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The Spartan Believer 03/29/2010 - 10:47 PM

96475752 by Pete Bodo

Well, it wasn't exactly Borg vs. McEnroe, Wimbledon 1980, but Sam Stosur and Jelena Jankovic played an entertaining and meaningful tiebreaker this evening under restless, roiled skies in breezy Miami.

It ended badly for Jankovic, the No. 7 seed and winner at Indian Wells last week, as Stosur held on to win the breaker 11-9, and with it the match. Jankovic's chance to win back-to-back Premier Mandatory events went pinwheeling off into the night like so many chickadees buffeted by the wind, but the palm fronds surrounding the court continued clicking and rattling, taking Jankovic to task for blowing an interesting opportunity.

Stosur had already laid a little wood on Jankovic's fanny when I walked into Court 1, under the erroneous impression that I had plenty of time to settle in and enjoy the show. I might have suspected the direction things were taking by the pair of menacing turkey vultures that rode the gusts like a rollercoaster right above the court. They dropped low often enough to make me wonder if one of them wasn't about to descend and peck out Jankovic's eyes, but some things are better left to coaches, moms, agents and other professionals.

I say that only half in jest, for while windy conditions are equal opportunity irritants, they ought to have been more manageable for Jankovic, one of the most lithe and adaptable of players. Instead, they seemed to have an unduly deleterious effect on Jankovic, at least judging by the scoreboard, and the way her sherbet-green dress kept boiling up around her waist, as if our favorite WTA flake were doing an interpretation of that famous Marilyn Monroe subway-grate photo, but on behalf of Anta.

It ought to have been the other way around. Slammin' Sammy Stosur's game is, on the whole, more dependent on precision and timing (more on that later), and acting out something very like set pieces, all based on her outstanding serve. That serve, she would tell me after win, has been the cornerstone of her recent success. "I've had some good results starting about this time last year, and a lot of it has to do with the fact that I'm serving well. I've been getting a good percentage of first serves in, and no matter how well you serve the ball, if you're not getting it in, who cares?"

Jankovic, by contrast, is at her best when she's free to improvise, counter-punch, and use her natural flexibility to retrieve her opponent's most invasive questions. In fact, she's a lot like a yellow lab, or similar retriever breed of dog. She goes into a serene, focused state when when she's scampering east-to-west along the baseline, at full stretch, making desperate reaction-born fetches. She can do wonders chasing a ball, and never seems happier, or more in tune with what she's cut out to do. But like that lab, there isn't a whole lot she can do if you just give her the ball with the command, Okay, Jelly, now do something...

Whether it was the difficult conditions or Jankovic's flair for the dramatic, or some combination thereof, she was error-prone, grumpy and out of sorts; time and again she would drive a backhand into the net, or miss with the forehand, then volubly rue her fate, addressing the crowed with a slender arm elegantly extended - until she had to drop it to quell the hemline fluttering around her waist. 

Jankovic began to pull herself together in the second set, but she was up against a young lady who's as practical and disciplined as Jankovic is flighty and profligate. Stosur has gradually evolved into something like the consumate professional. When her own hot-salmon dress rode up, the serious tan lines on her upper thighs told the story - this is a woman who has spent a lot of time in shorts, presumably whacking balls under a broiling sun. The dedication shows in her game, too, and not just in the familiar ways. There's a point of diminishing returns where focusing on technique and execution, on maximizing your strengths and hiding our weaknesses, eventually leaves you with a game that, apart from anything else, looks studied. 

But such hard work has its rewards, even if it's at the expense of the natural. The serve is the one shot over which a player has absolute control; theoretically, at least, a player could go an entire match without having his or her serve returned. Stosur plays as if that's her aim, and the priority and focus she assigns the task is palpable. She's learned to trust her serve, and to try to get the most out of each delivery. She's built her game around it in a way that suggests that screwing up is not an option, and that's unusual on the WTA tour.

Jankovic returned her share of Stosur's well-placed bullets, but she was backed into a corner  throughout the second set. Stosur's ability to hold, and to work her way out of potentially sticky situations (15-30, or deuce) with the serve must have had a corrosive influence on Jankovic's game. Oh, the Serbian star kept finding ways to stay with Stosur, for that's what she does best; she's the human equivalent of the philanthropic world's "matching grant." But Stosur set the pace, and her ability to hold, slamming the door of opportunity shut each time she leaves it open a crack, eventually took its toll. It always does.

In the tiebreaker, however, Stosur served up a mortifying double fault at 1-1 (let's remember, it wasn't all that long ago that Stosur was a poster child for head case tennis players worldwide). But Jankovic responded in kind (see what I mean about "matching grant?"). From there on, though, both women played pretty tight tennis. Jankovic started points, then tried to figure out ways to win them. Stosur figured out what she needed to do, then started points - and tried to end them on her terms.

The tiebreaker points went on serve until Stosur reached match point, at 5-6 (with Jankovic serving). Stosur made a forehand error and in the blink of an eye Jankovic had a set point. But Stosur brushed it aside. Stosur had another match point at 8-7, but blew it with a wild forehand error. Then it was Jankovic's turn again, with a set point, but Stosur erased it with a good forehand. She ended it two points later with a backhand laser down the line.

Stosur is aware of her shortcomings and she's built around them just as much as she's based her game on her signature stroke. She's developed a streamlined game plan on her journey from electric but sometimes ghastly shotmaker (think Amelie Mauresmo, or Hana Mandlikova). She's become a spartan believer in "the game plan."

Of course, tennis isn't entirely about figuring it out; you have this little matter of physical and even mental limitations, a complex and inter-related set of strengths and weaknesses. Every player's game is unique, like a fingerprint. When a player does due diligence, the way Stosur has, it tends to heighten the visibility of her shortcomings as well as her strengths. In Stosur's case - and it really seems a novel one for a player with such natural feel and athleticism - the outstanding flaw is, ironically, something as fundamental and seemingly second-nature as body positioning relative to the ball.

You'd think that any world-class player would have this distance-to-the-ball thing down pat, but it's surprising how often Stosur overruns a ball, or ends up playing it too close to her body (one by-product of that is a slice backhand that lacks sting). I suppose it's a sign of bad footwork, or slow reflexes. The conditions certainly had something to do with her positioning difficulties tonight, but it was still clear that Stosur doesn't - make that can't - adjust nearly as well to the ball as does Jankovic. Never mind. Stosur compensated for the shortcoming by having a clear idea of what she was going to do, and deciding that nothing was going to stop her. She had the game plan.

When I asked if she was worried that the tiebreaker might slip away and leave her dead-even despite the great start, she merely shrugged and said: "Well, I knew what I wanted to do in that match (serve well, take the game to Jankovic, end points with crisp, positive tennis), so it didn't really matter. I had to keep pushing her. If I'd lost that second set, I would have gone on in the third doing the same thing."

And that's the spartan way, isn't it?


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Posted by CL 03/31/2010 at 10:34 PM

Mocking Rafa doesn't count unless you throw in a little butt pick. Ot at least some water bottle alignment. Just ask le Sod. Though he might want to also ask Robin how that worked out for him at Wimby.

Since I can't see any of this, is Tsonga really complaining about Rafa's time between points? To anyone in authority or just whinging into the air.

Posted by greenhopper 03/31/2010 at 10:34 PM

Thanks, Latino. I missed that.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa just get rid of those shorts 03/31/2010 at 10:34 PM

Sherlock Amen Brother!!!!!!!

Posted by Jbradhunter iPhone edition 03/31/2010 at 10:35 PM

Does Rafa really take more time than he's supposed to? I thought he was quicker the past 2-3 years

Posted by Mr.X (Vamos Shaki, give him some confidence) 03/31/2010 at 10:35 PM

Thanks for that lovely post, Tigress. Now that you have explained your general mindset, i take posts like that for what they are: praise to Nadal.

Posted by greenhopper 03/31/2010 at 10:37 PM

Stars must have aligned right there, cos Jo actually held serve.

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeee!!!) 03/31/2010 at 10:37 PM

Jbrad - Rafa has been slow this match, even by his own slow standards. Doesn't seem to be as bad this set, though. Jo's kvetching --if not the subsequent meltdown--was justified, IMO.

Posted by Mr.X (Vamos Shaki, give him some confidence) 03/31/2010 at 10:38 PM

Jo holds at 30 to get to 2-4 in the second set. Nadal won all the points here he was able to put the return in. Unfortunately, that only happened a couple of times. Jo with 2 aces in that game.

Posted by CL 03/31/2010 at 10:38 PM

Jbrad - they put a clock on Rafa in one of his matches and he came in at anywhere between 35/45 sec. I thought he was doing better to, but honestly, I think we have all just gotten used to the slow rhythm so it SEEMS normal. Which it is, though still actually against the rules. You know, if we are gonna get all technical about it.

Posted by Pspace (Allez Tsonga!) 03/31/2010 at 10:38 PM

Jo, you freakin' idiot. Can you hit anything other than a drop volley? Eh? At least once?

Posted by Sherlock 03/31/2010 at 10:38 PM

Well played, Mr. X.

Posted by greenhopper 03/31/2010 at 10:39 PM

I never want to see Jo play Rafa on clay.

Posted by Sherlock 03/31/2010 at 10:39 PM

What a rally. And Jo gets impatient. Goodness.

Posted by Tigress (back to basking in Sweet 16) 03/31/2010 at 10:40 PM

This sounds like a nothing win for Rafa against an unimposing opponent playing not very smart tennis. So why all the excessive angst and hoopla atound here? Sounds like spiffing up a routine win into Something Typically Rafa Wonderful (phony). Berdych would probably have smashed Nadal in straight sets.

Posted by izidane 03/31/2010 at 10:41 PM

Stupid non-dropper JoWilly.

Posted by greenhopper 03/31/2010 at 10:41 PM

"The quality of the drop volley from Tsonga couldn't have been any better."

I want some of what Goodall is smoking. Actually lots of it.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 03/31/2010 at 10:41 PM

Rafa up one break in second set and TennisTV announcer says that Rafa is in "total control" of the match.

Why is this person so negative?

Rafa is in total control of the tournament, the rest of the 2010 season, the 2012 thru 2017 seasons, the weather in 80% of Europe over the next two months, and the economies of all South American nations (except Paraguay) during the next decade.

C'mon. Give Rafa his due.

Posted by Jbradhunter iPhone edition 03/31/2010 at 10:41 PM

Okay sblily. Well the other players are well within their rights to complain. Love Rafa as I do, he doesn't get his own set of time rules.
MSF. You're hilarious this night.

Posted by Papo (Got Nadal?) 03/31/2010 at 10:41 PM

It's a pleasure to watch Rafa playing so well. What a great hold to love : )

Wait till he gets on the clay!

Posted by Mr.X (Vamos Shaki, give him some confidence) 03/31/2010 at 10:41 PM

IMO, Rafa was terribly slow at the start of the match. Since Jo complained though, he has started to go faster.
Solid serve game by Nadal to hold at love and go up 5-2 in the second set, closed with an spectacular OH. In one point, Jo got so frustrated after a very long rally, that he just decided to play a WTF DS. Jo is getting passed most of the times he goes to the net. Good passings by Nadal today.

Posted by swalker007 (let's go Pekingnese Fed, Ratface Nadal!) 03/31/2010 at 10:41 PM

Free Willy will never be free....

Posted by Sherlock 03/31/2010 at 10:42 PM

Somebody's having a bad day. :)

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa just get rid of those shorts 03/31/2010 at 10:42 PM

Gee once in a while it would be nice to credit a player for playing some great shots

Though with the present people on board

Too much to ask for.

Posted by crazyone 03/31/2010 at 10:42 PM

Who woulda thought that in 2010, Berdych would be a better fighter than Tsonga.

Berdych played well throughout in the match he played against Rafa at IW, and Tsonga didn't play well against Fed in the SF at the AO.

Posted by tennisesq. 03/31/2010 at 10:43 PM

6-3, 5-2? Really Jo?

Sam Stosur put up a bigger fight.

Posted by Papo (Got Nadal?) 03/31/2010 at 10:44 PM

Two match points for Rafa.

Posted by Latino 03/31/2010 at 10:45 PM

All that jumping surely cannot be doing any good to his knees....please stop any unnecessary moves Rafa...we want your knees healthy.

Rafa truly has some wedgie issues...so much adjusting even just to sit down!

Posted by swalker007 (let's go Pekingnese Fed, Ratface Nadal!) 03/31/2010 at 10:45 PM

ouch Tennisesq, ouch.

Posted by Papo (Got Nadal?) 03/31/2010 at 10:45 PM

Can you play a match any better than that?

Posted by izidane 03/31/2010 at 10:45 PM

Loved the slow mo of the last point in Rafa's game, looked like they were dancing.
Rafa seems to have speeded up his time interval.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa just get rid of those shorts 03/31/2010 at 10:46 PM

Well the time waster Nadal has a match point

Vamos Rafa outstanding tonight

6-3,6-2

Congrats Rafa the best tennis you have played soo far this season

Posted by Pspace (Allez Tsonga!) 03/31/2010 at 10:46 PM

No one can abuse a short slice like Rafa. Freakin' awesome that fh. And, he finishes in style! Congrats to Rafa fans. He was great. Commies to Jo fans. Putting this together with the performance against Fed in Oz SF...one word...merdelicious.

Played my first tennis with Rafa shoes. Won 6-2 6-0. That says it all. It was the shoes!

Posted by greenhopper 03/31/2010 at 10:46 PM

I need a strong drink.

Rafa was awesome. Looked *gulp* confident at times.

Posted by kchowcrazy (wants ReRe back!) 03/31/2010 at 10:46 PM

Wow Rafa played great, much better then against Ferrer. I would have been happy either way but Vamos!! Night folks

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeee!!!) 03/31/2010 at 10:46 PM

What a shot on match point!

*high fives Rafa fans*

That was a more reassuring performance from him, especially considering Jo's form coming in.

Commies to greenhopper and other Jo fans.

Commies just called it Rafa's best performance of the year. Hmph, I don't know about that...

Posted by swalker007 (let's go Pekingnese Fed, Ratface Nadal!) 03/31/2010 at 10:47 PM

Thank you Ratty for finishing this match before 11!

Posted by manuelsantanafan 03/31/2010 at 10:47 PM

In honor of Rafa's countenance, Michael Jackson's "Ben" being played at the stadium.

That was the most incredible tennis I have ever witnessed.

I should wear these type of glasses more often.

Posted by Sherlock 03/31/2010 at 10:47 PM

Yeah, the only downside is now there's at least one more hardcourt match to hose the knees.

Condolences, 'Hopper. :(

And Pspace. And, um, Tigress. :)

Posted by GB 03/31/2010 at 10:48 PM

Commies to Jo fans, esp GH and Pspace!

Yay fellow Rafa fans!!!!

Posted by Jbradhunter iPhone edition 03/31/2010 at 10:48 PM

Hey in awesome news, Dallas and Memphis are in OT, preempting the 30 allotted minutes of Fox Sports Tennis coverage. Why do I even complain anymore? It looks like this may go to another OT...

Posted by tennisesq. 03/31/2010 at 10:48 PM

Jo put all his eggs in Rafa's first service game and it was all downhill from there.

Now the rest of my night is free to watch Red Cliff (International Version).

Posted by Tigress (back to basking in Sweet 16) 03/31/2010 at 10:48 PM

To anyone who watched: Once Rafa took control of the match, did he stop cheating and serve within the time limits according to the Rules?

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeee!!!) 03/31/2010 at 10:49 PM

Okay, I wasn't imagining it. Jo is indeed wearing pearl earrings. WTF, man? You can't accessorize like a granny and expect to beat Rafa.

Posted by Mr.X (Vamos Shaki, give him some confidence) 03/31/2010 at 10:49 PM

Once again, many thanks, Tigress. Lovely.

You are on fire, msf.

And with a good FH passing, Nadal wins, 6-3,6-2.
Congratulations to fellow Nadal fans. That was much better than his last match, but let's be real: it was impossible to play worst, and Jo probably should have broken at least once, if he hadnt made so many wrong decissions on BP. So, there's still a lot of margin for improvement. The FH and the serve were effective (about the serve, Jo isnt the best returner though). Still waiting for the BH. The passing shots were crisp, but Jo should have put away more volleys (the last one is a good example). Still, leaves a much better taste than the ugly thing of yesterday.
Conmiserations to Jo fans. He started well, but he couldnt break and then lost the plot for few games at the end of the 1st set and the start of the second. His biggest problems were not being able to convert any BP and not putting away more volleys, IMO.

Posted by izidane 03/31/2010 at 10:49 PM

Well hail, congrats to Rafa fans...'twas a masterful snuffing out by your guy. Totally deserves all the accolades he gets from this match.

Commies to fellow JoWilly fans, we lost this match at 3all in the first.

Posted by Sherlock 03/31/2010 at 10:49 PM

Jbrad, come on now. You KNOW you want more Grizzlies basketball! :)

Posted by Master Ace 03/31/2010 at 10:49 PM

Now, that was an impressive performance by Rafael as he educated Jo-W.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 03/31/2010 at 10:49 PM

Commies to Jo-Wilf and his fans. Congrats to Rafa for a great match tonight, so much better than yesterday.

The poor sportsmanship from certain quarters knows no bounds. Must be one sad person.

Posted by tennisesq. 03/31/2010 at 10:50 PM

Jo with the Pearl Earrings? lol

Posted by Suze 03/31/2010 at 10:51 PM

Congrats to Nadal's fans and commiseration to JWT's fans. Seems like this tournament is Nadals to win really. I don't see him losing to Roddick or a Verdasco or a Soderling. And a first win in Miami should be good for his confidence.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 03/31/2010 at 10:52 PM

And I bet Carol just loved watching this match!!!

Posted by Latino 03/31/2010 at 10:52 PM

Rafa will win this tournament. VAMOS RFA

Posted by greenhopper 03/31/2010 at 10:52 PM

So you guys were saying something about a miracle or a slaughter or something like that?

Posted by rafadoc 03/31/2010 at 10:53 PM

Um. Yes.

Well done Rafa! Squeeeeeeee!

Posted by rafadoc 03/31/2010 at 10:54 PM

Commiserations to JWT fans.

Posted by Mr.X (Vamos Shaki, give him some confidence) 03/31/2010 at 10:54 PM

*blows a kiss towards Tigress*
Seriously, you are the best. You unstoppable praise of Rafa is greatly appreciated by this fan. Always at your disposition.

msf, may i ask you to take the glasses of and tell me what you thought of the match?

OK, Roddick next. You better not give him the chances you gave Jo, because that guy knows how to take them. He wont put as much pressure in the rallies, but he wont do the same gifts either. And he will be very tough to break, so the ocasional stupid serve games should stay away. It will probably be close, and the confidence in the key points will be important. We'll see about that. I predicted this SF right in my bracket, and picked Roddick. I hope i jinxed him.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa just get rid of those shorts 03/31/2010 at 10:55 PM

Well I have pearl earings I hope that I dont look like a Granny?

Commies to GH.Joe started great.Has to learn to play those big points better.

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeee!!!) 03/31/2010 at 10:55 PM

*checking out the match stats*

8/8 (as in break points saved by Rafa) is a beautiful sight, though it will probably give Jo-Wi nightmares.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 03/31/2010 at 10:56 PM

The Phoenix Suns would have appreciated the Celtics winning at home against OK and Memphis winning at home against Dallas.

So, of course, the Celtics lose and it looks like Memphis is going down. As the announcers noted, why in H is Memphis not denying Dirk the ball on the inbounds when Memphis knew it had to foul?

Why, oh why?

Posted by Papo (Got Nadal?) 03/31/2010 at 10:56 PM

Now for a nice day of rest, then the semi on Friday and another day of rest before Sunday's final.

The top half guys must play their QF and semi on consecutive days, Thursday and Friday.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa just get rid of those shorts 03/31/2010 at 10:57 PM

Manuel I can always lend you my Rose Coloured Chanel Glasses

Posted by Jbradhunter iPhone edition 03/31/2010 at 10:57 PM

Now if anyone deserves to complain about taking too much time, this 5? minute OT has taken almost 30 minutes. Where's Lars Graf when you need him?

Posted by CL 03/31/2010 at 10:57 PM

Congrats to the Rafalites - despite all the doom and gloom from some quarters, seemed like he played really well - though I am going just by reports, since basketball trumped tennis tonight on Comcast. doh.

Oh, Jo - you really ARE going to be one of those 'one match wonders' aren't you?

(Psst - don't tell, but I LIKE the pearl earring...very pirate-like.)

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa just get rid of those shorts 03/31/2010 at 10:59 PM

Miss Highpockets you can come out now

Posted by rafadoc 03/31/2010 at 11:00 PM

Hee. Went back to read the match call and see some people "no likey" Rafa playing well. When Rafa plays like this, it just seems..funny. :)))

Posted by Sherlock 03/31/2010 at 11:00 PM

He he, Jbrad. And I bet some of those Mavericks and Grizzlies are standing in the damn key longer then 3 seconds!!!

Posted by Angel of the Surf (The Youz for the top 10) 03/31/2010 at 11:01 PM

Mornin'

Who won the first set?

Posted by Mr.X (Vamos Shaki, give him some confidence) 03/31/2010 at 11:02 PM

Ok, that was better than i expected, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. By no means is gonna be easy to beat RAndy. That guy is a true fighter.

Interesting match tomorrow with Verd-Berd. Tomas smoked him in IW, but FeVer played like crap of the 3rd degree that day. We'll see. And oh, go Youz:)

Thank G-o-d i have these days free. I would be a zombi if i had to work. That's it from me tonight.
See you tomorrow, everyone.

Posted by rafadoc 03/31/2010 at 11:03 PM

Goodnight Mr. X. Sweet dreams. :)

Posted by Angel of the Surf (The Youz for the top 10) 03/31/2010 at 11:03 PM

So I gather Rafa won in straight sets.

Posted by Sherlock 03/31/2010 at 11:04 PM

'Night, Mr. x.

Indeed. Andy's always tough. I'd actually be ok with Andy winning the whole thing. It's just nice to see Rafa play a match like that. Save the knees and let's head to the dirt. :)

Posted by Jbradhunter iPhone edition 03/31/2010 at 11:04 PM

I didn't even know until tonight that Memphis even had a pro basketball team. Wow I've been living in a tennis vacuum

Posted by Tigress (back to basking in Sweet 16) 03/31/2010 at 11:05 PM

Amidst all the personal putdowns and innuendo, it's glaringly interesting that no one has been able to answer my very simple factual question: Again:

"Once Rafa took control of the match, did he stop cheating and serve within the time limits according to the Rules?"

Still waiting for an answer.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa just get rid of those shorts 03/31/2010 at 11:05 PM

AA Hi, rafa won 6-3,6-2

Posted by CL 03/31/2010 at 11:05 PM

Oh yes, indeed - GO YOUZ!!!

(As close as I can get these days to Go Couz! ;-))

Posted by Carrie 03/31/2010 at 11:05 PM

Tigress- thank you for putting Rafa fans down in their place. I mean gosh forbid we enjoy his improved play. He was more aggressive and had a much better game plan. But no- we should be sneered down upon and derided. After all- didn't you once say that Rafa fans as a collective have a lower intelligence than fans of some other players. So some patience for us stupid mindless minion like fans. I mean- with my two brain cells I can only focus on one thing at a time. And with just two brain cells I can be easier to be mindles and delusional. ;)

Re Rafa being slow- he was too slow to start imo but he did speed up. Jo's kvetching I think was understandable but it did the deed and speeded things up. Gosh darn I lurve Rafa but I do wish he would speed up his play between points at times and say adios to the butt picks.

I loved his play today. Much better court positioning, looking for winners and a serve and volley!

I did not hold to my promise to not watch the match.

Posted by Sherlock 03/31/2010 at 11:06 PM

Angel, yes, 6-4, 6-3. If I remember right. Which is never a sure thing.

Posted by Sherlock 03/31/2010 at 11:09 PM

Tigress, sorry. I'm rewatching the match to calculate the statistics for you. I'm almost through the first set. I'll get right back to you.

Posted by Angel of the Surf (The Youz for the top 10) 03/31/2010 at 11:09 PM

From some of the posts I read it sounds like it was far closer. To me Rafa was in control of the mach going by that score.

Carrie you should just scroll and not bite back. I just get bored of reading the same old crap, so for now I will scroll because really I don't care how many weeks such and such has spent at No. 1.

Posted by Sherlock 03/31/2010 at 11:10 PM

Dang it. I knew it was 6-2. Curses, foiled again.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa just get rid of those shorts 03/31/2010 at 11:10 PM

Brain Fail Sherlock

6-3,6-2

Posted by Papo (Got Nadal?) 03/31/2010 at 11:11 PM

Rafa won 6-3 6-2

Posted by rafadoc 03/31/2010 at 11:11 PM

Tigress: Why do you ask?

Posted by Master Ace 03/31/2010 at 11:11 PM

Thursday Order of Play:

WTA - Marion Bartoli vs Venus Williams at 1 PM
ATP - Tomas Berdych vs Fernando Verdasco at 3 PM
ATP - Mikhail Youzhny vs Robin Soderling at 7 PM
WTA - Kim Clijsters vs Justine Henin at 9 PM

Friday Order of Play(SUBJECT TO CHANGE)
Rafael Nadal vs Andy Roddick at 1 PM
Tomas Berdych or Fernando Verdasco vs Mikhail Youzhny or Robin Soderling at 7 PM

Posted by Sherlock 03/31/2010 at 11:12 PM

Curses, foiled again and again. Rafa had two 6's, that's all I know. :)

Posted by manuelsantanafan 03/31/2010 at 11:12 PM

Tigress:

Normally, I would say that the two to five minutes Rafa was taking between serves was deserving of a flogging, then placement in stocks for several days.

However, today, for some strange reason, I found extremely charming Rafa's horrendous flouting of the most central tenets of tennis sportsmanship.

Posted by Carrie 03/31/2010 at 11:13 PM

Tigress- yes, the horrible cheating anti-Christ did speed things up. As I said- I do feel that Rafa at times takes too long between points. I don't think it is a nefarious idea of his to cheat borne out of a black soul- I think he just is too inward and OCD. I do understand why folks complain about his time taking but I don't think it is gamesmanship on his part- I think it is from his focus. He should be called out on it- but so should other players.

Commies to Jo's fans. He will rue that 0/8 bp conversion rate.

Mr. X- I do not think Rafa will easily win the tournament and may not get to the semis. But after the poo on a platter of yesterday's match tonight was a welcome surprise. I thought his tennis brain had gone to Mars so it was nice to see

Posted by chicklet 03/31/2010 at 11:15 PM

Whew, that was fun! Much improved by Rafa, but hated to see Jo's meltdown. He had so many chances.
For all of the complaints about Rafa's BH, I thought he did manage to find a decent CC BH amongst the horrible slices up the line.

Won't be able to watch Sauce vs Bird tomorrow. Verdasco, try not to get bageled, mkay? I'll keep the standards low after IW.

Posted by rafadoc 03/31/2010 at 11:16 PM

Carrie: It *was* nice to see Rafa's tennis brain consistently throughout the match. He made smart plays and seemed, dare I say, confident (?) enough to carry through with his game plan. And, he had a really sweet game plan for Jo's serve. Someone did their homework.

Posted by Papo (Got Nadal?) 03/31/2010 at 11:17 PM

Angel, it was the old scenario which happens so often. Tsonga really gave it his all to try to break Rafa, but when he was unable to convert on his break points and Rafa held, it left Jo-Willy ripe for the picking on his own serve game. Rafa broke at love last game of the first set.

With Rafa serving first, Tsonga gave it his all again on the first game of the second set, but to no avail. He got broken the very next game and again when trailing 5-2 to end the match.

Posted by Tim (Year of Red Rogie ) 03/31/2010 at 11:18 PM

Rafa is such an asshat...

Posted by ericinphilly(Memo to Serena: when your knee is injured, its good to stay off it, not do more on it! we want u back.. 03/31/2010 at 11:18 PM

good win for Nadal!! WOOO!!
now Venus has to win tommorow and then both favs will be closer to the final. :)

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa just get rid of those shorts 03/31/2010 at 11:18 PM

Apart from being a Serial Time waster

RafA saved all his b.points

His b/point stat which is the most important stat of the game was great

Posted by Tigress (back to basking in Sweet 16) 03/31/2010 at 11:29 PM

Carrie at 1105: Thanks for answering my question, although the 1st paragraph was rather strange.

rafadoc: Sorry, answering questions with questions is a rhetorical trick that's strictly verboten (forbidden).

Posted by rafadoc 03/31/2010 at 11:29 PM

Yep AM. That tells me that Rafa is getting tougher mentally.

Posted by rafadoc 03/31/2010 at 11:30 PM

Tigress: I wanted to know why you asked. But, if my response actually left you speechless, well, good for me. :)

Posted by Aussiemarg,Madame President,Rafa just get rid of those shorts 03/31/2010 at 11:32 PM

Anyway nothing is a given in tennis

I was just pleased to see Rafa come to play and he did

For the people who doubt him or underestimate him ever? do that at your own peril.

Champion players always rise even when their best tennis have left them

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeee!!!) 03/31/2010 at 11:33 PM

The other stat I'm really liking from the Rafa/Jo-Wi match:

4/5 (as in break points converted by Rafa)

Posted by rafadoc 03/31/2010 at 11:35 PM

Gosh, that felt good. :)

Sblily: Great stat. Rafa's focus and confidence on BP converted and saved on his own serve speaks well to his mentality right now. Hopefully, it continues into the Roddick match.

Posted by Carrie 03/31/2010 at 11:36 PM

Tigress- I was just attempting to be funny but it is not going well because I fear it is sounding mean. I don't mean to be mean- just sarcastic and/or facetious but I fear it is just coming out mean.

As for some other comments here- will not take the bait. Some folks will dislike the players that they will dislike. No players are saints and no players are devils- heck, I have even warmed up to Soderling. But trying to argue with people who despise one player or another will not do me any good. Need to remember. I just tend to like players rather than finding things to hate about them- I do think overall tennis has a good lot. Heck, I have even warmed up to Mardy Fish because I think he has matured. I don't know if there is a player that I really dislike- Fish used to be it. Oh wait- Tursunov...yes...dislike him loads. Enjoy your time on the island Dmitry.

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