Wednesday, August 31, 2011
After Roger Federer took us to a bit of a nailbiter match in round one of the US Open, we fans were hoping to see some stellar Rafael Nadal play to soothe our souls. While Rafa played a pretty clean and solid game, it was also fairly tame, and he ended up playing constant catch-up with a wildly aggressive and determined Andrey Golubev.
It's sometimes astounding to see how little difference there is between a number 2 player in the world, and a guy hovering between 50 and 100. These guys all know how to play serious tennis, and Golubev made some beautiful shots on Rafa tonight. So many shots, in fact, that the Spaniard was left shaking his head after many a point.
Rafael is where he is, however, because he never freakin' gives up on a game. He doesn't care if the match goes into back-and-forth deuce points for an hour, he'll still keep rallying. If he's down, he'll get back up. While the other guy tires, he keeps right on going. He sweated through two shirt changes, but he didn't slow down.
Fans went crazy as Rafael lobbed balls into the audience, and the Spanish hero looked relieved and happy to have climbed over his first hurdle at the US Open. If you want to know how he managed it, you can check out the full analysis:
US Open Day 2: Rafael Nadal Squeaks Out 3-Set Victory Over Andrey Golubuv.
Rafael's expressive face says it all in the post-match press conference, where he gives plenty of credit to his vigorous opponent: "He didn't help [my nerves] because he played fast all of the time." Now with a win under his belt and not too many mistakes to lament, Rafael can hopefully settle his nerves and play a more finely-tuned second round match.
PHOTOS: US Open Day 2, Round One, Rafael Nadal vs. Andrey Golubev screencaps c2011 USOpen.org.
Roger Federer had me fired up at the French Open, thumbing his nose at all of the naysayers when he broke Novak Djokovic's incredible streak of wins. The Swiss tennis star was pure beauty to behold, sliding all over the bright red courts with the elegance of a ballet dancer and enough power on his strokes to rattle Djoko's cage.
While the eventual loss in the final to both friend and nemesis Rafael Nadal was sad, it was still great tennis and Federer still seemed pleased with himself after the match. The glory was short-lived, however, as Fed went out in the quarters at Wimbledon. He hasn't really recovered since.
It hasn't been the best year for Roger Federer, though of course that's all relative. With all the records he has to his name, anything less than constant perfection is considered a disappointment--but we're sure his opponent in round one of the US Open would love to have had Fed's year of consistent quarter, semi-final and final visits.
Despite his solid skills, fans can't help worrying when it takes Fed so long to dispatch a lower-ranked player like Santiago Giraldo. The headlines are taking the 3-set victory as a cake walk, but anyone who watched the match knows there were some times when we wondered where the real Roger Federer was.
Here we see Federer scratching his head, trying to figure out why it's not going as easy as it should. Eventually he found his stride, and we discovered there was a method to his madness. You can check out the full analysis of the match here on Yahoo!.
Roger was his usual calm, mildly superior self during the post-match interview, though he did admit to the fact that he should have dispatched his opponent faster. While he's still a little spiky about press questions, Federer has been making some changes over the last couple of months. You can read more about that here:
Roger Federer US Open Series: Can He Move Past Losses to a Slam Victory?
While we're on the subject of tennis and the top players, you might also be interested in: 3-Way Rivalry: Are Djokovic, Federer and Nadal the Rock-Paper-Scissors of Tennis?
PHOTOS: US Open Round One screencaps, Roger Federer vs. Santiago Giraldo, c2011 USOpen.org.