• Nadal takes on Haas in Australian Open second round

    1/17/12 6:22 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Nadal takes on Haas in Australian Open second round Rafael Nadal will continue his Australian Open campaign against veteran Tommy Haas on Wednesday. Tomas Berdych and Olivier Rochus are also in action.

    Tommy Haas vs. (2) Rafael Nadal

    Nadal and Haas will be going head-to-head for the fifth time in their careers when they do battle in round two of the Australian Open on Wednesday. All four of their previous encounters have come on hard courts at either Masters events or Grand Slams, and Nadal has never even lost a set. They faced each other in the third round of this event three years ago, with Nadal dominating 6-4, 6-2, 6-2.

    Haas is slowing down at 33 years old, but he is not done yet. The injury-plagued German won his first match of the season in Brisbane over Marinko Matosevic but had to withdraw prior to the second round. Nonetheless, Haas recovered and scored a nice three-set win over Denis Kudla on Monday. Nadal, who lost to Gael Monfils in the Doha semis, opened in Melbourne with a straight-set rout of Alex Kuznetsov. Count on the second-ranked Spaniard rolling over Haas in straight sets.

    (7) Tomas Berdych vs. Olivier Rochus

    Berdych and Rochus are set for their seventh career meeting at the ATP level on Wednesday at the Australian Open. Although Berdych leads the head-to-head series 4-2, Rochus won their only hard-court clash at the 2005 Madrid Masters. They most recently squared off on the clay courts of of Monte-Carlo last spring, when Berdych cruised 6-2, 6-3.

    Rochus is in stellar form at the moment. The 5'6'' Belgian finished runner-up to David Ferrer last week in Auckland and he dismantled Bjorn Phau in straight sets on Monday. Berdych went into Melbourne with minor shoulder concerns, but he got past Albert Ramos in a four-setter in his opener. This will be tricky for the seventh-ranked Czech, but he should get the job done in four.

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Vamos Rafa

nadline , 1/17/12 11:41 AM

Berdych to win comfortably.

Nadal should get the job done in 3.

bleck , 1/17/12 2:59 PM

Vamos Rafa & good luck.

schatz , 1/17/12 4:17 PM

Rafa wins in straight sets, but Haas gives a good account of himself.

Haas seems to be indicating that this is his last AO.

nadline , 1/18/12 6:11 AM

The real Rafa has come out, he is sounding very positive nowadays, probably taking a leaf out of Nole's book.

nadline , 1/18/12 6:15 AM

Oh, so Haas is going to retire after this year. He's playing well this match, nice to see. Yes he gives a good account of himself, the former world no.2. I'm glad Rafa finishes this match in straight sets, though I think he's not playing that well, his first serve in particular. The Rafa of 2009 was really something else, really at the top of his game then. He's moving slower now and not striking the ball as well, I still remember he flatten his forehand and backhand shots back then and they were very effective on this hard court. Three years has past and he's certainly not as quick as before and IMO not playing as well as before but he's still better than most of the players. Well maybe as he progresses through the draw he'll get better and better.

luckystar , 1/18/12 6:27 AM

Haas has always been a dangerous player and Rafa has high respect for him...this was not an easy match, Haas fought hard, but Rafa had the job done in a nice way...I kind of like Rafa being tested in a mental sense...this match was not as much physically demanding but it was sort of a test for Rafa's confidence at crucial points...Rafa came back from a break down and made another break at 5:4 playing aggressive and brave...if this was Rafa of 2011 we would have easily witnessed the fourth set...but this time around Rafa believed in his game and his power and that is all he needs to do in the is good to move forward...nice job always earn your wins...

and keep on smiling, Rafa....

Vamos Rafa!!!

natashao , 1/18/12 6:32 AM

to be honest, NOT impressed with this performance . Rafa has not played well so far :( yes well enough to overcome most of the players but not good enough to beat guys like federer and novak, especially novak...even andy ... I am HOPING, he does something about his backhand in the upcoming matches and increase the depth on his shots.

@lucky, yea the movement was a tad better in the australian open 09 . I think its not that rafa cant move that well now, its about his confidence level perhaps. Rafa has said it several times how his movement his connected to his confidence level ! and he really moves best when playing with imperious confidence.. I really hope rafa does a better job in the next matches .

vamosrafa , 1/18/12 6:34 AM


I replied to you on another topic thread and gave my thoughts and concerns about Rafa's game. I am pretty much with both you and and lucky as to Rafa's performance in this match. But I do think you have hit the nail on the head with your observation that Rafa's movement is tied to his level of confidence. I still think he is not feeling confident and it showed in the match at times.

What I do want to say, is that we should keep in mind that Rafa has needed time to work his way into great form. We have seen him come into some slams not playing his best and yet by the second week, he has peaked into excellent form.

They showed an illustration on espn2 of what happens when Rafa hits the ball short. Brad Gilbert used colored arrows to show how Rafa's opponent has a choice of going down the line or cross court with the shot. I thought it was an excellent demonstration of the problem that is created when Rafa hits those short balls. He cedes court position to his opponent who then can dominate and hit a winner. Rafa has to create more depth and penetration with his forehand and especially his backhand.

They did say at one point that Rafa was standing closer to the baseline for the second serves. He was moving back and forth, further back for the first serves and closer for the second serves. I didn't notice it, to be honest.

The good news is that Rafa got it done in straight sets and now moves on.

Nativenewyorker , 1/18/12 7:29 AM

overall both players were decent

RickyDimon , 1/18/12 7:48 AM

Well Done, Rafa.

Haas is a former World No 2 with a great serve he cannot be expected to be dismissed easily.

nadline , 1/18/12 8:02 AM

Nadal will meet Lacko in the next round. Lacko beat Young in 4 sets.

nadline , 1/18/12 9:17 AM

This was not a convincing performance by Rafa although he got it done in straight sets. I guess during the course of a fortnight a player is allowed an off-day. This was definitely an off-day for Rafa.


rafaisthebest , 1/18/12 11:06 AM

guys - what was so bad about Rafas performance? What areas didnt work? Reading lot of disappointed comments on Rafas performance, makes me wonder if he won playing ugly? Haas is not surely a pushover, I thought he took Roger to 5 twice in a GS (I clearly remember RG 09 not sure which other one)

sanju , 1/18/12 11:13 AM

Who is this Lacko guy? Formidable opponent? He beat Young who I thought reached a final and didnt he beat Murray last year?

sanju , 1/18/12 11:17 AM

An aspect of Rafa's game that has been giving me concern was his inability to close out sets/matches. This was evident today again. He was serving for the set at 5-1 in the first set and he dropped his serve. You just cannot do that at such a critical juncture, and Rafa has been guilty of this in 2011. So for me, it is still the mental side of his game that needs sprucing up, never mind backhands, forehands etc..........

In fairness to Rafa, in his presser he did acknowkedge that he played well the first 7 games, implying that he did not pay so well after that. This is pretty much the way I saw it too. After the first set he became tentative, his forehand was dropping short and thisn gave Haas confidence and boy, did he go after it!

So, like I said, hoping this was just an off-day and rafa starts stepping on it from now on. Who's his next opponent?

rafaisthebest , 1/18/12 11:43 AM

Lacko? Lacko played against Rafa at the AO 2010 and was badly beaten by Rafa. They met in 2011 at Doha where Rafa was unwell with a virus infection. Rafa beat him in three sets but Lacko bageled Rafa in one of the sets. Didn't get to see how Lacko played against Levine so I've no idea how he's playing at the moment.

luckystar , 1/18/12 11:43 AM

Congrats to Rafa for the win - as previously said Haas is no pushover.

I have not seen the match yet as I recorded it but from the match stats it looked like Rafa did OK so I am surprised that some of you have said that he did not play particularly well. I think he also had a tough match against Haas in the 2009 AO.

Vamos our Rafa!

schatz , 1/18/12 12:32 PM

No, that 2009 match was much easier. Haas was difficult to play against, but Rafa was at his best in 2009 AO. Haas also gave Fed lots of problems at the FO that year, Fed needed five sets to beat Haas, so Haas is not an easy opponent.

luckystar , 1/18/12 1:18 PM

Rafa destroyed haas in that match, it was a masterclass. 56 winners to only 8 unforced errors in that match !

@NNY, thanks for the feedback :) and yes you are right about rafa playing himself inot form as the tournament progresses and i hope thats the case. However, one thing that worries me is that whenever rafa has won hard court slams , he has depicted something extra from round 2 onwards at least. For e.g he was destroying opponents in OZ 09 from early on, in rnd 4 i think he dispatched gonzo with a scoreline of 6-2 6-2 6-2 ! imagine that, gonzo IS a good hard court player.. in round 3 he destroyed haas 6-4 6-2 6-2...and his level of hitting in US open 2010 was MUCH BETTER than this in the first two rounds, even though istomin and gabashvillie played tough but rafa was hitting backahnds/forehands sooo well...

and @rafaisthebeset is right about those mental lapses ! surrending leads HAS to be stopped rafa !

vamosrafa , 1/18/12 2:14 PM

Don't worry, this is only the early round. Most of the top players were struggling: Delpo needed four sets in his first match, had to play catch up before winning in three sets in the second match; Almargo needed five sets to beat Dmitrov; Fish was knocked out in the second round. Tsonga, Berdych, Murray all needed four sets to beat their first round opponents. Nole had an aging first round opponent, Fed had an injured opponent and Rafa an inexperienced opponent in the first round and so the top three had easy matches in their first round.

The real test should be from the fourth round onwards. Looks like Lopez has a better chance of reaching the fourth round than Isner, as Isner looked like he's going to collapsed during his five sets match today. Lopez won't be an easy opponent for Rafa in the fourth round, if both get there.

luckystar , 1/18/12 2:32 PM

@NNY,agree with the ESPN analysis !thats a good way of showing how vulnerable rafa can get when dropping his groundies short...and when his forehand has depth , its the best shot in tennis !

@lucky, i have my hopes right up there :) . Watching the match again, rafa is hitting great forehands at times so I am not worried abt his forehand. The issue is that he is NOT FLATTENNING OUT his backhands ! we know rafa hits those killer cross court backhands when in full flow..waiting for that shot to be added to his arsenal

vamosrafa , 1/18/12 2:38 PM

Haas is still a good player even near the end of his career. Actually he plays a lot like Federer, maybe even a better backhand. Sometimes he makes poor shot selection - he tried a lot of drop shots and things that didn't work yesterday.

Nadal was able to handle it all well and hit lots of winners, key aces to when facing a break back point at 5-4 in the 1st. I watched most of the match and saw how at first Haas had the energy to hit those shoulder-high one-handed backhands, but you can't do that the whole match...eventually Nadal broke him down.

Bharata , 1/18/12 3:49 PM

A totally shallow comment: I thought Haas looked pretty hot when he walked off the court without his shirt on. :) No, that's not why I watch tennis, but it was enjoyable.

Fanfan , 1/18/12 4:00 PM

lucky..agree Lopez can be tricky..He has beaten Rafa I guess earlier

Yes Lopez looks a better fav to win against Isner..

Just saw highlights of Rafa-Haas..not that impressed..the sting in his shots were missing but yes the 2 down the T aces at break point down at 5-4 were a beauty..what killer serves those 2 were

Agree with Lucky that maybe apart from Nole in 1st one has shown an imperious or ominous form yet

sanju , 1/18/12 4:30 PM

nadabul should retire.

cheatNada , 1/18/12 4:49 PM

, 1/18/12 8:02 AM

so true, nad...Rafa did well! On to the next round...

Vamos Rafa!!!

natashao , 1/18/12 6:42 PM

Let's not forget that Haas my be 33, but he is a former World No 2 and he is an experienced player with a very decent serve. Federer had to come from 2 sets down at RG to beat him in 2009.

Rafa had set point at 5-1 in the first set but Haas saved it with a blistering ace, then Rafa made a couple of mistakes on his serve one of them by leaving a ball which he thought was going out. Rafa dropped his serve again in the 3rd set because Haas was going hell for leather, but eventually Rafa was too good for him.

nadline , 1/18/12 7:08 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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