Stuttgart: Grass and grins

Photo by EFE

Photo by EFE

Today, Rafa played #24 Bernard Tomic in the Stuttgart quarterfinals. While Tomic is an erratic player, his big serve and wicked slices could have presented Rafa with a huge challenge. At the start of the match, Rafa wasn’t able to make any inroads on Tomic’s serve as both guys were holding with ease. That changed in the 7th game as Rafa broke to take the lead. That was enough for him to take go on and take the set 6-4.

Rafa broke in the first game of second set, but Tomic broke right back. The set went to a tiebreaker that found Rafa double faulting with set point against.

The third set was more straightforward for Rafa. He broke in the second game and managed to hold until the match was his: 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-3. Next up is Monfils.

In the bits of the match I was able to pay attention to, I thought Rafa was moving and serving well. He had his grass tactics book open and was serving and volleying. The best thing? He was grinning like this by the end of the match:

Nadal Tomic
Statistics on Serve
Aces 14 14
Double Faults 5 0
1st Serve % 68% 70%
1st Serve Points Won 60/75 (80%) 51/66 (77%)
2nd Serve Points Won 16/35 (46%) 12/28 (43%)
Break Points Saved 8/9 (89%) 3/6 (50%)
Service Games Played 16 15
Statistics on Return
1st Return Points Won 15/66 (23%) 15/75 (20%)
Second Return Points Won 16/28 (57%) 19/35 (54%)
Break Points Won 3/6 (50%) 1/9 (11%)
Return Games Played 15 16
Statistics on Points
Total Service Points Won 76/110 (69%) 63/94 (67%)
Total Return Points Won 31/94 (33%) 34/110 (31%)
Total Points Won 107/204 (52%) 97/204 (48%)

9 Responses

  1. emir says:

    Positive match. He needs to work more and more on the serve and the volleys which was really good in this match.

  2. Elizabeth Howard says:

    Rafael did well and when under pressure remained calm and focused. Hot some fantastic shots . All positive at the start of the grass season . Big smiles during the interview !

  3. harry houdini says:

    I agree, Rafa looks like he is playing a bit better on the big points, a little calmer.

    I see so many points now where rafa wants to run around the backhand, takes a little step to the right and realizes he can’t make it and is now slightly out of position to hit the next shot. I wonder if it’s now time to develop the bh a bit more and stop looking to hit as many forehands. His backhands look pretty good on the highlights, flat and some good depth.

    • robershow says:

      I think he’s definitely working more on his BH, and it looks much better. I think he realized he don’t have the foot speed to around his BH anymore. I think that’s a positive. Also the amount of aces on this match was great!

  4. Superg74 says:

    I felt rafa played today with only his own pressures and own expectations which is good. To me he looked more determined than if seen him in a while. I feel fans, pundits etc are now not too expectant of presumed victory and this pressure has lifted from him especially as the clay court season had passed. He looked very agile on grass today so hoping he takes this forward. Still admire his determination after all he had achieved to improve and succeed.

  5. Superg74 says:

    I felt rafa played today with only his own pressures and own expectations which is good. To me he looked more determined than id seen him in a while. I feel fans, pundits etc are now not too expectant of presumed victory and this pressure has lifted from him especially as the clay court season has passed. He looked very agile on grass today so hoping he takes this forward. Still admire his determination after all he has achieved to improve and succeed.

  6. Caprice says:

    During clay court season and basically right through 2015, the umpires were vigilant about enforcing the 20 second rule, which I suspect was a factor in Rafa’s anxieties during important points and subsequent sub-par performance. We never witnessed this kind of anxiety when he was making a similar comeback in 2013.

    Here in a small ATP 250 tournament, away from the spotlight, it seems that nobody is too concerned about the silly rule. In his first match in 2nd round vs Baghdatais, Mohammed Lahyani certainly did not. I am left wondering if maybe that helped to loosen up Rafa’s anxieties, and enabled him to play way, way better in his next match even though Tomic is a better player than Baghdatis.

    Incidentally, I have watched all of Rafa’s matches this year, and I did not notice him being any faster in Stuttgart, although I did not do any timings.

    • sam says:

      No they continue to target him. Rafa got a time violation in the first set against Tomic when he was serving for the first set at 5-4 on a break point (Ad Tomic).

  7. jodiecate says:

    I think this was a good step forward from the Baghdatis match. Has has found a good measure of the court so shots he was missing yesterday are landing in (mostly) and not so much into the net. And he was moving better on the grass as well. Once again, i thought he could have won this in two – just a little bit of sloppiness n lack of focus meant mistakes at the wrong time, so we got a third set.

    But anyway, a third set means more match-play for Rafa, which is a good thing. Also, being able to ride out the loss of momentum, and winning in the third is also confidence building for him. Which is also something he needs. So, in a way, just perfect. Keep it up Rafa!

    Monfils is going to be harder again. He’s been playing pretty well lately. Still, it’s very *doable* as long as Rafa keeps improving. I think he can do it. Fingers crossed. : )