RG: Smooth start

Photo by REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

Photo by REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

Rafa started his attempt to defend his Roland Garros title by playing French wildcard Quentin Halys (#296) today in Paris. Nerves were clearly affecting Halys early and he was broken in the very first game. He eventually settled and played some nice tennis, but it wasn’t enough to challenge Rafa. Rafa’s through to the second round with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-4. (And he did that in blue socks.)

Nadal Halys
Statistics on Serve
Aces 0 5
Double Faults 1 4
1st Serve % 69% 68%
1st Serve Points Won 41/50 (82%) 36/59 (61%)
2nd Serve Points Won 14/22 (64%) 10/28 (36%)
Break Points Saved 1/2 (50%) 4/9 (44%)
Service Games Played 14 14
Statistics on Return
1st Return Points Won 23/59 (39%) 9/50 (18%)
Second Return Points Won 18/28 (64%) 8/22 (36%)
Break Points Won 5/9 (56%) 1/2 (50%)
Return Games Played 14 14
Statistics on Points
Total Service Points Won 55/72 (76%) 46/87 (53%)
Total Return Points Won 41/87 (47%) 17/72 (24%)
Total Points Won 96/159 (60%) 63/159 (40%)
Other Stats
Winners 26 24
Unforced errors 13 52
Net Approaches 14/16 (88%) 9/21 (43%)

(I hope I got those stats right – translating the way stats for Majors are shown into my existing database structure always throws me for a loop at the start of each Major.)

22 Responses

  1. materijalmen says:

    Smooth start, hope he will do some aces next time.

  2. haddie says:

    Pretty in blue

  3. Bee-yoo-tee-ful in blue! Vamos Rafa!

  4. Blue socks rule!! Vamos!

  5. JayDee50 says:

    I like the blue socks!

    I liked the match too, very enjoyable, Halys presented enough of a challenge to make it interesting but it was a case of youthful wild enthusiasm versus steady controlled play. Rafa’s win was never in doubt.

  6. sia says:

    Good match from Rafa. Nice introduction for the new French player. #VamosBlue

    Miri, I hope you, or those close to you, are not having to deal with flooding … it looks so dangerous and fast!

  7. Aero says:

    Good straight set win, low unforced error count which is great although he dropped serve once which makes me a little nervous! Uncle Toni thinks his shots are fine but he is still lacking confidence and self belief, while Rafa said:

    “I try to practice more with my forehand. With my forehand I’m not as steady and consistent as in the past,” he told a news conference.

    “I’m suffering from a lack of stability with my shots but that’s the way in tennis. You go through difficult moments.”

    Hope he starts feeling more comfortable soon, he has some tough challenges ahead! Love the all blue outfit!

  8. CB says:

    A good start for Rafa. Were some of us worried about Dimitrov in the round of 16? I suppose not a real surprise that he lost today since he didn’t do well last year — but just goes to show one must only take one match at a time.
    Now on to Alamagro who’s game Rafa knows very well and that should be in Rafa’s favor.

    • haddie says:

      Dimi has never been a problem as far as Im concerned. He has never amounted to much since he came on the scene and was christened Little Fed.. he wished

  9. vivi says:

    I was there today (first time at RG, got so lucky with ticket for right day and right court!) and when he came out I said “I love that blue!” and the guy behind me said “he looks like a smurf.” A chacun son gout. My non scientific fan opinion is that he was moving pretty well, his forehand was in the house and talk of his demise has been greatly exaggerated. Djokovic came on afterward and played well too. But I still have faith in Rafael. I thought it was interesting that Djokovic mentioned Nafal on his on court interview and I saw Boris come out and watch Rafa for a bit: I think the Nole camp have Rafa on their minds. This is good because it is a mind game right?

    • JayDee50 says:

      How fabulous for you to have been there! I’m so envious, glad you got to see a Rafa win on Chatrier.

    • Aero says:

      How wonderful for you Vivi, must have been an awesome experience not just to see Rafa but the likes of Djokovic as well as an added bonus. I do think Nole’s camp with Becker definitely strategize quite a bit before a match, probably sizing up Rafa’s form and any weaknesses in his game. I remember Djokovic practicing in Miami before he played Isner, he had his hitting partner serve several feet within the baseline to simulate Isner’s big serve. Probably Becker’s doing, it enabled Djokovic to handle Isner with relative ease when he did play him.

      • luckystar1 says:

        Djoko developed the dropshot for this FO mainly to deal with Rafa, who stands so far back behind the baseline. However, the Nadal camp is not stupid, they certainly could come up with something not only to deal with Novak’s dropshots, but also a gameplan to beat Novak. Remember last year’s FHDTL strategy when playing against Novak in the FO final? Rafa didnt reveal much of that strategy until the final. He used his I/O CC FH instead when playing against both Ferrer and Murray. Rafa’s redirecting Novak’s BH CC shots using the FHDTL shots had caught Novak by surprise.

        • haddie says:

          In my observations, , Djoko looks more in trouble when he is pinned to the back of the court.
          Making him cover a lot of ground when Rafa’s choses to use his top spin from corner to corner. is his best chance. He has incredible agilty Novak, but he does suffer with breathing problems. Rafa needs to come in ready for short return s when Novak is having to stretch. out wide . come inside the court Rafa and shorten the rallies.. Get into a slugfest with Novak. and he will beat you

          • luckystar1 says:

            Actually Rafa played well against Novak in MC, came in very often, more attacking and aggressive tennis from Rafa, trying to dominate. Too bad, he ran out of steam in the end (he said he felt tired during the match) after playing two long matches in the previous two days. Rafa said that had he been able to sustain that level of play for three hours, he could do well vs Novak and I aggree with him.

            I do feel in order to counter the drop shots, he has to try taking the ball early, steps inside the court more often and pushes Novak back, not allowing Novak time to hit the drop shot.

            I watched the Stepanek vs Berdych match today, Stepanek was hitting so many drop shots that had Berdych running to the net so often it frustrated Berdych so much. However, Berdych did anticipate the drop shots later on during the match, moved forward to take the ball early and so Stepanek couldnt gain much edge as Berdych could get to the drop shots in time.

          • luckystar1 says:

            The Rafa/Nole rivalry is truly dynamic, they take turns to gain the upperhand in the rivalry; each comes up with new strategy to try and gain the upper hand the next time they meet. Novak attacked Rafa’s FH instead of BH at Miami last year, and Rafa came out with that FHDTL strategy. When Rafa tried to attack at the net, Novak threw in his lobs. Novak now has his dropshots, its time Rafa comes out with new strategy to deal with this Novak.

            • haddie says:

              I still think that Djokovic is less dangerous pushed to the back of the court.
              Dol gopolov proved how to play Novak. He mixed it up but he did push Novak back.
              Rafa has admitted that his FHDTL is not working for him as well as it has done in the past
              Whatever his strategy turns out to be of one thing Im sure.. the way to beat Novak is not from ten feet behind the base line. Rafa cannot get into a slugfest with Novak.. he will not win that way especially as so many of Rafa’s shots lately fall mid court. Federer is complaining of how slow the courts are playing.. normally good for Rafa but if he gives Novak too many mid court returns they will be punished.

        • materijalmen says:

          Can you explain me this a little bit, I dont understand the part about his strategy, thank you.

          • luckystar1 says:

            If you’re talking about last year’s final: Rafa used his FH to redirect Novak’s CC BH (Novak has the best DHBH) to go down the line to attack Novak’s FH and as Novak was camping at his own BH corner anticipating Rafa’s CC FH, Rafa going DTL caught Novak by surprise and so Rafa won the point. He done many times during the match, with success.

            This year, I think Rafa tries to go for more attack by moving forward to the net; however he has to be careful with that strategy as Novak could throw in a lob and make Rafa run like mad from net to baseline to return the lob. I think what Haddie said is right, first Rafa has to push Novak back from corner to corner before coming in for short ball (from Novak), that means Rafa has to serve well and hit with depth. Also moving up the court may deter Novak from hitting too many drop shots. IOW, Rafa should play more aggressive tennis, not staying behind the baseline to engage in endless long rallies with Novak.

            • luckystar1 says:

              Rafa played a similar strategy during MC and Rome 2012, ie hitting with depth and forced Novak back, though back then Rafa didnt approach the net that often.

  10. casmis says:

    In his presser Rafa said “if I don’t win the FO, my career will go on” Is he sounding resigned to losing or is he just being a realist that anything can happen?
    I am probably too thin-skinned when it comes to Rafa, but I am so tired of the tennis commentariat just writing him off and I hope that Rafa is not starting to believe them.
    Did not get to see the entire match, but what I saw looked good. He seemed really focused.

    • CB says:

      Rafa has been written off many times; the commentators have to have something to talk about. :) (But honestly, few are writing him off; they seem to say that he isn’t in his best form but that he is always a force at RG.) Rafa saying that he could lose is true to form. This is what makes him so appealing to so many people — he is pragmatic and humble, even after all of his success.