Doha: Rafa squeaks by Kuznetsov

AP Photo/Alexandra Panagiotidou

Photo by AP Photo/Alexandra Panagiotidou

Just scouting Rafa next opponent Ilya Marchenko, who is at the moment up 5-0 on Jeremy Chardy!! Yikes! He may or may not have injury issues with his back … hope he’s OK for tomorrow’s match. Not too OK though … if you know what I mean.

Carlos Bernardes in the chair. Warmest day of the week so far in Doha. Big crowd tonight!

First Set

Rafa bouncing like Tigga at the net. He will serve first. Rafa wins the first game with a defensive lob. 1-0. Kuznetsov has an easy power and tends to hit the ball on the rise. Although none of that is really helping him as Rafa breaks him to go up 2-0. Rafa’s starting really well. He is playing with loads of confidence and hits a big sexy ace to go up 3-0.

Lots of towel action on the change-over.

Andrey plays a nice error-free game to get on the board 3-1.
Rafa’s left forearm is looking particularly massive tonight … I sort of want to touch it … sorry back to the match.

Andrey’s BH making a statement in the next game but Rafa holds for 4-1. During the next game, Rafa’s FH goes awol and Andrey manages to hold 4-2. Rafa holds for 5-2. Rafa has chances to break for the set but his FH is still out of town. Rafa serves for the set and after going down 0-30 he storms back to take control and wins the game and set 6-3.

Rafa was using his BH well in that set to gain good court position.

Second Set

In the second set, Rafa was giving up a bit of the court, moving back to pick up some of Andrey’s serves which were working well in this set whereas Rafa’s winning serve percentage fell. There were five breaks of serve … a rollicking ride of a set. Andrey was playing very aggressively inside the court. Commentators comparing him to another Russian, Davydenko, who played Rafa rather similarly. Rafa is broken at 1-3. He immediately breaks back and consolidates to bring it to 3-3 and then breaks Andrey to go up 4-3. Rafa is then broken at love!!!! Toni and Roig looking anxious. Rafa’s just shaking his head. They both hold for the next two games. The next game is a long one with Rafa pushing, but Andrey holds and then somehow breaks for the set: 5-7. Andrey hit 19 winners (!!!) in that set.

Final Set

We are getting the Davydenko comparison once more in reference to Kuznetsov … which doesn’t seem far off. Both he and Rafa hold until the notorious seventh game. On Andrey’s serve, Rafa gets in some excellent deep returns and breaks on a DF from Andrey. In the next game, Rafa doesn’t hit many first serves and Andrey tees off with his returns BREAKING to go back on serve. 4-4. In the ninth game with Andrey serving … a good return from Rafa 0-15, a disastrous drop shot attempt from Andrey 0-30, a crazy FHDTL from Rafa 0-40 … Andrey fights back but at 30-40 Rafa muscles his way into the court and BREAKS with a series of ferocious FHs. Big Vamos!! Can he serve it out? Why yes, yes he can!! Some well-placed serves and good shot variety and Rafa wins game, set, and match: 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.

So, today’s match was a bit of a roller coaster. Rafa won. Really, that’s the most important thing. I didn’t quite see what Rafa wrote on the camera plate but it looked like HURRAH!! or FUCK YEAH!! Either way, Rafa says he satisfied with his mental toughness … I am too :)

Close match. They each won the same number of points. Great play from Kuznetsov.

Vamos Rafa!!


(Posted by Nadal Power)

Last game and on-court interview:

(Posted by

Nadal Kuznetsov
Statistics on Serve
Aces 3 8
Double Faults 0 4
1st Serve % 65% 53%
1st Serve Points Won 36/56 (64%) 33/47 (70%)
2nd Serve Points Won 15/30 (50%) 19/41 (46%)
Break Points Saved 0/4 (0%) 5/10 (50%)
Service Games Played 16 15
Statistics on Return
1st Return Points Won 14/47 (30%) 20/56 (36%)
Second Return Points Won 22/41 (54%) 15/30 (50%)
Break Points Won 5/10 (50%) 4/4 (100%)
Return Games Played 15 16
Statistics on Points
Total Service Points Won 51/86 (59%) 52/88 (59%)
Total Return Points Won 36/88 (41%) 35/86 (41%)
Total Points Won 87/174 (50%) 87/174 (50%)
Other Stats
Winners 22 40
Unforced errors 22 38
Net Approaches 7/9 (78%) 11/16 (69%)


@swantennisyn on the twitter.

17 Responses

  1. jodiecate says:

    I think it was “Harrah!!” he wrote, which is such a smart thing to write as it’s one of those words that’s the same both forwards & backwards – great idea. I haven’t seen anybody else do that. Great to see Rafa stay calm, put his head down and make it through this match.

    • jodiecate says:

      his *finding solutions* worked really well in this match. Nice to see that aspect back in his play. : )

  2. SammyT says:

    Didn’t expect the match to be this close since this is the same guy that Rafa easily beat (I think 2, 2 1) in last year’s FO. Of course it was a clay court then but still, I was surprised that the same guy gave him that much trouble today (they ended up with the same number of points, it was that close).

    At any rate, a win is a win, but Rafa’s level is obviously still up and down. Hopefully his consistency will improve as the season wears on.

  3. L says:

    I think there’s an error with Rafa’s 2nd return pts won. Should be 54 % not 30 %.

  4. beachfan says:

    I believe he wrote”harrah” too. Rafa looked relieved that he won. I was happy, of course, with his victory, but he may need to raise his game for today’s match.

  5. Elizabeth Howard says:

    Good test and better still that Rafael won. It looked like “Hurrah”, I do not think he would write an offensive word!! Onwards and upwards Rafael.

  6. harry houdini says:

    Rafa’s getting some really good depth on all his shots this tournament. He’s got total command of his fh again, which is really exciting to watch and his cc bh is also firing nicely. I think he’s going to put some real pressure on novak tomorrow.