The march on Rome begins

VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images

Rafa kicked off his Rome title defense by taking on #29 Kohlschreiber who scored a big upset in Monte-Carlo when he took out Murray, but that wasn’t going to happen today, right? Right. Rafa roared through the first set taking it 6-1. Kohlschreiber started getting his game under control a bit in the second set, though. Each player held until Rafa broke in the 7th game. That’s all it took. Rafa through to the next round: 6-1, 6-3.


Stats:

Nadal Kohlschreiber
Statistics on Serve
Aces 2 2
Double Faults 0 0
1st Serve % 69% 58%
1st Serve Points Won 23/29 (79%) 16/28 (57%)
2nd Serve Points Won 10/13 (77%) 9/20 (45%)
Break Points Saved 1/1 (100%) 2/6 (33%)
Service Games Played 8 8
Statistics on Return
1st Return Points Won 12/28 (43%) 6/29 (21%)
Second Return Points Won 11/20 (43%) 3/13 (23%)
Break Points Won 4/6 (67%) 0/1 (%)
Return Games Played 8 8
Statistics on Points
Total Service Points Won 33/42 (79%) 25/48 (52%)
Total Return Points Won 23/48 (48%) 9/42 (21%)
Total Points Won 56/90 (62%) 34/90 (38%)
Other Stats
Winners 18 15
Unforced errors 11 28
Net Approaches 2/6 (33%) 7/10 (70%)

As it happened blatherings:

I had the most bizarre dream last night/this morning. I kept waking up all night wondering what time it was, so it was one of those “twilight” dreams you have when you are in and out of sleep – for me, those are usually the oddest and easiest to remember. Anyway, I was at a music festival (like the SXSW one here in town) and Rafa was going to be giving a talk. (I said it was odd, right?) I leave the show I’m at to get to the room where he’s doing his conference in time to catch the end of Richard Lewis’s talk. (Random!) He leaves the stage and, as the crowd empties out, I go get into a seat on the first row. As I’m getting my camera ready, Rafa strolls out and sits in a chair behind the little podium. He’s early. (I know!) Ladies in the front row start talking to him and someone asks him about his Olympics experience. He talks and talks about the wonderful atmosphera and how he got so caught up in it, that he started speaking Greek. *pause* Ladies “oooo” and “aaaaa”. He snort-laughs and shakes his head “no”. I laugh.

Then Benito walks in carrying a box and sits it at a table towards the back of the stage. Rafa goes back there and they start taking books (?) out. A lady yells out, “need help setting up your books?” And soon the stage is full of women taking Rafa’s books and setting them out on the table next to the podium. Rafa and Benito stand there looking bemused. I’m laughing a bit too loud while tweeting about the book-to-woman ratio and they look over at me. I press send on the tweet and the women on the stage stop to pull out their phones which are either vibrating or beeping because they are @nadalnews subscribers. Now I’m really laughing and a single eyebrow is being raised to epic proportions. And then my alarm goes off.

So suck it up, Craig Ferguson, you aren’t the only tweeter with a Robot Skeleton Army!

I’m glad Soderling wrapped things up quickly – not quick enough to mean I’ll get to see this whole match before having to go to work, but I’m happy I’ll get to see some of it. I will be getting ready for work and will probably miss big chunks, though.

Rafa to start things off serving. Kohls sails a return: 15-0. Second point ends on a forehand down the line winner? This bodes well. Rafa sends a ball just wide: 30-15. Kohls can’t get the return into the court: 40-15. Rafa tries and angled backhand, but hits it wide: 40-30. First game to Rafa: 1-0.

Kohls into the net, forehand winner from Rafa: 15-15. Rafa pushes Kohls back and back until he gets the error: 30-30. Rafa steps in to smack a forehand winner: break point. Fierce forehand winner from Kohls: deuce. Rafa breaks! He’s up 2-0.

Kohls paints a line and draws an error from Rafa: 15-30. Kohls nets a second serve: 30-30. Ace: 40-30. Kohls attempts to pull Rafa in with a drop shot, but it’s just out wide: 3-0, Rafa.

Roma players in the house – hope their appearance doesn’t have the same effect on Rafa’s chances as Rafa had on their game.

Kohls sends a ball way long: 15-15. Rafa dances up to a backhand…and nets it: 30-15. Kohls tries to step up and smack a forehand, but it goes way out: 30-30. Kohls moves Rafa left and right and then pulls him into the net via a drop shot that Rafa can’t quite do anything with by the time he tracks it down: 40-30. Kohls sends a backhand wide. Kohls holds and gets on the board. He’s down 1-3.

Just noticed the Corona logos on the net. I’m a little slow.

Fierce forehand winner from Rafa: 15-0. Kohls nets a backhand. Kohls almost sends a backhand return into the stands: 40-0. Rafa takes a backhand early and angles it – Kohls can’t touch it. 4-1.

TennisLuvah: Rafa up 4-1. He looks really fucking hot today. /fangirl

bgtennisnation: Nadal is looking like a wrecking ball on the dirt, good as ever, lot more bounce in his step. Making the talented Kohlschreiber seem average

Rafa almost took out a linesperson trying to track down a ball: 15-30. Kohls sends a shot long: 15-40. Rafa breaks for a 5-1 lead.

So, I think TennisLuvah and bgtennisnation are saying the same thing. ;)

Kohls nets a ball: 30-0. Into the net Rafa goes and he smacks a winner: 40-0. Rafa holds and takes the first set: 6-1. 30 minutes; 70% first serves in; 11 winners; 8 UFEs; 1/2 net points won; 2/3 break points won.

Ataraxis00: Rafa, I appreciate the drama free morning. I needed that. 6-1 1st set in 30 minutes.

Ack. I should be getting ready for work…

GoToTennis: Rafa’s looking really sharp. His loose/tight Nike biker shirt and Mr.Furly shorts, not so much.

Time it takes for 3 games = time to brush teeth, put on makeup and pick out clothes for work. On serve 1-2 in the second.

Rafa holds at love for 2-2. Kohls holds at love for 3-2.

Rafa flubs an overhead: 0-15. Kohls sends a shot sailing: 15-15. Players trade droppers until the net cord shows Rafa some love and pops the ball out of Kohls’s reach: 30-15. Pulled wide to his backhand, Rafa nets a ball: 30-30. Beautiful on the run backhand passing shot winner and Kohls has break point. Second serve. Kohls goes for the line and misses wide: deuce. Kohls sends as service return long: game point. Rafa holds: 3-3.

Nice volley from Kohls: 15-0. He sends a ball out: 30-0. Kohls nets a ball: 30-15. Kohls hits a lovely drop-shot volley off of Rafa’s passing attempt: 30-30. Kohls moves Rafa around and then tries for a short-angled volley that’s just wide: 30-40. Rafa breaks for a 4-3 lead!

Ataraxis00: Once Kohls gets to net he’s pretty effective. (except that point right there) but that’s obviously the plan.

(I really should be leaving for work…)

Excellent work from Kohls: 0-15. Massive forehand winner from mid-court: 15-15. Rafa moves Kohls well – pushing him back while working is own way in. He finishes the point off with a forehand winner: 40-15. An an error from Kohls, Rafa holds.

kip_jones: @nadalnews I am at work. The Centre Director just walked in my office and said, ‘I know you’re busy, I recognise the headband’

Forehand error from Kohls: 15-15. Kohls nets a ball: 15-30. Fierce forehand winner from Rafa gives him double match point. Rafa hits a service return wide: 30-40. Kohls sends a shot long and Rafa wins: 6-1, 6-3

85 Responses

  1. kefuoe says:

    What an entertaining dream! Hilarious.

  2. Silhouette says:

    Yes, Rafa’s marching on….somehow I feel that he wasn’t moving as well as he did at Monte Carlo? Or is it just me? Though he still seems as aggressive as he was at MC. Hope he meets Soderling in the quarters and show him who’s the king!

    • Stf says:

      It was the first match in a court he’d never been on before and I do believe the surface is a bit faster, at least it looked like it. It took him some time to adapt but I’m sure he’ll get better as he moves on.

      • Isabelle says:

        Thanks, good observations.

        • Silhouette says:

          Ah, that didn’t cross my mind…yes, the surface does look a little faster….
          Oh, and I noticed Rafa’s wearing the same attire he wore at MC….

          • solaris says:

            Actually yesterday after Murray won, one of the tour organizers came to Murray and asked what he thought about this surface – he said it was a little bit different (smth about ball bouncing – not sure what). So maybe that’s it.

  3. Stf says:

    That was a good start. Kohlschreiber is a worthy opponent but as the commentator said, Rafa’s power is that he makes worthy opponents look average. There was a momentary lapse of focus in the second set, which combined with Kohl playing a little better, almost resulted in a break that never happened, thankfully. It was all uphill from there for Rafa. He was solid, a few balls were short but generally, he played a good match. 18 winners, 11 unforced and 67% first serve is pretty good stats for an hour and ten minutes. On to Hanescu. And a little further, Soderling.

    I watched a bit of Soderling’s match, the man is playing very well and his serve is looking good. This will be a very entertaining match. commentator

    • TheBia says:

      A few short balls? did you watch the match entirely?
      Rafa’s performance at the first couple of games in the second set was awful, really awful, it was exactly like Doha’s final. too many short and easy to volley balls for the opponent, and the only difference was the quality of the opponent. I hate seeing Rafa being volleyed time and time in a match.

      • Fay says:

        mmmm he knows what short balls will do, and if he gets by Hanescu and has to face Soderling he will have to play better!

      • Stf says:

        Yes, of course I watched the match entirely. Compared to his hard court performances, where short balls were basically the only balls he got across the net, today’s short balls were much fewer and his game was closer to the lines. Kohlschreiber has troubled Rafa before and beat Murray only a couple of weeks ago. I don’t think he’s not a worthy opponent but certainly, Davydenko is better. Still, Rafa played a solid match and apart from his loss of focus in part of the second set, his short balls were nowhere as many as they used to be.

        • miri says:

          Also, short balls don’t hurt him as much on clay because of the higher bounce.

          • TheBia says:

            Are you sure, miri? maybe you have forgotten the 2009 French Open? no?
            Rome is one of the fastest clay tournaments in the tour, I’m sure a quality opponent who plays strongly form both sides like Davy, Novak, Robin, Juan is still very dangerous on this kind of surfaces, don’t forget Kohls plays with a single handed backhand, I believe he doesn’t have enough weapons to challenge Rafa’s weakness. indeed, I hate calling Rafa as king of clay, he should be king of tennis, so short balls and allowing the opponent to dictate is not good on any given surface!!!
            Vamos Rafa
            King of Tennis

            • Stf says:

              2009 French Open also had Rafa injured without anyone knowing at that time. His injury made him less confident and when he isn’t confident, short balls ensue. The thing is that even if there are short balls, the slide on the surface helps him get to the ball on time and at least defend and get the ball back to the opponent, even if the opponent fires a forehand or a backhand. That sometimes frustrates the other player and that way, sometimes Rafa finds that he can switch to offence again.

              • An says:

                Thats exactly why short balls don’t hurt him so much on clay STF! Verry well put.

              • TheBia says:

                So our attitudes towards tennis are very different, I’m thinking about a complete player not a Spanish clay court specialist, you talked about sliding, it’s one of the thing which Rafa has not to do anymore, those defensive skills just hurt him as done already.

                • miri says:

                  He shouldn’t slide on clay? He shouldn’t take advantage of a feature of the surface? Why, then he’d be an American and we know how much they suck on clay.

                  One should always do ones best to adapt their movement to make the most out of the surface they are playing on. Slides are not always defensive. They allow you to quickly get to a ball (offensively or defensively) with the least amount of strain on the body. If you try and stop on a dime on clay you are totally and completely doomed.

                  Are you sure, miri? maybe you have forgotten the 2009 French Open? no?

                  No, I haven’t. But I also haven’t let my opinion/view of one match cloud my view of an entire career.

                  Rome isn’t as fast as Madrid.

                  But it’s not just about speed…it’s about the way the surface handles the ball bounce. A low bouncing surface is bad for Rafa regardless of the speed. It takes away one of his major weapons. Clay tends to bounce the balls high. (That sounds naughty.)

                  • TheBia says:

                    No, I didn’t mean he should never slide on clay, you know what I mean exaclty, everybody knows about normal sliding on clay, I mean overusing of sliding, retrieving each and every point, today we had a big and obvious instance of what I’m talking about (referring to an occasion Rafa jumped into linesman box, it was very dangerous)
                    I believe Rafa is able to take the control of rally and so he doesn’t need to retrieve each ball and hurt himself again and again. but I don’t know what is in his mind!!!

                    • miri says:

                      I’m sorry, but I didn’t know what you meant. To me, it sounded like you were saying he shouldn’t slide. Period. Sorry I misunderstood you.

                      I think taking control of the rally and winning quickly is in his mind…the difficulty is in making what’s in the mind a reality.

                • Stf says:

                  I don’t think they’re different. I do think that Rafa is more complete now as a player than he used to be. But he started out as a clay court specialist and he still is better on clay than any other surface. Sliding is part of the clay style of play and the fact is that Rafa knows how to move on a clay court and use it better than any other player out there. If he needs to chase a ball down, he will because the court allows him to, because of the surface that is easier on the body as well. I’m pretty sure that in MC and today, he didn’t even bother to try and chase down winners that he knew he couldn’t catch. He’s much more careful these days. And if he lands a ball short and loses the point, he will find a way to win the next one. He showed that today.

      • CC says:

        I’ve just watched the match and I’m inclined to agree with theBia on Rafa playing far too many short balls. He looked unsharp to me, didn’t seem to return well and looked mega fidgety.

        • miri says:

          Yes, he played a lot of short balls, but I don’t think it was just the level of opponent that kept us from a Doha like match – the surface helps as well.

          • CC says:

            Doha? I don’t remember that far back. I was comparing with how Rafa played in MC. Considering Kohli played like a…kohlrabi…for most of this match, Rafa should have just fired winners left, right and centre and won much quicker. He didn’t.

            I’m just nitpicking. I think the blister was bothering him.

            • miri says:

              Yeah, I think the blister and lack of what he feels is solid practice was playing with his colm a bit. Glad to see it didn’t muck things up too much, though.

        • An says:

          It was not his best tennis, i agree with that, but i still think it was a good match to start a tournament… And i realy think he was strong and stepped it up when he came at break point down in the 2nd!

          In MC his first match agains Thiemo wasn’t his best tennis either and he came trough so easy because Thiemo was making so manny mistakes, well same was the case today!
          We’ll see what happens tomorrow.

          • miri says:

            It was not his best tennis, i agree with that, but i still think it was a good match to start a tournament

            I agree with this – Rafa has a history of being a slow starter in tournaments. As long as things improve each round, I can be happy and with colm. :)

  4. JK says:

    Well done Rafa. Vamos!

  5. Isabelle says:

    Funny dream Miri! Started watching at 4-1 first set and Rafa was punishing Kohls! Second set more respectable for K but not good enough for our Rafa! Just love seeing that determined focused look on Rafa’s face. Keep it up Rafa!

  6. Stf says:

    Btw miri, funny dream. And extra funny because he started speaking Greek and, well, I’m Greek. :p

  7. An says:

    This is the way to start a tournament me thinks……

    He was 4-1 up in 1st set when i came back from my appointment with the orthopedic, i didn’t see him do anything wrong from there on… Maybe lost a little focus in the game where Kohls got to break point… missing an overhead… and why the rush to take Kohls not to good return on a very good serve as a drive volley when you just had to let it bounce and could have put it evrywhere you wanted Rafa? But me likey the being verry focused immediatly again to save the break point, that tells me he’s confident enough an able to step it up to play these points with “colm”
    Good match Rafa! VAMOS!

    • Stf says:

      May I just say that he finally looks really happy again after wrapping up a match? He was all smiles when he was signing the camera. He seems so much more relaxed now.

      • Silhouette says:

        Yes, it was great seeing those smiles from Rafa….

        I agree with you An. Rafa seems confident to step up and win the points. Great start to Rome!

      • miri says:

        He does, doesn’t he? I think the win in MC did him so much good.

        • Stf says:

          I’m pretty sure winning MC was really good for his confidence. And it was obvious today that he got himself out of a break point and went on to hold. He shouldn’t have problems wrapping up matches now. I hope, anyway. ;)

          • An says:

            Yeah, i think the MC win deffinitly cofirmed for himself that he was still able to do so, stepping things up on the important points, raising the level and win those points with good and agressive tennis instead off panicking and getting tentative… Being on clay certainly helps in that, he just feels that he has that little extra most others don’t on this surfrace i guess.

            When he saved break-point and the way he played that point and the points after…. i jus knew right away that he was going for breaking Kohls in that game. And the way he played the breakpoint he got agains Kohls in the game after that was so good! He totally was going for his shot, no hesitation, just wanting to kill… and he got the break right away.. That is self-believe and exactly thats what i missed off the Rafa off old before!

  8. Rafangel says:

    Lol Rafa has resumed usual cc service and now so have I – I feel a bit offended if a player picks up 3 games in a set ;)

    I was so worried about this cc season, with all the pressure, I thought if he couldn’t handle it and lost a lot it could kill him. FLOVING being wrong!

    Great dream, miri. I don’t dream about him often (grr): it’s because I spend so much of the day thinking about him. Heh.

  9. Maria says:

    rafa, thank you for ending a match for once before the window that the broadcaster allowed to tennis expired. also for an amazing first set. and for the game face at 3-1 30-0 in that set. a little sluggish today though …

  10. Nana says:

    Miri, it’s amazing that you could remember the dream in such detail!

    Didn’t get to watch the first set which sounded like a blowout. The beginning of second set was a tighter affair, but he got the job done pretty quickly despite that. I’m sure he’ll get better!

    BTW the time difference is perfect for me. I get to watch the match at 9ish at night! Even better than local time. Nothing beats going to bed after witnessing a nice Rafa victory!

  11. TeamNadal says:

    Well done Rafa!

  12. Atch2 says:

    Great warm-up match for you Rafa. Luv it when you come out swinging. I felt bad for Phil bec he’s a nice and no-nonsense player with pretty blue eyes, and he upped his game in the second set to challenge Rafa a bit more.

    I thought the same thing when they mentioned the Roma players. I was planning to curse their whole team if they jinxed Rafa.

    So is every opponent going to try volleying on every alternate point and then throwing in some drop shots to win some points?

    I didn’t get to see after Rafa signed the camera. Did he get to autograph for all those kids that were crammed behind his seat?
    Also someone explain the spitting to me again. Does Rafa get clay in his mouth or something?

    kip_jones: @nadalnews I am at work. The Centre Director just walked in my office and said, ‘I know you’re busy, I recognise the headband’ LOL. The risks we take at work to keep up with Rafa.

    Miri I wish I could interpret your dreams for you.

    • k says:

      Rafa signing the camera at the end of this video.

      • Stf says:

        See? Smiling. Not unhappy, not confused, not annoyed. Just plain happy. ;)

        Btw, anyone noticed how his backhand is on lately? It has been since MC, which I take as a sign of confidence. It’s much more powerful and flat. Also, not many vamoses, not many fist pumps, not sure why. He’s just much more focused and composed. Certainly a good sign.

        • miri says:

          I think clay and a slow bounce also help his backhand – he has more time to get to the shot and get his racket around the ball. (If that makes any sense.)

          • Stf says:

            Yes, that makes sense and that’s what I thought too. He still needs to work on his backhand, I think. But I like that it’s more powerful than it has been the past few months prior to MC. It’s a considerable weapon because if his backhand is as powerful as his forehand, then there’s no easy way to beat him. His opponent has to hit pretty crazy shots and those don’t always work out.

            • rubik says:

              Stf and miri,

              I agree 100% with you on Nadal’s backhand becoming more efficient since the Monte-Carlo tournament. And that’s very good news!

              To me, Nadal’s backhand (although not one of the best backhands on the ATP tour today – in my personal opinion, the best backhand on the ATP tour would be Nalbandian’s, followed by Djokovic’s, Almagro’s and a few others) has now truly evolved into being one of the “bread-and-butter” aspects of Nadal’s game: efficient, consistent, reliable.

              Looking at Nadal’s backhand today, I could not help but smile a few times while thinking about Nadal’s rather poor backhand some 4 years ago, let’s say.

              In my opinion, what has also been a true delight to watch in Nadal’s game ever since the Indian Wells tournament, and more and more so with every tournament he’s been playing, is Nafal’s getting back and mastering his unique forehand, what in my mind is THE Nadal’s forehand.

              Nadal had modified his forehand in the fall of 2009 (in my personal opinion, probably to protect his adbomen injury) and I found that was really too unfortunate. So, I’m truly truly delighted to see Nadal’s original forehand back!

              VAMOS, Nadal!

        • k says:

          And him talking really fast maybe another indication of confidence :)

      • An says:

        Wich language is this… Sounds like some Scandinavian language, No?
        Could be Swedish…., CC?

      • Fay says:

        thanks K, Rafas gorgeous smile…

  13. CC says:

    I’m happy to see that Rafa won comfortably. Can’t wait to watch my taped version tonight! VAMOS!

    I NEVER have dreams about Rafa (when I’m asleep). I bet he looked really hot in it as well.

    *crosses arms*

    *pouts*

    *stomps off in cloud of jealousy*

    • miri says:

      I never have before either. It was very odd, though. And I don’t remember what he looked like at all. The only detail I remember about how he looked was the raised eyebrow at the end.

    • An says:

      Aaaaww, girls, realy?
      I dream about him a lot! Awake and asleep;)

      But Miri, verry odd dream indeed maybe someone knows how to interpret it? Did you at least make a pic off that characteristic raise eye-brow?:D

    • Nana says:

      I think I dreamed of him once or twice. All very random, nowhere near as coherent as Miri’s. But I appreciated it anyway!

      Wish everyone has rafa in their dreams tonite! He’s gonna be very busy =P

    • k says:

      I dreamed his Monte-Carlo final score against Verdasco as 6-3, 6-0.. I wasn’t close.. :(

  14. sia says:

    I wonder if Rafa would come to our book club … hmmm … I do drive everyone there crazy with my Rafa stories.

  15. solaris says:

    http://www.marca.com/2010/04/28/futbol/liga_campeones/1272464798.html

    Here is a sneak to interview with spanish media after his win. As I could understand he’s been troubled with a blister on hand lately and that’s why he wasn’t able to train as usually, but in general he’s happy. Maybe someone can translate it better.

    • Nana says:

      Would italian fans love him even more if he said he supports Inter to win? But of course he will never say that against a Spanish team ;)

      want to know what ‘bulb’ is in the google translation!

  16. solaris says:

    By the way, did anyone notice he brought today for extra luck a stuffed animal with him and sat it nicely in the corner of his bench. That superstition I hadn’t seen before :)

  17. An says:

    A blister on the right hand yes that prevented him from training like he was able to do in MC! He speaks about it in the present sence??

    He told the victory over Kohls looked easyer then it was… he thinks Kohls rushed it a bit to much and made to much errors by doing so and that helped Rafa winning comfortable…

    Always so humble;)

  18. Fay says:

    Well a blister on the right hand is gonna upset his b/h no? no more problems please Rafa, someone on here said he was a bit sluggish? I hope its the change of court, new bounce, speed etc….

  19. natch says:

    Nice thigh photo.

    Miri,
    Next dreamtime, try to get him to raise something else. Ahem.

  20. Isabelle says:

    On Rafa’s offical web site in the post match interview he says the court is fast…

    • Stf says:

      The court does look faster indeed but it didn’t seem to trouble Rafa all that much. He will adapt, it’s still clay.

  21. Rafafan says:

    Oh dear I am already getting nervous. Blisters again? What is it. The only time he lost in Rome was when he had…. blisters against Ferrero. Yikes. No wonder he was doing something to his hands while watching Djok.

    Hence I guess the short balls in the court (you know the Sod would blast them!) so he has to be careful. First match not so worried about but…. the sod in the quarters. Reckon that would be the be all match.

    Has anyone else notice another tick to his game (he used to do that when he was 17ish) – spitting and wiping it on the clay court! Rafa pleeeeaaaasssssssse no please don’t do that. or is is the gum piece in his mouth? Also anyone notice that the watch wasn’t on his wrist. Let’s be honest with all the sweat that comes off him he needs those 2 sweatbands definitely – not a show piece but a must! I think this is why he takes so long as well between points. I have never seen anyone sweat dripping so much…..

    • miri says:

      The only time he lost in Rome was when he had…. blisters against Ferrero.

      Those were huge-ass blisters on his feet. How about this: huge-ass blisters on his racket hand in the 2005 Rome tournament and he won. Of course, neither have anything to do with how he’ll finish this year.

  22. Atch2 says:

    Miri, do you think Benito was in your dream bec sub-consciously you like him almost as much as Rafa, or were you consciously thinking that he Rafa’s PR Mger and he should be there at the lecture?