Well, Sod this. I’m going to cut to the chase: Rafa lost for the first time at Roland Garros. He went down to Soderling 2-6 7-6(7-2) 4-6 6-7(2-7) in the round of 16 today. Soderling came out firing. He had a game plan to play aggressively and get to the net as much as possible and, for most of the match, was able to execute that plan without playing beyond himself. Rafa never got into a solid rhythm. In fact, this felt a lot like the Madrid final.
|1st Serve %||77%||64%|
|1st Serve Points Won||66/99 (67%)||62/91 (68%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||13/29 (45%)||32/52 (62%)|
|Return Points Won||49/143 (34%)||49/128 (38%)|
|Break Points Conversions||2/4 (50%)||5/6 (83%)|
|Winners (including service)||33||61|
|Net Approaches||6/11 (55%)||27/35 (77%)|
|Total Points Won||128||143|
|Fastest Serve Speed||200 KMH||226 KMH|
|Average 1st Serve Speed||177 KMH||199 KMH|
|Average 2nd Serve Speed||136 KMH||166 KMH|
As it happened blatherings:
I spent most of the first set pissed that TTC weren’t showing the match on TV or online. I’m guessing NBC has the rights to this and has blocked everyone else. They will probably show it on a tape delay later today. So wrong.
When I do finally get a feed (thanks to some kind Twitter people), Rafa’s down a break and Soderling has a break point to get the set. Well, crap!
Kalliopeia: this is the only person Rafa could lose to that would make me sicker than losing to Djokovic
Kalliopeia: oh for crying out loud, rafa, at least make the jackass serve for it
Nope. Rafa loses a set after 32 consecutive set wins at Roland Garros: 2-6. First lost set since 2007.
Soderling is playing aggressively and storming the net at all costs. So far, it appears to be working for him rather well.
Kalliopeia: he hasn’t even had a chance at a break? argh.
Soderling is totally dictating points. Rafa’s retreated to passive grinding mode. Good serve from Rafa – he follows it into the net and wins the point. More of that, please.
Kalliopeia: yes, that was a good point, he should be doing more of that
Kalliopeia: be aggressive, don’t just run around all day
Soderling’s pushing a little and making a few forced errors now. Rafa has game point. (How sad that that’s not the norm in the match so far!) Game Rafa and a mini-first pump too.
Dang, Soderling settling again. Rafa works his way to deuce on Soderling’s game, but sends a ball long and Soderling has a game point. Soderling sends a shot wide and it’s deuce again. A long shot from Soderling and Rafa has break point. Rafa breaks with a very nice passing shot! I thought he’d gotten himself out of that point with a few short balls, but he turned it around. 2-0 second set.
I’m trying to convince myself that the first set was just the universe’s way of keeping Rafa humble. The universe knows Rafa doesn’t need a lot of help in that area, though.
This service game got off with a nice start, but now it’s 40-30. Game and a “Vamos!” for Rafa. 3-1
Beautiful return of serve from Rafa.
Kalliopeia: I love the way he always seems to be urging those balls out
Kalliopeia: did you see the way he did that, following it with his head? Heheh
Kalliopeia: it’s like the slightly less embarrassing equivalent of flailing with your hands, urging it out
Kalliopeia: which i tend to do myself during rafa’s matches.
Deuce on Soderling’s serve. Soderling nets a ball and Rafa has a break point. Rafa nets a ball – deuce. Soderling aces. Soderling holds for 3-2.
Kalliopeia: bah, I have to go now
Kalliopeia: send me a text update at the end of sets?
miri: If he loses…. ;)
Kalliopeia: He won all week without me!
miri: he needs his rafa-bankie!
Kalliopeia: you can do it rafa
Kalliopeia: I’ll feel so guilty if he loses. Haha
Kalliopeia: okay. vamos rafa!
Rafa in control of a point and then Soderling hits a deep ball and draws an error. Deuce. Rafa holds: 4-2.
Soderling continuing with the deep/wide serve and then following it into the net. It’s been a very effective strategy for him. Short shot from Soderling and Rafa stomps on it, but it’s the only point he’ll win in that game. Soderling holds with ease: 4-3.
Rafa sends a ball long at the end of a long rally and Soderling gets the first point on Rafa’s service game. Not a good drop shot from Rafa – it set up far too high. Rafa’s down 0-30 on his serve. Soderling sends a shot long: 15-30. Soderling totally had a point in the bag, but ends up blowing it: First big knee list/fist pump/Vamos! of the match. Rafa holds for 5-3.
The net-cord shows Soderling some love. Stupid net-cord. Rafa just rifled a forehand into the net. *sigh*Soderling sends a shot long and Rafa has a point in the game. Soderling holds.
Complete miss-hit by Rafa – wonder if it jumped off the line or something? 15-15 Soderling overhits a shot and sends it long. Rafa nets a ball – 30-30. Rafa’s shot clips the net and falls back onto his side of the court. Break point for Soderling. Soderling breaks with an excellent stretch volley on an attempted passing shot. 5-5
Soderling’s back in aggressive mode. Rafa threads the needle on a passing shot: 15-15. Soderling nets a ball: 15-30. The net-cord loves Rafa this time: break point. Second serve. Rafa needs to stop with the short balls. Deuce. My feed is getting increasingly blobular. It better not crap out on me! Rafa nets a ball – game point for Soderling. The bandana/tension meter is rising. Soderling aces to hold: 5-6.
Crowd going crazy – they love the underdog.
Soderling pounces on a short ball: 0-15. Smoking forehand from Soderling: 15-30. Beautiful drop shot from Rafa! 30-30. Soderling sends a shot just wide: 40-30. Another wide shot and Rafa holds. Tiebreak.
Soderling 5-4 in tiebreaks; Rafa is 10-4. Mini-break to Rafa. Soderling nets a ball: 2-0. Soderling sends a shot wide: 3-0. Soderling pushing: 4-0. More net-cord love for Rafa: 5-0. Rafa hits deep and it’s 6-0. Toni looking much more relaxed. Soderling gets one mini-break back. Rafa set up his shot perfectly..and then hits the ball into the net. 6-2 with Soderling to serve the next two points. Soderling sends a shot long: second set to Rafa.
Rafa serving to start the third. Beautiful shot from Rafa – cross court backhand that lands in the corner behind Soderling. Rafa holds easily.
Rafa’s backhand bounced before it got to the net – so weird. Deuce on Soderling’s serve. Nice smash from Soderling and he has game point. He holds: 1-1 3rd set.
Double fault from Rafa. Beauty of a slice backhand and Soderling nets the return. Rafa returns the favor: 15-30. Another netted ball from Soderling: 30-30. Bad mis-hit from Soderling and it’s 40-30. Ace! Rafa holds.
Good passing shot from Soderling. And an excellent angled cross-court backhand from him. 30-0. Soderling holds at love.
Rafa holds at love. On serve 3rd set: 3-2.
Soderling attacking nicely again – not pushing. He holds an easy game.
It cracks me up how TTC is pretending this match isn’t happening at all. And by “cracks up” I mean, “pisses me off to no end.”
Rafa sends two shots long: 0-30. I said, “deeper” Rafa – not long. Soderling mis-hits a shot way wide: 15-30. Good backhand from Soderling. He has a break point. Make that double break point. Rafa saves one with a smoking forehand. He can’t save another. Soderling breaks: 3-4 third set.
Rafa plays human backboard and it’s 15-15 on Soderling’s next serve. Rafa’s down! Trips and almost face plants on the clay. Seems to be okay, though. Soderling holds: 3-5.
Good drop shot from Soderling and he goes up on Rafa’s serve. He sends a shot wide and it’s 15-15. He moves Soderling well for 30-15. Aggressive play and fierce forehand from Soderling: 30-30. Soderling nets a ball. Rafa holds with a fierce forehand and a loud Vamos! 4-5.
Second serve – Rafa jumps on it, but pushes it long. Soderling stomps on a sitter return from Rafa: 30-0. Rafa sails a forehand: 40-0. Triple set point for Soderling. Rafa nets a ball: 3rd set to Soderling. Soderling up 2 sets to 1. Rafa has never played a 5 set match at Roland Garros. He’ll have to today to win. Perhaps Rafa shouldn’t have trounced him so badly last time…
Rafa holds to start set 4.
Fantastic stretched forehand from Soderling: 15-0. My feed freezes and suddenly, Rafa has double break point. Rafa gets a shot low to Soderling forehand and he can’t handle it: break to Rafa. 2-0 in the fourth.
Soderling takes control of a second serve: 0-15. Rafa nets a ball: 0-30. Soderling bounces on some short shots from Rafa and has triple break point. Soderling tees off on a second serve, takes control of the point and breaks Rafa at love.
Soderling cracks a wicked forehand at 30-30 for a game point. He nets a ball and it’s deuce. Good serve volley combo and Soderling has a game point. Short return from Rafa and Soderling holds. 2-2 in the fourth.
Beautiful forehand down the line from Rafa. Another Vamos! And it’s 30-0. Rafa holds at love.
Mild heart attack as my feed momentarily switches to golf. Soderling holds at love: 3-3.
Fierce forehand from Rafa: 15-0. Equally fierce backhand from Soderling: 15-15. Ace! Well constructed and executed point from Rafa – moving Soderling wider and wider: 30-15. Service winner and Rafa holds: 4-3.
Rafa nets a ball and sends one long – gifting Soderling a 30-0 lead. The match enters it’s third hour. Wicked forehand from Rafa. Soderling pushes Rafa deep and follows it into the net. Wins the point with a good volley that has Rafa slipping and sliding. Soderling sends a shot just long. Soderling closes the game with a strong serve and stronger forehand.
My feed just died. That sentence looks much calmer than I feel. Someone found me a feed in Spanish just as Soderling holds for 5-5.
Rafa sends a shot long: 0-15. Soderling sends a shot out. I can’t tell if it’s long or wide on the wee feed, but I don’t care – it’s out. 15-15 Game to Rafa: 6-5 on serve.
Safina watching the match.
Soderling threads the needle on a passing shot: 15-0. Rafa plays aggressively pushing Soderling deep and then finishing off at the net: 15-15. Good smash from Soderling: 30-12. Ace. Massive error from Soderling on a sitter: 40-30. Rafa digs out a deep ball and somehow hits a winner: deuce. Soderling paints a line – game point. Boo-boo from Soderling: deuce. Rafa digs out two deep balls, but it’s not enough: game point Soderling. Service winner – Soderling holds. Tiebreak.
Long rally ends in an error from Rafa – mini-break to Soderling. 2-0 Soderling. Boo-boo gives a mini-break back: 1-2. Another mini-break to Soderling thanks to an excellent passing shot: 1-3. Second serve. Bad error from Rafa: 1-4. Rafa nets a ball and it’s 1-6. Rafa guts out a tough point: 2-6. Soderling wins. Rafa loses for the first time at Roland Garros.
That’s the quickest I’ve ever seen Rafa leave the court.
I didn’t see any sign of injury, but I’m now wondering why Rafa needed extra work from Maymo Friday. Soderling played smart and he played well, though. Damn him. Gee, what was it Rafa said in that “French Open Tonight” interview? “Well, I’m going to lose.”
Nole and Rafa out…if Roger doesn’t win this, he’s an idiot.