A little spark, but no fire

Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

It was do or die tonight for Rafa in London as he took on Davydenko in his second WTF round robin match. The first set was painful, let’s not talk about it. Much like his first match, Rafa looked tentative. Oh wait, we aren’t talking about it. There was a bit of fire in the second set and Rafa forced it to a tiebreaker, but he will not make it to the semis as he is the only player to lose two round robin matches in straight sets: 1-6, 6-7(4).


Nadal Davydenko
Statistics on Serve
Aces 1 6
Double Faults 2 3
1st Serve % 60% 50%
1st Serve Points Won 21/35 (60%) 27/35 (77%)
2nd Serve Points Won 10/23 (43%) 16/35 (46%)
Break Points Saved 5/9 (56%) 4/6 (67%)
Service Games Played 9 10
Statistics on Return
1st Return Points Won 8/35 (23%) 14/35 (40%)
Second Return Points Won 19/35 (23%) 13/23 (57%)
Break Points Won 2/6 (33%) 4/9 (44%)
Return Games Played 10 9
Statistics on Points
Total Service Points Won 31/58 (53%) 43/70 (61%)
Total Return Points Won 27/70 (39%) 27/58 (47%)
Total Points Won 58/128 (45%) 70/128 (55%)
Other Stats
Winners 12 27
Unforced errors 20 26
Net Approaches 2/6 (33%) 14/16 (88%)

As it happened blatherings:

Carlos Bernardes in the chair again. Rafa wins the toss and will receive.

Davydenko starts things off with an ace. Rafa trying to move Davydenko side-to-side right from the start. Rafa pounces on a short ball, but flings his shot pretty far wide: 30-15. Cross-court backhand winner followed by a nose-crinkling snort: 40-30. Double fault: deuce. Service winner: Ad Davydenko. Rafa nets a forehand and it’s 0-1.

Rafa serves, runs around a backhand and then can’t get to the next ball that Davydenko hits wide to Rafa’s forehand. Rafa slips a bit trying to stop after attempting to track it down: 0-15. Another good length rally with Rafa mainly on his heels ends with him sending a ball long: 0-30. Beautiful angle from Davydenko just barely wide: 15-30. Ace! 30-30. Second serve. This time, the beautifully angled backhand from Davydenko drops in: 30-40. Second serve. The net cord drops the ball back onto Rafa’s side of the court and Davydenko breaks.

Davydenko already angling winners at will: 30-0. Error from him: 30-15. Rafa’s top spin shots landing at the back of the service box – only the slice is going deeper, but just barely. Davydenko holds.

Fierce forehand from Rafa that Davydenko can’t get back: 30-0. Ooh. Make that two of those: 40-0. Rafa holds at love: 1-3.

Davydenko sends a shot well wide: 0-15. Rafa loops a defensive shot just long: 15-15. Ace: 30-15. Davydenko nets a ball: 30-30. Rafa runs down a drop shot, but is a bit too late to do much of anything with it: 40-30. Another drop shot and Davydenko holds.

After running Rafa from side-to-side again, an angled forehand winner from Davydenko: 0-15. Double fault: 0-30. Davydenko rips a second serve return: 0-40. Davydenko’s won every second serve point from Rafa. Second serve. Ripped winner from Davydenko: 1-5.

Davydenko holds at love. Just took him 27 minutes to win that set.

Rafa slices a ball long. Looks like he wants to toss his cookies too. 15-15. Wide shot from Davydenko draws a forehand error from Rafa: 15-30. Davydenko sends a shot long: 30-30. Second serve. Davydenko pulls Rafa wide to his forehand then sends the ball back wide to Rafa’s backhand: 30-40. Aggressive serve draws a pop-up return that Rafa smashes from the net: deuce. Another good serve and Davydenko sends the return out wide. Second serve. Rafa holds.

Rafa nets a ball: 15-0. Second serve from Davydenko. Davydenko angles a shot just wide: 15-15. Rafa tries to step up and hits a return early, but he sends his shot just out: 30-15. Second serve. He sends a forehand way wide: 40-15. Davydenko holds: 1-1.

Davydenko sends a ball long: 15-0. Rafa sends a shot way, way out: 15-15. Good length from Davydenko draws an error from Rafa: 30-30. Rafa sends a shot just long: 30-40. Davydenko sends a shot out: deuce. Second serve. Another series of good angles from Davydenko it’s break point again. Rafa paints a line with a forehand down the line while I have a minor coronary and it’s deuce. Whew. Rafa holds: 2-1.

Rafa works his way to 30-40 after being down 0-40, but he sends a second serve return long and Davydenko holds.

Davydenko blasts a passing shot by Rafa: 0-15. Davydenko’s angles are pure evil if you are on the other side of the net. 0-30 Davydenko sends a shot wide: 15-30. Rafa sends a deep shot long and then has a terse looking conversation with himself and Toni. Break point. Deep strong shots from Rafa and this time Davydenko errs: 30-40. Ace? Nope…let. Dang. Service winner! Nice. Deuce. Deep angled shot that Rafa can’t get to: break point again. Second serve. Rafa sends a shot long and is broken: 2-3.

Davydenko misses a backhand: 15-30. Second serve. Double fault. Double break point for Rafa. Another good, deep shot wide to Rafa’s backhand draws an error: 30-40. Again, Davydenko moves Rafa around: deuce. Davydenko sends a shot long: break point #3. Rafa sends a return wide, but challenges the call and yes, the ball is way out: deuce. Ace. Second serve. The net reaches up, grabs Rafa’s shot and sends it wide. Davydenko holds.

Rafa holds at love.

AC/DC? Seriously? AC/DC?

Davydenko nets a shot: 0-15. Now that’s a freaking return of serve! Beauty down the line: 0-30. In the middle of a long-ish rally, Rafa totally shanks a ball: 15-30. He then slices a return long: 30-30. Long rally that has them both running until Rafa steps into a backhand cross-court that Davydenko can’t handle: 30-40. Deep shot from Davydenko draws an error from Rafa: deuce. Aggressive return draws an error from Davydenko: break point. Second serve. Davydenko sends a shot long and Rafa breaks! Huge Vamos! On serve: 4-4.

Rafa’s looking stronger – his body language is picking up a bit. Oh boy is it picking up. He holds at love. I think there were at least 3 Vamoses in that last game. Vamoses? Vamosi?

Not to be greedy or anything, but a break now would be perfect.

Davydenko at the net andn Rafa gets a ball just over him: 0-15. Deep shot from Davydenko that draws and error and Rafa bops himself in the head. Good serve and a ball returned wide: 30-15. An amazing angle with great speed from Davydenko: 40-15. Davydenko nets a ball: 40-30. Davydenko hits behind Rafa and he holds: 5-5.

Second serve. More deep angles draw an eventual error from Rafa: 0-15. Second serve. Double fault: 0-30. Smash winner: 15-30. Davydenko rips a return and Rafa nets a ball: 15-40. Second serve. Davydenko breaks. He leads 6-5.

An ace from Davydenko was overruled by a Rafa challenge and he goes on to win the point: 15-30. I likes me that shot! 30-30 thanks to a wonderful forehand down the line. Rafa breaks! To a tie break we go.

Davydenko hits a short angle that Rafa can’t track down and gets the mini-break. Second serve from Davydenko. Double fault! Davydenko sends a shot wide – mini-break to Rafa. Net cord grabs one of Rafa’s shots: 2-2. Davydenko sends a shot wide: 3-2. Second serve from Davydenko. Holy crap what a point. Each player trying to angle the other out of the stadium, overheads…everything. Davydenko wins the point: 3-3.

Rafa just misses a shot – error drawn by another Davydangle: 3-4. Second serve from Rafa. Rafa runs and runs, but eventually can’t get to the shot: 3-5. Very long rally ends in an error from Davydenko: 4-5. Davydenko can serve it out.

Second serve – Rafa sends his return long…but did he? Call is overturned on a challenge. Service winner: 4-6 and double match point. Davydenko wins.

102 Responses

  1. Maya says:

    Well jump ship if you think you need to, but your going to feel PRETTY silly come April when Rafa is kicken butt. He said he’d be back to his best form at the start of the season, and I believe him 100%. Even though WTF has been hard to watch, this has still been his best indoor hard court season. Right???

    Well go ahead and jump ship if you have to, but your going to feel PRETTY silly come April when Rafa is kickin butt. You will have stressed yourself out for nothing. Even though the WTF has been hard to watch, this has still been Rafa’s best hard court season. Sure he’d love to win everything but who does that. Rafa said he’d be back to his best form at the beginning of next season. I believe him 100%. Even though we all have the best intentions for Rafa I hope he doesn’t read our comments, because that alone would have to affect his confidence.


    • mary says:

      Whose jumping what ship? Also I think the start of the season is January. Doha to be precise. Then there is the biggy, AO GS. So April is like 4 months into the season. Please explain!!

      • mary says:

        Or is that Abu Dabi (is that how you spell it?)

        • mary says:

          Or Dubai?. Well the season doesn’t start in April anyways. God I’d be dead by then if I didn’t get to see him play. God what are we gonna do when he finally retires. Noooooooooooooo not for a long time Rafa, por favor!!!

  2. CC says:

    Ouch, that hurt.

    “Luckily” I didn’t watch the first set, only the last part of the second. Dearest, loveliest Rafa, how much I wanted to give you a hug for fighting so hard.


  3. elyo says:

    one thing for sure we need that french open title badly next year…..i still want to be hopeful abaut australian open as well……

  4. Emma says:

    Such a flurry of activities in here!
    Well I watched the entire match (at freaking 5am my time and left straight for work after!) and I still felt positive after the match. I really feel Rafa’s making improvement from match to match and that’s heartening to watch. First set was dismal but second set was fantastic with fire, passion, excellent display of fighting spirit, deeper shots as compated to the first match, good winners, those vamoses (omg!), he played 3 really good games when he was 2-4 down. All these were positives to take away.

    It seems that Rafa kinda caught fire only in the second sets of most matches – I think he just needed the first set for things to click for him and then he will catch fire and connect the dots on the court better. But against the top top players, sometimes it may be the case of too late when you catch fire so late into the match – doesn’t leave enough time for you to turn things around.

    But I think he’s finally getting the hang of what he should be doing and sustaining in his game in order to compete at that level. I had no doubt that if he had won the second set tiebreaker, he would have gone on to win the third set and the match. So still plenty to cheer for overall! I think it’s still down to consistency and if he figures out a way to be sustain the high level of play, the formidable rafa is back! And this will come with more match play. We are getting there, all rafa fans!

  5. Emma says:

    and on a side note, I think i finally figured out why i was so disgusted with the roar from the sod at the end of the first RR match. Please go and see the picture again, the way he roars and body language (bending his body foreward and the facial expression of the scream)it’s all very WTA-like! I am not imagining this. I think I have seen Serena scream exactly in that manner after winning a fantastic point. He just looks so awkward doing that – maybe just not accustomed to winning.

  6. Ch F says:

    I am worried about a certain lack of determination that’s very unlike him, but I guess it’s a confidence issue after all. Old Rafa would have won that tb and taken it to a third set which Davydenko wouldn’t have handled. I think he’s more exposed after his injury so we got to know him better. I was wondering why Murray could win Valencia while Rafa’s been struggling for so long now, but apparently that’s just the way he is. He’s a player of rhythm and he needs to build up on matchplay to reach his top game.

    In his first WTF match, Rafa kept things close but didn’t play the big points well. Still it was close and that’s a good thing cause a close match can go either way. If he plays many close matches at some point things will go his way. Then he played a very bad first set against Davydenko but in the second some of the old flare was back. It will go on like this for a while, he’ll be showing bits and pieces of old Rafa until one day it all falls into place. That’s how Rafa is, a unique combination of great little things he’s only been showing on and off since he came back. Eventually they will fall into place, I guess. I always think it will be for the next match, I’m in victory mood all the time so I’m frustrated in the end, but let’s look at the bigger picture.

    I do not agree he is close to his absolute best, I think he’s rather far from it, but if he says he wants to reach that level again then I guess we’ll all have to wait until it happens. Hopefully it will.

    • Emma says:

      Different players come back from injuries time off differently.

      I think Andy is the sort who gets the rhythm back quite quickly and in past occasions , he had tended to be at his best when he came back from injury(before he started to dip as the season wears on) and has never really struggled to get his game back from time off the tour. He’s not the sort who needs a lot of matches under his belt to feel confident, pretty much like federer (who is doing well despite not having played alot since the US open). And our dear rafa is the exact opposite – it’s well-documented that he needs to play alot and the more he plays, the better he tends to play.

  7. elyo says:

    first off all it is so silly to compare rafa with murray….murray couldnt come all the pressure this year he still yet to win a slam…murray win in valencia cant considered as HUGE SUCCESS…valencia is a weak tournument who does he beat there youzny in the final a player who isnt even at his best days….andy isnt doing that great at all if he didnt have a good wtf he has on his way to get out of top five….ONE IMPORTANT THING murray playing AT HIS BEST SURFACE rafa at his worst….

  8. Sammy says:

    I understand where you’re coming from Rafafan, however it is not fair or helpful, for you and for us fans, to be negative in any way. We all have those doubts and fears but we have to supress them and stay positive just because we believe in Rafa, in the person he is and the player he was and will be again. Rafa is staying positive and full of confidence that he will come back strong as before, so we just have to be patient, supportive and looking forward to when that happens. Rafa is doing his part and we have to do ours, that is the least respect we owe him and he needs out support now more than ever. I was at the game last night, and I can tell you that Rafa did not seem to have come to play in the first set, but the crowd was amazing and so cheerful and that was what I believe got him going to be his aggressive self again and he almost pulled it off! Without that support, the second set might have been just like the first.. who knows..

    Nadal is the most amazing person and the most electrifying player out there, we all need him to be there and we have to do whatever it takes to help him stay there and come back stronger than ever. When that happens, it will be the most rewarding times for us all. However, if that doesn’t happen, then at least we would have the memories of what once was and cherish them forever instead of being bitter about not having them anymore.

    • Rafafan says:

      Hi Sammy. Listen I am like every Rafa fan with positive aktitude no? But there comes a time when we are in denial. Rafa is gonna be confident in his interviews of course – he doesn’t want to say too much to the press and he has DC coming up. But you got to be totally honest 1 win in 9 against the top 10? Lost 2 matches, eliminated etc. I go to London everyday and got all the papers – Rafa a broken man, Rafa in denial, Rafa flops, Rafa quetion mark on the future. I was so stressed at seeing the match and what everyone is saying about his demise. He has gotta prove them and some of us fans wrong. It may happen on clay or grass but if he wants to be an all rounder its gotta happen on the hard courts – and he has won won indoor hardcourt and that was in 2005. What does that say?

      • Ch F says:

        Hi Rafafan. I understand your frustration, so I’ll try to help with some thoughts I’d like to share. The media were writing Federer off during bad times as well. They always wait to be proven right eventually. They were waiting for the person to outplay Roger and found him in Rafa, so when Rafa came they were shouting they had been right all along that Roger’s kingdom would fall. In Rafa’s case they had been saying he plays a very physical therefore unsustainable game and now it’s like they had predicted that as well. It’s their job, so don’t rely on them more than you should, even if they seem to echo your worst fears. Trust your own gut feeling about Rafa’s future more than theirs, I think it’s more genuine.

  9. Babz says:

    What is the problem with Rafa here? Injuries still nagging him? How does he look like on court?

    Bear with me as work =/= life in virtual tennis world.

  10. Sammy says:

    Well Rafafan, we are NOT in denial if we choose to support our athlete and believe that he will get back to his usual form. We know he is not winning right now and we are not saying he is playing great, but we can hope and wait and expect that one day soon he will be on top again. That is what we are doing right now and I say again that is what he needs from us. If we talk about his losses and agree with what people are saying, than we are giving up on him.. I choose to support him and be patient until he gets over the slump he is in at the moment, and that does not make me in denial! I know there is always the chance he may never be what he once was, but there is the chance he will be again as well, and I choose to believe the latter. I will only say he is finished when/if he does not win again and choose to retire. Until that day happens, if it happens, I will look forward to the near bright future when he is biting trophies again instead of drowning myself in agony over his current losses and what he is going through right now.

    • Ch F says:

      He’ll have to be even better than before, cause while he’s been recovering some top players have become even stronger. I’m sure he will keep that in mind while training for the next season.

  11. Rafangel says:

    We’re not in denial cos we all agree that Rafa is having major problems. Where we diverge is that we believe he will get over them. He’s bounced back quickly from injury before (the career-threatening foot, anyone?), but this is more complicated because there’s more head-stuff to resolve (due to the very different circumstances this time), so it’ll take longer. But he is adaptable, a fast learner and a fighter, and already knows how to play and how to win. It’ll take a while but he’ll get there.

    I don’t think he’ll retire off the back of this because he knows it is a stage. He said he’d retire when he knows he can’t compete for titles any more – that sounds like it’d be a permanent state (i.e. no longer interested or physically able). He currently has both the motivation (in spades) and the fitness, and knows he just has to keep working. He’s said that. So don’t panic, we don’t have to face a Rafa-less landscape just yet.

    Re the tie-break, I think Rafa isn’t being given credit. At 5-4, he ripped a phenomenally aggressive return which landed half-on the baseline and was incorrectly called out. It was a clear winner. He did exactly the right thing but was robbed of it. 5-5 is very different from 6-4…so let’s not batter him for not upping his game at the right time.

    • mary says:

      “Re the tie-break, I think Rafa isn’t being given credit. At 5-4, he ripped a phenomenally aggressive return which landed half-on the baseline and was incorrectly called out. It was a clear winner. He did exactly the right thing but was robbed of it. 5-5 is very different from 6-4…so let’s not batter him for not upping his game at the right time.”
      My belief is that call changed the outcome of that match.

      Rafa will bounce back. He’s far from quiting, infact I think we will see an immense improvement in Rafa’s game over the next few months, starting with the DC. Rafa’s only stumbling block is his head. He has all the right moves (coughs, chokes a little, he can make his moves on me anyday). :)
      I’m hoping he will will finally say to himself, “fuck it, I’m gonna just do it”. Vamos me amigo, Vamos!!

  12. Susa says:

    Babz!! Where have you been?? Please take up el toro de Rafa again, missed it!!