Saturday, September 11, 2010

Here's Hopin' For The Open: Rafa in The Quarterfinals

(Rafa Victorious!)

Congrats to Rafa Nadal for reaching the semifinals at the U.S. Open for the third year in a row! Despite crazy wind conditions that made for an awkward start to the match, Rafa quickly found his game and took control, winning 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 over his good friend Fernando Verdasco on Thursday night. It was not the kind of classic match they played in the 2009 Australian Open semis, but conditions were just too rough for that level of play.

Rafa lost serve for the first time in the entire tournament early in the first set, but I'm kinda glad that if it had to happen, it happened right then in this match. The unbroken streak was becoming a "thing" for some commentators, and while it might not have been weighing so heavily on Rafa's mind. I'm glad he had to deal with the situation of fighting back from behind before being in a semifinal or final situation. So despite the wind induced service break early on, Rafa came back in the first set to win 7-5. Rafa won the second set 6-3, and Verdasco just didn't have any answers for Rafa's game play. The third set was also pretty routine as it became clear Rafa was not going to lose the match, but it also featured an amusing little moment when Rafa hit a shot while at net in which he then spun 360 degrees to face his opponent again. He won the point. He's so cute.

Next, Our Hero faces off against Mikhail Youzhny in one semifinal match, while Federer takes on Djokovic in the other. Rafa looks much much stronger than he did in either 2008 or 2009 heading into this round, and I really think this is his year to make the final. He just had nothing left in the tank against Murray in 'o8 and was injured battling DelPo in '09, but those issues aren't present this year. I'm so happy for him that he's in such a great place physically and mentally going into this match. Rafa holds a 7-4 all-time record against Youzhny, but we can't take anything for granted. Rafa will need to be at his best to win. I'll be cheering him on as I do my 10-mile run on the treadmill this afternoon. Vamos!

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