One Step Closer

Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Once again I missed all but the very end of the match. Looks to have been a bit of a battle for Rafa, taking on David Nalbandian who has missed most of the past year or so with hip problems. Not too surprising even so that it was tough, Rafa’s always had a problem with Nalbandian. Rafa is on to the fourth round, winning 6-7 (8-10), 6-2, 6-2.


Nadal Nalbandian
Statistics on Serve
Aces 5 8
Double Faults 3 1
1st Serve % 61% 62%
1st Serve Points Won 47/59 (80%) 37/50 (74%)
2nd Serve Points Won 18/38 (47%) 13/31 (42%)
Break Points Saved 2/3 (67%) 1/6 (17%)
Service Games Played 14 14
Statistics on Return
1st Return Points Won 13/50 (26%) 12/59 (20%)
Second Return Points Won 18/31 (26%) 20/38 (53%)
Break Points Won 5/6 (83%) 1/3 (33%)
Return Games Played 14 14
Statistics on Points
Total Service Points Won 65/97 (67%) 50/81 (62%)
Total Return Points Won 31/81 (38%) 32/97 (33%)
Total Points Won 96/178 (54%) 82/178 (46%)

54 Responses

  1. Ayden says:

    Well, Rafa was playing very good until 3-2 first set when he had to hold his serve. Then something happened and he was playing very bad until 1-0 second set when he finally started to play good again.

  2. Phyzzie says:

    I thought it was a good match, and so did Rafa. He is looking good. I also like the new design look – – but the shorts look a bit too small. He is pulling them again….. !! But I live in Florida so the look is right on for me.

  3. jba says:

    i couldn’t watch during the first set because he was losing, so when i checked back about an hour later and i found myself looking at the very last game. don’t know what went down. pretty much relying on the highlights on youtube later in the day. he’s up against karlovic or ferrer next. again, all i can really say is VAMOS RAFA! onto the next round you go! :)

  4. aRafaelite says:

    Rafa played great at the start of the first set. Aggressive, hugging the baseline, forcing Nalby into errors, and then he started falling apart, staying too far back, allowing Nalby to dictate points and push him around. Rafa’s forehand temporarily left the building.

    I thought it was going to be the IW semi against Ljuby all over again, but luckily Nalby choked too and started splattering the court with unforced errors. Rafa hung in there and managed to get the breaks. It was a messy win, but it was a win, and David Nalbandian no longer has a winning record over Rafael Nadal!

    The above account in no ways captures the nervous hysteria I think most of us probably went through along the way.

    • jba says:

      i can only imagine! i wanted to watch so bad but i couldn’t without getting totally derailed since i have a test in the morning (different time zones suck). thank goodness it’s my last one, so that means next match i can give my full attention to him [and his tennis] ;)

      • aRafaelite says:

        Well, it’s 6am here in Queensland, Australia. I started watching the match at 3… time for a few hours sleep now I hope. At least he won. There’s half a chance I can sleep now!

    • Clare says:

      Aahh yes “THAT” well known feeling….

      One of the real “joys” of supporting Rafa!!!

      Thanks for the summation aRafaelite, hopefully we (Down Under) will get a replay later on today, after the network has finished broadcasting a weekends worth of footy!!!

  5. ekattor says:

    every thing changed from the 5th game of the 2nd set. Rafa went on to save double break points and then won the next 3 games to win the set… i’m so glad David no longer has a winning record against rafa ( its 2-2 now right?). way to go rafa……….!!

  6. patzin says:

    The respective players were up and down. I was worried about the match after the 1st set loss to Nalby. I thought about IW last year and thought here we go again, but Rafa stayed strong mentally and with determination. Nalby looked tired at the tail end of 2nd set and in the third. Rafa didn’t play his best at times but played well enough to pull it through. Yeah.

  7. johanne says:

    Ridiculously stressful match. The 6-2 6-2 scoreline for the last two sets is a bit deceiving because it was very very close. Rafa really gutted this one out, that part was great to see because he looked a bit fragile for awhile there. I’m so happy he won! Also happy he leveled their head-to-head: 2-2 now:) VAMOS!

    • CC says:

      So f-ing stressful I at one point ran out of foul language. For both players. In both Swedish and English. Now, that doesn’t happen often.

      • johanne says:

        Oh me too. My potty mouth was in full effect.

        • Emma R says:

          I like that description, “ridiculously stressful”. I actually kept live pausing it, and nipping out to do other things like madly peel potatoes in order to diffuse the stress. Did not enjoy it at all – which is mad because anyone else but Rafa and I would have loved it. Really thought he’d had it in the second – oh ye of little faith….

          Nice easy time next round please Raf.

  8. CC says:

    I think that was a very important win for Rafa. He didn’t play particularly well, yet managed to win by hanging in there, digging deep and although it looked a bit gloomy at times, managed to come through as the winner. That must be a confidence booster!

    For me, on a personal level, this was an important win too. Simply because I don’t know how much more of this I can take. With Rafa coming through, I think I can possibly handle watching another match. ;)

    • An says:

      I realy did stop watching it after the 1st….

      Was sooooooo tyred from 4 verry late nights in a row and playing and organising my 1 st outdoor tournament off the year ( and yes, off course from my mind being with “breakfast in bed”, Rafa’s bed… ;) ) that i could just not stand to see him strugling.
      Over the moon happy that he won it now! So it was an “ugly” win? Hell, a win is a win, thank you Rafa!

      • CC says:

        An, I was all over the place watching that match yesterday as well. A few times I got up from the sofa and said to BF “that’s it, I’ve had it with Rafa” (did I talk about Djokovic being a drama queen…?). So thank f-ck he won in the end.

        Hope your tennis tourney went well and that you won some good matches!

        • An says:

          Yep, thanks, the tourney went as well as it could….
          It was a mixed-doubles event wich my mix-partner and i won:)

          Rafa can simply drive us nuts, also with his tennis, No? I was afraid off getting in the same mood as i was after the IW-semi so i turned it off and decided to give BF some attention instead because he had bin so nice to follow me around and “sharing” me with tennisclub and courts and mix-partner the whole weekend :D
          But altough i abanded watching Rafa, my mind never left him completly, it never does and it never will do!

  9. Isabelle says:

    Watching was a bit nerve wracking and I am glad he is through with that one! You could see the concern on his face along with the determination! Was it my imagination or was the crowd more in favor of Nalbandian (which I didn’t care for!)??

    • johanne says:

      There’s lots of South American fans in Miami so I’m sure there were plenty of people there who wanted Nalby to win. Plus the match was just really tense & the possibility for an upset always seems to get a crowd into a tizzy. No doubt Rafa had his fans there too. :D

      • Isabelle says:

        Thanks, that makes sense. And yes there were plenty of people calling out “Rafa”, it was just that the tide of response was more against him. Important thing it that he won!

    • faeaki7 says:

      No I disagree, I thought the crowd was well behind Rafa.. Btw on the subject, Sky sports here in the Uk did a pole for fans to name their top 5 favourite players and Rafa came out on top!! how awsome is that!
      I watched the match with the help of a glass of wine or two from the 2nd set onwards! I was pissed how he allowed Nalbandian to break back in 1st set with a double fault (showed vulnerability), but he has always been weary of Nalbandians talent and rightfully so, he has always had alot of natural ability and because of 2 easy wins against Rafa in the past had gotten into Rafa’s head, tonight was a better match than the last one they played, and he lost the tie-break through a long fore-hand other than playing tentively! he moved well but there were a few errors and signs of vulnerability there but he did show some brilliance and why he brings so much to the game, off court him and David are good friends so it started off well and ended equally well, even through the match they were both sporting like. Rafa wasn’t perfect tonight but I expected him to be nervous playing Nalbandian and its a good win for him for alot of reasons! lets hope he can build on this!!! Even though a nail biting match, I really enjoyed it!

      • teejustice says:

        You’re right faeaki7, there was equal support. It was good energy in the stands. Most any time someone cheered David’s name someone would follow up with Rafa and vice versa. I think there were a lot of good rallies, but glad Rafa was stronger in the end. I was not too nervous watching the match surprisingly. I saw him practice earlier in the day and he looked crabby. Seemed as if the serve was not working. That made me wonder about his ability to be colm in important moments, especially against Nalby. Like you said it was an enjoyable match although nail biting too.

  10. rubik says:

    Bravissimo, Nadal! This was not the best match I’ve seen between Nadal and Nalbandian, but Nadal won it and that’s what counts right now. Really nice to see that Nadal pulled it through MENTALLY when he had to today – best news of that match! There were ups and downs on both sides during that match, but overall Nadal pulled through mentally, and that’s the most important thing for him to do right now!

    Personally, I appreciate Nalbandian a lot (in fact, I’ve always gone for Nalbandian in all of his matches except when he plays against Nadal OBVIOUSLY), but I am extremely pleased that his H2H with Nadal is now 2-2 after today’s match. One case closed for Nadal. Vamos, Nadal!

    On the side, it’s a good thing that Nalbandian has lost quite a bit of weight since last year. If we go by the way he played during the 1 1/2 sets against Nadal today, Nabaldian should be 100% back to his tennis around mid-summer, I guess. A 100% Nalbandian can truly beat anyone in a given match on a given day, including Federer whom he has already beaten some 8 or 9 times over the years I believe. If I’m not mistaking, other than Nadal OBVIOUSLY, Nalbandian is probably the player who has beaten Federer most often.

    Today’s win is a HUGE win for Nadal. So once again, Bravissimo and Vamos, Nadal!

    • faeaki7 says:

      Very well said, Nalbandian is one unforfilled talent of the game and great to watch! Gr8 and important win for Rafa but not the most important of course!

    • aRafaelite says:

      Actually, Nalbandian has a losing record against Federer (8-10), and Murray’s the other player than Rafa with a winning record against Federer (6-5). But I agree that he (Nalby) is one of the most under-rated players on the tour and it’s good to have him back even if had me seriously frazzling in this match.

      I think I’m right in saying that after this match, the only active player Rafa has a losing record to in singles is Davydenko (4-5)…?! Vamos Rafa!

  11. emir says:

    the firth game of the second set,bring the match to rafa..nalabandian played like top 5 player set and half,the good thing is rafa still mange to make the match LONG enough for david to crumble..i also beleive rafa still mentally no where near the player he once was gifted the break to david DAUBLE FAULT in the first set,he also gifted the point when it was 5.4 he has two serves and DAUBLE FAULT AGAIN,you can also see the tightness he is feeling in his face,when he is set down 2 all 15 40 down he has NOTHING TO LOSE I GUESS…he won that game NAD NEVER LOOKED BACk..i am so happy.but rafa still struggling a lot mentally i have to say..

  12. Lou Lou says:

    ….. YAY!!

  13. tiemyshoe says:

    Basically, knowing Nalby and Rafa’s history, this was an AMAZING WIN. I mean, it’s the first and only match against Nalby where Rafa hasn’t faced multiple match points. …. !!! Yep.

    Rafa generally plays so poorly against Nalby that when he lost the first set in a TB, I was like, Eh, not bad. At least it was close. It doesn’t matter how fit Nalby is, I think playing poorly and nervously against him is like a Pavlovian response for Rafa. It’s that tricky backhand with its ridiiiiculous ability to generate crazy angles.

    So, yeah, I was more than a little nervous when the match started, and very prepared for him to lose. Luckily, Rafa pulled through – with tons of fist pumps, vamos-ing, and vein-popping psych-me-ups.

    Funny how Marc! and Benito were both texting at various points. “hi toni, si, rafa DF in TB, plz 2 beat him silly?? j/k”

  14. sia says:

    Oh and I missed all of the match … except for one moment when I was able to sneak away from the film set and catch live scores of ‘the – first – set – tie – breaker’ !! I was resigned
    to Rafa’s fate … but happily poured a glass of wine when I saw the result.

  15. miri says:

    I actually think a gut win – especially against a player who’s “in his head – is something he needs right now. He needs to know he can make it through no matter how well or how bad he’s playing. I can’t help but think that will lessen the nerves in other matches.

    And yes, it was nerve-wracking in person. More to come later.

    • SallyO says:

      *rubs hands together*

      HURRY UP! What have you got to tell us?! :D

      Oh yeah, agree completely on the gut win being a very good win for Rafa. I thought he dug deep and showed great heart.

  16. SallyO says:

    A quick thought, how freaking ADORABLE is the love that Nalby has for Rafa and vice verse?
    During the coin toss they were smiling at each other and exchanged words, and the love at the net at the conclusion of the match was so bunnies and hearts. Call me a sap, but I love that kind of genuine affection. Siiiigh…

  17. djb says:

    That was a scary win for Rafa. He wasn’t at his absolute best, but it was good enough against Nalbandian, who much like last year at IW, played a good 1st set and a half and then went away. Now Rafa’s half looks a bit more promising with Ferrer next. He may play Kohlschreiber or Tsonga in the quarters which will be extremely tricky, but I don’t think there’s anything Rafael can’t handle at this point.

    I honestly feel like he can go all the way, which would be huge, considering it could bring him 25 points from regaining his No. 2 ranking again. However, he’s got to take things a step at a time, and play to the best of his capabilities. I’m very proud of what he accomplished today. Great job Rafa!

  18. Dale C. A. says:

    because of the time difference, i couldn’t stay up anymore to wait for Rafa’s match and woke up, turned on CNN and saw World sport reporting on the Rafa/David match and i swear , my heart rate went up to 180 beats/min when they showed footage of Rafa running around and losing in the first set and then they showed 2nd and 3rd set.. whew!!! now i can start my week on a happy note :-)
    Thank u very much for the updates
    Vamos and have a good blessed week, everyone :-)

  19. arwen says:

    I watched the whole match.thanks god nalbandian choked in the second set or it would be another disaster.I can not get why he can’t maintain his calm,he got the break and serve for 4-2 in the frst then something happened to strange.he was very nervous during the match.nevertheless he won and it’s something.I think this tourney can be a chance for him.murray and djoko are out so if he manages to win this one everything will be on his favor;confidence and rankings.come on rafa do not choke this time we’ve been waiting for so long.

    • Stf says:

      He was nervous because Nalby knows how to beat Rafa. It’s the same thing Rafa can do with Roger, he knows how to beat him and gets inside his head. Nalby has always been a very dangerous player against Rafa and I’m sure Rafa knows that much better than we do, this is probably why he was so nervous during the match.

  20. dutchgirl says:

    I couldn’t watch the match, because I was out, but when I came home I immediately checked the scores and was thrilled that Rafa won and overcame his negative head2head against Nalbandian.
    I agree with all of you who said that this will do him good, mentally.
    Can’t wait to finally see the next one, against Ferrer!

    • Stf says:

      I’m happy to see Rafa going against Ferrer instead of Karlovic. Not that Ferrer isn’t a worthy opponent but Isner is out too, so the big servers are out of the way. This could be a great chance to go as far as the semifinals, I think Tsonga is beatable. On the other hand, I do hope Baggy will surprise us and beat Cilic. ;)

      • Emma R says:

        Oh is it Daveeed? I love Daveeeed. Haven’t caught up with last night’s results fully yet. Think Daveeed will never beat Rafa because he has too much respect for him. Much better than Nalbandylegs who terrifies me where Rafa is concerned.

        Bless Nal though for going up and hugging Rafa at the end. I’d read somewhere that there was a bit of friction between the teams somewhere along the line (though how true this was I don’t know). Lovely to see, anyway. Can I hug Rafa too?

        • tiemyshoe says:

          Ferru deserves a lot of respect – on hard courts, he actually has a 2-1 record against Rafa.

  21. Atch2 says:

    It wasn’t televised in my country but was so so happy to see the result, but from everyone’s comments, I was saved some hair pulling and swearing rants.

    Hope this is an indication that Rafa’s getting his mental strength back!

    This is the vid of the match for the last game:

    Rafa looks so overjoyed and relieved.

  22. ConnieinTexas says:

    The post interview with Rafa was so funny…the commentator tried to ask questions but Rafa was so excited he just kept talking…I think he got to ask only 3 questions!