Friday, June 3, 2011

Once Again For 10: Rafa at the French Open, Quarterfinals

(Soderling Vanquished! Rafa's ready for the semis!)

Wednesday's Quarterfinal victory in the French Open was Rafa's sweetest victory yet for me! He took down long-time rival and potential giant killer Robin Soderling in straight sets 6-4, 6-1, 7-6 (3). Oh, these victories are the best! Rafa always seems to go after him now with so much aggression in their matches. Every time they meet it's like Nadal is avenging his singular French Open loss. It doesn't even have to be a match at Roland Garros. Any place they happen to meet up in a draw it's like Rafa sees him across the net and thinks "you..." and then it's on! Heeheehee!

I'm glad to see that Rafa was in much better form this match (despite very windy conditions) and that his confidence and his attitude about the level of his play improves by the day. Next up in the semifinal which is just about to get underway as I'm typing this is Andy Murray. I'm hoping I'm not overconfident, but this should be a very winnable match for Rafa. Murray is a tricky player, but his twisted ankle from the round of 16 lingers, and if Rafa can run him around the court in usual strategic fashion, you'd think eventually Nadal would win being the fresher of the two. But you never know. You can't assume anything. I thought Rafa was gonna cruise through his quarterfinal match at the Aussie Open this year and he injured his leg and lost in straight sets. Tennis can be unpredictable!

Speaking of which. Let me for a moment look at the other two singles still to be plaid at RG. The second men's semi is Federer-v-Djokovic. Have I ever so heavily favored Federer in a match? I want Fed to reassert his power and strength over Djok. He's lost to him too many times this season. Rafa's also lost too many times to him this season. I'd really like to see another Rafa-Fed Grand Slam final. I know Fed has it in him. I hope he finds a way to end Novak's winning streak, denying him the number one ranking and a chance at the calendar slam. I respect the amazing accomplishment of his streak, but I'm still just not a fan of Djokovic. Vamos Roger!

And over on the women's side, we have Na Li of China and reigning champion Francseca Schiavone from Italy in the championship match. I was rooting for Maria Sharapova all tournament, but she just didn't have the goods against Li in her semi. Schiavone and Li have so much personality and are kind of unlikely finalists from the draw that the match against each other should be really entertaining and exciting. If Li wins she will be the first Grand Slam title winner ever (as Schiavone was last year for Italian women) and if Schiavone wins, well that lady knows how to celebrate a victory. She's also 30, and it's nice to see these athletes winning major tournaments later in their careers. Let the young ones wait their turn! :)

So there's some exciting tennis ahead this weekend, regardless of how the men's semis work out. I hope Nadal gets himself back to Championship Sunday. I know he can do it. I believe he can win it all again for his sixth French Open Title and his 10th major overall! VAMOS!

ALSO: FELIZ CUMPLEANOS, RAFA!! Rafa turns 25 today!! Here is a hilarious birthday video that was posted to his website, featuring people standing with Rafa or just standing next to pictures of Rafa. How I missed the notice to participate in this, I will never know. The picture I'd have chosen is included below. My hair was so short back then! It was only this past August! :)

(Happy 25th, Nadal!)

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