Basel: Straight sets? Sure, I can do that too.

Georgios Kefalas/Keystone via AP

Photo by Georgios Kefalas/Keystone via AP

Rafa defeated #11 Richard Gasquet 6-4, 7-6(7) in the first semifinal of the day in Basel.

Following recent trends, Rafa elected to serve and was broken right away. We all gasped in worry when Rafa started flexing his right knee after a point. He was visited by the trainer on the changeover, but no time out was taken. Another changeover later and the old knee tape below his knee was back. Let’s hope it’s nothing serious. Rafa managed to break back and level the set at 4-4. That was followed by a swift hold and then a break to take the set 6-4.

A marathon game to start the second set ended with Gasquet breaking Rafa. Gasquet double faulted twice while serving for the set. Rafa said, “you want to give it to me? No, I want to take it.” He hit an amazing passing shot to get double break point and then followed that up with aggressive deep hitting to break and level the set at 5-5. They went on to a tiebreak where Rafa went up a minibreak right away. Gasquet leveled things and got a minibreak and two set points thanks to a backhand error from Rafa. Rafa saved them and then they traded some stunning trademark shots (forehand from Rafa; backhand from Gasquet) to end up at 7-7. Rafa won the next Gasquet service point and then finished out the match on his own serve.

Nadal Gasquet
Statistics on Serve
Aces 2 7
Double Faults 3 3
1st Serve % 73% 66%
1st Serve Points Won 43/60 (72%) 36/54 (67%)
2nd Serve Points Won 11/22 (50%) 13/28 (46%)
Break Points Saved 6/8 (75%) 5/8 (63%)
Service Games Played 11 11
Statistics on Return
1st Return Points Won 18/54 (33%) 17/60 (28%)
Second Return Points Won 15/28 (54%) 11/22 (50%)
Break Points Won 3/8 (38%) 2/8 (25%)
Return Games Played 11 11
Statistics on Points
Total Service Points Won 54/82 (66%) 49/82 (60%)
Total Return Points Won 33/82 (40%) 28/82 (34%)
Total Points Won 87/164 (53%) 77/164 (47%)
Other Stats
Winners 31 28
Unforced errors 20 28
Net Approaches 14/21 (67%) 17/25 (68%)

11 Responses

  1. Rob says:

    rafa seems to like giving gifts to his opponents these days. I wish he would be less generous and stop falling behind. He had a little help from Richie showing his head case tendency.

    The fed will be another ball game.

    • Oh, I dunno. After this year’s history of losing from ahead, Rafa may be more comfortable playing from behind. It forces him to be more aggressive and do what he does best: break his opponent’s serve. It also puts pressure on the opponent who now is in “danger” of winning. Not gonna work vs Fed, of course. Rafa will have to win that one the old fashioned way.

  2. SammyT says:

    Well, we have another installment of the coveted Fedal series at long last and a win over Fed would be a huge boost to Rafa’s confidence. However, looking at the level both players showed so far in the tournament and the fact the court is much more suited to Fed’s game, I don’t see Rafa winning this one. His only hope is, when Fed sees Rafa at the other end of the court, his memories of all those defeats against him would come back to haunt him and make him tight, but the chances of that happening aren’t exactly high being that the last Fed defeat was a whole 2.5 years ago and Fed is fully aware that Rafa is a different player now compared to then (Fed is too; 2013 was his worst year on tour) .

    Win or lose, I think Rafa has been showing a steady improvement over the last few weeks, so hopefully he’ll have a much more competitive 2016 like he said he was aiming to.

    Edit (in 6 minutes)

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    • Rafa defeated Fed a little less than two years ago at the ’13 YEC’s in the semifinals and again in the 2014 AO semis. Don’t think Fed was in poor form on either occasion.

      • SammyT says:

        Of course he did; forgot about those matches. However, 2 years is still a long time and Fed was not playing as well then as he is now, so I still think he’s the favourite. Only his mental block against Rafa, if it’s still there, will allow Rafa to win, if they both play at the same level they have been at the tournament so far.

        Hopefully the aggressive Rafa that we saw in patches at Basel will show up, which will definitely improve his chances.

  3. mallorcanchamp says:

    It’s been another good week in Basel despite what happens tomorrow. Rafa keeps building in his game and confidence. Obviously he’s having these lapses with his first serve games in almost every set, but it’s to be expected in a low bounce court where he just doesn’t feel comfortable until he gets rhythm on his legs.

    Gasquet (just as Federer) is the mold where Rafa built his tactical game. Deep to their BH’s and there’s no way with his top spin game that Gasquet can take control of rallies. It’s just a routine job in every match between these two. 14-0.

    However, I thought Rafa didn’t come aggressive today (that’s how confident he’s against the french) played a controlled game as he likes to do against one handed BH’s.

    Gasquet got plenty of opportunities to win at least a set (good that didn’t happen again) but Rafa just feels very safe playing this kind of matches. Easiest match of the week.

    Tomorrow is another different story. Many things take part other than just state of game and mind when the two titans play. I personally think Roger should play his quick style, supported on his serve and win easy in two. He’s at home, supported by his crowd, he’s more rested. He’s the favorite, no? ;)

    If Rafa can make a battle of it, it would feel like a victory (win or lose) showing himself again he can compete with the very best in a court so discomforting for him as Basel.

  4. CC says:

    Hey, it was Richaaard. He wasn’t gonna beat Rafa, was he? In fact, has he ever beaten Rafa? Tomorrow is another history, but we shall see, no?

  5. harry houdini says:

    Rafa in 3 tomorrow.

    It will be interesting to see whether he continues to return serve closer to the baseline and continues to be aggressive with the cc bh vs. fed. I am going to guess he goes back to using his mid paced dtl bh more since that’s always the best play vs. federer.

  6. beachfan says:

    I am excited about Rafa being in another final. I have no idea if he will win, but if he does not, I hope it is competitive. Roger should be considered the favorite, but you never know. I know Rafa will try his best. His knee seems to be all right according to his presser.

  7. Krishna says:

    As Miri said, I hope Rafa’s knee is fine… otherwise this is as good a result as any for his form this year. I think Fed would be a little too much for Rafa now, but who knows, when his confidence is high he can do miracles. …

  8. Aero says:

    Great match, a high number of winners for a straight set win, and much lower unforced errors is also a good sign. Rafa’s forehand was on fire in this match, some vintage stuff. Fed will bring the game, he seems to thrive in these environments. I won’t be too disappointed if he looses to Fed, for him to get this far at an indoor event is an accomplishment (even when he was on top). Not being able to hold serve still bothers me but everything else is working well, his fight and resilience seems to be back which is an awesome indication that his confidence is returning. I only hope that knee of his isn’t acting up again. I’d hate to see him return to himself only to be hampered by injuries again!!! Looking forward to tomorrow regardless of who wins, its always a pleasure to watch this greatest of all tennis rivalries!