[caption id=”attachment_24252” align=”alignright” width=”150” caption=”Photo by REUTERS/Hans Deryk”]
Rafa took on #7 Tomas Berdych in the last of the men’s quarterfinals at the Sony Ericsson Open this evening. The match started with Rafa in full steamroll mode and Berdych was nervous. Rafa took the first set in 40 minutes and it looked like we were in for a super quick evening. Then…the wheels got wobbly. Rafa started missing shots and called the trainer to work on his shoulder and neck. Second set to Berdych. While the serve let Rafa down in IW, it was the serve that saved him here. Down 0-40 in the first game of the second set, he fired off aces and service winners to hold. His game was still full of errors, but he held on, found his rhythm again and is into the semis: 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
As it happened blatherings:
Rushed home (left a wee bit early), got my dinner and am settling in!
Berdy serving to start and a good rally ends with an error from him: 0-15. Rafa’s return is out, and then another error from Berdy: 15-30. Oh, make that another errant shot: 15-40. Berdy hits a clean winner behind Rafa: 30-40. Lovely angled forehand winner from Rafa and he breaks to start the match!
I think Berdy’s having flash backs to last year’s Wimbly final. Needs to settle to have a chance.
Berdy can’t get a return back: 15-0. Rafa works Berdy’s backhand, Berdy tries to recover to center, Rafa hits behind him: 30-0. Rafa nets a ball: 30-15. Rafa nets a forehand down the line attempt: 30-30. Rafa takes advantage of a ball landing short, runs in and pops off a nice volley winner: 40-30. Rafa sneaks into the net and holds for a 2-0 lead.
Unbelievable backhand winner on the full stretch from Rafa: 0-15. Berdy nets a forehand: 0-30. Rafa’s return of serve is out: 15-30. Cross-court approach to Rafa’s forehand and Rafa places the ball and Berdy’s fit – he can’t do anything with it: 15-40. Ace: 30-40. Two beautiful forehands from Rafa – the first pulling Berdy wide to his backhand, the second an angled one out even wider as Berdy recovers to center – and he breaks for a 3-0 lead.
A fierce forehand puts Rafa in charge of a point, but Berdy digs out a nice shot and ends up taking the point: 0-15. Rafa’s backhand is long: 0-30. Berdy’s backhand is long: 15-30. Again: 30-30. Oh geez. Another fierce forehand – this time a downthe line one after he’d pushed Berdy wide with a cross-court: 40-30. Rafa holds for 4-0.
Ataraxis00: Berdych looks unsettled still. Might be all those little balls whizzing past him. Rafa leads 4-0
zoejrogers: Rafa takes the 4th game of the first set 4-0. Amaze! Wish Tomas would get the next game though!
Half lob that Berdy volleys back with a high backhand – Rafa runs it down and hits behind him: 30-15. Nice, fast and deep forehand from Berdy that Rafa can’t handle: 40-15. With an ace, Berdych gets on the scoreboard: 1-4.
zoejrogers has powers, y’all.
Nice forehand winner from Berdy: 15-15. Berdy barely gets a racket on Rafa’s serve, Rafa into the net to smack a winner from the high floaty return: 30-15. Berdy into the net and finishes the point off with a nice volley: 30-30. Again with the floaty return and smacking winner: 40-30. Double fault: deuce. Berdy goes for a backhand down the line that could have done damage, but it’s out: game point. Rafa holds for 5-1.
nic_knack: Merciless lime popsicle
Rafa moves Berdy out wide: 0-15. Rafa nets a cross-court backhand: 15-15. Service winner: 40-15. Ace and Berdy holds for 5-2.
Overhead winner: 15-15. Rafa hits behind Berdy again: 30-15. Berdy works his way into the net, plays a ball wide to Rafa’s backhand, Berdy volleys back, Rafa tries to blast a passing shot by him, but no: 30-30. Berdy’s approach shot is long: 40-30. With an ace, Rafa holds and takes the first set: 6-2.
NeilHarmanTimes: Nadal wins 1st 6-2. Berdych has the occasional spurt of great shot making but surely not enough to worry the No.1 on this form
Miss-hit from Berdy: 0-15. Rafa steps up to the baseline and fires off a forehand winner: 0-30. Rafa’s slice backhand is long: 15-30. The net cord pops Rafa’s ball up, Berdy runs in, but nets his own shot: 15-40. Nice serve: 30-40. Nice deep approach to Rafa’s forehand and he sends his reply long: deuce. (Scrunches his face and gives his racket a light punch after.) Rafa’s forehand down the line is long: game point. Ace? Rafa challenges, but the call is good and Berdy holds.
Nice short angled return of serve winner from Berdy: 0-15. Double fault: 0-30. Backhand error from Berdy: 15-30. Rafa’s forehand is long: 15-40. Ace down the middle: 30-40. Good service return from Berdy has he breaks to go up 2-0 in the second.
Berdy’s shot is long: 0-15. Ace: 15-15. Rafa’s return of serve is well out: 30-15. Berdy attempts to tee off on a short ball as he’s moving forward – runs through it a bit and the ball goes into the net: 30-30. Rafa miss-hits a ball: 40-30. Again, Rafa’s return sails well out and Berdych holds for a 3-0 lead.
NeilHarmanTimes: Nadal has lost his line and length completely in this set. 3-0 to Berdych. Remarkable turn of events
Trainer out for Rafa - so far, they are just talking. Now trainer working on Rafa’s shoulder. Trainer walking off…heard “come back” but that’s all I could make out.
Berdych nets a second serve return. He miss-hits another: 30-0. Short angled defensive return that Rafa runs down and slams cross-court for a winner: 40-0. Really nice second serve return from Berdy: 40-15. Berdy’s shot is out…oh wait. He challenges and is right. Replay the point. Nice serve, Rafa into the net and drops a winner to hold for 1-3.
Trainer was working Rafa’s right shoulder, correct? Wonder if that was bugging him last week and was why his serve toss was off.
NeilHarmanTimes: Rafa on the card in 2nd set with a forehand drop shot. 3-1. Trainer waiting for a summons at next change of ends
Defensive return and Berdy hits a forehand winner: 30-0. Nice deep forehand down the line from Rafa – Berdy’s reply is out: 30-15. Not the best approach shot ever, and Rafa hits a smoking forehand down the line passing shot: 30-30. Ace: 40-30. Berdy tries to move in on a backhand, but nets it: deuce. Ace: game point. Two aces in a row and Berdych holds for 4-1.
Trainer giving Rafa a neck rub while Rafa grimaces. Rafa and Gilles Simon really need to stop sleeping with each other.
FortyDeuceTwits: So…apparently the pillows in Miami are not up to grade. The ATP should get that checked out.
Rafa works Berdy’s forehand and then hits to the backhand to draw an error: 15-0. Beauty down the line winner from Rafa: 30-0. Short ball from Rafa, Berdy takes advantage and pushes Rafa around until Rafa, on the run, bunts a forehand winner cross court past him: 40-0. Fierce hitting from Rafa and he holds for 2-4.
Aggressive hitting from Berdy draws an error: 15-0. Beautiful serve out wide and follows that up by hitting a winner behind Rafa: 30-0. Rafa goes for a backhand down the line passing shot, but nets it: 40-0. Berdych holds at love for 5-2. Rafa to serve to stay in the second set.
Rafa into the net, but can’t handle a low ball from Berdy: 15-15. Berdy’s serve return is wide: 30-15. Rafa’s forehand is wide: 30-30. Rafa’s backhand goes into the middle of the doubles alley: set point. On the run, Berdy sends a forehand long: deuce. Berdy’s second serve return is long: game point. Rafa’s backhand down the line sails long: deuce. Beautiful backhand winner down the line from Berdy: set point #2. Short ball from Berdy, Rafa’s all over it: deuce. Berdy nets a forehand: game point. Two set points against, but Rafa holds to force Berdy to serve out the second set. 3-5.
Amazing defense from Rafa, but Berdy is just too much: 15-0. Ace: 30-0. Berdy handcuffs Rafa with a serve: 40-0. Rafa looks pouty. Second set to Berdych: 6-3.
Too much like IW final - good first set, bad second. Hope the third improves. Trainer back out for Rafa.
rafannie: wow. that’s the first set of tennis Berdych has taken from Rafa since Oct.06.
5livetennis: One set all Nadal v Berdych. Here comes the trainer for a third time. Massage, neck, shoulder, arm. All those nerves come from the back.
Rafa hits an easy looking forehand into the net: 0-15. That one looked a bit more difficult, but still a forehand error: 0-30. This time, it’s a slice backhand that’s wide: 0-40. Service winner and a Vamos: 15-40. Ace and a Vamos: 30-40. Rafa’s camp looks worried. Ace and a VAMOS! deuce. Ace and silence: game point. Amazing point ends with Rafa into the net, hitting a winning volley and doing a spinning VAMOS! He holds for 1-0.
Ace: 15-0. Rafa’s shot is just out: 30-0. Berdych’s shot is long: 30-15. Another forehand error from Rafa: 40-15. Rafa’s backhand his out and Berdy holds easily: 1-1.
Rafa’s forehand is long: 0-15. Berdy’s return of serve goes into the net: 15-15. Ace: 30-15. Berdych nets a backhand: 40-15. Rafa hits a short down the line, hesitates like he thinks it’s going out, recovers to center and Berdy his a winner behind him: 40-30. Some line painting and Rafa holds for 2-1.
Berdy into the net on a cross-court approach and he can’t handle Rafa’s down the line passing attempt. Service winner: 15-15. Rafa’s ball clips the net tape and it bounced out long: 30-15. Rafa smacks his thigh with his fist. Rafa’s shot is long and he stands with looking mopey. Nice forehand winner from Berdy and he holds: 2-2.
Ace: 15-0. IW: the one thing not working for Rafa that threw off his whole game: serve. This set: the one thing working for Rafa and keeping him in it: serve. 30-0. Another good serve: 40-0. Rafa’s forehand is long: 40-15. (BTW, the replay showed that ball was good.) Defensive lob wins the point for Berdy: 40-30. Rafa holds for 3-2.
rafannie: Rafa looking petulant. Don’t see that too often.
Time for a few dainty nibbles on a banana.
Rafa nets a service return. Long rally ends with an error from Berdy – shame, because he’d worked the point well: 15-15. Service winner: 30-15. Another longish rally ends with Berdy netting a ball: 30-30. Excellent serve: 40-30. Berdych hits a forehand well out: deuce. Nice serve and forehand combo: game point. Berdych holds for 2-2.
Berdy’s serve return is out: 15-0. Berdy’s shot is out: 30-0. That’s more like it – nice forehand winner from Rafa: 30-15. Rafa holds at love for 4-3.
Another Rafa boo-boo…and other disgusted look: 15-0. Berdy nets a forehand: 15-15. The net cord tells Berdy to fuck off and sends his ball well out: 15-30. Long rally with Rafa hugging the baseline and he draws an error: 15-40. Rafa pacing at the baseline. Second serve. Another net cord and it drops just back on Berdy’s side. Rafa breaks for 5-3.
Berdych pissy about something – talking to the chair.
Backhand error from Berdych: 15-0. Rafa is back in steamroll mode. A set late, but he’s pissed and will win at any cost. Rafa wins: 6-2, 3-6, 6-3
Q. The weather today, did that cause you any disruptions, or just you know what you have to do in those sort of situations?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, you know, be calm and wait. That’s all. Nothing else. You can’t do a lot of things in days like today. Relax in the players’ lounge, be with the friends. That’s it. It’s nothing new. It’s something that happen a lot of times in the tennis.
He’s certainly had to put up with much worse in the way of rain delays.
Q. Playing Alexandr today, did you feel that he was maybe a little bit tired having to finish off against Tsonga today?
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. I don’t know if he was tired or not, but you can ask him, I think. But maybe is possible, no? But I think when we play matches, five set matches in Grand Slam is more than what he had.
So I think probably is not easy play end of the match and after start of the match. That’s sure. But that’s part of the game, no? It happen to me a few times, and I think in general I played at very good level, no?
Probably he had more mistakes than usual, but I don’t know if because he was little bit tired or not.
If anything, I think he would be mentally tired. The match verses Tsonga wasn’t an easy one. It’s go to be weird to win a close fought match only to then have Rafa’s fierceness dropped into your path.
Q. Did you find the conditions heavy because of the rain from earlier on?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, heavy, very humid. That’s why I am sweating a lot.
aka - That’s the only reason I’m sweating, everyone be with colm.
Q. What about playing Tomas in the next round?
RAFAEL NADAL: Difficult match always, no? We know each other. We played a lot of times, and I know just play my best tennis I gonna have chances against him, no?
He can play very, very good, and I have to play very solid all the time with my serve and wait a chance on the return.
I would love to have seen this to see if his lips actually moved. Me, I’d carry an mp3 player with these pre-fab answers on it and figure out a way to play it so no one would notice.
Q. One question about being an ambassador for Bacardi. I was just wondering, was that a difficult decision, seeing that alcohol and sponsorship for alcohol might be a little strange for some people? Or was it more you saw the good it can do with the company?
RAFAEL NADAL: Did you see the campaign?
RAFAEL NADAL: So, I mean, I am not presenting alcohol party, you know. It’s a responsible campaign, a social campaign.
Anyway, I think alcohol is inside our lives, so is nothing new, no? But the campaign is not against alcohol but about be responsible when you go out.
So wasn’t difficult decision, because I think is very important social campaign, and I believe in this campaign. So it was a very easy decision, because I think is very good thing to do for Bacardi.
I want Rafa to be presenting an alcohol party for me! Well. A responsible one. No need to drive after.
[caption id=”attachment_24214” align=”alignright” width=”150” caption=”Photo by REUTERS/Hans Deryk “]
After a night of rain that forced Dolgopolov to finish his 3rd round match earlier today, more rain helped give him a bit of a longer rest than expected before having to take on Rafa this evening. Still, that’s a heck of a handicap for #23 to face coming into a match against the #1 player in the world. Add to all that a Rafa who seemed determined to do the tournament a favor by trying to get the stadium court back on schedule and, well, it wasn’t the most exciting match. It was, however, a solid win for Rafa: 6-1, 6-2.
As it happened blatherings:
Rain delays conspired to allow me to see this match! Yay, rain! I’m sure Dolgo isn’t as happy about the moisture since he had to finish his 3rd round match earlier today due to last night’s rain.
Rafa serving to start the match. Service winner. Dolgo hits a forehand into the net: 30-0. Dolgo looks so casual standing to receive the serve. It’s like, “sure. Hit the ball this way. Maybe I’ll try to hit it back, maybe I won’t.” Dolgo nets a backhand. Rafa nets an attempted backhand down the line: 40-15. Nice and easy hold for Rafa to start the match.
Dolgo nets a forehand: 0-15. Ace: 15-15. Service winner: 30-15. Dolgo’s service motion will never stop reminding me of an SNL skit (the one with the party guys who jerk their heads to the “What is love” song). Ace: 40-30. Rafa nets a ball and Dolgo holds.
Dolgo sends a ball well long: 15-0. Something else (hey, I’m still settling in from work): 30-0. Dolgo’s serve return is wide: 40-0. Rafa holds at love for 2-1.
Nice forehand winner from Dolgo: 15-0. First rally of any length ends with Dolgo sending a ball long: 15-15. Tennis live on four courts…TTV is showing us the Nole Head commercial. 30-30. Rafa into the net and gets the opportunity to hit a put-away volley, but he sends his shot wide: 40-30. Dolgo tries a cutesy dropshot off a nice return from Rafa…not going over the net: deuce. Dolgo sends a ball long: break point. Dolgo tries to pull Rafa into the net with a short angle, but it backfires and Rafa breaks for a 3-1 lead.
Service winner: 30-0. Rafa backs way up to run around and hit a deep forehand, Dolgo can’t do anything with it: 40-0. Rafa hits a cross-court forehand from way on the backhand side and Dolgo his a beauty of a down the line forehand winner: 40-15. Rafa holds for 4-1.
Dolgo miss-hits a ball – he challenges it as being out, but replay shows it’s in: 0-15. Double fault: 0-30. Not really sure what happened, because tennis channel is showing Petko and the stream I’m paying for with tennistv.com is choppy as shit: 0-40. Rafa breaks again for a 5-1 lead.
Ace out wide: 30-0. Dolgo smacks the hell out of a second serve, takes control of a point and runs Rafa from side to side until he draws an error: 30-15. Chippy return pulls Rafa into the net and he finishes off the point: 40-15. Rafa nets a backhand: 40-30. Nice serving and Rafa takes the first set 6-1 in just 24 minutes.
2 aces; 75% first serves in; 87% 1st serve points won; 60% of 2nd serve points won; 5 winners; 3 UFEs; 3/4 at net
Rafa nets a backhand return of serve: 15-0. Dolgo nets a forehand: 15-15. Dolgo into the net and Rafa passes: 15-30. Dolgo nets an overhead: 15-40. Rafa sends a forehand long: 30-40. Dolgo pushes Rafa deep and wide and then hits a delicate dropper. Rafa runs it down, but too late to do anything with it: deuce. Another Dolgo error: break point. Double fault and Rafa breaks.
Nice passing shot from Dolgo: 15-30. Rafa into the net and hits a delicate volley winner: 30-30. Dolgo’s return of serve is well out: 40-30. Rafa into the net, backs up a bit for an overhead and holds for 2-0.
Ace: 15-0. Another UFE from Dolgo: 15-15. Dolgo into the net and finishes it off with a nice high backhand volley: 30-15. Rafa’s defensive shot is long: 40-15. Double fault: 40-30. Rafa nets a slice and Dolgo holds for 1-2.
Dolgo’s forehand is long: 15-0. Dolgo hits behind Rafa for a winner: 15-15. Dolgo’s return barely drops over the net, Rafa runs it down, Dolgo’s lob is out: 30-15. That was the first really interesting point of the match! Dolgo was playing aggressively, but Rafa took control of the point with a deep, hard forehand to the corner…from there, things just got a bit crazy with both players digging shots out until Rafa hit a winner: 40-15. Ace: Rafa holds for 3-10
Dolgo tries to serve and volley, but Rafa gets the return right at his feet: 15-15. Banana shot forehand down the line: 15-30. Ace: 30-30. Two serves that Rafa can’t get back over the net and Dolgo holds for 2-3.
Beautiful forehand winner from Dolgo: 0-15. Another fun point! Longish rally and Dolgo attempts a drop shot, Rafa runs it down, flicks the ball back and then pops a volley winner – and a Vamos! Rafa holds a backhand until Dolgo commits and then rips a backhand winner towards the opposite direction: 30-15. Service winner: 40-15. Dolgo paints the line with a winner: 40-30. Rafa digs out a shot, Dolgo sets up the shot he wants and then nets it: 4-2.
Double fault: 0-15. Dolgo’s passing attempt is wide: 0-30. Dolgo appears to just slap the ball down at the court: 0-40. Rafa sends the serve return well out: 15-40. Rafa breaks to go up 5-2.
Back and forth Rafa runs Dolgo: 15-15. Dolgo’s backhand is out: 30-15. Again: 40-15. Rafa wins: 6-1, 6-2
Q. You think it’s more difficult for you to play against good friends or does it make you more comfortable on court?
RAFAEL NADAL: I think nothing change, because when you are on court, you’re on court. You compete, and is nothing new for us. This is ninth time against each other. We are very, very good friends. We had dinner yesterday together, so this is normal.
That’s the sport. That’s competition. One player have to win; other one have to lose. And accept both things, no? We were talking in the locker room.
Q. I can’t imagine when you play Davydenko, for instance, and you play Feliciano, is it not different for your mind or…
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, is different because we know each other 100% better. But about being the friend, I don’t know, maybe if something is close ball, you can say was good, you can say, I don’t know…
That’s the difference, I think. Nothing important.
No big deal - next question!
Q. What did you like about your play today? What would you like to improve on?
RAFAEL NADAL: I like almost everything. I think I played solid match in general. I played good shots, very good passing shots. I served well for moments, much better than Indian Wells.
And seriously, no, I think I play with the right rhythm. Always is difficult play against Felly, because is not comfortable. He play slice, he play aggressive, he has a fantastic serve, he doesn’t want to play long points.
Always is difficult to find the right feeling, and I did. I think I had the right feeling against a difficult player, so that’s a very positive. I am happy how I am playing, serious.
He’s seriously happy, people. Seriously.
Q. Are you planning to play the upcoming Davis Cup tie in Austin?
RAFAEL NADAL: Remain a lot. Remain a lot. Remain a lot of months to go there and a lot of things can happen. We will see what’s going on here, in the clay season, grass season. Is difficult for me.
Too important things for me to come to think about the Davis Cup next round, no?
I’d love for you to be here and playing, Rafa, but will understand if you can’t. (Waaaaaaaaaa! No, you will understand! Waaaaaaaaaaaa!)
Q. I was wondering what do you remember at this tournament in 2004 when you beat Federer? It was a big upset at the time; you were 17. Do you remember that match and do you remember what it meant to your career at that point in time?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, at that moment was the most important victory in my career, no? I think I played fantastic match. For sure Roger didn’t play his best in that moment, that day, so I was able to beat him, no?
It was a very important victory, big confidence for me at the moment. But seriously, I lost at the next round against González. So was a good victory, but at the same time wasn’t a fantastic tournament, because I lost against González in the next round, serious.
But that just means you were, then, like most guys who get that big unexpected win only to have problems in the next round. Serious.
Q. Can you talk about your position now, sort of as the dominant No. 1 guy? You’ve got people now chasing you rather than you chasing them. How do you feel in that position of being No. 1 and feeling that?
RAFAEL NADAL: You know, I don’t think about the No. 1, no? I think about every day, and doesn’t matter if I am No. 1 or No. 2 or No. 4. I think about go on court, practice hard every day, try my best in every moment, and when I am playing matches the same, no, try to play well, try to win.
But for sure most important thing is try to work hard every day to be better player, no? I think about the race more than the ranking. I know I’m No. 1 in the ranking right now, but in the race I am No. 6 this year. I didn’t play for a month.
Last week’s final was a very important result for me, and I have to play well here to keep improving the situation in the race, to be in good position when the clay season start.
So I am here to try my best, and we will see what’s going on, no? I don’t feel I am better than the rest because I am No. 1, no? No, I feel I played fantastic last year. For that reason I am No. 1 today.
But we will see what’s going on next months, no? I know I have to defend a lot of points, but seriously, I don’t feel that I have to defend the points. I feel in every tournament that I am going to play I have the chance to win points, not to lose points, no?
For me every year start from zero. Right now I am No. 6, and I would love to play well next tournaments and have the chances to be in better position.
[caption id=”attachment_24170” align=”alignright” width=”150” caption=”Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images”]
Crisp, clean and no caffeine - way back in the day, that used to be the slogan of 7-UP. They were trying to position themselves as different from other lemon-lime drinks. They were more than that, they were the Uncola. Why am I typing all this drivel? Because I’m at working waiting for files to copy instead of being at home watching this year’s incarnation of the Uncola - Rafa Nadal - play tennis against Felciano Lopez. From all reports, Rafa was playing crisp and clean tennis today. Based on how quickly the match went, I’m not too sure about the lack of caffeine, though. After all, he broke twice in the first set to take it in just 38 minutes. The second set went by pretty quickly too and ended with the same score. Rafa’s through: 6-3, 6-3.
[caption id=”attachment_24095” align=”alignright” width=”150” caption=”Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images”]
Rafa’s second round presser is up on the tournament site. Was there a footie match he wanted to watch? He got into the presser very quickly and it’s so short.
Q. How tough was that match in the end?
RAFAEL NADAL: Was a difficult one for sure, yeah. Nishikori is a very, very good player. Is one of these first rounds that you don’t want to see, I think. I’m very happy about how I played today. I think I played at high level tonight. The feeling was better than last week, so that’s important thing. The serve worked very well at the end of the match. In general, I think was a really complete match, because Nishikori for a moment was really good and was difficult.
It was much better than last week. Especially, for me, because Kei was playing the kind of game that’s been known to bother Rafa - taking time away from him.
Q. You mentioned that you felt that you served better today. What did you have to work on to improve it? Because last week particularly in the final it was very much trouble for you.
RAFAEL NADAL: Nothing. I tried to (indiscernible) about how I serve when I serve well. I tried to slow down a little bit the speed, but at the same time serve with higher percentage.
I think that worked well, no? Because I served 117 to 124, 25 miles almost every time. That’s enough speed if you put the right percentage inside and if you put the balls close to the lines.
Nishikori I think is a good returner. He return very fast. He’s fast and long and he’s difficult. Only thing a little bit that I have to improve a little bit was the second serve, because the speed of the second serve was for moments 85, 88, 89, 90, 92, but I had to try to serve a little bit faster the second serve. But in general, seriously, I am very happy about the match of tonight.
So he did go for safe this time. Probably good because, if he can keep that in, maybe he’ll have the confidence to start trying to get the speed back. Well, as long as players don’t tee-off on the slow first serve.
Q. Earlier today Roger said that the surface is quite slow and it feels like clay. What do you think?
RAFAEL NADAL: Never. Never can be like clay on hard because the movements are completely different. So that’s makes impossible have a similar than clay when you are playing in hard, because in clay you cannot slice and you have more time. For sure I am not agree on that. The court is not very fast, not very slow, is average court. I think is normal one like probably the rest of the normal tournaments on hard. So no, I feel that the court is like every year.
I’d have loved to see the look on this face when asked the question. Clay?
Q. Next round you play Lopez, and you had pretty much a lot of success against him. Are you going to approach the match the same way as always?
RAFAEL NADAL: For me the important thing is play my best tennis. If it’s like this, I know it gonna be difficult match because he has a very good serve, good volley, and he’s aggressive player, very dangerous, but playing very well I have my chances. I have to play aggressive with my forehand, try to move him, and go to the net when I have the chance. Similar than every time, but always every match is different and always a difficult one.
Video of the presser:
Posted by GTorretta13 and brought to my attention by joey!
[caption id=”attachment_24062” align=”alignright” width=”150” caption=”Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images”]
Tonight, Rafa played #62 Kei Nishikori of Japan in the second round of the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami. (BTW, check out the auctions he’s helped put together for disaster relief in his country.) It was a well-played match from both players. Kie was taking time away from Rafa by hitting flat and hard. But it’s difficult to be consistent with such low-margin play and that’s a bit of what the difference was tonight. Rafa broke in the 5th game of the first set and, while this was by no means a blow-out, that kind of set the tone for the rest of the match. Games were tight, he had break points against, his first serve percentage kept dropping, Kei was playing well…but I never had that niggling feeling that Rafa might lose. Rafa is through to the 3rd round: 6-4, 6-4.
As it happened blatherings:
Citrus Rafa in green, yellow and white. Mo I the chair. Kei won the toss and elected to serve.
Atch2: Forgot to set my alarm so lucky I woke up in time #builtinRafaclock
Kei wearing a black ribbon in honor of those who lost their lives in the disasters in Japan.
Rafa’s shot it ous: 30-0. The netcord shoves Kei’s shot out: 30-15. Pulled a bit wide, Rafa’s backhand is out: 40-15. Rafa tries to hug the baseline, but Kei’s shot is deep and Rafa can’t handle it. Kei holds to start the match: 1-0.
Very nice point – a pretty long rally, Kei pulls Rafa in with a dropper, Rafa tracks it down, hits cross court, Kei digs it out but pops up a defensive shot that Rafa smacks for a winner: 15-0. Rafa gave his team an interesting look after that point. I’m not sure if it was a “that was a heck of a way to start” or “yep, we are started. It’s good.” Kei whiffs a serve return: 30-0. Rafa into the mid-court on a short ball, has to back up a bit for a lob, smashes, Kei lobs again, another smash, this one a winner: 40-0. Rafa holds as Kei’s shot is out.
Nice serve out wide and then a shot into the open court as Rafa tries to recover to the middle: 15-0. Nice serving – again out wide, this time the next shot into the opposite corner, into the net and a winner: 30-0. I got distracted looking up the bids on Rafa’s shirt and Kei holds for 2-1.
Rafa’s forehand sails well long: 0-15. Long rally until Kei errs: 15-15. Kei hitting hard, deep and fast. Rafa doing his best to not retreat from the baseline. Beautiful cross-court backhand winner from Kei: 15-30. Kei can’t get the serve return over the net: 30-30. Kei tees off on a second serve return and hits a clean winner: 30-40. Kei hits out wide to Rafa’s forehand, but Rafa crosses pulling Kei out and draws an error: deuce. Rafa’s backhand is long: break point #2. Beautiful serve out very wide, Kei barely gets a racket on it and Rafa hits a forehand into the open court: deuce. Blazing forehand down the line from Rafa: game point. Ace and Rafa holds for 2-2.
Nice rally that it felt like Kei was in control of ends with an amazing angled winner from Rafa: 0-15. Another angled shot, this time from the backhand and this time out: 15-15. Kei’s forehand is long: 15-30. Beautiful soft drop shot from Rafa: 15-40. Rafa made an impossible looking serve return, but Kei moved in, hit early and Rafa didn’t have time to hit his next forehand well: 30-40. Going for a backhand, Kei nets the ball and Rafa breaks for a 3-2 lead.
Ataraxis00: Rafa’s definitely on his backhand tonight. Flattened out and going for angles if he can.
onthegotennis: Both guys looking pretty solid. Kei is trying to hit the skin off the ball. Impressive
Kei misshits a forehand: 30-0. Rafa holds to consolidate the break: 4-2.
Kei pulls Rafa far wide to the forehand and Rafa’s shot follows suit – going well out: 15-0. Rafa pushes Kei deep and draws an error: 15-15. Rafa does all the running, but he hits a backhand down the line winner. Oops. Not a winner as the challenge review shows: 30-15. Rafa’s backhand slice floats out: 40-15. Second serve, Rafa pulls Kei wide to forehand and Kei’s shot is out: 40-30. Kei nets a forehand: deuce. Both players have won 9/11 first serve points. But Rafa’s won 5/7 second serve points to Kei’s 4/12. Rafa’s serve return kind of skids along the top of the net and bounced back on his side. Kei pulls Rafa in with a drop shot, Rafa gets to it, but his reply is defensive and Kei hits into the open court. Kei holds for 3-4.
Ataraxis00: Kei bounces his knees as much as Rafa does on the change overs.
Awesome shot from Kei: 0-15. Rafa miss-hits a forehand well wide: 0-30. (Heard a noise of frustration after that…couldn’t tell what he said.) Rafa hit a deep, high bouncing ball and Kei nets the return: 15-30. Kei keeps pulling Rafa wider and wider to the forehand, Rafa finally hits a forehand down the line, Kei hits a short dipping ball into the open court and the ball is too low for Rafa to do anything with it once he gets there: 15-40. (I made a noise of frustration there, but it wasn’t a word.) Kei nets a ball: 30-40. Perfect deep return behind Rafa on the baseline, but another error from Kei later in the point: deuce. Long deep rally ends with an error from Kei: game point. Kei pushes Rafa deep and draws an error: deuce. Rafa works his way into the backhand corner and then fires of an angled forehand winner: game point. Good serve, defensive reply, Rafa holds for 5-3.
Ataraxis00: Rafa’s going to up his game just a bit right now. Kei’s managing to take time away.
Kei into the net and hits a winner: 30-0. Rafa takes control of the point with a forehand down the line, a net cord later, he smacks a forehand into the empty court: 30-15. Rafa nets a forehand service return: 40-15. Marc! and Carlos! Nice forehand winner from Kei and he holds for 4-5.
Crowd squealing during Rafa shirt change.
Kei tees off on a second serve return hitting a fierce winner: 0-15. Kei has control of a point, but tries an angled volley off a high backhand and it goes well out: 15-15. Nice second serve: 30-15. Nice forehand winner from a high floaty ball: 40-15. Rafa holds and takes the first set 6-4.
55 minutes, 64% first serves in, 9 winners, 8 UFEs, 4/6 at net, 76 won on first serve, 67% won on second serve.
Ataraxis00: Good quality match so far. Kei is definitely holding his own.
Rafa watching the first set highlights being played on the big screen.
From the side line, Kei tries a cute angled dropper, but Rafa runs it down and flicks the ball into the open court: 0-15. Kei sets up a forehand, but nets the ball: 0-30. Rafa’s serve return is long: 15-40. Ace: 30-40. Rafa runs around a backhand to hit a forehand down the line and follows it into the net – he breaks to start set 2.
Kei’s shot is long: 15-0. Rafa tries a drop shot, Kei quickly runs it down and hits a ball deep and behind Rafa: 15-15. Kei nets a forehand: 30-15. Rafa into the net, but a gorgeous backhand crosscourt passing shot from Kei: 30-30. Kei’s lob is just long: 40-30. Rafa can’t decide what to do with a high ball at the net (half smash, half volley) and it lands outside the doubles alley: deuce. Kei moves into the mid-court on a short slice from Rafa, but he can’t get the ball up and over the net: game point. Double fault. Service winner: game point. Rafa’s first serve percentage falling. Second serve out wide and Kie misses: 2-0.
On the defense, Rafa’s shot is long: 15-0. Kei goes for a forehand winner, but it’s out: 15-15. Weird point – Kei hit right back to Rafa, but Rafa doesn’t quite hit the perfect shot and Kei finishes off the point a shot later than he should have: 30-15. Double fault: 30-30. Rafa moves Kei well and draws an error: 30-40. Fierce forehand down the line winner from Kei: deuce. Rafa goes for a backhand down the line, but it’s out: game point. Rafa’s forehand is out and Kei holds for 1-2.
Long rally ends on an error from Kei: 15-0. Forehand winner from Rafa: 30-0. Kei’s serve return is out: 40-0. Kei pulls Rafa in with a short ball and Rafa tries for too sharp of an angle: 40-15.
CaroWozniacki: Come on Rafa! Finish this match fast! I wanna play!! :)
Honey, he don’t play fast.
Rafa hits deep, but Kei hits a backhand winner: 30-0. Kei into midcourt and hits a winner: 40-0. Kei holds at love for 2-3.
Another shirt change and more squeals. And he was talking to the chair about something.
Rafa runs Kei until he can run no more: 15-0. Nice shot from Kei that Rafa can’t do a thing with: 15-15. Nice second serve, short defensive reply, Rafa into the mid-court to smack a winner: 30-15. Pushed back, Rafa hits a nice angle at Kei who’s at the net – Kei’s shot is barely out: 40-15. Service winner and Rafa holds for 4-2.
Rafa’s first serve % has dropped to 50 for this set, but he’s winning a higher percentage of second serve points than in the first set.
Ace: 15-0. Kei into the net but can’t get into the right position to hit the ball: 40-15. Kei holds.
Double fault. Rafa smashes right at Kei – almost takes him out: 40-15. Rafa nets a forehand does the hop-skip shoulder and head drop of frustration: 40-30. Kei’s backhand is out and Rafa holds for 5-3.
Nice serve out wide: 15-0. Good serve to Rafa’s forehand and then Kei hits behind Rafa as he recovers to center: 30-0. Serve out wide to Rafa’s backhand and Kei tries to follow up with a forehand into the open court, but it goes wide: 30-15. Rafa’s serve return is long: 40-15. Nice dropper by Kei, Rafa into the net and volleys, Kei hits a high shot to Rafa who jumps, turns 180 and flicks a winner into the open court: 40-30. Deuce. Rafa nets a forehand down the line passing shot attempt and has a good talk with himself: game point. Kei stops play to challenge a call on the baseline and is right. He holds for 4-5.
[caption id=”attachment_24047” align=”alignright” width=”150” caption=”Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images”]
Rafa’s Pre match presser has been posted on miamitennisnews.com. They’ll have someone in the photographer’s pit this week, so watch their site for photos.
Q. I know you’ve won almost everything in this sport, but not Miami. Is this kind of one you’d like to get? I think you’ve won 6 out of 9 Masters?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I play every tournament with the same motivation. It’s always play well and then I gonna have a good result. In this tournament I think I had two finals, another semifinal. So I had the chances; I didn’t win. Is impossible win in every place. I just accept the challenge and try to play my best tennis. That’s only way to win the tournament where all the best players of the world are playing.
And I’m never going to say anything else. Until I win. Then it will be great to win such an important tournament especially since I never win before.
Q. Is it tougher than most because it comes right after Indian Wells and you always seem to go deep into that draw?
RAFAEL NADAL: No. No, I don’t think so.
Again, you’re not going to get him to say anything else. :) Actually, this is better/easer than the back-to-back one week Masters - especially for the top players. That bye almost gets them a week off (sometimes, it does get them a week off).
Q. Did you consider playing in the soccer game the other night? I know you went to watch. Did you consider playing?
RAFAEL NADAL: I would love, you know, but for me is important - probably most important - part of the season right now since Indian Wells until Wimbledon. I had the knees problems and seriously, I don’t want any risk right now, no?
Q. What did you think of the game? We heard that Andy Murray and Baghdatis were the best players.
RAFAEL NADAL: I didn’t see all the game, because I had to work with a sponsor in another place. But they told me, yeah. But remain the star, remain me. (Laughing.) No, seriously, Baghdatis and Murray told me — Djokovic told me that Baghdatis and Murray was playing unbelievable. They lost 5-2, so, anyway, important thing is not the result, is the charity of the event. I think was really good because the crowd was full there, very good atmosphere. After in the dinner with Nole, I was there supporting the dinner, too. So I think was fantastic, too. That’s important, always be active in these charity events, especially for Japan at this moment.
Aww, sad he didn’t even get to see it.
Q. About 10 years ago you probably would have been one of the taller players on the tour. Now you play guys like Querrey and Isner, Raonic and even Djokovic and these guys are 6?3? and higher. Do you feel like the game is going in that direction? Just gonna get taller and taller? Is it tougher to play against these guys, too?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, but the best players of the world play from the baseline. That’s true. Djokovic is very good from the baseline. Federer is very good from the baseline. Myself. Last couple of years, my best quality is from the baseline. Murray is from the baseline. Soderling, too. Davydenko, too, Berdych, too. That’s true, is coming — Del Potro is the only one, but he’s characteristic is from the baseline, too. Is true that the game is coming very tall guys, but at the end of the day, I think the best players of the world and the players who are in the top are players who plays from the baseline. Is true is not easy play against Isner, against Karlovic, against Raonic, but we will see if that is the right way to be in the top. I don’t know.
aka - the best players move well and don’t drag their feet around the court.
Q. Is there anything that you notice from your game at Indian Wells that you feel you could improve on in this tournament?
RAFAEL NADAL: A lot of things. (Smiling.) I think during the tournament I didn’t play really good. It wasn’t a good level for me. Semifinals and final I improved my level of tennis, but during the final my serve worked terrible. So that’s the first thing. I have to serve better if I want to have chances to compete against all the players. And from the baseline, seriously, I think I finished the tournament playing much better than the beginning of the tournament. So that’s always a very positive thing.
Q. Did you and Toni work on your serve? Did you find out what was wrong with it?
RAFAEL NADAL: We hope so, but we never know. (Smiling.) We gonna see tomorrow how it works hopefully better.
Q. What is it that you love about playing tennis?
RAFAEL NADAL: I love the competition. Yeah. I love the support in general, all the sports. Tennis is my sport, so I like the tennis and especially I love the competition.
I think he likes competition.
Q. What is your perception of Djokovic? Over the years he was joking, doing impersonations, this and that. He’s still very funny, but he seems to have tried to tone down a little bit maybe. He’s playing very, very, very well now. What is your relationship with him? What do you think the perception of him among the players is?
RAFAEL NADAL: My relationship with him always was fantastic. We are close. I think he’s a funny guy, but he’s not playing now better because he’s not doing his imitations or these things. That’s for sure. You know, always the people, when somebody is playing very well, try to found the things outside of the tennis. Seriously, the only thing what matters is what’s happen inside the court. Outside the court you can do imitations all the day, or you can do anything. You can’t go out every night, that’s for sure, no? But you can do anything. You can have a really normal life and play very well or play very bad. That doesn’t affect inside the court.
What he’s doing well is he’s playing with confidence. His level probably is not much higher than three years ago or two years ago or one year ago. I always saw him as fantastic player. His potential always was very, very high. Everybody knows how good is him, and he can do what he’s doing now. He started the season like in 2008 and was the same. So is nothing new. We will see what’s going on. I think he’s a very complete player because he can play on all of the surfaces very good, and that’s an advantage. He started better than possible, so he’s in a very good position.
But the season always is long, and we will see what is going on.
I think it’s narrower than what’s happen inside the court - I think it’s what’s happen inside the head.
Q. Novak recently joined Twitter. You’re very present on Facebook. Do you have any plans to join Twitter?
RAFAEL NADAL: Not for the moment. I happy with the Facebook. I don’t know. No, for me is enough for the moment.
I just can’t see Rafa as a Twitter person at all. Heck, he only does Facebook in fits and spurts.
Q. I want to ask you also about the Bacardi, the thing you’re involved in with drinking responsibly. Can you talk about that? I wasn’t at the event, but can you just tell us a little about that, the campaign.
RAFAEL NADAL: I think is a very important social campaign, especially I think for everybody, but for the young people more. The campaign is champions drink responsibly, but is a social campaign about if you have to go out, have a plan how to come back home safely. Is a campaign about if you go out, you don’t need to drink crazy. You can drink few glasses of alcohol, but drink alcohol-free and drink water. Is important quality than quantity. That is the campaign, no? For sure I think everybody knows when you go out and you go for party with your friends, alcohol is part of that, part of the night. But sometimes seems like you go out and you have to drink like crazy. In my opinion, that’s not like this. That’s the campaign. I think it’s important campaign. I’m very happy to be the ambassador.
*Notes to self: Likes a lot the crazy bounce; doesn’t like a lot the crazy drink*
[caption id=”attachment_24022” align=”alignright” width=”150” caption=”Photo by Anita”]
It all began when I heard Costa announce that Rafa will definitely play the first round of the Davis Cup. I was sitting in front of my notebook and realized that Charleroi isn’t TOO far away ;)
I checked the distance via google maps and decided that 800km (≈497miles) on one day were absolutely okay! But I needed tickets!!! I tried to get two tickets (for me and my best friend) via ticketnet belgium but it didn’t work online and I decided to call them. Unfortunately the lady in the callcenter could only speak walloon and as a result we didin’t understand each other. I was really frustrated and sad but I tried my last option. I reported my problem by sending an e-mail to the team of ticketnet and two days later (I had already given up all my hopes!) my younger brother came into my room and gave me our phone. It was Monsieur Marliér from ticketnet and he was able to speak french! He booked two tickets for Sunday and from that moment on I was so happy and so excited … I think you all can imagine! :)
I hoped that Rafa would play on Sunday but I would have been happy with only seeing him cheer for the others. That already would have made me happy after all those disappointments I lived through when it came to see Rafa live (lost in the first round of Gerry Weber Open and I had tickets for the second round; Hamburg Masters quarterfinal was suspended due to rain and I had to leave soon; played the evening session at the ATP World Tour Finals 2009 when I had tickets for the afternoon session; withdrew from ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament Rotterdam due to injury! SEEMED TO BE A CURSE!!!) but I was hoping to have as much luck as last year when I saw him practice at the World Tour Finals and after that I saw him defeat Andy Roddick and one day later after the Federer vs. Murray match he was honored on center court and ten minutes later he practiced again and I was up in the sky ;) (most of the photos from the ATP WTF are also on photobucket but I couldn’t take my good camera with me so they aren’t very good).
On Sunday I woke up at six o’clock in the morning, ate something, checked my bag in order to be sure not to leave anything of importance (e.g. camera) at home and jumped in my car. I had to “collect” my best friend first but then we finally got on the motorway and I relaxed a bit. Other than my best friend ;) She had never seen Rafa before and she was REALLY excited! It took us four hours to get to the Spiroudôme in Charleroi. It was still closed but we were only happy to finally be there (I was afraid of anything before: traffic jam, roadblock, breakdown, puncture or anything like that) and after about ten minutes they opened the doors. There were only few other people and I started to get excited again cause I heard the hitting of a tennis ball! I couldn’t see him at this moment but for whatever reason I was sure that it had to be Rafa and when I could take a look at the court … there HE was!!! He made my day by only standing at the baseline, firing a forehand down the line :) I wanted to hug the world! We went into the arena and down the stairs RIGHT behind Rafa and next to Uncle Toni who was standing at the edge. I took out my camera and you can take a look at the results! I’m sorry I was really, really nervous! Rafa was directly in front of me. It was difficult to keep the camera straight ;) I was too shaky!
I simply cannot describe this feeling.
I will never EVER be able to explain to someone, who has not witnessed this personally, how it really feels. Those of you who have seen him know what I mean but to those of you who have never had this much luck I’m sorry I can’t find the right words to describe this moment! I wish you all that you’ll be able to witness something like that and you’ll understand immediately! It is MAGIC! When I think about it then I know that I am crazy cause “ACTUALLY” he is “only” a young man who plays tennis! I know it doesn’t feel like this but why? Why are we all (I think “all” is right?!) so completely under his “spell”? I never get shaky! I’m not like that, normally I have absolute control of my body but when Rafa is close …
As you see, I can’t explain it, I don’t know the words to describe it! It is UNIQUE!!!
Rafa is unique! He can make people happy and excited by only being present!
I was thirteen when I first saw him (on TV of course). I wanted to watch a match of Carlos Moyà at Hamburg Masters and I had never heard of his opponent but I didn’t care cause I liked (and will like forever) Moyà but the moment Rafa stepped on the court (16 years “old”, small, cute and shy but with something SPECIAL that I couldn’t name) he got me! From that moment on he is my number one favourite tennis player in the world and I hardly missed one of his matches!
How did he do that??? I think all of you lived through something like that …
Back to the Davis Cup:
I enjoyed every single second of his practice session and already was the happiest person on earth, but …
Practice was over and my friend and I needed to eat something. We were in the outer circle of the arena (where you can buy something to drink/eat) and relaxed a bit when David Ferrer walked past us! That was nice but not the TOP! A few minutes later when I was standing close to some stairs (without noticing that they lead to the VIP room) Rafa was coming (!!!) down THESE stairs! He walked past me! Only half the distance of my arm away!!! I could have touched him without any problems! He was SO CLOSE!!! I was so puzzled ;) I couldn’t move … THAT was the TOP ;) It will never get any better ;)
Did I mention that he was NOT wearing a shirt??? Only his tennis trousers and shoes! The shirt was hanging around his neck. PERFECT MOMENT!!!
There are no photos because I didn’t expect him to come and my camera was in my bag and as I said I was a bit too puzzled to think of photos … :)
Could it really go on like that? Yes!
Rafa played!!! His opponent was Olivier Rochus. The match was great but way too short. Spain was already through to the next round, leading 3-0 and the last two singles matches were only best of three! But nevertheless I was amazingly happy!
Rafa won, of course! He left court but came back only a couple of minutes later (still with a bit of wet hair), sat down and started to cheer for Feli. He talked to Fernando, gave tons of autographs, entertained Costa’s twins and seemed to have a lot of fun! It was a very special day! To see Rafa surrounded by his friends was great! I always wanted to see the Spanish Armada ;)
It was worth every single € and every single metre!!!
I was back home at about midnight. Tired but grateful!!!
Thank you so much Rafa for giving me this amazing day! :)
Here are my photos. [Anita, I lost the link you sent me to your videos - can you resend or post as a comment? Thanks! - miri]
Rafa has been chosen by Bacardi to be the face of their new “drink responsibly” campaign: Bacardi chooses Nadal as ambassador (found via a tweet by @Ataraxis00). The campaign will “focus on urging consumers to be a champion by looking out for their friends.”
“I enjoy socializing with my friends and family and drinking responsibly is important no matter what your game is,” Nadal said in a statement. “That is why I’m teaming up with Bacardi Limited as I want to take the lead in promoting social responsibility to fans and consumers around the world.”
Q. What happened after the sixth game of the second set when you lost six games in a row?
RAFAEL NADAL: Nothing. I think I was playing my best match here. The first set I think I played really good, having the control of most of the points, and I felt well.
After that, at the end of the first set, I started to serve really bad; and second set still in the beginning, even if I won the games, because he had more mistakes than usual with the second serve return, I play less aggressive. That’s true. But is because my serve didn’t work that well, no?
So I was thinking too much about the serve more than the game in that moment, so I stop a little bit the legs in that situation. The moment I had the 40-15 with 3-2, 3-All, after I had the break back, but I lost another time my serve.
So the serve was the difference today in my opinion. It’s true I play with less intense after the first set, but I think everything is because of the serve.
So just congratulate him. I think he did better than possible to start one season. He’s playing well. He’s in the right place at the right moment. So all the best for him for the rest of the season.
His serve abandoned him and that game him molasses legs, makes sense to me. When you get nervous or upset, body parts and brain cells often shut down.
Q. You know what it’s like when you get into a run of form and you feel so confident about everything in your game. Is that what you sense a little bit from Novak at the moment? Whatever the situation, he feels really good about it?
RAFAEL NADAL: I can’t have his feelings. Everybody has different feelings.
Q. You know what it’s like when you feel as though you’re so strong.
RAFAEL NADAL: Maybe, yeah. But seriously, for moments today — I never like to say that, no, but for moments I felt I had the control of the match.
So was one of these days then he start and he play winners from all the places, and I can’t stop him. I think it wasn’t one of his days. I think when I was playing really good, when I was playing well in the first set, he was defending more than me and I was more inside the court. I think I was playing better than him in the beginning.
After that, it’s true, he didn’t have mistakes. He was more regular in his game without mistakes, even better than me. Always the better player win, and he was better player than me today in general.
But the more positive thing is I played against a player who is playing better on the tour right now. When I played well, I didn’t feel worse than him today.
And I think that’s a fair statement. The first set was amazing tennis with Rafa having a slight edge.
Q. Can you pinpoint why your serve went bad on you today? Can you tell us why you think your serve went bad on you? It seemed pretty good the first set, and then it just…
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah.
Q. Anything you can point a finger to?
RAFAEL NADAL: If I had the solution, if I know the problem and the solution, I will change during the match.
So I think I lost a little bit the coordination. I have to analyze a little bit more why that happened, no?
So it’s too early, and I have to watch the video about what was totally wrong in my serve today, and work to improve. So is no more secret than work and learn about mistakes.
Always is better learn when you are winning than when you lose. That’s much better. (Smiling.) But for me, at the same time, is a very positive tournament, very positive result, very important points for me.
Heh, love the, “If I knew I would have fixed it during the match” dig.
Q. As you said, when you’ve had a month out of the game and you’re not quite sure how strong you’re going to be. To get a full week of tennis, even though you’ve lost the final, has to be somewhat encouraging for you.
RAFAEL NADAL: I said yesterday and before yesterday, be in semifinals was a positive result for me. Be in the finals I think is fantastic result.
Right now I am not very happy, because, I say before, it wasn’t one of these matches, and I — well if we started the match and I see Nole playing much better from me at the beginning, so I accept, I go home.
I played a good tournament in the time. My feeling is not one of these days, so I felt I really can win today. I am a little bit sad for that, but that’s the game. Sometimes I won and I felt that I wasn’t ready to win. That’s the game.
I said for me it was a really positive thing even if I - really positive week or two weeks - even if I lost today. I said it is important 600 points for the confidence, one final for the confidence, and the biggest and the most important thing is I finish the week much better than when I started, no?
So that’s always a very good feeling, and that’s a lot of confidence for the next tournaments start right now. When I play this tournament, probably the four months more important of the season for me, and to start with a final after one month outside of competition - and even if I am in competition, play a final in tournament like this, is very positive - so I am very happy for that.
I have to keep working about a few aspects of the game. I think I had a few ones very positive for; moments, and other ones, like my serve and I think the intensity of the match for a few moments, that’s the worst thing.
But I think the tactic of the match when I was playing well in the beginning was really good. The forehand was much better than the previous days. The backhand I think worked well during all the tournament.
Slice, too. I went to the net. A lot of positive thing; a few negative thing. And with these few things, I was not able to win today. So I improve that.
He ended the week better than you started? Maybe if he ended after that first set…I don’t know. I do agree that his net play was wonderful.
Q. In the second set, the long game that ended the set, you had a breakpoint. If you had gotten that, could that have turned it around?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, always is “if I,” and that’s doesn’t exist. So you make or you don’t make, and I didn’t make. (Smiling.)
That’s the true, and I think is difficult to analyze, if — maybe if I won that game I gonna lose the next one with my serve, so that’s the true, no? Because that part of the game, my serve, was very far from Indian Wells (Laughter.)
That’s our Rafa - still allergic to the hypothetical.
Q. During the trophy ceremony, Novak said that for him you were the best player ever. What were your feelings at the time? Is that something he said to you privately? Was that a surprise to you? How do you feel about that?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, we have a very good relationship. I happy about what he said, and thank you to Novak. But that’s not true, so… (Laughter.) He still beat. Accept that when that’s not the true.
But anyway, thanks a lot to him for his words, but…
And you say Roger’s the best even though you beat him… ;)
Q. Could you talk a little bit about Novak’s play? He’s had this great run, maybe since Davis Cup, Australia, here. What has he done to pick it up? What’s the difference?
RAFAEL NADAL: One player cannot change in two months, because I played against him in London, and right now, four months later, seems like totally different. No, that’s not the true, no? I think he always was a fantastic player.
Probably I think he didn’t play his best, even being No. 3 of the world, that’s very difficult. But I think he didn’t play consistently for moments, because his serve last year and the year before I think wasn’t that good than what it was three years ago.
So he had a little bit problems with the serve, in my opinion, a few years ago. But right now he change it another time. He is serving well, and he started the season winning. So is because he was ready to win, for sure, and he was the player who was playing better.
But, you know, after winning a Grand Slam, and if the player who wins a Grand Slam is very good, like him, is very easy to continuing playing well. I know how confident — how my confidence is after winning important tournament, and is much easier win next one.
Right now he’s playing on his favorite surface, I think, because hard court, outdoor I think is when he play better. It’s his favorite surface. So he is in confidence, he’s playing well, he’s very good player. So we will see when he lose the first time. I don’t know if gonna happen in Miami or happen in Monte-Carlo or not gonna happen. (Laughter.)
But I think is everything about confidence and nothing — is not big change, no.
Please let it happen by Monte-Carlo, please!
Q. What was going through your mind second set and third set? He won six straight games, and you said earlier you felt like you were playing well and wasn’t a big difference. But when he wins six straight games, can you talk about how you’re feeling and your frustration?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, you know, I explained. I talked for a long — I don’t know if I am ready to talk more in English. (Laughter.)
No, seriously, I say before I think I was too worried about my serve to play my best level from the baseline for moments, and that’s what happens. My serve didn’t work. He had the chance all the time to attack me with the second serve.
I think I served 25% of the serves. I can’t play with this percentage. Nobody can play with this percentage. Well, maybe if somebody can do it, that’s mine, because always in the statistics, I am the player who win more points with the second serve.
But playing against Novak Djokovic, is impossible with match play and with the second serve all the time. So that’s what happened, and that’s why I lost six games in a row and what’s going on in my mind. Please put one first serve inside, so that’s what I was thinking.
And after that I start to think about the 6-0 in the third, so I was focused on trying to win a game.
Heh, knew he was trying hard to not eat a bagel.
Q. For the No. 1 spot, who is the bigger threat, Federer or Djokovic?
RAFAEL NADAL: And me? I am out? (Laughter.)
Q. I said threat.
RAFAEL NADAL: We will see. Well, Nole start with big advantage right now, 3,000, almost 4,000 points, so that’s a lot. That’s a lot for serious player like him. That’s a lot for complete player like him, because he can play really good on all the surfaces. He has a big advantage.
Now, when I am talking about the No. 1, I’m talking about finish day No. 1, not being No. 1 during the season. Because that’s important, but at the same time — well, for me it’s not that, the most important thing.
If you finish the No. 1 of the year, No. 1 of the world at the end of the season, that’s the most important thing. Well, he’s right now in the best position. We will see what’s going on.
You know, I started the tournament 17th of the race; I gonna finish this tournament No. 6 of the race. That’s a big improve for me, very positive. I am closer to the top positions, and Federer played a good semifinals, a good result, too. He’s there. He’s like Nole. He can play really good on all the surfaces: Miami, Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, Rome, Madrid, Roland Garros.
After Roland Garros, I will tell you who is the biggest favorite to be No. 1, because is after two months of competition. Only thing I can tell you is Djokovic is in the best position. We will see what’s going on in the clay season. After this, first six months of the season, we start to see what are the chances of everybody.
But that’s what’s sure, is you think I have not one chance. (Laughing.)
I think you have a chance! :)
Q. Del Potro said the other day he thought Novak had the best return of serve at the moment. Del Potro the other day said he thought Novak has the best service return in the men’s game at the moment. Would you agree with that?
RAFAEL NADAL: He’s a very good returner. Difficult to say who is the better one, because we have to talk in general. We have to put all the surfaces together, not only hard court.
So for me, David Ferrer is fantastic returner. Federer for sure, too. Andy Murray, too. Nalbandian is unbelievable. Djokovic is there; he’s in this group. But say who is better than other one, for me is impossible.
[caption id=”attachment_12334” align=”alignright” width=”150” caption=”Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images”]
One tournament down and it’s time to look at the next one. In other words, the Miami draw is out.
Seeds in Rafa’s quarter: Chela, Dolgopolov, Tsonga, Almagro, Montanes, Gulbis and Berdych. In the other quarter in Rafa’s half: Federer, Monaco, Baghdatis, Youzhny, Melzer, Cilic, Simon and Roddick. So, if the top half goes by seed, we’d have Rafa/Berdych quarter and a Rafa/Fed semi.
Seeds in the top quarter of the bottom half are: Ferrer, Raonic, Llodra, Wawrinka, Fish, Gasquet, Kohlschreiber, and Soderling. Rounding out the bottom quarter of the bottom half are: Murray, Isner Garcia-Lopez, Verdasco, Troicki, Querrey, Bellucci and Djokovic. Again, if the improbable happens and seeding holds, this would give us quarters of Ferrer/Soderling and Murray/Djokovic.
[caption id=”attachment_23883” align=”alignright” width=”150” caption=”Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images”]
Rafa’s semifinal presser transcript is finally up:
Q. What happened at 4-1 in the first set did? You consciously make any adjustments, or it just kind of fell in?
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I think that the match started a little bit strange for me because I — well, strange and not strange, no, because I had few mistakes with the forehand. I think the first game of the return I played well.
But when I served for the first time in the match, I think I had two or three unforced errors with my forehand, so that’s not usual.
That’s maybe because I didn’t play very good matches this week before. I played a good match against Karlovic, I think, but it’s different, no, because you don’t have the rhythm of the game. You return and after you take care but don’t have mistakes, is different kind of match, no?
He started without mistakes, and he was 3-0 or 4-1 with not many problems, no?
After that I think I started to put more balls inside, play higher to his backhand, and trying to get the right rhythm, no? I think I did well. I played a few good games. I think he had a few mistakes than usual. That’s help me a little bit.
But in general, I think I played my best match in Indian Wells this year by far, sure.
So, the match was mainly about who was making more mistakes? I guess that’s often true.
Q. Did you have a few problems your serve?
RAFAEL NADAL: With my serve?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I don’t think so. No, I think that the serve didn’t work bad. I know Juan Martin is a great returner, so, you know, for me it was difficult. You play under pressure all the time, no?
Because if you have a mistake with the first serve, with the second serve he will have a good chance to play aggressive, to go inside the court. You start every point defending, no? So you don’t have any chance later.
You didn’t think there was anything wrong with your serve yesterday, Rafa? If you say the same thing about today’s match, I might have to smack you.
Q. Before today, he had beaten the last three times you played. Can you talk about where his level of play is now compared to 2009 the last time you played him?
RAFAEL NADAL: The players? Him?
RAFAEL NADAL: 2009 he won the US Open, and probably he played the best level of his career by far. It’s difficult to play at this level all the time. That’s true, no? The normal thing is not when you played your best.
For me, my normal level is not when I played the final of the US Open, or I don’t know. That’s my highest level. For Del Potro, the final of US Open and semifinals for me was his highest level. So that’s not the normal thing. You can arrive to this level, but not every day, no?
And the normal level of everybody is a little bit lower always, no? Is impossible play all the time full power shots, all the balls inside, having serve all the time, first and second serve very fast.
So I think he’s doing well. He won a tournament four weeks ago. Right now he arrive at the semifinals having very good victories. I am happy to see him back on the tour.
He is one of the best players of the world, to be sure. I sure he’s going to be at the top positions very soon.
It’s not fair, Del Potro seems like a very, very nice guy, but I don’t want him in the top positions. *sigh*
Q. How much do you think you’ve improved since the 2009 US Open, maybe the serve, the volley?
RAFAEL NADAL: Is not — I had the three centimeters abdominal broke in that moment, no? I improved my game in general, but that year, the second half of the year, I had too many problems.
I broke my abdominal in Montreal or Toronto, I remember, a little bit. After, seems I was a little bit better in Cincinnati, but after a few matches, another time I felt the abdominal.
In US Open I was bad since the second round, but I keep playing, playing. Finally I had to stop one month without play. So we can’t see — we can’t compare matches when you are not healthy.
Q. How is your health right now?
RAFAEL NADAL: You know, I am sure with my level of 2009 in that moment, without injury, I wasn’t able to beat him, but not 6-2, 6-2 I gonna lose. That’s my feeling, no?
Q. But even outside of that match, your game overall from 2009 to now, you don’t think there is any improvement?
RAFAEL NADAL: Sure I serve much better than that moment. My backhand is better, and the forehand is similar, I think.
But the better thing is I am playing closer to the baseline. I am able to play more inside the court, go more times to the net. So that’s very important factor, no?
Is much easier you play three meters behind the baseline than if you play one meter behind the baseline. That’s 100%. The biggest improve I think in my game is the position on court.
Q. As far as your health level in this tournament, how do you feel coming off the Australian Open where you had some problems?
RAFAEL NADAL: I think I not playing like before the season. I was playing fantastic before the season, and when I started in Abu Dhabi. I had a few problems there in the leg, in Australia, and have a virus in Doha.
Coming back after one month and a few more days outside of competition, to come back and play a final another time is fantastic news for me.
It’s a lot of points, and, you know, for me is really, really important this coming back. Winning matches like today is how you can come back to your highest level.
I just hope losing matches like the final doesn’t have the opposite effect. Then again, Rafa’s always good about bouncing back from losses.
Q. You said earlier about normal being when you don’t play your best. Is that the mark of the truly great player, that you can adjust, sort of adjust on the fly to what your game is that particular day or what the opponent is throwing at you? Your physical position?
RAFAEL NADAL: Biggest difference between, I think — the best players of the world or a little bit lower on the ranking is when you play well, you can beat and you can win everybody, and you win because you are playing really good.
But when you are not playing that well, the important thing is keep winning. That’s the highest difference, no? Because that’s give you a lot of confidence, and that’s give you a line of regular results.
When you are playing bad, if you lose in first round or second round, is a really bad tournament. But when you are playing bad you are in quarterfinals, semifinals, it works.
So because that’s a lot of points, that’s confidence, because even you play bad, you win. Next week gonna be better. If next week you play better, you gonna have better chance to win the tournament.
The important thing is arrive at your limit every week. If your limit that week is quarterfinals, arrive to quarterfinals. Don’t lose in second round. That’s what I think.
Okay. But isn’t the point also to always try to push beyond your limit?
Q. When your level drops, when you’re feeling your level drop, what do you do? Do you try to focus on a particular shot?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, you never know what is my level, because I know what is my level when I am winning Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, Rome. I know my level is high in that moment. Or when I won in hard, I don’t know, in 2009 in the beginning of the season in Australia, and then I came here and I know my level was very high.
Right now, you know, last year I had a fantastic season. I know if I am playing well, I have good chances to have good results. I don’t know if tomorrow I gonna play my best level or not.
I’m sure I’m gonna have better chances to play much better than yesterday and much better than today, because the match of today give me confidence. I felt the ball much better in the end of the match than in the beginning.
So all these things are important, not only for my final tomorrow, because next week is Miami and in two weeks start the clay season, and that’s very important for me, and the confidence to start probably the four more important ones of the season for me. Start of the final is fantastic news.
Good luck in Miami.
Q. I mean, we know you played Roger and Novak a hundred times. But when you go out to play them, either one of them, what sort of a sense do you have? And also, how will the conditions over here affect if you’re playing Roger or playing Novak?
RAFAEL NADAL: We know each other 100%, no? These kind of matches always is the same. These kind of matches gonna win the player who’s playing better in that moment. Because the level is very, very difficult to say, You play better than the other one, because it depends on the week. That’s my feeling, no?
And the player who have better inspiration that day is the player who gonna have better chances to win.
Q. Before Roger walked on the court today, he said he felt motivated watching you win for an opportunity to play you. Do you have that same kind of feeling? If Roger wins, that kind of excitement?
RAFAEL NADAL: For me, my feeling is be in the final. Be in the final, that’s personal satisfaction very big, and that’s give me a lot of motivation. And play final of Indian Wells, for me the motivation is not the opponent; for me the motivation is the tournament, you know.
Is too important final of Indian Wells to think about which opponent you gonna play against, because more important thing is the victory of the tournament.
[caption id=”attachment_23874” align=”alignright” width=”150” caption=”Photo GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images”]
Rafa and Nole – Rafaole – a rivalry that has produced some excellent nail-biting matches over the years. They’ve met more frequently than Rafa/Federer even though that rivalry is hyped a lot more. Today, they met in the finals of Indian Wells. Going into the match, Nole had an 19 match winning streak on the line and Rafa had a 5 match winning streak vs Nole in finals. Which streak would hold?
Rafa showed up wide awake and brought his serve with him. It took him 5 break points, but he broke in the 5th game to go up 3-2. Nole played the next game aggressively and broke right back. Continuing the trend, Rafa broke in the next game to go up 4-3. They finished out on serve with Rafa taking the set 6-4.
Things were rolling along on serve in the second until Nole broke in 6th game for a 4-2 lead. Again, they traded breaks on the next two games, but that left Nole up a break and with a 5-3 lead. After 6 set points, Nole finally held and took the 2nd set 6-3.
Error after error in the first game of the third set left Rafa broken and already in a hole. The wheels had completely come off – error after error and Rafa could do no right. He was broken again and it just kept going downhill from there. Nole wins: 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
As it happened blatherings:
Pre interview: Rafa needs to play very good to have any chances. Imagine that. Says his head to head in finals against Nole is a good new, …that he didn’t know that. He’ll try his best and fight for every point.
Ataraxis00: Cahill says he doesn’t believe that Rafa didn’t know. Neither do I.
ABC’s coverage set to end in one hour & 15 minutes…will the extend or will those of us who are not on the west coast have to channel surf?
Rafa’s hair containment: midway between doubles blender and singles serious.
Rafa won the toss and elected to receive.
Nole’s coach saying Nole needs to be aggressive, take the ball early and not play long rallies.
Roig says Rafa was tossing ball too long and swinging too fast on serve yesterday. He needs to get his timing right.
Nole pushing Rafa deep and running him, but he hits a backhand long: 0-15. Deep forehand from Nole and he pounces on the short, defensive reply from Rafa: 15-15. Rafa nets a forehand: 30-15. And a backhand serve return goes into the net: 40-15. Ace and Nole holds.
Short angled ball from Nole, Rafa tracks it down and hits a pretty, angled volley winner: 15-0. Nice serve, defensive reply, fierce shot, pop-up, smash home: 30-0. Service winner: 40-0. Rafa holds a love for 1-1.
Rafa’s shot is out: 15-0. Rafa can’t curl a backhand down the line in: 30-0. Deep shot from Rafa and Nole miss hits: 30-15. Rafa nets a serve return: 40-15. Forehand winner from Nole and he holds for 2-1.
Rafa’s backhand is long: 0-15. Nole miss hits a forehand: 15-15. Rafa handcuffs Nole with a serve: 30-15. Service winner: 40-15. 130MPH service winner from Rafa and he holds for 2-2.
Fierce hitting from Rafa, defensive pop-up from Nole, Rafa into the net and knocks off a nice volley winner: 0-15. (That was a 17 shot rally.) Massive flat backhand from Rafa and Nole can’t handle it: 0-30. Rafa woke up on time today. Nole looking into the sun to serve. Short defensive return from Rafa, but Nole doesn’t put it away. Rafa stays in the point until Nole nets a ball: 0-40. Second serve. Nole’s ball ticks the net and pops over deep, Rafa doesn’t adjust well and his shot is out: 15-40. Rafa nets a forehand: 30-40. Is this going to be a USO type break point conversion match? I can live with that if the outcome is the same. Rafa’s forehand is long: deuce. Second serve. Amazing stabbing volley winner from Rafa! Break point. Rafa nets an easy looking backhand: deuce. Double fault: break point. Long rally; Nole’s shot is long and Rafa breaks for 3-2.
Nole wants his break back – he’s standing inside the baseline, but hits a ball long: 15-0. Rafa sends a backhand well, well out: 15-15. Service winner: 30-15. Short angled volley that Rafa runs down well outside the court, but can’t do anything with once he gets to it: 30-30. Beautiful down the line shot from Rafa, but Nole hits a sharp angled winner off it: 30-40. (22 shot rally) Hard, deep hitting from Nole and he breaks back. On serve 3-3.
Rafa’s shot is long: 15-0. Ace: 30-0. Rafa takes control with a backhand that paints the line and finishes off the point at the net: 30-15. Angled shot from Nole, but Rafa changes direction and hits a forehand down the line winner: 30-30. Service winner: 40-30. Rafa pushes Nole back with a deep forehand and then pulls him in with a drop shot – winning volley after that: deuce. Rafa nets a slice backhand and looks quite grumpy about it: game point. Nole’s turn, only it’s a forehand that makes him grumpy: deuce. Nole nets another shot: break point. Second serve. Nole nets a forehand and Rafa breaks back. 4-3.
Ataraxis00: What did I say? He’s ON at the net today. Goodness.
olerafa: Rafa, I love you at the net. Of course, I love you anywhere you are. Breaks again: 4-3! #BNPParibasOpen
Games going the limit…just a few points difference between them…this is fun.
Nole’s serve return is long: 15-0. Fierce forehand winner: 30-0. Second serve winner: 40-0. Rafa holds at love for 5-3.
Serve out wide, followed into the net, sweet volley into the open court: 15-0. Nole hits a clean winner behind Rafa: 30-0. Forehand winner: 40-0. Nole holds for 4-5. Rafa can serve out the set next.
Gah, as I though. Switching to ESPN in 15 minutes.
Service winner: 15-0. 130MPH Ace: 40-0. Game and first set to Rafa: 6-4.
48 minutes; 57% 1st serves in; 77% won on 1st serve; 80% won on 2nd; 9 winners; 9 UFEs; 5/5 at net
Potty break for Rafa…while I’m off trying to get DVR to record ESPN.
Crowd squealing over Rafa’s shirt change; Pam claims she’s being quiet; Cahill forgets what he was going to say. ;D
bgtennisnation: Once Rafa gets that first set his ability to close is off the charts. Seems like he’s getting the better of the long exchanges.
Forehand winner for Nole: 15-0. Nole’s backhand is well wide: 15-15. 40-30 while I was off fiddling. Nole holds to start set 2.
Nole nets a forehand: 15-0. Long ball from Nole: 30-0. Nole into the net, Rafa puts the ball at his feet and Nole can’t do anything with it: 40-0. Rafa holds at love for 1-1.
SharkoTennis: #Nadal is 36-4 lifetime in finals when winning the 1st set, 7-9 when losing the 1st set.
Nole’s shot is called out by linesperson, but overruled by chair. Replay. Rafa nets a backhand: 15-0. Rafa’s backhand down the line is wide: 30-0. Rafa’s forehand return is well out: 40-0. Nole holds at love for 2-1.
Rafa moving Nole and then finishing it off at the net: 15-0. Second serve winner: 30-0. Beautiful backhand winner from Rafa: 40-0. Second serve winner and Rafa holds at love: 2-2.
We’ve gone from tight serve games to easy holds.
NeilHarmanTimes: Levels beginning to rise again after tentative start to 2nd set. Real edge of seat tennis. These two are quite superb 2-2
Ataraxis00: Nole is fussing at the air again.
Long rally ends with Rafa netting a backhand: 15-0. Fan calls out in the middle of a point; Nole sends a shot well out: 15-15. Nole into midcourt and smacks a winner: 30-15. 40-30. Nole holds.
Mo in the crowd!
Second serve and Nole’s return is long: 15-0. Rafa paints a line with a forehand winner: 30-0. Rafa sent a forehand long: 30-15. Nole’s forehand down the line is just out: 40-15. Good serve return from Nole and Rafa sends another shot long: 40-30. Nole pushes Rafa around the court until he draws an error: deuce. Nole hit what looks like a serve return winner, but it was called out. It’s good and they give Nole the point – fair since Rafa didn’t seem to have a play on the ball: break point. Forehand winner from Rafa: deuce. Second serve. Deep shot from Nole that Rafa wasn’t expecting, he nets the ball: break point #2. Second serve. Forehand error from Rafa and Nole breaks for 4-2.
raindelaysplay: Ok Rafa, we know you can win points on your second serve. That doesn’t make a great game plan though
Lob winner from Rafa: 0-15. Nole into the net and beautiful backhand passing shot by Rafa: 0-30. (Nole challenges the call, but the ball hit the line dead center.) Rafa sends a backhand well out: 15-30. Nole nets a backhand: 15-40. Nole handcuffs Rafa with a forehand: 30-40. Double fault and Nole is broken. Back on serve.
The close-ups of Rafa rocking back and forth waiting to receive serve are giving me a bit of motion sickness.
bgtennisnation: Not for nothing, As a tennis fan, really enjoying these two do battle- we’re looking at 2 awesome athletes!
olerafa: Orange you glad Nadal never gives up? Some truly incredible winners! Recovers the break: 3-4! #BNPParibasOpen
Rafa’s shot is out: 0-15. Rafa’s forehand is long: 0-30. Crazy point – lobs, volleys, etc. Ends with a smash winner from Nole: 0-40. Second serve. Nole’s serve return is well out: 15-40. Second serve. Deep backhand from Rafa draws an error: 30-40. Second serve. Rafa nets a ball and is broken - poor game from him. Nole can serve out the set next. 5-3.
MindTheRacket: Rafa has served at 25% this set and had a string where he missed 11 straight. Yikes.
Nole’s shot is out: 0-15. Two errors from Rafa: 30-15. Nole paints the baseline with a forehand winner: 40-15. Beautiful angled backhand gives Rafa control of the point: 40-30. Second serve. Double fault: deuce. Game/set point. Deep forehand from Rafa draws and error: deuce. Second serve. Nole’s backhand is out: break point. Defensive return from Rafa and Nole into the net and paints a line with a winner: deuce. Short slices from Rafa and Nole is all over them: game/set point. Nole’s backhand is long: deuce. Second serve and Rafa nets the return: game/set point. Nole pounces on a short ball, but sends his backhand into the net: deuce. Serve out wide, volley into open court and Rafa almost gets the ball back, but not quite: game/set point #6. Rafa’s crosscourt backhand is out and the second set belongs to Nole.
25% first serves in. 6 winners; 11 UFEs - sloppier second set.
DavidLawTennis: If there’s ever been 2 more explosive, agile, athletes in tennis than #Rafa #Nadal and Novak #Djokovic, I’d like to see them. Extraordinary.
JamesLaRosa: Rafael Nadal + Novak Djokovic = tennis porn.
Forehand down the line winner from Nole: 0-15. 15-15. Rafa nets an overhead? Oh geez. 15-30. Rafa’s forehand is long: 15-40. Rafa’s visibly frustrated. Very frustrated. Error prone game and Nole breaks to start set 3.
Rafa’s forehand is wide: 15-0. Forehand down the line winner from Nole: 30-0. Rafa’s second serve return is long: 40-0. Nole holds at love for a 2-0 lead in the third.
Rafa’s forehand is long: 0-15. Rafa takes control of the point with a forehand and finishes it out: 15-15. Nole’s backhand is long: 30-15. Rafa miss hits a backhand: 30-30. Work your way back Rafa, one stroke, one point, one game at a time. Rafa’s forehand sent well out: 30-40. Rafa’s looking most pissy and lost. More errors and Rafa is broken again. Nothing is going right for him now. 0-3
Ataraxis00: Missing for no reason at all right now.
Um. Rafa was playing better when he was injured at the AO than he is now.
Rafa sends the return of serve into the net: 15-0. Nole pulls Rafa in with a drop shot and he volleys a winner: 15-15. Trying to pump himself up. Lollipop second serve and Rafa lollipops it back well out: 30-15. Long point, but Nole’s in control: 40-15. Ace and Nole holds for 4-0.
Ataraxis00: This is ugly to watch. I’m all for well fought matches, but one just goes off the rails it’s painful.
Second serve return winner from Nole: 0-15. Nole’s shot is long: 15-15. Drop shot from Nole, Rafa storms the net and…sends the ball into it: 15-30. Nole’s shot is long: 30-30. Ace? Service winner? Not sure. I was being attacked by a cat: 40-30. Rafa holds to get on the scoreboard in the 3rd. 1-4.
Forehand winner from Nole: 15-0. Fan calling out in the middle of Nole’s toss. So.Wrong. Another forehand winner from Nole: 30-0. Again: 40-0. With an ace, Nole holds at love for 5-1.
Nole’s shot is out: 15-0. Ace: 30-0. Rafa’s forehand down the line is out: 30-15. Nole nets a ball: 40-15. Nole’s shot is out and Rafa holds for 2-5.
Rafa’s second serve return is well out: 15-0. 40-0. Nole wins: 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
Bee and Inés send in this translation of the post-match interview (please, do not post elsewhere without their permission):
Rafa Nadal, good afternoon/evening in Spain, good afternoon in California
Hello what’s up. good Night
Rafa, Congratulations! You’re in your third final in IW, in odd years and Tomas Carbonell was saying that this may have been your most complete match
Yes, without doubt, for me it was a very, very important win, I think I started quite nervous at the beginning of the match, making many errors, in fact I hadn’t felt the ball very well all week and because of that I started the match a bit more nervous than usual, after a while I started getting my forehand in order, trying to open the court to his backhand, to see if I could hit a bit short, because from the baseline he feels very comfortable, and I tried to open sometimes short, to go to the other side, if I could get to the net and finish at the other side, and I think after these first three games I felt quite comfortable and it has undoubtedly been my most complete match this year in IW and a victory for me, truly very, very important
Yes I think that he has defined it perfectly, I think one of the keys may be that after that the 3-0 start, when you got to 3-1, you began to lift the ball much more on the backhand of Del Potro and there the opportunities started.
Yes I think that… hello Tomas by the way… I think after those first three games, mainly what I did was to organise myself. At first, I tried changing it to his forehand, but I was not feeling the ball very well and I had the memories of some matches against him and to his backhands, he was always taking me inside, but when I played against him two years ago I think I played much further back and he had the opportunity to get forward and today I think I could play my forehand against his backhand because I did not lose much court and then I had the opportunity to switch to his forehand. I think it was organising myself, not making mistakes and making him play all the balls and making him hit winning shots. Obviously he is one of the best players in the world, but also a year without competition, although he is playing at a high level again, then I guess a match like today could affect him a bit and luckily I think I played fairly complete.
Tomorrow is your 57th final, I imagine that you don’t mind whether you play against Nole or Roger, and you want to win another title because your last one was in Tokyo and you are wanting to win.
Well, for me the simple fact of being in a hardcourt final, after having a bit of a difficult start to the year is fantastic news, no? And the truth is I am very, very happy and now, therefore, the rival whoever it is, I welcome! Djokovic has not lost yet this year, I don’t know if he is going to do so today, obviously he plays against one of the people who can beat him, and then Federer we already know, has also begun the year very well what happened was that in Australia he met a inspired Djokovic.
Well Rafa, for tomorrow we hope to talk again, good luck and (hope) that you win
[caption id=”attachment_23825” align=”alignright” width=”150” caption=”Photo by REUTERS/Mike Blake”]
In the first, early, semi-final today, Rafa played # 90 Juan Martin Del Potro. Rafa lead their head to head 4-3, but Del Potro had won their last 3 meetings. Would three losses in a row to DelPo play with Rafa’s head?
Rafa had his chances in the first game, but thanks to errors, Del Potro held. More errors helped give DelPo a break in the next game. Clamping down a bit on his errors, Rafa broke back in the 7th game. He went on to break in the 9th game and served it out.
Both players were playing pretty clean tennis in set two, but it felt a bit like Delpo was slowly fading while Rafa was holding steady. Rafa broke in the fifth game and that’s all he needed. He’s through to the final 6-4, 6-4.
As it happened blatherings:
Rafa being interviewed in the tunnel - doesn’t play a lot of 11am matches, but good to play any time; good court; good atmosphere; didn’t play best tennis against DelPo last few times and hasn’t played his best in the tournament so far; has to play his best today.
Rafa’s hair firmly clamped down by his headband. This is no free-flowing blender styled doubles hair. This is serious singles hair.
House painter just dropped by for his money. Bad timing dude. Just blew your tip ;)
I admit to being nervous. Rafa hasn’t been playing his best and I fear my Del Potro-tournament-attending curse will continue. If DelPo wins this, I’ll be spending my time site-seeing in Monte-Carlo.
Rafa won the toss and will receive. Mo in the chair.
Shriver saying Rafa’s serves not landing in during the warm-up.
Rafa nets a forehand serve return: 15-0. Rafa runs Del Po, but Delpo takes control with a deep shot and Rafa nets a forehand: 30-0. Rafa pulls Delpo wide until he gets an error: 30-15. Short serve return from Rafa and Delpo smacks it, but his shot is out: 30-30. Again, Rafa runs Delpo and this time, it’s Delpo that makes an error – hitting a forehand long: 30-40. Rafa picks on Delpo’s forehand, but then nets his own backhand: deuce. Ace: game point. Ace and Delpo holds: 1-0.
DavidLawTennis: Juan Martin Del Potro actually looks more imposing without his sleeveless shirt. Nadal less so. Rather a difference in the ‘guns’.
Rafa starts his match with a double fault. Rafa paints lines on both sides of the court and ends with a forehand winner: 15-15. Rafa miss hits a forehand: 15-30. Ace: 30-30. Rafa nets a backhand: 30-40. Rafa’s shot is out and DelPo breaks.
NeilHarmanTimes: Nadal’s a little sluggish at the start of this semi. Del Potro by far the steadier. 2-0
Rafa nets a ball: 15-0. DelPo’s ball clips the net and drops back on his side: 15-15. Rafa’s forehand lands in the middle of the doubles alley: 30-15. Fierce forehand from DelPo and Rafa again returns it to the doubles alley: 40-15. 9 UFEs from Rafa so far. DelPo holds for 3-0. Can someone wake up Rafa, please?
Ataraxis00: And another miss on the forehand. Seriously. Take a breath … relax. Stop pressing.
Delpo hitting deep and hard to Rafa’s forehand and draws an error: 0-15. Delpo nets a backhand, Rafa tries to pump himself up with a Vamos! Delpo nets a serve return (it took about 4 attempts for Rafa to get one in without touching the net): 30-15. Beautiful angled forehand from Rafa: 40-15. Rafa hits wide to the left and then wide and fast to the right – winner: 1-3.
Delpo eating up Rafa’s high bouncing ball: 15-0. Forehand out wide to Delpo’s backhand two shots in a row, volley into the open mid-court: 15-15. Rafa miss-hits a backhand: 30-15. Bad drop shot attempt from Rafa: 40-15. Double fault: 40-30. Net cord shows DelPo some love and he holds for 4-1.
bgtennisnation: Still get the feeling, RN will get his espresso wake up call-the java will kick in-gotta go more offense- stretch big fella round the court.
Ataraxis00: Rafa needs a leg kick fist pump kind of play to get him going. A little fistpumplebration action.
Delpo’s shot is out: 15-0. Delpo nets a ball: 30-0. Double fault: 30-15. Ace: 40-15. Nice backhand down the line that Delpo can’t quite handle and Rafa holds for 2-4.
Net cord drops Delpo’s ball short and Rafa pounces. Delpo challenges the call, but it stands: 0-15. High defensive return and Delpo smacks it right back and Rafa and handcuffs him: 15-15. Nice forehand winner from Rafa: 15-30. TennisTV.com must have really liked Rafa’s last serve hold. They keep playing it on an endless loop. Nice serve: 30-30. Delpo shanks a forehand: 30-40. Rafa breaks! On serve 3-4.
Sun bugging Rafa o his serve at the far end. Delpo goes for an angled backhand and nets it: 15-0. Delpo pops up a defensive return, Rafa runs in and knocks a high backhand volley winner: 30-0. Delpo paints a line: 30-15. Service winner: 40-15. Delpo’s forehand is out and Rafa holds for 4-4.
bgtennisnation: Rafa’s got his sweat on, all lathered up and looking dialed in, I’m ready for a tight match.
Short, angled ball from DelPo, Rafa runs it down and gives us a banana shot down-the-line winner: 15-15. Rafa dances his way to a beautiful forehand, Delpo can’t get it back: 15-30. Did Delpo play an out ball? Lost control of the point and then hits a forehand wide: 15-40. Delpo nets a forehand and Rafa breaks for 5-4. Can serve out the first set next game.
Quick momentum and confidence changes in tennis will never fail to amaze me.
Short balls from Rafa and Delpo stomps all over them: 0-15. Nice return off a short second serve and Rafa can’t do anything with it: 0-30. Delpo sends a forehand out: 15-30. Body serve, floaty reply, Rafa storms the net and hits a winner: 30-30. Another floaty ball from Delpo and it’s the same result: 40-30. Ace! First set to Rafa: 6-4
56 minutes; 52% first serves in; 79% won on 1st; 54% won on 2nd; 11 winners; 14 UFEs; 6/6 at net. 9 of those UFEs in the first 3 game. So he’s really clamped down.
Roig saying that Rafa had too many errors and playing too far from baseline at the start. Now Rafa’s putting more pressure on DelPo. Says ball toss improved and is helping the serve.
Fierce forehand winner from DelPo. Rafa’s ball is long: 30-0. Second serve return winner: 30-15. Beauty of a forehand from DelPo: 40-15. Rafa nets a backhand and DelPo holds to start set 2.
Delpo works a point well, but his last backhand is just out: 15-0. Ace: 30-0. Weak second serve and Delpo tees off on a backhand winner: 30-15. Service winner: 40-15. Delpo tees off on a first serve and fires off a backhand winner: 40-30. Rafa holds for 1-1.
Slice return from Rafa into Delpo’s body that he can’t handle: 15-15. Nice serve, defensive reply and then a beauty of a winner: 30-15. People being assholes and calling out during DelPo’s toss. They need to be tossed. Double fault: 30-30. Fun point! Ends with both at the net and Rafa getting passed: 40-30. Delpo holds.
Rafa’s shot is out: 0-15. Backhand sails well long: 0-30. Fierce forehand from Rafa and he follows it into the net and pops off a winner: 15-30. Short ball from Rafa and Delpo pounces on it: 15-40. Service winner: 30-40. Rafa constructs a beautiful point pulling Delpo wide and then hits into the empty court: deuce. Again, pulls Delpo out wide and then a forehand down the line winner: game point. Bad drop shot attempt from Delpo lands in the net and Rafa holds for 2-2.
Breaking news on TV…watching choppy tennistv.com stream.
NeilHarmanTimes: This is bubbling up very nicely; Rafa staying in points incredibly, Delpo going for broke on the forehand 2-2 2nd set
Amazing defense-to-offense by Rafa: 0-15. Fierce forehand winner from Delpo: 15-15. Service winner: 30-15. Delpo hitting through: 40-15. Delpo’s shot is long: 40-30. Beautiful passing winner from Rafa: deuce. Delpo hits deep into the corner and Rafa can’t handle the shot: game point. Rafa pushes Delpo until he gets an error: deuce. Slow footwork to ball and Delpo’s forehand is well wide: break point. Awesome passing shot and Rafa breaks!
Long rally that Delpo ends with a drop shot winner: 0-15. Wide serve, into the net, winner: 15-15. Rafa on the defense the whole point: 15-30. Aggressive Rafa! 30-30. Body serve: 40-30. Rafa holds for 4-2.
TennisConnected: Nadal playing a smart, gritty match. He’s two games away from the finals.
Delpo sends a ball long: 40-15. (I was off looking for ESPN Classic on my channel listing since the match will move there for news breaks.) Delpo nets a forehand: 40-30. Delpo holds for 3-4.
Delpo nets a serve return: 15-0. Deep backhand paints a line and he follows it with a winner: 30-0. Delpo’s serve return sails long: 40-0. Again and Rafa holds at love for 5-3.
Delpo’s forehand is long: 0-15. Service winner: 15-15. Rafa’s shot is long: 40-30. Delpo holds.
Over to ESPN classic. Non-HD looks so sad when you got used to HD. But am glad they are showing it.
NeilHarmanTimes: Rafa ran headlong into a rather broad ballboy as he ran out to serve for match. Ahem
Errors from Delpo: 30-0. Short ball from Rafa, he storms the net and hits a winner: 40-0. Rafa wins, 6-4, 6-4.
[caption id=”attachment_23819” align=”alignright” width=”150” caption=”Photo by REUTERS/Mike Blake”]
Rafa’s presser is up on the tournament site. (It was up on ASAP Sports earlier, but then all of yesterday’s transcripts were pulled for some reason.)
Q. Your reaction at the end suggested it was a very important victory for you tonight in all the circumstances.
RAFAEL NADAL: A lot of tension, because when you play this match against him, I said yesterday, no, the match can be decided for two points, one point.
So, you know, the first set, my feeling was I was playing a little bit better than him the first set. But seriously, we arrive at the 5 4 and he played an unbelievable game.
So, you know, you lose a set against Karlovic, and, you know, you are under pressure the rest of the games of the match.
So I think I played a fantastic second set returning better than ever, I think.
In the third, I didn’t have chances. His serve was unstoppable. You know, in the tiebreak I was really nervous. I think I returned fantastic in the tiebreak, but I didn’t put no one first serve on court, so I was really nervous.
For sure, it is a very important victory for me, you know, being in semifinals another time here after one month outside the competition is fantastic new for me.
Is a good result in hard court, and, you know, you never know what’s going on right now on the tournament. But for me, be in semifinals, I’m very happy for that.
No first serves in, but oddly enough, he was winning a higher percentage of points on his second serve than his first. I think that saved him a bit.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about your service game? That third set you only gave up two points on your serve going into the tiebreaker, and only three points on your serve in the tiebreak, so only five in the third set. Can you talk about how well you served?
RAFAEL NADAL: My opinion I didn’t serve that well. In the tiebreak, my serve was terrible, that’s for sure. But before that, I was serving with high percentage, I think. I don’t know my percentage, but that’s what I had to do. Because in my opinion, I can’t give him opportunities with the second serve to try because he was playing very aggressive with the forehand, with every second serve.
So my feeling was I had to put first serves inside and try to have the control of the point with my forehand. I think I did well, because he didn’t have not one opportunity in all the third set, so that’s always very positive.
But at the same time, I didn’t have a lot at the return, too.
No. I was asceeeered Ivo was going to take out my two favorite good returning Spaniards for awhile.
Q. Let’s talk about reading his serve because of the height, the toss.
RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. It’s like a penalty every time, I said yesterday. You have 50% to know where the serve gonna be.
And after that, if you are right with the place, with the direction of the serve, if he serve very close to the line, you don’t gonna have chances anyway, too.
I think have two breaks in the second set and big opportunity for the third was unbelievable for me. And in the third, I think I did well on the return, but…
You know, I was there sometimes, but the ball is still very far. So no chances.
I can’t imagine how frustrating it is to watch that ball go whizzing by and there’s nothing you can do about it…over and over again.
Q. Do you think it’s possible now that you’re in the semifinals, perhaps you can relax a little? I mean, as you say, coming back after so long, every match is very important for you. You’re a little nervous. Perhaps now you played this number of matches, you can be a little bit more calm in the semifinals?
RAFAEL NADAL: I have to be; if not, I gonna have not one chance. I am sure I can be more relaxed, because I passed very important matches for me. Because losing second round, third round, gonna be tough.
The match of today, you know, was the first one that I felt really that even if I play well, I can lose. That’s always hard, go on court with this feeling. And the rest of the matches, my feeling was if I play good, normal, I gonna have big chances to pass, no?
But today was completely different situation. And, yes, I am a little bit more relaxed because I know I did a good tournament anyway.
Relax…but not too much, Rafa.
Q. You did talk about how returning his serve involves a lot of luck. When you look back on the second set, do you chalk that up to just getting lucky and guessing right, or were you actually feeling it a little better?
RAFAEL NADAL: I was inspiration? Full inspiration that moment, no? Because I was lucky to do the first break in the second game of the second set, and after that was big confidence for me, no? Because I know gonna be difficult for him to break me anyway in the second.
So I felt I was in a good position to win the second set, and I was able to play more aggressive in the rest of the returning games. If I had mistakes on the return in that second set, doesn’t matter for me, because I had advantage of one break, and I felt that was enough.
So I played aggressive, and all the returns was going inside. I don’t know why.
Yes, Rafa. You are inspiration.
Q. What about playing Juan Martin in the next round? He’s won the last three times that you have played. Your head to head is very close. What are your thoughts on playing him?
RAFAEL NADAL: He’s one of the best of the world, for sure. He’s coming back after one year outside of competition almost.
So when you are in a difficult situations like he was last year and you come back and you start to win, you are stronger than before because your motivation and you want to you know, you want to recover the time that you lost for one year.
So, you know, I know how is this feeling, but the more difficult of the match is not this. The more difficult is I play against top 5 in the world for sure. And on this surface, I am sure it is like this.
So we will see. I know I have to play better than what I did every day, but for me was a big improve today from yesterday, so that’s a positive thing. I have to keep improving much more to have chances on the semifinals. I gonna work tomorrow on the doubles to practice, and I hopeful with this confidence and everything I gonna be able to play a fantastic match, because that’s all the way.
It was a big improve, Rafa. Now, get some first serves in!
[caption id=”attachment_23822” align=”alignright” width=”150” caption=”Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images”]
Tonight in IW, it was Rafa vs. Roger…oh, and Marc! and Stan too. Doubles deemed so important, they actually showed it on TV. Too bad that only happens when high profile singles players are involved. Rafa and Marc! might have been all smiles and laughs, but they sucked at getting first serves in tonight – Rafa even double faulted away a game that gave the first set to Federer and Wawrinka. Team Cuteness seemed pretty flat in the second set and Fed/Stan took advantage. So, for the first time, Fed bests Rafa in a doubles match. Bye, Team Cuteness: 5-7, 3-6.
As it happened blatherings:
Doubles! On my TV! Seriously! Rafa very bouncy and smiley.
Strong hold for Fed/Waw to get the match started.
Marc!’s shot is out: 0-15. Nice volley from Rafa – landed right in the back corner: 15-15. Fed gets serve back right on the baseline and Marc! can’t do anything with it: 15-30. Rafa cuts off the return of serve at the net and splits the middle: 30-30. Fed nets a forehand: 40-30. Baseline rally ends with Marc! hitting it right to Fed at the net; Fed smacks a winner right at Rafa: deuce/deciding point. Beautiful winner from Marc! and Team Cuteness hold.
Marc!’s return is out: 30-0. Rafa nets a return: 40-0. Fed nets a shot: 40-15. Stan smashes a sitter at the net while Rafa rolls around on the ground. 2-1.
@raindelaysplay: So, the Swiss plan thus far seems to be very simple. Don’t hit to Rafa. Don’t hit to Rafa. Don’t hit to Rafa!
Nice volley from Rafa at the net: 15-0. Stan’s return is well out: 30-0. Stan’s forehand is out: 40-0. Marc! volleys into open court and Fed can’t run it down: 2-2.
Rafa nets the serve return: 40-0. FediStan holds at love for 3-2.
Rafa and Marc! laughing and smiling during the changeover.
Rafa handcuff’s Stan: 15-0. The netcord shows Marc! some love (it knows adorbs when it sees it): 30-0. Rafa cuts of Fed’s serve return and smacks a winner at the net: 40-0. Marc! nets a shot: 40-15. Marc! nets a forehand: 40-30. Marc! sends a forehand long: deuce/deciding point. Rafa cuts off Fed’s return at the net and smacks a winner. 3-3.
Beauty of a return from Rafa that Fed can’t get his racket on: 0-15. Marc! nets a return: 15-15. Marc! stabs at a volley and Stan’s reply is long: 15-30. Marc!’s return is out: 30-30. Rafa goes for an angled return and it stops into the net: 40-30. Rafa’s ball bounces high off the net and bounced on the baseline: deuce. Nice return from Rafa, but Stan hits a lovely angle that no one can track down. 4-3.
Stan’s return of serve is out: 30-0. Nice little flick lob from Marc! that Fed can’t get back: 40-0. Stan’s return is well, well out: 4-4.
Nice angled shot from Rafa – real beauty: 15-0. Rafa/Marc! on the defensive and Rafa’s shot is out: 15-15. Nice down the line return from Rafa, but Fed cuts it off and hits a winner down the middle: 30-15. Stan serves out wide and Fed smacks Marc!’s defensive reply for a winner.40-15. FediStan hold for 5-4.
Marc! serving…hold little fella! Fed’s return is out wide: 15-0. Stan goes for too much and nets a shot: 30-0. Rafa at net, Stan’s shot pops off the net cord and right at Rafa, lands just inside the baseline: 30-15. Stan’s return is errant: 40-15. Marc!’s forehand is just out: 40-30. Fed shanks a ball: 5-5.
Ace for Fed: 15-0. Beautiful angled volley from Stan: 30-0. Fed’s shot is long: 30-15. Nice volley from Fed and Rafa’s return is well wide: 40-15. Nice volley at net from Stan and they hold: 6-5.
Nice little flick volley from Marc!: 15-0. Rafa and Stan trade rallies until Rafa’s shot is out: 15-15. Fed fires a winner off of Rafa’s serve: 15-30. Stan’s return is long: 30-30. Double fault from Rafa: 30-40/break, set point. Second serve. Stan returns to Marc! who knocks off a nice volley down the middle: deuce. Second serve – let. Two double faults in the game and Rafa’s broken. Giving FedWaw the first set.
Under pressure, #700something holds serve. #1? Not so much. 49% first serve percentage for Team Cuteness. That ain’t cute.
Now Fed and Stan are all smiles.
Service winner: 30-0. Beautiful angled volley from Fed puts them in control of the point and he smashes home a winner: 40-0. Marc!’s return somehow drops in: 40-15. Nice low volley from Rafa, but Marc!’s next shot is just out: 1-0.
Nice move by Rafa at the net ends a rally between Marc! and Fed: 15-0. Fed’s shot is long: 30-0. Fed’s return is well out: 40-0. Marc!’s shot is just out: 40-15. Rafa tries to cut of Fed’s return, but can’t handle the shot: 40-30. Stan’s shot is long and Rafa/Marc! hold for 1-1.
Defensive shot from Rafa and Stan smacks it home: 15-0. Marc! nets a forehand: 30-0. Beauty of a backhand return screams past Fed as he attempts to come in: 30-15. Short volley from Fed, Rafa tracks it down but pops up a defensive shot that Fed smacks home: 40-15. With an ace, FedWaw hold for 2-1.
Rafa’s forehand is out: 0-15. Nice reflex volley that Stan can’t get to in time: 15-15. Lovely cross-court winner from Rafa: 30-15. Stan pops up a high ball and Marc! smacks a winner: 40-15. Marc! lunges, but his volley goes into the net: 40-30. Stan’s shot is long and Team Cuteness holds: 2-2.
Rafa scoops up a shot and shovels it well out: 15-0. Nice stabbing volley from Fed: 30-0. Marc! runs down a short ball, flicks it over and then handles the high ball from Stan: 30-15. Rafa nets a serve return: 40-15. Double fault: 40-30. Marc!’s return of serve is well out and Fed/Waw hold for 3-2.
Rafa/Marc!’s first serve percentage is still sucktastic.
Marc! nets a ball: 0-15. Another shot out: 0-30. Rafa moves and cuts of Fed’s floater return: 15-30. Stan’s down the line return is just out: 30-30. Rafa tries to cut off the ball at the net, but can’t quite do it: 30-40. Rafa again nets a ball and Marc! is broken for the first time in the match. Fed/Stan go up 4-2.
Rafa nets another ball: 15-0. Fed smash: 30-0. Stan smacks Rafa’s return of serve: 40-0. Double fault: 40-15. Net cord helps out FedWaw and they hold for 5-2.
Fed nets a backhand return of serve: 15-0. Marc! can’t track down and do anything with an angled volley: 15-15. Stan splits the middle: 15-30. Stan’s return of serve is just out: 30-30. Nice shank volley winner from Marc! 40-30. Team Cuteness hold to force StanWaw to serve for the match.
Rafa can’t do anything with Stan’s serve: 15-0. Marc! hits a high volley, Fed smacks it, Marc! hit’s a nice little lob that Fed can’t get down: 15-15. Rafa nets a return of serve. Ace: 40-15. FedWaw win.
Durisimo el partido! Duro de verdad. Estoy muy contento, en serio. Y muchas gracias a la gente del restaurante del torneo que me regalaron estos cookies!!! Buenisimos!!!
VEry tought match, really, really tough. I am very happy, seriously. And a big thanks to the restaurant people from the tournament who gave me these cookies. Very good… ones!!!
[caption id=”attachment_23777” align=”alignright” width=”150” caption=”Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images”]
Rafa took on the super tall, big serving Ivo Karlovic under the lights at Indian Wells tonight. Karlovic, currently ranked #239, has been trying to work is way back on to the tour after an achilles heel injury that kept him out for quite awhile. Things were going only smoothly on serve until the 11th game when Rafa was serving at 5-5. Ivo stepped things up and Rafa got tentative. He completely forgot Ivo’s the one that should be doing the running, not him. Break to Ivo and he went on to serve it out.
Rafa came out firing in the second set. Aggressive Rafa was back and he held impressively and then broke Ivo. He never looked back – playing an amazing set where he was totally in the zone and could do no wrong. He won it in just 34 minutes while only losing one point on serve.
Rafa came back to earth in the third set as both players were holding serve with ease. They went to a tiebreak that was awesome, intense and scared the crap out of me. Rafa wins, but by the skin of his teeth. 5-7, 6-1, 7-6(7)
As it happened blatherings:
Rafa bouncing around in the tunnel while Ivo stands still. After a bit, Ivo starts bouncing too – almost like he felt obliged.
Heh, Rafa finally makes it out to the net just after Ivo had returned to his chair.
Promised myself I’d finish this css layout before the match (it’s for work)…almost there…just…a bit to go… Not gonna happen. *sigh*
Errant shot from Rafa: 15-15. Rafa into the net and a backhand down the line winner: 30-15. Ivo nets a backhand: 40-15. Forehand down the line winner from Ivo: 40-30. Forehand down the line winner and Rafa holds to start the match.
Rafa’s serve return floats long: 15-0. Ace: 30-0. Into the net and Ivo pushes his volley attempt out: 30-15. Nice forehand winner from Ivo: 40-15. Rafa nets a serve return and Ivo holds for 1-1.
Rafa into the net and Ivo can’t get his passing attempt back over it: 15-0. Rafa hits a forehand winner behind Ivo: 30-0. Ivo tries to run around a second serve to hit a forehand, but nets it: 40-0. Rafa runs Ivo well and finishes with a nice forehand to hold at love. 2-1.
Rafa muffs a serve return: 15-0. Double fault: 15-15. Service winner: 30-15. Ace: 40-15. Ivo nets and easy looking backhand: 40-30. Rafa works the point from mid-court until he fires off a forehand winner: deuce. Rafa sends a return over to a ball kid: game point. Ivo into the net and finishes it off with a winning volley: 2-2.
Ivo’s shot is well long: 15-0. Weird point – ends on a call that no one is sure about. The chair over-rules and Ivo challenges. The ball was good and they will replay the point. Fierce forehand winner from Ivo: 15-15. Ivo’s return of serve is long: 30-15. Rafa’s not happy where the linesman is standing to call the serve line and tells him to move. Isn’t that Roddick’s job? Rafa holds for 3-2.
Rafa sends a serve return up into the cheap seats: 15-0. Ace: 30-0. Ace: 40-0. Ace. 3-3.
Ivo tries to run around and hit a forehand on a second serve return, but his shot goes wide: 30-0. Ivo charges the net and Rafa passes with ease: 40-0. Rafa holds for 4-3.
Rafa muffs a return and is pissed at himself: 15-0. Rafa’s forehand is well long: 30-0. Ivo holds when chair overrules out call on serve: 4-4.
Ivo’s shot is long: 15-0. Again: 30-0. Ivo nets a backhand: 40-0. Double fault: 40-15. Rafa’s forehand is long: 40-30. Ivo’s shot is long and Rafa holds for 5-4.
Rafa up and ready to play before time is called. Service winner: 15-0. Serve out wide, volley into the open court: 30-0. Ivo tries to move Rafa and then comes into the net, but is passed: 30-15. Ivo into the net again and can’t handle the ball Rafa puts at his feet: 30-30. Ivo into the net again, but Rafa’s down the line passing shot attempt is well wide: 40-30. With an Ace, Ivo holds for 5-5.
Ivo runs Rafa until he draws an error: 0-15. Ivo hits a forehand return of serve winner – that had smoke on it: 0-30. Another smoking forehand off a short ball from Rafa: 0-40. Ivo breaks to go up 6-5.
Tentative play from Rafa…too many short balls.
Dropper from Ivo that Rafa can’t run down: 15-0. Double fault: 15-15. Rafa trying to pump himself up. Ace: 30-15. Rafa’s shot is called long, chair overrules: 30-30. Took two, but second overhead smash is a winner: 40-30. Ivo into the net and Rafa passes with a beautiful backhand and a loud VAMOS: deuce. Weird looking point – I think everyone thought Rafa’s shot was out, but then Ivo’s follow up was out: break point. Ace: deuce. Ivo into the net and hits a short angled shot, Rafa runs and pops up a reply, Ivo smacks a winner: set point. First set to Ivo Karlovic: 7-5.
Winners from Rafa: 30-0. Ivo sends a return long: 40-0. Rafa holds at love.
Double fault: 0-15. Ace: 15-15. 15-30. Ivo into the net, but his volley pops wide: 15-40. Floaty service return from Rafa that Ivo smacks the hell out of: 30-40. Ace: deuce. Ace, but Rafa challenges and he’s right…by a millimeter. Finally, Rafa moves Ivo and wins the point: break point. Rafa muffs a second serve return: deuce. A battle at the net and Rafa pops up a lob, Ivo tracks it down, but can’t do anything with it. I think Ivo thought the ball Rafa hit was not-up and hesitated. Break point. Ivo’s shot is out and Rafa breaks! He’s up 2-0.
Ivo’s shot is long: 30-0. Rafa’s crosscourt forehand is out: 30-15. Rafa holds for a 3-0 lead.
Marriage proposal in the stands. *yawn*
Ivo nets a ball: 0-15. Rafa runs down a short angle and hits a fierce forehand winner that paints the baseline: 0-30. Ivo into the net and Rafa passes: 0-40. Forehand return winner from Rafa! He lets out a loud Vamos as he breaks at love.
Ivo’s serve return is long: 15-0. Bizarre misshit return from Ivo, Rafa tracks it down and hits a winner: 30-0. Ivo’s forehand is well out: 40-0. With an ace, Rafa holds at love for 5-0.
Did they just say Ivo’s only won 4 points on serve this set?
Long rally ends with an error from Rafa: 15-0. Rafa drills someone in the photographer pi t – heh, it’s Ella Ling! Winner from Rafa: 15-15. 30-15. Forehand return of serve winner from Rafa: 30-30. Ivo at the net and sends a shot wide: 30-40. Rafa nets a return of serve: deuce. Ace: game point. Rafa pops his racket out in the way of a serve and it floats over landing in the back corner…winner: deuce. Ivo nets a floater: game point. Ivo into the net and smacks a high floater for a winner. Ace: game point. Ivo holds to avoid the bagel.
Rafa runs down an short angled ball and, from well out of court, manages to flick a winner cross court: 15-0. Ivo’s shot is long: 30-0. Ace: 40-0.
34 minutes; 11 winners; 3 UFEs; 5/5 at net; 1 point lost on serve.
@julesdc: Set number two at Indian Wells. In which Rafa Nadal says Hell no.
Fluffy return of serve from Rafa, Ivo into the net, Rafa can’t do anything with reply: 30-15. Ivo nets a forehand: 30-30. Nice point from Ivo – he moved Rafa well and fires off a fierce winner: 40-30. With an ace, Ivo holds to start the 3rd set.
Ivo pulls Rafa into the net and then passes him: 0-15. Ivo’s shot is long: 15-15. Rafa moves Ivo left/right and Ivo nets a slice backhand: 30-15. Ivo’s return of serve is well out: 40-15. Nice hold for Rafa. It’s 1-1 in the 3rd.
Service winner: 15-0. Nice little volley from Ivo, Rafa runs it down but can’t do anything with it: 30-0. Rafa’s serve return is long: 40-0. Ivo holds at love.
Double fault: 0-15. Ivo’s ball was called out, chair overruled and the call was good: 15-15. Short serve return from Ivo and Rafa follows it in and takes care of business: 30-15. Rafa almost falls trying to hit a deep shot from Ivo, but he hits a winner. Of course. Strong hold from Rafa for 2-2.
Ivo’s shot is long: 0-15. Rafa’s return is long: 40-15. Ace and hold.
Rafa smashes a winner: 15-0. Ace: 30-0. Ivo nets a slice backhand: 40-0. With and ace, Rafa holds for 3-3.
Rafa misshits a serve return: 15-0. He sails one way long: 30-0. Ace: 40-0. Double fault: 40-15. Service winner and Ivo holds.
Rafa holds for 4-4.
Serve and beautiful volley from Ivo: 15-0. Rafa pops up a defensive reply, Ivo into the net and pushes it long: 15-15. Ace: 30-15. Rafa sends a serve return well long: 40-15. Ivo’s serve was called out, chair overrules. Ace and Ivo holds. Rafa will serve to stay in the match.
Service winner: 15-0. Ivo’s return is long: 30-0. Ivo runs Rafa, starts to approach the net, but nets his shot: 40-0. Ace and Rafa holds for 5-5.
Ivo pulls Rafa deep/wide and comes into the net and hits a volley into the open court: 15-0. Ivo pushes a backhand wide: 15-15. Ivo into the net, Rafa passes, full body VAMOS! Rafa’s serve return is out: 30-30. Ace: 40-30. Ivo holds for 6-5. Once again, Rafa must hold to stay in the match.
Ivo pushes a forehand long: 15-0. Ivo into the net and Rafa passes: 30-0. Ace and a vamos! Rafa holds at love. Tie break for the match.
Rafa very bouncy waiting for Ivo to serve and star the tiebreak.
Ivo into the net and Rafa hits an incredibly fucking fierce passing shot winner: 1-0. Ivo tries to tee-off on a second serve return and hits it well out: 2-0. Rafa runs way around a backhand and is so far out of court he can’t do much with the next shot and Ivo makes him pay: 2-1. Rafa lines up a passing shot, but it ticks the net and bounces back on Rafa’s side: 2-2. Ivo nets a volley attempt: 3-2. Ivo nets a second serve return: 4-2. Oh man, I though he looked out of that shot – Ivo miss hit the return and Rafa had to track down a weird floaty ball…and then deal with Ivo’s pass…and he did: 5-2. Ace for Ivo: 5-3. Ivo itno the net and Rafa hits the passing shot well out: 5-4. Excellent second serve return from Ivo puts Rafa on the defensive. He tracks down more than most would, but loses the point: 5-5. Second serve. Ivo nets a ball. Match point on Ivo’s serve. Ivo into the net and knocks off a winning volley: 6-6. Passing shot winner! 7-6. Rafa finally gets a first serve in, but floats a lob long: 7-7. Forehand winner: 8-7. Ivo’s shot goes out and Rafa wins!!