• Nadal, Fish square off for third time in 2011

    10/7/11 5:02 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Nadal, Fish square off for third time in 2011 Rafael Nadal and Mardy Fish will be colliding for the third time in less than four months when they take the court on Saturday in Tokyo. The winner will go up against either Andy Murray or David Ferrer for the title.

    Rafael Nadal and Mardy Fish will squaring off for the eighth time in their careers and for the third time this season when they do battle in the Japan Open semifinals on Saturday afternoon.

    Nadal leads the overall head-to-head series 6-1, including 3-1 on hard courts. Fish, however, ended a six-match losing streak and dominated their most recent encounter 6-3, 6-4 at the Cincinnati Masters. Nadal won their other previous 2011 meeting 6-3, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon.

    As their recent history suggests, Fish has a much better shot at victory against Nadal on the hard stuff. The 29-year-old American again tore up the U.S. Open Series with a title in Atlanta, a runner-up finish in Montreal, and a semifinal performance in Cincinnati. It's been full steam ahead for Fish on the hard courts of Asia, where he has taken out Ryan Harrison, Ernests Gulbis, and Bernard Tomic so far this week.

    Fish is an impressive 42-18 for the season, while Nadal is 64-11 after bouncing back nicely from a U.S. Open final loss to Novak Djokovic. The top-seeded Spaniard won a pair of Davis Cup singles rubbers against France last month and he has dismissed Go Soeda, Milos Raonic, and Santiago Giraldo all in straight sets to reach the Tokyo semis.

    "I lost to him last time in Cincinnati, so it will be a big challenge for me tomorrow," Nadal said of Fish after beating Giraldo. "I will need to be more aggressive than I played today."

    Nadal is absolutely right in assessing his game-plan, but he says that all the time and it is much easier said than done. If Fish serves well and is clicking with two-handed backhand, he can keep his opponent off balance and prevent Nadal from necessary aggressiveness.

    The world No. 2 is always at his worst during the hard-court swing leading up to the U.S. Open, so a result similar to the one in Cincinnati is not likely. Count on an entertaining clash with Nadal prevailing in three sets.

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nadal in straight sets

tennis2011 , 10/7/11 9:19 PM

Vamos Rafa!

nadline , 10/7/11 9:45 PM

Rafa/Mardy are on first.

Vamos Rafa!

nadline , 10/7/11 9:52 PM

Noon Tokyo, 11:00 PM Eastern on Friday

straight sets is possible

RickyDimon , 10/7/11 10:04 PM

Thanks for the tip off nadline. Will set my alarm now. Hope it's not too much of a rollercoaster ride at that time in the morning.

ed251137 , 10/7/11 10:05 PM

Fish in straights if he plays well,3 if he doesn't.

ChicaMarie , 10/7/11 10:40 PM

Yay! I can see Rafa at 8:00 pm my time!

I think this will be a competitive match and could well go three sets, with Rafa winning! Good luck, Rafa!

Nativenewyorker , 10/7/11 11:43 PM

nadal in straight sets, the first a tiebreak...

lluisa , 10/7/11 11:48 PM

ChicaMarie - how exactly is Fish going to win the match in 3 sets if he doesnt play well?

RickyDimon , 10/8/11 5:51 AM

Rafa takes the first set 75.

nadline , 10/8/11 6:17 AM

Great shot making from Rafa to get that break and serve it out to win the first set!

Nativenewyorker , 10/8/11 6:19 AM

Rafa breaks Fish in the first game of the second set! Fish is making more errors.

Now hold, Rafa!

Nativenewyorker , 10/8/11 6:26 AM

Rafa now up 4-1 in the second set. Two breaks of serve! Rafa is dictating play and has pretty much taken over. Great stuff from Rafa.

Nativenewyorker , 10/8/11 6:47 AM

Rafa wins - 75 61.

So ChicaMarie, if Rafa wins in straight sets and gave Fish a breadstick, how did Fish play?

Vamos Rafa!

nadline , 10/8/11 6:57 AM

Wow! That was a bit quick! Well played Rafa. Must be down to that colour he's wearing...;) Now let's see what Andy can do.

deuce , 10/8/11 6:58 AM

match recap - rdy_Fish

RickyDimon , 10/8/11 7:02 AM

As I expected...Rafa was up to his task. I'm so proud of him! I love when he is confident, he is then unbeatable...second set just proved it...
Well done, purple man :)


natashao , 10/8/11 7:06 AM

Rafa made the adjustments in this match and it paid off. The commentators noted that he was standing on the baseline or inside the baseline, being more aggressive and moving into the court and taking the ball on the rise.

Rafa also defended that forehand side much better. So nice to see him go out there and play good, solid aggressive hard court tennis. His groundstrokes were much more accurate. He took this match away from Fish and then in the second set Fish just fell apart.

This was a very satisfying victory. I am okay with being wrong about Rafa winning in three sets. I love it when Rafa proves me wrong this way!

Well done, Rafa!

Nativenewyorker , 10/8/11 7:26 AM

deuce and natashao: Touchee

ed251137 , 10/8/11 7:42 AM

We've all forgotten that when Fish beat Rafa in Cincy Rafa had sore fingers which impeded his backhand. We shouldn't lose faith in Rafa so quickly, he is a superior player to Fish and one swallow does not make a summer.

nadline , 10/8/11 7:43 AM

I hadn't forgotten Rafa's burned fingers and lack of match play in Cincy. And I don't lose faith in Rafa, ever. I predicted Rafa would get the win, although I thought it would go to three sets. And I am more than happy to see that Rafa has proven me wrong!

In his press conference he said that his court positioning wasn't good and he needed to be more aggressive. So today he came out and did it and good for him!

Nativenewyorker , 10/8/11 7:53 AM

NNY, I wasn't referring to you. Yesterday the commentators said Murray was a sure bet for the fian; against Ferrer but they were doubtful about Rafa jsut because Fish beat him was he was less than 100%.

nadline , 10/8/11 9:00 AM


Thank you for the clarification! :)

Nativenewyorker , 10/8/11 10:56 PM

@nadline , 10/8/11 7:43 AM, well, as the saying goes, Nadal can't lose unless he's injured, isn't that so? I'm at a loss as to how you come up with these rationalizations for his losses. I suppose you forgot the rules of engagement for sports, if you play, you're considered fit. BTW, would you be so quick to come up with an excuse for another player who was supposedly playing hurt and lost to Nadal? Hardly likely, I'd say.

scoretracker , 10/8/11 11:30 PM

scoretracker, Don't know if you've come across one of the greatest nadline's theories, it was something like this "95% of nadals loses are due to injury".
It was a few months ago but it stayed in my mind all this time because it's one of the most absurd, delusional (lol) statements I've ever heard or read. And what's worse is that I think nadline truly believes that if nadal is fit no one can't beat him.
How ludicrious is that?!

Fish was obviously going to lose. I mean just look at the results of the previous rounds and it was pretty clear who was going to come out on top. As for the final I really don't know, murray's playing great tennis but we know how he turns passive against the top players.

bleck , 10/9/11 12:45 AM

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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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