The clay hat-trick

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Were you feeling déjà vu when you tuned into the Rome final this morning? Weren’t these two guys playing in a final just two weeks ago? There was a lot more on the line for Nole this time, however: he was the defending champion and he had to win in order to keep his #3 ranking on the tour. And yet, it was Rafa who looked more tentative in the first set – being broken twice when trying to serve it out. It was Nole’s turn to get tight in the first set tie-break as he gifted the set to Rafa. The second set was nowhere near as tight and Rafa takes his 4th title in Rome: 7-6(7-2) 6-2. Three Sundays in a row; three tournament wins for Rafa. Unbelievable.

Stats:

Nadal Djokovic
Statistics on Serve
Aces 0 0
Double Faults 1 2
1st Serve % 71% 59%
1st Serve Points Won 34/50 (68%) 23/39 (59%)
2nd Serve Points Won 11/20 (55%) 13/27 (48%)
Break Points Saved 2/4 (50%) 1/5 (20%)
Service Games Played 10 10
Statistics on Return
1st Return Points Won 16/39 (41%) 16/50 (32%)
Second Return Points Won 14/27 (52%) 9/20 (45%)
Break Points Won 4/5 (80%) 2/4 (50%)
Return Games Played 10 10
Statistics on Points
Total Service Points Won 45/70 (64%) 36/66 (65%)
Total Return Points Won 30/66 (45%) 25/70 (36%)
Total Points Won 75/136(55%) 61/136 (45%)

As it happened blatherings:

Looks like the weather’s good, but a little bit of the windy – or as they commentators are saying, “it’s a bit blustery.”

Mo’s in the chair – yay!

What’s going on? Someone pass out already? Rafa really needs to pull back on the hotness if he’s causing people to faint in less than 10 minutes. ;)

@kefuoe: @nadalnews You can’t stop it; you can only hope to contain it.
@Redsherm: @nadalnews: honestly a handsome match, both good eye candy!
@Ataraxis00: @nadalnews Already? All the more reason to take this title quickly, for the safety of the fans. Vamos .. it begins!

Nole to serve to get us started. Ridiculous angle from Rafa. Commentator says Rafa leads the tournament in return and service games won. Forehand down the line from Rafa to get a break point. And he breaks!

The windy making its presence known. Nole’s going for a bit much and sending balls long. Routine hold for Rafa: 1-1.

Another amazing angle from Rafa sends a ball whizzing past Nole at the net.

Kalliopeia: well. Rafa came to play today, I see.
flamingoevil: He is starting out well
flamingoevil: I think he wants to make sure Nole feels the “I’m about to be #4” pressure.

Routine hold for Nole – that will help him feel a bit better. Both players cruising on serve. It’s now 3-2.

Rafa seems to be concentrating extra hard on bottle placement.

Nice rally ends with a powerful backhand winner from Rafa. Ineffectual Nole drop shot in da house. Nole pulls even on Rafa’s serve 30-30. The net cord shows Rafa some love. Is that full body scan #1? 4-2

Nole gives Rafa a short ball, but Rafa doesn’t respond aggressively and sends the ball back short – Nole steps up and wins the point. That was a lovely dropper from Nole. Double fault from Nole. Rafa was running Nole back and forth and tried to go behind him for the winner, but hit the ball into the net. Game Nole: 4-3.

A long rally (26 shots) of cat and mouse ends with an error from Nole. Nole pounces on a short ball and fires off a winner from the net to pull even at 30-30. Rafa pushes Nole back and wide and he pops up a defensive shot which gives Rafa an opportunity to pounce. Wicked forehand angle from Rafa and it’s 5-3.

Rafa was everywhere on that shot – Nole couldn’t wrong foot him. Another vicious cross-court forehand angle. I think Rafa wants to break for the set. Nole pounces on a short ball to give himself the first point in the game. Nole follows that up with a smart point – positioning Rafa well and hitting a winner: 30-30. He sends a shot long to give Rafa break point. Rafa miss-hits a forehand and it’s deuce. Nice cross-court from Nole and he has a game point. Nole holds and it’s 5-4.

Ha! So true. RT: @skyejaden: wow, someone made it to four games against him! 0.0

Commentators just said Rafa’s only lost 6 points on his service game so far. Good length from Nole and it’s 15-15. Rafa nets a ball and it’s 30-30. Nole hits behind Rafa and Rafa can’t quite recover: break point for Nole. Excellent serve down the center causes Nole to toss his racket in frustration.

Well put. :) RT: @Ataraxis00: Wow, Smurf misses a return and slams his wee racquet down in disgust.

Rafa sends a ball just wide to give Nole another break point. And another just wide; break to Nole. Back on serve: 5-5.

Kalliopeia: It’s not Djokovic’s doing. Rafa’s just suddenly making errors
flamingoevil: yeah
Kalliopeia: My aunt just said “you know if I was that fragile with my health I wouldn’t pound my chest like that.”
Kalliopeia: hee

Indeed. RT: @skyejaden: well that’s an awesome time for UEs

A few errors from Nole gives Rafa a break point.

@skyejaden On the other hand, that was a nice time for a few UEs ;)

Nole falls apart and Rafa breaks back: 6-5.

I think he learned from Fed. RT: @wihamilton: Hmm djokovic must have watched our “how to smash a racket” video

Once again, Rafa serving for the set. Long rally ends with Rafa pushing Nole deep and forcing an error. Rafa’s headband is traveling upwards.

Kalliopeia: He really needs to fix that headband

More boo-boos and it’s 30-30. Toni is chugging some water. I thought Rafa had lost that point with some short fluffy shots, but he managed to pull it out and has set point. Nole steps up the aggression and we are at deuce. Rafa? Why so tentative? Break point for Nole. Wow. Rafa totally miss hits a ball and sends it out of the stadium. Nole breaks. Tie break to decide the set.

Nole sets things up perfectly and then flubs a drop shot. On serve 1-1 in the tie break. Nole sends a shot long – mini-break to Rafa: 3-1. A short ball from Rafa gives Nole the opportunity to pounce and he takes it: 3-2. Rafa runs Nole for 4-2. Nole *almost* pulls off an amazing shot. So close. But it’s 5-2. Nole sends a shot out past the doubles sideline: 6-2. A bad drop shop and first set to Rafa in 74 minutes: 7-6 (7-2).

Rafa serving to get us started in set two. Goodness I think I might be in love with the Nole Ineffectual Drop Shot (NIDS).

Oh, just be cleverer than I am. See if I care. RT: @kefuoe: @nadalnews Djokovic Unreliable Drop Shot (DUDS)

Nole is playing aggressively – gets a break point. Rafa saves it and gives a mini-fist pump. A good serve and he has a game point. Rafa holds.

And yet, he’s still not winning. RT: @wihamilton: Fed should be taking notes. Djokovic has the right blueprint for beating nadal.

Routine hold for Nole. Easy hold for Rafa. I think we are officially in an “early in the set” lull.

Nole is all happy that he won a long rally. Nole holds: 2-2.

Excellent point from Nole and it’s 15-15 on Rafa’s serve. Oh, I thought Rafa ruined things with that drop shot, but he manages to pull the point out.

Kalliopeia: this match is pretty awesome so far, if you discount the frustrating errors
Rafa gives the point back with a double fault. On game point, Rafa sails a shot long.

RT: @Ataraxis00: Can someone go back and count the number of times he’s raised his racquet to smash it? Really Raf? fh long? sigh .. deuce.

On the next point, he forces an error from Nole with a well-placed shot. He then holds.

When Mo overrules a call, EVERYONE knows it

First: why did Rafa hit that right back to Nole? Second: How the hell did Nole make that shot?

Kalliopeia: he’s seriously not going to talk about how tired Djokovic must be, are they? I don’t think he’s in his third straight tournament after winning the previous two.
miri: it’s the losing that makes one tired.

Nole gives up a break and it’s 4-2.

Amazing lob from Rafa. He holds for 5-2.

Nole sends a shot wide and Rafa’s up on his serve. Another wide shot gives Rafa a break point. Rafa hits a forehand winner for the title!

Kalliopeia: I love it when he ends with a winner

RT: @kefuoe: @nadalnews Happy for the win, but I wish it didn’t cost Nole so much. In the meantime, awesome watch skills today!

32 Responses

  1. Diane says:

    It started getting dicey, and I went to do some chores, letting my DVR chew it’s nails for me. But it’s all good!! It’s so exciting. And that’s 15 Masters titles, one better than Rog. Double Woot!!

    • nic says:

      I know! I love that! 15 Masters titles. Brilliant. To think he’s only two away from Agassi’s record. And one up on Fed. Really speaks volumes for his achievements. Phenomenal.

  2. nic says:

    Omg I am soooo happy right now! What a winner to bring it home! Rafa is unbelievable. You said it right Miri, three weeks in a row, three wins in a row! Could his smile get any bigger! What a sweetheart.

    That whole trophy ceremony was pretty entertaining, and really nice to see Rafa and Nole get on so well. Love it. I can’t believe they put Nole on the spot to do an impression of Rafa!! And I love how Rafa took Nole’s plate from him so that he had free hands to proceed haha.

    Poor Nole, he played a really good match, absolutely the only guy who can totally bring it to Rafa on clay so far. What an entertaining match! Btw, was that not ridiculous how they just kept that song running, and running and running??? Awkward! Rafa was just too adorable, not knowing what to do with it hehe.

    Ah I shall sleep tight now. What a champion!
    Rafa Nadal – Undisputed King of Clay!

    • miri says:

      Yeah. I thought it was really unfair how they put Nole on the spot with the impression. He’d been a great sport so far and he stood a chance of coming off as an ass and poor sport. He couldn’t say no to that lady. I thought he toned down the impression well and did the minimal without looking like he was feeling put out. Fine line.

      • nic says:

        Absolutely. So unfair. Especially when he’s really put that to bed for a long time already. Yikes, poor Nole. I’m sure he was worried what Rafa might feel, he’s never done it right in front of him! And Rafa’s a good sport too. Not easy to see people make fun of you, especially when he’s tugging his shorts! Other little quirks are not nearly as embarrassing. Well, kudos to them both. Absolute sports.
        I’m pretty sad for Nole to lose his 3rd ranking actually. Really felt he owned that spot for a while now. Not liking the Andy ascendancy.

        • miri says:

          She has a history of that. She made Rafa do a little jump during the…I think…2005 ceremony – his first win there. You could tell he felt like an idiot for doing it.

          • tiemyshoe says:

            Yeah, Pink Lady was kinda tacky in the manner of an over-enthusiastic award show emcee. What kind of little jump did she make Rafa do?

            Speaking of Rome 2005, I just got a chance to watch that match against Coria. WHAT A MATCH. It’s neat to see all the bits of today’s Rafa in the boisterous Baby!Rafa (I know it was only 5 years ago, but he seems like a kid). And also to see all the ways he’s matured.

            • miri says:

              I thought it was the one you mention where she made him do a “Vamos!” jump. Perhaps not. Do I have to do check? Do I? *sigh* the sacrifices…

  3. tiemyshoe says:

    He is un-freakin’-believable. That’s all.

    Cuteness: Crazy Italian-English-Spanish melange of a speech. Chatting to Nole during “Chariots of Fire.” Major happy face. <3333

    It’s so delightful that he is so delighted by this trophy, after everything he’s already won. He wanted it badly, and he got it.

    Oh, and welcome to the top 3, A. Muzz! Bad luck, Djokovic. It was the crappy beginning of the year that did him in – he was very good on clay these few weeks, and I will be hoping he’s on the other side of the draw to Rafa come RG time.

    • Kalliopeia says:

      I’ve noticed that he seems happier in general when he wins this year (except the AO for obvious reasons). I wonder if it has something to do with the fact that he’s not beating Roger in finals this year? He always seems to tone things down with Roger.

      • tiemyshoe says:

        I def. think it’s the Roger factor. First of all, the crowd always skews Roger-wards during their matches, and I do think Rafa always feels a bit bad after beating him, like he has to apologize for staining the record of a potential GOAT. Not so today!

        Roger – Tennis’s inadvertent Debbie Downer. Wah-wah.

        • nic says:

          Hahahaha wah-wah.

        • johanne says:

          I agree, Rog can be a bit of a Debbie Downer during a trophy ceremony. That is, unless he wins. Then he’s all Positive Patty.

          Nole & Andy always let Rafa celebrate! :)

          • strobi says:

            It’s amazing how well Nole took this loss, even if it meant losing his no.3 spot. Roger has a lot to learn.

  4. johanne says:

    Rafa is incredible!!! What a win!!! He looked so happy too, awwwwww. :)

    Although, I do wish that Nole got to keep his #3 ranking by just getting to the final, rather than having to win. Sucks.

    Btw, loved how Rafa & Nole were totally cracking up when “Chariots of Fire” just kept going and going and going and going. Love seeing them chat during the ceremony too. They are too cute together. And they always put their arms on each other’s backs when posing for pictures. I love that!!

  5. CC says:

    Ohhh… I missed all this because of family stuff today. I hope there’ll be some highlights later…

    Vamos Rafa!

    Sorry for Nole.

  6. fuzzydunlop says:

    Rafa’s victory speech – only one word can do it justice: adorkable!

    (Thanks for the perfect adjective miri!)

    Did he snortlaugh thru his whole speech or what?! The poor guy looked so embarrassed during the whole Chariots of Fire serenade too! Loved how he & Nole were chuckling over that :-b

  7. mage06 says:

    Posting before I go to sleep :).

    Part of the trophy ceremony (Nole imitates Rafa) is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQqaMb0J8EM

  8. Nada H. T says:

    The Match was AMAZING !

    Rafa is AMAZING !! WONDERFUL !

    AND UNBEATABLE !!

    I wish they write translation of their speech ;)

    I could understand some of what they said but it’s not

    enough to guess the rest :)

    I AM SOOO ‘JAPPPEEEE’ for RAFAAAA I missed HIS SMILE ..

    it was so GENUINE .. FROM THE HEART !

    He desereved it .. May he smile ALL time ..

  9. Mary says:

    I am pretty bummed that Novak is losing the No. 3 spot, simply due to the fact that he’s played a much better clay court season than Andy. Oh well, no time to dwell on that- CONGRATS TO RAFA! What an absolutely incredible clay season so far. Unbelievable. I keep wondering what he’s going to do about Madrid, but I’m sure they’ll make the right decision whatever it may be.

    • Anna says:

      “I am pretty bummed that Novak is losing the No. 3 spot, simply due to the fact that he’s played a much better clay court season than Andy.”

      Rankings are based on much more than the last two tournaments, no?

      • Mary says:

        So true. I guess I just tend to think (and unfairly so) that to be ranked so high, one must show superior ability on all the surfaces. But my opinions don’t constitute the rankings system, so I just have to get over that. And I shouldn’t be so hard on Andy- he’s had a really incredible start to the season.

  10. faecoleman says:

    Oh, I am soo over the moon about this win for Rafa, he really wanted his trophy back, but I felt for Novak, he always manages to smile in defeat, such a good sport. I agree Miri, it was really in bad taste of this stupid woman to ask Novak to do his imitations in front of Rafa like that, making him feel like a clown, he didn’t look too comfortable about it bless him, and its a shame after getting to the final, only to lose his No. 3 ranking to Andy Murray….

  11. kefuoe says:

    I think there are two options missing in your poll. In addition to the ones provided, I would add:
    1) Stop waking up early to catch the matches
    2) Get more work done instead of following the matches.

    • Diane says:

      I would add a third: it’s only a week. I’ll go work on my game. I did 4 months (off season,) a week I can do in my sleep.

    • miri says:

      I was going to add, “Amuse yourself and snort-laugh all day”, but that seemed silly. Oh…wait.

      BTW, I’m often stuck for ideas for polls – send ideas via the form on the about page if you gots some. (And if you want to write or help out in any way.)

    • tiemyshoe says:

      But … but … how else am I gonna procrastinate?!

  12. strobi says:

    I´ve been getting up at 6 am (the time when Rome matches started) for a week, no matter how late i go to sleep. I will take this week off to recover. Still Munich is going to be interesting,hihi