Sunday, 11 September 2011

Six Down One More To Go!

Rafa after beating Murray
           The Semi-finals have been thrilling in the US Open, from the first point of Djokovic-Federer (1st SF match), till the last point of Murray-Nadal (2nd SF match). From the moment we, tennis fans, knew the fact that the "Fantastic Four", Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Murray, reached the Open Semi-finals we knew it would be thrilling, but did we expect it to be that thrilling?

 Nadal's road to the Semi-finals has been extremely amazing. Rafa didn't lose a single set from the beginning of the tournament till the semis. However, Rafa proved that straights aren't the only way of showing his excellent performance. In the Semi-final Rafa has dropped a set against Andy, however, I believe that Andy really deserved that set. He, too, was playing very well, especially in the 3rd.

The beginning of the match was a bit tight, as both players held. Afterwards, Rafa was up 40-0 on Murray's serve, but Andy wouldn't willingly give up, would he? He tried to hold, but, thankfully, Rafa succeeded in breaking on the 3rd break point to lead 4-3 with the advantage of the break. The rest of the set went quite normally with both players holding. On 5-4 Rafa held to win the first set 6-4.

Murray started the 2nd set with quite a strong start as held his serve and had more than a chance to break Rafa's serve. Anyhow, Murray's attempts to break Rafa at the beginning of the 2nd set weren't successful as Rafa managed, by a way or another, to save 3 breakpoints and hold to 1-1. Later, Murray hit a brilliant winner to lead 2-1, but it wasn't long since Rafa aced his way to make it 2 all. Sooner Rafa's attempts to get the break succeeded to lead 3-2, followed by an easy hold for Rafa. Eventually, Rafa got the double break, held and wrapped the 2nd set 6-2 in 45 minutes.

With Rafa being up 6-4 6-2 and being a single set away from the final, Murray refused to lose, not in straight sets at least. And that was pretty obvious, Andy started the set holding to love. Then 40-0 on Rafa's serve, facing 3 opportunities to break, Rafa tried to hold but Andy couldn't just waste 3 breakpoints. Murray was now leading 2-0 in the 3rd set, but, fortunately Rafa broke back at once, held (after saving 3 breakpoints) and took it to 2 all. Both players held afterwards, Murray was now leading 4-3. And, unfortunately, Andy got the break, held and the set was Andy's, 3-6.

It was now time for Rafa to play a 4th set for the 1st time at the Open, Rafa and Andy both held their initial service games. The 3rd game was quite a tough one for Rafa, as he faced more than a  breakpoint, anyhow, he could finally hold and lead 2-1. Soon enough, Rafa broke to lead 3-1 then held his serve and was now only 2 games away from his 3rd Grand Slam final of the year. And when it was 5-2, Murray couldn't hold, as Rafa broke to make his way to his 2nd straight US Open final.

It was a pretty match, Murray couldn't be blamed, Rafa was too strong! Nevertheless, both players showed us some magnificent shots. And as I can say, it was an ideal Grand Slam semi-final. Nadal's final opponent is Novak Djokovic, whose records have been absolutely unbelievable this year. Will the next hours reveal another three to one match between those rivals? And will it be like Wimbledon's? Or it will be the same as last year's US Open? Well, I guess nobody can ever tell what's going to happen and untill then, the only thing we can do is waiting. WAIT, WAIT,WAIT.... I know waiting is sometimes intolerable, but is the only thing we can do right now, so be patient and we'll see how this is going to end.

Vamos Rafa!

Friday, 9 September 2011

The Return Of The "Rafa-Crushing-Mode"

Rafa after beating Muller.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
           I have so many to catch up on that I don't really know from where I could start, but actually I think I should start with an apology to all Rafa fans, who visited the blog today and yesterday, as I haven't updated the blog since Rafa's match against Nalbandian.

Rafa's 4th round match was scheduled on Tuesday, September 6th, but unfortunately all matches have been cancelled that day due to the non-stop rain. Then the match was scheduled on Wed, though it was a break from showers or so, Rafa and the other players in his and Murray's half has been asked to start their matches. They actually did, but as I can say it wasn't pretty.

As for Rafa, he was really pissed of to step on court in that whether, but he did though he knew it was "too dangerous". It was Muller who started serving at the very beginning, he held easily then broke Rafa then held again, but it wasn't long since the rain was back. The rest of that day has been stressful as I can say, as players had to wait to know whether play will be resumed or they'd head back to their hotels. Anyhow, that stressful day passed and it was day 11 at the Open. We could now see the sun shinning, fans were excited and it was a great day to hit some high-class tennis! Although Rafa resumed his match being down 0-3, Rafa was playing pretty well. He managed, by a way or another, to break back  and eventually the 1st set has been taken to a Tie-Break. Then it didn't really took Rafa long to wrap the set 7-6 while Muller only succeeded in winning a single point. Rafa found himself hardly suffering in the last couple of sets. Being up more than a break in each he could easily make it to 7-6(1) 6-1 6-2.

Rafa didn't really have time to rest before his quarter-final match, he didn't have a gap day between his 4th round and quarter-final, as  the tournament's organizers had to schedule the bottom half's quarter-finals the day next its 4th rounds. However, this had nothing to do with Rafa's performance, not in a negative way at least. In fact, I believe that his performance has been improved in the QF. Rafa's QF opponent was the familiar Andy Roddick, who has been playing in front of his home crowd. Nevertheless, Rafa had no problem in wrapping him in straights.

At first when I knew that Roddick has beaten David Ferrer, Rafa's countryman and friend, 6-3 6-4 3-6 6-3. I knew it would not be an easy one. I was amazed by Rafa's performance in the 1st set as he broke Andy from the very beginning, held his serve, then broke again and held. Rafa was now leading 4-0 and it was now time for Roddick to held for the 1st time in the match. Still Rafa leading 4-1, then both players held to make it 5-2 and it was obviously Rafa who serving for the set. It was no surprise to see Rafa leading 6-2 now. The 2nd set was pretty much the same scenario, in a way or another, Rafa managed to finish the set losing only a single game. The 3rd wasn't really different than the first two as it went to Rafa 6-3. Nadal's 6-2 6-1 6-3 win over Roddick didn't only make him join his fellows Federer, Djokovic and Murray at the Open's SF, but also he was now the only player to reach the SFs without losing a single set in the tournament. Another interesting fact that I'd love to add is that in Rafa's career, this is the 6th time that he has reached Grand Slam SF without dropping a set. In previous 5, he went on to capture title and that's what Greg Sharko stated earlier on Twitter. Judging by Rafa's performance in his match against Roddick, I can say that The "Rafa-Crushing-Mode" is finally back!

Needless to say, as you all already know, Nadal's Semi-final opponent is Andy Murray, world number 4, who has beaten John Isner in the QF 7-5 6-4 3-6 7-6(2). Nadal has already faced Andy about 16 time on tour and is leading 12-4 in their Head to head field. But let's just not  forget that Andy is an amazing fighter who will never put previous results on his mind while playing Rafa in a Grand Slam. In fact, Murray has appeared in such a great shape this tournament, and I believe that his chances are really high this time! I believe that Rafa should really serve well from the beginning, his shots shall be deep and then we leave the rest for Rafa's magic.

The 1st semi-final match between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer is scheduled 1st on Arthur Ashe tomorrow, Sat. September 10th at 12:00 pm (local time). Followed by Nadal Vs Murray (not before 2:45 pm).

Vamos Rafa!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Impressive straights!

    It's been a week now since the beginning of the US Open 2011, and I can say that it has been quite a great one for our defending champion. Judging by his performance in the previews weeks, against Dodig in Montreal and Fish in Cincinnati, I believe that he has been performing in such a better level at the Open. It might not be his best level, yet it was enough to finish his 1st week at Flushing Meadows in straights.
Rafa's 1st challenge was Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan. It was quite an easy opening set for Rafa as he managed to win it 6-3, suffered a bit in the 2nd as Gobulev took it into a Tie-break but then Rafa wrapped it in 7-6 with Gobulev winning a lonely point in the Tie-break. And after that a bit struggling in the 3rd but finally Rafa closed it in 7-5 to make his 1st round the 1st set of his straight sets. 

Rafa then was awarded a couple days of rest before his 2nd round match against the Frenchman, Nicolas Mahut who has been know as " Marathon man " since his match that lasted more than 11 hours last year a Wimbledon against the American John Isner. Anyhow, I think the Rafa-Crushing-Mode was on when he played Mahut as he managed to take the 1st two sets 6-2 and 6-2, but it wasn't long since  Mahut retired to handle Rafa his 2nd set of his straight sets.

Rafa's 3rd round match was way more challenging then his 1st 2 as he was to play David Nalbandian of Argentina, who has once been the world no.3. Rafa has been early broken in the 1st, but, thankfully, it didn't take him long to break back. However, the set has been taken to a Tie-break, and once more Rafa got out of the Tie-break victorious as he wrapped the set 7-6(5). Then Rafa easily dominated the 2nd set by more than one break and he was to play the 3rd set being up 7-6 6-1. Apparently, Nalbandian didn't want to give up and willingly handing Rafa the 3rd, but still Rafa was too strong for him and managed to finish 7-5. To make his 3rd set of straight sets.

Rafa's next opponent was the same as Wimbledon's 3rd round, the man of Luxembourg, Gilles Muller. It's true that Rafa suffered a bit in that match as the 1st two sets weren't pretty easy as both were taken into Tie-Breaks, but still Rafa won them and he easily torn Muller in the 3rd as he bageled him to make it to Wimby's 4th round in straights 7-6(6), 7-6(5), 6-0. In their head to head history Rafa's leading the field with two wins against one to Muller. However, I believe that if Rafa plays as good as he he did with Nalby, Rafa can easily take it in straights. But let's just not forget that Muller has a good serve which may not be broken easily! Anyway, I'm looking forward to watching a good match and high-class of tennis from both players in the Open's 4th round!

More updates will be available soon on "Nadal Bl Masry" till then stay tuned and Vamos Rafa!