Blah de nada

Photo by REUTERS/David Gray

Photo by REUTERS/David Gray

For his second round match at the China Open, Rafa played American James Blake (or Blah as some people call him). They traded breaks at the start of the 1st set, but then settled in until Rafa broke in the 11th game and then served out the set. Both players held easily until the 7th game of the 2nd set when Rafa broke. Rafa wasn’t able to serve it out and, after trading a few breaks, ends up losing the set in a tiebreaker. Rafa breaks in the 8th game of the 3rd and this time does hold serve to win the match 7-5 6-7(4-7) 6-3.


Nadal Blake
Statistics on Serve
Aces 6 6
Double Faults 2 2
1st Serve % 67% 55%
1st Serve Points Won 48/72 (67%) 39/56 (70%)
2nd Serve Points Won 22/36 (61%) 19/45 (42%)
Break Points Saved 8/11 (73%) 1/6 (17%)
Service Games Played 17 16
Statistics on Return
1st Return Points Won 17/56 (30%) 22/72 (33%)
Second Return Points Won 26/45 (58%) 14/36 (39%)
Break Points Won 5/6 (83%) 3/11 (27%)
Return Games Played 16 17
Statistics on Points
Total Service Points Won 70/108 (65%) 58/101 (57%)
Total Return Points Won 43/101 (43%) 38/108 (35%)
Total Points Won 113/209 (54%) 96/209 (46%)

As it happened blatherings:

Not really a lot of these because I’m battling the flu and wasn’t able to concentrate well.

Either the sound on is weirdly echo-y, or my flu-head is wonkier than I thought.

Rafa breaks in the first game thanks to a killer return of serve.

Announcer doesn’t know that Rafa always picks to receive first.

Rafa holds: 2-0.

While I was busy with the flu, Blake broke back and the held – winning three games in a row to take us to 2-3.

TennisLuvah: Rafa is so far behind the baseline. Move the fuck up, crazy man! Lol

piratesswoop: OMG GTFO JAMES BLAKE D:

Inside-out forehand winner from Rafa – beauty. Holy crap, that was pretty – as Rafa was running forward, Blake hit a short ball at Rafa’s feet at back of the service box and Rafa hits a winner off of it. Rafa holds: 3-3.

Ack! Rafa runs down a drop shot only to net the ball. Rafa got up 0-30 on Blake’s serve, but Blake won the next 4 points in a row to hold serve: 3-4.

Damn! That shot from Blake was in? How annoying. Rafa holds: 4-4.

Rafa only winning 61% of his first serve points? That needs to improve. Blake holds at love. Rafa to serve to stay in the set.

TennisLuvah: Why the fuck do slumpers always pick up their game when playing against Rafa? ANNOYING.

Is it possible to OD on cough drops?

Cracks me up that Rafa’s still doing the “tuck the hair behind the ears” twitch as part of his service prep. Pssst – Rafa? No hair to tuck there.

Easy hold for Rafa: 5-5.

Running around a backhand almost got Rafa in trouble. Just trust your backhand, Rafa. Blake double faults and it’s deuce on his serve. Blake tries to serve and volley, but Rafa wins the point – break point. Rafa breaks! He serves for the set next.

TennisLuvah: Vamos! Rafa breaks and will serve for the match at 6-5. Gotta be honest, that was a bit of a gift so take advantage, RAFA!

A blistering backhand gives Blake a break point. Rafa saves both break points and they are at deuce. Rafa holds and take the first set: 7-5.

Blake holds at love to start set 2.

3-2 on serve second set.

Rafa breaks at some point when I’m enjoying the flu again. He’s up 4-3 and serving. Easy hold for Rafa and Blake serving to stay in the match.

Rafa has some chances, but Blake manages to hold in the longest game of the match and forces Rafa to serve for the match.

Rafa double faults on his second match point? Oye. Blake takes the game to deuce. Rafa nets a tough volley and it’s break point for Blake. Ace! Blake blisters a forehand and it’s break point again. The net cord reaches out, grabs the ball, and Blake breaks.

Beauty of a lob from Rafa – he goes up 0-30 on Blake’s serve. Rafa breaks! He gets another chance to serve this out.

I don’t think Rafa’s been playing poorly, but am surprised Blake is giving him this much trouble given how Blake’s been playing lately.

Blake wins the first two points on Rafa’s service game. Another excellent return gives Blake double break point. Good serving saves one. Smart play saves another. Another break point for Blake. Blake breaks. Damn. We are going to a tiebreaker.

Blake keys off on a return and goes up a mini-break. Returns the next ball right at Rafa’s feet and he’s up 0-3 in the tiebreak. Rafa nets a return: 0-4. Blake nets a second serve return and Rafa’s on the scoreboard in the tiebreaker: 1-5. Set point for Blake. Blake sends a shot long and it’s 2-6. Rafa passes Blake and it’s 3-6. Blake nets a return and it’s 4-6. Blake wins the tiebreak and the second set.

Damn you Rafa. I don’t know if I can make it through another set. *loads up on more cough drops*

That bandanna is traveling mighty high – never a good sign.

On serve 2-1. Flu is busting my chops even worse that Blake busted Rafa’s in the tiebreaker.

Okay, crackers were apparently too ambitious. I get back in time to see Rafa serving for the match…again. This time, he does it. Blake no longer has a winning record against him. Woot!

49 Responses

  1. Courtney says:

    5:40 AM here and classes in a few hours… so glad Rafa didn’t go to a tb in the third!!! Good match though.

  2. MillaRafaGrl says:

    thank goodness thats over. vamos rafa -_^

  3. Chant says:

    Oh my gosh, that was pretty much the most stressful match. :o I totally thought Rafa was going to blow everything! Thank the Lord!

  4. xta says:

    hey, miri — it’s so funny that you mentioned the bandanna sliding up…i first took note of it at the AO, and like you say it’s never a good sign…(although since he won the AO, is it really so bad ??? hmmm, i’ll have to ponder that)…but ever since then i’ve gotten a little worried as i see it start to ride up…when it’s really bad you can actually see his hair in front…
    funny the things we notice, no ???
    well, i’m hitting the sack now (2:50 AM here)…
    hope you feel better !!!

    • aRafaelite says:

      Yes, Rafa stop fiddling with hair that isn’t there, and grow it back so we can imagine gently tucking back behind your ears for you… I don’t like being deprived of this particular fancy!

  5. Atch2 says:

    I’m following the match via the live score at work, and I still manage to get stressed out especially after Rafa couldn’t serve it out in the 2nd set. Thank got that’s over and I can drive home happy.
    Vamos Rafa!

  6. mary says:

    “Why the fuck do slumpers always pick up their game when playing against Rafa? ANNOYING.”
    Tennisluvah you said it all. I know It pisses me off no end. But anyone who has played top sport will tell you that sometimes people when they come up against a top player oddly seem to improve & step up above their normal abilities or their very best comes to the for.
    Glad Rafa got up & broke Blake. God he makes your heart stop when he fumbles. Well 3rd time is a charm. Numbers again. He now has beaten Blake 3 times & it took him 3 chances to win the match.
    Gonzo is playing Marat. I like Gonzo but I dearly want Marat to win. The Chinese tennis association want to give him a farewell party. Marat had to tell them he is retiring at the end of the year & not after the Beijing open. :) Go Marat!!!!!!!!!!!

    • aRafaelite says:

      Everyone seems to pick up their game when they play against Rafa. They HAVE to! It’s either play your very best game, or be exterminated by Nadalek! Everyone goes for broke, and somehow (eventually!) he figures out how to beat them. That’s one of the things that makes him so exciting to watch!

      Can’t believe I’m going to spend the next 3 weeks somewhere I won’t have internet access :( must plan my holidays more carefully in future. But no matter, I now have my tickets for Middle Weekend and the QFs of the Australian Open next year, so I’m very broke but very happy. No more injuries Rafa, you hear? And that goes for both Fernando’s too.

      • mary says:

        Just making my last payment for the AO as well. Will see quarters, semi’s & finals. Hope sweet but deadly Rafa will be on his lethal behaviour on court & send em all packing quickly.

        • An says:

          Ah, Mary so cool that you get to go to the AO!
          I saw Rafa’s match against Hewitt this year in RG ( when we where still unknowing of his knee problem and wich was the one match where he played well in Paris this year i think ). We ( my teammates and i ) got to visit RG as a present from our trainer for becoming regional champions.
          Visiting Slams are verry special imo.


          • mary says:

            Well you deserved it. You worked your buns off, the reward was fitting!!! Seeing Rafa in the flesh. Hmmmmmmmmm, deep breaths mary, deep breaths!

        • Atch2 says:

          Mary, I was looking to book the tickets to the AO and checked out the $:Baht exchange rate and just saw that the Aussie $ has gone up. I’m still recovering but still plan to buy. So pls pls Rafa successfully defend the AO title.

          • mary says:

            Oh he has to!! You & I are going. I think thats enough reason for Rafa to step up his game & make sure he is there to the end & biting that trophy. :) ;)

            • Atch2 says:

              Was disappointd with Rafa missing Bangkok but looking forward to AO.

              • mary says:

                I just wanna see him win every tourney between here & the AO. His confidence will skyrocket then. I wanna see the biting & heaps of vamos’s & hear less puta’s. Hey no pressure Rafa, none at all!!! He, he. ;) ;)

  7. rafafan says:

    Hi guys. This match was even more stressful than the first. Blake was unbelievable to get the second set especially when Rafa was on match point. How he suddently came up and played just some awsome tennis I do not know. It’s like someone said. Everytime Rafa plays an opponent it seems to bring the best out in them. God I was on my f…kng last legs when Rafa lost it twice when serving and then the tie break and lost the tie break. Blakes level was something on another planet at that stage. Rafa was 0 -40 down in the third and then a 0 -30 on his serve anoither time. One of Blakes explosive flat hitters just went out that saved our Rafa. God I was so relieved that I screamed and ran everywhere in the internet cafe. (my bloody computer crashed) so had to get somewhere without fail. Everyone in the cafe thought I was crazy and my poor friend sitting beside me – and she is not into tennis but was giving me moral support. If he makes all of us Rafa fans in his matches like this like nervous wrecks, if /when he does gets to the final we will havwe all passed out by then and miss the match! Vamos Vamos Vamos Rafi. An easier match next round pleaaaaaaase xx

  8. nic says:

    Oh Rafa you sure know how to make your fans’ hearts race, not just with your utter hotness but with your suspenseful matches!! I didn’t get to see this one but just watching the live score on my phone made me nervous! So glad Miri’s got a little bit of a review here so I can at least get a feel of the match. Wish I could at least see some of his play so I know Rafa’s fitness level and match play. Sigh, why can’t they show this in Oz!! Any type of feed I watch online usually sucks, even is sooo bad for me. Anyway, what I get from his matches so far is that he’s not at his best yet, but he’s getting there. I really hope he hits his stride here, excels in Shanghai and then peaks in London!! Rafa you can do it! Can’t wait to see you hoist another trophy up high and show that beautiful smile I love so much. Vamos Rafa!!!!

    • Zoe says:

      Yeah it sucks how they only seem to show Wimby and the AO (well obv!) here in Australia… I’m having to watch streams, but they’ve been working well so far.
      So happy Rafa made to a quarterfinal match with Marat!! Even though it was a tough match against Blake, it can only be good practice for him. Hope he doesn’t stress us out next time so much though, sometimes I think my heart will stop! (And it always does when the shirt change and cheeky tongue sticking out at the camera thing happens ;) )
      Bring on the next match!! VAMOS!

      • nic says:

        Hey they’re gonna show the Beijing semis Sat midnight on Foxsports if you have that. Fingers crossed Rafi makes it to the semis!!

        • Zoe says:

          Thanks for the heads up! I don’t have Foxsports, but I might be able to find someone who does! (And will be willing to indulge me in taking over the TV lol) I def hope Rafa makes it to the Semis!! :)

      • aRafaelite says:

        They showed highlights of the second week of RG and the semis and finals of US Open on WIN, but yes, it sucks that in such a big tennis-playing nation, they don’t show more tennis on Australian TV. So it’s not just me that struggles with TennisTV? I haven’t managed to get a stream since the Madrid Masters! I’ve been using instead. Sometimes good, sometimes crap, but better than nothing. We need a RafaChannel (or maybe ChannelArmada)… preferably streaming at a low enough rate that fans in remote places can manage to watch it!

        • Zoe says:

          ATDHE works really well for me most of the time, but lately I have been using fromsport as well, if you need a backup stream! A Rafa channel would be amazing, wouldn’t it!!!! Thank goodness for streams though right?

  9. vamsi says:

    not thahey guys
    i was lucky enough to get the match live on tv(12 p m here)
    i never thought blake will play that well
    he was hitting winners out of thin air

    i was scared to death when it extended into a third set
    from when did rafa have problems closing out matches???
    whatever it was rafa won

    p.s.maybe the outfit is not bad

  10. vamsi says:

    hey guys
    i was lucky enough to get the match live on tv(12 p m here)
    i never thought blake will play that well
    he was hitting winners out of thin air

    i was scared to death when it extended into a third set
    from when did rafa have problems closing out matches???
    whatever it was rafa won

    p.s.maybe the outfit is not that bad

  11. Kate says:

    No that outfit has to go. The shorts are OK but that shirt!!!!! sorry pea green is not may favourite!

    • Lou Lou says:

      Really!! I dunnu why I kinda like it… feel like it’s Kind of a throw back to his wonderful RG & Queens outfit of 08!

      …. Luv! the all smiles + Chatty Nadal at the net!!

  12. CC says:

    I managed to sneakily catch the first three games and a bit of the third at work… Schhh…don’t tell anyone!

    Anyway, in those games I saw Rafa miss a few shots that should have been easy winners, but I guess that’s to be expected after the little break he’s had. Also saw him hit some nice winners, so I guess that balances it all out. As you said though, miri, his first serve percentage needs to go up!

    Phew. That was my tennis Rafanalysis for the week.

    Hope you feel better soon, miri!

  13. An says:

    OMG! Rafa, i swear, one day you are going to kill me!

    I was checking live scores during a verry important meeting about our company’s forecast for 2010.. Rafa, you where up 7-5, 5-3 and i was glad because i knew that was it ( little did i know!). When i checked live score one last time ( i tought ), 15 min. orso later, Blake won 2nd set 6-7, i nearly screamed while in a meeting…

    I totally panicked for a while, trying hard to conecentrate on the meeting again until i remembered i should think positive.
    So glad you made it, but Rafa, please, promiss me one thing… never ever do that to me again ;)

    • dutchgirl says:

      Heh, I was watching live scores at almost the same moment An (5-4, breakpoint for Blake in 2nd set) during a coffee break of a meeting that lasted till noon. I had to go back into the meeting before I could see if Blake actually broke Rafa’s serve, but apparently he did. So glad when I saw the final result!
      And tomorrow I’ll finally be able to watch him play live!!

      • An says:

        I envy you!
        I still wont be able to see him play tomorrow, still work…
        And, given that he winns in wich i do believe off course, i still wont be able to see him play on saturday too because i’m playing competition myself then.

        So Rafa, we make a deal, No?
        For me, you go and play the final sunday so that i will be able to watch you. And while you’re at it… you can winn it so that i’m able to see you winn too, No?

  14. An says:

    Oh and off course Miri, i wish for you to feel much better soon!

  15. kayM says:

    I was there to support Rafa. I so hate to see Rafa struggles so much. Though Blake has done well I still think Rafa is not in his top form yet. Could be to do with his confidence level after a lot of set back this year. I moved over to the autograph side when he was 4-3 up in the 2nd set and sat on the front bench and saw him missed 2 chances to serve out the set and nearly die there. I went back to my own spot in the 3rd set and thought as long as he wins, I don’t need any autograph. Prayer answered! In the end he spend very short time signing autographs compare to what he normally does anyway.

  16. Eliana says:

    Miri sorry you have the flu!

    *sending a cup of soup an some good Rafa medicine*

    About the match, I was pissed! I was so mad when he double faulted, TWICE, serving for the match. Although, I know he was even madder than me cause he looked like a real bull seeing red. I’m happy that Blake is improving his game because he has gone through some tough stuff and is still out there, but please, choose other players to improve your game so you don’t give me a heart attack.

    Actually, when Rafa lost the tiebreaker 7-4 I gave up-not on Rafa, but on watching the match! It was 5am here and really had to go to sleep. Hope Rafa keeps getting more confident and have some amazing matches, finally biting another trophy(God how I miss that). Next stop, Marat(H-O-T match!)

    Sorry if my grammar is not the best but I’m a little sleep deprived :)

  17. Ch F says:

    I agree he needs to make this extra effort to win this one, it’s a great opportunity given that the draw is good. Even if he’s not at his best and this affects his confidence, he needs to find it somewhere deep inside him to win this one! Then he’ll be even more confident for the more difficult tournaments ahead. Vamos.

  18. marla says:

    Sorry you’re feeling bad Miri. This match made me crazy, too, and I noticed in his presser that he said he has to “conserve himself in the first few games”. Is this strategy, or what? I would think better to break early and win quickly, but this has never been Rafa’s way. Maybe I’m being selfish, because I thought he had the 2nd set for sure and I would be able to get a couple hours of sleep. Not to be. Safin is playing really well, and I hope Rafa doesn’t “conserve” at all with him.

    • Ch F says:

      Apparently his official site also thought he was going to serve it out at 5-4 and rushed into announcing he was through to the third round after a short two set match!!! I saw the screen shot. But seriously, I’m a bit worried, he failed to serve out the match twice. Let’s hope it’s just stumbling on his way up to becoming invincible again :-)
      I hope you feel better, miri!

  19. naaz says:

    i hate my life. i live in india n m lucky enough to get live coverage 4m the 2nd round itself but am stuck in no rafaland as i am sitting 4 my exams which started o n the 7th — 10th. hopefully, i can celebrate my exams ending by watching rafa bite another trophy.

  20. jimmy says:

    I have no idea what is wrong with Rafa these days. His strategy on hard courts seems to be serve awfully, play short , try to outrun his opponent and hang in there. I know Nadal usually isn’t in control of the match on fastcourts, even when he’s in top form. But these days he’s just playing short all the time. I can’t count the number of times yesterday (against Blake) when he had a sitter on his forehand that he could have smacked inside out or down the line, but he still chose to play it short cross court which Blake promptly smashed for a winner.

    In the past Nadal’s short ground strokes were directed in the corner of the service box, which would yank his opponents out of the court bcoz of the topspin and the angle. Now he hits short down the middle which just sits up begging to be hit. His forehand looks loopy and ineffective. Furthermore he’s barely hitting his signature down the line forehands that curl in on the sidelines and go for a winner, or at the very least keep his opponents honest. Now his opponents know that he’ll just hit the lefty cross court forehand all the time.

    Rafa lost sets to Blake and Bagdhatis both of whom have been in a slump and were serving subpar. Nadal also failed to close the Blake match twice on his service (double faulting two times), which is most unusual for him. This is not the Rafa I know, both from the game and concentration perspective.

    Seems like Rafa will be in trouble once he meets the first solid HC player who has a decent serving day. It’s unfortunate that Rafa’s injuries have taken him back to the 2007 tennis level.. He needs to change his game on the faster courts, or he ain’t beating the top 4 players.
    Hopefully he can get back to his best, once he gets more matches under his belt.

    • vamsi says:

      this match i dont think he played short
      his lenght was ok
      the only problem was that blake was playing his heart out
      as the commentators were saying”he was feeling from inside”
      this always happens against rafa
      any given player on a given day always give their a game against rafa
      becoz they know that if there is any chance of winning then it is by playing that way

      this portrays that high standards that rafa has in the locker room

  21. vamsi says:

    miri get well as soon as possible

  22. Lou Lou says:

    Anyoneeee Someone help!!! Sorry of topic post but what’s up with Rafa’s match!!?? Shouldn’t it be on by now!

    I want me some Rafa – Safin action!!!!

    Dream matchup would be – Nadal vs Nadal (Nike ad – Fire & Water)
    Nadal 1 with Safin vs Nadal 2 with Nando!! All fire and heat …. and then comes the cooling rain….. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

    (Take tat, Rash!)

    • mary says:

      Keep the “colm” Lou Lou. It will be happening shortly as the girls quarters has just finished & they are on next. I kinda am not looking forward to this game however as I don’t want either to lose. :(

      • Lou Lou says:

        LOL — IKR!Talk about Catch 20 20, Right?!

        • Lou Lou says:

          Wah!! When has Safin eva!opted to receive before!!… Anyways, luvssssss and just droolssss over Marat but Rafa FTW!!

          Here we go!!!

        • Lou Lou says:

          Double faceplam! Coz ofcorz I meant Catch 22!!! 20 – 20 is a new form of criket! Wz stuck in my head…
          Sorry… goes away now!