Shanghai: Passing shot clinic

Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Rafa put on a passing shot clinic today in his 2nd round Shanghai match against #21 Ivo Karlovic. Oh, and his returns didn’t suck much either. The match went 3 sets, but that’s par for the course for their matches. Bottom line: Rafa was playing well, looked confident and a break in the very first game in the match didn’t cause his nerves to kick into overdrive. It was all a very good new. He defeated Karlovic 7-5, 6-7(4), 7-6(4).

Nadal Karlovic
Statistics on Serve
Aces 4 24
Double Faults 2 5
1st Serve % 67% 67%
1st Serve Points Won 58/74 (78%) 57/71 (80%)
2nd Serve Points Won 24/36 (67%) 19/37 (51%)
Break Points Saved 3/4 (75%) 2/4 (50%)
Service Games Played 18 18
Statistics on Return
1st Return Points Won 14/71 (20%) 16/74 (22%)
Second Return Points Won 18/37 (49%) 12/36 (33%)
Break Points Won 2/4 (50%) 1/4 (25%)
Return Games Played 18 18
Statistics on Points
Total Service Points Won 82/110 (75%) 76/108 (70%)
Total Return Points Won 32/108 (30%) 28/110 (25%)
Total Points Won 114/218 (52%) 104/218 (48%)
Other Stats
Winners 39 52
Unforced errors 14 49
Net Approaches 11/16 (69%) 41/79 (52%)

12 Responses

  1. Tina says:

    Just a pleasure to watch. Rafas three returns of first serves from Karlovic in the first set was out of this world. Replayed it many times ,and I ‘m not done yet:-)
    So proud of Rafas game, concentration and mental strengh. VAMOS

  2. Aero says:

    Rafa showed some vintage grit in this one. Awesome final tie-break, good on holding both serve and nerve to capitalized on that one chance he had. Coming through tense moments on big points like that are a very good sign.
    Low unforced error count is also good to see, just hope he can stay consistent!

    Killer 10th game of the first set when he broke Karlovic to level the match, with three out of this world returns from first serves (wish he could read serves like that more often and raise his return game). Another big server next, but hopefully he now has the confidence with this win to perhaps exact revenge on Raonic from that IW loss.

  3. CB says:

    Rafa looked just great today! I cannot imagine having to play somebody who just throws bombs at you over and over and over. Must just be mentally exhausting. But Rafa hung in there and really looked sharp and served so well himself. And those passing shots! Vamos, Rafa!

  4. Vintage Rafa! Ain’t nothing better than that.

  5. Some amazing stuff from Rafa, particularly those 3 consecutive return winners to break Karlovic back. I’ve never seen anything like that before even from the best returner(s). Maybe, it’s almost a miracle like Rafa said.

    After having got broken in the first game, he kept fighting and showed us again his nerves of steel that had been missing this year. We saw that fighting spirit in Beijing just a week ago. The way he played under pressure, including defending BPs/coming back from 0:40 in the 9th game of the 2nd set, was very impressive. There’re a big number of great passing shot winners and FH winners as well. Winners-UFE ratio was very good. Really love seeing him trying to hug the BL as much as possible even when returning serves.

    It’s a nail-biting match and Rafa won it convincingly despite a little help from Karlovic’s DF in the 3rd set tie-break. He has just passed one of the biggest challenges (an ace machine). Hope he will/can keep it up and is ready to take on Raonic another huge server/ace machine in R3. His confidence is definitely coming back. It’s very encouraging in deed.

  6. Julie says:

    What a joy to watch! I am so happy for Rafa. In the words of one of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver: “Things take the time they take. Don’t worry.” Rafa is making progress in his own time and in his own way. I respect and honor that process. Vamos!!!

  7. Rob says:

    As has been said some vintage returns we have been missing all year, but what a bad draw! Another serve machine up next. Can he do it again? Will we be able to keep breathing?

  8. beachfan says:

    I agree with everyone’s comments. It was a great match and those three returns left me speechless. Rafa continues to start slowly, which then adds pressure to break back. I still think it is still a benefit for him to serve first. It was wonderful to see how happy Rafa was when he won.

  9. casmis says:

    Just thrilled for him – and for his fans – how we love to see this Rafa. All his work seems to be paying off. Both players played well – some amazing shots from Karlovic too – but it was particularly satisfying to see Rafa playing at this level. His movement was impressive and, of course, the passing shots took everyone’s breath away!

  10. SammyT says:

    Haven’t watched the match, but like the positive comments of those who did. Beating Karlovic on one of the fastest hard courts on tour is no small feat and it should give Rafa a measure of confidence. Onwards and upwards; the next opponent is another rocket launcher so hopefully Karlovic was a good preparation for that!

  11. john f says:

    I watched ATP world tour hot shot over and over – then decided to slow it down ten times. ATP slows down by a factor of 4 – but when you see these three returns at 1/10 speed Rafa’s reflexive actions are remarkable .
    You can watch it on my vimeo site

    – but i made the file private so you need a password:

    – cut and paste it because the spelling is incorrect!!)

    To gauge the speed of how all this happens notice that you can see rafa actually blink over a period of maybe 1-2 seconds in this clip as he focusses on karlovic – and what focus!. I added zoom effects to try to assess when and how rafa reacted – in shots 1 and 3 Karlovic’s serve (bullet?) was actually over the net cord before rafa even started to reacte- i.e. the ball was halfway to him travelling at god only knows what speed when he begins to move in the direction of the serve . Fantastic instincts, absolutely fantastic. Notice no perceptible back swing, just using the power of the serve, not racquet head speed, to drill a return – I do remember Jimmy connors doing this too (yes i’m that old) . Wow

  12. Jessi888 says:

    thanks, john f, that’s cool. I was at the match last night, and it was so entertaining: a really tough match and a super response from our Champ. He was focused and dialed in all evening, and one could just tell that he was looking for solutions (and would find them) to deal with that monster serve which included aces even coming on the second serve. At the start of the third set, it started getting chilly in the stadium, and karlovic’s serve and volley tactic starting working better, so several of Rafa’s passing shots were hit long as he was trying to pass the opponent who was all over the net. After making a few such errors and to show that he was really thinking, Rafa then hit a great lob for a winner. The winning tiebreak was excellent, and Rafa was so excited along with the crowd. He has a lot of Chinese fans both at his practices and his matches. One cute thing that happened at the start of the match: there was a young girl who did the coin toss, but she caught the coin, so Rafa motioned and showed her to let it drop on the ground. Another successful outcome tonight as well, and it’s just so great that Rafa is back!!