Basel: Rafa Houdini Nadal

REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

Photo by REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

Rafa played his first round match in Basel today against Lukas Rosol (#69). The match started with Rosol zoning – hitting hard, flat and accurately – never letting a slow-moving, short-hitting Rafa into the match. He took the first set 6-1 in just 24 minutes and quickly went up a break in the second. We were all having flashbacks to that Wimbledon match. Unlike that day, however, Rosol’s nerves didn’t hold. Serving for the match at 5-4, 30-0, he got tight, Rafa got aggressive and Rosol was broken. Rafa held and then broke to take the second set.

Rafa went up a break in the third, but couldn’t ride the break out and the set went to a tiebreaker – which did not start well. Rafa was soon down 0-3 and, again, it looked like the match was over. Rafa somehow again managed to pull off another escape, come back, take the tiebreak 7-4and the match 1-6, 7-5, 7-6(4).

Nadal Rosol
Statistics on Serve
Aces 4 8
Double Faults 2 6
1st Serve % 61% 58%
1st Serve Points Won 38/55 (69%) 41/56 (73%)
2nd Serve Points Won 20/35 (57%) 23/41 (56%)
Break Points Saved 8/12 (67%) 4/7 (57%)
Service Games Played 15 16
Statistics on Return
1st Return Points Won 15/56 (27%) 17/55 (31%)
Second Return Points Won 18/41 (44%) 15/35 (43%)
Break Points Won 3/7 (43%) 4/12 (33%)
Return Games Played 16 15
Statistics on Points
Total Service Points Won 58/90 (64%) 64/97 (66%)
Total Return Points Won 33/97 (34%) 32/90 (36%)
Total Points Won 91/187 (49%) 96/187 (51%)
Other Stats
Winners 23 39
Unforced errors 27 46
Net Approaches 6/14 (43%) 5/14 (36%)

22 Responses

  1. Francine says:

    Again Miri your title is right on!
    Saw the match… so impressed by the way he fought his way through it. Win or loose I just love to see him competing to the last point.

    And his on-court interview…priceless!
    Allez Hop!

  2. Rob says:

    Like going to hell but coming back to heaven at the end!! Nerve racking match , so nice to see Rafalito show his old grit to win when all seems lost. He has done it so many times in his amazing career but not this year so much. Fighting to the end like his glory days. vamos.

  3. Thanks, as always, for the write-up and stats. One minor thing – there’s a typo in the sub-head scoreline, giving it as 7-5 (4) in the 3rd set.

  4. kate says:

    As miri said, Rosol was “zoning” early on in this match. What impressed me so much about this match was how strong mentally Rafa was. Earlier in the year, he may have lost this one. To see him fight (and win) on a day where he wasn’t at his best was truly a pleasure. It’s one of the reasons (and there are many) that watching Rafa play tennis (through the years) has been such a joy.

  5. CB says:

    What a match! Our tenacious, fighting, confident Rafa is back and it is a joy to watch. Well, maybe a finger-biting joy — but what a comeback!!!

  6. Aero says:

    Great title! because honestly I don’t know how Rafa won that match. Actually it was more Rosol losing it than Rafa winning it. I thought it was a horrible match from Rafa’s standpoint. I know indoor hards aren’t his forte but nothing was working other than his ability to hang in there and let Rosol make unforced errors during big moments. His serving was terrible, his forehand was for the most part useless, when it was in, it was either too short or played into Rosol’s sweet spot allowing him to return bullets. Rafa’s net play was also terrible missing routine volleys and safe smashes, allowing Rosol to get to them. Rosol overpowered Rafa in every department so I’m surprised he lost.

    There was tension between these two which came out in the third set. You could tell by Rafa’s demeanor on court that he wasn’t very happy with the way he was playing, you very seldom see Rafa vent his frustration verbally. This was nothing like how he played during the Asian swing. I know he is trying some new tactics and strategy so I’m just hoping this is simply an adjustment period or an off day.

    • Elizabeth Howard says:

      Aero, You are over critical, not his greatest match but what a great fight back and courage. He won so let us acknowledge that. As for tension, Rosel causes tension in all his matches with his gamesmanship. The crowd showed little patience with him and the chair umpire did not put up with his nonsense either. So glad that he is OUT. Rafael played s some fantastic shots and his intelligence came through as he survived. Let us support not “knock”

      • CB says:

        I agree, Elizabeth. I think this win will do more for Rafa’s confidence then if he had simply won this match in an easy two. Rafa started slowly and Rosol was serving bombs — and yet, even after being a set and a break down, he found a way to claw his way back. What a fight! And this is what has been lacking the past few months — that belief that he can always figure out a way to come back. So I wouldn’t label this match as “horrible” or “terrible.” I would label it “inspiring”!!

        • CB says:

          oops — “than if he had” rather than “then”

        • Julie says:

          I agree. What a pleasure to watch Rafa come back and win this one, especially against Rosol. I am happy for him. I certainly would not label Rafa’s play horrible, terrible, useless. From my perspective, such negative language is not only inaccurate but unsupportive of a champion fighting his way back from a tough year. “Inspiring” is more like it!

        • Aero says:

          Really! you call scraping through a third set tie-break against a player ranked 92 in the world “inspiring”! Wow, that doesn’t say much for your expectations. Rafa himself said “it was a little bit of luck”! ………..I’d say very lucky.

          • Aero says:

            Oops 69 not 92!

          • CB says:

            Yup. Inspiring. For Rafa to come back from such a lopsided first set, being a break down in the second — to find a way back into the match after the trouble he has had doing that this year. Sure — luck doesn’t hurt. But his win was more than simply getting lucky.

  7. mallorcanchamp says:

    Just a few thoughts:

    Tough first round to start in indoors (A guy who pushes you back with every stroke he hits, and he was quite on fire doing this until 4-3 2nd set)

    One of those matches you think is over after finishing the 1st set…but it wasn’t.

    Rosol was getting all the luck with the net.

    Rafa broke through this “storm” of heavy hitting in his old fashion: fully focused and waiting for his opportunity.

    Rafa’s getting tougher and tougher mental challenges in his recovery path and he’s overcoming them.

    Good start of the week. But he has to keep it up. Show regularity in indoors too.

    Rosol can keep double-tapping the floor with his racket before every opponent’s serve, but no genius will appear and give him another dimension in his game other than ballbashing. Ha.

    Rafa’s aura is getting reconstructed with these kind of matches.

  8. JayDee50 says:

    Funny old game, tennis……last week in the Shanghai SF vs Tsonga, Rafa won more games and more points and had better overall stats, yet he lost that match. This match vs Rosol was the reverse of that. So I guess it all evens out in the end and I’d far rather Rafa had the win over Rosol, who IMO was clearly displaying gamesmanship and using offputting tactics to get into Rafa’s head. I don’t like Rosol, and am glad he is out. Vamos Rafa, onto the 2R we go.

  9. marileena says:

    What a match! The first 23 minutes was tough to take as we live and breathe with every shot… This is where Rafa’s grit and tenacity rose to the top…making him mentally stronger, allowing him to take control and turn the match around… The mental game, his confidence, his digging deep within, was crucial to his victory. And Rosol’s antics of banging his racquet didn’t unnerve our boy… Congrats Rafa,,,WTG…on to the next round..

  10. beachfan says:

    Rafa did start off poorly, but Rosol played out of his mind. Rafa’s serving was off and I could not believe some of the volleys he missed. I was ready for an early loss, but Rafa raised his level and stated patient. It was a great win for Rafa’s confidence.

  11. Krishna says:

    I am a new registered member, but been following the site for long and come back almost every day when rafa is playing to see what Miri says. Just love the enthusiasm of the rafa fan group here.

    As for yesterday’s match, i thought rafa will loose in the TB, but he survived miraculously. Did not expect it, but was hoping for it.

  12. miri says:

    Can everyone just stop bitching about the opinions of others? Some people will always see things negatively. Some will always see things positively. It’s how people are wired.

  13. harry houdini says:

    Rafa was serving pretty poorly to start with, low 1st serve percentage. I couldn’t see the speed gun readings but it looked like like he wasn’t going for much in the first set either.

    I think he thinks he can beat these big guys with his normal serve, which is mostly true given the stats., but this can lead to him falling behind in a match here and there since they go all out on all their shots right from the beginning. The brown wimbledon match is another example, nadal came out serving a little bit above his normal current speed in the first set, but 112 mph is just not enough to trouble guys who are going after every nadal serve both with their forehands and their backhands.

    I think he can up the speed a bit for these big guys, even at the cost of a lower first serve %, starting right off in the match. That’s not rafa’s normal game, but guys like brown, rosol, karlovic, raonic, querrey, are such poor returners, I think he can get to at least a tie break instead of losing 1st sets meekly every now and then.

    Any case rafa’s winning again, woo hoo. :)