Viña del Mar: Tested
In the final of the Chile Open, Rafa took on fellow left #73 Horacio Zeballos of Argentina. Zeballos might have an excuse for feeling overwhelmed by the match up – Rafa dominated him at Roland Garros and before the match he tweeted that he was going to be playing “God” today. If he was feeling nerves, though, he did a pretty good job of hiding it. In fact, he had break points in the very first game of the match. Rafa went on to hold as did each player (usually with ease) until we reached a tiebreak. It was a thing of beauty to see Rafa step things up and dominate the tiebreak 7-2. (I admit, I was worried about nerves due to his lack of recent match play.)
The second set went pretty much the same as the first – except for the tiebreak. Zeballos showed no fear and hit out with conviction and accuracy. He took the second: 7-6(6).
Aggressive Rafa came out to play in the 3rd and he broke right away. It was, however, a fleeting appearance and he was broken in the very next game. Again, booth players held until the 10th game. He showed no nerves (unlike someone who was hitting a bit short) and hit out to earn a break and a win: 6-7(2), 7-6(6), 6-4.
So, Rafa wasn’t playing poorly, but the edge wasn’t quite there. Couple that with Zeballos playing fearless and impressive tennis and we have this result. Rafa made the final of his first tournament in 7 months. That pretty darn impressive if you ask me. He’s been tested. He knows where he stands. Now it’s up to him to take that information and improve for the next tournament.
|Statistics on Serve|
|1st Serve %||72%||60%|
|1st Serve Points Won||57/77 (74%)||45/58 (78%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||18/29 (62%)||27/38 (71%)|
|Break Points Saved||5/7 (71%)||2/3 (67%)|
|Service Games Played||17||17|
|Statistics on Return|
|1st Return Points Won||13/58 (22%)||20/77 (26%)|
|Second Return Points Won||11/38 (29%)||11/29 (38%)|
|Break Points Won||1/3 (33%)||2/7 (29%)|
|Return Games Played||17||17|
|Statistics on Points|
|Total Service Points Won||75/106 (71%)||72/96 (75%)|
|Total Return Points Won||24/96 (25%)||31/106 (29%)|
|Total Points Won||99/202 (49%)||103/202 (51%)|
Some as it happened blatherings:
Rafa bouncing while waiting to enter the court will always make me smile.
Nice one-two for Zeballos to start the match: 15-0. He follows that up by over-cooking a forehand, though: 15-15. Nice serve, floaty return and Zeballos hits a drop shot winner: 30-15. 40-15. Zeballos gets Rafa deep on the backhand side, draws a loopy reply and hits a winner to hold.
Rafa appears to be unhappy with the clay near the service line? Is that what’s going on?
@nadalnews The white line ispartially lifted. They’ve said in the next changeover they’ll fix it.
— Genny SS (@genny_ss) February 10, 2013
Double fault. Zeballos sends a forehand wide: 15-15. Rafa sends a backhand long: 15-30. Rafa sends a forehand into the net: 15-40. Zeballos sends a shot long: 30-40. And then can’t get out of the way of a body serve: deuce. Zeballos sends another shot long: game point. Zeballos sends a forehand return into the net and Rafa holds for 1-1.
Zeballos drops, Rafa runs in to flick it back, Zeballos flicks it back behind Rafa for a winner – fun stuff. Zeballos serve called out, Rafa says it’s good. Replay point. Ace: 30-0. Another ace: 40-0. Three in a row and Zeballos holds for 2-1.
Second serve. Zeballos sends a forehand just out: 15-0. Second serve. Beautiful forehand winner from Rafa – hit from the doubles alley: 30-0. 40-0. Let. Second serve. Zeballos attempts a drop shot return of serve, Rafa runs it down, holds it until Zeballos commits to on direction and then hits into the open court. 2-2.
Second serve. Short ball from Rafa and Zeballos hits a soft, mid-court winner: 15-0. Ace: 30-0. Zeballos hits a forehand winner from the sideboards: 40-0. He nets a forehand: 40-15. Ace and a hold.
Five games in, and Zeballos has already delivered a better performance than Chardy yesterday. Shame on you, Chardy. #NeverForget
— Juan José (@juanjo_sports) February 10, 2013
30-30. Drop shot attempt by Zeballos fails to make it over the net: 40-30. Zeballos pushes Rafa around until he draws an error: deuce. Rafa’s turn to push until he draws an error: game point. Service winner and Rafa hold for 3-3.
Nice one-two by Zeballos: 15-0. Rafa nets a forehand return: 30-0. Zeballos overcooks a forehand: 30-15. Nice passing shot from Zeballos gives him control of a point. Rafa digs out a volley return, but Zeballos hits a lob that Rafa can’t quite deal with: 40-15. Wild miss on a return of serve and Zeballos holds for 4-3.
Gimelstob somehow manages to spin Zeballos winning a long rally as a bad thing for him. Hahahaha.
— Amy Fetherolf (@AmyFetherolf) February 10, 2013
Ace! 15-0. Zeballos nets a forehand: 30-0. Second serve. Nice forehand: 40-0. Ace! Rafa holds for 4-4.
15-0. Ace: 30-0. Second serve. Strong backhand down the line winner from Zeballos: 40-0. Rafa goes for a forehand down the line return winner, but it’s long. Zeballos holds for 5-4.
Forehand winner: 15-0. Loopy return, Rafa into the net to knock off a winner: 30-0. A good forehand draws an error: 40-0. Rafa holds for 5-5.
Second serve. Fierce shot from Zeballos draws an error: 15-0. Ace: 30-0. Rafa nets a return: 40-0. Rafa gets a second serve return out wide and draws an error: 40-15. Second serve. Rafa was trying to set up a point, but he sends a forehand out and Zeballos holds for 6-5.
Rafa runs Zeballos back and forth until he draws an error: 15-0. Zeballos dropper, Rafa drops back, Zeballos runs in and hits his forehand long: 30-0. Rafa takes a ball early and it pays dividends: 40-0. The old one-two (serve out wide, winner into the open court) and Rafa holds at love to take the set to a tiebreak.
Second serve by Zeballos. He sends a ball out, minibreak to Rafa. Nice backhand wrong foots Zeballos: 2-0. Zeballos sends a return long: 3-0. Nice one-two from Zeballos: 1-3. Zeballos sends a ball out and it’s another minibreak for Rafa. He’s up 4-1. Good serve, short return, Rafa into midcourt and hits a winner: 5-1. Second serve (Rafa). Lovely forehand winner from Zeballos gets him a minibreak back. He’s now serving at 2-5. Rafa runs around a backhand to hit a massive forehand down the line and Zeballos’s reply is just out: 2-6 (set point). Backhand return winner and Rafa takes the first set! 7-6(2).
2 aces; 1 double; 72% 1st serves in; 84% won on 1st; 70% on 2nd; 2/2 bps saved; 21% 1st return pts won; 30% of 2nd
Best thing for me? He didn’t look nervious in that tiebreak at all.
Rafa serving to start set 2. Second serve. 15-0. Nice touch by Zeballos at the net: 15-15. Zeballos runs Rafa all over the place – very smart point from him: 15-30. Second serve. Zeballos nets a return: 30-30. Zeballos’s backhand is out: 40-30. Second serve. Zeballos pushes Rafa deep/wide and draws an error: deuce. Rafa dropper, Zeballos’s angled reply is wide: game point. Weak forehand return of serve and Rafa holds.
Another dropper from Zeballos draws an error: 15-0. Zeballos really likes his drop shots, huh? Makes sense with how far back Rafa is playing. Rafa sends two balls in a row out: 40-0. Second serve. Zeballos nets a forehand: 40-15. And he sends a backhand wide: 40-15. Zeballos into the net, Rafa lobs, Zeballos smashes and Rafa sends the return into the net. Another strong hold for Zeballos: 1-1.
Rafa’s forehand paints the lines deep in the corner and Zeballos’s reply goes into the stands: 15-0. Short ball from Zeballos, Rafa into the net picking up a low backhand, Zeballos pops up a high return, Rafa smashes it home: 30-0. Second serve. Cross court forehand winner from Rafa: 40-0. Zeballos goes for a 2nd serve return, but sends it out. Rafa holds at love. 2-1, second set.
Nice one-two from Zeballos: 15-0. Zeballos nets a forehand: 15-15. Nicely constructed and executed point from Rafa…complete with a confident change of direction: 15-30. Zeballos goes for that one dropper to many and Rafa has his first break point of the match. A short return of serve from Rafa and aggressive play from Zeballos saves it: 30-40. Beauty of a serve: deuce. Another good serve out wide: game point. Very nice shot down the line after opening the court up and Zeballos holds for 2-2.
Second serve. Zeballos sends a forehand return well long: 15-0. Second serve. Zeballos hits a lovely backhand return of serve winner: 15-15. Second serve. Zeballos goes for too much on a forehand: 30-15. And then he sends a backhand well out: 40-15. Nice passing attempt by Zeballos, but Rafa reacts and hits a winning volley to hold: 3-2.
Zeballos pulls Rafa in and then pushes him back – beautiful lob: 15-0. Nice volley and Zeballos holds at love: 3-3.
Forehand down the line winner: 30-0. Forehand winner from Zeballos: 30-15. Nice serve down the middle, good deep forehand which he follows into the net, but doesn’t need to do anything as Zeballos doesn’t get ball back over: 40-15. Rafa into the net again and he holds for 4-3.
Including Challengers, Zeballos has a 19 match win streak on clay dating back to last October.
— 10sworld.com (@10sworld) February 10, 2013
Lovely winner off another Zeballos drop shot: 0-15. Zeballos overcooks a forehand: 0-30. Beautiful cross court from Zeballos, short dropper from Rafa, Zeballos runs it down and Rafa slips a bit and can’t get to the ball: 15-30. Rafa sends a backhand well out: 30-30. Zeballos hits out and hits well: 40-30. And again – he holds for 4-4.
Fierce forehands! 15-0. Zeballos sends a ball long: 30-0. Stunning cross court backhand from Zeballos: 30-15. Rafa into mid-court and knocks off a forehand winner: 40-15. Second serve. Strong hold for Rafa for 5-4. Can he break next game? He hasn’t had much traction on Zeballos’s serve games so far…
Beautiful shot from Zeballos: 15-0. Defense to offense, baby! Wonderful running forehand winner: 15-15. A similar forehand, this time Zeballos gets his racket on it, but can’t get the ball back: 15-30. Rafa can’t get a second serve back: 30-30. Ace. Second serve. Nice backhand draws an error: 40-30. Zeballos showing rock-solid nerves and fights back from being down in the game to hold: 5-5.
Serve and volley for the win! 15-0. Beautiful of a down the line backhand winner from Zeballos: 15-15. Second serve. Zeballos tees off on the return for a clear winner: 15-30. Nice one-two from Rafa: 30-30. Nice serve that Zeballos can’t get back: 40-30. Good serving digs Rafa out of a hole as he holds for 6-5.
— Juan Monaco (@picomonaco) February 10, 2013
Second serve. Rafa pulls Zeballos in, measures a forehand…but it’s just out: 15-0. Rafa sends a forehand out: 30-0. Fierce forehand: 40-0. Second serve. Let. Zeballos holds at love. Another tiebreak.
Zeballos sends a backhand wide: 1-0. Zeballos runs Rafa all over the place: 1-1. Rafa sends a backhand long: 2-1. Rafa to serve two. Footwork saves Rafa: 2-2. Rafa draws an error: 3-2. Ace: 3-3. Nice one-two by Zeballos 4-3. Rafa sends a backhand long and Zeballos has a minibreak – up 5-3. Nice one-two from Rafa to get to 4-5. Beauty of a serve: set point. Drop shot from Rafa and Zeballos’s return goes out. Set point saved. Back on serve: 6-5. Zeballos sends a shot well out: 6-6. Wimpy first serve that Zeballos smacks for a winner: 6-7, set point #3 for Zeballos. Zeballos takes the 2nd set: 7-6(6).
Impressive play from Zeballos and showing no nerves. Zeballos seems to be saying, “screw you for thinking Chardy was Rafa’s big test!”
2nd set RafaStats: 0 aces, 0 doubles, 75% 1st serves in; 73% won on 1st; 80% on 2nd; 28% 1st return won; 18% on 2nd; 0/2 BPs won.
Rafa really, really needs to step up his return game.
I need an an aggressive Rafa in this third set.If he could stand a little closer to the baseline that would be great.
— Ataraxis (@Ataraxis00) February 10, 2013
Nice backhand from Rafa: 0-15. Another short and nicely angled one gives him control of the point – he finishes with a forehand winner: 0-30. Rafa smacks the crap out of a forehand: 0-40. Second serve. Zeballos sends a forehand into the net and Rafa breaks at love.
Fierce Zeballos forehand: 0-15. He sends a ball long: 15-15. Again, taking the ball early puts Zeballos on the offensive and he capitalizes a few shots later: 15-30. Second serve. Rafa sends a backhand well out: 15-40. Second serve. Beautiful approach shot from Rafa saves one BP. A nice serve down the middle saves another: deuce. And he gives one right back by sending a forehand long: break point. And then he sends a volley into the net. Zeballos breaks: 1-1, 3rd set. That was a stunningly bad volley.
15-0. Rafa sends as second serve return long: 30-0. Second serve. Rafa’s forehand return goes into the net: 40-0. Zeballos holds at love for 2-1.
Zeballos nets a return: 15-0. And then sends one long: 30-0. Backhand into the net: 40-0. Rafa hits a forehand out: 40-15. Zeballos wrong foots Rafa: 40-30. Second serve. Rafa leaves a short ball hanging, but Zeballos sends his shot just wide. Rafa holds for 2-2.
Zeballos smash: 15-0. Rafa into the net, but doesn’t seem committed enough, he’s pass at the service line: 30-0. Ace: 40-0.
I just need to say this: SHUT UP GIMMELSTOB! YOU DON’T HAVE TO TALK EVERY SECOND OF THE MATCH.
There. I feel a wee bit better.
This guy is really comparing football players’ permanent brain trauma to Rafa’s knees? I can’t even.
— Amy Fetherolf (@AmyFetherolf) February 10, 2013
Rafa is signaling to his box about something. Either that or he’s hailing a cab. #atp
— Beyond The Baseline (@SI_BTBaseline) February 10, 2013
Rafa runs Zeballos and it pays dividends: 15-0. Zeballos return is long: 30-0. Ace: 40-0. Another and Rafa holds. 3-3
Zeballos going down the middle, Rafa runs him wide and draws an error: 0-15. Rafa had the open court and hits his forehand long: 15-15. Long rally ends when Zeballos finally runs out of time and steam: 15-30. Time violation. Ace: 30-30. Rafa’s return goes into the net: 40-30. A tired looking Zeballos tees off and hits a winner to hold: 4-3.
Cross court forehand winner for Zeballos: 0-15. Return of serve looked to be a winner, but it was just out: 15-15. Zeballos hits deep to draw an error: 15-30. Fierce and aggressive forehand from Rafa: 30-30. Another short ball from Rafa, Zeballos paints the line with a dropper that Rafa can’t get to: 30-40. Rafa runs Zeballos, comes into the net and picks up a lovely volley. Zeballos’s reply is out: deuce. Zeballos shanks a return: game point. Rafa vamoses. Service winner, Rafa holds and vamoses again.
Beautiful backhand down the line – just paints it: 15-0. After working a point well, Rafa overcooks a forehand: 30-0. Ace: 40-0. Another love hold for Zeballos. He’s up 5-4. Rafa to serve to stay in the match.
Zeballos uses up about 20% of his luck for the season on a muscled BH that clips the sideline. 5-4, on serve, after Nadal saved a BP.
— Andrew Burton (@burtonad) February 10, 2013
Deep return of serve puts Zeballos in control of a point: 0-15. Second serve. Long rally ends on a drop shot winner by Zeballos: 0-30. Second serve. Beautiful short angled backhand winner by Zeballos. He has 3 match points. Rafa nets a forehand and Zeballos wins: 6-7(2), 7-6(6), 6-4.