Today Rafa played #7 Juan Martin Del Potro in the final of the BNP Paribas Open (aka, Indian Wells). Rafa was playing for his first hard court title since Tokyo in October 2010; Del Potro was playing for his first Masters 1000 title, ever. Rafa held to start the match. The second game was a long one. It took 4 break points, but Rafa finally broke to go up 2-0. Del Potro stepped things and Rafa had an off game and was
You’d be forgiven if you were feeling a bit of deja vu when you saw who Rafa was playing in his second round match in Acapulco. After all, he played Martin Alund in Brazil. We were all a bit shocked when Alund took a set off Rafa in that match and Rafa seemed determined to remind us all who was boss here – he broke at love in the first game and stormed his way to a 6-0 first set.
For his 3rd round match in Chile, Rafa took on fellow Spaniard and world #64 Daniel Gimeno-Traver. This match could not have started more differently than his first one as he came out firing, held, broke and then held to find himself up 3-0. He later broke a second time to go up 5-1 and then served out a quick and tidy first set.
For his return to tour singles, Rafa played #128 Federico Delbonis of Argentina today. Looking rusty, a bit unsure, and cautious, Rafa was broken in the very first game. He started settling in, however, and broke in the 4th game to put the match back on serve 2-2. He blew some break points in his next receiving game, but it was the 7th game that kept going and going with neither player being able to put together two points in
Another slam final and it’s Rafa and Nole. This is getting to be a habit. Rafa came out on fire, but that didn’t last too long. What followed was best described by sharlatee on twitter as “all kinds of wow and weird”. Each guy would play amazing points alternating with odd errors and nervous looking shots. One guy would step up and start playing well just as the other would turn into an error making machine. It was not pretty.
It’s a final of an important tournament, so it’s got to be Rafole, right? Rafa came out playing aggressively and Nole, well, didn’t. Nole seemed off and was hitting many more errors than usual. I’m not smart enough to say whether Rafa’s play had a part in this or it was all Nole. I suspect a bit of the former and a big dose of the latter. Rafa broke early in each set and used the confidence he gained from the
On a very blustery day, Rafa played #15 Gilles Simon for the opportunity to play in his 8th consecutive Monte-Carlo final. Simon came out firing – he showed an aggressive game plan right from the start and it paid dividends. He was playing a lot of the points better than Rafa, but couldn’t step up on the key break points. Instead of hitting out, Rafa was taking pace off the ball to try and make Simon generate his own. For the most part, that worked. Rafa’s through: 6-3, 6-4.
Rafa started his annual Monte-Carlo title defense by playing #48 Jarkko Nieminen of Finland. Nieminen had an aggressive game plan and executed it well, but it wasn’t enough for Rafa – even a Rafa that appeared to be doing just enough to win. Rafa’s through: 6-4, 6-3.
Rafa took on #6 Jo-Willfried Tsonga in Friday’s last match. I really don’t know what to say about this match. Tsonga was so far off for most of it that I had no feel for how Rafa was playing (other than he was clearly trying to hit deep). Then, despite how he was playing, Tsonga broke when Rafa got tight while serving for the match. Why in the world would Rafa be that nervous when playing someone so off? Tsonga started playing better;
In a battle of new-school vs old-school tennis, Rafa played #25 Radek Stepanek in the early Miami evening. At first, Stepanek’s constant changes of pace were throwing Rafa and he was having some difficulty holding serve and was committing too many unforced errors. The backhand passing shot of beauty made its way into the match early though and Rafa seemed to settle. Grumpily, but he settled and broke twice in the first set. After holding in the first game of the second