• Nadal battles Lopez in all-Spanish showdown

    1/21/12 6:10 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Nadal battles Lopez in all-Spanish showdown Friends but also familiar foes Rafael Nadal and Feliciano Lopez will lock horns once again on Sunday in Melbourne. A place in the quarterfinals is at stake.

    Rafael Nadal and Feliciano Lopez will be squaring off for the 11th time in their careers when they clash in round four of the Australian Open on Sunday.

    Nadal is dominating the head-to-head series 8-2, including 4-0 on hard courts. Lopez's two wins have come on indoor carpet (2003 Basel) and on the grass courts of Queen's Club in 2010. They faced each other twice last season, with Nadal rolling to straight-set wins in Miami and Rome.

    Lopez is obviously a massive underdog, but he is playing some of the best tennis of his career at 30 years old. The 19th-ranked Spaniard reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals last summer and advanced to the Shanghai Masters semifinals a few months later. After straight-set wins this week over Leonardo Mayer and Flavio Cipolla, Lopez turned in a stellar performance to beat John Isner in five on Friday.

    It does not get any easier against Nadal who fell to Gael Monfils in the Doha semis but has erased some serious question marks with his showing so far in Melbourne. The second-ranked Spaniard has not dropped a single set in routs of Alex Kuznetsov, Tommy Haas, and Lukas Lacko.

    Lopez will actually have to employ similar tactics to the ones he used to beat Isner, obviously a much different player than Nadal. The No. 18 seed needs to feed his opponent low-bouncing slices on a consistent basis and get into net whenever he gets a short ball. Most importantly, Lopez will have to serve unbelievably well to have any chance.

    At least one or two sets should be competitive if Lopez has a good serving day, but count on Nadal advancing in straights.

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Vamos Rafa

nadline , 1/21/12 9:16 AM

Vamos Rafa & good luck. Hope you take it in 3.

schatz , 1/21/12 3:32 PM

Nice preview Ricky. :D

cherylmurray , 1/21/12 3:51 PM

Easy match for nadal lopez is will lose easily

tennis2011 , 1/21/12 9:02 PM

little fun at AO -rafa-nadal.html


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Tipsy ..Tipsy !!

mani4Tennis , 1/21/12 9:55 PM

Rafa is standing almost in shades to receive felli sevice!!

mani4Tennis , 1/22/12 3:05 AM

^^^ this tactic is actually a smart one. Feli HAS to win free points off his first serve. If Nadal can get it back in play, he'll dictate from the baseline. Lalo doesn't like long points.

cherylmurray , 1/22/12 3:34 AM

hey thanks Cheryl! By the way, nice prediction in the Hewitt-Raonic match!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

RickyDimon , 1/22/12 4:13 AM

Ditto for the Isner-Lopez match, Ricky!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You had Raonic in 4. :D

cherylmurray , 1/22/12 4:36 AM

Rafa leads by 2 sets to love - 64 64.

nadline , 1/22/12 4:43 AM

pretty bad 2nd set

RickyDimon , 1/22/12 4:43 AM

Bad in what way Ricky? I didn't get to watch the match as I'm not at home.

luckystar , 1/22/12 4:50 AM

Feli has saved tons of break points with his serve, but not this time. Rafa leads 5-2 in the third set.

nadline , 1/22/12 5:17 AM

That makes it 9-2 to Nadal in their h2h. 6-4 6-4 6-2.

Vamos Rafa

nadline , 1/22/12 5:21 AM

very good in the 1st and 3rd

Isner would have put up a much better fight.

RickyDimon , 1/22/12 5:31 AM

Rafa was out of sorts today...backhand was not working and he was little frustrated about it...however, Rafa's serve was great and it is really encouraging to see it work this well...I guess the heat is the main reason for Rafa being slower than usual and therefore missing some shots...But the win is the win and I love seeing Rafa in quarters!

Four down three to go!

Vamos Rafa!!!

natashao , 1/22/12 5:41 AM

^^^^^^^would have, should have, could have....................he did not.

rafaisthebest , 1/22/12 5:42 AM

so people who watched the match- Did Rafa play well or did Feli just bend over to hand Rafa the match?

reading backhand was was forehand?

sanju , 1/22/12 6:29 AM

some of both

Feli bent over and Nadal was decent

RickyDimon , 1/22/12 6:43 AM

thanks Ricky

So you still stand by your predicton of Rafa having a decent and good chance to reach the final?

sanju , 1/22/12 6:57 AM

Thanks Ricky for the comments. I'll watch the recording later. At least Rafa got it done in straight sets.

luckystar , 1/22/12 7:12 AM

I watched the match. I thought Rafa played well in the first and third sets. He had a dip in the second set and opened the door, but Feli was either incapable or unwilling to take advantage of it. Feli missed a lot of wide open shots and also didn't serve as well as he can.

Here are some stats from the match -

Rafa's serve stats -

1st serve % = 80%
1st serve pts won = 81%
2nd serve pts won = 64%

Winners = 20
UE's = 14

Break pt conversion = 5/18 = 28%

Avg serve speed = 175 kmh
Fastest serve speed = 199 kmh
Avg second serve speed = 134 kmh

Rafa is not going for a lot of speed on his first serves. Vamosrafa posted some stats on another topic thread comparing 2011 serving stats to this year. He is going for a bigger percentage of first serves in. He is also using placement and accuracy.

This has worked up until now, but we know that from here on out Rafa will be focusing tougher opponents who are better returners.

Rafa wasn't going for the backhand shots as much. His forehand was formidable.

My issue is that Rafa has not yet really been tested thus far in the tournament. I am really happy that he has gotten into the quarterfinals, but now he will be tested in his next match.

Nativenewyorker , 1/22/12 7:40 AM

Sorry, I meant to say that Rafa will be facing tougher opponents, not focusing!

Nativenewyorker , 1/22/12 7:44 AM

the tournament really starts here for rafa....i think he is playing well enough to reach the finals....not sure he is at a level to win it all yet...hope he keeps improving.

vamos Rafaaaa!

vrael , 1/22/12 8:12 AM

Its Berdych next for Rafa who had to slug it out for 4 hrs in the heat

What was the issue in that match? Berdych refused to even shake hands with Almargo at the net and then the crowd booed him like crazy..if this same crowd lands in Rod laver on Tuesday Berdy is for a tough time really

Any idea what happ? Berdy said Almargo whacked the ball on his face..I dont think anyone would do that intentionally..

sanju , 1/22/12 8:38 AM

Delpo is hitting the ball so clean n well..Fed may pull it off but DElpo will for surely hurt him

sanju , 1/22/12 8:40 AM

Feli bent over and Nadal was decent
RickyDimon , 1/22/12 6:43 AM

Ricky, which match were you watching. Feli hardly bent over, he did his best but his best was not good enough. I agree that Rafa could have been a tinny, winny bit sharper.

nadline , 1/22/12 9:03 AM


Almagro hit a shot on the dead run that happened to hit Berdy on the arm. Almagro went over to the net to apologize, but Berdy wouldn't look at him. When Berdy won the match, he wouldn't go to the net to shake hands with Almagro and that Aussie crowd started booing his poor sportsmanship.

No way was that shot intentional! Berdy decided to take it as intentional, for reasons known only to him. Bad behavior on Berdy's part and the Aussie crowd let him know by drowning out his post-match interview on the court.


I saw the match more the way you did. Feli did miss some shots that were wide open and didn't serve as well as he can. I just didn't think Feli was that sharp today. Rafa had a bit of a letdown in the second set and was broken back. I thought that was Feli's chance to make a match out of it. He started playing more aggressive. Feli can't hang with Rafa on the baseline. I just think that Rafa was able to dictate the points more.


I am hesitant at this point to make any predictions. Rafa really hasn't been tested yet. He can take it up another gear or two. We will see.

Nativenewyorker , 1/22/12 10:17 AM

I thought Feli's serve was what was holding him up, he saved loads of break points with his serve. This is the kind of result I expected, I thought it was 80:20 Rafa winning, but I also knew it wasn't going o be a stroll.

nadline , 1/22/12 10:26 AM

What I liked about Rafa's play in this match was that he was hardly troubled on his serve, it was Felli who was having to work hard on his serve....................

Not a very entertaining march, but that's because Rafa and Felli know each other so well. I expect Berdy to give Rafa a tough workout in the quarters. I hope it's a night match...................

rafaisthebest , 1/22/12 11:21 AM

I think the ease of his passage into the 2nd week has proved very beneficial for him.

First - he hasn't exerted himself on court, the fact that he's pretty much cruised to victories in just over 2hours - is giving his body more rest - especially if he is nursing any injuries on the knee or shoulder.

Second and most importantly - he's been able to find a great groove and consistency in his serving. A first serve percentage of around 80% for the whole tournament has been great for winning free points and saving break points. If he is to have any chance in any potential final with Djokovic - he's going to need to keep the serving at that level - perhaps even raise the percentage level higher and without question add some aces to the mix.

As stated in other comments he'll have his first real test in the quarters - hopefully this time he can enter this stage in much better physical condition than he has for the previous two years. I'll expect he'll probably lose his first set of the tournament but he should come through in four.

lebsta2 , 1/22/12 1:09 PM

I know it was very hot today and it was difficult for Rafa to cope with the heat but I also know that Rafa prefers playing during the day and in the sun...I therefore would like this match to be during the day, hopefully later afternoon, as I believe Rafa would still be able to deal with the heat better than Berdy...anyway, it will be tough and Rafa needs to be 100% in the match, no mental lapses allowed...

Vamos Rafa!!!

natashao , 1/22/12 1:28 PM

this is funny ..i went to the fed - tomic thread and read the was all tomic just not good enough to trouble fed . which could possibly be true ..

And then i come here ...and all of a sudden feli , one of the spanish whipping boy for nadal is all that and has grown into a mammoth of a challenge and nadal did an amazing job in fighting him off ....

umm...seriously ?

funny how people just do a 180 flip when it comes to different players ....i would agree if both matches were challanges to the top seed or both matches were not good enough ...however , for the same person to a conflicting opinions when watching both these matches is just blind hatred .

feli giving nadal a fight ..seriously ?

breakpoint , 1/22/12 1:29 PM

Tbh, I ma just happy that Rafa is fine (at least he says he is), he has reached the quarters and defended his points. I also expect the challenges to start from the quarters with Berdy. If he survives that Fed will not be easy. Perosnally, from what I have seen, Rafa has improved his all-court game, especially the effectiveness of his serve, but I am not convinced his game is at a place where he can trouble Nole right now, I just feel his game is in transition and we will not see the fully developed product until around February or so...................

So, I fully expect Rafa to make the finals but lose to Nole.............

rafaisthebest , 1/22/12 1:34 PM

breakpoint, you simply cannot compare Tomic to one of the seasoned players on the tour. Would you rather we thought that Tomic gave Roger a fight when he clearly did not.

nadline , 1/22/12 1:40 PM

"Happy for the match, to play against a friend as Feli is always difficult. Now we're thinking about the second week at the Open. It starts now!"

Above is a quote from Rafa's Facebook wall...........agree with him, Oz 2012 starts now!!

rafaisthebest , 1/22/12 1:56 PM

nadline ....if you thought tomic didnt give roger a fight ....then you should also think feli didnt give rafa a fight......
and vice versa ..not have double standards .

breakpoint , 1/22/12 2:44 PM

For the Tomic vs Fed match, Tomic was only competitive in the first set, once he lost the first set, he looked deflated and from then on, it's all downhill. I agree that he did not put up a good fight during the second half of the second set and also in the third set, probably physically and then mentally checked out.

Whether he fought or not, it didn't make any difference, there's simply no way that he could beat Fed, unless Fed was injured. The difference in their level is definitely greater than the difference between Rafa and Lopez, simple as that. Feli certainly fought throughout the whole match whilst Tomic only fought for part of his.

luckystar , 1/22/12 3:05 PM

breakpoint, when Roger played Kudryvtsev in the 1st round and I said Federer didn't hae it all his own way, Fedfans said it was because I hate Roger, now I'm saying that Tomic was no match for Roger, you say it's because I hate Roger.

I said before the Tomic match that Fed would give him a tennis lesson. Even though Tomic took a set off him recently, I don't believe he can do it again, I just believe that was just a one off, because I don't think Tomic is all that.

nadline , 1/22/12 3:31 PM

breakpoint, did you watch both matches?

nadline , 1/22/12 3:35 PM

breakpoint, Rafa's h2h with Berdych is 10-3 and after this match it is 9-2 with Feli, would you call Berdych Rafa's whipping boy?

nadline , 1/22/12 3:49 PM

Nadline ,

Watched both mathes . Feli had no chance and neither did tomic . but to say nadal had a tough match is a joke .
Im no fedfan ...but ur a hater doubt there .
Btw , i dont think berdych is rafa's whipping boy ....and neither is he from spain !
head to head does not say anything when u compare 3 players . If feli had more matches with rafa does not mean the percentage stays the same . H2h works only when 2 player compared to each other .

breakpoint , 1/22/12 6:42 PM

breakpoint, why do you say I hate Federer. I'm not a fan but how can I hate someone I don't know and who has never done anything to me. I just say I don't buy into his aura and the same can be said about people who are not fans of Rafa's.

nadline , 1/22/12 7:25 PM

So breakpoint, why do you thin Feli is Rafa's whipping boy if it's not to do with their h2h?

nadline , 1/22/12 7:30 PM

Both Federer and Nadal were impressive, no doubt. But should they meet in the final, Nadal will win, 4 sets AT THE MOST. For me, he was much more impressive the whole tournament.

nemanja230690 , 1/22/12 7:40 PM

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