Sunday, September 6, 2009

Rafa's Round 2: Crowd Control

So Nadal won on Friday night against his second round opponent Nicolas Kiefer, 6-0, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. I thought it was a pretty solid second round display.

Nadal won the opening set quickly, blanking Kiefer 6-0, but then things got tricky in the second set. Kiefer upped his game considerably and it threw Rafa off his rhythm. It took Rafa time to adjust and in the process he lost the second set. Now, while I would love straight set wins for Rafa every time, that's just not possible. Even losing the second set and looking a bit rattled, I never thought he was in danger of losing the match. The commentators were wringing their hands over it, but I didn't see a big problem in Nadal's game.

I DID see a big problem in the crowd at Arthur Ashe stadium. When Rafa started making mistakes they started cheering for Kiefer and chanting his name. I understand the folks there wanted to see a real match and not a 6-0, 6-0, 6-0 rout, but it felt uncomfortably similar to when the French crowd cheered for Rafa to lose at Roland Garros this year. Don't cheer at Rafa's mistakes! What's wrong with you mo-fos? Rafa is coming back from injury, he was unable to defend his Wimbledon title, his ranking dropped from 1st to 3rd because he couldn't defend his ranking points, and you CHEER his mistakes in his first major tournament back? Does he not play with enough HEART for you? You can't wish for his opponent to play well without jumping on Rafa's errors?? It's unbelievable. You should've heard the expletives I was hurling at my TV on Friday night. I'm sure the Domestic Dispute Couple that lives in my building were taking copious notes for the next time they want to have a dramatic argument that wakes everyone up at 2:30 in the morning on a weeknight.

Nadal, for his part, didn't worry about it too much and focused on the game. "It was a very good test for me, no?," Rafa said courtside after the match. "When you win the first set easy and then he starts to play better it's difficult. Nicolas is a great player, he played a good match and I'm very happy to beat him," But seriously, spectators, get with it.

Today Nadal meets Nicolas Almagro (who won in 5 sets over my ex-girlfriends pretend boyfriend Robbie Ginepri) in the third round. I don't really know Almagro that well. Hopefully he will not pose too much trouble for Rafa and the crowd will be supportive as he deserves it to be.

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