Rafa slides into clay season by taking on #167 Juan Ignacio Chela from Argentina. It wasn’t a masterful performance, but it didn’t exactly stink either. Rafa’s first serve percentage could have been higher, but as long as his head was in the game, he was winning. Kudos to Chela for not giving up despite being down breaks in each set. Rafa wins his 23rd match in a row at Monte-Carlo: 6-2 6-3.
|Statistics on Serve|
|1st Serve %||56%||49%|
|1st Serve Points Won||22/31 (71%)||13/23 (57%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||13/24 (54%)||10/24 (42%)|
|Break Points Saved||5/7 (71%)||4/9 (44%)|
|Service Games Played||9||8|
|Statistics on Return|
|1st Return Points Won||10/23 (43%)||9/31 (29%)|
|Second Return Points Won||14/24 (58%)||11/24 (46%)|
|Break Points Won||5/9 (56%)||2/7 (29%)|
|Return Games Played||8||9|
|Statistics on Points|
|Total Service Points Won||35/55 (64%)||23/47 (49%)|
|Total Return Points Won||24/47 (51%)||20/55 (36%)|
|Total Points Won||59/102 (58%)||43/102 (42%)|
As it happened blatherings:
Oye. It’s early for tennis in the US.
Chela is a tall lanky thing. He looks taller than the 6’3” listed in his ATP profile. In fact…he looks freaky tall.
No knee tapes! Rafa looks nekkid without the knee tapes. Maybe he’s trying to even out his leg tan. Next thing you know, he’ll be borrowing socks from Mardy Fish.
Rafa serves to start – he must have lost the coin toss. 0-30 to get things started? Break point against? Chela is pushing Rafa back – Rafa needs to put a stop to that. Lovely drop shot to take the game: 1-0.
I love Rafa’s footwork as he approaches a short ball at the net. Hell, his footwork is always wonderful. He seems to be having some racket indecision – fiddling with two of them mid-game. Doesn’t seem to bother him as he breaks and goes up 2-0.
Oh, that was a lovely point – moves Chela back and forth changing direction on the ball and then going to net for a nice volley. He’s getting some nice angles: 3-0. Rafa’s really smashing the overheads today: 4-0.
Poor approach from Rafa and Chela fires a passing shot past him to go up on Rafa’s serve. Rafa nets a ball and Chela has break point. Chela returns a second serve deep and strong and breaks. 4-1. Rafa’s only serving at 45% – that might get the job done today, but he’ll have to step that up.
Chela holds at love: 4-2. Chela pushes Rafa back with some deep shots and then drop shots him. Rafa makes it to the ball, but can’t make the shot. He’s up on Rafa’s serve. Chela moves Rafa back and forth and gets a break point. Ace! Lovely angled dropper from Rafa – another break point saved. Rafa fires a hot forehand to save another. Some lovely angles give Rafa the game: 5-2.
Rafa misses a backhand passing shot on his second set point. On the third set point, a forehand goes slightly wide. Rafa’s legs and defense-to-offense prowess get him another set point. 4th set point does it: 6-2, first set to Rafa.
Rafa starts off the second set with a love hold. Lovely drop shot from Chela, but Rafa goes on to break: 2-0. Rafa holds: 3-0. Can he wrap this up before I have to leave for work? (Off to brush my teeth and find my shoes.) Looks like Rafa needs me – Chela held and went up on Rafa’s serve while I was brushing my teeth. Rafa double faults and Chela breaks: 3-2. Double faulting to give a break – never a good thing. But Chela has been pressuring that second serve. Guess Rafa was feeling it.
Rafa breaks back for 4-2 and then holds for love. Chela will have to hold serve to stay in the match. Chela holds: 5-3. (I’m finally ready for work.) Rafa starts his game with a double fault. Break point Chela. Beautifully placed wide serve saves the break point. One fierce forehand later and it’s match point.
What the heck did he scribble all over the camera? Whatever it was, it made him smile.