Monday, 20 January 2014

Nadal too complete for Monfils

World number one Rafa Nadal's third round opponent was 25th seed and dangerous French player Gael Monfils.
The two had already met once this year in the Doha final, that time with Rafa successful.  The match here was the second match on the first Saturday night on Rod Laver Arena and with the potential to be one of the best matches to watch all of the first week.
Monfils in tennis is a luxury item - can be irresistible to watch play, such is his style, flair and imagination, but is high maintenance.
As evidenced in the first game, where Monfils aced Nadal to lead 40-30 only to commit 3 unforced errors and drop serve.
In the second game, Monfils generated a break point on the Nadal serve with a brilliant forehand, but blew that one with an equally shocking forehand to follow up.

For the most of set one Nadal was at a level slightly below that of which he is capable, but acceptable for week one of a Grand Slam event.  He was consistent, a word yet to be contemplated by Monfils.
That's why Nadal is where he is in the world of tennis, and why Monfils threatens to be a regular top ten player but never quite delivers.

The third game saw Monfils spray most of the final shots of rallies to donate another service break to Nadal,
Later, broken for a third time in the set, with Nadal increasingly showing all his attacking and retrieval shills, Monfils looked a desolate character on court.  Set one Nadal 6-1

The second set further displayed Nadal at his best, the forehand beginning to play some real havoc with Monfils.  However, Monfils was giving value to the crowd, albeit if not always to himself.  Some of the shot making was jaw droppingly
sublime, whilst Gael would also retreat into foolish errors, often in sheer frustration.

The games were on serve until the sixth where Monfils had one of his melt downs.  Two successive double faults, with Nadal ready to pounce, proved to be the the beginning of the undoing of Monfils.
Rafa stamped his ownership on the set and match but with valuable assistance from Gael.  Nadal led 6-1 6-2.   Unforced errors in the second set - 2 from Nadal 22 from Monfils.

The third set was entertaining with some wonderful shot making from both players, and Monfils actually making the running on the scoreboard with 3-3 and break point chances on the Nadal serve.  Frustrated at not being able to take the chances, Monfils appeared to hit wildly at a number of shots in his next service game, and instead of Gael moving to 4-3 with a break, Nadal ended up leading 5-3 with serve to come for the match.
Nadal had no problems in doing the job for a convincing 6-1 6-2 6-3 victory and a fourth round berth.

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