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WTF Day Four: But The Fighter Still Remains

Posted by gauloises1 on November 26, 2009

Something about that Rafa-Kolya match has ‘The Boxer’ stuck in my head … Anyway, a sad day for many at the 02 as two of tennis’ finest went down in straights. In good news, it was to two of tennis’ almost-finest.

Robin Soderling d. Novak Djokovic, 76(5) 61

I keep having to remind myself that Robin Soderling didn’t actually qualify directly for this tournament. He is the only player so far not to drop a set as he defeated Novak Djokovic in straights, and is also the first player to seal his spot in the semi-finals, leaving Nole and Kolya to slug it out for the remaining Group B spot (against, er, different opponents. Have I mentioned round robin confuses me?!).

As for Nole, it sounds as if this was just one match too far.

Kitten throws in the towel.

He’ll need to recover quickly if he’s to make it to the semifinals …

Nikolay Davydenko d. Rafael Nadal, 61 76(4)

Oh Kolya. This photo is officially too perfect.

Another really tough day at the office for Rafa. He was simply steamrolled in the first set, with his serve particularly a cause for concern, and time and again his shots landed too short and were easy meat for Kolya. His tennis for much of the second set wasn’t much better, but he worked hard (as he always does), retrieved the break he’d given up early in the set, played more aggressive and got to a tiebreak on pure heart alone. The tennis in the second set tiebreak was suddenly of ridiculously high quality and the margins were very slim; I honestly felt that Rafa would pull out another amazing escape. That he didn’t manage it was credit I think to Kolya’s excellent play at the tail end of the tiebreak, but as usual, you cannot possibly fault Rafa for lacking in will. It’s just that his ability to inexorably impose it on the person at the other end of the court seems to have gone missing for the moment.

Tough times for his fans, but I don’t doubt that he will sooner or later be back to his old self. And getting his feet back on clay and playing for his country might just be exactly what he needs. So chin up …

Huge props to Kolya though. He played a jaw-droppingly good (to quote Koenig) and indeed knicker-droppingly good (to quote me) first set; he had help from Rafa, certainly, but his tennis was simply sublime and there was nothing to do but watch in awe. He struggled, not uncharacteristically, when he neared the finish line in a winning position, but did a brilliant job of holding his own when his form wobbled and then finding his best tennis again to clinch the tiebreak and a straight sets victory. It seemed like his wife was the only person in the arena who wanted him to do what he did, but in the end, lapses notwithstanding, it was a command performance, utterly dominating from the baseline and at the net. Good man.


3 Responses to “WTF Day Four: But The Fighter Still Remains”

  1. irefusetotellyou said

    I really feel for Rafa (and fans), but Kolya played quite brilliantly, at least from the tiny bit that I saw, so he deserved it.

    Also, that foggy photo? Too good. He’s even got this sort of evil smirky thing going on to boot.

    RobSod has really kicked all my assumptions about him crashing and burning in the ass.

  2. Ribbons said

    as two of tennis’ finest went down in straights. In good news, it was to two of tennis’ almost-finest.

    Beautifully put.

    Sat out most of the first set, but yes, that tiebreaker = WOW. So glad I logged back in to catch that.

  3. westney said

    Thank you so much for your positive thoughts re: Rafa. I concur- I think this Davis Cup final will be a good step in the right direction as far as both his psyche and play are concerned. But as much as I love Rafa, I am so pysched for Kolya and I hope he can make it even farther. 🙂

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