A house guest and Rafael Nadal

Hi. Just a quick update from my side of the world.

The wind of change has come to our direction and there have been lots of changes in the homefront. All I can say is that they are all good.

A few weeks ago I received a word from a university roommate that she is coming to visit Cambodia and expressed her intent in staying at my house instead of a hotel. While I welcome the idea, I was hesitant because I have to ask my husband, who I shall call MisterDilis, if it is okay with him.

We have had guests in the past, including my former school pals and those who are from the Warmshowers.org, so it was a go. And in preparation for the arrival of our guest, we launched a spring cleaning of sorts, hahaha. Since it is still summer here and there are construction sites around us, we’re almost covered in dust. The frequent power cuts aren’t helping, too, as we have no power during the day. It’s a good thing MisterDilis lent a hand, a big help indeed, especially when it comes to repairing/replacing items at home. Good thing he owns a few pieces of cmm fixturing tools so it was not a big problem.

We are now 90% done with the preps. All we need are fresh beddings and I think we’re buying new ones early next week. We’re sort of in need of new ones, anyway.

In other news, my boy Rafael Nadal is through to another finals appearance at the Roland Garros. It’s Rafa’s 9th finals appearance and he is aiming for his 8th Roland Garros title.

Rafas winning moment by Rafaholics
Rafa’s winning moment. Photo by Rafaholics.com

He defeated Novak Djokovic, aka, HelmetBoi, in an incredibly testosterone-laden five set semi-finals last night. It’s so intense, with unbelievable shot-making tricks between the two, that one tennis analyst announced that it was the de-facto finals, hahaha.

The fifth set almost gave me a heart-attack! On the deciding (5th) set, each player with two set wins, and Rafa, down at 4-1, made an incredulous comeback from behind victory. I almost forgot that there was no tiebreaks on the fifth set; the first one to break the other wins the match. And Rafa, the tenacious, unrelenting, problem-solving matador from Spain, came out victorious at 9-7. Gosh, what an epic battle it was. You’d easily forget it was a semi finals match as both players fight tooth-and-nail against each other. It will go down as one of the most memorable semi final match in tennis history! This is the second time that Rafa denied HelmetBoi a shot at a Roland Garros title. Last year, these two met in the finals and, by now, you already know about last night’s match.

So tomorrow, Sunday, will be the real finals at the Roland Garros.  It’s going to be an all-Spanish final, with Rafa playing against compatriot David Ferrer. Coincidentally, this is David Ferrer’s first finals appearance after five tries, if I am not mistaken. I am pretty confident about Rafa’s chances against David. If you look at the H2H stats between the two, Rafa has a 19-4 win-loss record against David. But, I don’t trust figures that much. It’s only #InRafaWeTrust!
Well, should David win, it will be his first ever major title and, at 31 years old, he’ll be the oldest player to win so (next to Andre Agassi who, if memory serves me right, won the Australian Open in the early 2003 when he was 32). Besides, I welcome the sight of David lifting the RG trophy more than seeing HelmetBoi doing so.

It is no secret that I would love Rafa to bite and lift his 8th RG trophy. It gives him the lead in terms of the number of titles won in one major (ahead of Roger Federer and Pete Sampras who both have seven each of the Wimbledon titles to their names).

On to Paris for the Roland Garros

Rafa takes a bite of his trophy after winning the ATP Masters in Rome on 21 May, 2012. Photo Credit: AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTEFILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/GettyImages via Rafaholics.com

One day more and the Roland Garros tournament, aka, the French Open, will begin. Of course, Rafael Nadal will be there as he embarks on a historic mission to become the first player to win seven RG titles.

Prior to this was the ATP BNP Internazionale in Rome but didn’twrite about it, intentionally, of course. I felt that if I write something about Rafa during the tournaments, he gets jinxed! So, after the ATP Tour in Madrid where Rafa lost in the third round, I decided not to write anymore Rafa-related posts. As a result, Rafa won the Rome tournament! Lol. Is this a coincidence or what?

It is so nice to see Rafa happy and biting that trophy again! He has defeated Nole twice now. With his recent win in Rome, Rafa holds the record of being the only is the only ATP player to have won 4 different tournaments: Barcelona, MonteCarlo, RolandGarros, and Rome 6 times!

Well, let’s hope for the best that Rafa successfully defends his RG title for another record in the books! The draw has just been out. See who will be in his draw. You can find it here.

Six-ten-one-twenty-five!

 

6-10-1-25.

Do you know what these figures are for?

Nope, they’re not serial numbers that you normally see on steel drums or lotto tickets or something. These are very important numbers, at least for someone I know… and that someone is none other than Rafael Nadal, the King of Clay. If you have been coming to my  blog then you know already who he is and there is no need for introduction, really. The figures simply means Rafa has won six Roland Garros titles (after beating Roger Federer in the finals last Sunday), 10 Grand Slam titles, and still retain the world number one ranking in men’s tennis, all just a few days after he celebrated his 25th birthday. How’s that? He just loves celebrating his birthday in Paris. Oh, and by the way, he is now the second player in tennis history (after Bjorn Borg) to win six Grand Slam titles at the RG.

It was a fantastic victory for Rafa after having difficulty in the beginning of the Roland Garros (RG). Imagine the stress and loss of confidence after two successive beatings he received from the Serb Novak Djokovic in the finals of Madrid and Barcelona, in a surface where he reigns supreme.  He also had a difficult draw at the RG, having to face tricky players (and tricky new balls!) as early as the first round. But the most important thing is he won all of his matches, overcoming self-doubt, loss of confidence, and a crowd that does not really favour him. He showed so much perseverance, hard work, persistence, and fantastic mental strength and focus to make changes in his game and that which propelled him to beat  Robin Soderling (the only man to ever beat him in RG ) and Andy Murray (not a threat but a pain, anyway) in the quarter finals and semi finals, respectively. It was a crazy, frazzling two weeks for us all – yes, Rafa, and his fans, you know . And that Sunday night he stepped into the court to face Roger Federer in the finals… it was amazing to watch him overcame his adversity (incredible comeback in the first set, and of course, when he held his serve at 0-40 in the fourth set which ultimately was the turning point) to win. When Rafa was on the verge of the championship point – I couldn’t breathe – and then he fell to his knees and I, well, I was truly happy and overjoyed I could burst! LOL. Wait, not yet. Watching him lift and bite that trophy gave me a great overwhelming emotion I could burst.  Even Papa Nadal could not hold back his tears looking at his son lift that trophy once more when the Spanish national anthem was played. Rafael Nadal is undoubtedly the King of Clay and a Champion like no other.

Oh, I could just go on and on rambling about Rafa 🙂 Anyways to those who want to re-live the moments when Rafa won his 6th RG title, you can either look it up on YouTube, or read this How the Finals Was Won – a set-by-set account/analysis of the finals match at the RG.

Vamos, Rafa! Off to the green, green grass you go next!

 

Oh, and here are 15 greatest, most memorable photos from the French Open as compiled by YahooSports’s Busted Racquet blog. Picture #3 and #15 capture Rafa’s awesomeness!

 

Above photo source.

Feliz cumpleaños, Rafa!

Happy birthday, Rafa! He turns 25 today, and my, he has grown into a fine young man right before my eyes 🙂

But I think there is no time for celebration yet. At least for today. An hour from now Rafael Nadal is to face the British Andy Murray in the fight for a place in the finals at the Roland Garros, 2pm Paris time, 7pm Phnom Penh time.

Prior to this, last Wednesday I watched his QFs match against Robin Soderling – and my – I was jumping up and down watching a different Rafa on the court! It looked exactly like Rafael Nadal – and so nice to see him back to his old self again!  The cocky Soderling was overpowered – with every ounce of tennis mojo squeezed out of him – by Rafa, 6-4, 6-1, 7-6 (7). But in last Wednesday’s match, Robin made a lot of mistakes and that’s because Rafa was hammering him right from the beginning of the first set. As someone pointed out in an online forum – Rafa was forcing the unforced errors on Robin!  Well, that’s what exactly happened. Robin left the court hastily after the match and you could see utter disbelief and disappointment in his face. Soderling is known to be the only man to have beaten the obviously ailing Rafa in 2009. Seriously, did he think he’s going to beat him again? No siree… Remember, Roland Garros is Rafa’s “home”.

So tonight, it’s going to be an exciting match. The last time the two met was in the semis in Monte Carlo with Rafa winning the match. Andy Murray can be (overly) dramatic at times (there was a one hour injury delay even before the match started because Murray had to take an injury time out) and he is certainly a pain to some players because of his grit and determination (injury – what injury?) . And this year, he is playing really GREAT tennis here at RG despite his ankle-injury.  Again, there was definitely no sign of that injury as he was running and chasing the ball on the court like a dog chases a ball. Oh well. This is the first time that I’ve seen someone with an injury play so well and winning matches 😛

My thoughts? Well I am absolutely sure that I will be chewing my fingernails again and there will be lots of  “walking away from the television set”  moments tonight. LOL.  Sure, Rafa’s games are always like this – designed to make his fans to  be always on the edge; watching him play is always an exhilarating, rollercoaster experience.  But that’s what I love about him – his ability to keep playing and find ways to make that extra shot no matter how daunting or impossible it may seem.

Gotta go now… the match will start in about 15minutes.

Vamos, Rafa. Go get yourself a birthday present… courtesy of Andy.

 

By the way, Francesca “Frankie” Schiavone. RG champion in 2010 and this year’s finalist, says she believes Rafa will win the match. Magdilang-anghel ka sana, Frankie!

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In other news, I’m very happy for Li Na’s win over MaSha, that’s Maria Sharapova, guys. She’s the first Chinese (and perhaps the first Asian, too) to reach the Roland Garros finals, and it’s her second Grand Slam finals appearance. Way to go!!

Photo Credit:Roland Garros Photo Gallery.

Roland Garros Update, May 30

Rafa moving in

At the Court Philippe Chatrier, Rafael Nadal beat Ivan Ljubicic in three straight sets, 7-5, 6-3, 6-3. What did I say earlier? Don’t talk to much to the media and never underestimate the defending champion no matter what circumstances he is in!

At the Suzanne Lenglen Court, David Ferrer’s lost to Gael Monfils, 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, 1-6, 8-6. What a heartbreaking loss. Monfil played his best match so far at RG producing displaying some serious shot-making moves.

Earlier at Philippe Chatrier, my girl Li Na defeated Petra Kvitova, 2-6, 6-1, 6-3, while at Suzanne Lenglen, Juan Ignacio Chela and Alejandro Falla slugged it out in a thrilling 5-set match. Chela emerged victorious, 4-6, 6-2, 1-6, 7-6(5), 6-2.

Li Na through to the QF, her best RG performance so far.

As of this writing (10.41pm, PP time), Giles Simon and Robin Soderling are still battling it out at Court Philippe Chatrier. Robin has taken the first two sets 6-2, 6-3. And now he is serving to begin the third set.

Later today, Maria Sharapova will be in action against Agniezska Radswanska at Court Philippe Chatrier, while Ekaterina Makarova, Andy Murray, and Andrea Petkovic are scheduled to play against Victoria Azarenka, Victor Troicki, and Maria Kirilenko, respectively, at the Suzanne Lenglen court later today.

That’s all for now, folks. I’ll be hitting the sack soon. Tomorrow will be another exciting day of tennis at the Roland Garros!

 

Photos Credit:  Roland Garros May 30 Photo Gallery

The clash of the baldy and the lefty is on, tonight!

Tonight is the night – the fourth round match in Roland Garros and the second successive meeting between Rafael Nadal and Ivan Ljubicic. The match is scheduled at the Court Philippe Chatrier, right after the Li Na/-Petra Kvitova match at 11am today (4pm, Phnom Penh time). I’m glad it’s not a late night match (here in my side of the world) so I can watch the whole entire spectacle.  Can’t wait. For those interested, here is today’s schedule of play at the Roland Garros (RG) tourney.

In an article at the RG online site, Ljubicic told the media that he believes that no question, Rafa’s confidence is shaken . Yes, those words of the veteran Ljubicic was picked up by the media and is in every online article I see the other day.  Okay, Ljubi, while I am pleasantly surprised at the good turn of events in your “resurrected tennis career” and that thing you said about Rafa’s confidence has some truth in it, aren’t you scared of  Rafa? He beat you in your last encounter in Madrid, didn’t he?  Did you see how he fought against Isner, Andujar, and the latest casualty, Veic? And didn’t you hear, Rafa said his performance is improving. Always the case with Rafa. As the tournament progresses, the better his performance becomes. Don’t take Rafa lightly. You might even be handed a bagel tonight, sigue ka!

Anyways, I wish I have wide-screen TV at home so that watching Rafa play in his most favourite clay court is more enjoyable. I’d love to invite friends over to watch with me, and yes, with pop corns, sodas, pizzas… and I’d even send out special Embossed Graphics Invitations! LOL. RSVP pa. That’s how loca I am, so please, forgive this tennis-obsessed thirty-something woman.

Here’s why I so love Rafael Nadal… a video of him taken in his locker room before his second round match against compatriot Pablo Andujar.  Warning, killer-dimples ahead and oozing childlike innocence and charisma ahead 😀

A very relaxed, smiling, and charming Rafa. He is tanned gorgeously, and heck, the milk (or yoghurt, who cares?!) mustache made him  more adorkable! LOL.

Okay, so ladies and gents of tennis, let’s say it together, as loud as you can…

V-A-M-O-O-O-O-O-S, Rafa!!!

Tricky first round for Rafa

My boy Rafael Nadal is the third man on the Philippe Chatrier court tonight in a match that is billed as the game of the day at Roland Garros tournament!

Everyone ready?

Hu-what? You didn’t think I knew what’s going on, did you? Yeah, it’s true. I did say I won’t be reading any tennis sites and articles about Rafa, and I also said I’m tempted to miss his matches at the Roland Garros after watching him lose 4 successive times to Novak Djokovic (Indian Wells, Miami, Barcelona, and Rome) – and it was truly disappointing and heartbreaking to see him overpowered in his most favourite clay court – but hell no, I won’t miss it. Not a chance! Non, non, monsieur, madame.

And so, I hurriedly finished my reading on cissus quadrangularis online and here I am…  waiting for the match to commence.

If you were to ask me, I think Ana Ivanovic brought the jinx to Rafa as she picked out John Isner’s name from the lot during the drawing ceremony. Okay, I’m only kidding about Ana and the jinx but with Isner and Rafa meeting  in tonight’s first round match raised alarm bells for some tennis afficionados. Isner, standing at 6’9”, is best known for his marathon three-day victory over the Frenchman Nicolas Mahut in last year’s Wimbledon Tournament. The Isner-Mahut match is the longest match in tennis history, measured by both time and number of games, lasting 11 hours five minutes of play over three days and firing a total of 113 aces, with a final score of 6–4, 3–6, 6–7(7–9), 7–6(7–3), 70–68 for a total of 183 games .  Details about this historic match can be found here.

Not that Isner is posing a threat to Rafa but a Rafa-Isner match has to be one of the trickiest first round matches of Rafa, in my not-so-expert opinion. Knowing that Rafa lost a bit of his tennis mojo (and perhaps his confidence) in clay recently but, in my humble opinion, Rafa will push through to the second round. Isner, undoubtedly has some tennis mojo going on in him but it’s not enough to challenge the King of Clay. Gosh, I feel like an overprotective mum here. 

Whatever happens tonight, estoy con Rafa. Estoy enviando pensamientos positivos a lo largo de su camino, chico!

Vamos, Rafa!

I’ve got to go now and tune in to my favourite live streaming channel. Maria Sharapova’s match has just ended and Rafa and Isner’s match will begin any minute now.

The bull has triumphed!

I’m dancing on Cloud 9 since last night and obviously I won’t be stopping and coming down any soon.

Rafael Nadal had just won his fifth Roland Garros title last night – all without dropping a single set. It’s his 40th career title, his seventh Grand Slam, won this year’s “Clay Slam”, set a new record of 18th Masters title, and re-gaining the number 1 spot, all of which he achieved three days after his 24th birthday!!! Whew, and the world suddenly seems to be right, at least in the tennis world of Rafa and us, his fans.

Be calm. I am going to win.

– Rafael Nadal, Wimbledon finals 2008                  
Elizabeth Kaye quoted him saying this to his Uncle Tony and Team Rafa in the locker room while waiting for the game to resume at the rain-delayed Wimbledon 2008 finals match against Roger Federer. Read the whole article here – Zen and the Art of Rafael Nadal – a wonderfully written piece about one of the greatest sportsmen of our time.

This quote showed Rafa’s character and the moment I saw it, it quickly became my mantra throughout the tournament. I honestly didn’t think Robin Soderling will win. I was not disappointed; I knew Rafa had already set his mind. Last night’s finals match showed a cool, calm, and collected Rafa. Cool as he might have been last night but he sure did went out there on a mission: to destroy the bird (Robin) and the mission was completed in a very convincing fashion. Rafa didn’t let his nerves bother him again. Robin Soderling had some brilliant moments showing his thumping shots there but, like Nicolas Almagro, it wasn’t enough to even win him a single set; he had a lot of break points but Rafa wouldn’t let him.Clearly, Rafa means business and when Rafa means business, we saw why he is the best defensive and offensive player there is. After the second set, Robin is seen walking slowly and tiredly towards his chair. It gave me an impression of a beaten man about to begin the third set.
It was an emotional experience to see Rafa fall down on the clay in celebration of his win, and later on, him sobbing and heaving in between sobs behind the towel. It was the first time I saw him cry after a game and it is quite understandable. Going up against the only player to have beat him at RG and winning it means so much more to him, considering the circumstances of his performance in 2009. It is awesome to see him again lift and bite the RG trophy he so deserves. It goes to show that when Rafa is 100% fit there is no one who could stand in his way at the RG. I hope this will shut all Rafa doom-sayers and Uncle Tony hecklers out there. 
The Order has been restored, sports analysts/writers say. Indeed, as Rafa is, once again, the King of Clay. I know my friends Ana and Lui will agree with me when I say that us fans have had a great ride with Rafa, so far, and that we all can’t wait for the rest of the year to unfold in the tennis world.
Now, it’s on to the green, green grass; Rafa has a second Wimbledon title to chase.
P.S.
Imagine the delight of the French audience when Rafa spoke a bit of French during the awarding ceremony. By doing so, he not only has reclaimed his Roland Garros title but also regained the hearts of the French tennis fans.

Happy birthday, Rafa!

Twenty-fours years ago today, a baby boy was born in the town of Manacor in the Spanish island of Mallorca. He picked up a tennis racket when he was three with the encouragement of his uncle… and the rest, as the saying goes, is history.  These days, this little boy is now called the mighty King of Clay… at his tender age of 24, he already has accomplished what other older tennis players had, winning titles and breaking records while maintaining a modest, polite, honest, and boyish demeanor.

 

I sure believe you, Rafa! Lovely feature about him here. You can find the interview online. A must read.

Okay, I just want to get this out of my chest; something about last night’s quarterfinals match between Rafa and his compatriot Nicolas Almagro. I really got scared there when Almagro broke Rafa on his first service game and, before I knew it, the score immediately went up to 3-0 against Rafa. Maybe it’s the  nerves, I don’t know, but Almagro produced smashing forehands that Rafa could not return. But when Rafa was able to chain his nerves, the odds dramatically changed:  he came back with a vengeance and emerged winner in three sets with two tie breaks to boot.  The tie breaks were very well played, I have to say.
Rafa, still not in 100% fighting form in my opinion, but definitely not the Rafa with the ailing knee we saw  last year. I thought he played very well against the promising Almagro in a rather tight match. Almagro was awesome, too – his first serve percentage and big forehands served him well – but he just couldn’t win a set. He fought extremely hard and he was very close but apparently ran out of resources as he was still unable to beat Rafa. Rafa’s just too good for him last night.
Lastly, I was so happy, too, that the match was broadcast live over one of the local cable television  channels here in Phnom Penh. It saved me a whole lot from the hassle of having to switch from one lousy live stream channel to another, or worse, click the refresh button every minute when the screen freezes. I’m looking forward to the semis, Rafa against Austrian Jurgen Melzer who crushed the third-seed Serbian Novak Djokovic in a dramatic five-set match. It was incredible for Melzer to win against Djokovic knowing the Serbian has never lost after a very comfortable 2-0 lead.
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Tennis rant and rave

Tous  les chemins mènent à gay Paris pour cette annee Roland Garros tuornoi!

Excusez mois, excusez mon Français. Je suis ètudier la langue de mon propre et, simplement parce que le Roland Garros a commencè je voulais fair ètalage que peu Français j’ai appris.


Before anyone’s nose bleeds, here’s the translation:

All roads lead to gay Paris for this year’s Roland Garros Tournament!
Excuse me, pardon my French. I’m studying the language on my own and just because the Roland Garros has started I wanted to flaunt a little French that I have learned so far.


I don’t even have an idea if the above sentences are grammatically acceptable to the French but this is my blog and I can write whatever I want. Uh-huh.

Okay, back to the Roland Garros (RG) now. Round one has just started, and it’s okay I missed it because Rafa wasn’t playing anyway. The Spanish Armada are complete – Rafa, Fernando Verdasco, David Ferrer, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Nicolas Almagro – and of course, there’s Roger Federer, Fernando Gonzales, the two Andys – Roddick and Murray, Novak Djokovic, Robin Soderling, not to forget the Frenchies Gael Monfils and Jo Wilfred Tsonga. Whew, that’s a lot of names to remember. But I don’t need to ‘cos I know who exactly I’m rooting for  😀


Of course, all-eyes are on the defending champion Roger Federer but his poor showing in the previous clay tournaments make everyone doubt if he still has  the tennis mojo to successfully defend his title this year. He is also set to break Pete Sampras’  record of 286 weeks at number one. Tough job because it would mean reaching the semis to stay in the number one spot. Rafa, on the other hand, is fresh from winning all three clay-court ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments in the same year, and a record 18 titles tying him to Andre Agassi for the number one spot. I have to point it out though that Agassi was able to achieve this when he was already in his 30s, while Rafa was able to do in his early 20s, 23 years to be exact. So Nadal is hungry to win RG to complete his historic clay slam and I am hoping he doesn’t lose fuel during crucial moments. Nadal has an amazing 31-1 record at the RG, losing only last year to Robin Soderling.


Sounds exciting, eh? These two top-seeds have the right motivation to go for the title and we sure expect a terrific two weeks of tennis action from them. Already, the Rafa and Roger fans are yacking online, more like a fiery word war, about who’s the best player, who’s better than whom, who’s going to win the title this year. And then there’s the name-calling and mudslinging — whew! I don’t know if you have ever visited an online tennis forum, it’s like a circus out there it’s almost like the Philippine elections. Okay, lousy analogy but you know what I mean.


I’m not really into thrashing players or anything like that. I’m just excited and looking forward to see two weeks of great  tennis. I love watching Rafael Nadal play and, I have to say, that it will be a great bonus to us fans if he wins this much-coveted clay-court title. Even my girlfriends agree – right, Ana, Lui? But of course, no matter how hard I want to be calm about this whole Roland Garros thing, I can’t deny that I’m a mixed bag of emotions watching my boy show his game… and this tiny, little nagging thought in my head that Rafa is very much capable of doing this, and surely he will:



So there, I’ve said my thoughts.
Have a fun and exciting Roland Garros week!