Doha: Rafa defeats Marchenko

REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon

Photo by REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon

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.

First Set

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.

Second Set

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.

Full match:

Posted by Nadal Tribute.


Posted by Nadal Power.

Last game and post-match interview:

Posted by

Some photos:

Photos by AP Photo/Alexandra Panagiotidou and REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon.

Nadal Marchenko
Statistics on Serve
Aces 6 6
Double Faults 0 1
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%)
Other Stats
Winners 16 14
Unforced errors 13 22
Net Approaches 6/11 (55%) 7/8 (88%)


@swantennisyn on the twitter.

11 Responses

  1. Rob says:

    Rafa playing like the champ he is… Wonderful.

  2. beachfan says:

    Sia, I watched the match, but I loved your summary. You caught the essence of the match so well. I worry about tomorrow’s match but will hope for a competitive one.

  3. Dolores says:

    Love the summery. Thanks. So frustrating not having TV coverage in US. BEIN delayed coverage is showing Djkovic. I can’t be bothered.

  4. Jessi888 says:

    Thanks for the entertaining write-up. I enjoyed reading it and reading about how well Rafa played. Good news for Lopez2 too.

  5. JayDee50 says:

    Thanks so much, Sia, for your match write-ups this week, very enjoyable to read.

  6. Elizabeth Howard says:

    Thank you for summary and fun. Watched the match on Eurosport, one of the commentators, Frew McMillan spent 90% of the time criticizing Rafael. Such negativity and even asked what happened between Marc Lopez and Rafael as they didn’t play doubles. Congrats to Lopez by X2. He did acknowledge that his service game was very good. Positive week for our champion and I feel that he knows he is happy and confident.

    • crossy says:

      I usually put my tv on mute when Frew McMillan is commentating. He said he was surprised that Nadal won the toss and elected to serve first as he always elects to receive. He obviously hasn’t watched too many of Rafa’s recent matches as he has changed tack and now chooses to serve first if he wins the toss. Best of luck for Rafa today. He has a chance as Djokovic is not at his best. If Rafa plays his A game he could win. Vamos Rafa !!!

      • Gatito says:

        Well, I think he brought his A game and lost 1 and 2. Sad stuff, not because he lost as I wasn’t expecting him to win –not with that game, mind you– but because I really like tennis and, therefore, I abhor utter dominance of the field from one player. I was hopping Nadal could pose a challenge, but right now that seems almost delusional :(

  7. I’ve been watching the matches in BEIN1 in the US, but the final is not on their schedule?!? Or anyone else’s schedule that I can find.

    I did watch the doubles final – thrilled for Marc! and Feli! Marc seems to have split with Granollers? I’m guessing Rafa had a commitment to play with Verdasco since they’re thinking about Olympics doubles together. Hope Marc! and Feli can play more together. Marc! needs a regular partner and Rafa can’t be that, sadly.

  8. CB says:

    Thanks for the write-up of the match, Sia. “strip tennis” :) I share everyone’s frustration in the states, not having TV coverage. I did watch the highlights last night and Rafa is looking very good! Fabulous that Marc and Feli won the doubles. Good luck to Rafa in the final!!