Rafa slides into fourth

Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

The following appeared on Rafa’s site yesterday:

Rafa respects and admires Lleyton Hewitt It goes back to the Davis Cup final between Australia and Spain in 2000. Inside a seething arena called Palau Sant Jordi, Hewitt scrapped and clawed his way through two thunderous singles matches on clay while a 14-year-old kid, having carried the Spanish flag into the opening ceremony, sat courtside with his jaw to the floor in awe. The kid was Rafa.

Hewitt has no recollection of Rafa being there, but the current world No. 1 watched every point as Hewitt (19 then) fought his way past Albert Costa in five sets on day one.

Thanks to the wonder of YouTube and our fellow tennis-loving crazies who post there, you can see some footage of that match and get an idea on why Hewitt made an impression on Rafa. You can even see (if you look very hard), Rafa carrying and then holding the flag in this video.

Today, nine years later and with the arch of their careers are in very different places, Rafa and Hewitt met in the 3rd round of Roland Garros. A former world #1 himself, Hewitt’s been fighting to find his place on a tour that seems to be passing him by (hip surgery last year certainly didn’t help). They do still have some things in common – a love of the battle and strong will to win. Neither of which were going to be enough for Hewitt to overcome Rafa who started out strong and just kept going. Rafa’s through to the fourth with a score of 6-1 6-3 6-1.


Nadal Hewitt
Aces 7 2
Double Faults 0 3
1st Serve % 76% 61%
1st Serve Points Won 38/50 (76%) 26/46 (57%)
2nd Serve Points Won 10/16 (63%) 9/29 (31%)
Return Points Won 40/75 (53%) 18/66 (27%)
Break Points Conversions 7/13 (54%) 1/3 (33%)
Unforced Errors 17 35
Winners (including service) 24 18
Net Approaches 4/7 (57%) 14/24 (58%)
Total Points Won 88 53
Fastest Serve Speed 204 KMH 202 KMH
Average 1st Serve Speed 182 KMH 179 KMH
Average 2nd Serve Speed 139 KMH 145 KMH

23 Responses

  1. dutchgirl says:

    I felt kinda sorry for Lleyton during that first set. The second was a little better, but he didn’t have a real chance. I didn’t get to see the last part of the match (apparently Sesame Street is way more important for Dutch television and Eurosport was cycling), but the score looked overwhelming.

    • An says:

      Verry anoyng yeah that they stopped broadcasting the match for Sesame street, but well, lets think of the little children and how dissapointed they would be if they couldnt see Sesame street :)

      And i’m sure we’ll get to see a lot more of Rafa in next week!!

      Opponents watch out if Rafa has something for wich he thinks he has to take revange on you!
      ( would Rome be enough revange on Soderling….. Nah! )

      VAMOS RAFA!!

  2. johanne says:

    That match was fucking clinical. WOW.

    VAMOS RAFA!!!!!

  3. nic says:

    Indescribable! Rafa was just on fire today. Bloody awesome. Perfection in almost every shot. It’s just amazing how he got to every shot and placed all of them right on the limit. Awesome. Rafa’s really getting right into it now after the first two rounds. Vamos Rafael!!

  4. nic says:

    Whoa, hello, Rafa’s website already has an update on his win. And it says come back in a few minutes for the full story! Wow they’re really on top of things! Love the pink theme going on there btw.

  5. Josh says:

    I guess Rafa was really pissed about losing to Lleyton in golf or something cause that was monstrous!

  6. Nimmy says:

    Rafa was awesome today: he was spanking and thumping the balls, served beautifully and moved perfectly.
    I was blowing him kisses all thru’ the match – he looked sooo good! Vamos Rafa!

  7. Nimmy says:

    *ahem* missing an u in 4th!

    • miri says:

      Oh bugger. Thanks! Trying to do too much at work without people seeing my screen. ;)

      • kalliopeia says:



        I can’t wait to watch this match later. I can’t wait to actually get to watch a live match this weekend, for that matter.

  8. Nada H. T says:

    OOH .. today’s match was SO GREAT !

    Definately entertaining

    I was counting the Aces for the foundation, Never 4got about it

    But , I have a Q, what do u mean when u say ‘CLINICAL’?

    • johanne says:

      It’s like saying Rafa taught a lesson in tennis out there. It wasn’t a match – it was a tennis lesson for Lleyton.

  9. natch says:

    Good gravy, Marie! Lleyton looked like a deer caught in the headlights. He had been playing so well up until today. Rafa played like he was playing Federer (or pissed about golf.)

    “Clinical” means as if Rafa was putting on a tennis clinic, or lesson, to perfection. CLINICAL means it was a lesson beyond perfection. Does that make sense?

  10. Nada H. T says:

    YES , it makes sense :)

    Thanks for verification

    like a MODEL to imitate

  11. patzin says:

    Rafa was like a surgeon today! Methodical and effective.

  12. sia says:

    Yep, Rafa was on.
    The Davis Cup video of course led me to more recent vids of the Spanish Davis Cup team. Does any other country have a team as hot as Rafael, Feli, Hot Sauce and Daveed of the dreamy eyes.

  13. faecoleman says:

    Yeah agree with that sia, the spanish team are defntly the hottest, and david does have lovely eyes, feli too, and Rafael best physique and lips phew, anyway Rafa did indeed play well today was nice to watch him play with confidence like this, much less nerve wrecking, and an ace to finish, go Rafa, you were awsome out there, twice he produced forehands from way out of court flying past Hewitt, and a lovely curved whipped forehand winner cross court out of nowhere. Hewitt continued to give up unforced errors too.. Keep up the good work Rafa, its the Sod next!