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Nadal Survives Another Scare

June 26, 2010

Rafael Nadal had yet another today against an inspired Phillip Petzschner. The number 33 seed pushed Nadal all the way to five with huge forehands and heavy serving.

Nadal started off with a bang, taking the first set 6-4 with a lone service break. The second was a different story. Petzschner plays an unorthodox style of tennis which troubled Nadal as soon as he began to execute a well thought-out game plan. Besides hitting the biggest serves he could, Petzschner hit huge flat forehands to try to hit through his opponent. His backhand was an obvious weakness, he began the first three sets by slicing it heavily and barely using it to attack. Still, Petzschner troubled the world number one enough to take the second set 6-4, breaking as Nadal was serving to stay in the match. He continued his big hitting and approaches to net in the third, managing to overcome Nadal in the third set tiebreak.

Yet anyone who watches tennis knows Nadal is never out until the match is over. It was clear he wasn’t going away as they started the fourth. The turning point came early in the fourth when Nadal called for a trainer for a thigh problem before Petzschner’s serve. The momentum was taken away from the German and he was clearly troubled. He proceeded to give up the next game. Nadal, boosted by the break of serve, ran away with the fourth 6-2.

Petzschner has a break point opportunity on Nadal’s serve early in the fifth but failed to convert. Shortly after that he duffed an easy shot at net which would have given him another break point chance. As it was, it was curtains for him after that. Nadal played inspired, solid tennis to break midway through the fifth and clinch the match 6-3.

Despite the fact that he finds himself into the fourth round of Wimbledon, Nadal must be worried. He called for three injury time-outs in today’s match and was warned for on-court coaching. His last two matches have both seen him taken to five by little-known opponents, first Robin Haase and now Phillip Petzschner. Both men had huge serves and forehands and found success hitting through Nadal. Haase eventually stopped hitting the lines and Petzschner found himself exhausted after two previous five setters, which allowed Nadal to weather the storm and prove himself the fitter player on both occasions. Still, the second week should prove just as taxing for Nadal. He meets Paul-Henri Mathieu in the next round, probably not a player capable of troubling him, but is then due to meet Robin Soderling. Soderling has the same game Haase and Petzschner do but he has one thing they don’t; experience. He could also be fresh as he has been untroubled thus far. Nadal will be looking to iron out the kinks in his game before he reaches the quarters.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. passingshot permalink
    June 27, 2010 8:23 am

    Petzchshner and Haase didn’t play by the rules – the Nadal Rules, that is. They weren’t prepared to get into rallies where he could dominate. They served big and then tried to end the point on the first opportunity, like gunslingers going for the first draw. On grass it seems to be working. (Watch out Andy Murray if he runs into a similar opponent; counterpunching doesn’t cut it with these guys.) You are right about Soderling. He presents a real danger with the extra speed grass gives his huge flat strokes, but don’t count out Mathieu – if he is in form he has the weapons to really trouble Nadal on a fast service. Actually anybody (remember Blake a few years ago?) can trouble Nadal on a fast service, if they don’t allow him to dominate with his still essentially grinding style.

    A note of disappointment: Nadal’s “injury” breaks – they look too apparently like attempts to disrupt his opponent’s rhythm, and now he is complaining about his “knees” – again. From the way he moves, there are players who would consider themselves blessed if they were to have his problems.

    • June 27, 2010 8:41 am

      I couldn’t agree more. If this was that kind of blog I would have had a go at Nadal for his injury time out tactics. I was fuming at the time. I believe that they need to install a rule where I cannot take a time out on your opponents serve, you either have to wait or forfeit his game. It’s mind games clear and simple – Isner and Mahut didn’t take single break, Federer barely ever does. Pleased you said Mathieu has a chance, would love to see Nadal struggle once more. Hopefully Murray also runs into a big hitter!

      ‘If you are bored with life, you are too stupid to think of something to do’

      -Ernests Gulbis 2010

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