Rafa takes Spain to victory

(Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

The rubber everyone’s been waiting for: Djokovic/Nadal. Will grumpy Rafa or dominating Rafa show up? Or will it be grumpy dominating Rafa? Will Nole be able to recover from yesterday’s error-fest with the pressure of the whole tie resting on his shoulders? Neither player was on fire, but once they settled in, both were playing fairly solidly. Nole was definitely playing much better than yesterday, but Rafa on clay is a puzzle few people have managed to solve. Rafa wins 6-4 6-4 6-1.

As it happened notes:

Looks like it’s a beautiful day there today.

Nole’s smurf shoes are growing on me despite them not going with his outfit at all. Or could it be because of that?

Nole starts things off with a strong hold. After being taken to deuce, Rafa holds. Rafa goes up 40-15 on Nole’s next service game. Nole saves one break point with an ace and another with nice forehand when Rafa hits a short shot. Nole ends up holding – that will feel good for him. Rafa holds with a killer forehand down the line. First fist pump of the day! He looks decidedly less grumpy than yesterday.

Nole double faults to give Rafa his third break point of the set and he breaks. 3-2 first set. Rafa hits three forehand errors in a row to give Nole triple break point in the next service game. Rafa saves one. Rafa nets a ball on the second break point and they are back on serve.

Another double from Nole gives Rafa deuce on his next service game. Nole ends up holding when Rafa nets a ball. Rafa seems a bit unsettled. A nice cross-court forehand gives Rafa 40-love on his next service game and he holds.

Just keep doing those drop shots Nole. Just keep doing them. Triple break point for Rafa and he breaks for 5-4. What a lovely time to break. A strong hold from Rafa finishes the first set. A little more coaster and a little less roller for the rest of the match would be nice.

Nole opens set 2 with a hold. A successful drop shot from Nole – that’s a changeup. Followed by another netted one. Order is restored to the universe. Rafa holds. A lovely passing shot gives Rafa deuce on Nole’s next serve. Nole goes for another drop shot (successful this time) to earn the Ad. Rafa dictates the next point to get back to deuce. Nole ends up holding for 1-2.

Rafa shows Nole how drop shots are done. Two easy holds in a row for Rafa. Two drop shots and a perfect lob in one point from Nole! That’s a lot of work for one point. Nole holds at love. Rafa holds and it’s 3-3 second set. Rafa turns in a racket for re-string. Looks like it’s Almagro’s job to run that to the stringers. Guess he’s taking one for the team.

Double break point for Rafa. Nole saves one. And another with a blistering forehand. Nole’s drop shot demon returns. Break point #3 of the game for Rafa. Another excellent forehand from Nole and we are at deuce. Rafa splays a shot long to give Nole game point. Nole holds.

Some fans in the stands playing music on the change-over? Oh great, now that song will be stuck in my head all day. “Braaaaazil! De-dee-de-dee-de-dee-de-dooo”

Rafa holds at love. Nice. Nole double faults on break point and Rafa’s up 5-4. *ching* More money in the Nole failed drop shot fund. Woot! Rafa holds and takes the second set.

Oh look, Kalliopeia is here.

Kalliopeia: Who let Djokovic out of the locker room in those shoes?

Nole sure loves him some drop shots.

@ElToroDeRafa: @nadalnews can i buy a share in the nole drop shot fund?
@ElToroDeRafa We’d all be rich.
@ElToroDeRafa: @nadalnews and roger’s backhand fund, ana’s backhand fun, dinara’s serve fund…

Easy hold for Nole to start set 3. For some reason, Nole almost loses his shorts in the next service game.

Kalliopeia: oh god
miri: that’s pretty good when you manage to pants your opponent
Kalliopeia: looked like he did it on purpose. to be a dumbass. as is his wont.
miri: maybe he was trying to express how he was feeling
Kalliopeia: Gives a new meaning to “showing your ass”
Kalliopeia: or maybe not a “new” meaning so much as taking it way too literally. Haha

@Ataraxis00: @nadalnews Late, but your strip tease was granted!
@Ataraxis00 but by the wrong player!

Rafa manages to hold in a tight service game and then breaks Nole for 2-1. Rafa consolidates for 2-2. Double break point for Rafa. Rafa breaks: 3-1.

Kalliopeia: mmmmm…girl scout cookies
miri: bitch
Kalliopeia: hee

Rafa holds for 5-1. Was I napping? Where did two of those games come from? Rafa stomps all over another Nole drop shot and has double match point. Nole saves one. Game; set; match Rafa. Tie to Spain.

The next round will be the week after Wimbledon. Spain will take on the winner of the Germany/Austria tie.

10 Responses

  1. Babz says:

    Can’t believe you pasted twitter convo. :D

    ” Looks like it’s Almagro’s job to run that to the stringers. Guess he’s taking one for the team.”

    Love that he did – no diva attitude there.

    • miri says:

      Is okay that I pasted it? I should have asked first, but I do shit fast. Not well, but fast.

      And agree – no diva attitude on the whole Spanish team. It’s why the are such a good team unlike some others. *cough*Argentina in last year’s final*cough*

      • Babz says:

        Of course it’s okay! Twitter is for the public ;)

        I think Uncle Tony would smack any diva-ness out of Rafa, and the players respect him so much at this point they don’t wanna be smacked either – HA! Jk.

        Why do you say that about Argentina last year? I admit I haven’t followed DC cup much – it’s so frustrating cos I want them to keep playing :D

        • miri says:

          Yeah, Toni would take care of it! Although, that wasn’t a diva move to insist on microphone time post match, right? He probably just felt it would be rude to not say a few words, right? ;)

          I just think Nalby is a diva. I’d heard rumors about team arguments and such. Spain was given no chance of winning that tie without Rafa and I love the fact that they just sucked up, came together and said, “Screw expectations. We can win without him!”

          • Babz says:

            I didn’t get to see the microphone moment – the broadcast stopped when the players started going round. :(

            Nalby a diva.. man, what does he base it on, really?

            So Arg blew their own chances right? Seriously, Spain has got it going on this generation. Their sportsmen I mean.

  2. CC says:

    Vamos Rafa!
    Fab match today, despite quite a few weird unforced errors etc.
    Thanks for posting your fab ‘as it happened notes’.

    • miri says:

      Yeah, Rafa wasn’t at his best. I do love, however, the fact he wasn’t at his best and he still won easily.

      Glad you like the notes. I figure no one ever reads them. ;)

      • CC says:

        Love reading the notes, although I watched the game too! It’s always good to see what other people think. And I like the fact that it’s not all technical, but about other important stuff as well (like Nole dropping shorts etc.). (;

  3. tiemyshoe says:

    miri, love your as-it-happened notes. i think rafa played, honestly, at about 50-60% for the first two sets and picked it up toward the end. the surface seemed awful – lots of weird shanks toward the beginning. but still, even not at his best, rafa kicked ass. i enjoyed some of his baby fist-pumps, too.

    one thing i notice about when he transitions to clay from hardcourts is that his backhand is not as sharp on clay. i guess he likes hitting a little lower ’cause it’s flat? i dunno, but his flat backhand gets more joy on fast surfaces. the buggy-whip forehand on clay (BWFC?) is love, though.

    “Looks like it’s Almagro’s job to run that to the stringers.”

    ha, one of the best moments! he was all ball-boy eager running it over, too. i wish they’d let nico play the dead rubber, but i suppose you couldn’t deny ferru another win. he’s been awesome.

    but… i can’t believe the qfs have been scheduled for the week after wimbledon! gah. it’s in spain and on clay, but still. bad schedule, bad!

    • miri says:

      That makes sense to me about this backhand. (And precisely the kind of insight one will never see in my match drivels.) He’s made quite a few changes to it over the years to improve it and make it better on all surfaces. Maybe that makes it hard to find the right rhythm for it on clay again. Dunno.

      And yes, I love how these guys are eager to help each other out. Perhaps Ferru asked to play the dead rubber. I don’t think he’s ever played Troicki and maybe he wanted a nice no-pressure chance to get to know his game.

      At least the next round is against Germany. I can see Spain getting through without Rafa if need be. (Or with him just having to play one match.) But yeah, it’s brutal scheduling.