Tsolonga Shanghai


Photo by REUTERS/Aly Song

Rafa took on #15 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga today in the first Shanghai semifinal. You never know which Tsonga is going to show up: flashy or wildly inconsistent. Today it was a bit of both: flashy serving and fairly consistent. His serve was very dominant while Rafa was a bit too passive at times he shouldn’t be. Oddly enough, Rafa won the 2nd set when playing at his most passive (while up a double break), so who the heck knows what’s going on. The third set felt very close with just the cliche few points making a difference. Sadly, the difference fell on Tsonga’s side today as he defeats Rafa 4-6, 6-0, 5-7.

All in all, I still feel this was a very positive week for Rafa. Let’s hope he can build on what he’s accomplished here.

Nadal Tsonga
Statistics on Serve
Aces 1 11
Double Faults 1 3
1st Serve % 76% 66%
1st Serve Points Won 48/68 (71%) 45/59 (76%)
2nd Serve Points Won 10/21 (48%) 12/31 (39%)
Break Points Saved 8/10 (80%) 8/11 (73%)
Service Games Played 14 14
Statistics on Return
1st Return Points Won 14/59 (24%) 20/68 (29%)
Second Return Points Won 19/31 (61%) 11/21 (52%)
Break Points Won 3/11 (27%) 2/10 (20%)
Return Games Played 14 14
Statistics on Points
Total Service Points Won 58/89 (65%) 57/90 (63%)
Total Return Points Won 33/90 (37%) 31/89 (35%)
Total Points Won 91/179 (51%) 88/179 (49%)
Other Stats
Winners 22 40
Unforced errors 17 40
Net Approaches 20/30 (67%) 17/25 (68%)

Match notes:
Tsonga had break points in Rafa’s first service game and again in the 5th. After not getting a return in on 4 break points, he hits a passing shot winner to break for a 3-2 lead. Rafa couldn’t really get a lot of in roads in Tsonga’s serve – the two break points he managed to generate were saved by excellent serves. So, Tsonga was able to ride out that 1 break and take the first set 6-4.

After Rafa held, he took advantage of a poor service game from Tsonga to break for a 2-0 lead. This started the Rafa train and, despite occasional lapses to some passive play, Rafa took the second set 6-0.

Tsonga went up triple break point in the 3rd game of set 3. Rafa fought back and ended up painting the line with a beauty of a forehand to put the game at deuce. On game point, he hit another wonderful forehand to hold for 2-1. Rafa had a slight window in the 8th game, but Tsgona upped his serves and held. In the 11th game, Rafa went down a break point. He hit a lovely serve out wide and followed it in, but didn’t quite put enough on his follow up approach. Tsonga passing show was low at Rafa’s feet and Rafa couldn’t get it back over the net. Rafa was broken giving Tsonga the chance to serve for the match. And he did.

(And I seriously apologize for the post title. I’ve had 6 hours of sleep in 2 days and now have to go walk a charity 5k with co-workers. I needed to amuse myself a bit.)

17 Responses

  1. Francine says:

    Thanks again for your post Miri.
    It was indeed a great week

  2. sia says:

    Kind of a strange match … neither really playing their best although moments of sheer brilliance from both.
    Rafa has another good week under his belt … and I’m secretly glad it’s Jo for the slaughter in the final ;)
    Go enjoy a little Island time Rafa :)
    Good luck with your walk today Miri … you should sleep well after that.

    • Aero says:

      Right you are, a strange match indeed, when you look at the stats only for this match it would appear that Rafa should have won this one. Don’t really know what to make of it. With the way Djokovic destroyed Tsonga, I’m almost glad Rafa didn’t have to meet Djokovic again, couple more losses to him and he’ll be ahead of Rafa in their H2H rivalry. I’m not expecting anything special from Rafa in his next tourney, indoor hard courts are not his forte! I just hope he is feeling improved and healthy despite this unexpected loss.

  3. Tina says:

    The title is just fine Miri: -)as you pointed out, you never know which Tsonga is going to come out and play.
    Very exiting third set and of course it ‘s a bummer Rafa didn’t get through. But still Rafa had two great weeks , and if I an not wrong, he will analyse that himself. He wants to be competitive, and he has certainly been that here and last week as well. Much more than I hoped for and expected really, so great to watch him building on the things, he has worked so hard on. Well done Rafa. VAMOS

  4. Elizabeth Howard says:

    Miri ,you do a fantastic job and we all make mistakes. Show me the person who does not. It has been a fantastic week for Rafael and he played some amazing tennis to day . Small margins and a little unlucky but JW did well. I wonder what he can do in the final. Hope the “tuned in” JW turns up,

  5. Cowboyal says:


    Nadal has definitely improved. He is making less unforced errors – which is very important.

    But he is still hitting too many rally shots too short – lacking depth.

    His forehand still seems to lack a bit of power.

    Also at the critical points in this match at the end of the deciding set, he tensed up. On some points he became too passive and he also made a few critical forehand errors.

    If he is to challenge for the top trophies again, he needs to make a step change in the level of tennis he is playing.

    It may be just a confidence thing, but whatever it is, it requires a major breakthrough.

    I was hoping this was going to happen this week – but again it did not materialize.

    I hope he gets there again but I am not sure he can any more.

    • RAFAFAN1 says:

      Oyyy!! Like Miri said ‘i have no time for ANYTHING negative on this tournament and this particular match!’ Because there isnt anything, plain and simple!!

  6. Jessi888 says:

    Good fight and play from Rafa tonight, and enjoyed the comeback at 0-40 in the 3rd. Came up a bit short tonight, but very good tournament for Rafa– so proud of him. Our Champ is back!!

  7. Very proud of Rafa! Btw, he DID make a coaching change this week, of sorts. He usually just brings Roig for the Asian swing but this time Toni came along. :) Rafa’s working hard and enjoying the results. That’s the main thing.

  8. crossy says:

    I thought Rafa played very well tonight against Tsonga. Sorry that he lost but he should take a lot of positives from Shanghai and Beijing. Overall a vast improvement – well done Rafa and best if luck for the rest of the season. See you in Basel.

  9. snowyc says:

    Little steps… little steps…

  10. CB says:

    Disappointed but NOT disheartened! Rafa looked great all week and what a pleasure to watch all of his matches, even this loss. Onwards and upwards, Rafa!

  11. Dolores says:

    Poco a poco.

  12. SammyT says:

    Only saw the last couple of games in the match and the way Tsonga was serving was unplayable. He’d probably beat Djoko if he continues to serve that way, but, knowing how inconsistent Tsonga is, that’s a big if!

    I still think the last couple of weeks were a turnaround of sorts for Rafa, but they also show he still has a ways to go to be able to consistently contend for titles like he used to.

  13. mallorcanchamp says:

    Rafa takes a lot of positives from these 2 “asian” weeks:

    – Regular intensity for 2/3h matches (favors winning rallies)
    – Calm & not overthinking in tough situations
    – No more angst in his face after missing shots (focus on the next point, confidence in his game)
    – Aggressiveness in important points
    – No more shanking FHs
    – Starting to find the lines with his FH
    – Great returning of big serves

    All of these in one of his worst historical courts in terms of results (Shanghai)

    What’s not to like?

    As for the match of today. Neither played a good 1st set (Rafa started slow and wasn’t enough quick to get on the net. He got passed a few times, one of them he even tripped on the floor just by not getting there in time)

    On the second, Rafa was better, but 6-0 is a bit too inflated. Many games were close, just Tsonga missing on important points.

    On the final set, Rafa seemed to have the upper hand. Play was similar to the second, difference was Jo serving really well and getting more free points than in the first two.

    Key point of the match was (for me) 4-3 0-30 for Rafa, where he had a lot of open court to throw a CC BH, but he couldn’t pull the trigger.

    Jo woke up from that point and started to go to the net successfully, he even made one of famous Becker dives to save a BP for Rafa in the last game. He was on fire and finally deserved to win.

    Btw, match was decided on a few points. Rafa didn’t crumble, Jo was better in a few details on one of his most beloved venues and got a close victory. Seems fair.

    On Rafa’s best years, we’d have said this was a fantastic result for Rafa at this part of the season.

    For his handshake and court exit faces you could say Rafa was satisfied with what he did today and this week in general.

    Hope he takes the “inner fire” of losing this one and uses it to keep working hard and finding improvements. Serve is the department where he can improve the most and the most useful one for what’s to come (WTF & AO)

    On to Basel indoors for another good week.

  14. Julie says:

    Rafa will prevail…he is not done yet!! Vamos Rafa…We will follow you to the very last point that you win!

  15. casmis says:

    Really agree with – and alway appreciate your comments, mallorcanchamp – especially that we would have considered this a fantastic result in Rafa’s best years. Just to add to that, Tsonga has beaten Rafa 3 times before – also in Rafa’s best years.
    I am impressed that Rafa seems to be meeting the goals he has set for himself – be in the final 8 in London and be ready to start next year playing at his best level. Still work to do, but I think he has come leaps and bounds these last 2 weeks.