Saturday, 24 January 2015

Nadal without the drama this time

Having taken 5 dramatic sets to slip past American Tim Smyczek in round 2, Rafa Nadal had no intention of exiting in round three, especially with the massive favour handed out by Roger Federer earlier in the day.  Nadal was now the top seed in the bottom half of the draw and tonight he wanted to show exactly why he remains a big chance to win the title.

His opponent, Israel's Dudi Sela kicked off the match and stuttered badly losing the first three points.  He recovered only to see Nadal's forehand come to the party, and spoil Sela's, forcing the first of what would be many breaks of serve for the evening.

Rafa smartly held his serve, anxious to have a another snack on what Sela was dishing up.  An ace and a backhand winner brought Sela to 30-30 but again the Spanish forehand delivered in response and the second break occurred.

At 0-4 when nothing appeared to be happening for Dudi, he held serve to love - the crowd rejoiced with him, knowing full well that these successes would be rare given the mood Nadal was in.

Five more forehand winners were the foundation of wins in the next two games which wrapped up set 1 in quick time for the number 3 seed 6-1.

Set two and the story just as bad for Dudi who won just 10 points compared to the 27 amassed by Rafa.  It was a clean sweep of games for Nadal who hit 15 winners to add to his 14 from the first set.
For a moment it seemed that Sela would trouble the scorers when serving at 0-5.  He was 0-40 but decided to pick on the Spanish backhand and produced 4 successive errors to have game point.  Greedy Nadal wanted the whitewash too badly though and steadied to take the game and lead 6-1 6-0.

Less than an hour for two sets and we were ready for an extremely early exit from Rod Laver Arena, but Dudi had other ideas and implored Rafa to hang around for over an hour to complete the third set.  Yes it still was in vain, but it did annoy Nadal and so one of the aims was achieved.
44 points to 39 and 7 -5 to Nadal is statistical proof of an even set of tennis, where the only break occurred at the very end with Sela serving at 5-6.

Nadal did play well for the whole match winning 6-1 6-0 7-5 but his first two set scores were flattering and he will need to keep improving to be ready for the likes of Murray and Djokovic.

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