World Tour Finals: Nadal wins opener

November 21, 2011 § 2 Comments

As a Rafael Nadal fan I often find myself caught between wanting to watch every single moment of his matches and unable to do so out of nerves and frustration.

Watching Nadal win his opening World Tour Finals match against American and world no.8 Mardy Fish, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(3) last night proved to be no different.

The 2 hour 53 minute match at London’s 02 Arena got off to the slowest of starts possible, with world no.2, Nadal taking 5 minutes after his warm-up to re-tape his fingers. Normally I don’t mind Nadal’s slow-paced game; his not hurrying out after change-overs, taking his time between serves, but even I had to admit it was bordering on unnecessary time-wasting.

Once on court the first set, from Nadal’s (okay, and mine) went according to plan, with a reasonably easy 6-2 win in 34 minutes. Nadal broke Fish twice in the set and committed only three unforced errors.

However, it was Fish’s first time at the World Tour Finals, and nerves seemed to get the better of him in the opening stanza.

“I didn’t play well. Obviously I got a little more comfortable after playing a set. Sort of getting used to all the surroundings with people in there,” Fish said.

Fish fights back in 2nd set

The second set was a near mirror-image in favour of Fish. He came out firing, taking a 3-0 lead.

Although Nadal saved two break points to prevent Fish winning the set 5-2, the second set’s result was inevitable.

I will admit that I didn’t watch a whole lot of this set. At least not with my full attention.

Seeing Fish go to his 3-0 lead, out of illogical frustration (though I am a firm believer that love of support does not have to be logical) I distracted myself, playing games on my phone, while keeping one eye on the match. As far as keeping my nerves to a minimum, it sure was effective.

Tight third set

The third set was the tightest, and therefore (in my opinion) the most interesting. After taking a 2-0 lead Nadal took a bathroom break.

Whilst the commentators were predicting that this disruption in play would impact negatively on Fish, it proved to be the opposite. On resuming play Fish went on to win the next three games, giving him a 3-2 lead.

My nerves, which had been abated during Nadal’s lead, were starting to creep back in again.

Nadal immediately broke back to level things at 3-3. Each man held for the next six games, causing the match to go to a tie-break. Here, Nadal’s experience won out, with the Spaniard winning 7-3.

Speaking after the match Nadal was his usual self, noting the difficulty of the match and how it was an important victory (I don’t think Nadal has ever said that a victory was unimportant):

“t was a very important victory for me, for my confidence, to start the tournament with positive feelings. I think I played a very good first set after the break from the beginning. The second was hard”

“I was seriously really lucky for the victory, and I for sure am very happy.”

Nadal’s next plays old-rival Roger Federer on Tuesday  evening, it what is arguably the juiciest round-robin match up.

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