• Nadal comes from behind to defeat Gulbis

    3/14/13 12:46 PM | Cheryl Murray
    Nadal comes from behind to defeat Gulbis Rafael Nadal, who was still trying to power through rust, managed to just edge out on-fire Latvian Ernests Gulbis in a come-from-behind victory.

    It was rough going for the first set, but world No. 5 Rafael Nadal eventually prevailed in a tight third set to defeat Ernests Gulbis 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.

    Nadal was not the better player for at least half of this match. Gulbis played the role of aggressor while Nadal struggle to find his rhythm on the cement after just one match on hard courts in nearly a year. The Spaniard's path to the fourth round was marked by one match because a first-round bye and a walkover from Leonardo Mayer in the third round.

    The rust showed in the first set. Gulbis clearly dominated while Nadal scrambled around the baseline and donated unforced errors to the Gulbis cause. The result was a commanding lead for the Latvian and left Nadal with work to do.

    With his groundstrokes still not up to par, Nadal relied on his mental toughness to get him back in the match in the second set. It was a tactic that the Spaniard hasn't employed since his return to the game a month ago, but it was effective as it has ever been. He leveled the match at a set apiece and went into the third set ready to do battle.

    Both men played entertaining tennis in the third. Gublis seemed to be in more of Nadal's service games than the other way around, but the Spaniard managed to hold each time. In the end, it was Gublis who showed some frayed nerves at the tail end of the match and Nadal pulled out the stops in Gulbis' last service game to get the match-winning break of serve.

    Nadal's win sets up a showdown with Roger Federer in the quarterfinals.

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Rafa will get better and better, his knee permitting. Vamos Rafa! Go get the win!!

luckystar , 3/14/13 1:47 PM

^^^I think there were a few encouraging things for the Nadal camp from that match. He moved well and he's getting back the mental edge. Gulbis played quite well, so that was a good win for his confidence.

cherylmurray , 3/14/13 2:02 PM

VAMOS, my Rafatito!!!

Monalysa , 3/14/13 2:59 PM

"a few encouraging things" should do just fine for his next match...:)

natashao , 3/14/13 5:06 PM

..' With his groundstrokes still not up to par, Nadal relied on his mental toughness to get him back in the match in the second set. It was a tactic that the Spaniard hasn't employed since his return to the game a month ago'
mental toughness isn't a tactic, it'a hard-earned skill.

Shireling , 3/14/13 5:25 PM

Nadal defeating in form player (even not at his best), is great for his confidence . Switching from clay to hard isn't easy but so fara Nadal has done very well.

fedexal , 3/14/13 5:48 PM

I agree with Cheryl's comment @ 2:02 PM. I think Rafa got better as the match went on. He also cut down on those double faults from his first match. Watching my recording of the match, I noticed the stats for percentage of first serves won for each set. In sets one and two, Gulbis was winning over 90% of his first serves. But in the second set, he only won 58%. Rafa was winning about 74% and 84% for sets one and two, but in set three it was 68%.

Rafa knows that he beat one of the hottest players right now. He also knows that Gulbis has always been tough for him. Despite the knee problem, Rafa managed to find a way to win. His mental strength served him well in the crucial parts of the match. Gulbis challenged him and forced him to come up with great shots. This is the best preparation Rafa could have hoped for before playing Fed.

Nativenewyorker , 3/14/13 7:41 PM

Current ATP-rankings

1. Djokovic 12 500 pts
2. Murray 8 750 pts
3. Federer 8 670 pts
4. Ferrer 6 970 pts
5. Nadal 6 385 pts

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