Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Madrid Blues... David Falls to Raonic


Now there's Raonic, who's 20 years old [21 by now] and serves like a machine.
When David said those words during an interview last year, he couldn't know of course that they would turn out to be prophetic. Fourteen months later, during their first encounter on the Tour today, Milos Raonic did serve like a machine. Winning 100% of his first serves and dropping a total of six points on serve throughout the match. David on the other hand lost his serve twice, and at the worst possible moments, resulting in Milos Raonic's 6-4, 6-4 victory.

(Andres Kudacki/AP Photo)
David began this match without his first serve and consequently got broken in the very first game. Not the best start against any opponent but against Raonic today, as soon became clear - a catastrophe. Already in his first service game, Raonic hit the first three of his altogether 16 aces. Setting the tone for what was ahead. After the initial break, David grew much more solid on serve and lost only four further points on serve in the course of this set. But 30-30 on Raonic's serve (at 3-1) was as close as David managed to get to a chance to break. In the first set and the entire match. Perhaps the most unusual game took place at 5-3, with David serving to stay in the set. For it was at that moment that he played his best service game of the match. But although in the following game Raonic threw in a double fault on his first set point, he went on to convert the second, 6-4.

Early on in the second set, David (now visibly more and more frustrated) began to find it slightly more difficult to hold serve. But it wasn't until 3-3 that he had to face another break point. A backhand error from Raonic and a couple of deuces later, David managed to get through to 4-3. And his next service game at 4-4 looked like a more straightforward affair until up 30-0, David committed three unforced errors in a row before finally dropping his serve on a double fault. An invitation to serve out the match that Raonic accepted, of course. Converting his first match point in style - with his last ace of the day.

It was not at all a bad match that David played at the Caja Magica today. During the rallies (which mostly occurred during his service games), he did a good job of keeping Raonic busy and from unleashing his forehand. Whether by going to his backhand, moving him around the court or playing with slice. And all in all, it was fairly clean match from him, with 15 winners and 16 unforced errors.
But the huge problem for David simply was Raonic's serve today. The completely unassailable first serve but also Raonic's kick serve on second. It's not often that you get to see David awaiting second serves several metres behind the baseline, on a regular basis.

A few words about the court. As other player described it ahead of this match, it definitely looked to be rather slippery. There were various occasions where David seemed to be losing his footing. And although he's not supposed to slide on clay he did in this match, as there simply seemed to be no way of avoiding it. But at least, he finished the match safe and sound. - Though very much frustrated. Madrid, in its old form, used to be David's best tournament. But that event, together with its nimbus, is officially gone now. And perhaps, he also felt a bit old today...

(Andres Kudacki/AP Photo)

30 comments:

  1. I'd like to thank the people who run David's official site for the laugh I enjoyed today when I had a look at their schedule page. According to it, ahead of Wimbledon David will play the AEGON Classic in Birmingham. And that's going be very interesting... as it's a WTA event.

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    1. I can't stop laughing :-)! That is just so great, wonderful to start the day with a laugh like that.

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    2. Yeah, the official site never ceases to amaze... ;)

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  2. lol they can join two and half men season 10 writers crew

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  3. It's okay for now but I'll do it again. Just so you know.

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  4. We should stop complaining how bad he played!

    He sacrificed his individual (potential) success to play Davis Cup QF! If he refused to take part in it, he would have played in Monte Carlo or Barcelona, earned another 100-200 points, and he will definitely be seeded for Roland Garros!

    Now, unless he wins 2-3 matches in Rome next week, he will probably be unseeded for Roland Garros, and he might not even be seeded for Wimbledon (unless he wins few matches in Roland Garros).

    And we never know if the 10 hours spent on Davis Cup QF has another impact on his health, or some minor injury/pain problems!

    I just dont understand why when he lost a match, most of the posters use some extremely negative words to describe him, as if he must be sent to prison!!!

    He has earned enough $$$ in his career, and he could have easily retired! But he continues, for Davis Cup + personal enjoyment. No one can stop him from playing until he is 40 (even if he drops to #300 in rankings), as long as he still enjoys playing!

    We should rather feel proud of him, for every single match he plays. We wont even have a chance to complain about him being lazy / poor / etc., when he no longer appears on court!

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    1. I don't understand it either. And I've been saying it for a long time now - I'm going to enjoy the sight of David on the tennis court for as long as I still can. And yep, he could've long since retired if he didn't care about tennis anymore. His body will stop him from continuing to play in the not too distant future. Until then, I'm not going to waste my time, complaining when he loses matches, and least of all if it's against an opponent, who was simply too good that day.

      Anyway, from David's perspective he didn't sacrifice his individual success for DC. For him, DC is far more important than any tournament, including Masters and also Slams. David refusing to play DC? That's a good one... lol ;)

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    2. We just have to accept that Nalby is a talented player who fails to win a Grand Slam in his career. He is not the first one, and will also not be the last one!

      I actually never enjoy watching players like Raonic, Roddick, Ivanisevic, etc. Strong serves, lots of aces, lack of rallies. I would immediately switch off the TV.

      Perhaps Nalby would have better results had he been born 10 years earlier! His 'weak' serve (yet weak by what standard?) would be regarded as a very strong serve!! I just want to imagine the beautiful rallies he could have if playing against Agassi, Courier or Chang!

      I think he will occupy a 'unique' place in tennis history and become a minor legend - failing to win a GS, but winning the year-end Master cup + couple of Masters 1000 series, dedication to Davis Cup, ranked #3 highest, the 'temper' he displayed on court, some controversial matches (e.g., the recent R2 Australian Open match).

      He just has something special that makes him different from other players, regardless of his results.

      I predict his end-of-2012 ranking would be somthing close to what happened in 2010. Then I hope he will carry this momentum (finally playing a full-time schedule in 2012!) and has a better 2013.

      I just think some of the fans here are too demanding and over-realistic, and expect him to win all matches. 2012 is just a 'warm-up' platform for him to get used to playing full-time again. Imagine someone like Federer has the same number of injuries and could only play on a part-time basis for nearly half a decade (read carefully, nearly half a decade!!!!!), he would also struggle to win matches + big tournaments!!

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    3. I don't have any problem with David remaining Slam-less. For me, it has always simply been about enjoying his matches and his way of playing. He's my favourite player and his status, whether current or in tennis history, is of no importance for that. But I'll just say this, there's a huge difference between the way David is seen at home in Argentina and in the rest of the world. Especially because of his commitment to DC.

      But no, 2012 is not a "warm-up" for playing full-time again. It may still turn out to be his last season. And if not then his last but one. 2012 has been going really well so far, with David playing a full schedule. But there's no guarantee it's going to stay that way.

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  5. Does anyone know why Madrid went over to blue clay? As far as I know, the only previous tournament using that surface was the US Clay Court Championship - very much of a sideshow.

    From looking at the first couple of days in Madrid, I have seen quite a few players looking startled, dismayed, and annoyed at the properties of the new surface. I haven't heard a single player with a single good thing to say about it.

    So - WHY? Who thought this change would be a good idea, and why wasn't it prevented? It's crystal clear that no one involved in the decision thought about the players or their health.

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  6. Ion Tiriac. Trying to make his tournament more popular. Apart from that, blue just so happens to be the colour of the main sponsor.
    Blue clay was created specifically for Madrid. Clay tournaments in the US were/are played on green clay, also known as Har-Tru.
    Ion Tiriac may say he's done it to increase the visibility of the ball. But I have my doubts about that.

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    1. The green clay or Har-Tru you speak of Julia is a great surface. It's harder underneath than red clay and has sort of a gritty top layer. The ball sets up great on it and it's faster than red clay. It's my favorite surface. Unfortunately it hardly exists where I live. Requires a lot of water, so it's mostly in the more humid areas of the U.S. The U.S. Open was played on Har-Tru for a short period. Blue clay sounds like a gimmick to me. And yeah, Djokovic really lashed out at it yesterday.

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  7. Reading interviews (and bearing in mind that top palyers are always VERY reluctant to criticize the organizers and sponsors) it's plain that a number of them found the blue clay bizarre and unpleasant. Djokovic was most outspoken - but then his game relies very heavily on agile movement and quick changes of direction. Almagro said in so many words that the surface was slippery and he hoped no one got injured. Raonic and Tomic agreed about how slippery it was, and David - although as far as I have seen he said nothing - seemed to be struggling with both movement and odd bounces.

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  8. Sounds as if Tiriac was trying to fix something that wasn't broken. Of course, there are no bounds to the greed of businessmen! But pretty well every top player was signed up for Madrid months ago - just like every year.

    And if red clay is so awful, how come it's good enough for the French Open, Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, Rome...?

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  9. The courts at the Caja Magica have been known as the worst clay courts at the ATP level ever since the first clay edition of the tournament. So the problems aren't new.
    What would be new is the players letting such words be followed by deeds.

    And no, David hasn't said anything. But from his reactions during the match it can be assumed that he he wasn't exactly excited...

    Madrid is the Caja Magica, blue clay and model ball girls, casted for their looks, not their skills. That's Tiriac's version of a Masters. I prefer the much more old-school approach. Including red clay.

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  10. To be fair, the way Raonic was serving I'm not sure if anyone would have been able to beat him. Look at how Djokovic was swept aside by Isner in Indian Wells! He was very frustrated because he just couldn't make any impact on Isner's serve. And Raonic is a big step beyond one-dimensional players like Karlovic and Isner: he has excellent ground strokes, and positions himself very nimbly. In fact he's getting to look more and more like Del Potro Mark II (with new improved unreturnable serve).

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  11. Yeah and its great that there's another master series coming up around the corner for us to see David before RG

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  12. Very well said Anonymous and Julia. I totally agree with you.

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  13. Its sad that David lost the match. Im watching the Fedrer vs Raonic match and just whishing that it was David playing. I hope he will be ready for the Rome tournament.

    I also hope he has a better draw. He has had tough draws Except for Serbia Open. In Indian Wells Miami and Madrid he has had to play seeded players. Lets pray for a good draw and Im sure then he will gain confidence and go Deep... Vamos David!!!

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  14. I hope we all enjoy what David still has to offer on the Tour while he's still playing.
    I've just seen this article on Twitter about David
    http://tn.com.ar/deportes/esencial/00095486/david-nalbandian-a-fin-de-ano-voy-a-evaluar-mi-retiro
    not sure of the meaning but... I hope he'll stay healthy enough to consider staying on the Tour a few seasons more.
    Health, that's all that matters actually.

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    1. He has said before that at the end of this season, he'll decide whether he's going to play another one. Which is why I wrote in one of my comments above that this season may still turn out to be his last. And even if he decides to play another one then next year would be his last. He has never said he'll go on playing longer than that.

      What he says in that quote is that these are the final steps he's taking now in his career and that the best years are over. That he's 30 and has had three surgeries...

      I think even if he stays healthy during the rest of this season, he could still decide he's had enough at the end of it. And as he also says in that article, he'd love to take up rally driving. It's not like he won't know what do with himself after tennis.

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    2. I realize you've said it many times earlier this year but the more I read it in the media, the more I realize that 2012 is flying so fast :(

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  15. oh no i have read it
    it means he said that he will evaluate is retirement at the end of the season
    i hope he will hang on another season
    it will be sad to end it like this

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  16. So you get more opportunities to call him a loser or his way of playing amateurish? Or laugh about his efforts?
    I won't have any more of that from you during his matches, here on VD.

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  17. Noubar, if you read this, hope you're good there, and stay safe!

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    1. Yeah, I saw it in the news... I guess Blogger is blocked again for you, Noubar. But I really hope you're okay.

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  18. at least david directly in the main draw in rome

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  19. I'm not sure that's certain, yet. I think he still needs one more withdrawal to make it directly.

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  20. - Or for the SE place to get cleared, which is the case. So yep, David into the main draw at Rome.

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  21. I cant complain about this loss. He shouldn't feel old. He played against a young up-and-coming who has a sledgehammer of an arm. Not to mention he's 10 years younger.

    Yes, he loses from time to time, but the awesome part is that when he does win, I cheer him on like he just won a slam! I'm not saying I hate #1's, but much like the Yankee's in baseball, if you won every game and every championship, it becomes really, really boring. So when he does win for a change, I root him on till the end. And if he loses, then I applaud him for doing his very best. Hell, if I was his age and had his injuries, I'd be playing it safe too. You cant blame him for that. If you're a real fan of David's, you'd know he'd give 110% and beat whoever it is if he really wanted to. And boy have we true fans seen that before (Masters Cup '05,etc. ;D)!

    ~ Rafdog

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