London based writer and tennis fan, Marianne Bevis, generously offered to share her impressions of this week’s Queen’s Club tournament with GTT readers. Today, it’s all about quick change artist Rafael Nadal as the Roland Garros champion gets grooving on the grass – and shows off some different outfits. Thanks to Marianne for her photos and words. Enjoy! – FF
Rafa May Reign In Paris, But Rain Beats Rafa in London
Once again, right on time, the heavens opened at Queen’s Club in deepest, upper-crust West Kensington. Day Three is complete, and we’re still looking at a 100% rain record.
Rafael Nadal, hot from all sorts of records at Roland Garros, bowled up in the rain—and practised for 20 minutes—on Day One.
He then hung around for most of Day Two while a couple of downpours delayed the schedule once again. Things were now getting a little dodgy: he had a doubles match scheduled for the end of the day and he had, as yet, to get the soles of his shoes stained green.
But patience is a virtue—and a bit of past experience helps, too—so once the late afternoon sun broke through, it was a dead cert that the resplendent Rafa would come out of hiding while the two Andy’s played for real on Centre Court.
The practice courts remained steadfastly covered, but the nearer of the two to the narrow public gangway that is the basket of delights for tennis fans at Queen’s still had its net up. It also sat in bright sunshine, and would dry out in no time. Sure enough, the covers came off and Rafa came on.
The session lasted almost two hours, and went way beyond the standard drills. You know the usual routine: some baseline hitting, some volleying, some overheads, and then some serving. He sat down a while, and then did some more.
But in between, there were drills for whipped forehands, sliced off-forehands, and sliced backhands. There were some adjustments to his footwork and to his racket grip, and then more drills. If ever there was a man determined to make up for lost grass time, Rafa was him.
The contrast between solemn face and fun shirt was nice, but wait for the back view…worth a smile, at least!
There were lots of other adjustments to make, too. Everything came to a halt while he minutely studied the inner soles of his shoes. A little later, and all the tapes on his fingers needed changing. And so did the shirt…
The ground staff hovered, checked whether he would be much longer, began mowing the other courts, hung around a bit more. Rafa and his team were in no hurry. They had, after all, done their own hanging around all day.
And eventually it was all worth a smile. Who needs sunshine?
And so to Day Three, and Rafa was scheduled to play second. He was out at practice before midday, but he should have known better. Ten minutes into the first match—Feliciano Lopez and Grigor Dimitrov—and the cats and dogs came hammering down. It would be around three more hours before Rafa finally walked onto Centre Court for this first match. It was, of course, an swift win, even with one more appearance by the rain during the second set.
It was nice, incidentally, to see him still wearing the victorious strip from Paris: fabulous shades of blue and green. Only difference is, the AEGON Championships are swamped in the blue of the sponsor, and Rafa all but disappears.
Maybe that explains the grumps again!
Click here to visit Marianne’s website.