WTF: Yes, it matters

Reuters/Tony O'Brien

Photo by Reuters/Tony O’Brien

Today, Rafa and David Ferrer gave the London audience one of the better matches of this year’s World Tour Finals. It was a match that, as far as the tournament was concerned, didn’t matter. Regardless of the outcome, Rafa was moving into the semifinals as the winner of their group. So, when Rafa lost the first set (after going up 3-0 to start), you could forgive him for cruising and not trying all that hard for the win. After all, he knew he was already scheduled to play the early semi tomorrow. But cruising wouldn’t be a very Rafa thing to do. So he fought to get the win and earn 200 points. Why? During the best of times, every point matters and every win helps the confidence. When you’ve been trying to get your confidence, precision and rhythm back? They matter even more.

Rafa defeated David Ferrer 6-7(2), 6-3, 6-4. Just a few months ago, who would have thought Rafa would go into the WTF semifinals undefeated?

Nadal Ferrer
Statistics on Serve
Aces 1 6
Double Faults 2 3
1st Serve % 63% 63%
1st Serve Points Won 38/59 (64%) 43/67 (64%)
2nd Serve Points Won 23/34 (68%) 17/39 (44%)
Break Points Saved 4/7 (57%) 7/12 (58%)
Service Games Played 16 15
Statistics on Return
1st Return Points Won 24/67 (36%) 21/59 (36%)
Second Return Points Won 22/39 (56%) 11/34 (32%)
Break Points Won 5/12 (42%) 3/7 (43%)
Return Games Played 15 16
Statistics on Points
Total Service Points Won 61/93 (66%) 60/106 (57%)
Total Return Points Won 43/106 (41%) 32/93 (34%)
Total Points Won 107/199 (54%) 92/199 (46%)
Other Stats
Winners 32 25
Unforced errors 33 42
Net Approaches 15/17 (88%) 8/14 (57%)

21 Responses

  1. harry houdini says:

    Ferrer has always been a tough matchup for rafa on hard courts, ever since that 2007 USO. This is a great win today!

    Looking forward to seeing how he plays novak tomorrow. Novak looks vulnerable but I expect him to play better tomorrow than he has so far this week. Rafa has to continue serving at ~114mph to have a chance at winning imo.

  2. beachfan says:

    I was hoping that Rafa would have an easy match, but it was a testiment to the two professionals instead. Neither Rafa nor David was going to perform at less than their best. I do not know how Rafa will play tomorrow but I am very proud of him today. I think he is building momentum for 2016 no matter what happens.

  3. mallorcanchamp says:

    A glorified practice match with a lot of lasso (not aggressive) FHs. Only saw Rafa running at full steam in the last 3-4 games of the match. Anyway, both guys gave a good show as the way they both train is just almost as intense as they play.

    Don’t think this 3-set match gonna affect Rafa’s fitness for tomorrow. Matches that needed to be done in 2 got done in 2. I was remarking in some of my posts during these last tournaments how important would be to win in straight sets again and also do it in consecutive matches of the same tournament. Well, he came to the WTF and did this when it mattered most.

    It is not just the confidence he’s getting on these results, but how important is to bring your best conditions to the last stages, where you need to be 100% physically and mentally and maybe that’s something he missed in Beijing, Shanghai, Basel and Paris. Little improvements make big differences.

    Next is the match we were all waiting to see. Rafa is ready to compete this time. It’s somewhat stupid from me to say there’s a “key” to win this match, because these guys excel on everything, but we will have to take a look of how these two are going to attack their opponent’s second serve and how many points can they get from it.

    So an important stat should be: who will play with more 1st serves (and also who can play his service games better) the area where Rafa is improving slowly (f.e. struggling many times to win his very first service game of the match)…can he improve this against Novak and give us a pleasant surprise?

    On the ground game it’s 50/50 (if Rafa remembers to play with variety, a few slices, deep shots to the center to take Djok crosscourt rallying rhythm’s out, etc.) I think Djokovic’s strategic attacking on Rafa’s backhand to finally find the space on the FH side can be controlled with solid BH’s as it was in 2013. By any means I see Rafa returning to the same problems of 2011. He’s been very solid on his BH side lately.

    It remains to be seen how Djokovic will react if we get to the tight points (BP,5-4,6-5,TB). We know he steamrolls and plays like a madman when he’s frontrunning against anyone, but how about a nervy situation against Rafa? This is where I expect Rafa to bring the match tomorrow and we’ll see how it comes out.

    As many would be disappointed tomorrow if Rafa makes it close but finally loses, I think Rafa will finally have come to the point where only remains to find those little adjustments to beat Djokovic again (and more importantly) on any court. Who would have thought about it, 2 months ago, not saying 5-6 months ago? Tomorrow is the ultimate test to show everyone he has come back once more and he’s ready to compete against anyone.

    P.S.:Guess we all be very disappointed when Rafa tries to make he’s 23th comeback to the top at 58 y.o., but finally fails. This man never stops trying…

  4. CB says:

    Didn’t get to see the match. Commentators felt both players didn’t play their best. But how admirable that Rafa came back to win when most mortal players would be thinking about saving their strength to face Novak. Best of luck to Rafa tomorrow against Djokovic! How amazing that Rafa is in the semis!! Can’t wait for that one!

  5. AllynSims2 says:

    Rafa goes into the semis with the best record in the round robin, tied with Federer on matches (3-0) and sets (6-1), winning the same number of games (42) as Federer, but losing 4 fewer games than Federer. I know that the Murray and Wawrinka matches were not as competitive as people would have liked and that the match tomorrow will be tough, but given the year that Rafa has had, I thought this was a stat worth noting.

    • harry houdini says:

      Neither the murray or wawrinka matches were competitive, but imo wawrinka was competing hard and trying to play his normal game. Imo murray is concerned more with davis cup than WTF.

  6. A few months ago? I didn’t think Rafa would make the semis last week! But I’m probably unduly pessimistic. Whatever happens this weekend, it’s been great to see Rafa enjoying himself on court again. And, hopefully, “enjoying the suffering” vs Djoker tomorrow.

  7. veturia lopes says:

    I don’t think I will be brave enough to watch the match between Nadal and Novak.

  8. SammyT says:

    And there I was being worried that Rafa would get trounced at the WTF before the tournament started! My only excuse is that I’m not an elite athlete like Nadal and can’t gauge how he would respond to as much adversity as he has encountered this year. Well, his determination to slowly recapture his form is finally starting to pay off and his successful run this Fall culminating in his great results at the WTF seem to indicate that he’s on his way to contend for slams next year.

    As for the semis, I would’ve liked his chances against Djoko better if he didn’t have today’s grueling match against Ferrer. Even if he was rested, though, beating an in-form Djoko may be a step too far yet, but I trust it won’t be come the AO, fingers and toes crossed, of course!

  9. Amberoxx says:

    I m feeling very dreaded for today’s match. I hope he is ready for AO.

  10. Elizabeth Howard says:

    Let us Raftans around the globe unite in support and send him loads of good wishes . He will win. . He is confident, calm we all know how he loves the big occasion . I am going to the 02 and will probably be hoarse at the end! Rafa forever . Vamos

    • JayDee50 says:

      How wonderful that you are going to be there for his SF match; I was there for the first 2 RR matches. It’s an amazing atmosphere and I wish I could be there today too to cheer myself hoarse supporting Rafa. Have a great time and please cheer for me as well. Thanks.

  11. JayDee50 says:

    Of course this match and the win mattered, as I kept saying to many who said ‘oh it doesn’t matter if he wins or loses as he’s in the SFs anyway…’. Ranking points, time on court, grinding out a tough win, ALL these and more matter to Rafa, not least his favourite #trymybest saying. He never gives less than 100%, even when it doesn’t ‘really’ matter. A tribute to his respect and love of the sport and respect for his friend and opponent.

  12. Amberoxx says:

    Nadal flatters to deceive… Highly disappointed. Coming from one of his die hard fan.. Novak was all over him.. Needs changes in his big time.. Dese changes are not enuf at all…. My tempo is so down nd low..

    • arthur says:

      Goodness me, what a silly overreaction. Rafa has had a FANTASTIC tournament at the Atp Finals this year. He has improved HUGELY as the year has progressed. However, there was no way he was going to beat Djokovic at this tournament. Djokovic is playing superhuman tennis and Rafa is not ready yet. But he is getting better, so try being a bit positive.

  13. Gatito says:

    What has Nadal been doing all this year I wonder? Watching this WTF semi-final match against Djokovic it looks to me like he’s learnt nothing about how to be less predictable… Very difficult to change something one has been doing for 20+ years I reckon. Too bad, at least so far (4-3 for Djokovic)

  14. Amberoxx says:

    I’m very disappointed.. Iam literally crying…Rafa has let us down… I think Novak is much btr dan Rafa any given day. Such a shame..wins over Stan, Murray nd Ferrer were all fluke.. He jus wasted stupid time playing for nothing against David.. Rafa has let his fans down with grave disappointment.. God save him next yr if he plays scrappy nd crappy like this. It was never enuf nd nt gn to b enuf..

    • arthur says:

      No, his wins against Stan, Murray and Ferrer were NOT all flukes – what a ridiculous, and highly disrespectful thing to suggest. Rafa would not have been strong enough to win ANY of those matches on an indoor hard court earlier this year. Rafa played very well, he just isn’t ready for Novak yet (and very few players are). You sound very immature…..

  15. Gatito says:

    From a tactical point of view this was a very badly played match, with all of the usual suspects in display: short balls, hardly any change of direction, first shot almost always played on the same spot. The positive I see? He seems to be finding pleasure on court again, so 2016 should be much better. A reset of the programme, as IT guys say, is urgent tho.

    • arthur says:

      He still had a great tournament – NOTHING changes that. Okay so he didn’t beat Novak, but did you really think he would? He’s not ready yet, but he IS getting there.