Rafa met world #8 Robin Soderling in the Abu Dhabi final today. Yeah, it was just an exhibition, but who the heck cares – Rafa won and has another trophy to bite. Playing well, he won it two tight sets. There were no breaks of serve in the first set as it went to a tie-breaker that Rafa dominated. Things went back and forth a bit in the second set, but Rafa broke in the final game to take it: 7-6(3), 7-5.
As it happened blatherings:
Rafa really should probably do the fly check before he gets on court.
Soderling starts off with a service winner (or ace – my stream sucks and I can’t tell if Rafa got his racket on it or not). Rafa tries to tee off on a forehand from midcourt, but it clips the net. Soderling holds at love.
Actually, my stream is freezing so much, it’s going to be near impossible to do this today. I see Rafa preparing for serve and then only have sound until the point is over. *sigh*
Rafa goes up 40-0 on his first serve game, but a few bad shots and it’s 40-30. Rafa goes on to hold.
*much scurrying for feeds*
I now have three feeds going. Two via Sky Sports and one from Italy, but all three at different points in the match. I’m dizzy. Closes one of the Sky Sports one.
Oh, it’s now 3-2 on serve.
Deep backhand from Rafa and he follows it up by running into the net…but Soderling can’t get to the backhand. Just love seeing Rafa running forward. Rafa sends a shot just wide: 15-30. Soderling returns the favor: 30-30. Again with a wide shot from Soderling: 40-30. Looks like it’s a bit windy out there. Rafa holds to even things at 3-3.
Soderling sends a shot long to go down on his serve, but follows that up with an excellent serve: 15-15. Soderling holds to go up 4-3.
Soderling nets a ball: 0-15. Ace. Soderling sends a shot wide: 40-0. Ace: game Rafa. They are on serve 4-4. Rafa switches rackets.
Rafa nets a ball. Soderling returns the favor: 15-15. Italian stream just died. Ah, a refresh brought it back and the score is 30-30. Blistering angled forehand winner from Soderling gives him a game point. Soderling holds for 5-4. Rafa to serve to stay in set.
Sexy Ace! The net cord tosses a ball back onto Soderling’s side: 30-0. Oye. That serve was in the middle of the doubles alley. Soderling nets a ball: 40-0. Soderling wins the next point, but Rafa goes on to hold for 5-5.
Deep well-placed backhand from Soderling causes Rafa to hit a sitter that Soderling taps for a winner at the net. A long rally with both players moving each other ends when Soderling nets a deep ball: 15-15. Same thing happens again: 15-30. Strong serve from Soderling draws a weak sitter reply that Soderling hits deep into the court…and Rafa somehow manages to pass him – double break point. Soderling saves both with good serving. Rafa sails another return long and it’s game point for Soderling. Rafa sends another return long and Soderling holds for 6-5.
Rafa sends a forehand down the line wide. Rafa double faults…down 0-30. Error from Soderling takes us to 15-30. A very long rally ends in an error from Rafa: 15-40. Excellent service winner down the middle: 30-40. Second serve. Soderling nets a ball: deuce. Second serve. Soderling sends a shot just wide: game point for Rafa. Rafa holds. Tie break time.
First point to Soderling. Rafa hits what he thinks is an ace, but is called out due to an overrule from the chair…and is out per hawkeye. At the end of a long rally, a deep shot from Rafa draws an error from Soderling: 1-1. Soderling sends a shot long: 2-1.
Nice angles from Soderling: 2-2. Soderling can’t handle a passing shot from Rafa and it’s the first mini-break of the tiebreaker. Rafa leads 4-2 and still has a service point to go. Changing ends.
Service winner from Rafa: 5-2. Rafa’s shots start landing a little short, but he still manages to win the point: 6-2. A service winner and Rafa takes the first set in 59 minutes: 7-6(3).
Rafa serving to start set 2. Lovely forehand winner from Rafa. Stress free hold and it’s 1-0.
Soderling pushes Rafa back, but he doesn’t stay there –he moves forward and rips a winner. Soderling rips his own winner: 15-15. Soderling runs Rafa around and draws an error to go up 30-15. Service winner. Distracted a few points…an error from Soderling takes us to deuce. On game point, Soderling’s ball is called out, but a review shows it’s in and he holds.
Oh, what a fun point. Both players at the net hitting angles. Rafa goes way wide and flicks a forehand down the line for a winner: 30-0. I think I saw a hint of a smile on Rafa’s face. Soderling sends a shot just long: 40-0. Error from Rafa: 40-15. Rafa holds for 2-1.
Ace from Soderling. Two errors from Soderling and he’s down 15-30 on his serve. An error from Soderling gives Rafa break point. Soderling saves it with an excellent mid-court forehand winner. He then pushes Rafa around and smacks another forehand winner for game point. An ace closes out the game: 2-2.
Rafa sends a shot way wide: 0-15. A long rally ends with Rafa hits a short slice to bring Soderling into the net. Soderling obliges and misses the volley: 15-15. Service winner. Error from Soderling: 40-15. Rafa hits a sitter ball and this time Soderling doesn’t miss the volley: 40-30. Soderling sends a return long and Rafa holds for 3-2.
Apparently, Rafa is like a wasp hovering around your jam sandwich. You keep wanting to finish it, but the darn wasp keeps getting in your way. Um. Okay.
Double break point for Rafa. Soderling saves one, but sends a shot wide and Rafa breaks for 4-2.
Excellent passing shot from Soderling: 0-15. Make that two: 0-30. Second serve. Triple break point. Rafa moves Soderling back and forth and then comes into the net to finish him off: 15-40. Rafa sends a shot wide and is broken. They are back on serve.
Soderling sends a shot wide and starts talking to himself. Service winner…but Rafa challenges. The ball is in by millimeters and Rafa smiles like, wtf? Excellent point from Rafa takes them to deuce – he moved Soderling well and took the shot he wanted for a winner. Ace from Soderling gives him a game point. Soderling sends a shot long and it’s deuce. Rafa returns the favor: adv Soderling. Soderling nets a ball: deuce. Rafa can’t react in time to a net cord: adv Soderling. Soderling holds: 4-4.
Soderling flubs a second serve return: 15-0. He pulls Rafa wide, but then nets a ball: 30-0. Rafa sends a shot just wide: 30-15. A deep shot from Rafa draws an error from Soderling: 40-15. Stress-free hold for Rafa. He leads 5-4. Soderling to serve to stay in the match.
Playing aggressively, Rafa sends a ball just long: 0-15. Lovely backhand winner from him draws them even at 15-15. Soderling nets a ball and goes down 15-30. Second serve. Rafa sends a ball way long and it’s 30-30. Second serve. Soderling nets a ball: match point Rafa. Second serve. Soderling pushes Rafa back and wide and then comes into the net to volley into the empty court: deuce. Serve out wide and then Soderling wrong-foots Rafa: adv Soderling. Second serve. Deuce. Double fault to match point for Rafa. Excellent wide serve, deep forehand and a volley into the open court: deuce. Soderling sends a shot long and Rafa has his 3rd match point. Good serve draws a defensive return: deuce. Lather, rinse, repeat: adv Soderling. Second serve. Double fault: deuce. Soderling runs Rafa around and smashes a winner from the net: adv Soderling. Rafa sends a shot long? No? Overrule? Everyone is standing around pointing. Hawkeye shows it’s long. Soderling holds.
Nice hold from Rafa: 6-5. Once again, the pressure is on Soderling to stay in the match.
Wide shot from Soderling. Second serve. Another wide shot – forced error: 0-30. Service winner: 15-30. Second serve. Lazy looking forehand from Soderling gives Rafa double match point. Second serve. Soderling nets a volley and Rafa has won!