Friday, March 21, 2008

Nadal Finally Beats Blake

Defending champion Rafael Nadal got a step closer to another Indian Wells title with a 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 victory over James Blake at the Pacific Life Open.

I didn't see the first two and a half sets of the quarterfinal slugfest. I was watching the scoreboard and then I bit the bullet and purchased another subscription to ATP Masters Series TV. Even though oil is $3.69 USD up from $2.59 USD from a few weeks ago. Even though we burn 100 gallons of oil every two weeks. But I digress.

If the final games of the match were any indication, it must've been a great match. I'd like to have seen how Blake lost his break lead in the first set to love. But he was outplayed during what I saw. Rafa simply had an answer for all of Blake's power today and refused to be pushed behind the baseline.

That's the key to Rafa's success on hardcourts. Sure, Indian Wells is slower than, say, the US Open, but Blake beat Rafa when they played in the desert two years ago. If Rafa can play this kind of ball on hardcourts post Wimbledon, I'd imagine his late-season woes would subside.

In the semifinals, he'll get another chance at Novak Djokovic in a rematch of last year's final.


oddman said...

It was a great match, Craig. TSN had it on, about a two-hr delay, but finally something good to watch. Blake made a couple of little mistakes in set one and that was enough for Rafa to grab the set. In the second, he outplayed Rafa all the way through. And the third was very high quality throughout, with Rafa getting aggressive on Blake's second serve. He surely did refuse to be pushed off the baseline, and took his opps to come in and flatten out shots for winners. Loved it - you're right, this is the key for Rafa to win on a hardcourt.
I am just thrilled - no easy draw for Rafa here at IW - and defeating both Tsonga and Blake back to back has got to do wonders for Rafa's confidence.
I really like his chances against the Serb.
Vamos, Rafa!

edma1022 said...

Both Rafa and Blake were playing percentage tennis in all 3 sets. It's just that Rafa's margin for errors is a tad higher than Blake's. Blake's strokes skim across inches from the net while Rafa's more than a foot, and likely will land deep.

I hope Rafa creams the Serb tomorrow.

Craig Hickman said...

Hey, ed. Good to see you.

edma1022 said...

Good to be here, too, Craig. Requiescat in Pace to your Dad btw. Hey, Fat Dave just lost to Mardy. And Fed had a cakewalk to the semis [sigh]. Hope we have a good final (whoever they are).

Helen W said...

Yes, edma1002, Federer has had a very easy draw. The only seeded player he has faced is Ljubicic (23). That will not change even if he beats Mardy Fish (and I think he will). Not to mention Tommy Haas giving him a walk-over in the quarters.

Djokovic has had a tougher round, facing Kohlschreiber (27) and Canas(16) and now he will face Nadal.

Nadal has had the toughest route, facing Tsonga (17) & Blake (9) as well as Donald Young, and he next faces Djokovic.

That being said, I think Rafa has gained a major confidence boost from prevailing in a tough draw, and against James Blake he was finally playing up to his level. I think that more than makes up for any physical tiredness from playing some tough matches. Plus he has today off to rest.

I think Rafa will win over Djokovic, who hasn't been playing all that well and hasn't really been tested in this tournament.

Karen said...

Hi guys, Hello helen, nice to see. I do not understand, either someone has had a tough draw or they have been tested - it has to be one or the other cannot be both. Not Fed's fault that Haas decided to withdrawn from a match with him, for the second time, and Nalby decided to lose to Mardy (by the way Mardy hung tough in this match, kudos to him for that one)

Mad Professah said...

Ouch! We're calling Nalbandian "Fat Dave" now??

I smell another Rafa-Raja showdown on Sunday, and it could be a good one.

Either that or a Raja-Djokovic final and Raja will not let Djoke beat him 2x in a row.