Rafa through to the third

Photo by REUTERS / Ray Stubblebine

Photo by REUTERS / Ray Stubblebine

For his second round match at the USO, Rafa took on former top ten but currently ranked #129 Nicolas Kiefer during the last match of the day in Arthur Ashe stadium. Rafa started out on fire while Kiefer looked like he wasn’t quite awake yet. It took just 24 minutes for Rafa to serve up a first set bagel. After that, however, things got tricky. Rafa lost a bit of concentration, then confidence and his play became more passive. He worked his way back into the match, however and won: 6-0 3-6 6-3 6-4.


Stats

Nadal Kiefer
Aces 3 6
Double Faults 1 5
1st Serve % 62% 41%
1st Serve Points Won 36/50 (72%) 38/54 (70%)
2nd Serve Points Won 26/31 (84%) 33/79 (42%)
Return Points Won 62/133 (47%) 19/81 (23%)
Break Points Conversions 6/15 (40%) 2/3 (67%)
Unforced Errors 22 59
Winners (including service) 42 42
Net Approaches 25/33 (73%) 27/42 (64%)
Total Points Won 124 90
Fastest Serve Speed 123 MPH 135 MPH
Average 1st Serve Speed 107 MPH 121 MPH
Average 2nd Serve Speed 90 MPH 87 MPH

As it happened blatherings:

(This will be exceedingly boring because I was too busy trying to pack and get ready for my trip to NY to cut and paste some of the funny chat thoughts.)

JMac just said that he talked to Costa who said Rafa’s tummy is okay.

Rafa starts things off by breaking serve. Woot!

Rafa closes out his first service game with an ace – 2-0. Kiefer not putting up much of a fight so far. Pretty soon, it’s 4-0. Someone needs to wake Kiefer up before this match puts me to sleep.

I feel like I’m cheating on Rafa – streaming his match with the sound down and watching Navarro/Dent. (Sorry, but it’s a way more exciting match!) Bagel. First set done in 24 minutes. Only 2 UEs that first set for Rafa; 8 winners.

Navarro/Dent into an exciting 5th set tie-break. Brave volley by Navarro when he had match point against. Oh, wrong match. (Sorry!) Dang, how many match points can Navarro save?

Keifer’s got on the score board by holding serve to start set 2.

Holy crap – that was a hell of a winner on match point. Dent is through.

Meanwhile, back on the main court, Kiefer is looking a little less groggy, but so far he’s no match for Rafa who is up 2-1 in set two.

Kiefer broke back…maybe I should be paying attention instead of packing!

I love hearing JMac praising Rafa’s volleying. I mean, he should know good hands at the net when he sees them.

Rafa seems to be taking a bit of a nap of his own. Kiefer breaks twice and has a 4-2 lead in the second.

Kiefer is suddenly really running Rafa well while he’s barely moving and swinging away. Kiefer holds for 5-2.

Rafa holds for 5-3. Kiefer serving for the set.

I know it’s stating the obvious, but concentration and confidence are going to be Rafa’s biggest problems in the tourney and that’s exactly what we are seeing here. It looks like he lost concentration, which lost him some games which lost him some confidence. However, if he wins this, I think it will be the kind of the match he needs – a fight that he comes through.

Rafa saves one set point, but can’t save another. Kiefer wins his first set ever against Rafa 3-6.

Okay, everyone….it’s time for a rousing round of, “Deeper, Rafa, deeper!” Ooo…that hit the spot!

BEAUTIFUL angle!

Both players hold and it’s 1-1 in the second set.

Smack that ball! Get that frustration out. 2-1.

Rafa reverting to standing clay-back to receive serve.

@Ataraxis00: Did Rafa practice with Monfils? Offensive … hug the baseline .. it’s a hard court. Thank you.

3-3 3rd set

Rafa only getting 47% of first serves in this set. He’s winning 89% of the second serve points, though.

Break point and a Vamos! from Rafa. Kiefer saves it with an excellent serve. Playing aggressively on a second serve gets Rafa another break point. Kiefer hits a soft drop shop and then a deft lob to save another point. Rafa sends a shot wide and it’s game point to Kiefer. A few deuces later and Kiefer sprays a shot wide to give Rafa his 4th break point. Fault. A sharp and fast angled backhand followed up by a fierce forehand and Rafa breaks.

Rafa serving for the set. Rafa holds at love and wins the 3rd set.

@kefuoe: @nadalnews I really got the feeling that Nadal was loving the fight in the 8th game; much more so than the lopsided first set.

On serve 1-1 in the 4th. Rafa has his chances in the next game, but Kiefer holds for 2-1.

I get lost in talking photography in chat and suddenly it’s 3-2.

Rafa wrong-foots Kiefer and give us a full fist pump, knee lift Vamos!

Good think I’m not depending on the USO stream, because it just died.

Rafa holds and Kiefer is serving to stay in the match. Despite an amazing reflex half volley by Rafa on game point, Kiefer holds. Rafa to serve for the match. He holds and is through to the next round.

105 Responses

  1. mary says:

    This is part of the interview Rafa gave after his win against Kiefer.

    “It was a very good test for me, no?,” Rafa said in a court-side interview after the match that ended at 12:15 A.M. local time. “When you win the first set easy and then he starts to play better it’s difficult. Nicolas is a great player, he played a good match and I’m very happy to beat him,” he concluded.

    This is the only thing that matters. He is happy to be in the 3rd round. Vamos el matador!!!

  2. CC says:

    I am by no means a tennis expert. I sometimes struggle to understand “crosscourt this” and “behind the baseline that”, but to me that doesn’t matter.
    I often tend to ignore comments that deal with the “technicalities” of Rafa’s game, because I think we all know that Rafa possesses these skills already and also knows how to tactically play each and every opponent.
    If Rafa, for example, stands far behind the baseline to receive serve, then there must be a reason for it, a reason that Rafa, Tio Toni and his posse have worked out.
    To me, the outcome of the rest of the USO has all to do with Rafa’s confidence, which I think seems to fluctuate and be all over the place at the moment. This is no surprise to me. (I am perhaps more suprised over the fact that he did so well in Montreal and Cincinnati.) The guy has had to deal with a lot. It hasn’t just been the hurting knees, but pulling out of Queens and Wimbledon etc.
    I don’t doubt that Rafa will be back to win. It will take a while, but with colm and positive acktitude, he can do it, for sure, no?

    • An says:

      Yes! And maybe you don’t know so much about tennis tactics but you sure analyse Rafa well! ( Not that i had expected anything else :) )

      In my opinion, i’m not in Rafa’s team and i agree that they know best how and why he does something but if youre intrested this is my meaning:
      The standing far behind the baseline is something Rafa does when he hasn’t so much confidence in his returns and thats what we have him seen strugling with since his comeback, it has to do with timing, wich he doesnt feel confident enough about cause he thinks/knows he still lacks rythem!
      Standing far behind, i think he does because it gives him more time and a better chance to get the ball in the rally, he accepts that it can give him trouble sometimes on the next ball but the question is in wich way he would lose more points, by making an direct error on the serve return or by giving the opponent a chance to hit a winner on the 3rd ball because he’s got the oppertunity by having so much space. I’m a tennis player, tough by far not so good as the guys there, no compare. But i can tell you, when you see much space and you have much time its almost more difficult to hit a winner then when you have to do it in a reflex.
      That ball ( winner ) first have to bin hit and for a lot off opponents its difficult to hit that winner all the time and thats Rafa’s guess i think!

      I think Rafa can winn points more easy by snuggling in to the baseline more and not drop back the ball so short ( wich is a direct consequense of standing so far back ), thats why i always want him to do that in a match and i always yell that in the chat :):)
      I know he can do it but He Himself has to know he can do that and if he doesnt feel confident enough i agree with his choice.

      So, CC, this was quite a noveel to say that i totally agree with you and that its all about Rafa being with confidence, with “colm”!!
      Rafa, you can!

      • CC says:

        See, and there was me thinking that Rafa standing far behind the baseline was a tactic that made Rafa better than everyone else… ;)

        If you check out his presser on USO he says there he’ll have to be aggressive on his return when playing today.

        Thanks An, it’s great to get someone who actually plays the game to analyse!

  3. RC says:

    Let’s hear from our boy abouth this and hope he comes out guns ablazing for tomorrow’s/today’s match with Almagro. Third match in a row that he has faced an opponent that has never beaten him. That is quite bizarre. I wonder how often that has happened? Anyway, he knows he has to be more aggressive on his return of serve and I guess we will find out tomorrow/today if all this gloom and doom is real or just the product of Rafa working his way into the tourney. Remember Kiefer was almost booed off the court in the first set, so he started to play with much more intensity after that. It was also his first time EVER on the main court at the USO in his entire career, so that first set looks like an absolute aberration. The Almagro match should be a better barometer of where Rafa is, in seeing what he needs to focus on for the second week. All the top seeds are now struggling; the court is probably the fastest that is playing on the tour (I heard Mac say this during the match), and just like everyone else, Rafa has to find his rhythm.

    http://www.usopen.org/en_US/news/interviews/2009-09-05/200909051252165976546.html

    • mary says:

      Thanks RC for that. I felt soooooooooo sorry for our Rafa having to do a presser at what 1.15-1.20am & he hadn’t even eaten. At least when he plays next it will be at a reasonable time, well for Rafa that is. I love it when those journo’s try to put words in his mouth (re nerves) and he gives it straight back at them. Same with the the timing of the game, priceless!!

      • Atch2 says:

        Rafa always has a non-agressive, cute way of complaining. I’m sure he accepts it but I think women should be made to play the 2nd match of the night sessions more often. They get the same prize money and only play 3 sets, so there should be some fairness in the slams.

        Is the USO the only slam where the 5th set is a tie-break? I thought it was odd when I was watching Dent-Navarro match.

        • An says:

          Yep, spot on! The USO is the only slam where they do that.

          I think i heard the reason was that American TV demanded that because otherwise they could never time a tennis match ( wich is always hard but esp if you have a fifth set that goes on to 18-16 orso )

          My opninion is that its unfair cause the tie-break is a sort off lottery

      • Carol says:

        1.15 – 1.20 am: that’s obscene. Jeez, I’d be collapsed in a corner. Can only hope the adrenalin is still propping him up.

      • CC says:

        But it’s the same for everyone who plays night matches, no?

        • Atch2 says:

          True, but mostly the men. I think A-Rod started one of his matches at 11pm.

          • mary says:

            yep & I watched most of it. They even move one the womens matches to another court bec the lateness.
            I felt sorry for Andy, tie breakers suck in the last set. Only in America hey!

          • CC says:

            I don’t care much for women’s pro tennis.

            • Nic says:

              Hey cc what channel is the tennis on in the Uk? Sorry, I know this is a little random but I need help from you who are in the know, am desperate :) thanks!

              • CC says:

                Sorry, Nic, didn’t see your comment until now! If it’s of any help now, the tennis is shown on the Sky sports channels (varies wich one)…

  4. Ch F says:

    Did I hear well? A new abdominal injury? Just saw the treatment on court…That’s the last thing he needs…Does anyone know anything about this?

    • teejustice says:

      he had tape on the abdominals during Cincy. I think it flared up in one of the practice vids that was posted

      • Ch F says:

        oh, and is it serious like the knee injury? he seemed to be in pain today and the commentators were shouting oh another injury and how serious can it be etc..I watched it online and Mc Enroe seemed to be very pessimistic about it.

        • mary says:

          He had this problemo in cinci & he didn’t let it interfer in his game. Hope it is minor, but I tell ya it affected his forehand. It was weeker than normal & that is a concern. However, after he was treated he improved. Make of it what you wiil, that was my observation

  5. Suzanne says:

    It seems like his serve is a bit slow since the tummy ache…By the way, did you all see the sweet oncourt interview with Mary Jo Fernandez? When she asked him how he felt about the crowd’s reaction to his shirt change he said, “I’m shy about those things” and evidently turned totally red. What a cutie pie! I don’t know why, after the few hiccups this week, but I feel like he really wants this one and is ging to work his arse off to get it. If he goes one round farther than Mooooooray, he’ll re-gain number two…not that that matters (he, ha…I think he DOES prefer his usual spot). Nothing is certain (look at all the women’s seeds dropping like flies) but he’s gaining momentum and seeming comfortable in NY like never before.

    • Ch F says:

      Yeah I thought that was very sweet as well. I watched the match online and I thought Mc Enroe was taking TOO much and was a bit too pessimistic about Rafa’s abdominal pain. I was depressed! Let’s hope he’s not right.

  6. miri says:

    Hey, guys – someone came over here and posted something thoughtful about Rafa’s play. He wasn’t slagging, he was stating an opinion in a neutral manner. No slagging him back. Yes, this is a fan site, but it’s not required that you only say nice, fluffy things about Rafa’s play.

    Okay, that’s enough. Sorry I didn’t have time to nip this in the bud yesterday.

    • CC says:

      “…but it’s not required that you only say nice, fluffy things about Rafa’s play.”

      Thanks miri, I completely agree with you. What’s the point if we cannot have a discussion about things?