So long, USO

Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

For the second US Open semi-final of his career, Rafa took on Juan Martin Del Potro today in a weather delayed match. Del Potro had been playing well at the Open and had beaten Rafa twice on hard courts this year, so everyone knew this could be a tight match. But…was it? It felt a bit tighter than the score, but not by a whole lot. Del Potro totally had Rafa’s number today and I fear he’s Rafa’s new Nalbandian. He beats Rafa 6-2 6-2 6-2.



Stats:

Nadal Del Potro
Aces 4 6
Double Faults 4 3
1st Serve % 78% 66%
1st Serve Points Won 40/70 (57%) 44/56 (79%)
2nd Serve Points Won 6/20 (30%) 12/29 (41%)
Return Points Won 29/85 (34%) 44/90 (49%)
Break Points Conversions 0/5 (0%) 6/16 (38%)
Unforced Errors 27 28
Winners (including service) 19 33
Net Approaches 13/20 (65%) 17/24 (71%)
Total Points Won 75 100
Fastest Serve Speed 119 MPH 134 MPH
Average 1st Serve Speed 107 MPH 116 MPH
Average 2nd Serve Speed 84 MPH 95 MPH

As it happened blatherings:

Boys on the court warming up while ESPN2 is talking about last night.

Kalliopeia: the thing about del potro is that I’m not sure he has the fitness to hang with rafa over a long match
miri: I agree

@skyejaden: battle of the Nike bumble bees

Toni saying abs not better after the day off. DelPo starts off with a steady hold.

Deuce on Rafa’s first serve. DelPo sends a shot long to give Rafa game point. Rafa double faults back to deuce. He then sends a shot long and DelPo has a break point. Fault. Rafa saves the BP. Rafa holds, but with the tummy problem, he really needs to keep the drama down on his serves.

Rafa does a tweener and ends up almost on his knees, but still loses the point. Nice angled volley from Rafa.

Kalliopeia: I like that Rafa is getting his shots deep for the most part.
Kalliopeia: I think he’ll make a few more errors that way but I know that he doesn’t want to give Delpo a chance to come in and bet really aggressive
miri: he just has to learn to live with a higher error count.
Kalliopeia: his hair looks adorably floppy today

Break point for Rafa! Oops…tight looking shot and it’s deuce. Two excellent serves and DelPo holds.

Rafa looking settled and calm on the change-over. I always like seeing that.

Rafa sends a shot long and DelPo is ahead on Rafa’s serve. Break point for DelPo. Good serve into the body handcuffs DelPo and it’s deuce. Ace! Fantastic cross-court angle from DelPo gives us another deuce. Rafa sends a forehand long and it’s BP again. Rafa sends a volley long and DelPo breaks: 1-3.

DelPo slips and falls – did he turn an ankle? Doesn’t look like it – he seems fine and is serving like a fiend. DelPo holds and it’s 1-4 in the first set.

Pretty lob from Rafa- always impressive when one manages to lob a guy with so much altitude. Rafa holds for 2-4.

Amazing cross-court angle from Rafa gives him a break point and our first big Vamos! He sends a shot long and its deuce. Double fault – break point again. Excellent serve and Rafa’s return is wide: deuce. Another long shot from Rafa and it’s game point DelPo. Rafa’s shot is called wide, but the call is overturned on a challenge. Still game point DelPo. DelPo nets a ball – deuce. ARGH!!! Rafa hit all the difficult shots and then sends a ball long: game point DelPo. DelPo holds. Rafa to serve to stay in the set.

Kalliopeia: don’t get frustrated rafa
Kalliopeia: I’ll do that for you. you just concentrate

Double break point (set point) for Delpo. Fault. Rafa moves DelPo well to save one. Ace! Rafa nets a forehand and it’s another set point for DelPo. DelPo fires a forehand and takes the first set 6-2.

Rafa’s forehand is breaking down and DelPo is taking full advantage of it.

Jack Kramer has passed. Most probably, we wouldn’t be watching this match/event if it weren’t for him.

Kalliopeia: okay rafa, there’s a pattern here. you are getting hit by that angle on the forehand side over and over again. If you weren’t going crosscourt to him every time, that wouldn’t be as easy for him to do.

Kalliopeia: change direction now and then, so he at least can’t be totally confident where you’re going

Oooo…that was a pretty cross court backhand. Break point for Rafa – vamos! Another excellent serve from DelPo and it’s back to deuce. DelPo holds.

Rafa has to move in closer to cut off the angle on the return of serve.

Crap – horrid serve for double fault and Rafa bending over. Tummy hurting? Rafa 10-14 when losing the first set. If he doesn’t turn this around, I can never go to another tourny again! Rafa holds for 1-1 in set two.

Kalliopeia: there you go rafa. take it to him, use the whole court.

Rafa goes up on DelPo’s serve, but doesn’t deal well with the wind and it’s 30-30. A bad call and they have to replay the next point. Rafa sends a shot just long and is getting most frustrated. Rafa nets a ball and DelPo holds.

Rafa double faults to give DelPo a break.

DelPo closes another slight opening with an ace. Break point for Rafa. Rafa nets a ball and shows intense frustration. Deuce. He goes for another forehand and nets it again…game point for DelPo. DelPo is totally controlling the court and play. He’s up 4-1 in the second.

miri: I think I’m banned from tournaments for life.
Kalliopeia: you totally are. :)
Kalliopeia: the thing that bugs me is that Delpo won’t have a prayer against Federer.

DelPo might be solving my “why are they starting the final while I’m still at work” problem.

Rafa keeps having to save break points.

Kalliopeia: he’s beating rafa’s forehand to a bloody pulp
miri: Yep. He’s the new Nalbandian
Kalliopeia: only less likeable
miri: heh
miri: I worry he’s in Rafa’s head
Kalliopeia: yeah
Kalliopeia: if rafa can manage to beat him it would be brilliant for his confidence for tomorrow.
miri: very true
Kalliopeia: but he can barely hold serve right now. :(

Rafa finally holds and it’s 2-4. DelPo serves well and closes another opening: 2-5.

Triple break/set point for DelPo. Second set to DelPo: 6-2.

DelPo holds to start set 3.

Cahill is saying that Rafa’s toss is getting lower and lower. DelPo is using the standard “how to beat Rafa on hard court” play book and is managing to pull it off so far. DelPo breaks Rafa on his first service game in the third.

Kalliopeia: god this is depressing

Easy hold for DelPo. Rafa holds for 2-4.

Doing his fighting best! Nice point.

Kalliopeia: God, I love how he just never gives up
miri: I know.

But DelPo holds and Rafa to serve to stay in the tournament. Triple Match/break point for DelPo. And he wins.

Kalliopeia: enjoy it now, dude. you’ll freeze up like a rabbit tomorrow

96 Responses

  1. glors27 says:

    BTW – did you see Kim s baby??? what an adorable baby!!! I love her winning tonight! Congratulations mommy!!

  2. Pistolpete says:

    Rafa will beat DelPotro when they meet next -> ….

    Q. He’s beaten you three straight times now. What’s changed or what makes his game so difficult for you, especially recently?

    RAFAEL NADAL: I don’t know. He’s playing really well. That’s the true, no?

    You know, doesn’t matter that, no? Because I feel I played three times against him, and not one I played my tennis, no? So that’s the true, no?

    Because of him maybe, but in this case I think is more because of me. So anyway, if I am in perfect conditions, the match against him is very difficult because he is serving unbelievable, and from the baseline he has a very good control, no?

    But I really didn’t play my best tennis in that three matches, no? Miami, if you remember, I was two breaks up in the first set, and ‑‑ yeah, was a disaster. (laughter.)

    In Montreal was the first tournament after coming back on injury. And here is the more real one, but, you know, is more difficult.
    ___________

    Q. On what shots did your abdominal hurt you the most?

    RAFAEL NADAL: No, I think he played with a lot of confidence, no? I didn’t have the match ‑‑ I start to playing well, but when I played against the wind, I can’t serve a little bit faster, no, and I can’t change a lot of directions.

    But when I was serving to the middle in the advantage, and I can say I really can’t serve outside in the deuce, no? I only can serve in the middle, because if I serve it outside, the abdominal kill me, no?

    So when I play against the wind was very difficult, no? I didn’t had any advantage in no one point with my serve, and with this kind of players, and especially when he’s playing like this today, is impossible.

    So just, yeah, congratulate him. That’s it. I think he’s doing really well, and today he was playing much better than me.
    _______

    Q. To what degree did your stomach injury affect you today and in this tournament?

    RAFAEL NADAL: I going to repeat: He played much better than me, and for that reason he beat me. Later, it sounds like an excuse, no?

    Second thing, well, this year not very lucky year for me. A lot of bad things happen. First injury on the knees, tough injury.

    And when I came back, I came back perfect the knees, but maybe because I was few time outside of this competition and I must started played two Masters Series at the top level maybe was a little bit too much to come back, no?

    Is much better if you can start a little bit slowly with a little bit small tournaments not with the Masters Series. But I don’t have any option, because the calendar says that, and I did.

    I am very happy how I came back, but, now I had the first problem of the abdominal in Montreal after the match of Petzschner second round. I must gonna explain because I say during the week I prefer to didn’t speak about the injury during the week because I am in tournament right now.

    I can say after Montreal I was doing a test. I did a test in Montreal, and the doctor didn’t see a lot, but the pain is still there. Cincinnati, the pain increase a little bit more. After the semifinals against Djokovic, I went to do an MRI, and I had some edema, strained muscle, and I think during these two weeks the strain is converted into a little bit of rupture, no? A little bit break.

    Yeah, was tough to play few matches like this. But at the same time, was important for maybe play this tournament, try my best. It’s one of the most important tournaments of the year, and I had to try, no?

    I did a good result, very positive result for me after coming back. Semifinals. Today he played better than me. He beat me, and right now I just try to recover. Is not very important injury, so that’s really important for me, too.

    • Clare says:

      He is such a humble and fair player that handles a loss better and with more dignity than anyone else on the tour (although we’d like him to have to handle a few less of those!!!)….

      He makes me proud to support him, and there a few who could learn a thing or two about sportsmanship from Rafa!!!

  3. Eliana says:

    I’ve gotta say Rafa is a trooper. He didn’t only went to the US open with what seems as a serious tear, he had one of the toughest draws in the tourney, fought through all of the matches, played almost all of them late at night, battled the weather, WOW! And through all of it arrived to the semis and is again the no.2 player in the world. He should feel very proud of his accomplishments, just as we are!! Honey just take care of yourself, we will be waiting for you when you feel prepared and recovered.

  4. Zoe says:

    Two more interesting q/a’s from the full transcript of Rafa’s press conference that were not included in the video:

    http://www.usopen.org/en_US/news/interviews/2009-09-13/200909131252880634406.html

    Q. How long do you have to rest now because of the injury? How long do you have to rest?

    RAFAEL NADAL: I have to see everything, no? I have to see the doctor in Spain. I have to do another test, because I didn’t ‑‑ I didn’t want to do a test during the tournament because anyway I gonna play.

    So I don’t know how is the injury right now, but I expect not a lot.

    Q. Is there any point at which you considered not playing? How much pain would there have to be? Would you play no matter what? Was there any point when maybe you thought you would not play or you were going to play even with the pain?

    RAFAEL NADAL: No, no, I gonna play. I really gonna play this tournament, and I say before the tournament anyway. With the pain I gonna ‑‑ well, if I break a leg, impossible to play, no?

    But sure, this tournament is enough important to do all in my hands, no? And I did.

    FastScripts by ASAP Sports [END QUOTE]

    It just breaks my heart how the press and other “fans” treat Rafa. Why they can’t see him for the amazing person and brave and humble champion he is continues to baffle me.

    By the way, it’s good to hear that at least Rafa wouldn’t try to play with a broken leg! :-)

  5. Clare says:

    “By the way, it’s good to hear that at least Rafa wouldn’t try to play with a broken leg! :-)”

    Don’t bet on it ;) !!!

    • Carol says:

      He’d sit on a table, like he did to keep his hand in when recovering in 2004 or 5!!

      Oh Rafa, you have a naughty sense of humour sometimes…

      • mary says:

        I could just imagine Rafa with leg in plaster, neck brace, tummy wrap, eye patch, head bandana, bird on shoulder & racquet in hand. “Ahoy me matey’s anyone for a set or two?”

  6. aRafaelite says:

    I was too upset to comment earlier. I tried to sleep after the match but couldn’t and then had to work this morning (so much for my day off) so I’m still overly emotional about what is just a lost tennis match (gonna go and lose my own later, would like to blame lack of sleep, but I always lose anyway so no excuses)!

    I didn’t think Rafa was going to get past Del Potro with an injury but I also didn’t expect to witness the horrible pattern of breaks that occurred. Del Po played great tennis and served his way out of trouble again and again which left Rafa with very little he could do. At least Del Po showed Rafa more respect after this match than he did in Miami (I liked Del Po up until then, but he was so full of the win I went right off him), and hopefully he’s so fired up now (and comparatively fresh) that he’ll really take it to Fed tomorrow and pull off his first GS win on pure adrenalin (straight sets again please Del Po, think you can do it?!) Can’t believe Nole went out in straight sets as well :( though at least he gave Fed more of a work out which will hopefully favour Del Po tomorrow. Yes, I know, I’m supporting the boy who “destroyed/annihiliated/beat up” our beloved bumblebee, but I’d still prefer to see him win than Fed!

    Rafa we all adore you. Please rest and recover. 2009 wasn’t your year, let it go, don’t let it get into your head, and don’t take on too much for the rest of the year. Come back fit and focused in 2010… Lady Luck will be joining us behind you next year.

    • An says:

      I intend to believe that all happens for some reason…
      I do not always understand or see that reason, not by far!!!!

      But it makes things more acceptable for me to believe it, so….

      2008 was totally Rafa’s year, 2009 started great but didn’t turn out to be…
      Rafa told us once that after the AO final he felt a little empty, “done this too, what else is left”…
      Just a loose tought in my mind but maybe all this happens to our Rafa bumbelbee to show him that he still got plenty of goals left, plenty of fire in his tummy, plenty of motivation to kick the ass of all other tennisplayers on this earth…
      I’m deffinitly NOT saing that he had this comming by thinking that way or that he deserves what is happening to him in this year!!! So please, i beg you faith, let it stop now, let Rafa heal and be able to enjoy what he loves doing an what we love to see him doing, playing the greatest best f*****g tennis on this plannet!

      Rafa, VAMOS!

      • CC says:

        “Just a loose tought in my mind but maybe all this happens to our Rafa bumbelbee to show him that he still got plenty of goals left…”

        That’s a nice thought right there, An. Hold on to that one!

        • An says:

          I will, CC, thank you for understanding!

          And i realy hope that bad luck ends here for him and starts letting him play tennis again. BECAUSE HE CAN!

  7. CC says:

    There are some Rafa-losses that are really, really painful but this one I can accept with colm. Del Potro played perhaps the match of his life, whereas Rafa just wasn’t ready.
    What made me feel kind of “good” about this match (although I was of course disappointed) was to see how HUGE Rafa’s heart is for the game and how he just fights for every, every, every single point. I know this is no new, but some matches it just strikes me more than others and this was one of them.
    Vamos Rafa, you inspire me so much!!!

  8. mary says:

    That’s what draws us to Rafa, he’s total commitment, tenacity, courage & belief. So gals if we are one ounce the person he is we can be inspired to do anything. I got a funny feeling that all of us want to be the best we can, because of you Rafa!!

  9. AnaR says:

    It was really a depressing match.. I’m so sad!.

  10. mary says:

    Del won yipeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Validates Rafa!!!!

    • Ch F says:

      Now that’s what I call a worthy opponent! After Rafa, he as well manages to beat Roger in a grand slam final. Roger may have helped a bit towards the end but still played a very good match, especially in the first two sets. Great job kid!!! But more competition and pressure for Rafa now…Let’s hope he’ll take it as a challenge, as he always does. Reminds me of how I miss seeing Rafa lift that trophy!!!

      • mary says:

        Oh most definitely. But contrary to many I do believe Rafa has already figured Del Potro out. He said as much in his presser, that he couldn’t hit cross court as it killed him. Fed did not hit across court enough thanks to Del’s fast thinking, but as we know Fed doesn’t compare to our Rafa & his abilities.

      • Eliana says:

        Sooooo happy and proud that a Hispanic won! As Mary said, it validates Rafa (w/ injury and all). Federer is so good but Delpo was the best and he deserves this title after the excellent summer he has had. Congrats!!!

      • Atch2 says:

        Good going Del Po. Hope Fed let him enjoy the win.

        Rafa will have Del Po figured. He did with Blake, Tsonga, Nalbandian and the Big One-Fed. So many couldn’t figure Fed out and Rafa managed it and esp in Grand Slam finals.

  11. AineC says:

    Semi’s of a Grand Slam is a great result, especially when returning from injury. Rafa is one smart cookie and will have learned so much about how to play DelPotro from this match. When he’s fit again, he can put that learning into practice. He’s a champ who needs a rest and a lot of sunshine right now but he’ll be back soon at his charming and amazing best.

  12. Ch F says:

    In the beginning of the match, I thought Roger had spent a lot of time-the time Rafa spent in the locker waiting for his match to begin- watching DP play again and again and figure out a way to beat him. His anticipation level was great in the first two sets and he seemed to realize that you don’t let DP have the upper hand in the beginning of the match because he fires up in an unstoppable way. It was a good strategy until the end of the second set, and when DP made it to 5-5 after a controversial forehand, Roger never recovered entirely. I think there’s a point in each DP match when he regroups and puts pressure no matter what, even if he’s under pressure himself, which is a rare quality. He did the same against Cilic-practically at the same point of the match, end of the second set. But then again I’m sure Rafa knows all that ;-)

  13. AnaR says:

    I think that we should not forget that Roger Federer was all last year without winning a single tournament, neither one during all a year .. and now he is back and winning .. It’s just a bad time for Rafael. He moved back, but not fully recovered .. Please read the translation of the last interview and what says Rafa, in these weeks has been more successful than he and his team thought before returning. Please, the first tournament after more than two months in Montreal and Rafa makes quarterfinals … the second tournament in Cincy and semifinals .. the third tournament semifinals in the U.S. Open .. not any tournament, it’s a GS and the U.S. Open and it’s true that he has loss a match but it was against Delpo that at the end has won to RF and the Open USA .. I sincerely believe is a very good result. The abdominal injury is normal when a player wants to regain his fitness in less time than normal … Girls .. you should not be so concerned .. Rafael is back and knees (this if was a major injury) are fine. The other injury is very normal in the world of tennis. In 2, 3 weeks Rafa will be fine … surely he will not be on the first tournament that is 250 points, but if on next. Don’t worry about this, please!.

    • miri says:

      Roger won Basel, Halle, Estoril and the USO last year.

      • tiemyshoe says:

        It’s weird that, obviously the truth is that this is Rafa’s worst year ever on the tour, yet he still has one slam and three MS trophies. Does. Not. Compute.

        • johanne says:

          I know I was thinking the same thing – Rafa has 5 titles! But they said this about Fed last year too yet he still won a Slam and had been in 2 other Slam finals. I think this summer has been a tricky one, for sure. We’ll see what happens the rest of the year. :)

        • mary says:

          tiemyshoe Rafa has won 5 titles this year. Still is mind boggling when you think you can win 5 tourneys, all very hard tourney’s yet still come in 2nd when the the one who is no. 1 at present won only 4. Crazy hey!!!!!! (yes I know the scoring system, still doesn’t make it right)

  14. AnaR says:

    miri, true, you’re right, these errors are due to the emotion of the moment, but .. it was an irregular year of Roger, because of the disease, mononucleosis. Therefore it is important to understand that Rafa has had problems but he will overcome it.

  15. AnaR says:

    Miri, This video was made by La Cuatro TV just before the match against Delpo .. to support Rafa’s mood and this can serve to wait with the best mood the Rafa’s return within days. The translation I will do it during the morning but it’s great fun .. truth. With the style of Rafa …

    http://www.cuatro.com/deportes/videos/rafa-nadal-vuelta/20090913ctoultnot_2/

    • AineC says:

      Gracias AnaR, what an amazing video, just loved it!!! “Podemos”…!

    • Carol says:

      I didn’t understand a word, but it looked very positive, together with the “fighting” music (sounded like a bit of Wagner?). AnaR – can’t wait for your work on this.
      Particularly Podemos! – even looking at the dictionary, I can’t work it out. Is it something like a colloquialism for “we can do it”?

      I think the locker room and tennis court on fire clips are old? I know I’ve seen them before on YouTube, that’s all. The fire one is brilliant – because yes, Rafa does set the courts alight when he plays!

    • glors27 says:

      Gracias Ana!
      I hadn’t seen this video, loved it! shows how happy he was that he was winning at USO.
      I just KNOW he will come back and come back with a vengeance! that’s his spirit. He’s a fighter and a winner, never gives up. Not many of the good players have that. It’s one of the things that really set him apart from the rest and make him the great champion that he is.

      VAMOS que PODEMOS!!!

    • Atch2 says:

      Miss Rafa biting the trophies. Can’t wait to see him bite another one soon.

      Luved seeing him look and hold that Wimby trophy. U could tell he considered it something precious to behld.

  16. AnaR says:

    This translation was really difficult!. And more or less..is

    Sometimes we have to stop, take more a bit of time and so there was a moment when Rafa stopped because he needed a bit of
    . Relajation (Rafa said)how do you say? (Rafa said) Relajation not you? ..
    laughter from the audience. (this comment is mine) He refers to relax .. but he was very young then and did not know the exact term in English. In Spain we tend to put the words in English with the completion .. ation. And all of you know that the principles of Rafa with English were not the best. The correct word in spanish is: Relajación.

    “A bit of relajation” (said the journalist with the same joke) because at Wimbledon Rafa said he had bottomed out .. he was more aware of the pain that of the match and thus he could not compete. And he needed

    To stop! (with words of Rafa)

    And knees showed that ..

    this was not a story by children (Rafa said)

    But now after that damn knee injury that prevented Rafa won the final in Madrid that he got out of RG in the second round, who denied their title defense at Wimbledon, which was stripped of that number one that never should drop now .. Rafa is back, now with Rafa

    . We can! (Rafa with another sportsmen)

    With Rafa we can, because he has become as big after overcoming a five rivals losing only a single set, after having undergone abdominal pains after surpass himself, now should be measured to Del Potro in the semis, the player who once wanted ..

    – take out his underpants of ass! (Delpo said this before the Davis’s final)

    Yes, the argentinian is strong, he has swept in Montreal but Rafa knows how to beat Del Potro because Rafa has done it double of times that Delpo, and after Del Potro in the final can arrives Federer, Murray or whatever and because Murray knows that he can only to dream about the number one if Rafa is not good, because Federer is concerned for Rafa and because at the same age Rafa has twice the Roger’s titles. For all these reasons and more, our magician of tennis, we say

    Come on!

    Come on! Rafa, because if you won gold in Beijing and was during 46 weeks a number one, now need only one more to be again the same, because Rafa wants the U.S. Open that lacks him, because Rafa has had enough

    Relajation! (once more a joke with the mistake)

    Because now Rafa is back and is back another time as the best in the world and is back to resume the path of who can be quite simply the best ever, because he knows it better than anyone, because when Rafa is good, with Rafa

    We can!.. Rafa with tone of voice .. hoarse.

    • Carol says:

      Yey yey…Rafa!! Vamos,VAMOS, VAMOS!! I don’t care what you must cancel – but heal that abdo.. *big hugs* :-))