• Nadal battles Stepanek in Queen's Club third round

    6/9/11 5:04 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Nadal battles Stepanek in Queen's Club third round Rafael Nadal's second grass-court match of the season will come against Radek Stepanek on Thursday in London. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Michael Llodra are also looking for a spot in the quarterfinals.

    (1) Rafael Nadal vs. Radek Stepanek

    Nadal and Stepanek will be going head-to-head for the fourth time in their careers but first time since 2005 when they clash in the third round of the AEGON Championships on Thursday. All three of their previous encounters came six years ago, with Nadal prevailing on all three occasions. The good news for Stepanek, finally, is that he gets to play this one grass whereas his three prior attempts against Nadal came on the slow stuff.

    Of course, that's not to say Nadal isn't an absolute force on grass. He is. The top-ranked Spaniard has won two Wimbledon titles and he is looking for his second winner's trophy at Queen's Club. Nadal kicked off his week with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Matthew Ebden. Stepanek has taken out Go Soeda and Ivan Ljubicic so far in London, improving his season record to 13-11. The veteran Czech is dangerous, but look for Nadal to raise his level from Wednesday and get the job done in straight sets.

    (10) Michael Llodra vs. (5) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

    It will be an all-French showdown when Llodra and Tsonga take the court on Thursday afternoon. A quarterfinal spot is at stake as the two compatriots do battle for the fourth time in their careers. Tsonga is 3-0 against Llodra with wins in 2009, 2010, and already once in 2011. They most recently faced each other on the indoor hard courts of Rotterdam, where Tsonga prevailed 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

    Llodra is always a formidable foe on fast surfaces, and he is looking like just that this week. The world No. 25 has dismissed both Jaroslav Pospisil and Julien Benneteau in straight sets. Tsonga got a first-round bye as the No. 5 seed and he dismantled Michael Berrer 6-0, 6-1 on Tuesday. An upset is a real possibility here, but Tsonga's second-round display suggests that he should be able to hold off Llodra in three.

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1st set Rafa..........serve worked beautifully, so did the forehand.....

rafaisthebest , 6/9/11 6:51 PM

what a funny 2nd set...rafa aint committed to this match, he looks jaded. Just gettign practice on grass, wont be surprised if he loses here but i do think he'l edge this one out

vamosrafa , 6/9/11 7:54 PM

I honestly want him to go home now and rest.............

rafaisthebest , 6/9/11 8:00 PM

he is up 4-1 so we'l be seeing him tomorrow again. i am sure he's gona pull out from the doubles . I wont mind tsonga beating rafa at all, the guy needs well deserved rest. Enough match practice has been gained rafa, go home now

vamosrafa , 6/9/11 8:25 PM

Stepanek, John Isner........I hope they are not in Rafa's quarter at Wimby................this Stepanek fellow is just a nuisance isn't he............

rafaisthebest , 6/9/11 8:29 PM

I had to go out so I thought I'd missed the match but came in when Rafa was leading by 1 set and 5-2 in the 2nd set, so I thought it would be over any minute now, next thing I knew, Rafa dropped his serve serving for the match then eventually lost the set. So I went and put my Rafa lucky top on that I wore everytime he played at RG this year, and he won the 3rd set 6-1.

I think he knew I'd missed most of the match, so when I came in, he decided to play another hour for me. Lol

nadline , 6/9/11 8:37 PM

GSM the grass mileage he wanted. He needs to work on his volleying.......i won't pan him for going walk-about in the 2nd set, he is tired. I hope he does not push too much against Tsonga...........

rafaisthebest , 6/9/11 8:37 PM

C'mon Rafaistebest, it is Rafa's fault that he had to play the third set...he had two match points and he already saw himself having a nice hot bath...he lost due to his lack of concentration, Stepanek was never a threat...he brought Stepi back into the having played for two and a half hours, Rafa definitelly needs to go home and rest...he did not need this at all...yeah, this match should be enough match practice...

natashao , 6/9/11 8:39 PM

It is a worry, Rafa losing concentration on important points........and this is not the first time this year. Team Rafa needs to work on this............

rafaisthebest , 6/9/11 8:46 PM

yes, I agree...the second set lapses continue...he can only afford short matches at this point, anything long like this is adding no value and doing him no favor...and nadline, you better don't miss any more Rafa's matches...I can't go through this torture again...:((

natashao , 6/9/11 8:59 PM

Oh Nadline, I have a lucky Rafa shirt I wear during his matches too. Mine is yellow. If I somehow forget to launder the shirt before a match I wash it quickly and wear it damp. Now how's that for being a fangirl.

Maya , 6/9/11 9:12 PM

Actually Maya, I had to go and get mine from the dirty laundry basket where I put it after the RG final on Sunday, but I thought what the heck if it's dirty and long as it works.

nats, sadly I had to go to a funeral today.

nadline , 6/9/11 9:50 PM

oh, nadline, you are forgiven...

and you can't even think of the rituals which I think I have to follow when Rafa is playing...but I can't reveal it as I am afraid it would not work anymore...:) so, who says Rafa is superstitious...:) I think we are far worse than him...:))

natashao , 6/9/11 10:13 PM

Can you guys believe Rafa still went on and played the doubles match? He and Marc lost the first set in a tiebreak (lasted almost an hour) and the match was then suspended due to darkness...I can't get this guy at all...he was already exhausted when playing Stepanek...oh, Rafa, what to say...just VAMOS NO MATTER WHAT!!!

natashao , 6/9/11 10:29 PM

That's why he was so miffed after Stepanek won the 2nd set because he was going straight to play the doubles. I hope all this punishment pays off at Wimbledon.

Rafa played really well in the 3rd set so he got some more useful match play out of going to three sets which is why he is at Queens.

nadline , 6/9/11 10:51 PM

Vamos Rafa. Step it up man. Your best friend Marc needs this title. Remember win singles and doubles titles and the Verdasco-like 2nd set was good as well. All matches 3 sets please too ok? Gracias amigo.

numero , 6/9/11 11:24 PM

Sorry to put a downer on your hope that Rafa exhausts himself, but there is a week between queens and Wimbledon, so Rafa will be plenty rested!

Oh and he wont kill himself in this tournament, he knows his limits. As long as he makes it to the quarters thats all he needs.

isabeau77 , 6/10/11 2:16 AM

Please understand Isabeau, numero is a rafahater... he thinks he is smarter than Rafa and his team....

tettylds , 6/10/11 2:31 AM


Don't mind numero these days. He is cranky because Fed hasn't been winning. So he has to tweak Rafa fans. He also forgets that Rafa is five years younger than Fed and doesn't need so much rest.

Well, wasn't that emotional watching Rafa win RG and make history? What a moment! This is going to change everything for Rafa. You can already see it on his face at Queens. It's like a weight has been lifted off him and now he is feeling just fine!

Nativenewyorker , 6/10/11 8:13 AM

Current ATP-rankings

1. Djokovic 12 500 pts
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