RG: A sleepy start, but through to the third

REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

It’s a day late, but Rafa finally got round two under his belt by playing #35 Martin Klizan. At first, Rafa looked abut as awake as I felt. People panicked. I waited for Rafa to wake up. He did. He’s still not as sharp as he’ll need to be for later rounds, but he was sharp enough for today. He’s through to the third round: 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3.

Nadal Klizan
Aces 5 6
Double Faults 2 5
1st Serve % 74% 56%
1st Serve Points Won 55/74 (74%) 30/58 (52%)
2nd Serve Points Won 10/26 (38%) 25/45 (56%)
Break Points Saved 3/7 (43%) 3/10 (30%)
Break Points Won 7/10 (70%) 4/7 (57%)
Statistics on Points
Total Service Points Won 65/100 (65%) 55/103 (53%)
Total Return Points Won 48/103 (47%) 35/100 (35%)
Total Points Won 113/203 (56%) 90/203 (44%)
Other Stats
Winners 27 32
Unforced errors 29 57
Net Approaches 14/20 (70%) 15/28 (54%)

63 Responses

  1. JayDee50 says:

    Justcansay, sooooo happyforthewin!

    Plus, a few observations: first, I thought it was for the best that the match was put back to today, to come out and start afresh rather than on court-off court faffing about. Second, Rafa dropped the first set. Again. Wow, the media are gonna dine on that one *rolls eyes*. Third, all through this year’s tournaments so far, Rafa has had these sleepy slow starts and always come through and played better when he had to, and why play your best tennis in the early rounds? Save it for when you need it. I have nothing but faith in him. On to the 3R and Fabio Fognini. Vamos!

  2. dk says:

    I can’t say that Rafa played well today. More like Klizan choked some in sets 2,3 and 4 rather than Rafa hitting the corners and down-the-lines. I fear that if Rafa plays like this, he will not win against Nole if they play in the semis.

  3. M. E. G. says:

    Yeesh. Thanks for pulling early duty, Miri. I appreciate the point about your rant & also the fact we have been spoiled rotten by his achievements here over the years. Not sure if I want to see Rafa drawn later tomorrow (where he might get delayed again) or earlier (where he does not play well in AM starts, typically). Probably in the middle. Probably back on the big court tomorrow. Can’t believe I’m a bit nervous of Fognini, but that’s where we are. Rafa’s already gone 21/21 in sets twice here before; it doesn’t matter if he loses a set per match. He’s just got to be better when it really matters & in one match most of all.

    Looking for a sharper start tomorrow.

  4. johnf says:

    Journeyman rafa? not what I like to see. Yes a win is a win, but the way Klizan hammered rafa’s serve , twice in that fourth set, and Rafa’s failure to crush Klizan in the game where klizan had two double faults…..thats a worry. Fixable? I hope so.

    But a bit of a worry was that Klizan was the architect of his own demise here – rafa served up so many short balls and frankly rafa’s game didn’t trouble Klizan…it was Klizan’s game that troubled Klizan.
    I actually have no explanation for the dip in form for rafa in these first two matches – yes, they were with guys who hit hard and had a strategy of hitting hard…but rafa is not dictating points, not creating angles and moving players around the court like he can do – he was on fire in Rome and Madrid….what happened in between? Is it possibly the “heavy” weather? And he’s defintiely not a morning guy!

    Thank goodness for his backhand today…sharp and crisp. Forehand? well the failure to capitailze on match point in the fourth set says it all – sometimes it was there, sometimes not. I do think the forehand power improved in the fourth set – it was so tentative in the previous ones.And the net play today from rafa was outstanding…ditto general movement around the court ..

    • JayDee50 says:

      I think a big reason why Rafa’s game didn’t trouble Klizan is because Klizan is a fellow left-hander. Rafa’s game focuses on breaking down his opponent’s weaker side, usually a right-hander’s backhand. Facing a fellow lefty, in the frankly chilly conditions did not help in the slightest, and I admire Rafa for working hard to come up with a different game plan to achieve the win. Okay it wasn’t pretty, who cares? I’ll take the win over prettiness any day.

        • JayDee50 says:

          oh yes, I know he does, but I was just saying I think he has to play differently against lefties, and with the elements against him, plus the awful scheduling which I now gather he was unhappy about, maybe we shouldn’t be too surprised at how he played. Also, he hadn’t played Klizan before, another fact to take into account.

  5. micamica says:

    As i said on the chat, Rafa did what he needed to do today. He did not need to exert himself. I believe he will improve as the tournament moves into the second week, when he will face tougher opponents.

    He played quite defensively, with some of his forehands flying past the line and there were a few too many short balls.

    I think he will have a good match against hottie Fogini, maybe 3 straight sets (hopefully).

    Personally I am just enjoying watching him playing and winning, regardless how many points, games or sets he loses.

    Good luck Champ

  6. emir says:

    This is the worst Rafa ı have ever seen in RG 2009 included.He looks very slow and out of sorts in every department of the game. İf he continues to play this crappy stuff forget about winning the tournament and beating Djokovic pretty much impossible.I already want Rafa to lose in QF o something to avoid bagel from Djokovic.For the first time in many years it isnt also joy to watch him.He looks like a player who is in mid 30s way past his prime.I am not sure you can blame conditions for everything as well.I still want to be hopeful because he is Rafa Nadal afterall but it is a fact that despite some good results he didnt play all that greatly since his comeback.

    • JayDee50 says:

      Simple then, don’t watch

    • heath says:

      Always a joy to see your upbeat and supportive posts, Emir. Rafa will be pleased to know you have his back.

    • CB says:

      A little harsh, Emir — however, I do agree that this wasn’t much fun to watch. Looking at the stats, I’m amazed that Rafa’s numbers are as good as they are. It seemed worse while watching. That said, I would never hope for Rafa to lose because he is not playing his best!! Let’s hope he’ll feel better tomorrow — the weather looks much better for the coming days — and that Rafa can find his rhythm and get back to his usual awesomeness!

    • Merrill says:

      Really emir; it’s one thing to say Rafa played like crap—he did—but another thing to wish him a loss in the quarters because you don’t want him to lose to Novak. These are early rounds; the weather is cold and damp (not conducive to his game or his knees); and Rafa happens to be a human being who has good and bad days like the rest of us. At least he is fighting through these opponents and, if he follows the same script as Madrid and Rome, will get much better. Take a positive pill or find someone who never loses to cheer for (Good luck with that scenario!)

    • Ruthie says:

      Are you always so quick to judge Emir? He is not a machine and cannot perform to order and neither can other tennis players – it really does make me a little cross when people are so quick to criticise such a great champion and champion is the operative word here! Champions fight and find a way to win even if they are not playing their best tennis.

      Happy for the win and I wish Rafa a good day tomorrow.

      Vamos our Rafa & God bless.

    • June says:

      Oy vey!

  7. Ramara says:

    Frayed nerves, sweaty palms, heart palpitations, that’s what Grand Slams do. No, not to *players* so much. It’s us fans that suffer!

    I blame the weather in Paris. Cold and windy, but Rafa copes with wind better than cold these days. Hopefully the weather will get better next week.

  8. Lilia Ortega says:

    I saw the match. Rafa’s mood was strange. He almost seemed unhappy to be there. It was cold (but it was cold for both players).

    It is the French Open, yes “his house” sort of speak and all that stuff but he is not loved there like he is everywhere else. Make no mistake about it. Remember all the stuff a couple of years ago regarding whether he or the rest of the Spanish athletes were clean? That was all over the french social and printed media? The French do not want him to win another one. They were rooting for Klizan this morning.

    It seems that at the presser after the match he complained about the scheduling yesterday, something that he felt was not fair. He is not happy with the organizers. He and his team haven’t been since last year. They won’t come out and say it, but it is clear if we follow this closely. Uncle Toni’s anger when they took so long to stop the final last year…remember?

    Anyway, I hope Rafa can get his mind in order and put all this noise aside, because he has a most difficult draw, indeed.
    He did not seem happy at all at the end of the match, no wide smiles filled with satisfaction of a job well done.

    Lets hope the weather fares better in the next few days and that he takes some pressure off himself and just enjoy the tournament. He doesn’t have to go in with the pressure of an eighth title. Nobody has done what he has done. Screw the pundits and the predictions and the bets. Just go match by match. If he just enjoys match per match he will win it, but he is thinking too much and you can see it.

    He IS coming back and this is what the journalists who barely give him a break or are so hypocritical towards him seem to forget.

    Perhaps this rocky start is auspicious. Why not. It wouldn’t be unlike Rafa to add drama.
    Rafa is the greatest, yes even greater than the GOAT. Contrary to popular belief…of course not the ones that frequent this site. We know the truth. Thank you to the organizer of this site. It is quite extraordinary.

    • Mystic says:

      Yes Rafa was definitely in a pissy mood after the match. I saw his short post match interview with Pam Shreiver where he argued that the tournament director was not doing a good job with the scheduling. He also made some off-handed remarks about the “girls” being able to play before him or something like that. It was very out of character. It even made me grimace which is rare.
      I agree that it is very obvious that the French would like a new champion. I hope Rafa is able to use this to his advantage somehow and rise above whatever obstacles are thrown his way (by the press, spectators and opponents).
      Stay strong Rafa – we believe in you no matter what and know you can do it!
      And you are right Lilia – we know the truth.

      • miri says:

        He said that he didn’t think it was fair that he was schedule after two matches – one a men’s and one a women’s (well, he said “girls” – I’m trying to let that slide) while his next round opponent was scheduled after just a girl’s. I don’t think his issue is the gender, but the fact that he faced the possibility of going on after as many as 8 sets of tennis while his next round opponent only faced 3 at the most. This meant that his opponent had a much greater chance at finishing despite the rain than he did. He feels they should schedule next round opponents with similar preceding matches as that’s the most fair.

        • Mystic says:

          Thanks for the translation Miri – too bad you can’t travel with Rafa and do that for him – it would’ve come in handy today that’s for sure! I agree we can let this one slide. Hopefully tomorrow will be a more positive day in every way.

          • miri says:

            Translation? I thought his English was pretty clear. I guess it wasn’t or thanks to tweets from Cronin (who turned it into a boys/girls thing), it got confused. I dunno. I wish I still had a way to make videos from my TV – I would upload the interview. I’m hoping I find it later.

      • CB says:

        I grimaced a little, too. Not because I thought he was being sexist — just wish he would have used the word “women” instead. But he’s forgiven since English isn’t his first language! I think his point about the scheduling was spot-on.

  9. v.arunachalam says:

    i hate the weather of paris during french open. rafa’s game depends on good weather. why french open is conducted during rainy season.? rafa overcame the inclement weather with his experience. his top spin is well known & such weather may not help much in top spin, i believe.why we ve to blame rafa for not reaching his best so far in roland 2013. french open must be conducted during non rainy season. will the organisers hear our voice?

    • Ch F says:

      This is supposed to be a non rainy period. There is no 100% safe period. I agree warm weather is better for Rafa, but i certainly hope his game doesn’t “depend” on the weather. Surely Rafa doesn’t expect to play well only when the weather is good. His performance today was not entirely due to the weather, imo. Yet he is through to the next round and I guess we’ll have to wait and see how he does tomorrow.

    • karen mutch says:

      in northern europe every season is a rainy season. Believe me I live there.

  10. heath says:

    So… Rafa was neither consistent nor particularly convincing but a win is a win – and now he’s another round closer to that semi with Novak. Vamos, Rafa.

  11. rafan says:

    Hi all,

    This is my take for what it’s worth:
    1) Rafa had said the only negativity (when asked his opinion of him and Joker on the same side of the draw)was the weather. 2) Rafa hates and absolutely hate hates early starts. He has said himself in teh past. 3)The worst is when it is cold, chilly that hurts his knee and especially his foot. 4) He hasn’t played for 3 days, so he may have stiffened up and again starting from scratch. Probably felt like a first round match again. 5) From the locker room to the entrance to the court he didn’t look happy. Kept his opponent waiting, then ran back to the locker room for 5 minutes. Not sure what that was about. Looked a bit unfocussed. 6) The conditions were damp and very heavy. His forehand flying all over the place, lost his confidence and then put it in too too short. No spin on his balls today – it compared to 2012 a la final when he lost 8 games on the spin to Joker. 7) He couldn’t believe some of the errors he was making which was disturbing him and his concentration. 8) Looked pretty unhappy when it was all over, no cheering, smilling much. 9) Probably still fuming over the organisers decisions. 10) Susan Langlan court – I think he plays faster and he doesn’t particularly like playing on that court.

    So all in all he pulled it out of the bag…. and thank god his opponent wasn’t Brands or anyone else. Basically he had the chances and should have put them away and RAfa would have been stuffed. So anyway onwards and upwards for Rafa for two hotties on Sat against Fognini. Can’t wait for that one – even just to watch them even if the match is a damp squid! Hopefully Rafa will string it all together when he can by semis and the sun is shining, it’s the middle of the afternoon and it’s very hot!!!

    • johnf says:

      thanks for that rafan
      moods affect us all…we’ve all seen the others at the top 10 struggle with their rhythm /concentration..and simply not be able to to turn it around during the match enough to get a win..instead of an early exit (i’m thinking of rafa’s arch nemesis here) …..so definitely hope it was just a bad monday at the office for him. What is amazing is that in spite of all that went wrong today, enough went right – well, he made enough go right – to win . I’m kind of hopeful that the really good points will be what sticks in his mind….and emotions…celebrating htose, letting them lift his confidnece over the hours until the next match.
      He recovered from some impossible situations today to take control…beautiful lobs uner intense pressure, quick hands in net play, serving well when it counted, and the backhand was truly a tower of strength. It’s maybe too easy for us fans to focus on the flubbed shots , missed opportunities. For an elite athlete that would be psychologically undermining – and if there is one person in this sport who is able to let the (bad) past go and re-focus on the moment it is rafa.

  12. dk says:

    We as Rafa fans can say all we want to support him. Bottom line is that Rafa *seems* to be playing not well, like he did in 2009. I am concerned.

  13. Scooterdan says:

    I agree with Rafan. I think this match was like starting all over again in this tournament. Also cold and damp conditions are always worse for injuries. He is going to warm up, saving the best for last. VAMOS !!!

  14. rafan says:

    I see there seems to be a lot of comments on the chat about him being pissed off with the scheduling in his press conference. Has anyone got the link to his presser? Heard he should have been on the same time as Fognini and now Fog got a day of rest and he hasn’t

  15. Ruthie says:

    I feel for him about the scheduling but this is not the first time he has come up against this sort of thing at RG. I hope he gets a warm sunny day to work his magic tomorrow. Fognini can be a dark horse but I hope Rafa plays great tennis and gets the job done in straight sets.

    Good luck tomorrow our Rafa & vamos.

  16. rahul says:

    Really worried with his level . Hope he picks it up . Definitely dont see him winning against Novak (who is looking really good) .. with this level. Hope Fogini is not that long

    • JayDee50 says:

      There are still 3 more matches for Djokovic to play and win before he reaches the semi-final; ditto Rafa. Anything can happen, not worth worrying yet.

      • rahul says:

        Well if you expect nishikori/wawrinka/fogini to beat Rafa OR Kohlschreiber/Tipsarvic to beat Djokovic , please wake up and smell the coffee :) I mean sure anything can happen (rosol beat Rafa).. thats why we watch tennis, but most likely no upsets.

        Tommorow is crutial and a slight hope, maybe Dimitrov upsets Djokovic as he did before.

  17. marcela says:

    Did not see much of the match, but from the tweets and the comments it does not seem like Rafa is cruising. I think a lot has to do with the cold rainy conditions and the clay is likely playing like a hard-court. It’s supposed to by sunny in Paris tomorrow and don’t see any rain forecasted for the next couple of days, also, I heard Darren Cahill say Rafa’s play will likely improve now that the weather is supposed to be getting warmer. Agree that losing 2 sets is very unusual so early in the tournament; but he hasn’t played a grand slam since Wimbledon! Vamos Rafa!! #RG13!

  18. CC says:

    I couldn’t see the match, but saw the before-match-footage in the tunnel. Rafa took bleeding donkey’s years to get ready to walk onto court, packing away headphones etc. and was really late. Of course. Klizan seemed to smile and scratch his head. It would have driven me bonkers if I were him. Maymo and Toni seemed to both think “fucking hell Rafa for fuck’s sake get fucking ready”. Hilarious.
    Also caught the close up of the huge wedgie Rafa had before going out to see the umpire and opponent at the net. Hilarious that too. ;)

  19. Ramara says:

    Rafa’s post match reaction was much calmer today. After the Brands match he seemed a bit shaken and relieved. Today he was much more relaxed. Not a great day at the office but he won sort of thing.

  20. beegee says:

    Wow. So much negativity here today. Can’t a guy have a bad day? And still win? No, he wasn’t rock solid but again, playing against a big hitter, cold and heavy conditions, and ever-so-slightly distracted by the scheduling kerfuffles. He’s having a slow start in Paris, but he’ll catch up and find rhythm.

    I’m not much for conspiracy theories, but one could make a case that he’s getting the short end of the stick, so I can’t blame him for going off track a bit. However, if you’ll recall not so many years ago at Wimbledon where we had some challenging weather with constant rain delays and Rafa on the short end there as well – back to back matches, early matches, not much rest, opponents who were rested. While on the other side Fed was experiencing the opposite with lots of rest between matches and favorable start times —- and who prevailed?? Yup. ☺

    Nobody is better than Rafa at putting a rough match and off court challenges behind him and moving forward to what’s next. Fognini will be a much more straight forward match, and if the weather is even slightly better, we’re in good shape. VAMOS!

  21. Joel Cooley says:

    Every win is a good win, there has been many tournaments in the past where he has won where he had to overcome some issues, and play his way in to form. One of those times that comes to mind is Roland Garros of 2011. He didn’t really start to get untracked till the 4th round.

    He’ll get it going, he just isn’t real comfortable yet. Damn, every match he plays, there’s a part of me that’s just happy as hell he is still playing, and reasonably healthy as far as we know. He isn’t going to be around forever.

    Vamos, Rafa!

  22. Annie says:

    I spent 7 months with no Rafa tennis to enjoy and I want to enjoy every second I get right now.

    Absolutely. It is what annoys me as well. Even during his matches even fans are talking/worrying about Djokovic or other things rather than just enjoying Rafa

  23. JMS says:

    I keep reminding myself that this is why I am such a fan of Rafa. The struggle, the passion, the upheavals against all odds make each endeavor and victory so sweet and memorable (sometimes, even epic!). I’ve never thought tennis as a nail-biting sport until I saw Rafa play. So I agree with the others, let’s “enjoy” watching while he still plays.
    Having said that, Rafa’s OOP is too early for US Pacific time – I will probably miss his Saturday game. So I will look to your comments and reporting on this wonderful site! Go Rafa! Vam8s!

  24. Ginny says:

    Hi Miri,
    I love the Storify! Thanks.

  25. Tina says:

    I won´t see Rafa play tomorrow either,because I will pay my dearest father my last respect and have to travel far. But I hope I can follow some of the comments here and learn how Rafa is doing.
    I want to share this with you, because last year in the final, my dad came all the way to visit me, eventhough he was very ill, to watch Rafa play, and he was a Rafa fan too:-) And he had to travel all the way back, when play was suspended until the next day. Seconds after Rafa fell on his knees in victory, my dad called me and said: “Are you happy now?”, and yes, I was happy.

    I will never forget that moment, and I hope that Rafa can do it again, and if he could feel all the love, support and warmth from his fans, he can even fight against the cold weather, I´m sure.

    All the best for tomorrow Rafa

    • killian says:

      What a lovely memory, Tina. Sending good thoughts to you as you travel to pay respects to someone so dear. Thank you for sharing that beautiful story!

    • Mystic says:

      Great post Tina. :)

    • Ruthie says:

      My thoughts are with you Tina on this very difficult and sad day. Losing a parent is so hard.

      What a lovely memory you have from Rafa’s win last year. Your father sounds wonderful and also a fighter. I hope Rafa plays great tennis today just for you.

      Vamos our Rafa and God bless.

    • leslie says:

      Thank you for sharing such a beautiful memory with us.

      Your closing words to Rafa are also beautiful – so generous and uplifting.
      “I will never forget that moment, and I hope that Rafa can do it again, and if he could feel all the love, support and warmth from his fans, he can even fight against the cold weather, I´m sure.
      All the best for tomorrow Rafa”

      Rafa is lucky to have such a loving advocate in you. Sending out my love, warmth and support directly to Rafa and to you, Tina.