RG: Thanks for the present, Rafa

AP Photo/Michel Euler

AP Photo/Michel Euler

Rafa played his forth round match against #15 Kei Nishikori. While I really hate how much people are harping on the weather and Rafa’s game, it was sunny, the court was drier and Rafa did look much more relaxed. He was also playing a guy who isn’t a flashy erratic player with huge serves, so that might have something to do with his change in demeanor as well. If that wasn’t enough, breaking in the 5th game of the first set certainly helped.

That one break was all he needed in the first set. He was hungry for more in the second, however, as he broke at will to take it 6-1. Kei had lost belief and Rafa was pouncing. He still had a few too many errors in the match, but I’m not complaining! That was a stress-free path to the quarters: 6-4, 6-1, 6-3.

Nadal Nishikori
Aces 1 0
Double Faults 0 1
1st Serve % 69% 65%
1st Serve Points Won 39/54 (72%) 27/51 (53%)
2nd Serve Points Won 16/24 (67%) 15/27 (56%)
Break Points Saved 4/4 (100%) 3/8 (38%)
Break Points Won 5/8 (63%) 0/4 (%)
Statistics on Points
Total Service Points Won 55/78 (71%) 42/78 (54%)
Total Return Points Won 36/78 (46%) 23/78 (29%)
Total Points Won 91/156 (58%) 65/156 (42%)
Other Stats
Winners 20 14
Unforced errors 25 39
Net Approaches 6/8 (75%) 8/16 (50%)

26 Responses

  1. M. E. G. says:

    Yes. Very good on break points today, which kept this from becoming a longer match. You’re right about the errors, but this was a step in the right direction. Good work by the champ.

  2. CB says:

    Happy Birthday, Rafa! Being 27 obviously agrees with our boy — he looked so much more comfortable today. A joy to see!

  3. Mystic says:

    Just got back to my desk and checked the ticker, YES, YES, YES! Glad I taped the match so that I can enjoy watching it later this evening. Proud of Rafa today for taking care of business! Quarterfinals here we come!

  4. Mystic says:

    Just have to add that I LOVE the pic of Rafa blowing out his candles at the top of the site. You are so creative Miri, well done.

  5. Ramara says:

    Phew! Thank goodness for one that wasn’t a nail biter. Thanks for giving us this wonderful present on your birthday, Rafa! :-)

  6. micamica says:

    Congrats Rafa, i just saw the middle of the match. Missed the end, have to watch the replay.

    Happy birthday champ. I hope you have a fun birthday and a healthy, happy and successful season.

    WOW, What a cake.

  7. Ruthie says:

    Congrats to our Rafa for a good win. His stats looked good IMO and I shall enjoy the match a little later as I had to record it.

    Happy to hear that he looked more at ease in the sunshine :)

    Vamos our Rafa & God bless – enjoy the rest of your special day with your lovely family and good friends.

  8. nwogo says:

    my 40th birthday is tomorrow and all i want is that 8th trophy.

    pls joining me in praying that my birthday wish comes true!!!!

    much tidier game from Rafa! Vamos

    • Tina says:

      Happy 40th birthday, nwogo, and I also hope your wishes comes true. Have a great day!

    • Mystic says:

      Happy B-day nwogo! I will be joining in the prayers, I pray for Rafa everyday and send power, light and love on match days – for both players so that the best may win. God willing your birthday wish will come true. :) I certainly hope it does. I can’t think of anything I want more at the moment also.

    • Ruthie says:

      Happy 40th nwogo – may your birthday wish come true.

      Best wishes to you.

  9. JMS says:

    Happy birthday Rafa!!! Thank you for the gift of voctory today. On to the QFs. VAM8S!!!

  10. Phyzzie says:

    Great day for Rafa and his cake. But I really wish I could have seen Youzhny’s meltdown – must be the highlight shot of the day :-)

  11. Jenny says:

    I was so thankful that it seemed a bit easier today. The past few matches have been so stressful to watch (let alone play). I’ve been worried that there was something going on (off court) that has made him lose his spark but I suppose we’ve been spoiled by his success & we all assume he should be super confident at RG (& the 2013 season so far). He just probably has the weight of expectation on him.

    Onwards & upwards though, he is loosening up one match at a time ;) & now that he has had a better day at the office he can start believing in himself a bit more and firing that fearhand #Vamosforthewin

  12. v.arunachalam says:

    nishikori must be thanked for presenting rafa a victory to his liking on his birth day. thank u, nishi for honouring our rafa in this unique way.

  13. Tina says:

    The sun presented it´s kindly face just in time to shine on the birthday boy:-)

    The crowd singing and that HUGE cake made Rafa smile so boyish, I just loved that.

    Much better play today, and he must be happy and feeling better, what else can one wish for on a birthday? VAMOS

  14. Karen says:

    So glad Rafa had a much better match today especially on his birthday. His backhand still not firing 100% but getting there. He’ll have to ramp it up a bit against Stan on Wednesday but he should know what he’s doing, he’s been here so often. Hope the on-court cake makes him feel relaxed & supported. Vam8s Rafa!!

  15. BeBe says:

    Hey all – I had the great privilege of attending Roland Garros today and seeing the match. As a huge Rafa fan….I feel compelled to share that I was quite struck by the reaction to him. I always though he wasn’t really loved by the French people….atleast that was my impression on TV. Today, I saw another side to things. The Mighty Nadal. That’s what people were calling him. No promoting was required for the Bday singing…it happened during the warm-up as well. As well, the stands were almost empty for the Djokovic match…and the stadium quickly filled up for Nadal. Perhaps it was time of day, but my impression was that the locals admire him, respect him, and sure maybe they’d be excited to see someone take him down. But it’s not because they don’t revere him, rather perhaps because they like the unexpected. My two cents. It was a great day.

    • Allyn Sims says:

      It was strange in the crowd today. During the first set, it was very quiet. Not a lot of cheering for either player. When Rafa was at his first break point, a murmur went through the crowd, but still no cheering, no rhythmic clapping. It was if no one wanted to jinx him. As it started to become clear that Rafa was in control of the match, the crowd relaxed and started cheering normally.

      I was surprised and a little appalled by how empty Chartrier was during Djokovic’s match. The cheap seats where the real fans are were mostly full, but courtside seats were ridiculously empty. I kept thinking, “This is the number one player in the world, playing someone with the skills to keep things interesting. What do you people want?”

    • Allyn Sims says:

      Also, as popular as Djokovic is, there was a lot of cheering for Kohlschreiber during his match. You have to allow for the underdog factor. Crowds almost always back the underdog, something Nadal has never been at RG.

      • leslie says:

        Thank you for sharing how the crowd reacted to Rafa today Bebe. So encouraging and heartwarming to hear..especially because Rafa is so appreciative of crowd support. He says often that a supportive audience gives him “illusion”, extra motivation, makes him feel like home..etc

        I don’t understand though why the crowd would want Rafa to be taken down but seemed almost to be cheering against their own countryman when he was coming close with Federer. At least that was what came through to me on my tv.

        Don’t get it, never will.

    • Mystic says:

      Thanks for your posts (BeBe & Allyn). It is very interesting to hear from fans who are actually there to get a true perspective of how things are going and feeling.

  16. patzin says:

    Didn’t see much of the match; Rafa looked more contained today and at ease. Good that things went as they did; and then the BD celebration was sweet. He tends to look so young in these types of situations; the game face is gone and the ‘other’ Rafa emerges.

    Wishing him a lovely BD with his team and family tonight.

  17. kyukee says:

    a stress free game at last! just what the doctor ordered

  18. jodiecate says:

    Fantastic to see Rafa playing confidently and well!
    The discrepancy between Djokovic’s level of play so far and Rafa’s level has seemed enormous and unlikely to be bridged.

    This time it was Novak who lost his first set and Rafa winning in straights! I am hoping Rafa can raise his level again when he faces Stan. Even though Stan has not beaten him before, Stan is a different player at the moment – in the same way that Ferrer is a different player at the moment. Both of them have improved a lot, and are really making their presence felt on the tour. Maybe Rafa can beat him but it will not be an easy win. Which is good, coz Rafa needs to keep lifting to have a chance against Nole in the Semis.

    Best wishes Rafa!

  19. Ruthie says:

    Nowhere else for this to go so – good luck today against Wawrinka and I hope you play great tennis.

    Vamos & God bless our Rafa.