Miami: Winning fugly
Rafa took on #6 Jo-Willfried Tsonga in Friday’s last match. I really don’t know what to say about this match. Tsonga was so far off for most of it that I had no feel for how Rafa was playing (other than he was clearly trying to hit deep). Then, despite how he was playing, Tsonga broke when Rafa got tight while serving for the match. Why in the world would Rafa be that nervous when playing someone so off? Tsonga started playing better; Rafa had this thigh rubbed twice. The third set was actually somewhat interesting and included some bits that seemed like competitive tennis. Rafa managed to break in the 9th game. I resisted the urge to curl up into the fetal position as Jo got a break points against when Rafa was trying to serve it out. It took 3 match points, but Rafa finally held to win the match: 6-2, 5-7, 6-4.
|Statistics on Serve|
|1st Serve %||64%||56%|
|1st Serve Points Won||43/67 (64%)||44/57 (77%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||23/37 (62%)||18/44 (41%)|
|Break Points Saved||8/10 (80%)||8/12 (67%)|
|Service Games Played||15||15|
|Statistics on Return|
|1st Return Points Won||13/57 (23%)||24/67 (36%)|
|Second Return Points Won||26/44 (59%)||14/37 (38%)|
|Break Points Won||4/12 (33%)||2/10 (20%)|
|Return Games Played||15||15|
|Statistics on Points|
|Total Service Points Won||66/104 (63%)||62/101 (61%)|
|Total Return Points Won||39/101 (39%)||38/104 (37%)|
|Total Points Won||105/205 (51%)||100/205 (49%)|
|Net Approaches||15/18 (83%)||30/45 (67%)|
As it happened blatherings:
Ack! I didn’t get home until the warm-up was almost done. I need time to prepare – to get all my windows lined up and ready to go.
Tsonga was up 40-love, but some good shots from Rafa and some horrid ones from Tsonga and Rafa breaks for 1-0.
Beautifully crafted and executed point from Rafa – into the net, volley winner: 40-15. Tsonga’s shot is out and Rafa holds.
Rafa makes a signal to the chair…think he wants some tape cut.
Beauty of a drop shot volley from Jo: 30-15. Rafa out angles Jo: 30-30. Rafa pushes Tsonga around: 30-40. Second serve. Rafa’s forehand is long: deuce. Aggressive play from Tsonga draws an error: game point. Rafa can’t pull off that banana forehand attempt and Tsonga holds for 2-1.
They said the trainer is out for Rafa, but aren’t showing what’s going on – we are getting highlights instead. Ah, yeah. Looks like a simple tape adjustment to his left foot.
Second serve. Rafa nets a forehand: 0-15. Second serve. Double fault. Rafa snarl! 15-30. Nice deep forehands followed by one that’s too wide: 15-40. Jo sets up his angle, but his shot is just out: 30-40. Second serve. Rafa completely mishit the 2nd serve, but it went in. Tsonga’s backhand is out: deuce. Jo nets a backhand: game point. Running forehand down the line winner from Rafa; Tsonga challenges and it is out. We go back to deuce. Tsonga nets another backhand: game point. Rafa holds. What he actually holds, I’m not sure: 3-1.
Floating defensive volley from Tsonga, Rafa storms the net and hits a winner: 0-15. Tsonga slices a backhand into the net: 0-30. Nice serve: 15-30 Tsonga’s turn to storm the net and hit a winner: 30-30. Double fault: 30-40. A battle at the net ends in Rafa’s favor and he breaks: 4-1.
Another bad backhand from Jo: 15-0. UFE 18 from Jo: 30. Jo actually moves Rafa around a bit after putting him well back in the court with a huge lob. He finishes off with a clean winner: 30-30. Another long ball from Jo. Rafa holds for 5-1.
Solid hold for Tsonga for 2-5.
Oh. The backhand down the line passing shot has arrived. It was off a good approach too. 15-0. Rafa handcuff’s Jo: 30-0. Fierce forehand winner: 40-0. Two forehand winners and Rafa holds at love to take the first set: 40 minutes; 1 DF; 56% 1st serves in; 71% won on 1st; 73% won on 2nd; 6 winners; 8 UFEs; 3/3 at net. Jo ends the set with 17 UFEs and 6 winners.
Seriously? This play from Tsonga is painful. I’m tired of typing about his errors. I feel for him. I also resent him for making me sit through this.
Jo’s forehand is out: 0-15. Ace: 15-15. Service winner: 30-15. Jo doesn’t move well to a volley (one big step) and sends it well out: 30-30. Second serve. Long rally ends with Tsonga netting a forehand: 30-40. Rafa’s return of serve clips the netcord and drops back on his side of the net: deuce. Ace out wide: game point. A good looking rally ends when Tsonga sends yet another backhand long: deuce. Rafa sends a forehand well out: game point. A fierce forehand sets up a perfect volley for him, but Tsonga sends it long: deuce. Tsonga serves into the middle of the doubles alley. Tsonga forehand goes long: break point. Tsonga challenges a call and is right – Rafa’s ball is out: deuce. Rafa runs from beyond the baseline to to the other side of the court inside the service box to track down a drop volley, gets it back, but Tsonga hits a nice volley winner: game point. Again, Jo sets up a forehand and sends it well out: deuce. Good serve out wide that Rafa can barely get a racket on: game point. With and ace down the middle, Tsonga finally holds to start set 2.
Tsonga switches rackets for the 3 time in the game. Rafa holds for 1-1.
Quick and easy hold for Tsonga: 2-1.
I get bored and distracted by the internet and it’s 15-30 on Rafa’s serve. Another missed backhand by Tsonga – that was more wind, which has just kicked up, than Tsonga, though: 30-30. Jo nets a forehand: 40-30. Rafa holds for 2-2.
Rafa into the net, Jo has a doable pass, but he sends this backhand well out: 15-15. Again, Jo half steps up to the ball and hits it well out: 15-30. Low volley into the net: 15-40. Hey! Tsonga played a point well: 30-40. Tsonga goes for a spinning 360 backhand from midcourt. Yeah. He’s broken. Rafa up 3-2 in the second.
I don’t like seeing any player this out of sorts. It’s painful.
Jo’s lob attempt is out: 15-0. Jo again overhits a forehand: 30-0. Rafa’s shot is out: 30-30. And Rafa sends a forehand well out: break point. Toni is scratching his head. Rafa serves up the T…and it pays off: deuce. Nice serve, good reply, nice deep shot from Rafa, but Tsonga hits a beautiful backhand down the line winner: break point. Second serve. Oh. My. God. WTF? Tsonga was hitting beautifully – nice, deep and fierce. He was moving Rafa deeper and wider…then he tried a dinky drop shot that didn’t make it half-way up the net. Deuce. Nice serve: game point. Rafa holds for a 4-2 lead in the 2nd.
Well constructed point from Jo: 15-0. Drop shots and lobs and a smash winner from Jo – oh my. Dinky second serve and Rafa smacks a backhand winner down the line: 40-15. Tsonga holds.
And now it’s TV slowing down play…they’ve managed to sneak in a bit more commercial time so that it’s now behind the stream.
Jo takes another huge cut and pays for it: 15-0. Jo hits a beauty of a backhand behind Rafa: 15-15. Rafa’s backhand goes wide: 15-30. Jo sends another forehand long: 30-30. Low slice to Rafa’s backhand and he nets it: break point. Jo into the net and Rafa threads the needle with a backhand pass down the line: deuce. Both guys unhappy about a squealing baby – they smile and step off the line. Net cord pops into the service box, Rafa runs in, mishits the backhand, but Jo nets the reply: game point. Another backhand pass down the line and Rafa holds, but should I be worried that, playing this poorly, Tsonga can still get a break point?
Rafa’s serve return is out: 30-0. Second serve. Fan yells during the middle of the toss. Tsonga resets and double faults: 30-15. Tsonga holds for 4-5. Rafa will serve for the match next.
Rafa’s shot is long: 0-15. Rafa? If you don’t hold, I might have to come down there and spank you. Second serve. Rafa’s ball skids off the baseline and Jo nets it: 15-15. Jo stops a point to challenge and is correct: 15-30. Second serve. Rafa double faults to 15-40. He really needs to get over this problem with serving out matches. Rafa’s backhand is out and he is broken. 5-5.
Another ill-advised drop attempt by Jo: 0-15. Second serve. Nice volleys from Jo: 15-15. Rafa nets the serve return: 30-15. Forehand down the line winner from Jo: 40-15. Tsonga, showing life, has an easy hold for 6-5. Rafa will serve to stay in the set.
Rafa’s volley clips the netcord and dribbles over: 15-0. Excellently angled winner from Tsonga: 15-15. Second serve. Rafa nets a backhand: 15-30. Second serve. Jo slips and sends a ball to Brad Gilbert courtside: 30-30. Second serve. Jo into the net and a nice backhand cross court passing shot winner: game point. Excellent return of serve: deuce. Rafa moves Jo well, but nets a forehand: break/set point. Second serve. Jo tees off on a weak second serve, breaks and takes the second set 7-5.
Potty break for Tsonga.
Jo fires a forehand winner: 15-0. Second serve. That one went out: 15-15. Forehand down the line winner from Rafa: 15-30. Nice shot from Rafa: 15-40. I lose track: 30-40. Ace: deuce. Second serve. Aggressive play from Jo: game point. Second serve. Jo holds.
Nice forehand from Rafa: 15-0. Jo attempts another dropper, Rafa gets to it and hits a down the line winner: 30-0. Tsonga into the net and Rafa nets the passing shot: 30-15. Again: 30-30. Another stupid drop shot attempt – into the net this time: 40-30. Rafa holds for 1-1.
I’ve gone for feeling sorry for Tsonga to hoping he keeps trying those crappy drop shots.
Jo smashes a floater: 30-0. Second serve. Deep return and a deep shot from Rafa – Jo nets: 30-15. Stunning angle from Jo, Rafa tracks it down and angles back, Jo hits behind Rafa: 40-15. Service winner and he holds for 2-1.
Trainer out for Rafa – rubbing his left thigh just above the knee. There was no injury time out, just some treatment on the changeover.
Rafa won the point, but pulled up a bit and then looked at his camp: 30-0. Rafa pulls Tsonga wide and draws and error: 40-0. Second serve. Jo’s shot is out, and Rafa holds at love for 2-2.
Big forehand winner from Tsonga: 15-0. Long rally ends when Rafa sends a backhand out: 30-0. Nice reflex volley from Jo: 40-0. He earned extra style points on that one. Tsonga holds at love for 3-2 in the final set.
More rubbing for Rafa. He doesn’t look like he’s enjoying that at all. Again, no injury time out.
Longish rally ends on a Jo error: 15-0. Nice serve out wide: 30-0. Rafa over hits a forehand: 30-15. Jo takes control of a point and finishes it off at the net: 30-30. Forehand error from Rafa: 30-40. Rafa storms the net, Jo was there…but nets the passing shot: deuce. Rafa at the net tracking down a dropper, Jo’s shot is well out: game point. Backhand passing shot winner for the hold.
Double fault: 0-15. Service winner: 15-15. Second serve. Rafa pulls Tsonga out wide and then hits down the line as Tsonga runs back to the open court: 15-30. Nice serve puts Jo in control: 30-30. Second serve. Jo’s forehand is long: 30-40. Excellent serve: deuce. Ace: game point. Another good serve and Tsonga holds for 4-3.
So…is this worse than the Rafa/Verdasco match in Cincy last year?
Rafa’s forehand is out: 0-15. Jo nets a serve return: 15-15. Jo nets another one: 30-15. Jo mishits a serve return, and Rafa holds for 4-4.
Is that a banana I see? 0-15. 15-15. Second serve. Rafa’s backhand is out: 30-15. Forehand winner from Rafa: 30-30. Tsonga double faults to break point. Rafa hugs the baseline and he breaks for 5-4. I’m not going to say what he can do next game…
Tsonga is not happy about challenges for some reason – missed the start.
Rafa gets help from a lines person and Jo doesn’t challenge: 15-0. Rafa’s forehand is long: 15-15. Rafa’s backhand clips the net cord and bounces back on his side: 15-30. Rafa into the net and hits two tough volleys in a row: 30-30. Into the net again and he sends an angled volley that Jo can’t deal with: 40-30. Second serve (he went for that one). Rafa has the open court, tees off on a forehand…and it goes long: deuce. He pouts massively. I join him. Masssive forehand winner from Tsonga: break point. Jo’s backhand is out: deuce. Jo paints the line with a forehand and Rafa’s reply is out: break point. Jo’s string breaks when he tries to return an easy looking second serve: deuce. Jo comes into the net, Rafa passes: game/match point. Jo digs out a winning volley from a good passing attempt from Rafa: deuce. Second serve. Rafa spins in a second serve and Jo nets the reply: match point #3. Finally. This match is over. Rafa defeats Tsonga 6-2, 5-7, 6-4