For Rafa’s attempt to win his 5th Monte-Carlo final in a row, he faced world #3 Novak Djokovic. The match started with both players swinging out and playing well. It was such an odd match, though. I kept feeling like Djokovic was outplaying Rafa, but, as Kalliopeia said, he didn’t outplay him when it counted. Rafa wins 6-3 2-6 6-1.
|Statistics on Serve|
|1st Serve %||66%||62%|
|1st Serve Points Won||35/57 (61%)||30/54 (56%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||14/30 (47%)||11/33 (33%)|
|Break Points Saved||6/11 (55%)||7/14 (50%)|
|Service Games Played||12||12|
|Statistics on Return|
|1st Return Points Won||24/54 (44%)||22/57 (39%)|
|Second Return Points Won||22/33 (67%)||16/30 (53%)|
|Break Points Won||7/14 (50%)||5/11 (45%)|
|Return Games Played||12||12|
|Statistics on Points|
|Total Service Points Won||49/87 (56%)||41/87 (47%)|
|Total Return Points Won||46/87 (53%)||38/87 (44%)|
|Total Points Won||95/174 (55%)||79/174 (45%)|
As it happened blatherings:
Rafa’s adrenaline is pumping and he’s twitching during the national anthem.
Kalliopeia: I wonder how much a ceremony like that disrupts his pre-match routine and concentration
Poor thing can’t find anyone to deal with his water bottle. Nole wins the coin toss and will serve. Pascal Maria in the chair – he’s been a bit of a good luck charm for Rafa, so that bodes well.
Nole is ready to serve and get this started. Rafa gets a break point and takes it with a beautiful cross-court forehand winner: 1-0.
Nole’s brought his unsuccessful drop shot with him from the last Davis Cup match.
Kalliopeia: …I should be crocheting.
Kalliopeia: I don’t want to mess with proven formulas
Kalliopeia: crap. I’ll have to shift everything to the other end of the bed.
Kalliopeia: The things I do for you, Rafa.
miri: I wake up early on the weekend! That’s unheard of!
Kalliopeia: we are the very picture of selflessness
Rafa was pushing Nole around well, but Nole decides to take a shot at that and it’s 30-30 on Rafa’s first service game. Nole hits a fairly good drop shot and then follows it up with a brilliant lob and gets a break point. Rafa saves the point, but then fires a shot wide and it’s break point again. Another error from Rafa gives Nole the break and we are back on serve.
miri: I know it’s irrational, but it makes me nervous when he keeps checking his racket when getting ready to receive. I keep thinking, “You might miss the serve!”
Kalliopeia: especially with djoker who is all bouncebouncebouncebouncebouncebounceSERVE
Rafa’s cussing already as he keeps making errors. Nole holds and it’s 1-2.
After an aggressive point that he wins, Rafa double faults. Always painful. Nole comes back aggressive and moves Rafa well – break point to Nole. Both players running side-to-side in a long rally and Nole eventually nets a ball – back to deuce. Rafa’s turn to net a ball and Nole has another break point. A drop shot trade-off favors Nole and he breaks: 1-3.
Amazing reflex half-volley flick from Rafa for a winning forehand on Nole’s next service game. Suddenly, Rafa’s got triple break point. Rafa only needs one and it’s 2-3.
The Tennis Channel is showing a commercial for the Monte-Carlo final. You know, the match that’s currently on. Isn’t it a bit late for that?
Very nervous looking smile from Rafa when something goes floating around on court…Nole’s looks relaxed. Hmmm.
Kalliopeia: Rafa never smiles though, it’s a good sign that he did at all
How did he get that half-overhead while back-peddling? Amazing save on that from Rafa. Sizzling backhand cross-court and Rafa holds: 3-3.
Every time I see Novak’s coach, I think it’s a German actor whose name I can never remember.
Rafa rips a cross-court forehand for a break point. A deep serve and Rafa floats the return – bp saved. A nice drop shot from Nole followed by a cross-court forehand takes us to deuce again. A wonderfully constructed point from Rafa gives him another break point. Nole saves it with a big forehand. A shot from Rafa goes millimeters wide and Nole has game point. A few boo-boos from Nole and Rafa has another break point. Nole sends a shot way wide and it’s game to Rafa: 4-3.
Trainer out looking at Nole’s back. He’s taking an injury time out. Looks like they just gave him a bit of a massage.
Rafa holds at love: 5-3. Rafa punishes a short volley from Nole with a vicious cross-court forehand. The net’s on Rafa’s side and pushes one of Nole’s shots back at him: break and set point Rafa. Nole sends a shot wide and it’s first set to Rafa: 6-3.
@kefuoe 31 consecutive sets!
Nole’s working the lob well today. He uses it to get to 30-30 on Rafa’s first serve of the second set. Rafa nets a ball and Nole has break point. An amazing point with Rafa running all over the darn place trying to stay in it gives Nole the break. I have no idea how Rafa got to some of those shots.
Nole holds easily: 2-0.
While the camera people distract me with close-ups of Rafa’s legs, a few more unforced errors creep into his game. He holds, however and it’s 1-2.
Nole talking to himself (more like yelling) as Rafa has double break point. Rafa gives back both BPs with errors.
miri: I don’t like it when Rafa does that head grabbing thing. Makes me worry about his mental state. That looks so much more discouraged than pouty face, for some reason.
Kalliopeia: He’s seemed a little out of sorts all match to me
Sizzling down the line shot to earn another break point which Nole saves. It takes awhile for either player to get two points in a row, but Nole finally does and he holds: 1-3.
Rafa is making getting behind on his serves be a habit. Break point for Nole. Rafa fires a shot long and Nole breaks again: 1-4.
Rafa’s letting Nole dictate the pace and pattern of points. That’s got to change.
The net cord has turned against Rafa as well. Nole holds: 1-5.
Rafa holds, but is he about to lose his first set here since 2006?
Nole takes the first set off Rafa in Monte-Carlo since Fed did it in 2006. We are going to a third set.
Kalliopeia: you know, these days rafa doesn’t really often crank things up unless his back is against the wall
Kalliopeia: I feel like he has some kind of issue with needing to be trying to catch up to something.
Kalliopeia: which sounds like a weird thing to say given that he’s had his best year ever so far
miri: this whole year has felt like, “What’s he doing? Why all the errors? Where’s his head? Oh wait….he won.”
Kalliopeia: but honestly, when you look at how he’s playing…he only really pulls out the great stuff when he’s down. he just sort of cruises if he’s way ahead.
Kalliopeia: very frustrating
Kalliopeia: I hope he can sort it out before he stops being able to claw his way back in.
Kalliopeia: okay, he has to win this match because if he doesn’t? Djokovic is suddenly going to be the one everyone picks for the French.
Kalliopeia: And maybe that wouldn’t be a bad thing because it’d take some pressure off, but I WILL GO OUT OF MY MIND.
Nole starts the third set by going up on Rafa’s serve. An error gives Nole break point. How. The hell. Did he win. That shot. I thought he’d lost it for sure when he hit a short ball in the middle of that long rally. Nole follows it up with some aggressive play and gets another break point. Good serve from Rafa draws an error. Deuce. More ads and deuces as this game stretches on. Rafa just can’t put two points together. Nole’s hitting hard, flat and deep – using the standard hard court play against Rafa and it’s working…on clay. After 13 minutes and 3 break points, Rafa finally holds.
Kalliopeia: YES JASON, RAFA IS BEING TOO PASSIVE
And yet…Rafa goes for a shot in the next rally and commits an error – game point to Nole. A drop shot that’s a bit more drop than shot takes things back to deuce. Nole standing in one place and Rafa running all over the place…and Rafa wins the point. Break point to Rafa. He failed to convert on all three opportunities in the second set, but he gets some help from the net cord in this one and breaks.
Kalliopeia: you’ll note that I started crocheting at the beginning of this set, and this is where rafa is fighting and actually winning again. :D
miri: Keep it up!
Kalliopeia: I shall.
Kalliopeia: I believe I was working on this blanket when he won the Australian. Clearly I’ll have to keep working on it all year. It’ll be the biggest blanket ever
Break point to Nole. Rafa runs around every backhand and saves the break point.
Kalliopeia: he needs to do stuff like that last point more often
Kalliopeia: push him back!
Kalliopeia: make him run!
Kalliopeia: he’s not as good defensively as Rafa is
Ace for the ad. Rafa sets up exactly the shot he wants…and hits it into the net. Deuce again. Nole whips a cross-court forehand and he has another break point. Rafa stomps on a short return: deuce. We are already over 10 minutes into this service game. Nole returns the favor by jumping on a short ball from Rafa – break point again. Rafa hits a shot long and Nole breaks again. They are back on serve.
Double break point for Rafa. Nole saves one, but shanks a ball on another. Rafa breaks.
Kalliopeia: FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD IN THIS WORLD, HOLD YOUR SERVE.
One drop shot too many from Nole – Rafa whips it cross-court for a winner.
Kalliopeia: someone I’m chatting with has this assessment of this set so far: “WOOODAMWOFUCWOCHRIST”
Beautiful forehand down the line from Rafa – his bread and butter shot. Ace for a hold at love. That? Was nice.
Nole double faults on double break point. 5-1.
Rafa serving for the set and his 5th straight title. Nole’s been firing errors for a bit and this game is no exception. Triple match point for Rafa. He wins!