Stuttgart: Into the quarters

Photo from AFP

Photo by Thomas Kienzle/AFP

Rafa played his first singles grass court match of the season today. The opponent: #63 Marcos Baghdatis. The setting: Stuttgart. In the first two sets, the guy who broke first went on to lose it. Fortunately, that didn’t happen in the third as Rafa was the first to break. He’s through: 7-6(5), 6-7(4), 6-2.

It wasn’t the steadiest of performances from Rafa – he’s still having problems finding the range on his forehand – but for a first singles match on a surfrace he hasn’t played on in a year, it sure wasn’t bad.

Nadal Baghdatis
Statistics on Serve
Aces 7 12
Double Faults 1 4
1st Serve % 68% 59%
1st Serve Points Won 56/77 (73%) 46/58 (79%)
2nd Serve Points Won 18/35 (51%) 16/39 (41%)
Break Points Saved 10/12 (83%) 3/7 (43%)
Service Games Played 16 16
Statistics on Return
1st Return Points Won 12/58 (21%) 21/77 (27%)
Second Return Points Won 23/39 (59%) 17/35 (49%)
Break Points Won 4/7 (57%) 2/12 (17%)
Return Games Played 16 16
Statistics on Points
Total Service Points Won 74/112 (66%) 62/97 (64%)
Total Return Points Won 35/97 (36%) 38/112 (34%)
Total Points Won 109/209 (52%) 100/209 (48%)

8 Responses

  1. Love the photo! But even more I love Rafa’s spirit!

  2. Elizabeth Howard says:

    Few shakes moments but a win is a win. Good to get court time on grass . Lovely interview afterwards . Crowd loved him . Watched it in Torremolinos . Lots of Raftans around . Vamos Rafaaaaaa

  3. JayDee50 says:

    His first singles match on grass this year is far better than his first singles match on grass last year (lost to Dustin Brown in Halle). Very happy for him, hope he gains confidence. Tomic will be another stern test.

  4. john f says:

    Hi – couldn’t watch the match today, but am interested in your comment Miri about forehand (still) being wayward. What’s up there? And a long time ago when Baghdatis defeated rafa (Indian wells??) he dis so by relentlessly attacking Rafa’s backhand – how was raft’s backhand today, on grass? I’d be interested in any comments from those who watched about Rafa’s court position on return of serve (Baghdatis first serve can pack a mean punch) , whether or not Rafa appears to be playing closer to the court baseline in longer rallies, general depth of his shots in rallies , frequency of coming forward to the net ….etc. I’m just hoping he is changing from the clay court style which didn’t work well for him this year to something generally more useful on grass. He fended off a LOT of break points too – what was that about? …only if u have time and energy for a quick post.

    • jodiecate says:

      Hi John, i don’t recall Baghdatis especially targeting the backhand. Thing is, he didn’t really need to coz strange errors were coming off both sides.

      However, i don’t think it was anything abnormal for Rafa’s first match on grass. I’m guessing MB has played some challenger tourney on grass already coz he was seeing the ball and moving a lot better than Rafa was right from the word go. Rafa struggled to get the measure of the court, so a lot was going long or into the net – so there’s what all the break points are about. Rafa saving breakpoints was one of the best things about this match. He’d pile them all up and then serve or rally his way out of them. He could call on a good serve when he needed to. It was beautiful! (Except at the end of the 2nd set obviously)

      When MB won the toss and had Rafa serving first, i was a bit concerned. Thought he might be hesitant and go astray early on, but he served it out to love & i just told myself to chill. Then, sure, he was broken in his third service game, and looked like he was going to go down a second break in his fourth – but holding off that break, and then breaking back, was a key happening in my view. It was an enormous confidence boost right when he needed it.

      Returning serve he was often standing way back. But i noticed he would run or jump forward while the ball was travelling so he would connect with it at the baseline and would try to play more from inside the court – and is probly why he kept sending shots long as he hasn’t been playing that far in usually.

      I was so happy that he won it. The clutch serving at times was really heartening. You can see there are things he’s trying to do differently. I’m nervous about him playing Tomic though. Bernie played so well against Haas, some of his passing shots were fantastic, and his serving was way good too. Rafa will probly hav to play better than he did against Baghdatis to get through the next one. But i still do think it’s *doable*.

      Fingers crossed.

  5. emir says:

    I see huge problems in Rafas game regardless of the surface.I am not sure how an earth he over comes them.Which is a bit sad really. I watched the match Rafa was playing bad the good thing is Baghdatis was even worse.

    • jodiecate says:

      Cheer up emir – was his first match on grass. Hasn’t played much on grass for how many years now? Everyone has trouble with the clay/ grass switch – is why they’ve put in the extra week, so players have more of a chance to prepare. For a first go, was alright. Obviously next one is going to hav to be better. That’s what he’s here for – to improve!