RG: A little tougher; a little better

Photo by REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

Rafa played world #29 Thomaz Bellucci in his round of 16 match today at Roland Garros. They had only played each other once before – in the first round of Roland Garros in 2008. That match was a bit tricky, but Rafa came through in straight sets. This match was pretty much the same. With all the breaks of serve it might look like it was a rollercoaster, but it was the tamest rollercoaster ever. Bellucci didn’t play bad and neither did Rafa – in fact, I’d say the goal of improving every round has so far been achieved. I admit, however, to not being happy with the percentage of points he’s winning on his first serve. Perhaps that’s a goal for the next round. Rafa’s through with his 200th win on clay: 6-2, 7-5, 6-4.

Stats:

Nadal Bellucci
Statistics
Aces 2 2
Double Faults 0 1
1st Serve % 74% 55%
1st Serve Points Won 41/65 (63%) 29/56 (52%)
2nd Serve Points Won 15/23 (65%) 20/45 (44%)
Break Points Won 8/11 (73%) 4/9 (44%)
Points
Total Service Points Won 56/88 (64%) 49/102 (48%)
Total Return Points Won 53/102 (52%) 32/88 (36%)
Total Points Won 109/190 (57%) 81/190 (43%)
Other Stats
Winners 27 18
Unforced errors 27 40
Net Approaches 9/15 (60%) 12/21 (57%)

As it happened blatherings:

Players in the tunnel to answer a question.

Rafa won the toss and elected to receive.

Looks to be cloudy and windy.

Bellucci to serve to get us started. Fierce forehand winner from Rafa: 15-15. Nice one-two (serve out wide, hit wide to other side) punch from Bellucci: 30-15. Bellucci nets a forehand and Rafa breaks: 1-0.

Kalliopeia: I love how carefully he sets his towel and racquet down
miri: Like they are fragile
Kalliopeia: he’s so weird. Haha
miri: totally

Bellucci sends a serve return way out: 15-15. Excellent defense by Bellucci, but the point ends as he sends a shot just long: 30-15. A shot from Rafa is out: 30-30. Bellucci goes for a backhand down the line winner, but it’s into the net: 40-30. Rafa’s forehand is well wide: deuce. Bellucci’s second serve return is long: game point. Bellucci hits a drop shot Rafa can’t quite get too: deuce. Rafa’s shots are falling too short. Rafa gets a shot fairly deep and draws an error: game point. That drop shot wasn’t as good and Rafa holds for a 2-0 lead.

Beautiful backhand down the line passing shot from Rafa: 0-15. Miss hit from Rafa: 15-15. Pushed back and wide, Bellucci can’t get the ball back in play: 15-30. This time Rafa’s pushed: 30-30. Bellucci steps up and smacks a short ball from Rafa: 40-30. Bellucci holds for 1-2.

Bellucci nets a ball: 15-0. Rafa’s shot is out: 15-15. Again: 15-30. Drop shot, Rafa scoops it up, Bellucci sends a shot back, Rafa volleys, Bellucci goes cross court and Rafa nets the reply: 15-40. Excellent point from Bellucci – he’s aggressive and bosses Rafa around. Bellucci breaks for 2-2.

anti_m666: @nadalnews Rafa needs more colm.

Rafa’s shot is out: 15-0. Again: 30-0. Rafa goes for a cross-court backhand shot, but it’s just wide: 40-0. Rafa takes control of a point and comes out on top: 40-15. Serve and volley, but Rafa gets his serve return right at Bellucci’s feet and he can’t do anything with it: 40-30. A total slug fest of a point ends when Bellucci nets a ball: deuce. Again: break point. (Rafa’s serve return sucked, but it kept him in the point when it might have been a service winner against most guys.) Another bossy point from Rafa and he breaks! 3-2. The grunt is out in full force now. (Maybe that underwear adjustment on the changeover will help too.)

Rafa miss hits a forehand wide: 0-15. Bellucci nets a backhand: 15-15. Bellucci’s forehand is long: 30-15. Pushed wide, Rafa’s reply is out: 30-30. Man, those are dark clouds…I hope they are moving away, not towards the courts. Rafa pounced s on a short ball and fires off a forehand winner: 40-30. Rafa holds for 4-2.

Bellucci’s shot is long: 0-15. Bellucci into the net on a short defensive service return from Rafa and he knocks off a winner: 15-15. Rafa runs around to hit an angled cross-court forehand and Bellucci’s reply is wide: 15-30. Again, Bellucci’s shot is wide: 15-40. Rafa breaks for 5-2. He can serve it out next.

My nemesis! She’s behind Rafa’s changeover chair. *eyes slit and a low hiss escapes*

Rafa holds and takes the first set. 64% first serves in; 56% first serve points won; 11 UFEs; 7 winners; 3/5 net approaches.

Rafa ties for a banana and ends up with some other kind of fruit that lands well wide: 15-0. Bellucci’s shot is long: 15-15. Rafa’s turn: 30-15. Again: 40-15. Easy hold for Bellucci to start set 2.

Long rally with Rafa changing direction on the ball at will, but he can’t deal with Bellucci’s drop shot: 0-15. Bellucci nets a passing shot attempt: 15-15. Bellucci hits fast and deep and Rafa can’t reach the ball in time: 15-30. Or was Bellucci’s shot out? It was: 30-15. Rafa hits a lovely winner: 40-15. Bellucci tees off on a service return: 40-30. Rafa’s attempt at a cross-court forehand winner goes wide: deuce. Game point Rafa. Nice serve and Rafa’s into the net to deal with the fluffy defensive reply: 1-1.

Rafa pushes Bellucci back/wide with a fierce forehand and draws an error: 0-15. Nice cross-court backhand winner from Bellucci: 15-15. Hey! Rafa’s on TV! Imagine that! Rafa can’t handle a serve: 30-30. Bellucci smashes to finish a point: 40-30. Bellucci holds for 2-1.

TennisLuvah: Oh Rafa’s scruff is pretty hot right now *swoons*

Ace! Bellucci frames a ball: 30-0. Drop shot of perfection from Rafa: 40-0. Service winner and Rafa holds at love: 2-2.

Bellucci nets a forehand: 0-15. Bellucci nets a drop shot: 0-30. Rafa pushes Bellucci back and he can do nothing with the ball: 0-40. Bellucci hits behind Rafa: 15-40. Another drop shot from Bellucci and Rafa’s reply is wide: 30-40. Bellucci’s shot is wide and Rafa breaks for a 3-2 lead.

TennisLuvah: Bellucci moving Rafa around yet somehow Rafa’s winning these points. Very 05/06 Rafa. He needs to loosen up & start controlling more.

Rafa storms the net and fires off a forehand winner: 15-0. Nice point as Rafa toys with Bellucci at the net: 30-0. Rafa nets a ball: 30-15. The net cord pops Rafa’s ball out: 40-30. Rafa’s forehand is just long: deuce. Bellucci steps into a short ball and hits a backhand winner: break point. Bellucci nets a ball: deuce. Rafa’s backhand is long: break point #2. Bellucci’s all over a short ball and breaks for 3-3.

Bellucci’s sending some balls out: 0-30. Beauty of a backhand down the line winner from Bellucci: 15-30. Bellucci handcuffs Rafa with a mini-smash: 30-30. Bellucci nets a shot: 30-40. Service winner: deuce. Bellucci totally bosses a point for a game point. Good hold for Bellucci. He leads 4-3.

Right now, this set is just two minutes shorter than the first set took to complete.

Rafa comes in on a short ball and hits behind Bellucci: 15-0. Rafa pushes Bellucci back: 30-0. I love hearing JMac say that Rafa’s a good volleyer. Rafa bosses a point: 40-0. Marc! Bellucci nets a ball and Rafa holds a love.

Good serve and Rafa’s reply is long: 15-0. Rafa runs Bellucci from side to side and ends up with a winner: 15-15. Rafa pushes Bellucci back and wide: 15-30. Rafa miss hits a ball: 30-30. Bellucci sets up his shot but hits it wide: 30-40. Bellucci double faults and is broken. Rafa leads 5-4 and can serve out the set next game.

Fierce forehand from Bellucci: 0-15. Bellucci bosses a point: 0-30. Rafa nets a forehand: 0-40. Not the time to go mental, Rafa. Bellucci tries to nail a backhand down the line, but it’s wide: 15-40. Backhand down the line winner from Rafa – hitting behind Bellucci: 30-40. Bad volley from Rafa and Bellucci breaks back: 5-5. Rafa swings his racket as if he’s smashing it down.

Kalliopeia: well you could see that coming a mile away
miri: yeah – very bad volley
Kalliopeia: he does that a lot

TennisLuvah: Rafa is driving me crazy over here. And not in the hot way.

Bellucci’s shot is wide: 0-15. Rafa can’t do anything with the serve: 15-15. Bellucci nets a drop shot attempt: 15-30. Ace: 30-30. Carlos Ramos watching the match. Bellucci’s shot is wide: 30-40. Defense to offense and Rafa breaks!! Amazing point. Can he serve it out this time? Massive VAMOS from him.

RafaNadalUnoffi: I want Rafa’ reaction to winning that game on replay, that was just too sexy!!

Deep forehand from Rafa that Bellucci can’t do anything with: 15-0. Bellucci’s shot is out: 30-0. Rafa nets a ball: 30-15. Rafa’s shot is long: 30-30. Rafa into the net and smacks a winner thanks to a high defensive shot from Bellucci: 40-30. Second set to Rafa. He’s in a comfortable lead: 6-2, 7-5. 61 minutes; 84% first serves in; 63% first serve points won; 9 UFEs; 14 winners; 5/8 net approaches.

Back to the stream since TV wants to yap at me instead of showing me tennis.

Rafa’s shot is out: 15-0. Ace: 30-0. Bellucci’s shot is long: 30-15. Rafa’s down the line shot is more outside the line than down it: 40-15. Bellucci nets a ball: 40-30. Massive angle on a serve returns pulls Bellucci well out of court and he can’t get to the next shot: deuce.

Kalliopeia: wow, that was a wild point. rafa should make people move like that more often
Kalliopeia: I guess it’s easier said than done though

Bellucci nets a ball: break point. A ball into the net and Bellucci is broken to start set three.

Bellucci bosses a point: 0-15. Rafa drop shot starts a net duel that Bellucci wins: 0-30. Bellucci’s shot is out: 15-40. Nice cross-court forehand winner from Rafa: 30-40. Bellucci breaks back and we are back on serve: 1-1.

Bellucci nets a drop shot attempt: 15-15. Rafa nets a service return: 30-15. Deep fast shot from Bellucci that Rafa can’t track down: 40-15. Bellucci’s shot it out: 40-30. Rafa’s shot ticks the net and Bellucci can’t quite adjust: deuce. Rafa nets a backhand: game point. Bellucci’s shot is long: deuce. Defense keeps Rafa in one stroke longer than most guys, but he can’t get the last shot back: game point. Bellucci’s cross-court backhand is well wide: deuce. Rafa’s serve return is long: game point. Bellucci holds for 2-1.

Rafa’s ball is called out, but the chair comes out and overrules – replay point. Bellucci nets a ball: 15-0. Nice deep forehand winner from Rafa: 30-0. Another forehand winner: 40-0. Rafa holds at love for 2-2.

Another net battle brought on by a Bellucci drop shot – this time Rafa wins: 0-15. Bellucci’s ball is out: 0-30. Bellucci nets a ball: 0-40. Another super wide angle service return and Rafa breaks at love to go up 3-2.

Pushed back, Rafa nets a backhand: 0-15. Rafa into the net and knocks off a volley that Bellucci can’t control: 15-15. Bellucci nets a service return: 30-15. Bellucci handcuffs Rafa: 30-30. Bellucci’s ball is out: 40-30. Bellucci’s ball is way long and Rafa holds for 4-2.

Bellucci nets a drop shot attempt. Rafa’s shot is long: 15-15. My stream AND my TV are frozen. This is odd. 30-15. Bellucci nets a ball: 30-30. Deuce. Rafa nets a ball: game point. Bellucci pulls Rafa in with a drop shot, but Rafa knocks off a winner: deuce. Rafa’s running forehand is wide: game point. Bellucci holds for 3-4.

Heee! JMac just called Rafa’s pelvic thrusting point celebration as “showing us his happiness”

Bellucci hits an excellent cross-court winner and Rafa says, “Buena.” 30-15. That one was just out: 40-15. Bellucci’s shot is wide and Rafa holds for 5-3.

Rafa pushes Bellucci and draws an error: 0-15. Fierce forehand winner from Rafa: 0-30. 15-30. Rafa’s shot is out: 30-30. Rafa’s forehand down the line is just wide: 40-30. Rafa’s forehand is wide and Bellucci holds. Can Rafa serve it out?

Bellucci’s shot is long: 15-0. Bellucci’s shot is out X2: 40-0. Game set and match to Rafa: 6-2, 7-5, 6-4

55 Responses

  1. Ramara says:

    Good job from Rafa today! *takes deep breath and repeats the Slam Mantra “it’s a marathon, not a sprint”. Hopefully Rafa is settling into his stride.

    Rain predicted for tomorrow in Paris, but hot and sunny later in the week. Rafa weather on the way!!!

    Winners = UFE’s so not bad there. First serve % won could be better – and usually is, but against a guy you can more or less break at will, how much do you stress?

    I do find it a bit worrying that some of Rafa’s forehands floated long. Too much cloudy and windy?

  2. NJR says:

    If there’s one thing that the Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy has tought me, it’s to treat your towel with the utmost respect.
    :)

  3. rahul says:

    Just now started watching Fed vs Soderling..
    Fed is playing great.. hardly any unforced errors, Rafa pull up your socks..