Tuesday in Madrid
I actually made it to the tournament in time to see Rafa practice today. Yea! I watched him for about an hour and 45 minutes with fully charged batteries in my camera. Again, yea! You can see some of the best pictures here. Here’s one:
I love Rafa in this red. I hope it is the French Open Red. I forgot to mention another minus for this tournament is no Nike shop. I was hoping to pick up the French Open shirt for myself.
He hit with Alejandro Falla today, the man who holds the distinction of having one of my 2 favorite names in tennis, the other being Fernando Verdasco. I’m sure he’s honored.
Once again I took a position at court level on the other side of another practice court. This seemed a better option than standing over top of Rafa’s court, as this establishing shot illustrates. It was packed up there, but I got to stand by the railing where I was with no one in front of me.
Practice was pretty unremarkable. I couldn’t really tell how well he was doing, because as you can see, I couldn’t see the court. He acted subdued, seeming neither contented, nor disturbed by his play, so no clues there either. He played a good long while in his practice set with Alejandro. Maybe they got in 2 sets.
One funny thing did happen toward the end, Rafa saw something with the court or on the court (I don’t know, I couldn’t see it.) Then everybody had to look at it while Rafa walked away and laughed, but they were still looking.
As Rafa was finishing up, David came in carrying a racquet in a Babolat plastic bag. My first thought was it had something to do with Prince’s financial problems, but then I realized that it’s just what the stringer put it in. I did not see any ill effects from David’s fall yesterday. That’s a relief. Anyway, David says “hi.”
After practice I watched a bunch of Spaniard’s play matches. First I saw Dolgopolov beat Andujar in straight sets even though Pablo could have served out the first-set tie breaker.
Next I watched Feli and Jurgen Melzer in center court. It was sad the Feli lost, but I have always liked Jurgen as well so I’m happy for him. It was a good close match.
Then I saw the end of Fernando’s doubles match. He played with David Marrero against Tsonga and Dolgopolov. When I came, Jo/Sasha were serving for the match, but Fer/David managed to break and go on to win the second set 7-5. The Super Tie Break was close and exciting with the Spaniards pulling it out 12-10.
Next was Marc and Marcel against Raonic and Troicki. The strategy was clear for this match: hold your serve, forget about the games Milos is serving and break Viktor. It worked perfectly as they broke the Serb once in each set to win 6-4, 6-4. Marc had blue clay on his knee from kneeling at the net. You know how he likes to pour water on his thighs during change over? Well, he was working hard not to wash off the blue on his knee. Hope you saw my tweet about the bag he brought onto the court.
Here’s an arty picture of Marc serving out the match as the sun went down.
I know there are some of you out there that want to know about getting my hands on the blue clay. I did manage to pick some up today — it was just lying on the sidewalk. But I had nothing to put it in so I put it back on the ground. And drum roll please… it felt like dirt. And it stained my hand. Okay I am getting a zip-lock bag now so I can be prepared if I have the chance again. You know who you are!
Rafa plays his first match tomorrow! Or actually today, during the part of the day that I’m sleepy as opposed to now even though it’s 3 AM. The good news is I’ll be over this jet lag in time for the Rome tournament when I get home.
[Note from miri - I'm going to pretend that all the mentions of Marc! in this article are properly followed by an exclamation point. My brain cannot comprehend any other option.]