RG: Semis bound

Photo by REUTERS/Thierry Roge

Rafa took on #21 Nicolas Almagro in the all Spanish quarterfinal at Roland Garros. Almagro scared a lot of people by breaking Rafa in his first service game and quickly going up 3-0. Rafa seemed to settle after that though. He broke back and the set went to a tiebreak. The second set also went in a tiebreak, but Rafa managed to break in the penultimate game of the third set and go on to serve it out. I didn’t get to see the match, so I’d love to hear your impressions of it because the score makes it look like it was a tight affair. Rafa’s through: 7-6(2), 7-6(3), 6-4.


Stats:

Nadal Almagro
Aces 4 1
Double Faults 0 1
1st Serve % 73% 63%
1st Serve Points Won 59/81 (73%) 51/71 (72%)
2nd Serve Points Won 17/30 (57%) 20/40 (50%)
Break Points Won 2/6 (33%) 1/2 (50%)
Points
Total Service Points Won 76/111 (68%) 71/112 (63%)
Total Return Points Won 41/112 (37%) 35/111 (32%)
Total Points Won 117/223 (52%) 106/223 (48%)
Other Stats
Winners 34 37
Unforced errors 34 44
Net Approaches 12/16 (75%) 13/16 (81%)

100 Responses

  1. Louisa says:

    Well done Rafa. I was fully expecting it to be maybe 4 sets (my prediction!) so happy to see he got the job done in 3.

  2. Kim_Rafa says:

    I agree Luisa! A very close affair. Well done Rafa!

  3. TeamNadal says:

    LMAO!!!! at this from Rafa’s presser regarding the time warnings:

    Q. It’s been a long time you’ve not had a warning from the umpire for the time you take, and at 5 4, did you talk about it with Carlos? Was it about time?

    RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I talked to Carlos because well, on the first one to accept this, because if I deserve it, I deserve it. And I think this put a bit of pressure on me, and then I had to play with pressure.

    But these are the rules, and I understand the rules. So if I need a warning, and if I deserve it, I deserve it. They told me already I was a bit slow and taking a bit too much time.
    I said I would improve, and at 5 4 in the second set I had this warning because I was taking a bit too much time. I was a bit too slow.

    I thought I was being very fast. I didn’t even take the time to wipe my face. I need a bit of time to think, and I had the feeling that I was, you know, too much aware of the time. I didn’t want to be fined or to get a penalty point. I was making big efforts to be as quick as possible.

    But I couldn’t be any quicker, honestly. I think the second warning was not a warning I deserved. But, well, okay. I have a watch. I could have watched it. I didn’t. (laughter.)

  4. M. E. G. says:

    I thought Rafa showed reasonable composure today, even though too often it seemed he allowed Almagro to bludgeon the ball with his forehand. Once he got Almagro moving the odds dramatically shifted in his favor. And the tiebreaks were very well played, two of the better tiebreaks I can remember him playing in recent years. Almagro’s first serve percentage kept him in the match, but once he faltered only a bit, that was it for the third set.

    Almagro gave Nadal very few points today, which is to the former’s great credit. The key game was obviously Rafa’s only break of the first set, strange that once again Almagro got off to such a great start against him, just like Madrid.

    I am relieved that he will not play Djokovic, even though the Joker lost a deuce point in the last game on a bad call by the chair. Incredible that Melzner won that match given he had never recovered from an 0-2 hole and that Djokovic had never given up a 2-0 lead. But Djokovic played a miserable fourth set breaker, which opened the door for the upset.

    The way Soderling is playing makes me very nervous, but there is a chance Berdych can beat him. Almagro had too many forehand cracks at Rafa today, hopefully Nadal can limit those opportunities in the next match.

  5. MJ says:

    I thought Rafa played well today…Almagro was amazing…YET he could not win a set…I think that says so much…unlike last year when Rafa seemed to give up a little bit…haven’t seen any of that in such a long time…and i know we have take one match at a time…but.I think one thing to remember ( and Soderling or Berdych and Meltzer should remember too) This is clearly NOT the tired, hurt Rafa of 2009!!!! Can’t wait til Friday!! VAMOS!!

  6. Alison says:

    Pleased for Rafa today. He seemed in total control of the match, even when unnecessary pressure was put on him over the time incident. Loved the watch comment!
    I was quite angry with Almagro actually as while he was complaining about Rafa’s time keeping, his camp were blatently trying to coach him, which(correct me if I’m wrong) is also against the rules??!

  7. Rafafan says:

    Well I watched the whole match and can honestly say that Rafa played poorly. As he said himself in a pressy I saw on Eurosport “I played terrible first 3 games – all the balls were going out. Happy with the 2 tie breaks it was a little different and thanks Almagro for his mistakes”…. something on those lines which says it all! 34 unforced errors!! – that would be unheard of going deep into the tournament. He would normally reduce these. As for Almargro – he has and will always be Mr inconsistent! and you would just know that Rafa would get there in the end. Although it looks on paper competitive it was rather a full of mistakes match. Nothing like we saw with the outstanding display of Fed and Sod.

    Too many short balls – I think that’s because all his boys were flying over the baseline in the beginning and he lost his confidence and was getting frustrated. He changed at least 3 tennis racquets and think he is still getting used to the new strings – to make him hit flatter and deeper which means less of the top spin. If it is Sod in the final I dread to think what would happen with Sod playing lights out tennis and Rafa playing below par. God help him. I just hope he ups his game by 50%, has a clear gameplan with the Sod – move him side to side and with a lot of slice bringing him forward and backwards and do not drop any, and I mean ANY short balls mid court otherwise our poor Rafa will be blasted off the court. To be positive. It might be Berdych in the final. And if not the Sod can’t possible play as well as he did against Fed again surely?! And Rafa normally saves his best until last. Vamos Rafa… Onto Friday first and no underestimating and please study his game Melzer to make sure Rafa has a game plan for that. Sleep tight Rafa fans x

    • Stf says:

      Just a note though. Soderling made 42 unforced errors and hit 49 winners, out of which 14 were aces. His first serve was 64%. Now check Rafa’s statistics. 34 unforced, 34 winners. And 73% first serve. My point is, he didn’t make more mistakes than Soderling and he didn’t really hit less winners. Soderling was probably just more impressive because he played a really good match and some brilliant winners, beating Fed in the process.

      • SHerry says:

        Good points and well said.

        Bring on the Sod I say. I really think people are underestimating Rafa and overestimating Soderling in this match-up. As far as I can see, Soderling beat Rafa at a pretty low point(s) in the latter’s career, (heck at one point didn’t it feel like *everyone* was beating Rafa?) and it just happened to be at the FO where Rafa had never lost. Makes it a memorable victory that’s for sure. But for me, that’s not enough to say Soderling is a bad match up for Rafa. I guess we’ll see but I believe Rafa can handle this, and will surprise a lot of the naysayers along the way too.

    • reem says:

      Well, I am actually torn regarding this final. I would clearly like Rafa to win, but I would also like to have more belief that he can do it .. so with all this fear from Soderling, I think it is tempting to see how would that match go .. I mean come on, he is the king of clay but for awhile now, every time he has a potential problematic player, Murray is AO for example, we all panic .. So may be it is good to see him more and more into those matches .. I have just fallen in love with the “if you are there, every tournment .. trying your best, you will have your chances” .. so if he have less chances with Sodeling, Delpo .. etc .. Then perhaps it is best to face them now, get over it and overcome them .. instead of keep on hoping to avoid them ..

      Sorry if the comment was long :) but I would truly like to get my, it is Rafa, he can do it feeling back .. and it only going to happen if results of such matches become unpredictable again .. instead of ohh he soo gonna lose if they play great ..

      Best of luck Rafa in the semis & Happy birth day

    • reem says:

      Also, I didn’t actually expect a straight set win in this match & 2 break points against in 3 sets is not bad at all .. Not to mention Almagro had 37 winners , not bad though higher number of UFE,.. and 2 Tiebreaks played good when he has not been that consistent lately in those .. So there is actually a bright side too :)

  8. Alison says:

    Awww! come on everyone! the only time Rafa has ever lost really badly is when the knees have dictated play! Just believe in him. I always do. Soderling’s game plan is not intelligent tennis, Rafa’s is!

  9. aRafaelite says:

    Despite having to switch several times between crappy streams I watched the whole match. Rafa wasn’t playing his best in the first two sets, but really held it together when it mattered. Nico was playing lights out, as expected, and Rafa wasn’t doing quite enough to push him back and was dropping balls too short too often, but apart from that he played a solid match. I never expected him to take it in 3 or to be so strong in the TBs, so I was pretty pleased with his performance.

    Almagro might have a reputation for inconsistency, but there very little sign of that in this match, and Rafa had to work hard to win it. He played better as the match progressed, push Nico back more and hitting a few more clean winners, particularly on approach shots. It’s crazy there were only 3 breaks of serve the whole match… glad it was Rafa who got the 3rd! Vamos Rafa!

    I don’t think Melzer has what it takes to trouble you and I will not spare him a moment’s sympathy if you crush him in the semi (depriving me of Rafole bromance – pfft! Be gone)!

  10. marisa says:

    brilliant match today. loved every minute of it. Rafa seemed composed and focused the whole time, and that’s difficult to do when you’re playing such a promising & talented player like Almagro. honestly, i was more worried about Almagro than Soderling.

    this was a great test for Rafa. i think Rafa has beaten the Sod at least once this year, no? Rafa just needs to keep his confidence up and have fun. the clay will do the rest.

  11. emir says:

    i have to say that,altough rafa is playing well in general in this tournument,this still far away from 08 unbeateble performance..a tourny he was crashing everybody..i dont want to jinx him as usual,but for a possible final scenerio both berdeych and sod dangerous..i dont think for example sod is better player than berdeych..i mean berdeych also manage to push roger in to 5 set AO 09 where he was leading 2 sets to none he also had important wins against rafa,not on clay but it is still important..i mean maybe sod is the only player to beat rafa on clay is en extra pressure but that only make him mentally tougher player to beat not because he is better,all the media stuff OHHH SODERLING etc..rafa also has problematic history with berdeych,so these two can try make rafa angry in final.if that final happens of course..at times the main problem in this tourny isnt rafas tennis,which is good overall,but his nerves,yeah i have to say he seems more nervous than usual..i still beleive if he play his best he will win..

  12. Delta says:

    Not sure if anyone addressed the fact concerning Sod (as many are talking about possible final) fact is Rafa was having problemo’ w/rodillas and none knew of this injury until he w/d from Wimbly, so have to take that into consideration, no? That speaks for itself. Granted the Sod is a great player, but Rafa has beat him in the ex. this year and before when he was healthy, which he is now!
    Fed on the other hand was beaten playing healthy as far as we know, so needless worry re; Rafa. Have to take “one match @ a time and see how it plays out?
    Vamos Rafa!

  13. arwen says:

    I watched the whole match and I can say that Rafa did not play well at all.But he did not drop a set.Almagro came up with great stuff and great first serves. Rafa managed to play
    nicely in the tiebreaks. His balls were short and he couldn’t
    hit hard enough I believe. But there is no way his losing to melzer.
    Everyone worrying about the final against Sod but I’m looking
    forward to it. It was easy to beat him with damaged knees last year. But now, it is the time of sweet revenge. Rafa will find some way to get his fifth RG title.

  14. Nana says:

    Did anyone else listen to the Aussie commies last nite? During the first set, Mark Woodforde’s (think it was him) phone rang (strange ringtone) and he went on to have a long conversation, something about going down to change into his tennis clothes after 1st set. I would’ve found it funny had I not been so tense about the match. Wanted to send them a message about switching off the mic if I knew where to send it to!

    • chinkyv says:

      Yeah I heard that phone conversation too. Mucho wierd!! lol. Especially the funny ringtone! Couldn’t believe that none of the producers noticed it and told him to turn off his mic. oh well… I’m sure he will hear about it later.

      As for the match, Nico definitely played well but boy was it awesome to see Rafa step it up when he really needed to. Somehow, I had no doubt that this is what would happen so I wasn’t worried at all about him losing the match. All credit to Nico for playing really well and I’m sure he will continue to have a good year coz his head-case moments seem to be far less than they used to be back in the day. But Rafa deserves even more credit for keeping “colm” and going to that “fifth gear” that he always has when he is playing with confidence. I don’t know why so many of u are panicking and saying he played badly. This is exactly the kind of match that Rafa of late 2009 would have lost, much easier too coz he wasn’t able to summon that next level of tennis that he used to be able to call upon, almost at will. And now, Rafa of 2010 definitely seems to have found that ability again. Which I absolutely LOVE and gives me confidence as he goes into the semis, and against whoever he plays in the final . (No need to pencil in The Sod when he hasn’t won just yet). Also, tough loss for Novak…

  15. Rafafan says:

    As I said before Rafa played aweful today and it was Almagro’s mistakes which got Rafa “out of jail” card, and he admitted on his interview. “I played terrible first 3 games, changed little in the tiebreak and than him for his mistakes” That really says it all. OK every player has a bummer match and Rafa came through. But let’s be honest if it was the Sod playing and not, like I said before Mr Inconsistency, – wouldn’t you be trembling in your boots. Has everyone seen how the Sod has been playing since the tourney and against Fed. I have seen all his games and its very very lights out tennis. I am sorrh to say I can’t see anyway Rafa is getting past the Sod with his defensive, short balls and then long balls errors, and he will be very very nervous after what happened last year. I mean if he was nevrous about the Almargro match – which U Toni admitted (nd the spanish commentators saying Rafa doesn’t like the match up with Almagro) what do you think he is gonna feel with the Sod! Rafa may have won the expo agains the Sod in Jan butr the Sod is playing the best I have ever seen him and better than anyone else in the tourney. I still want to see Rafa play the Sod in the final – it is just meant to be isn’t it from last year? – how uncanny is that. And somehow, someway we pray that the Sod just doesn’t play to the best of his ability and Nadal ups it by 100% From a very concerned, Rafafan x

    • rafaManiac says:

      I think we should want Rafa to play his 100% and Robin also at his 100%. I don’t think Rafa wants to “sneak in” a victory when Robin is not playing well.

      But you forget one thing that if anything, Almagro was not “Mr. Inconsistency” in this particular match. This is the most consistent I have seen him play and the most aggressive and successful at that.

      Rafa has the machinery to go for deeper balls now. As to whether he will be worried and nervous just because Soderling beat him last year, we will wait and see. Sure he will be worried because it is a final, but not, I think, because he is meeting an opponent that beat him here last year.

      Why Soderling has been is such a great form in Paris in the first week and half is the wet, heavy conditions. A player like Federer who relies on spin also, and not just raw power, will find that the ball just slows down a bit too much after bounce. This gives Soderling all the time in the world to bring that huge swing on the ball and give it more speed through the air.

      Now Soderling hits a flat forehand with almost no spin. The extra pace that he can give the ball through the air thanks to the slower conditions and the bigger swing they allow, overcomes the slower court on bounce and allows Federer still only as much time as he would get on a sunny day (or even less). This is true about their serves too, since Fed lacks that additional 10kph through the air that Soderling has.

      If the conditions were a tad drier like in the first set, the story could have been completely different, even a straight setter victory for Federer.

      Now the sun has come out and I believe that the forecast says that it will remain so for the rest of the tournament. Hence the balls will be lighter, faster and bouncier. The higher speed through court would not favour either Rafa or Robin (Rafa a little lesser) but the bounce would favour Rafa. How much is the question, which we will find out come Sunday, provided both are still alive in the draw.

    • Maya says:

      Oh brother!!!

  16. GroundStroke says:

    i am agreed and have the same opinion as rafafan.
    rafa played poorly, i think he only managed to earned 2 points from the first 3 games, this show how bad it was.

    too many short balls and mistakes that allow almagro to play his best shorts. but off course almagro did play well.

    at one time, i though rafa wasn’t managed to made it to the sf, scrambling all corners in the court with short balls aren’t gonna win the match for you. fortunately he made it through.

    i would like to see him play against the best player in this tournament thus far – soderling, but he definately can’t be playing like he did against almagro or else he will not be acheiving the 1st ever clay slam.

    for now, i guess he need to be wary about the surprise sf contender – melzer.

    all the best to rafa.

  17. Rafangel says:

    Just one thing to say…

    I WAS THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    :DDDDDDDDDD

  18. Rafafan says:

    Also the other factor. Rafa has had an easy draw so far and I felt he was still struggling. As much as you say that Almagro played really well … well he didn’t …. one or two wonderful shots but when it came to the crux he fluffed it right up! which he always does. Rafa knows that too and he will never change. Now the Sod is a different kettle of fish. He can play well in the important points.

    When I say easy draw. Rafa has come through to the semis and he hasn’t played a top 10 or even 15 or 20 player so far (I could be wrong on that – correct me Miri if I am wrong) And Meltzer in the semi – what he is 22?

    So if Rafa wins against Meltzer and plays the Sod (seeded 5?) and loses don’t you think the media will be on his case again. Thats why the 02 – top 8 (admittedly on Rafa’s worse service) will be the true reflection of a great champion. That’s why I think the media don’t really give Rafa the credit he deserves or the french crowd with his 4 RG wins.

    Does anyone understand where I am coming from?

    • emir says:

      first off all rafafan who said to you media doesnt give credit to rafa for 4 fo wins..there is no such a thing..the other thing is you can only meet with someone inside top ten mosty in QF if you dont meet some number 9 in the 4 the round..he supposed to meet verdesco who is top ten in qf which he lost almagro.he also supposed to meet nole 3 in semis which he lost as well.this is pretty normal draw not that easy not the most diffucult.almagro by the way 19 in the world not out side top 20.if he lost soderling in fo final.which i beleive he shouldnt if he plays his best tennis..soderling still a player who has weapons but some serouis weakness as well.it wont be the end world but it will be sad ofcourse.it isnt rafas problem nole murray and fed clealry sucks since the ao open..rafa has the best indian wells and mimai and best clay court season amaong the top5.i think if he lose that will show this tall players like del po us open berdeych or sod in fo becoming a huge factor in tennis..so why do you seriously care that much what media say..

    • rafaManiac says:

      I think if the media reads you, then they will definitely go about not giving Rafa credit.

      And I have a heavy feeling that you are trying to do some anti-jinxing to Rafa.

  19. Susanna728 says:

    Except at the very beginning of the match, to me Nico definitely did not play as well as he did in Madrid – He did not have the same confidence and power. I thought Rafa played, not his best, but pretty well. In particular, it was all about the serve for Rafa yesterday. His serve was the best I’ve seen it in a while, and it will be crucial in the next two matches. When he serves well, and doesn’t have to worry as much about being broken, it gives him more colm and confidence in the rest of his game. If Rafa plays Soderling, even if Rafa plays well, if Sod plays the way he did against Fed, it will be big trouble. A higher bounce from the warmer conditions won’t be enough to shift the balance -Soderling is tall and the high bounces don’t bother him. I think Soderling could beat anyone the way he played the other day. Berdych has as a good a chance as anyone. He beat Sod in Miami and his game matches up well with Soderling’s. So am definitely rooting for Berdych. If not, hopefully Rafa will play his best, and bring his stubborn determination and champion’s attitude – and maybe Soderling will be mentally and/or physically drained by Sunday. Hate to be pessimist – just trying to be realistic.

  20. emir says:

    if you people so afraid soderling,what makes you feel so comfartabel abaut berdeych who has a similar game.every match is diffrent rafa beat berdeych last couple time they have played but he also beat sod last year 60 61 in rome.who ever will be in the final will be tough if they bring on their A game..anyway rafa also still not in the final.

  21. Rafafan says:

    I as everyone want so soooooooo much for Rafa to win (yes one match at a time Meltzer) then I am confident it will be Sod in the final. I am with everyone else that Rafa produces his A game 100% and the only way I think if he can win is if Sod is a little bit off on his game. Sod wasn’t playing so good at the beginning of the year and now he is on fire. In fact so on fire he will probably rip Berdyce to pieces if he played like he did against the Fed. As much as Berdych has come good he is a bit like an Amagro – Mr inconsistency still. Thought the same about the Sod but all that has changed. Even Biorn Borg has said the Sod will be a future no 1. How scary is that. Sorry I admit I am concerned and I am sure Rafa is nervous (well he admitted he was nervous about Almargo – so why shouldn’t he be with the Sod in the final to the buy who was the only one taht beat him!)

    On the positive size. This is meant to be the sort of “dream final” where Rafa gets his revenge – OK we know he doesn’t sayd that but come on guys, deep down. (Just like when Rafa says he hasn’t changed his game – he has, new strings, playing flatter balls, shortening the points – I am afraid I don’t always believe our boy and he ain’t gonna admit it). Has to be politically correct doesn’t he in the media circus no? Good luck Rafa today we all love you. Keep the confidence in and the nerves away. Vammmmmoooos xx

  22. Rafangel says:

    Whether it’s Berd or Sod in the final, they’re both going to be playing unbelievably – as Rafa said, the best in their draw. To beat either he’d have to up his game. He’s perfectly capable of doing that. In the meantime he has Melzer to deal with. Chill pill, one match at a time and a little faith, please!