Thursday, October 18, 2007

Madrid Day 4: Reign in Spain

No, he hasn't won the tournament. But in his effort against Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal delivered a regal performance in his 7-5, 6-4 victory. In the best (televised) match since the US Open, Rafa and Andy the Younger covered more real estate than a broker and came up with shot after shot of scintillating madness.

After a career-threatening wrist injury, Murray seems to be back to his retrieving best and pushed Nadal to the limit. When the Scot fought his way to a 4-2 lead in the second set, the match seemed sure to go the distance. But Rafa would have none of it. He battled back to regain the break and reeled off the last four games of the set to seal the match on his second match point.

Afterwards, Feliciano Lopez advanced to his second quarterfinal in Madrid when he withstood the angled attack of Stefan Koubek 7-6(9), 6-4. It's not often we get to see two lefties craft their way through match at the same time, but the artistry on display today was topnotch. Koubek is a throwback player. No, he doesn't serve and volley, but he can run down just about every shot and send it back at such an acute angle you have to blink to make sure you saw it correctly.

Rafa's win means that we will finally get to see him play David Nalbandian, who toughed out a tight win over compatriot Juan Martin del Potro. Lopez will face Roger Federer, who was in full Ninja mode when he cut up Guillermo Cañas, exacting a bit of revenge on the Argentinean for sending him packing in two back-to-back Masters events this past spring.

Mario Ancic and Nicolas Kiefer, both recently back from illness and injury, dispatched of Paul Henri Mathieu and Ivo Karlovic, respectively. The Croat, who suffered from mono, will play Novak Djokovic, who tanked yet another set against Juan Carlos Ferrero. I can't keep from finding Djoke's tactics bush league. Kiefer, who seems to have fully recovered from a wrist injury (and mellowed in the process) will face a resurgent Fernando González , who fought off an inspired Juan Monaco in two tight sets.

The event has awakened. What a difference a day makes.


oddman said...

Awesome match! I'm not usually a fan of Murray's, but he played really well. Nice to see him back and healthy. Vamos Rafa! Looking way better than he did at USO. He should run rings around Daveed.

Craig Hickman said...

DaVEED gets up for these battles against the elite players and has a great return of serve so it could be a tricky match for Rafa.

But Rafa will refuse to lose and Nalby will likely assist mightily in his own losing.

oddman said...

Arrgghh. Just checked out the live scores - Nalby up 4-1. C'mon, Rafa, don't lose this one. You played so brilliantly yesterday. Too true that Daveed can PLAY when he puts his mind to it.

Karen said...

I have been a fan of Nalby ever since USO 2003. I liked how he could just retrieve balls from anywhere and hit with interest. At the time I also thought he was very cute. That has not changed. Thought he played a brilliant match today against Rafa and deserved the victory. As to Yummy in Ninja mode yesterday, can we say Darth Federer!!!!