Happy in Hamburg

Daniel Reinhardt/dpa via AP

Photo by Daniel Reinhardt/dpa via AP

Rafa met #32 Fabio Fognini today in the Hamburg final. Rafa was attempting to extend his streak of consecutive years with at least one European clay finals and Fabio was trying to be the first person with 3 clay court wins over Rafa in 1 year. Who would prevail?

The match started with 4 consecutive breaks of serve. Rafa was the first to hold and start a trend. It looked like the hold streak might end in the 11th game, but Rafa survived a very nervy serve game to force Fognini to serve to stay in the set. In the next game, Rafa earned multiple break points. On the 4th opportunity, Rafa hit a forehand return winner off a second serve and the set was his: 7-5.

Rafa started the 2nd set with a love hold. He went on to break in the 4th game, but couldn’t consolidate as Fognini broke in the next game to put the set back on serve. In the 5th game, Rafa saved one break point against, but on the 2nd, he didn’t stop play when Fognini’s return was wide (and not called). His reply was a bit tentative and Fognini hit a drop shot winner to break and go up 4-3. Having learned that lesson the hard way, Rafa did stop play when he had a break point in the next game. He was right, Fognini’s ball was out and the set was back on serve. Didn’t last long, though. Down a break point in the next game, Rafa hit a drop shit into the net and was broken – giving Fognini the chance to serve for the set.

Things got odd on the changeover after that. Fognini stepped over towards Rafa’s side and had some harsh words. People attempting to translate said he kept saying “don’t break my balls”. So…who the heck knows what was going on. Whatever it was, perhaps it helped fire Rafa up because he fought from set point down in the next game to break back and level the set at 5-5. In the next game, Fognini had double break point. He lost one with drop shit. Rafa saved another with an ace. Rafa went on to hold for 6-5. Given how the match went overall, it’s only fitting that Rafa broke in the last game to take the game, match and title.

Rafa defeats Fognini 7-5, 7-5.

Nadal Fognini
Statistics on Serve
Aces 1 0
Double Faults 3 2
1st Serve % 81% 63%
1st Serve Points Won 45/81 (56%) 40/70 (57%)
2nd Serve Points Won 10/19 (53%) 14/42 (33%)
Break Points Saved 9/14 (64%) 8/15 (53%)
Service Games Played 12 12
Statistics on Return
1st Return Points Won 30/70 (43%) 36/81 (44%)
Second Return Points Won 28/42 (67%) 9/19 (47%)
Break Points Won 7/15 (47%) 5/14 (36%)
Return Games Played 12 12
Statistics on Points
Total Service Points Won 55/100 (55%) 54/112 (48%)
Total Return Points Won 58/112 (52%) 45/100 (45%)
Total Points Won 113/212 (53%) 99/212 (47%)
Other Stats
Winners 18 39
Unforced errors 27 60
Net Approaches 7/15 (47%) 5/14 (36%)

Trophy biting photo once one becomes available. Sorry for the oodles of typos that probably exist in here. It’s early. I’m tired. And I’m too happy to care. :D

26 Responses

  1. RAFAFAN1 says:

    A win is a win – ugly or not. So proud of you for not letting petty things got to you but let the lefty and Babolat did the talking. Go rest those body and especially the shoulder. You deserve this title and rest now.

  2. jodiecate says:

    Yay!! A Title!! A FINAL won!! A Title! A European clay-court title!! Just when we had thought “well, there goes that stat”. A title!!

    Anyway, happy for title win. Boy does he still need *match play* though.

  3. sia says:

    So delighted !! I cried just a little when Rafa celebrated the win. Bit of a strange match but the fight was there and it gave him the win in the end!! Some points that he and Fabio played were “out of this world” good …

  4. CB says:

    What a stomach churner of a match! And bravo to Rafa for keeping his concentration after that weird interchange with Fognini. After yesterday’s brilliant play I was worried that Rafa had peaked too soon — and perhaps he did, but he found a way to win even when not at his best and against a player who had already beaten him twice this year on clay. Onward and upwards, Rafa! You need to start believing in yourself — this win should help!

  5. john f says:

    I couldn’t watch the match but there are 17 minutes of highlights here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TP6P51R-moc
    I liked very much what I saw, from both players . yes missed opportunities on both sides, but some seriously good platemaking by both as well. This particular match had to be good for Rafa – when Fognini is on – and he was on today – and sets himself up he can hit clean hard flat shots with the best of them – and he did that a lot with Rafa, which in turn made Rafa work more, think more, change directions more. Fognini made Rafa work in this gummier than in any other player had (Verdasco makes rafa work too – but he wasn’t as sharp as Rafa in that first matchup, and the remaining players did not do, could not do, what Fognini was doing today )

    One noticeable thing form the highlights was Rafa’s tenacity on defence – sure, not necessarily winning the point in the end, but pushing, retrieving, fighting to get another ball in. one drop shot rafa tried when Fognini had advantage on raft’s serve didn’t quite make it, but strategically it was a smart thing to do. I also like the way that Rafa pummelled Fognini, usuallly to Fognini ‘s backhand side, but also forehand. Reminded me of the way Rafa plays Roger – these aren’t hard flat low shots but deep powerful heavy , topspin shots that make a player work and work to return them….that has to take its toll later in the match.
    GREAT to see his obvious pleasure at playing good (and better and better) tennis against a strong opponent (today!)

  6. Aero says:

    These last two days reminded me of Madrid, awesome semifinals played by Rafa, looked like vintage Rafa, followed by terrible scrappy play in the final. Yes, he won the title but only because Fognini played worse than Rafa. The error count was way too high. He lost serve so many times one figures that had he been up against another top ten player he would have lost this one too like he did against Murray in the Madrid final. I feel Rafa still doesn’t have the confidence against players he knows can beat him. Perhaps that is lost forever, and the fear of him is gone, now he is the one in fear. All players now believe they can beat him and probably will increasingly over the next few years. This title does nothing for my belief that he is returning to form. I’m glad he won another clay court title, I do want him to beat Villas for the record however, I still have doubts about his form entering the hard court ATP 1000 events, I think his ranking will really become self evident then against the top players.

    • pasabolas says:

      I agree with you. Although Rafa won a claycourt title, he was never dominant or impressive.Fognini was the aggressor all the type. If he had fewer errors, he could have beaten Rafa today. The number of winners he hit were far greater than Rafa, who was playing more on the defensive, trying to keep the ball in play, hoping Fognini will miss. Who had the most impressive winners?
      Rafa’s serving was very conservative, and that won’t cut it against the top 10 players. A novak or Murray could have conceivably broken Rafa’s serve all day long. His lack of confidence in his game it’s still pretty evident. Don’t believe he will fare well in the hard-court season. I just hope he doesn’t fall out of the top 10 ranking.

      • CB says:

        You both are right; Rafa didn’t play his best in the final. But there are so many positives for Rafa with this win. He overcame Fognini who had beaten him twice this year on clay. And Fognini is a very dangerous player for anybody to meet, more dangerous than his current ranking would make one believe. Sure, Fognini had more winners because he often “goes for broke” and that is his type of tennis; but he also had way more errors than Rafa. It will be interesting to see how the hard court season goes and if Rafa can/will adjust his serve. But this win definitely gives him a huge boost in confidence.

        • Aero says:

          I have never seen Fognini as being a dangerous player at least not any kind of threat to top 10 players. He has only beaten top 10 players 6 times in his entire career, 2 of them being against Rafa and on clay to say the least. Perhaps it’s the match up style of game between both that gives Rafa trouble. Rafa won that last set only because the last game of it was gifted. Fognini had 4 straight unforced errors in that one essentially handing the break to Rafa, without him having to do anything.

          • tom says:

            I couldn’t watch Nadal myself if I saw his play so negative. He beat FF in straight sets while serving around 90 mph. At his normal serve speed the outcome would likely have been 1 & 1 or better. Further, one of the last breaks of his serve was aided by an obvious bad call by the line person. Also, unforced errors don’t happen in a vacuum, sometimes they’re do to pressure caused by the opponents play.

  7. crossy says:

    Rafa has a problem with his shoulder which is probably why his serve wasn’t that strong yesterday. Hopefully it is nothing too serious. The final was patchy by both players but on a more positive note Rafa played amazingly well against Seppi in the semi final. I saw signs of vintage Rafa which was encouraging. Onwards and upwards.

    • Aero says:

      Really? I haven’t heard he was having shoulder problems. I think his serving has been poor these last few months. I think he cares more about placement than pace. He gets a high percentage in but doesn’t win a high percentage. The only problem with that is that he won’t get any free points with a mediocre serve and its perhaps part of the reason he gets broken so many times.

      • crossy says:

        He said in his post match semi final interview that he felt his shoulder a little while practicing in Majorca the previous week and had not been practicing his serve in Hamburg. Having said that he played his best match against Seppi. Well done Rafa.

  8. Tina says:

    What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon with a Rafa victory. No matter how he played, ups and downs, I think especially his determination and focus was key, he wanted SO much to win, and he did against an unpredictable player like Fognini. Hopefully his shoulder will not trouble him ahead of the hard court season.
    Rafa, enjoy your victory, you worked hard for it, well done! I would love, if you came to Denmark for the DC. I´ll be there to VAMOS for you all:-)

    • Agree. Rafa’s mental abilities made the difference in that match. If Foggy had half of Rafa’s mentality he’d be in the top 5. As it is he’s his own worst enemy. Last week he lost a match he should have won vs Sousa. So it goes.

      • Aero says:

        Marilyn, I think Rafa’s mental fortitude can be a double edged sword, he has a fight spirit like no other when focused. However I think his mentality is also his undoing. His lack of confidence is a mental thing too, and without that he becomes very ordinary which is why he too is no longer in the top 5.

        • CB says:

          It is not Rafa’s lack of confidence that was his undoing. He is no longer in the top 5 mostly due to his injuries and illness last year. With lack of match play typically comes insecurity and confidence issues for any player. We are so used to him coming back quickly and strongly from such adversities; but that is extremely unusual. It is more usual for players to take time to return to full strength. From all accounts, Rafa is generally healthy physically — and it is his force of will and his mental strength which will carry him to whatever future success he attains.

  9. Rob says:

    Not at his best in the final but he is gradually improving his consistency. He needs to sort out the serve and get his forehand working the way it did against seppi in the semi final, on a regular basis. He showed the importance of his forehand by hitting a difficult forehand winner to take the first set against the fog. I suspect if he had not hit his forehand so well against seppi the day before he would not have gone for that return.

  10. Aero says:

    Did anyone find out what the verbal exchange was about between Fog and Rafa during the break in between games?

    • ftrembla says:

      Hello Aero,
      This is what I got from Fognnini’s site :
      “The tennis channel don’t understand Italian (or much else usually). Fognini was bitching about Rafa holding him up while trying to serve.”

      • miri says:

        Pretty sure Fognini was speaking Spanish. Others are saying that he was pissed at Toni talking (coaching?) during the match. That he told the chair to watch out for it before the match and was pissed he hadn’t issued a warning. But given that everyone seems to be interrupting this argument differently, I honestly have no idea what went on.

        • Aero says:

          I know Rafa and Toni have been charged with that one before so that would make sense. Latin passion letting loose I guess. I heard that Rafa told him to get back on his side!

  11. jeffreytuller says:

    Rafa looks very physically fit and healthy . He’s moving well both and is showing better form . There are alot of positive signs and some very good play and especially against Seppi who is a quality player . I still believe Rafa is tightening up too much on his service and forehand and needs to recapture his ptevious flow and ease of play . The service game needs alot of improvement ! Rafa’s shoulder could be a consideration bit I prey not .

  12. harry houdini says:

    The fh was awesome in the SF, more up and down in the final, but still had it’s moments. He was hitting through his cc bh most of the tournament, trying to put a bit more pressure than he usually does with that shot. I didn’t see him running around his bh and be out of position for the next shot that much (at all?) in the last two matches, that’s a good sign. Federer rarely runs around his bh over the last 5 years and that used to be a key part of his game.

    He obviously can’t win on hard courts with a serve like this.

  13. JayDee50 says:

    So many positives to take from this; the win, the title, the determination to fight and refuse to lose. This was Rafa vastly improved from when he and Fognini played earlier this year. So good to see. He worked very hard after a disappointing Wimbledon to prepare his clay court game and it paid off for him. So impressed by his resilience and fight and determination to succeed. My admiration for Rafa continues every day; a lesser person would have given up long ago after suffering back and wrist injuries and appendicitis. Rafa does not ever give up, works hard and stays positive. So very proud to call myself his fan.