Cincy: Strong start

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

In a late and rain delayed match, Rafa played #27 (and currently on a hot streak) Jeremy Chardy. Rafa came out playing and moving well. He was returning serve much closer to the baseline and was hitter deeper than he has been lately. He broke early and was soon serving for the first set. He promptly dumped some forehands mid-net and I started holding my breath a bit. He settled, though, and took the set 6-3.

After a quick hold from Chardy to start the second set, it took Rafa quite a while to hold his serve – saving 6 break points in the process. A few games later, Rafa broke for a 3-2 lead. Rafa had double break/match point in the 9th game, but some deep hitting from Chardy put them at deuce and then Rafa hit two poor service returns. If Rafa wanted this, he was going to have to serve for it – something he hasn’t been too stellar at lately.

Aggressive play from Chardy put Rafa down 0-15. An excellent second serve return and Rafa was down 0-30. Chardy hit a nice short angle that I thought was going to be a winner. Rafa tracked it down and hit a monster forehand off it: 15-30. Solid charging tennis and it was even: 30-30. Lovely 1-2 and it was match point. Chardy wasn’t going away that easily as he hit a return winner to put things at deuce. Rafa hit a floaty slice that sat up, but Chardy overhit: deuce. A good serve gave Rafa control and he earned a match point. And, of course, he followed that up with a double fault. Chardy sent a forehand out and Rafa had another match point. A good serve and a passing shot that Chardy couldn’t handle and Rafa wins: 6-3, 6-4.

It wasn’t perfect and I really wish he’d get over the yips when serving for sets/matches, but this was some of the best tennis I’ve seen from him in a while.

Nadal Chardy
Statistics on Serve
Aces 3 3
Double Faults 4 3
1st Serve % 66% 47%
1st Serve Points Won 37/49 (76%) 17/24 (71%)
2nd Serve Points Won 14/25 (56%) 16/27 (59%)
Break Points Saved 9/9 (100%) 2/4 (50%)
Service Games Played 10 9
Statistics on Return
1st Return Points Won 7/24 (29%) 12/49 (24%)
Second Return Points Won 11/27 (41%) 11/25 (44%)
Break Points Won 2/4 (50%) 0/9 (%)
Return Games Played 9 10
Statistics on Points
Total Service Points Won 51/74 (69%) 33/51 (65%)
Total Return Points Won 18/51 (35%) 23/74 (31%)
Total Points Won 69/125 (55%) 56/125 (45%)

9 Responses

  1. CB says:

    So bummed I didn’t get to see this match. I was following the score and was holding my breath at the end of the first set as well! This is a good scoreline against, as you say, an opponent who had been playing very well. For Rafa to get through in 2 is good news. On to Lopez!

    • Aero says:

      Some beautiful vintage Rafa play in that one, deep play with his FH working well. Still a little tentative serving out matches. Definitely don’t see him having an issue against Lopez with his level of play. However, if the tourney progresses according to seed, the QF against Fed should be very interesting. Can’t look past that, not with a possible Murray clash in the SF, yikes!

  2. JayDee50 says:

    I didn’t watch due to the lateness so thanks, Miri, for your match recap. All sounding positive and Rafa has another chance to play again today. Perfect or not, getting the W is what counts for him.

  3. Cowboyal says:

    I am sorry, I just watched the highlights and he is still hitting his shots painfully short. Majority are landing in the service box or just beyond.

    Don’t know what the problem is and why he is not correcting this, but if he doesn’t do something about it he has no hope.

    • Roxitova says:

      You got the wrong impression entirely–I watched the whole match and I watch eobsessively for short balls and they weren’t happening.
      He was in control from start to finish.
      What’s with all the doomsayers and morbitity here?
      Save it for when he loses.

  4. cythere72 says:

    Bummed I didn’t see this match. Not even sure what time it came on and what station at this point. I was looking for it but all I kept seeing was the rain delay notice.

    Stats look ok … come on Rafa! You can do it!

  5. Roxitova says:

    I can’t believe the negative comments here when Rafa wins so easily against a tough opponent!
    Give it a break already.
    He was in control from start to finish his FH was firing accurately and with depth, there’s an extra 8 mph on his serve since MOntreal, it’s all good.
    He doesn’t serve out the match nerve-free, many players don’t though–there could be improvement there.
    There was different look on his face than you see recently. Confidence.
    Chardy is not Kei or Murray but Chardy has been hot lately, so it was not an easy opponent.

    • JayDee50 says:

      I’ve noticed the negative comments too. I don’t know what gives people the right to demand such high standards from Rafa, when he’s on a comeback from last year’s back and wrist injuries and then appendicitis. He was operated on in November, then returned to the tour in January, and people expect – yes “expect” – him to return to top form straightaway. He never promises us success, only that he will try his best. Clearly, he is working hard to achieve that. Trying his best is good enough for me and it should be for others too. I wish fans could lower their expectations.

      • Julie says:

        I agree. Rafa’s best is good enough for me and a pleasure to watch as long as he continues to play. For those with higher “expectations” I suggest trying to expect nothing more than whatever Rafa has to offer every time he takes the court. We’re fortunate that he is still playing and still cares about performing to the best of his ability. He’s already given so much. Of course I’d like to see him lift more trophies, but at this point his health and well being are most important.