Madrid: Altitude, schmaltitude

Photo by DOMINIQUE FAGET/ AFP/ Getty Images

In his second match in Madrid, Rafa took on #19 John Isner. The tall, lanky Isner had quite long, tiring journey to Madrid thanks to the volcano and looked it in his first match. Could he bounce back? Could Rafa deal with Madrid and Isner’s altitude? I couldn’t watch the first set, but knew Rafa was ready and concentrate when he gave few “Vamos”s after finishing his warm up. They played on serve until the 11th game when Rafa broke. He went on to serve out the set 7-5. Rafa broke early in the 2nd set (3rd game) and the rest of the match was pretty routine – each player holding serve until the inevitable 6-4 end.


Nadal Isner
Statistics on Serve
Aces 1 11
Double Faults 0 0
1st Serve % 65% 65%
1st Serve Points Won 29/34 (85%) 33/43 (77%)
2nd Serve Points Won 15/18 (83%) 11/23 (48%)
Break Points Saved 0/0 (%) 0/2 (0%)
Service Games Played 11 11
Statistics on Return
1st Return Points Won 10/43 (23%) 5/34 (15%)
Second Return Points Won 12/23 (23%) 3/18 (17%)
Break Points Won 2/2 (100%) 0/0 (%)
Return Games Played 11 11
Statistics on Points
Total Service Points Won 44/52 (85%) 44/66 (67%)
Total Return Points Won 22/66 (33%) 8/52 (15%)
Total Points Won 66/118 (56%) 52/118 (44%)

69 Responses

  1. Ravi says:

    Rafa was too good. And his girlfriend was at the match??????

  2. Silhouette says:

    Rafa had some good shots but he’s playing way too short sometimes. Still Isner is a good test for Rafa. I’m amazed at how Rafa manages to return some of Isner’s serve.

    • aRafaelite says:

      Yes, it was astonishing. Isner’s SECOND serve was averaging 192kpmh in the first set. That’s crazy. And yet he served remarkably few aces because Rafa was somehow able to return most of them.

      I thought Rafa was playing pretty solidly today. Not spectacularly well, but well enough to keep Jack from getting to the top of the bean pole ;-) Jason and Robbie were commenting on how intelligently he was playing and I agree. He was keeping points short, coming into the net, being aggressive whenever he saw the opportunity. I actually really like Isner, and think his game is much more than his serve. He has a great net skills when he needs them. But Rafa was ready and able to counter whatever Izzy threw at him today. I don’t see anyone left in his side of the draw that should really pose any problems for him. But Rafa v Gael could be fun! VAMOS!

  3. miri says:

    2 of 2 break points won…against a guy who serves like Isner. Not bad at all.

  4. sia says:

    Didn’t see the whole thing but felt like it was … play till you make the break and done. Clinical. Somehow I don’t think John is all that much fun to play.

  5. chelez says:

    The live stream just had to die on me on the last point. I hate it when I can’t see the players shake hands at the end of the match T_T
    It was tough for Rafa to break the big serve at first and I thought it was going into a tiebreaker. Thankfully, Rafa is a pinch hitter of himself. You can count on him when it really matters. Very good match from Rafa. Luckily this Real Madrid players coming to watch him play are not jinxing his game. I think their presence fires him up too.

  6. Karen says:

    Didnt watch this one as making dinner and my son and his friend hogging computer so watched live scores on hubbies iPod! Can’t wait for hi- lights etc. Well done baby bull. I had good feelings all day about this one.

  7. Marilyn Wasserman says:

    Vamos Rafa!! I’m really glad that’s over. Not the kind of tennis I enjoy. I thought that Rafa wasn’t exactly on fire, except now and then, but Isner really did look exhausted, as well he might, between playing a final last week, his travel woes and tough matches in Madrid.

    And Miri, you really are some kind of speed demon! Hope you’re having fun between Rafa-matches!

    • Atch2 says:

      Isner is also playing doubles too with Sam Q.

    • Isabelle says:

      I agree Isner was quite visably exhausted, it might have been a closer match if he hadn’t been so tired although I thought Rafa clearly played better today and with more confidence!

      • miri says:

        He kind of always looks like that, though.

        • GB says:

          He received treatment for a sore shoulder and I think his average serve speed dipped something like 15kmph in the second set.

          But I did think Rafa played better today and kept his colm when the first set was tight.

        • Isabelle says:

          Maybe it’s beacuse the air is thin way up there (freaky tall isn’t my thing either)!

  8. tiemyshoe says:

    Whew. With the comments after yesterday’s match, I thought Rafa would get creamed today. He didn’t! Very complete match from him. I liked the movement to the net very much indeed.

    With Verdasco and Soderling out of the draw, his half is really opening up. Just sayin’. /antijinxantijinxantijinxtoinfinity

  9. wendya says:

    Well done Rafa, you little cutie you! A massive improvement on yesterday’s match. Rafa seemed a lot more focused/ confident today…hope he can keep it up. Dare I say that the draw seems to be opening up nicely for Rafa. A possible difficult encounter tomorrow with Slider Man, who incidently seems to be waring Rafa’s shorts or some remarkably like them. Rafa’s obviously not the only one with bad taste in shorts!

    • patzin says:

      just noticed that Gael Monfils has a similar outfit on, different brand, but blue shirt and plaid pants. Tomorrow when they play each other they should look like twins.

  10. Ch F says:

    I can’t compare to yesterday cause I didn’t watch the match against Dolgopolov, but Rafa looked definitely happier towards the end. He seemed to get used to the surfrace by the game. Given the circumstances and the frustration that big servers can cause, I think Rafa was quite focused today.

  11. reiziger says:

    Rafa looked less grouchy and played better today

  12. Stf says:

    That was a much better match, I think. Rafa played very well against a big server, he seemed to be in total control of the match when usually, matches like that can be tricky. It seemed to me that it would go to a tiebreak in the first set but on the other hand, Rafa tends to break when it matters the most. Stats are pretty good too, 21 winners and 11 unforced, first serve was okay too. Soderling and Nando are out so yes, it seems that things are looking up for our Rafa. On to the quarterfinals!

  13. Atch2 says:

    Welcome back real Ballkids :)

    Yes to Robbie and Jason commentating together.

    Rafa upped his game from yesterday. He was solid on serve, kept his concentration and converted both breaks when they came. He was vamossing and talking to himself in a positive manner throughout the match.

    Rafa hit some amazing passing shots that made me think that Isner’s just asking for it when he came to the net.

    Cute how Isner bounces the ball between his legs before serving.

    Looks like Monfils is up next, unless Garcia Lopez can break back soon.

    • Rebel Naughty says:

      I noticed that those purple dresses were gone. Thank God!

      • Cath says:

        Yeah, I wonder if players complained

        • Cath says:

          I mean… did they dump inept purple dress girls because players complained

        • kefuoe says:

          I wouldn’t be surprised. In the matches I saw, the ball-models were atrocious. Maybe they were confused, but they came off looking lazy, disinterested and inept.

          • Cath says:

            I wish there was a clip of purple dress trying to give Rafa balls when it wasn’t his serve… that was pretty funny….

          • robert says:

            Model ballgirls are used only in the evening slot on Manolo Santana court.

    • Nana says:

      One of the ballkids responsible for the towel was so young. He forgot to give rafa his towel during a changeover. Rafa looked pissy and kept pointing ;)

  14. Atch2 says:

    And Rafa’s 1 ace to end the match. Coooool!

    • wendya says:

      Yeah, that was really cool!

    • djb says:

      Hitting that ace on match point was a statement. It means that the Rafa of old is back, and that he means serious business. Anyone who tries to get in his way, will be taken down!

      He’s looking good out there. He’s got a easy path to the final now, since there’s no Tsonga or Soderling in the way to try and stop him……… if they really could, lol!

  15. EJL says:

    there was a great sporting atmosphere at the stadium” Cristiano. Raul and Feliciano(?) and the crowd was extremely supportive. match was not easy at all. Rafa won it due to his high class and concentration Besides he looked very confident especially after the 4-th game in the first set.maybe it seemed to me but RAfa’s first serve was quite solid and i loved him trying putting the ball into the corners but Izner’s unbelievable length of arms enabled him to achieve those impossible shots more often than i’d expected. Rafa looked great at the net and his movements ware faultless. he is so much skillful to win against such a Gulliver whose second serve speed was 192:))

  16. CC says:

    Rafa was awesome today. Basta.

    • An says:

      He always is, one way or the other, No?;)

      Didn’t see a single thing off it… We where invited by bf’s parents for dinner and i ( verry unpolite ) kept checking live score’s by my cell… I’m so lucky that mom in law has Spanish roots and that the whole off the family finds me being a Rafanatic cute, i guess…

      • CC says:

        Very true, An. Very true. Today, he was fluffiliciously awesome! And verrry hot. Shame you missed it. ;)

  17. djb says:

    First of all, I give a lot of credit to Isner, because unlike some of the other U.S. players, he’s committed to getting better on this surface and that is refreshing to see. He may not be the best mover, and may not have the most dangerous game, but he’s willing to try and improve, and that earns him much respect in my book.

    As for the match, Rafa was much better than yesterday I thought. Unlike the first time Rafa and Isner met, Rafa was able to return a few more of Isner’s serves, which is a good sign that he is improving himself against tough servers. As usual, the winners far outweighed the unforced errors, and as far as I’m concerned, he was spot on with his shot selection today. Rafa took advantage of key opportunities when he had the chance, and didn’t waste any time wrapping up a victory over Isner.

    Next up is Monfils, who was tested by Garcia-Lopez, but managed to get through. With all the injuries and distractions Monfils has had, he hasn’t played himself into good form yet this year. With that said, he will still be a pest out there, so I expect Rafa to come out firing tomorrow, playing offensive, first-strike tennis. I’m predicting he’ll win in a comfortably close 2 sets.

    • cro says:

      Not so sure about that match-up tommorow against Monfils. I saw his match today and he seemed to be back to form, hitting ball real firm and strong. As we all know his athletic abilities it could be real tough. I’m bit nervous…

  18. Nana says:

    I was at the match today! My first live tennis match in adulthood!

    I was supposed to go on vacation to south of spain but got stranded in London (actually Essex, the area around the airport) for 2 days as my flights were cancelled, so in the4 end we decided to detour to Madrid where it’s closer to Barcelona where I will need to go for the return flight home. So here I am in the city where I hadn’t planned to visit at all, but since I’m here I just wouldn’t miss the chance to see Rafa in action!

    When I arrived at the tourny Verdasco’s match hadn’t started so we walked to the practice courts and followed the crowd. And the crowd led us to Rafa! But he’d already finished hitting and was sitting in his chair. I could only catch glimpses of him between people’s heads but I did get a shirt change! At the end he came to the side to sign autographs but needless to say, I couldn’t see any of him cos I was outside of the court and there were way too many people. When he left, Marc! took the court to practice with Hanescu and we sat there for a bit. For some reason he started to throw tennis balls to the crowd just minutes into his practice! he was cute though.

    My ticket was in the middle section, but towards the back of the court (fortunately rafa’s half where he sat). We were sitting at the wrong seats during the Verdasco match but got busted by 2 ladies… turned out our seats were even more towards the corner than we realised… but anyway, it was just great to soak up the atmosphere and watch rafa play with my own eyes and not thru the camera!

    U all know how the match went, so I won’t bore u with details. I didn’t see the previous match so I can’t compare but I think rafa played solid, especially given how good Isner’s serve was. It was probably double standard, but the thing is that I felt frustrated by Isner’s aces but was simply delighted at Rafa’s ace that finished the match!

    Overall it was a wonderful experience, and one that I feel so grateful for after being stranded by ash clouds for 2 days! It was such a treat and i am so happy! I will certainly watch Rafa on clay again but promise myself that I will get better seats nesxt time. I bought the best ones available last night after the OOP was announced but obviously it was too late. But it was an impromptu trip so I can’t complain.

    CR and Raul were there and people kept yelling Vamos Cristiano… it was kinda annoying. But someone also yelled Vamos Rafa during Verdasco’s match too. I don’t know if all tennis crowds are so rowdy but the Madrid crowd I witnessed was super “ennthusiastic”.

    I felt less nervous watching this match live than from TV. Maybe I got distracted by the whole thing. I can imagine myself biting my nails if I’d watched the match and Isner’s serve at home.

    Just thought I’d share my experience. It was really today at the venue and it was raining. I was so glad that they closed the roof but I thought rafa wouldn’t like it so much. The floodlights were really distracting but at the end he did great. So it wasn’t about the conditions afterall but his form. And his form looked superb to me!

    Vamos Rafa! Not sure how many matches I will get to see this week but hope he gets to bite another trophy, and more importantly, have a goof warm up for RG!

    • An says:

      Aaaawww Nana, so in the end you got lucky after having to change youre travel plans due to that stupid vulcano ashes that is bothering the airplain traffics for already a month or so here in Europe…
      Good for you! I always find watching Rafa play life verry special, it gives me warm feelings for days after;)
      Thanks for sharing!

      • Nana says:

        Yes I am still feeling the “buzz” right now ;)

        u have no idea how I appreciate today after being stranded for 2 days. Not fun!

        • sia says:

          Nana thanks for sharing … that’s by far the best ‘ash cloud story’ I’ve heard to date.
          Stranded in Madrid with Rafael Nadal while ash cloud stops air traffic. :)

        • Rafangel says:

          Looks like the gods were on your side after all, Nana! Good for you :)

          I’ve often heard ppl shouting for players other than the ones on the courts. I’ve taken to shouting ‘vamos rafa’ whenever I go to the tennis, now (OK, not at the Wimby qualifiers ;) )- it’s cos I’ve been frustrated so many times in my attempts to see him, it seems the next best thing [gods, smile on me please this year…].

          Rafa’s form is always superb. Yum.

        • Fay says:

          Well something good came out of the volcanic ash then, I am glad you shared your experience with us, yes seeing Rafa is special enough but on clay and in Madrid too, well you cannot get better than that, I got my Queens tickets today so I am just praying that I might see Rafa, he is scheduled to play but its straight after RG so I am not counting my chickens as yet.!

          • Nana says:

            Good luck Fay! After going to the match yesterday I really feel it’s such a treat to us rafa fans to get to see his matches in person. Fingers crossed!

    • Isabelle says:

      Nana, so happy for you, what a great story with such a silver lining!

    • Ch F says:

      You were lucky to get tickets for Rafa’s match in Madrid where you’d expect his matches to be sold out! Sounds like a great experience!

    • sharon says:

      So happy for you Nana that you got to see Rafa play, and thank you so much for posting your report. You’re so lucky. I’d love to see a Rafa game in person some day. Are you going to be able to see some other matches? Hope you’ll post and tell us all about them again. :)

      • Nana says:

        Haha, I would love to see more but I’m afraid the tickets left are bleachers seats at the corners so I guess I will leave it until next time when I can plan better. But as Rafangel said, we do need the gods on our side when it comes to getting tennis tickets to Rafa matches!

        • miri says:

          Even bleacher seats are good ones when Rafa’s playing. I’ve watched from the top of the main stadium at the US Open when he looked like a little tiny bee running around on the court and I still enjoyed it. :)

  19. emir says:

    unlucky for me that it was busy day and i couldnt watch rafa match..somehow i didnt feel all that well abaut this match,a kinda bad feeling and checked the result with one of my eye closed..glad that great champion didnt dissapoint himself and his fans..i mean i was nervous abaut the match not because of performance in 2nd round because i know most of the time rise to the occasion..i was nervous because this big serving guys put too much pressure on you and the madrid si really fast,at times i feel it is totally a FAKE clay court..rome is also fast for my liking i mean i also not the fan TOO SLOW COURTS,but it shouldnt be fast as well..i hope rg courts acts like real clay court..for tommorow well monfills isnt an easy player by any means,because he can defend so well it can get annoying at times just like their match in us open..i expect rafa will win this one..i dont have bad feeling..wait second for sure i have bad feeling as ever…..SHHH JINXING PROCESS..

  20. Rafafan says:

    Well I have to say Rafa – as much as he really doesn’t like this Madrid tourney – – by Tiroic with all the hullaabaloo, he certainly is very animated. In fact I haven’t seen Rafa so animated in such a long time – even when its a routine hit. Maybe the boys of the footie there and he is a little distracted and has to give them something to shout about no?

    Fairly routine match. But I have to say Rafa just gives such sheer entertainment regardless of his tennis. Did you see the Murray match or Fed or any other – it was so so SO boringly flat.

    Rafa vamos you give us entertainment value in so many ways………….x

    • Fay says:

      Yes I watched the Fed and Murray matches, they were boring but both look to be playing extremely well especially Fed… *gulps* not too well please… but I agree, Rafa is so much more entertaining and intense and well thats why we love him no?

  21. GroundStroke says:

    did he really playing well? i don’t think so. he looks to me as he haven’t been shaken off his rust from the early match.

    isner serve was good, but his rallies was poor. nadal have a couple of good chances to break it but was wasted due to the unforce error where i think he could have taken it easily when he is at his best. also, isner was making too many unforce error and thus make it easier for nadal.

    i think if he will have a real problem by playing monfils with his current form..

    • tiemyshoe says:

      Were we watching the same match? Rafa had two break points, and he converted on both of them. What other wasted chances to break are you referring to? Also, he had 20-something winners, 11 unforced errors in the match, so the lots of unforced errors thing also doesn’t hold water…

      • GroundStroke says:

        no i don’t mean the 2/2 break point he have gainand and converted, he could have more break points, but have wasted it wide out.

        only 11 unforced errors? hmmm.. it seems that it shoud be more to me.. besides, he have play alot of easy short balls but only for isner to waste at least 70% of it. otherwise i think it would be like the gulbis/nadal match in rome earlier..

        • HoeNam says:

          GroundStroke..I’ll advice you to switch back to your lame Fedex forum and please do not come here to criticize our Rafa. Based on the comment above..we can easily identified that you are not a real Rafa’s fan.

          Firstly, we will not call our idol as Nadal. Secondly, Rafa’s fan will not criticize how many UE he should have many BP he should have converted..As a Rafa’s supporter..we will call it as “missed” and not “wasted” for Break Points. Man..if you want to become a troublemaker here, this is not the place for you. Kindly go back to your Fedex forum…your help will be greatly appreciated. Thks.

          • GroundStroke says:

            well i can smell some sparks here.

            hoenam, you are right that i am a not rafa fan, but i do like to see him play, and to see him win too. but you are also wrong where i am not the fan of fedex.

            we all call him as nadal in my cycle, and either it is a miss or wasted, it all mean to be the same, perhaps i do not know the jargon here cause i am not the ‘fan’.

            i believe one should also give constructive comment or criticism then only worshipping. is this place only mean to be for worshipping and praising??

            you think i am a trouble maker here?? well that is your own opinion and i am not be bordered.


            • An says:

              Off course you are allowed to have criticism on Rafa’s game and constructive comments are more then welcome….

              Only you youreself can awnser the question iff youre comments where ment as constructive or as trying to put on “some sparks” hey? Iff you where honestly trying to be constructive then all is fine…

              I just don’t share youre opinion then because iff you ever played a tennis oponent with a serve as big as Isner’s on a high altitude court where balls fly fast and are hard to control you should know how hard it is to gain rythem for constructing points well and set up break oppertunities against the opponents serve… In my opinion ( and from what i’v see off it now ) Rafa did verry well yesterday!

          • miri says:

            Stop that. It’s not your job to tell people when/where/how to post.

    • Fay says:

      Wow you have scared me now, and I haven’t seen much of Monfils matches so yes it could be tough one if Monfils is on form, Rafa I thought, played better today,(body language looked more confident), but he did make errors which he normally wouldn’t, and Fed by contrast played brilliant against Wawrinka so Rafa is going to have to up his game I feel and cut down the errors…

  22. Fay says:

    Oh I forgot to add, did anyone notice at 5-3 in the second set just HOW much Rafa wanted to break there? he was muttering away to himself, it was funny lol..