Rafa took on 4th ranked Andy Murray today and it wasn’t pretty. He lost 3-6 6-4 0-6 and I’m not sure how he managed to win that second set. Actually, Murray wasn’t playing that well either, so that helped negate the knee problem. By the third set, however, Rafa’s movement was seriously impaired.
I had a feeling we were in for a tough match when Rafa was grumpy with a ball-kid during the first set – you usually don’t see that from him. Then I remembered him taking a pill on his way to the post-first set bathroom break yesterday. Could something be bothering him physically? Turns out it was and we were in for a very low-energy and frustrating match.
Some stats for Rafa:
Double Faults: 3
1st Serve %: 50%
Win % on 1st serve: 55% (18/33)
Win % on 2nd serve: 33% (11/33)
Break Point Conversions: 57% (4/7)
Break Points Saved: 42% (5/12)
Total Points Won: 42% (59/140)
“As it happened” updates after the break.
Murray started off with a decent hold by getting a slight gift of a forehand into the net by Rafa. Rafa holds despite getting only 2 of 6 serves in. In the next game, Rafa manages a break point, but sends a forehand wide to go back to deuce and Murray holds. More backhand errors don’t prevent Rafa from holding to even things up at 2-2. Murray holds easily for 2-3. In an error-filled game, Murray gets double break points on Rafa’s next serve. Rafa saves one point, but Murray capitalizes on the second one and goes up a break. Murray consolidates with an easy hold. Rafa holds to force Murray to serve out the set. Murray holds at love and takes the first set 3-6 in just 38 minutes.
Rafa starts off the second set with a hold. Murray holds easily for 1-1. In the next game, Murray saves a game point with a blistering forehand down the line, but Rafa goes on to hold. The trainer visits Rafa on the changeover and works on Rafa’s right knee – removing the existing tape and massaging his thigh and knee. It looked very similar to the injury time out Rafa took in Paris last year when his tendinitis caused to him retire. He took the court without any tape on that right knee – not sure if he ran out of time in the injury break or if it was a conscious decision. Murray works on pulling Rafa to the right in the next game and Rafa’s foot work does appear to be off, but Rafa manages to go up 40-love. Murray saves 2 break points, but Rafa eventually breaks to go up 3-1.
Murray goes up 15-40 on Rafa’s next service game and breaks back to take them back on serve. Rafa breaks back in the next game. He appears to be going for shots more and playing more aggressively. An error filled few points gives Murray triple-break point in the next game and he breaks at love. Rafa looked most miserable during the change-over and I wondered if he was going to retire. He came out roaring, however, and broke Murray to go up 5-3. Can he hold his serve to take the set? No, he can’t. Murray breaks and it’s 5-4. Rafa roars to a 40-love lead in the next game and takes the game and set. (Keep in mind that when I say “roar” it’s not the same as a usual Rafa roar. More like a mini-roar. No one seems to have any energy on this day.)
Rafa plays an error-filled first game of the third set and is broken at love. Quite a few times during the game I found myself thinking that neither player seemed to give a shit about how things were going. Both just seemed to be standing around and hoping their shots went in. Rafa can’t get a serve in to save his life. His knee problem seems to be preventing him from getting up to the serve properly. Murray goes up love-40 on Rafa’s next service game, but Rafa somehow manages to two break points before giving Murray the game with an errant forehand.
Rafa can’t seem to move at all now and Murray takes his next service game at love. I’m very torn at this point. On the one hand, I don’t see a point in going on – why not retire? On the other hand, I admire him for playing on, but at what cost? Is he doing further damage to his knee? Murray breaks and goes up 0-5. He easily takes the next and final game: game, set and match to Murray.