RG: Hello, 2nd week

Photo by AP Photo/David Vincent

Photo by AP Photo/David Vincent

In his 3rd round match at Roland Garros, Rafa took on youngster Andrey Kuznetsov (#120) on court Suzanne Lenglen. I was happy Rafa was getting his Lenglen match out of the way on a sunny day since that court tends to play slower and produce slower bounces than Chatrier. The sun could only help.

Rafa started out by breaking Kuznetsov in the first game. He repeated that in Kuznetsov’s next service game, but then had an error filled game of his own to give a break back. Can you guess what happened on Kuznetsov’s next serve? Yes, Rafa broke again. He went on to take the set 6-1.

After holding, Rafa broke in the second game of the second set. Somewhere along the line, Kuznetsov held for the first time. Serving up 5-1, Rafa sent a forehand long to give Kuznetsov a break point. He pulled Rafa in with a sneaky dropper and then hit a winning lob to break. In the next game, Rafa hold to take the set 6-3.

Kuznetsov held at love to start the third set. Rafa replied with one of his own and then broke Kuznetsov for a 2-1 lead. Rafa broke again in the seventh game to go up 5-2 and then held to take the set 6-2.

Rafa’s through: 6-1, 6-3, 6-2.

While I always say when it comes to technique/game/yadda, I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, I thought Rafa played a good match. Not great, but he didn’t need to be great to win. His backhand continued to look pretty solid, but there were a few shanky forehands at odd times. The bottom line was that I thought he looked much more confident out there than he has lately and his movement looked lovely. So, it all felt like good progress to me.

Nadal Kuznetsov
Statistics on Serve
Aces 1 2
Double Faults 1 2
1st Serve % 59% 54%
1st Serve Points Won 27/47 (57%) 22/44 (50%)
2nd Serve Points Won 23/33 (70%) 16/37 (43%)
Break Points Saved 4/6 (67%) 6/14 (43%)
Service Games Played 12 12
Statistics on Return
1st Return Points Won 22/44 (50%) 20/47 (43%)
Second Return Points Won 21/37 (57%) 10/33 (30%)
Break Points Won 8/14 (57%) 2/6 (33%)
Return Games Played 12 12
Statistics on Points
Total Service Points Won 50/80 (63%) 38/81 (47%)
Total Return Points Won 43/81 (53%) 30/80 (38%)
Total Points Won 93/161 (58%) 68/161 (42%)
Other Stats
Winners 33 28
Unforced errors 25 26
Net Approaches 14/19 (74%) 15/25 (60%)

24 Responses

  1. haddie says:

    What can we say…superb stuff from our champ. His confidence was oozing all over the court and his focus and concentration was back. Welcome back Rafa its great to see you. The score line reminds me of another match you played some years back…wink wink.
    Keep it up Rafa..your looking great.

  2. JayDee50 says:

    I noticed a few shanky forehands too, hence the slightly higher number of errors today compared to the first 2 matches. I wondered if it was because of the size of Suzanne-Lenglen compared to Chatrier, where he has more room to be farther back. A moot point anyway, he won and that’s what counts, and presumably he’ll be back on Chatrier next week.

    • Aero says:

      I don’t think its the court, just Rafa. Sock right now has the game to upset Rafa, tough going from this point forward. I’m still not fully convinced Rafa is back to his normal self yet! I guess we’ll see soon enough.

  3. CB says:

    I was happy to see the sun, too, Miri! I hope we will see it on Monday as Jack Sock is going to be a tough customer. Rafa won’t be able to afford the lapse he had today when he got broken. But methinks he will be really dialed in for Monday’s match and he will be back on Chatrier where he will be more comfortable. And so glad that we in the states were able to see Rafa live on Tennis Channel and that NBC is (supposedly) going to show live tennis, too. What a concept! I guess all of our complaints had an effect.

    Vamos Rafa!

    • luckystar1 says:

      I don’t think he’ll be back at PC court on Monday; both Novak and Murray have the French guys as opponents, so it’s likely the two Spaniards will be playing on the SL court.

      • CB says:

        I suppose you are right. Too bad for Rafa that both Chardy and Gasquet pulled upsets in their matches. I would think he’d rather play big-hitting Sock on Chatrier. But Rafa played well on Lenglen today so we’ll take that as a positive.

        • miri says:

          Gasquet hates playing on Chatrier…so maybe there is hope.

        • JayDee50 says:

          Would they really put Chardy on Chatrier over Rafa? SL court would not be an insult to Chardy, surely? I wonder…..

          • luckystar1 says:

            Chardy is playing Murray, who is ranked no.3 so all the more reasons to put that match at PC. Gasquet is playing against the no.1 player so PC court for them. Gasquet was playing his third round match at PC and won ( against Anderson) so he can play and win there (though not likely to win against Novak).

            • CB says:

              OK — Murray is ranked #3 but who is truly #1 at Roland Garros?! And what has Murray ever done at RG? Roland Garros didn’t raise Rafa’s ranking so perhaps they can make up for that by putting him on Chatrier on Monday! Interesting, though, to hear Gasquet doesn’t like PC. Too bad he isn’t playing Murray — then I bet his match would be on Lenglen. Since he is playing Djokovic, I don’t have much hope for that match moving.

          • luckystar1 says:

            I do hope they give the defending champion preference over Murray. I was surprised they put both Murray and Rafa at SL for their 3rd round matches; had Murray played at PC, then his next match, ie the 4th round would be at SL and Rafa will get the PC court in the 4th round.

            I dont understand the French, i thought Murray vs Kygrios should be more exciting than Gasquet vs Anderson (though it turned out the other way round).

            • JayDee50 says:

              My own personal opinion is that Rafa has earned the right to play every match on Chatrier, regardless of his opponent, but hey I don’t understand the French either sometimes.

  4. luckystar1 says:

    Rafa’s first serve % and points won on first serves are a bit low, in the 50s. He has to serve well and returns well when facing Sock.

    Sock serves big and hits a big FH. He’s also putting lots of top spins on the ball, certainly a tough opponent.

  5. Elizabeth Howard says:

    Miri, you know plenty but does it matter, our champion is improving with every match. Let us hope for sun next week. I cannot see the organisers putting him on Lenglen again but who knows with the French!!

  6. sam says:

    There are no excuses. Putting a player going for an unprecedented 10th title anywhere other than the biggest show court is showing lack of respect. Talking about other players “rights” is nonsense. Let them win 9 titles first before staking a claim. Last year when Nadal was put on SL for his quarter final because of a home player ranked 28 and Murray who wanted to play on PC in preparation for his semi with Nadal (he assumed he was going to win) was shocking. That Nadal was playing Ferrer in a repeat of the previous years final made it even more shocking.

    • miri says:

      We aren’t going to go through this again, are we? Every top ranked player plays at least one match on Lenglen every year – unless the draw explodes and there are fewer top seeds left. Unlike at US tournaments, there are no general admission seats in the 2nd stadium. If people can only afford Lenglen seats, they would never get to see the top players if this wasn’t done. I actually think it’s a really nice thing to “spread the wealth”, so to speak. (It doesn’t hurt that it helps the tournament sell tickets to the second stadium – helps it sell out.) It’s also a great chance to see a top player on a smaller court. Yes, it sucks if you bought only Chatrier tickets, but there are never any guarantees when you buy tickets to a tournament. Besides, you’ll probably get to see said top players other rounds.

      Additionally, EVERY slam/tournament will give preferential court placement for local players (if the local player wants the show court). Fair or not, it’s the way of the world. I kind of doubt Murray had any/little sway/say in getting that match on Chatrier last year. Gael was the only French player left in the draw, is hugely popular there and often has big, dramatic matches. He’s main stage kind of entertainment. I love Rafa, I love Daveeed and respect both immensely has players and people, but looking at their 2013 final there…it wasn’t “main stage entertainment”…so I completely understand the court assignments.

      Everyone is certainly entitled to their opinion, but I don’t think the scheduling is always done to show respect/disrespect to players. It often makes no sense to me, but there are so many considerations they have to take into account when making the schedule. Each schedule is bound to piss someone off.

      • CB says:

        Speaking of “spreading the wealth” (which is a nice practice), let’s give the French fans who have tickets to LL tomorrow something to cheer about and put a French player there! :) Honestly, I just hope the Fed/Monfils match finishes today or that will really muck up the schedule tomorrow.

        • miri says:

          It’s already mucked up because they’ve already cancelled the 4th match on both main courts. So…it’s going to be a mess tomorrow.

  7. sam says:

    I have never heard the excuse that top players have to play on the smaller courts so that people who can’t afford the more expensive tickets can see them. Nice idea but a bit tough on those who have paid a premium in expectation of seeing the best. What about the people who can’t afford the tickets on SL? Doesn’t PC have more seats than SL? The reason why there is a huge show court is to enable the most people to see the biggest stars. In the first rounds other matches will be more competitive but more people want to see the big names and they are the ones put were the most people can see them.

    Regarding Murray it was widely reported that he felt he was entitled to play on PC as preparation for what he saw as his semi with Rafa. The British press backed up his entitlement. Coming from GB Murray probably has great sway/say.

    Well that’s my opinion anyway.

    • miri says:

      He may have wanted it, but I do wonder if he would have gotten it if he wasn’t playing Gael. We’ll never know. (Of course, it could have ended up like he’s playing now which is definitely not big time entertainment.)

      Rafa mentioned in a recent presser that it was nice to let the people in Lenglen get to see the top players. Maybe it’s not for affordability reasons, but is nice to spread them out a bit so more people can see them.

      https://youtu.be/wgcR8T_U96s?t=50s

      Well, normally, yes. It’s obvious that a big court helps a little bit more my game and for the opponent is a little bit more difficult to attack, to see the clear winner, you know. But, you know, is great to play on Lenglen, too. The crowd is closer and is nothing new for me. I played a lot of matches in my career there. Well, not a lot, but every year I played one or two, twice. So, yeah, was a good feelings and good crowd. You know, is good for the crowd that cannot go to the center court see every player in Lenglen, too.

      But, right now, we are worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet. And there will be an additional quirk in that they are not going to get all the matches in today (some are already cancelled). If Fed/Monfils doesn’t end today, I believe they will need to finish on the same court tomorrow. So…who the heck knows that’s going to happen.

  8. sam says:

    I think Rafa said that after he’d been put on SL. He has also made it clear that he prefers PC and Toni said it wasn’t the right place for the defending champion. Or something like that as I can’t remember his exact words.

    My point is not that Rafa is unable to play well on SL but rather it shows lack of respect to put him there. Not just to him but to those who have paid premium prices in the hope of seeing the premium players. Some of them may have scraped and saved to do so. The usual thing would be to put him on the biggest court so the most people can catch a glimpse of a 9 times champion attempting to win his 10th

    Rafa said similar things about the crowd and atmosphere when he was put on a non ticketed court at Wimbledon in 2007. What else can he say? He would say something similar if RG decided he should play his match out on court 8.

    The weather may pose a bigger problem but that is a different issue.

    • miri says:

      Oh, I agree he prefers Chatrier to Lenglen and think he was just saying that, but I also think it’s a truth. I’m trying to say that I don’t think “respect” does/should come into play when scheduling. It’s a balancing act between many factors.

      (I also think the really fair thing is to have the 2nd court have some reserved seats and the rest general admission like they do at many other tournaments I’ve been to.)

      • CB says:

        Agree — the second court should have general admission tickets; really, so should the main court. From my experience, the French is the worst to get tickets for as your name must appear on the ticket (at least when we went.) So forget StubHub and the like. And Wimbledon was the best — we walked up in mid-afternoon and were able to purchase a ticket for Court One. I don’t even want to get into a discussion about the frustration of being a tennis fan and never knowing when and where your favorite player will play. Well, Monfils has woken up so there will be lots of matches to get in tomorrow.

        • miri says:

          Welp, there we go. Both Andy and Rafa on Lenglen on Monday. Dilemma solved thanks to the Fed/Monfils match being held over.