Thursday, 22 January 2015

Nadal Chooses Day Three for an Epic

Rafa Nadal admittedly entered the 2015 Aus Open on a limited preparation, but on the back of a useful first round win no one suspected his battle with 112 ranked US player Tim Smyczek would be anything more than a decent hit out in readiness for a third round match.

How wrong we were to be.  The first two games typified the night to come as Nadal stuttered his way to holding serve in contrast to Smyczek's love game featuring winning shots.

Blinded by the dose of American brilliance we soon were brought back to reality when the Nadal forehand began its damaging foray in the fourth game.  The break and comfortable hold boosted Rafa's stocks to 4-1 and the market was looking less bullish by the point for Tim.

The Spanish bull, while apparently now on his familiar march to a set win, was committing more than his normal share of unforced errors and while not being penalised as he might due to the generous judicial system prevailing in the first few rounds,  tougher sentences are promised when the second week commences for offences such as short returns, innocuous backhands and netted volleys.  He could be fined a whole set rather than the occasional game that he was losing here so far tonight.

Tim lifted the standard of his game now and then, even daring to serve volley with good effect, but his dips were costly, and he could not hang on while serving at 2-5.  Rafa offered a winning backhand as a deposit on the break of serve which he later collected with interest to go towards a first set 6-2.

That was about as good as it became for Nadal for now because the match changed dramatically over the next period.
At 30-30 on serve, Nadal crumbled, losing the game with a double fault and Smyczek led the second set 1-0.  The response was to break back and then the two played four games of high class tennis full of the shots we expect from the Nadal arsenal, but many of them played by Smyczek.

Tim was over the disappointment of the second game and the Rafa implosion in game seven was additional reason for joy for the American.  The game was lost to love with some terrible shots from Nadal, a double fault the final point given away.

Not only did Smyczek hold his next serve but he broke Nadal for a second successive time to win the second set 6-3 and stun the majority of the worlds population.

Nadal began the third set with a break chance but his backhand was all over the place and that chance evaporated with the forehand of Smyczek causing havoc, saving that game and doing much to create the break of Nadal's next serve for a 2-0 advantage.  Six straight games had gone to the American.

Nadal's recovery began immediately with a break after Tim led 30-0, and games went with serve until 3-3 where Nadal broke once more.  At 5-4 the third seed served for a 2 sets to 1 advantage but Smyczek played amazing tennis, including a wicked drop shot and yet again Nadal double faulted on break point.

The required tie break continued the remarkable wave for Tim Smyczek as he routed the Spaniard 7 points to 2 and led the match 2-6 6-3 7-6.

The fourth set was on serve until the sixth game in which Tim found an enemy in the net which he kept hitting and losing points.  Nadal broke to lead 4-2 and this time when serving for the set managed to keep the ball in play with Smyczek not as damaging.  6-3 Nadal and a fifth set to decide.

On serve again with some terrific tennis from both players, Nadal having to play catch up while serving second.
Rafa played a great 10th game to level at 5-5 including glorious backhand winners, and the momentum carried into the next Smyczek serve.  The scintillating groundstrokes proved too much for the gallant American and the break arrived.

40-0 became deuce and Tim had a slight chance, but Rafa soon put that to rest with a brilliant backhand, and the final point provided him with a 6-2 3-6 6-7 6-3 7-5 victory in one of the best second round Aus Open clashes we have seen.

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