Hello, clay!

(Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

(Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

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.

Stats:

Nadal Chela
Statistics on Serve
Aces 2 0
Double Faults 3 5
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.

18 Responses

  1. Jane says:

    Ahhh it took me so long to find a decent live feed, but it was worth it in the end even if I could have commentary to understand haha.
    It was the first tournament but I am sure as the days go by he will get better and better.
    Chela didn’t impress me, but maybe it was just not his day? Or perhaps the mere thought of having to face Rafa had made him feel rather pointless haha.
    I wan’t to know what he wrote on the camera! XD

  2. tiemyshoe says:

    Not a bad start, no? Not perfect, but Rafa had some great moments. He seems sorta shaky being way in front these days though, which is odd. I hope he gets some of the ruthlessness back. His attention seems to wander on serve sometimes…

  3. Josh says:

    Meh! He played up and down in Indian Wells and kicked Murray’s a$$ in the final.

    Oh he talks about the straps on the knees things here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CiP7lVPJU5s

    And apparently Toni speaks French 0.0

    • johanne says:

      Thanks for the vid, Josh! I’ve heard Toni speak French before – he speaks slow & simple enough where it’s pretty easy to understand if you have any sort of familiarity with the language :)

    • johanne says:

      P.S. Rafa should bring back those shorty-shorts!! HOT!!

      I’m on a posting frenzy here…LOL sorry guys.

    • Kalliopeia says:

      I love how he and Rafa have the same shruggy, eyebrows-a-waggling mannerisms when speaking in public.

  4. johanne says:

    I was wondering what he wrote on the camera too!

  5. CC says:

    Just so great to see Rafa back on court again. Sure, he looked a bit sloppy at times, still too many unforced errors, but hopefully he’ll clean it up!
    Love the sliiiding on the beautiful clay…
    And great to see Xisca, sister and mum watching. Me thinks that must make Rafa happy, no?

  6. strobi says:

    Rafa wrote: Volando a Pekín, which means “flying to Pekin”. An insider joke probably due to the major smile he had while writing.

  7. miri says:

    Okay, I swear to goodness this is the true. IM session with Kalliopeia that just happened:

    Kalliopeia:I love Marat Safin’s bag check
    Kalliopeia: “I never call anyone, and no one calls me. *cheeky smile*”

    miri: this is odd. I’m replaying the match to record it off the DVR since I forgot to do that this morning and I just saw the bag check too

    Kalliopeia: ha

    miri: is it possible we are at the same point in the match?
    miri: ’cause that? Would be freaky

    Kalliopeia: 3-0 in the first?

    miri: FREAKY!

    Kalliopeia: HA!
    Kalliopeia: ooooOOOOOOOoooooo!

    • tiemyshoe says:

      Gah, don’t even mention Safin. How the hell did he manage to lose again today? I remember this one 5-minute period when he did something like 1)ridic volley winner, 2) DF, 3) racquet smash, 4) ace. Or something like that. The dude is insane.

      I can’t even make up my mind about him retiring. One part of me is all like five-year-old kid clinging to his leg as he walks away from tennis, and the other part of me actually watches him play these days and is like, Yeah. It’s time.

      • Kalliopeia says:

        He still has his moments that make you wish for him to be a little less incurably bonkers.

        I adore him, though, and will really miss him when he’s gone.

        • tiemyshoe says:

          Me, too. There will be a big Safin-shaped gape in my heart when he is off. Which is why I’m slightly in denial and think he might change his mind come end of season … but not if he continues throwing away 5-2 leads in third sets.

          BTW, my favsies is the inevitable mid-tiebreak racquet smash. Didn’t he recently have to play out a tiebreak with a broken racquet because he couldn’t change it or something? Teehee.