The Complete Rafa
Originally published on: 22/01/12 12:01
With his right knee still strapped the world No. 2 made light work of Davis Cup teammate Feliciano Lopez defeating him 64 64 62 to make his way to the round of 16.
The mercury hit 34.9 degrees at 2.10pm on Sunday at Melbourne Park and in a match that lasted 2 hours and 25 minutes, Rafael Nadal kept his scorecard clean when it comes to dropping sets; four matches and he has still not conceded a set at the 2012 Aussie Open. His opponent today, Feliciano Lopez has in fact failed to take even a set off Nadal in any of their 4 previous hard court meetings.
By his own admission, Rafa thinks he has been on the pace from the get-go. Assessing his performance after the match he said, “I started the tournament playing really well this time. Sometimes in a few tournaments I feel that I am improving day by day. But this time I felt that the first day I played well and second, two days ago I played well. And today I played another complete match in my opinion, serious match”.
He served well with 80% of his first serves going in. Because Lopez is a good blocker of the serve Nadal said, “I tried to serve a little bit lower and higher to try to get the position under control with my forehand on the second shot.” It allowed him, in his own words, “Few free points in important moments. That’s all.”
Never one to get carried away though, Rafa put the game of tennis in perspective,“Feliciano is one of my best friends on tour. That’s the game. That’s the sport. You understand that’s only a game. You understand that everybody wants to win. Everybody wants to finish with the best result.”
He is sure to be aware that the only other man still to drop a set in four matches is Novak Djokovic. Federer may still have a clean sheet, but he cannot be included in this analysis as the records will show he received a 2nd round walkover. We doubt the 16 times Grand Slam champion will worry too much about that statistic when it comes to the Guinness Book of Records!
Rafa advances to the Quarter Finals for the sixth consecutive year. The Spaniard is now one step closer to winning his 2nd Australian Open and his 11th Grand Slam title.
On Monday, he will meet the big serving No. 7 seed Tomas Berdych, who today defeated Nicolas Almagro 46 76(5) 76 (3) 76 (2)