So here we go with the first of the Doha semi-finals.
Ilya Marchenko has been off training in the mountains of … somewhere exotic … the Tatra Mountains of Slovakia, so say our lovely commies for the week, and it’s paid off; he’s had a good run here. Rafa, though, is a different mountain to climb. This could be a very steep slope for Ilya. (I’ll stop now).
Rafa looking fresh after the two hour plus marathon from yesterday. Ilya and Manuel Messina, our chair ump, chatting and waiting patiently for our big mountain named Rafa to arrive at the net. After the coin toss, Rafa elects to serve.
These two have never met before. Ilya doesn’t seem to be carrying any injury woes from yesterday.
Another great crowd tonight. Toni wearing a towel like an old Spanish lady.
In the first game Rafa hits only one first serve but holds to 15, some really good returns and Rafa breaks in the second, and finishing the third game with an ACE Rafa is up 3-0. Ilya settles and finally gets some first serves in the court … good service game to hold for 3-1. Rafa hits another ACE in his next service game and goes on to hold for 4-1. Rafa’s looking great … hitting really deep into the court.
In the next game with Ilya serving Rafa has a couple of break points but Ilya somehow stays on that mountain path and holds for 4-2.
Rafa’s next game is AGGRESSIVE woo-hoo. He hits another ACE and some terrific FHs to hold at 15 and go up 5-2. Ilya has a fantastic serving game holds for 5-3. Rafa to serve for the set. He is hitting his slice serve out wide to perfection!! Rafa goes ahead one set. 6-3.
Ilya starts the set serving and even though Rafa has BPs he manages to hold. Rafa pretends to be Milos or John or maybe even Ivo during the second game of the set, holds at love.
Ilya holds in the third …although Rafa hit a forehand down the line in that game that made me sit up in my chair so fast I knocked over my coffee!!
Meanwhile, the commentators are having a conversation about the new President of the ITF and changes that are being talked about for the Davis Cup. You know, such as a neutral venue in November for the final four teams … something like that. Our commies aren’t fans of the idea. Me neither. I like the blood pumping sound of a home team trying to pump up their players to victory. :)
Back to the match. Rafa serving, a big Vamos! after a good rally to start the fourth game. Rafa holds to love. We are at 2-2. Ok. I think we all sense it coming … and it does. Rafa then breaks at love. His returns are fantastic!! 3-2.
Business like from Rafa (I hear Robbie Koenig’s voice in my head even though he’s actually not one of the commentators). He could have worn a suit and tie … glad he didn’t, although he pulls that off quite well. Oh, now I’m thinking about strip tennis … thank you, Tommy Hilfiger. See where my mind goes during the change overs …
Ilya does all he can in the next game, drawing errors from Rafa and actually creates a BP. Rafa slams that door shut with a serve out wide and FH combo. Rafa holds 4-2.
Ilya serves well in the next game 3-4.
Lots of talk about Rafa winning 100% of his first serves in the first set.
Rafa hits a tweener in the next game – there is probably a video – and holds 5-3. Ilya Marchenko serves his last game and holds for 4-5. Rafa will serve for the match. He actually hits another ACE on his way to closing it out.
Great match from Rafa; his serve was good his FH excellent. Good tournament for Ilya Marchenko.
Andy Taylor “Confident, Aggressive Win”. “Thankyouverymuch,” says Rafa.
So much love for Rafa in Doha.
Rafa sets up his 99th final and a chance to win his 68th title.
Bonus* The lovely team of FLopez and MLopez have won the doubles title here in Doha.
Posted by Nadal Tribute.
Posted by Nadal Power.
Last game and post-match interview:
Posted by rafanadal-kingoftennis.ru/.
Photos by AP Photo/Alexandra Panagiotidou and REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon.
|Statistics on Serve|
|1st Serve %||70%||65%|
|1st Serve Points Won||33/37 (89%)||27/35 (77%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||8/16 (50%)||7/19 (37%)|
|Break Points Saved||1/1 (100%)||5/7 (71%)|
|Service Games Played||10||9|
|Statistics on Return|
|1st Return Points Won||8/35 (23%)||4/37 (11%)|
|Second Return Points Won||12/19 (63%)||8/16 (50%)|
|Break Points Won||2/7 (29%)||0/1 (%)|
|Return Games Played||9||10|
|Statistics on Points|
|Total Service Points Won||41/53 (77%)||34/54 (63%)|
|Total Return Points Won||20/54 (37%)||12/53 (23%)|
|Total Points Won||61/107 (57%)||46/107 (43%)|
|Net Approaches||6/11 (55%)||7/8 (88%)|