Thursday, September 10, 2009

Rafa Round Up - 3rd Round, Quarters and Semis

Much like Rafa's rain-delayed Quarterfinal match that stretched over three days, my posts about Nadal's matches also fell behind schedule. By now, Rafa's tourney is over but here's a recap of some of the highs and lows.

Tuesday Night, Rafa won his Round of 16 match against Gael Monfils with a solid 6-7, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3. I'm not a big fan of Monfils because every time he wins a point he acts as if he has won the whole effing tournament. He jumps around all over the place, is hyper-animated and talks to himself. It's like he's a character in Street Fighter IV. It's too much. When he won the first set in a tie break, he acted like the match was over. Rafa didn't take too well to that, and he gave him a hard stare as if to ask "how much you got left in that tank, buddy? we're far from done." But to answer that unspoken question, Monfils didn't have much left in the tank at all. Rafa wore him down and halfway through the second set Monfils looked exhausted and his level of play dropped drastically. And then Rafa cruised to victory. Woohoo!

THURSDAY, he played against Gonzo in the Quarters, and during their match the skies effing opened up after almost of being completely overcast. Nadal was leading 7-6 2-2 when the rain first stopped play, but they managed to play again for a little while until another shower stopped things for good with Gonzo serving at 6-6 (2-3) down in the second-set tiebreak.

We made no progress on Friday as rain washed out the whole day and pushed the women's final to Sunday and the men's final back to Monday. On Saturday around noon they resumed the match and Rafa really just ran over Gonzalez winning the last four points of the tiebreak and the next set at love. The final score was -6 (7-4), 7-7 (7-2), 6-0. It was lucky for Rafa too, because shortly after they finished it started raining again! Rafa looked really good and it did not look like his ab injury was really affecting him...

Which cannot be said for his Semi-Final Match against del Potro. I was always worried about this match. Del Po had a very strong summer and a very good tourney heading into this match. Rafa never looked good in this match from the start. He couldn't make any kind of impact on the match at all - very unusual for Rafa! In the end, Del Po was just too strong and he beat Rafa easily in straight sets - 6-2, 6-2, 6-2. It's very sad, but Rafa did the best he could. I can ask for no more than that.

He managed to come back from his knee injury and equal his performance from last year's US Open. That's really impressive. And by making it to the semis, Rafa has gained enough points to retake the No. 2 ranking from Murray. So things are moving in the right direction. Hopefully Rafa will have time to rest his ab strain and he'll be able to make a good run of things for the last few tourney's of the season.

I'm proud of Rafa's effort in this tournament. He played some thrilling matches and went far into the field. For me, getting to see him in person on the practice courts on Labor Day and getting one of his practice balls afterwards was a huge thrill for me. I wish him the best and a speedy recovery. Rafa may not always win, but he never disappoints! Vamos!

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