Australian Open 2016
by MAC

There are times when I rather enjoy putting together the week's home page. This is not one of them.

As soon as Rafa's name was drawn and he was placed against Fernando Verdasco, I had a sense of foreboding.

I still thought he would come through, though.

It's just so frustrating when a player who has done diddly squat for months (last year he got past the third round in only one of the 26 tournaments he entered) comes out on fire when he sees Rafa across the net and beats him in five tortuous sets, 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-3, 6-7(4), 2-6. (He went out pretty tamely in the next round, of course.)

In an interview with El Espagnol after the match, Rafa said this,

It's a tough loss. Iíve been training a lot more than usual because my body now allows me to do it. When you've worked hard, and you feel that youíve done everything right, and the match goes in the wrong direction...

I know I've been doing things the right way. The work that Iíve done is well done. Tuesday's loss does not change the reality: I am well and I hope it continues this way from now on. Yes, I had lost in Qatar against Djokovic in the final, but I'm on the right track. I will try to follow a similar work line, and I will try to leave the match against Verdasco behind me.

In any case there are no excuses. I failed to take advantage of what I should have and when the match goes sideways it is impossible to fix. I could have won in the fourth set. I think I did the right things to finish it, but he had an adrenaline rush that lasted until the fifth set.

The loss to Verdasco cannot take my current perspective: Iíve been playing at fairly high level since Beijing. Iíve been playing at a high level regularly in the last few months, at a level that I hope to have. Yesterdayís defeat is a stone in the road of this recent positive streak and I just need to assume it.

We can find many things, but the sport is usually pretty simple. We can make up stories and write whatever you want, but the reality is that I lost a match that I was close to winning.

So it's onwards and upwards (we trust). It's only the start of the year and there are a lot more tournaments to go.


Siempre contigo, Rafa