50 am

    Not buying it guys unless Nadal keeps this up and Federer doesn’t win any more. They have split the last 6 Grand Slam titles and both have been dominant in doing so. Federer has more Australian Opens, more US Opens and more Wimbledons. He also has far more singles titles. Nadal has more French Opens and leads head-to-head. Federer is the greatest by a sliver but there is room for Nadal to change that. It is factual that Nadal is the greatest clay court player and overall competitor of all time though.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 11, 2018 at 9:30 am

    With this win over Struff, Molleker just passed out Tommy Paul, Stefan Kozlov, Reilly Opelka, Donald Young, Sebi Korda, Chris Eubanks, Felix, Ymer Bros, on the prospect list.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 11, 2018 at 9:31 am

    Chazz, Fed’s 20 mark is in danger, Rafa is at 17 and he’s four years younger. Rafa will surpass Fed’s mark, I can almost guarantee it.

  • Chazz · June 11, 2018 at 9:41 am

    Scoop, if he wins Wimbledon or the US Open this year then I fully agree that he will catch Federer. If Fed wins one of those then I doubt he will catch him. Rafa said in a recent interview that his body feels 40 so we’ll see if he holds up. If his remaining Slam titles are only French Opens he might not catch Fed. I wonder if his body can do this for 3 more years.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 11, 2018 at 9:57 am

    Well he sure looked good in Paris this year for a 40 yr old body. Heck, he looked better than ever. My projection is Nadal has many more years in the top ten, at least four.

  • Chazz · June 11, 2018 at 10:25 am

    Yes he did Scoop, no doubt about that. It was a curious statement and makes me wonder if he is getting cortisone shots or coping with something.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 11, 2018 at 10:33 am

    Chazz, it could be another Rafa smokescreen deception. Remember the one in Australia, day before the tournanment he said he had the worst pain in his knee that he never felt before? Then he won the tournament. Rafa is not immune of playing mind games and using smokescreens. If he feels like he’s 19 again he would never say that, he would say the opposite.

  • Duke Carnoustie · June 11, 2018 at 11:04 am

    Scoop this is a key point that Djoker is a tougher foe for Rafa. It can’t be disputed and must be taken into consideration.

    Now Fed bested Rafa every time last year in the AO final, IW and Miami and once in Asia. The indoor match and two in the States were Fed getting Rafa on his own turf. Meanwhile, Fed wants no part of playing Rafa on clay anywhere now to maintain the psychological edge he now has over his rival.

    I find it endearing how Fed hates to lose so much he is avoiding clay while Rafa just plays and says what he wants. A great rivalry.

  • Hartt · June 11, 2018 at 11:31 am

    I thoroughly enjoyed today’s match in Stuttgart between Mischa Zverev and Youzhny. Neither is a top player, but they had so much variety it was fun to watch – volleys, passing shots, lobs, smashes, as well as some good serving and effective groundies. They even threw in a few long rallies for good measure – one lasted 30 shots.

    There is a lot of discussion about the lack of variety in the women’s game these days but, with a few exceptions, the men’s game isn’t exactly overflowing with variety either. When you see what a match can look like, it makes you miss this style all the more. Mischa won, 7-6, 6-3.

  • Duke Carnoustie · June 11, 2018 at 11:47 am

    Mischa will have the local German crowd on his side as he battles the mighty Fed on Wednesday. Get ready for that one.

    How about Tomic v. Baghdatis tomorrow? A high-stakes showdown for players desperate for their past glory.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 11, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    Duke, they will likely meed at the end of Wimbledon and we know it will be a very special match

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 11, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    Youzhny has always been a fine player to watch, and given us many incredible matches, he has nice and underrated one hand backhand. Zverev also has a nice lefty game, it’s two throwback styles of old school tennis.

  • Hartt · June 11, 2018 at 4:44 pm

    Duke, as much as I am a big Mischa fan, I think it is more realistic to expect most of the crowd support will go to Federer. Even a German crowd with a German player on the court will be excited to see Roger. And Fed speaks German, as well as Swiss German, so that will make him even more popular.

    I will be rooting for Roger in that match, but I hope Mischa can make it competitive.

  • Hartt · June 11, 2018 at 4:47 pm

    Scoop, I wish we got to see that throwback style of old school tennis more often. I began watching Mischa every chance I got because it was so rare to see a player using serve and volley. And to see not one, but two, players who could volley was such a treat.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 11, 2018 at 7:26 pm

    Hartt, have you ever watched a live stream from Newport? The grass is so soft there that the tennis is totally different than what we see on hard or clay or Wimbledon grass. All the matches in Newport look like old throwback matches, they really do. The ball stays low and the players have to play differently.

  • jg · June 11, 2018 at 7:44 pm

    I like playing clay court tennis, but I found the recent clay court season from a viewing standpoint boring. Watching some of the replays now on the grass, and it’s much more interesting and entertaining, than the clay or hard courts from a viewing standpoint. That said the grass I am seeing in Germany is bouncier than Newport for sure. Here are some long rally’s in Stuttgart

  • Hartt · June 11, 2018 at 7:59 pm

    Scoop, thanks, I will definitely try to watch some of the Newport matches when the time rolls around.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 11, 2018 at 8:05 pm

    jg, there’s always going to be mundane matches on all surfaces for people like us who have watched thousands if not millions of matches πŸ™‚ Every surface has it’s appeals and grievances. Grass less because it’s just a month of the year and we see just a few matches on grass compared to the hard and clay. Most will not sing songs about 2018 clay season because the one guy we all expected to win did just that. There were no major surprises this year.

  • Duke Carnoustie · June 12, 2018 at 1:22 am

    Newport is a proving ground of sorts for American tennis. Isner has three titles, Rajeev Ram has two and Fish, Dent and Ginepri, Wheaton, Woodruff all won. Gimbelstob, Querrey, Blake and of course Spadea were all finalists.

    Other recent champs are Dr. Ivo, Lleyton Hewitt and Mahut. Wow your friends with this Newport fun fact. The Indian Vijay Amritraj won it three times and his son reached the final once!

    I recommend Kilwins ice cream for a sweet treat!

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 12, 2018 at 7:22 am

    Nicolas Pereira, Fabrice Santoro (2), Paes, T Dent, David Wheaton, David Prinosil, Wally Masur and Bryan Shelton (2) also won Newport.



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