Rafael Nadal vs Grigor Dimitrov: A Narrow Escape

Wow! As in double WoW!

Rafael Nadal has survived the Baby Fed, aka Grigor Dimitrov, test.

It was a hard-fought match and either of the players deserved to win. Dimitrov’s performance impressed me. He has indeed improved and now I’ve seen why he’s called the Baby Fed.

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Vamos, Rafa!

The first set was routine, with Rafa breezing through Dimitrov at 6-2.  My friend Ana and I were bantering about how we love a straightforward Rafa match no matter how boring it might be. Then the unthinkable happened… the second set happened. OMG. Ana and I were at the edge of our seats. We saw Rafa committing error after error, especially on the net. He was sluggish and his serve got broken, too. Twice.

To be honest, in this frightful moments, Ana and I often get anxious. So to avoid further distraught, we agreed to walk away from our computers for awhile hoping that the unlucky streak would disappear.  I was peeking from time to time -I could not resist – but mi amiga was firm. She was tracking via online score.When I thought that the coast was cleared of the bad vibes, I took another peek. Boy, I was wrong.  Worse, the unimaginable happened. Rafa lost the second set. Rafa lost a set! In Monte Carlo. Aaarrgggghhh.

It was a frightening realisation because we never ever entertained the thought of Dimitrov causing that much of a threat to Rafa – on a clay court – and forcing a third set  🙁  We resumed watching in the third set just as Rafa was serving and about to even the score (4-3, Dimitrov). There it was, a nagging thought of the possibility that Dimitrov would hand Rafa his first loss here in Monte Carlo since 2003. Much more, with a taped back, the nagging thought became a booming voice in my head. Was Rafa in a lot of pain? Ana and I wondered. I do not want to steal thunder from Dimitrov  (because he was at his best today) but the taped back must have contributed to Rafa’s troubles. (Also you cannot discount the fact that the weather condition {it was chilly, according to the commentators, so the ball was slower and didn’t get the bounce  as it would on a sunny weather } did not favour Rafa. So essentially Rafa was having a bad day today!) In the end, the mental toughness mattered. And Rafa prevailed, much to our great relief. I had to contain myself from screaming lest my husband kick me out of the living room. It was hard not to squeal in delight, considering the circumstances, lol.

When I think about this scary moment,  I must say that this kind of match is good for Rafa. Part of me disagrees though because I can not watch one more nail-biting match;  but another part of me thinks matches like this make him work hard against tough opponents. So yeah, even if  Dimitrov made him work more than we had anticipated, in a way it  resulted positively  in Rafa’s favour. Agree?

Tomorrow, Rafa is set to play against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. I don’t know about Rafa but I fear for him. Tsonga is a tricky player, and I just hope and pray that Rafa is not in a lot of pain!

Here’s Rafa’s postmatch interview.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/ZrgpWVihBj4[/youtube]

Rafa has only praises for Dimitrov and mentions that he needs matches like this to be able to get back to his form.
For the full match, it’s already on YouTube.

Nadal vs Dimitrov , Masters MONTE CARLO 2013 (QF): Part 1, Full Match
Nadal vs Dimitrov , Masters MONTE CARLO 2013 (QF): Part 2, Full Match

P.S. I just have to say this – Dimitrov looks like a younger version of Hugh Jackman, aka, Wolverine. Did you  notice it, too?

Photo Credit: GettyImages via Rafaholics Facebook Page

Rafael Nadal’s clay court action begins…

… yes, for Rafael Nadal, my boy, it begins today. Exciting!

His campaign for a 9th Monte Carlo title will begin after today’s first match. See this sked:

Screenshot from 2013-04-17 16:08:29
For full order of play, click the photo . Source: Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters Site.

As you can see, he is set to play Marinko Matosevic from Australia. This is going to be their first meeting. Hence, I do not know much about this guy.  Interesting to note that these two have never played each other at an ATP World Tour, Grand Slam or Davis Cup main draw event, which makes me anticipate the match even more. Rafa has this habit of getting nervous and playing slow when playing against someone for the first time.

Here’s more from the H2H stats from the ATP Monte Carlo site:

Screenshot from 2013-04-17 16:08:13

I do not know Matosevic much apart from info on his bio provided at the ATP Monte Carlo website. And I am too lazy to look him up. However, I’ve read the observations of some Rafa fans, particularly of QueridoRafa, that Matosevic is a right-hander with good backhands, can serve big (when it’s in), a hard-hitter and tends to go for high-risk winners.

So am going with QueridoRafa’s conclusion… that the match could potentially be very difficult, or, relatively easy for Rafa. Whatever. Lel. I am hoping it’s the latter 😉

In a few more minutes, after the first 10.30am (Monaco time) match, I am tuning in to my favourite online streaming site. Can’t wait to see Rafa walk on the clay court and play his first match of the season.

On to Paris for the Roland Garros

Rafa takes a bite of his trophy after winning the ATP Masters in Rome on 21 May, 2012. Photo Credit: AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTEFILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/GettyImages via Rafaholics.com

One day more and the Roland Garros tournament, aka, the French Open, will begin. Of course, Rafael Nadal will be there as he embarks on a historic mission to become the first player to win seven RG titles.

Prior to this was the ATP BNP Internazionale in Rome but didn’twrite about it, intentionally, of course. I felt that if I write something about Rafa during the tournaments, he gets jinxed! So, after the ATP Tour in Madrid where Rafa lost in the third round, I decided not to write anymore Rafa-related posts. As a result, Rafa won the Rome tournament! Lol. Is this a coincidence or what?

It is so nice to see Rafa happy and biting that trophy again! He has defeated Nole twice now. With his recent win in Rome, Rafa holds the record of being the only is the only ATP player to have won 4 different tournaments: Barcelona, MonteCarlo, RolandGarros, and Rome 6 times!

Well, let’s hope for the best that Rafa successfully defends his RG title for another record in the books! The draw has just been out. See who will be in his draw. You can find it here.

No mo’ blues!

I’m currently having the blues after my boy, Rafa, lost to his compatriot Fernando Verdasco for the first time in the third round of the on-going ATP Mutua Madrid Open. It was awful and painful to watch – and I need this to vent – because it seemed he wasted a 5-2 lead in the third set. I’m so upset that I can’t even concentrate finishing a leather dyeing stuff that I started since this morning.  But as we all know, things like this happen to any player and if this happens they cannot explain what really happened themselves!

No mo' blues, Rafa! Photo Credit: Rafaholics Facebook Page

I know Rafa’s been vocal against the blue clay court and I suspect that his aversion or negativity towards the new court have, subconsciously,  affected his focus and performance. But, he’s not totally alone in expressing their distaste. David Ferrer, Novak Djokovic, to name a few, aren’t happy about it, too, so I hope the organizers should re-evaluate. As a tennis fan and avid-watcher, I find it weird having a blue colour knowing clay is red. I don’t think the blue court has made the yellow tennis ball more visible when watching the matches on TV. Perhaps, it’s my TV set? Lol. But, seriously, we all know Rafa, he is not blaming the blue clay for his loss:

“I lost today because I deserve to lose. I was at 5-2, I arrived at the moment to close the match and I didn’t know how to close it, I didn’t know how to do it. I made a big mistake with my match at 5-2. That’s what happened. He played better than me.”

That’s alright, Rafa.

I just hope that you really, really had a bad day because I had never seen you play very, very badly in clay court – ever. While, in the beginning of the tournament, I was looking forward to see you play in the finals and bite that trophy again, I’m glad your run was cut short, injury-free. That should give you more time to rest, recuperate and prepare for the tournament in Rome, and more importantly, the Roland Garros where the court is in original and beautiful red clay.

On this note, I say, I have no mo’ blues anymo’!

 

The tennis clay season is on!

The exciting clay season of tennis has just  began. First stop is the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters where Rafael Nadal will be defending his title and, at the same time, campaigning for his 8th title here.

This is going to be another exciting clay season, I’m sure of that. And this is one of the  moments when I wish I have a wide-screen TV and one of those nifty monitor mounts to enjoy the tennis matches. How fun it would be to see all the action and excitement in the red clay court!

Yesterday I saw the match draw and found out that Rafa is seeded second and gets a “bye” in the first round. That means he gets a pass and proceed to the second round where he will face either Jarkko Nieminen or Radek Stepanek. Other seeded players in Rafa’s draw that he could potentially meet are Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Tsonga again, tsk!), Feliciano Lopez, Nicolas Almagro, Florian Mayer, Fernando Verdasco and Janko Tipsarevic. Quite a tricky draw for Rafa who has been plagued by a knee injury prior to this tournament. Besides, why are the other members of the Spanish Armada in the same draw as him? Anyways, there’s always no easy matches but Rafa always fights every point and keeps his goal alive.

Vamos, Rafa!

You are still my champion

It’s nearly a week now but I still can’t get over the loss of my favourite tennis player, Rafael Nadal, to Novak Djokovic in last Sunday’s men’s championship showdown at the Australian Open.

It won’t be long before Rafa comes back with a vengeance.

I was disappointed. Utterly disappointed. Rafa was so close… and denied of that championship trophy this year. But I take comfort in the fact that he fought a good fight this time. That he showed he has the goods to beat Nole. Not this time though but his time will come soon, I know it. Rafa will come back to get Nole (Tennis Perspective). He may have gone home to Mallorca without the golden trophy but his sheer brilliance, grit, will, determination and self-belief he’d shown in the epic five-setter finals match is worth more than all the gold bars in the world.

It’s a huge heartbreak again for Rafa and his fans as Nole continues his fairytale streak. Clay season will commence in April and it is a great thing that he is taking a month off tennis for treatment of his injury (Source) and a much needed rest (source).

Vamos, Rafa. Sigues siendo mi campeón.

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Photo Credit: Rafaholics Facebook Australian Open 2012 Photos

Six-ten-one-twenty-five!

 

6-10-1-25.

Do you know what these figures are for?

Nope, they’re not serial numbers that you normally see on steel drums or lotto tickets or something. These are very important numbers, at least for someone I know… and that someone is none other than Rafael Nadal, the King of Clay. If you have been coming to my  blog then you know already who he is and there is no need for introduction, really. The figures simply means Rafa has won six Roland Garros titles (after beating Roger Federer in the finals last Sunday), 10 Grand Slam titles, and still retain the world number one ranking in men’s tennis, all just a few days after he celebrated his 25th birthday. How’s that? He just loves celebrating his birthday in Paris. Oh, and by the way, he is now the second player in tennis history (after Bjorn Borg) to win six Grand Slam titles at the RG.

It was a fantastic victory for Rafa after having difficulty in the beginning of the Roland Garros (RG). Imagine the stress and loss of confidence after two successive beatings he received from the Serb Novak Djokovic in the finals of Madrid and Barcelona, in a surface where he reigns supreme.  He also had a difficult draw at the RG, having to face tricky players (and tricky new balls!) as early as the first round. But the most important thing is he won all of his matches, overcoming self-doubt, loss of confidence, and a crowd that does not really favour him. He showed so much perseverance, hard work, persistence, and fantastic mental strength and focus to make changes in his game and that which propelled him to beat  Robin Soderling (the only man to ever beat him in RG ) and Andy Murray (not a threat but a pain, anyway) in the quarter finals and semi finals, respectively. It was a crazy, frazzling two weeks for us all – yes, Rafa, and his fans, you know . And that Sunday night he stepped into the court to face Roger Federer in the finals… it was amazing to watch him overcame his adversity (incredible comeback in the first set, and of course, when he held his serve at 0-40 in the fourth set which ultimately was the turning point) to win. When Rafa was on the verge of the championship point – I couldn’t breathe – and then he fell to his knees and I, well, I was truly happy and overjoyed I could burst! LOL. Wait, not yet. Watching him lift and bite that trophy gave me a great overwhelming emotion I could burst.  Even Papa Nadal could not hold back his tears looking at his son lift that trophy once more when the Spanish national anthem was played. Rafael Nadal is undoubtedly the King of Clay and a Champion like no other.

Oh, I could just go on and on rambling about Rafa 🙂 Anyways to those who want to re-live the moments when Rafa won his 6th RG title, you can either look it up on YouTube, or read this How the Finals Was Won – a set-by-set account/analysis of the finals match at the RG.

Vamos, Rafa! Off to the green, green grass you go next!

 

Oh, and here are 15 greatest, most memorable photos from the French Open as compiled by YahooSports’s Busted Racquet blog. Picture #3 and #15 capture Rafa’s awesomeness!

 

Above photo source.

Feliz cumpleaños, Rafa!

Happy birthday, Rafa! He turns 25 today, and my, he has grown into a fine young man right before my eyes 🙂

But I think there is no time for celebration yet. At least for today. An hour from now Rafael Nadal is to face the British Andy Murray in the fight for a place in the finals at the Roland Garros, 2pm Paris time, 7pm Phnom Penh time.

Prior to this, last Wednesday I watched his QFs match against Robin Soderling – and my – I was jumping up and down watching a different Rafa on the court! It looked exactly like Rafael Nadal – and so nice to see him back to his old self again!  The cocky Soderling was overpowered – with every ounce of tennis mojo squeezed out of him – by Rafa, 6-4, 6-1, 7-6 (7). But in last Wednesday’s match, Robin made a lot of mistakes and that’s because Rafa was hammering him right from the beginning of the first set. As someone pointed out in an online forum – Rafa was forcing the unforced errors on Robin!  Well, that’s what exactly happened. Robin left the court hastily after the match and you could see utter disbelief and disappointment in his face. Soderling is known to be the only man to have beaten the obviously ailing Rafa in 2009. Seriously, did he think he’s going to beat him again? No siree… Remember, Roland Garros is Rafa’s “home”.

So tonight, it’s going to be an exciting match. The last time the two met was in the semis in Monte Carlo with Rafa winning the match. Andy Murray can be (overly) dramatic at times (there was a one hour injury delay even before the match started because Murray had to take an injury time out) and he is certainly a pain to some players because of his grit and determination (injury – what injury?) . And this year, he is playing really GREAT tennis here at RG despite his ankle-injury.  Again, there was definitely no sign of that injury as he was running and chasing the ball on the court like a dog chases a ball. Oh well. This is the first time that I’ve seen someone with an injury play so well and winning matches 😛

My thoughts? Well I am absolutely sure that I will be chewing my fingernails again and there will be lots of  “walking away from the television set”  moments tonight. LOL.  Sure, Rafa’s games are always like this – designed to make his fans to  be always on the edge; watching him play is always an exhilarating, rollercoaster experience.  But that’s what I love about him – his ability to keep playing and find ways to make that extra shot no matter how daunting or impossible it may seem.

Gotta go now… the match will start in about 15minutes.

Vamos, Rafa. Go get yourself a birthday present… courtesy of Andy.

 

By the way, Francesca “Frankie” Schiavone. RG champion in 2010 and this year’s finalist, says she believes Rafa will win the match. Magdilang-anghel ka sana, Frankie!

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In other news, I’m very happy for Li Na’s win over MaSha, that’s Maria Sharapova, guys. She’s the first Chinese (and perhaps the first Asian, too) to reach the Roland Garros finals, and it’s her second Grand Slam finals appearance. Way to go!!

Photo Credit:Roland Garros Photo Gallery.

Roland Garros Update, May 30

Rafa moving in

At the Court Philippe Chatrier, Rafael Nadal beat Ivan Ljubicic in three straight sets, 7-5, 6-3, 6-3. What did I say earlier? Don’t talk to much to the media and never underestimate the defending champion no matter what circumstances he is in!

At the Suzanne Lenglen Court, David Ferrer’s lost to Gael Monfils, 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, 1-6, 8-6. What a heartbreaking loss. Monfil played his best match so far at RG producing displaying some serious shot-making moves.

Earlier at Philippe Chatrier, my girl Li Na defeated Petra Kvitova, 2-6, 6-1, 6-3, while at Suzanne Lenglen, Juan Ignacio Chela and Alejandro Falla slugged it out in a thrilling 5-set match. Chela emerged victorious, 4-6, 6-2, 1-6, 7-6(5), 6-2.

Li Na through to the QF, her best RG performance so far.

As of this writing (10.41pm, PP time), Giles Simon and Robin Soderling are still battling it out at Court Philippe Chatrier. Robin has taken the first two sets 6-2, 6-3. And now he is serving to begin the third set.

Later today, Maria Sharapova will be in action against Agniezska Radswanska at Court Philippe Chatrier, while Ekaterina Makarova, Andy Murray, and Andrea Petkovic are scheduled to play against Victoria Azarenka, Victor Troicki, and Maria Kirilenko, respectively, at the Suzanne Lenglen court later today.

That’s all for now, folks. I’ll be hitting the sack soon. Tomorrow will be another exciting day of tennis at the Roland Garros!

 

Photos Credit:  Roland Garros May 30 Photo Gallery

Happy birthday, Rafa!

Twenty-fours years ago today, a baby boy was born in the town of Manacor in the Spanish island of Mallorca. He picked up a tennis racket when he was three with the encouragement of his uncle… and the rest, as the saying goes, is history.  These days, this little boy is now called the mighty King of Clay… at his tender age of 24, he already has accomplished what other older tennis players had, winning titles and breaking records while maintaining a modest, polite, honest, and boyish demeanor.

 

I sure believe you, Rafa! Lovely feature about him here. You can find the interview online. A must read.

Okay, I just want to get this out of my chest; something about last night’s quarterfinals match between Rafa and his compatriot Nicolas Almagro. I really got scared there when Almagro broke Rafa on his first service game and, before I knew it, the score immediately went up to 3-0 against Rafa. Maybe it’s the  nerves, I don’t know, but Almagro produced smashing forehands that Rafa could not return. But when Rafa was able to chain his nerves, the odds dramatically changed:  he came back with a vengeance and emerged winner in three sets with two tie breaks to boot.  The tie breaks were very well played, I have to say.
Rafa, still not in 100% fighting form in my opinion, but definitely not the Rafa with the ailing knee we saw  last year. I thought he played very well against the promising Almagro in a rather tight match. Almagro was awesome, too – his first serve percentage and big forehands served him well – but he just couldn’t win a set. He fought extremely hard and he was very close but apparently ran out of resources as he was still unable to beat Rafa. Rafa’s just too good for him last night.
Lastly, I was so happy, too, that the match was broadcast live over one of the local cable television  channels here in Phnom Penh. It saved me a whole lot from the hassle of having to switch from one lousy live stream channel to another, or worse, click the refresh button every minute when the screen freezes. I’m looking forward to the semis, Rafa against Austrian Jurgen Melzer who crushed the third-seed Serbian Novak Djokovic in a dramatic five-set match. It was incredible for Melzer to win against Djokovic knowing the Serbian has never lost after a very comfortable 2-0 lead.
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