Madrid: No go for Dolgo

Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO/ AFP/ Getty Images

Rafa started his trek into the alleged vortex of evil that is Madrid by playing #62 Alexandr Dolgopolov in the round of 32. I could only catch glimpses of the match via the tiny TennisTV “Desktop player”, but from what I saw, Dolgopolov could be a player to keep an eye on. He didn’t look intimidated by playing the King of Clay in front of a Spanish crowd and appears to be a good shot maker. What did you guys who actually got to watch the match think? Rafa’s through (6-4, 6-3) and will take on Isner in the next round.


Nadal Dolgopolov Jr
Statistics on Serve
Aces 0 3
Double Faults 2 0
1st Serve % 76% 56%
1st Serve Points Won 37/52 (71%) 22/33 (67%)
2nd Serve Points Won 9/16 (56%) 13/26 (50%)
Break Points Saved 1/1 (100%) 1/4 (25%)
Service Games Played 9 10
Statistics on Return
1st Return Points Won 11/33 (33%) 15/52 (29%)
Second Return Points Won 13/26 (33%) 7/16 (44%)
Break Points Won 3/4 (75%) 0/1 (%)
Return Games Played 10 9
Statistics on Points
Total Service Points Won 46/68 (68%) 35/59 (59%)
Total Return Points Won 24/59 (41%) 22/68 (32%)
Total Points Won 70/127 (55%) 57/127 (45%)

96 Responses

  1. Ch F says:

    OK I’ve now seen Dolgopolov in the highlights video and think he looks like the Hansons.

  2. emir says:

    i keep it short in the afternoon because i had to go was one the worst performances of rafa,altough i am not the biggest fan of this he looks grumpy,he looks happy talk,he didnt seem to be on a good attidue.i mean this tournument has a very strange crowd as well,they are way too noisy and annoying,i mean you dont also feel they have tennis knowladge like Parisian crowd..ballgirls looks OK,but i mean they have no idea abaut tennis i guess,they are way to slow,one of them also gave the balls to rafa after he finished his service games..for the eyes maybe they are good but for a top class organization forget abaut the show and find some fats ballgirls like in monte carlo..because they know the sport and how to be fast..FORMER BALLBOY TALKING,i mean i am not biggest fan of this model type of ballgirlsmthey have no idea whats going on and when the tension is high it can get annoying..i hope rafa will up his level tommorow especially return of serve will be key tommorow..

    • Fay says:

      I agree Emir, Rafa was below par today and grumpy, I don’t think he likes the bounce on these courts or the ballgirl/boys way.. I have written my comments on the match under the video highlights section of today/
      He will definately need to up his game tommorow!

  3. cindy says:

    i watched the whole match and all i can say is Rafa was in big trouble today , he was off balance , passive and insecure. it was rafa’s worst match on clay . 8 winners only ! can u imagine that!!!
    he was struggling to keep his sevice two times in the second set while he was dominated by a new comer who was over self confident and too strong in rafa’s terrritory : what a paradox ! roles were reversed : the king of clay was intimidated in his madrid by a little unknown girl look-like player who left nadal teetering for more than half an hour.
    Rafa hanged though but seriously it’s far les beyong his level .it’s very alarming because this is just the begining and what’s coming is harder.

    • Fay says:

      Yep I was thinking the same Cindy, the Ukranian was cocky and confident and not at all intimidated, I mean how many times did he drop shot Rafa and win the point making Rafa look silly at times… He didn’t look confident out there until he was near the finish line having broken in the 2nd set, having said all this he did say re: interview ATP site, that it was a tough opponent to play against not knowing his game, and he had an unusual reportoire of shot speeds etc.. something like that!

      • cindy says:

        yes Fay ; u’r right ! nadal the king of clay was playing in his kingdom yet he looked like a scared beginner playing in front a top 10 player ! we know that Rafa never played with the Ukranian , but this is not an excuse that justifies his bad game because he’s the master and the professional while the other is the beginner whi should be really scared and annoyed and not the other way around /

        • miri says:

          Rafa did not look like a scared beginner. He didn’t look with colm nor did he play all that great, but let’s not crank up the hyperbole machine.

          • sharon says:

            I agree Miri. I read these comments and wondered which match I had watched as it sure wasn’t the same one some of these posters are talking about. No, Rafa wasn’t at his best but I never felt that he was in danger of losing the match.

            It was Rafa’s first game in 9 days and he’ll be better tomorrow, plus we have to give his opponent some credit – he made some lovely shots. Rafa did as well and it was actually a rather entertaining game for the second round.

          • cindy says:

            sorry miri but u didnt watch the match but i did ! maybe i’m a bit hard on Rafa but he really looked like a beginner playing his first match in front of a top five player in front of a giant crownd supporting his oppenent !
            8 winners only
            double faults
            backhand not working
            forhand weak delivering short shots
            he was anxious and insecure , gesturing sometimes to his coach
            he struggled tow time to keep his serve for more than minutes which didnt happen to his oppenent
            we know he made it but let’be realistic what if he played against gulbis with that some low level !
            yesteday i was quite worried about rafa
            hhope it’s not the knee

            • miri says:

              I’ve seen the match and I’m still not worried.

            • tiemyshoe says:

              he struggled tow time to keep his serve for more than minutes which didnt happen to his oppenent

              Huh? Didn’t his opponent get broken three times?

  4. Louisa says:

    I did not see the match but am feeling very worried after reading all the comments:( He will have to be much better to beat Isner.

    • Rafangel says:

      Don’t worry too much. He wasn’t that bad! Not his best, but not terrible. I think actually a lot of credit has to go to Dolgopolov – as Rafa says, if another player is playing really well, it’s harder to play well yourself. I know you’d expect Rafa to dictate in this situation, but there are plenty of good reasons given here for him not to have. The most important thing is that he stepped it up when he had to (to hold serve under pressure, and to run away with the second half of the 2nd), and won – that’s all he needed to do. I’m sure he’ll find a way to step it up whenever he next needs to.

      I don’t think he likes the gimmickiness of this tourney. Or the altitude.

      • cindy says:

        rafangel u should take a look at the statistics first , 8 winners in about 1h and a half match ; short easy shots at the center, extremely defensive game , weak forhand !!! seriously : this is not rafa

  5. Stf says:

    It might be true that he didn’t know Dolgo’s game so he was sloppy. The Ukrainian had some surprisingly clean shots and some forehands were just amazing, in terms of speed and flatness. Some forehands were just impossible to catch. I did think that Rafa’s placement was a little off today. And it seems like a lot of his opponents are playing drop shots on him, he should be aware of that.

    I’m thinking that Isner isn’t all that great on clay but he did fire 22 aces today. Still, our Rafa in good form should not be afraid of him, he did beat him on a hard court after all. If Rafa beats Isner, I think that the road to the final is going to be significantly easier.

    • Louisa says:

      I really don’t like the games with so many aces. To me it feels like a cheap win if that makes sense. I mean 22! There should be some law where after so many aces in a game no more count lol. I feel for Rafa in that I think he must just feel under enormous pressure to win the clay tournies because if he doesn’t the media will be doing all there “beginning of the end” blah blah stories.

  6. xta says:

    i didn’t think rafa looked good even in the warm-up…already seemed cranky, and just stayed pretty cranky almost all the way through…i can’t remember the last time i saw him look so impatient (actually, disgusted) with a ball “kid”, and there were several times today when he looked short with them…just not like himself…
    and then he won…
    i’m doing my best to take comfort in the fact that isner had a tough time today with another qualifier…lost the first set 1-6, squeaked by in a long tiebreak for the second, then finally won the third handily…but even with 22 aces, giraldo still outscored him in total points: 97 to 88…i know isner won (which is what counts), but i’m just sayin’…
    vamos !!!

  7. cindy says:

    did u see the small bandage on rafa’s right knee ???
    i wonder if his knee injury is bothering him because he didnt seem to move fast today
    GUYS ; what do u think ?

  8. emir says:

    himm i dont think so cindy if it is the case it is really foolish to play this tournument just before rg.i dont think rafa make the same mistake he did last year..for me rafa movement even monte carlo a tournument which he won just losing 14 games,EVEN THERE not looking as good as 08..thats how i time he is even better shotmaker then he once was,when his game is on..will his movement will the same again we will see,but i dont think he is playing with pain as he was playing last year..if it is,i have to say it is his own stupidity to continue playing just before a major..

    • Ch F says:

      Even if Rafa doesn’t move as well as he used to, as long as he isn’t slow or doesn’t end up with bad placement, it’s not the end of the world. He might be moving not as good as in 08 (although I’m not sure we can generalise that comment) but he has developed other skills: he’s got a much better serve, he is more aggressive and a more complete player. It’s important for the longevity of a player not to have to chase down every ball to win points and matches. It’s a sign of maturity as well.

  9. Izzy says:

    Everything apart from his knees are bothering.
    I dont care what Rafa says he hates this tournament!

    Nadal looked like he could kill last night.
    I honestly thought he would walk off the court.
    He was clearly angry at the state of the court and the uselessness of the ball girls.
    He was fighting against the court, the speed and flight of the ball, which made it impossible to attain any rhythm thanks to his opponent, coupled by being irritated at the ball girls, and the crowd everything. Put the pressure of wanting to perfomr well in front of his home crowd and there you have a cranky rafa.

    That court is a slippery, fast hard court. The clay just adds to the players pain. Rafa was not moving slowely, the ball was flying!

    It is no coincidence that their have been so many players retiring!!! 5 in total in the last two days.

    • Atch2 says:

      Yeah, what’s with all these injuries, illnesses and retirements?

      Nalby, Berdy, A-Rod, Jo-Wil included. It’s understandable they want to play it safe and be ready for the FO. But our Rafa’s healthy so I’m Happy.

      And is it’Alexandr’ or ‘Oleksandr’? And is his service action like Lendl’s or one of the other older champs? I can’t put my finger on it.

      • miri says:

        I don’t know – they had Oleksandr on the screen, but the ATP site says Alexandr…so, I went with that.

        His service motion is insane!

  10. tiemyshoe says:

    Wow, I didn’t watch the game, but the comments here make it sound like Rafa just lost the tournament while playing the worse tennis of anyone EVER. And possibly was sucked into the vortex of evil while looking like an amateur and crying? Sorry, I was skimming.

    So … is John Isner into the final now? Is the world going to end? When will the aliens come to save us and what should I pack?

    • miri says:

      tiemyshoe, will you marry me? :)

      Fans get pissed when the press write Rafa off when he’s losing, but fans write him off even when he’s winning.

      I’m watching the match now thanks to my DVR and I don’t see a scared Rafa at all. Grumpy as shit? Yes. Towel fluff stuck to his neck? Yes. Off-put by the weirdness and occasional flashes of brilliance from his opponent? Yes. Anything that has me worried? No.

      • jimmy says:

        In all fairness, Nadal didn’t look that good today. He was hitting short more than he would. Of course the more one watches him, the more one realizes how much his movement has regressed over the years. This year he is compensating with more aggressive shot-making, but (for whatever reason) not today, except the serve.

        Still I would say he”ll do great for the remainder of the clay season obviously. But it seems that he peaked in Monte Carlo (where he played excellent) and has gone backwards since then. Of course, that’s not a reason to panic, but today’s match definitely wasn’t too encouraging.

        • Maya says:

          Do you mean his movement has regressed because he’s not running after balls like he use to? Analysts are saying that Rafa is moving and hitting as well as or better than he did in 08. He was off his game today and definitely miffed before the game even started. He just needs to find the “colm” and settle in. Rafa didn’t peak in MC. MC has the clay that best suits his game, a little less so in Rome, and even less in Madrid. I agree with Miri and tie my shoes, he will step it up when he needs to.

          • jimmy says:

            When I said movement, I meant more the footwork and explosiveness rather than running for balls. If you see his movement to his forehand side, and compare it to 2 years ago, you will see the difference . It’s not about him being smart and not chasing meaningless balls, it’s about his actual footwork and the fact that it looks slower than before, to the point it’s almost sluggish at times. That said, he’s still faster than 99% of the ATP.

            W.r.t your second point: I agree totally that Nadal is more aggressive of the ground and he’s also serving very well on clay this year. I’ve been very impressed by the placement of his serve, the pace on it and how often it has bailed him out of tough situations. He’s only been broken 4 times in 11 matches, which is OUTSTANDING.

            Finally the most important stat for me is that Nadal is averaging around 1 hr 20 minutes per match so far in 11 matches. This is FAR LESS than last year. This, more than anything else, might lead him to regain the RG crown..

        • Ch F says:

          I hope he didn’t peak in MC, but that he played better because the court suits him better. But then again we can’t know for sure before the French Open, where conditions are about the same if I’m not mistaken. If this is the case, he will probably play much better in Paris. As long as he’s healthy, he’ll be alright.

          • GB says:

            RG played considerably faster last year than in previous years (i.e. big servers like Sod did much better etc). I don’t know if it is merely that it was particularly hot during the tourney, or if it’s part of a movement toward faster surfaces. Obviously – as a Rafa fan and lover of clay tennis – I hope it’s the former.

            • GB says:

              Not that Rafa can’t play on faster surfraces! He obviously can when he’s confident and playing well.

            • Ch F says:

              Oh I didn’t know that. As for the heat, probably in the beginning of the tournament, cause I was there for the ladies’ final and it was very chilly.

            • Karen says:

              I recall commentators saying last year at RG that they weren’t watering the courts inbetween sets and it would make the clay faster probably to suit the French players in particular! Seems they were determined to reduce Rafa’s chances. MC & RG clay are virtually the same or so I’ve heard ATP commies say. Have I heard that MC is being moved so it’s the tournie before RG? I think having Madrid ‘hard fast clay type’ just before RG is really crap idea!! Maybe they could make it the non- obligatory one of the 1000 masters instead of MC.

      • tiemyshoe says:

        Sorry, miri, I’m holding out for Marc! ;)

        I can’t believe the freak-out-itude when Rafa doesn’t play perfectly these days. What will happen when he loses a set, or God forbid, a match? Seriously, I can’t even imagine.

        Also, it’s easy to forget, but the dude has just come off winning TWO MASTERS SERIES IN A ROW. That’s really hard, yo. I know he does it every year, but still! There’s going to be a let-off sometimes. The good thing I take from his stats is that his serve remains steady – love that improvement from his hardcourt form earlier in the year.

        Anyway, let’s not forget that Rafa didn’t rack up his ridic stats on clay by getting all beautiful wins. Winning ugleh is still winning, as your Twitter bud BG would say. :)

        • tiemyshoe says:

          P.S. Props for the post title! Funny names are funny.

        • Atch2 says:

          Why didn’t he and Nico play their doubles match yesterday?

          And if you’re holding our for Marc! Rafa is still for the taking?

          • an says:

            More chance with Marc!? Still i stick with Rafa…. IN EVRY WAY…. Iff you get what i mean;) (i saw no reason to stop believing in him and his tennis after a just not so good match, but a win, too)

      • tennisfun says:

        agree to all. rafa did what he needed to do.

      • TheBia says:

        Dream on, miri!

  11. neilintoronto says:

    Wow the amount of panic on this website is incredible!!. It wasn’t a great match, and you know what, blame the courts, they suck. It looks like a layer of beach sand over cement, not clay at all. Rafa was short and cranky and the ball models were annoying and useless. I don’t think Rafa would care if he lost to Isner at all, because i know he doesn’t see this tournament as good prep for the french anyways.

  12. Susanna728 says:

    Really – some of you folks are completely overreacting. I saw the whole match. Yes it wasn’t a great match. But it was his first match in the tournament, he was playing against a newcomer who was hitting the ball hard and flat, and going for broke, nothing to lose and all that — and he always gets annoyed when he’s not playing as well as he would like to (Wouldn’t you?) I agree with Miri and tyemishoe. There was never a doubt in my mind that he would win. He took it in two sets. There have been matches like this before and there will be matches like this again. Means absolutely nothing in terms of whether he’ll win the tournament. Which he will.

  13. Melanie says:

    Gee there are some pretty far out comments on here today. Have these people who written Rafa off ever actually played tennis in your life? Sometimes you have an opponent who even though you are a much better player just messes your whole game up. Dolog or whatever his name is, is a weird player, hes got a dinky forehand where sometimes he hits it flat, and then other times he undercuts it, and his drop shots had back spin on them which made them pretty impossible to get. You have to take into account that Dolo beat Seppi who aint a fool on the clay. Yes Rafa didnt play that well, but hey he WON, thats the most important thing. Playing Isner is a different story as he is more of a regular player so it will be a good game to watch.

    Yes Rafa was grumpy but hey you would be too, the ball kids were crap and probably didnt even know what a serve or a return was. It also must be damn hard playing with the crowd at eye level, the ball may quite possibly be ‘hidden’ in the crowd particularly if someone is wearing something the same colour as the ball. Rafa said he was struggling to pick up the ball so all these factors have to be taken into consideration.

    Just remember none of us are 100% all the time, and if you graft it out and come up with a ‘W’ next to your name that is what counts and what people remember.

    Vamos Rafa!!

    • An says:

      You are 100% right!
      Iff you ever played tennis you must recongnize the feeling:)

    • dutchgirl says:

      I couldn’t agree with you more! Thanks for putting things in perspective.
      Seems like Rafa isn’t allowed to be human anymore and play at 100% every single time… Impossible, I tell you.

  14. Marilyn Wasserman says:

    I didn’t see yesterday’s match, just highlights and interviews. Rafa may have been grumpy during the match but he was very, very pleased with himself afterward. Or maybe just glad it was over!

    Speaking of Marc! he’s been doing pretty well for himself in doubles lately. Been hooking up with quality singles players and playing the regular tour since the big IW win with Rafa gave him the ranking to get in without a wild card. Winning a few matches, enough to even increase his ranking. And he and David Marrero won in Estoril! Marc!’s doubles ranking is now 25. He and Nico won their match yesterday in a tiebreak, even though Nico must have been pretty tired, having already beaten The Sod. That day they won IW Rafa’d had a very disappointing loss to Ljubicic in the semis. He must have been tired and achy and a little down, but he showed up and played his heart out in the doubles. The interviewer tried to get him to say he’d done it for Marc but Rafa was having none of that. He said it was a pleasure to play with Marc and nice to end the tournament with a win they’d never thought to get. So I’ll just say, along with Ljubi, that if you’re playing doubles “for your life” you want Rafa for your partner. :)

  15. Maria says:

    The D—ovs of the tennis world seem to be destined to give Rafa trouble. Last year it was that Dimitrov kid. Now, another D-ov. Are there many more and why aren’t theny banned for life to enter the tournaments that Rafa’s playing :)?