Rafa through to the semis

Dancing into the semis (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/ AFP/ Getty Images)

Dancing into the semis (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/ AFP/ Getty Images)

It was so hot in Melbourne today that they kept the roof closed for a night match despite Rafa’s request to open it up. (Update: Post match interviews seem to indicate that the commentators’ claim that Rafa wanted the roof to be open are false.) Closing the roof does lower the temperature to a tolerable one (down to 85 from a high of 108), but it raises the humidity by a good chunk. Our boy doesn’t mind the heat, but doesn’t seem fond of humidity. And not only were the conditions tough, so was the opponent. Sixth seeded Gilles Simon gave Rafa his toughest match of the tournament so far.

It took fifteen points, but Rafa broke Simon in the first game and went on to hold the next one at love. Simon got into the match in the third game as he held easily. Rafa broke again in game five to go up 4-1. Simon settled in a bit and broke in the sixth game to put things back on serve. That didn’t last long, however as Rafa broke back in the very next game. Rafa served the set out with a love game – finishing with an ace.

Rafa liked that first set so much, he started the second one off the same way – a long game that ended up with him breaking Simon. Simon had break points in game four and converted on the second one. Then each held two games at love to progress to 4-4. At 4-5, Simon had a break point to take the set, but Rafa held to even things up at 5-5. Rafa cranked it up a gear in the next game and broke at love. He went on to serve out the set in the next game.

Simon started off set three with a love service game, but was broken in the third game. Both held until the sixth game when Simon broke to even things up at 3-3. They played on-serve until the eleventh game when Rafa broke to go up 6-5 and gave himself an opportunity to serve the match out.

Next up for Rafa is Fernando Verdasco who beat Tsonga in four sets. Verdasco has been on fire this tournament and it’s going to take a strong effort to beat him. Rafa will have to keep his first serve percentage up. It started well tonight, but steadily dropped each set.

Stats after the break.

Some stats for Rafa:
Aces: 5
Double Faults: 2
1st Serve %: 66% (63/96)
Win % on 1st serve: 73% (46/63)
Win % on 2nd serve: 55% (18/33)
Winners: 29
Unforced Errors: 24
Receiving Points Won: 46% (45/98)
Break Point Conversions: 58% (7/12)
Total Points Won: 105
Net Approaches: 87% (13/15)