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Monday, 23 April 2018
Rafa proves he is the King of Clay at Monte Carlo
I will never forget several years ago when I was in Monte Carlo and I wanted to play some tennis.
The famous Le Meridien Hotel Concierge referred me to the club just up the hill, the Monte Carlo tennis club. I said at the time, “isn’t that for members only?” He said our guests can play them.
So, I made an appointment to play with the tennis pro later that afternoon.
Lawrence playing tennis in Bali 2018
Just so happens I had one of those magical days where I couldn’t do anything wrong and in fact at one point had him five Games to four.
I went up to him at that point and said, “you’re pretty good have you ever played professionally?”
He answered, “yes” he was ranked 280 in the world at one point. I asked him what his ranking was in Monte Carlo. He stated, “number one”.
I was shocked, and I said, “if I beat you I will publish it in my very large blog that I beat the number 1 Tennis Player in Monte Carlo”.
Soon thereafter he trounced me 7-5.
Then he said Lawrence wait here for a moment. He returned if a can of tennis balls. I said, “thank you very much”. I wasn’t too excited because they were used balls. Then he said, these balls were played with by the tennis pros like Rafael and Federer just a few months before at the tennis tournament when during the Monte Carlo classic.
These balls are proudly displayed for the rest of my life.
Once again Rafi, “the King of Clay” has beaten all foes on Monte Carlo’s beautiful courts.
It brings back fond memories for me of the time that I almost beat the number 1 Player in Monte Carlo. By the way that doesn’t mean I’m a very good player.
When a person is referred to as having “feet of clay”, it means they can’t move. They are sort of stuck and legs feel heavy. Nadal is the one person who is an exception to that term and in fact he keeps making a mockery of it.
For Nadal feet of clay can only be a compliment and he has proven it yet again by winning his eleventh Rolex Monte Carlo Open from twelve finals at the stunning location that is the Monte Carlo Country Club.
Nadal defeated Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-2, closing the final with a backhand winner to make this his 31st Masters 1000, a record, and 76th career title and there is no signs whatsoever of things getting ho hum.
“I always repeat the same, my true feeling is these kind of things not going to happen forever, so just try to enjoy and to play with the full passion and with the full energy and concentration, full love for the sport until I can. That’s it,” Nadal said.
“I know the day to say good-bye is closer than 10 years ago. Is something that I am not worried about, but is a real thing. So just enjoying every day and trying to play with the best attitude possible, to keep being happy playing tennis, no? That’s all.
“Yeah, of course is a special day for me. Winning again this title here in Monte-Carlo means a lot, especially because is the first tournament in the year that I finished. Have the victory in a Masters 1000, especially in Monte-Carlo, that for me is, yeah, one of the most important ones in terms of personal feeling and in terms of history of our sport.
“Very excited and very happy for everything.”
Nadal lost just 21 games en route to the title and it’s the seventh time he has won his first title of a season at Monte Carlo.
Nishikori explained that Nadal gave him no openings and despite being up an early break the Japanese star found it tough to dominate points with Rafa all the time. Nishikori also admitted he was “kind of out of the gas” in the second set. But it seemed the bigger issue for him was that his wrist continued to trouble him.
“My wrist is not 100% playing on clay,” Nishikori explained.
“Maybe my body, especially my legs, were very heavy today, playing three sets three days in a row, playing with tough players. It wasn’t easy physically, obviously.”Playing on clay you got to use your wrist a little more. You got to hit more spin. Automatically you got to hit spin. I think it makes little tougher than hard court. That makes my wrist hurt little bit. It’s not just my wrist. It’s my hands, my arm, everywhere. Yeah, I got to take care every week.”
Nadal did his acceptance speech in English, Spanish, French and a touch of Italian quite a change from more than a decade ago when he came to Monte Carlo as a bright eyed teen who could barely speak or understand any English.
“Eleven titles here, it’s unbelievable, so… It’s something difficult to imagine,” he said. “I always say the same: If I did, somebody else can do it. But is very difficult. I really don’t know how these things can happen because is lot of years without making mistakes and without being unlucky on this week. I have been unlucky other weeks, but not this week.
“Yes, very special. The history with this tournament is unique. Yeah, put another trophy in my museum, in my academy, is going to be something great. Eleven is a lot, especially here in Monte-Carlo.”
The doubles title went to Bob and Mike Bryan, they defeated Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic 7-6(5), 6-3. It’s their sixth Monte Carlo title, 38th Masters 1000 and 116th career doubles title.