Rolling along…

Photo by KARIM JAAFAR/ AFP/ Getty Images

Rafa started his Doha campaign today by playing #93 Simone Bolelli. In the first set, Rafa broke serve in the 6th game thanks to a second serve foot fault from Bolelli. He then broke in the 9th game to take the set 6-3. In set two, Rafa broke serve in the 6th game to go up 4-2. He consolidated the break with a love hold. Both players held for the next two games giving Rafa the set and the match: 6-3, 6-3. Next up, he will face another Italian, Potito Starace.

I couldn’t watch the match, so am dependent on the people of twitter to get a feel for how things went beyond the score. Most seemed to feel that Rafa was playing well even if he had his grump face on. There was some concern that he was playing too far back every now and then, but it sounds like he was doing his best to move forward and be aggressive. What do you guys who actually got to see the match have to say about it?

Stats:

Nadal Bolelli
Statistics on Serve
Aces 5 4
Double Faults 0 1
1st Serve % 67% 59%
1st Serve Points Won 26/36 (72%) 27/40 (68%)
2nd Serve Points Won 13/18 (72%) 10/28 (36%)
Break Points Saved 3/3 (100%) 4/7 (57%)
Service Games Played 9 9
Statistics on Return
1st Return Points Won 13/40 (33%) 10/36 (28%)
Second Return Points Won 18/28 (33%) 5/18 (28%)
Break Points Won 3/7 (43%) 0/3 (%)
Return Games Played 9 9
Statistics on Points
Total Service Points Won 39/54 (72%) 37/68 (54%)
Total Return Points Won 31/68 (46%) 15/54 (28%)
Total Points Won 70/122 (57%) 52/122 (43%)

35 Responses

  1. sunset says:

    I am not the best one to comment since I only watched the match intermittently…From what I saw I liked the way he played early in the match better than in the second set, especially how he played the game when Bolelli was serving to stay in the match at 5-2–too far back from the baseline and defensive.

  2. Nana says:

    As far as I could tell from the bumpy live stream, Rafa played pretty well. He showed variety in his shots and played deep into the corners.

    And I managed to see what I would otherwise not see from TV coverage – Rafa hit with a kid afterwards while a cat was running frantically around the court! Super cute and funny!

  3. k says:

    I only could see a few seconds and yes he was looking a little grumpy..

    Today he is following El aynaoui everwhere he goes..:) After El Aynaoui’s doubles match on court 1, Marc! and him are going to play their first round matches..

  4. Atch2 says:

    From the little I was able to catch, Rafa’s shots seem to be good and deep in the rallies. His winners were amazing and I get the feeling he’s mojo is returning. Think he had 38 winners and 15 unforced, which is pretty good, but knowing Rafa he will start to reduce the unforced count soon.

    The hit with the tot at the end of the match was Rafadorable as usual. And there was another tot who hung around for a Rafa-hug. And what’s with Doha and cats? Wasn’t there a black cat that came on court when Rafa was playing doubles last yr? I’m sure Rafa’s glad it wasn’t a dog bec he doesn’t like dogs.

    Mama Nadal and Xisca seem to be enjoying themselves. They were sitting in the same box as Maymo and Roig. Luved what Xisca was wearing, as usual.

    And I think Rafa has a new sponsor-related requirement. Besides putting on the watch after the match, he pulled out a red pack of Quely and started snacking. Couldn’t help but laugh.

    Get plenty of rest tonight after your doubles Rafa bec Starace only played 1 doubles match today.

    • CC says:

      Haven’t watched the match yet, but caught the last bit and saw Rafa have a snack on Quelys before they went on to show the highlights on Eurosport. It made me laugh out loud in front of the telly how he seemed to be thinking “Cooookies!!!”. Sooo adorable, no? :D

    • mary says:

      Ahah!!! So thats what it was. You are correct it was a packet of Quely. He kept the packet in his hand after he collected his belongings like, “I’m so hungry, I’ll eat it in one go”. “No need to put it back in the bag”. ;-)

    • Nana says:

      I hope it’s not a required routine though. Imagine he has to keep munching after winning the final at a major ;-)

    • Ch F says:

      So you say Rafa prefers cats? OK, that’s it. We’re made for each other ;-)

  5. mary says:

    Yep I saw that Nana. It was cute & the lady smacking one on Rafa’s cheek. Lucky woman.
    From what I saw of the game, Rafa started out average. A few shots missing their mark, but as the match progressed he seem to run smooth. By midway during the second set he had Belilli’s number & he was truly warmed up. My view of the match wasn’t 100% as my live stream was breaking up. However, the commentators, Robby K mentioned that he thought Rafa was in much better shape than at the start of 2009. That can only be a positive sign

  6. Stf says:

    I managed to watch until the middle of the second set, before Eurosport decided to show something else instead of our Rafa. To me, it seemed his forehand was working really well, his shots deep and fast. His backhand was kind of…off, but nothing to worry about. In fact, there was a backhand slice at some point that was a marvel to watch. He still makes some mistakes that I’m sure he will reduce. Does anyone know how many winners he hit?

  7. xta says:

    rafa was confident — much strong strutting…strong, deep hitting…no breathtaking shots, but no short balls…and bolleli played well…it was a goodmatch for rafa — no shrinking violet on the other side of the net…

  8. Ch F says:

    I could only rely on a bad live stream, which had me guessing where the ball was going at times, but yes, Rafa’s winners are back! He has certainly improved in both game plan and focus. His forehand is back on, very solid deep shots, and the service variety was quite astonishing. The backhand is still unstable, varying from excellent to poor, and I blame this for the grumpy face. He had it every time his backhand let him down.
    Ok, it wasn’t the most impressive Rafa ever, but still he won easily even though he wasn’t at his very best. I think that’s quite an achievement.

  9. emir says:

    verd good sighns 38 winners and 16 errors.THATS THE RIGHT PLAY..

  10. George McCauley says:

    Wow! 38 winner that’s great. Yeah i watched the match untill midway through the 2nd set as eurosport had to end coverage. Rafa lookee good, playing with length, especially on his forehand. Still not 100% but he is certainly getting there! Few more matches and he will be perfectly read for his defence of the AO, which i for one can’t wait for now. Ask me about the AO a few months ago and i would have changed the sunject completly. Not so now VAMOS!! :)

  11. An says:

    Thanks for all youre comments! As said couldnt watch due to work…
    Good to know that you were happy with his game ( for what i read from youre comments i draw the conclusion that het went on where he left off in Abu Dhabi ) and even beter to learn that he won immediatly when i come to visit Nadal News:)

    I’m always so nervous starting the site up when i know Rafa played but don’t know jet wheater he won or not…

  12. An says:

    BTW, anyone found a live stream for the doubles match with Team Cute?

  13. Courtney says:

    I saw the whole match, but I went to sleep afterward that was that! Does anyone have a video clip of him hitting with the kid, the cat, and him getting a kiss on the cheek? I would very much appreciate it!!!

  14. Maria says:

    I’m new around here so first hello everybody. The part of the match which Eurosport let us see was enjoyable, I don’t remember seeing Rafa making a match so enjoyable to watch over the last couple of months. FH – ok, pretty accurate; BHs – only a few, so hard to tell if good, better or worse then before. I really liked how he served himself out of trouble, instead of squeezing the points after too long, too boring rallies. Better outfit than at the AO last year. The shirt does make him look like a cup of berries & orange gelato but, unlike the previous ones, is definitely Rafa. Good to see him run after balls he knew he couldn’t possibly get. I don’t care it’s not wise, given the knees and the rest. It’s thousands time more precious than “I might have got it but they say I shouldn’t, so I’m staring at the stands looking miserably” pose which has been so exasperating lately. The best thing coming out from the entire match –some kind of feeling which he managed to send out that you can watch with the eyes wide open instead of glimpsing through your eyelashes in terror of that horrible, childish mistakes that he would make for sure.

  15. djb says:

    Absolutely incredible stuff from Rafa once again. I don’t mind the 15 unforced, because the 38 winners is just way too good. This draw really favors Rafa and it’s about time, after getting the tough ones most of the time. Would be amazing to see him in the final and win this. I want 2010 to be Rafa’s best year ever, even better than ’05, and ’08.

    • faeaki7 says:

      I think the unforced errors ratio is because he is trying to finish off the point quicker hence the 38 winners, far better from Rafa, he did produce some great shots today and served well when he needed too, never really felt he was in too much trouble today, Bolellie played well so it gave Rafa a good work out. Starace tommorow, he took a set off of Rafa in the 08 Olympics, he also gave Rafa a hard 1st set @ RG 2008, just watch he loves to drop shot Rafa! tricky opponent..

  16. aRafaelite says:

    This is all looking very encouraging – great stats. I have a very good feeling about this year. I think 2010 is the year that Rafa equals or surpasses his 2008 success. I wasn’t confident last year, despite his early success – I just didn’t know how it was possible to maintain that level of awesomeness for so long, and felt that something would eventually snap, which it unfortunately did. But this year? Nadalek is going to be claiming at least 2, possibly 3 Grand Slam titles in 2010 (RG plus either AO or Wimbly, possibly both) and possibly, fingers and toes crossed, surpass all but our wildest dreams and take the USO for that elusive Career (maybe even Calendar) Slam as well. Vamos Rafa, el mejor!

  17. Kathy says:

    Suddenly I want berries and orange gelato. Right now. I watched the whole match as I switched to atdhe.net when eurosport went to skiing. I thought Rafa played very well and seemed confident. The hit with the kid after the match was rafadorable and another little kid came up and gave him a big hug. And yes, there was a crazy cat running all over the court–again! He spent a lot of time signing autographs and the commentators got a kick out of the girl who immediately leaned over and kissed him on the cheek as he was signing for her. He kept signing like nothing had happened. He really looks like he is in good shape tenniswise and I have high hopes for our boy. Loved the white see through shorts. If he wears them in the AO and goes 5 sets, they may become soaked with sweat…………*chokes on berries*

  18. jimmy says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHBXaytVwg8

    This is a good set of highlights for those who missed the match. Great stuff by Rafa, although the explosiveness in his movement and the return of serve could be better still.

  19. Theresa says:

    I was the lucky lady who kissed Rafa on the cheek,,,,,he was so nice because I had nothing to sign and had been taking photos of all my friends, so I asked him if I could kiss him,,,,I didn’t just do it without asking….he is a cutie!

    • miri says:

      I could see that you asked first on the YouTube vid. Good for you for 1: having the nerve; 2: being polite about it! Looks like you were rewarded appropriately. ;)

  20. Theresa says:

    Courtney you can find the video on YOUTUBE, made my day because I did not know there was one, its under Rafa v Bolleli

    enjoy,,,I did..