• Nadal battles Dolgopolov in Indian Wells fourth round

    3/14/12 3:47 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Nadal battles Dolgopolov in Indian Wells fourth round Rafael Nadal will have no day's rest as he takes the court in Indian Wells again on Wednesday. Nadal is going up against Alexandr Dolgopolov for a spot in the quarterfinals.

    Rafael Nadal and Alexandr Dolgopolov will be going head-to-head for the third time in their careers when they do battle in the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open on Wednesday. Nadal has won both of their previous encounters; 6-4, 6-3 at the 2010 Madrid Masters and 6-1, 6-2 at last year's Sony Ericsson Open.

    Dolgopolov is in for another tough test in this one, but his earlier matches in Indian Wells will have prepared him--at least mentally. The 21st-ranked Ukrainian outlasted Steve Darcis 6-7(13), 6-3, 7-5 then got past Marcos Baghdatis 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 on Tuesday. Dolgopolov is now a solid 10-5 for his 2012 campaign.

    Nadal has dealt with no such issues so far this fortnight. The second-ranked Spaniard eased past Leonardo Mayer 6-1, 6-3 before dismissing countryman and Miami doubles partner Marcel Granollers 6-1, 6-4. Nadal, a semifinalist in Doha and the runner-up at the Australian Open, is 12-2 for the season.

    Wednesday's showdown is sure to feature plenty of baseline rallies, with Dolgopolov's unorthodox style going up against Nadal's heavy groundstrokes. The underdog is coming off two long matches, so it will be difficult to hang with Nadal for as long as it would require to score an upset. Nadal in straight sets is the pick.

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Rafa looks quite good from what Ive seen thus far..............he's serving great and his movement is fluid.................I quite like him for this one in straights!!!


Monalysa , 3/14/12 1:29 PM

Vamos Rafa

nadline , 3/14/12 3:00 PM

Good luck Rafa & vamos.

schatz , 3/14/12 3:58 PM

Dolgo reminds me of Dustin Brown, the Jamaican/German. They have the same sort of game.

nadline , 3/14/12 11:49 PM

Tsonga gone in 3 sets to Nalby.

nadline , 3/15/12 12:41 AM

Rafa walks it - 63 62.

Vamos Rafa

nadline , 3/15/12 12:50 AM

Dolgo is awful, honestly... I don't know what the tennis media looked at this guy. He is SO overrated.

Hopefully Nalby-Nadal will be an interesting match.

Emiliano55 , 3/15/12 12:51 AM

^^^He can't be that bad if he gets to the 4th Rnd in a Masters.

nadline , 3/15/12 12:55 AM

Dolgo is inconsistent. He can be brilliant or awful. Today he wasn't on his game, but I think Rafa had something to do with it.

Rafa/Nalby will be interesting! Nalby has always been a tough opponent for Rafa. Tsonga totally choked away that match. He was serving for the win in the second set, when it all fell apart. Of course, credit goes to Nalby for hanging in there and playing well.

Nativenewyorker , 3/15/12 12:56 AM

Emiliano, sky, an ardent Fedfan says Dolgo plays like Federer.

nadline , 3/15/12 12:56 AM

Of course he is not bad. But he is not the player that many thinks he is. He is SO overrated.

Emiliano55 , 3/15/12 12:56 AM

Dolgo is an instinctive player but not very accurate with it. Maybe in time he'll polish off his game and be more consistent.

However, Rafa does make some players look awful, so don't judge him by how he looks against Rafa, it's a tall order for most players.

nadline , 3/15/12 1:00 AM

Bravo, Rafa! I like Rafa's calmness when he faces break points...that was missing last year...he is looking GOOOOD!!!

however, it's not going to be easy one with Nalby...

Vamos Rafa!

natashao , 3/15/12 1:20 AM

Agree with nadline, that Rafa makes some players look awful. Dolgo did give both Nole and Murray though times at last year's USO and AO respectively, but once he faced Rafa, like at Miami last year and now IW, Dolgo looked helpless and error prone out there. It's not easy handling Rafa's spins and Dolgo's slices, and Rafa knows how to beat Dolgo, by not allowing him to play freely. I think last year's Miami match score was also 6-3,6-2 if I'm not wrong.

Rafa usually goes through some rough patches during his matches these days, even when he's playing well. He seems more nervous than normal when closing out sets or matches.

luckystar , 3/15/12 4:17 AM

Rafa certainly looks the "in form" player of this tournament.

deuce , 3/15/12 7:52 AM

Don't want to jinx him, but Rafa hasn't lost a set yet in both singles and doubles, and in doubles beaten seasoned players like Zimonic and Paes and the defending champions.

nadline , 3/15/12 9:15 AM

A great homage to doubles by Steve Tignor and those who talk Rafa down all the time are simply refusing to accept what a big asset he is to tennis. He is even making doubles look appealing.

Steve Tignor:

"INDIAN WELLS, CALIF.?At most tennis events, the farther away the seats are from the court, the more likely they are to have people in them. This isn?t because the view is better up there, obviously, but because real live tennis fans, rather than corporations and sponsors, are able to buy them. If you?ve seen any of the BNP Paribas Open this week, though, you?ve likely noticed that one very good seat?the best in the house?has regularly had a person occupying it. Row one, center aisle here belongs to Indian Wells owner Larry Ellison. The Oracle founder and current sixth richest man in the world is also a real live tennis fan.

Ellison is so much of a fan, in fact, that two nights ago he ventured out of the main arena, away from its luxury boxes and hospitality suites, and took his place among the Southern Caifornia masses to watch tennis on Stadium 2. What brought him all the way over there? Rafael Nadal, mainly?Ellison is a Rafa fan. But what Ellison ended up seeing and enjoying as much as everyone else in the house wasn?t Nadal in a showdown with Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic, but a third-round doubles match. Unless the richest really are different from you and me and the rest of the crowd in Stadium 2 that night, Ellison must have left with an appreciation of what doubles can offer as a spectator sport."

nadline , 3/15/12 10:02 AM

In fact Rafa played better last year at Miami against Dolgo, winning in 6-1,6-2. Also Rafa served alot quicker last year, unlike this match where he took more than30 secs to think before he serves. Sometimes I feel that the more Rafa thinks before he serves, the more stressful it is for him. I hope he learns to relax a bit, speed up the time he takes to serve. Maybe the shorter time he takes to serve would mean lesser time for his opponent to guess where he's going to place his serve.

luckystar , 3/15/12 10:13 AM

Very happy that Rafa won both his singles & doubles with Marc - Andrew Castle, seemed to talk up Dolpo but Rafa did not allow him to shine. Must admit that I do like to watch him when he is on form because he is a bit quirky. They mentioned that Dolpo had more winners than Rafa but they left out the important fact that Dolpo had 33 unforced errors to Rafa's 7!!

Rafa & Marc must have played a very good match to beat Paes and Stephanek. Vamos Rafa & Marc.

schatz , 3/15/12 12:27 PM

Lucky, I think you hit on something here. If Rafa speeds up between points it might just work to his advantage, you are right that he is giving his oopnent too much time to read his serve and too much time to recover.

nadline , 3/15/12 12:32 PM

Yeah, I agree with that about Rafa's serve. I think too that when he takes too much time thinking about it he hardly ever gets it in!!! Quite frankly, I find it irritating!!

Monalysa , 3/15/12 3:38 PM

I too agree about the time it takes for Rafa to deliver his serve. I much prefer it when he speeds things up - I think it makes him look more determined/positive.

schatz , 3/15/12 5:35 PM

Rafa was taking a lot more time to serve. At one point they put up the time taken between points for both players. For Dolgo, it was 19 seconds and for Rafa 31 seconds.

I wish that Rafa could just relax and go for his serves. It could be that he is psyching himself out.

Fed has already made an issue of it and I don't want it to be a problem if they should meet in the semis.

Nativenewyorker , 3/15/12 7:30 PM

hello everyone. It has been very easy for rafa so far. His opponents have not done so well but credit to rafa he is finishing matches off so quickly. He has spending little time on court, his forehand is becoming increasingly aggressive , he is serving well and backhand has been ok. To top djoker , he needs that backhand to do more damage and reduce net clearance on some of his backhands, he can do that of course.

p.s WHATS WRONG WITH THE RAFA-LOPEZ duo? LOL , THEY ARE DEMOLISHING TEAMS. just following live scores right now and team rafa leads 6-2 5-0 ! and there we go its a bagel ! wow, that will surely add some little confidence to rafa's net play and return game

vamosrafa , 3/16/12 3:42 AM

Congrats to Rafa and Marc, for reaching the final of the doubles. Wow, what a score, 6-2,6-0!
Rafa in demolishing mode and mood this IW, I hope he continues with that in his singles matches as well. Vamos Rafa and vamos team cuteness!

luckystar , 3/16/12 4:04 AM

lol team cuteness is GOOD :D and yes i hope rafa demolishes others in the singles too

vamosrafa , 3/16/12 4:26 AM


Welcome back! Where have you been? I have been waiting to see your comments. This is Rafa's first tournament in five weeks, so I expected to see all the Rafa fans back here.

I was very interested in your thoughts about how Rafa has looked so far. My question for you is, what do you think of Rafa's serve? Have you noticed that he has occasionally been spinning in his second serves at extremely slow speeds? I clocked a few at 76, 74, 80, 81, then he hit some at 91. I don't know what is going on with that. I even clocked a few first serves at 95 mph!

So far he has been able to hold his serve and get a high number of first serves in, however this is against opponents who are not great returners. Do you have any thoughts on his serve? Nalby has a great return, so he will test Rafa.

I have noticed that Rafa is going for his backhand shots, sometimes making them and sometimes missing. He hasn't really gone for that wicked angled cc bh. Isn't the key to beating Djoker, his forehand?

Nativenewyorker , 3/16/12 5:17 AM

I forgot to say congratulations to Rafa and Marc on reaching the finals in style! Well done! That score says it all. I can only hope that Rafa will carry this great play into his singles matches and get to the final again.

Nativenewyorker , 3/16/12 5:19 AM

Just checked the doubles results and Wow, team cuteness is just amazing as an unseeded duo. They have pushed aside many doubles stars. Sadly the Bryan Bros had to pull out due to Mike getting the bug, but I doubt even they would have been able to handle the spanish matadors.

Soon they will be the names seasoned doubles players won't want to see in their draw. Their opponents in the final could be Isner/Querry.

Rafa is in great form, in both singles and doubles, hope it continues.

nadline , 3/16/12 7:37 AM

I feel that in order to beat Nole, Rafa has to have his DTL and CC forehands and backhands all working well at the same time, on top of having a good serve. Relying solely on his forehand, DTL and CC, is still not enough. Rafa is working on his DTL backhand too, if I'm not wrong.

luckystar , 3/16/12 9:22 AM

I frankly don't see anything new about the time Rafa is taking to serve...he has done it before, and it does not take to be a very insightful tennis analyst to make a conclusion that Rafa needs to shorten the time he takes to serve...but what is important is that Rafa feels comfortable this way and as far as I know Nole as well prefers taking more time between the points, so what? Rafa is still working his way into the match play and I believe it is better to focus when serving rather than serving fast and of those double faults at crutial moments cost hism a set (remember the second set in this years's AO finals? Huh, it still hurts me when i think of it...) Need more time between the pioints is what Rafa is and he is not going to change overnight just because Federer brought it up...Fed will bring up just about anything to ?tease? Rafa...this time it is time between the points, last time it was slow courts, before that it was his suggestion to cut off time needed to worm up before the match or those stupid remarks how masters finals should be played in best of three...Fed seems to think too much about Rafa and Nole and how to beat them off the court...I don't think either Rafa or Nole give a damn about what he says...

I think Rafa played some great shots these days, he looked confident and his game was just beautiful to watch...he keeps his UEs to a minimum and I am so proud to see him really enjoying his tennis...great to see him and Marc demolishing their doubles opponents...beautiful show they put up there...they definitely deserve to win the title...

I do now though that Nalby is not going to be a walk in the park as he is playing very well these days...and I happen to love his tennis...but Rafa is looking so strong and confident at this tourney that I do not foresee any major problems for him in this match...I agree it will be a good test for our Rafa though....but challenge is what tennis is about...

Vamos Rafa!!!

natashao , 3/16/12 10:21 AM

Nobody says Rafa has to rush through his serve, but consistently taking 31 sec between points is unacceptable by any standard. In his first match here, he's well within the 25 sec allowed in every of his serve and I thought that's some improvement there. The longer he takes, the more time he gives his opponent, Nole in particular, to prepare and guess where he's going to serve. It's no wonder Nole gets his hand on so many of Rafa's serves. Nole has played against Rafa so many times that he more or less can see from Rafa's body language or serve motion and make a right guess. By changing things up a little bit, like varying the time he takes to serve, Rafa can make things unpredictable and make it difficult for Nole to make a right guess, that's my opinion.

luckystar , 3/16/12 11:38 AM

So happy that team Cuteness has won again and in some style. 6-2, 6-0 is great against a seeded doubles pair. Really hope they go on to win the doubles and that Rafa will win his singles as well.

It looks as though Rafa is enjoying his tennis which makes me feel good about him and his chances.

Vamos Rafa & Marc

schatz , 3/16/12 12:10 PM

Nole is great returner, the best it the game so far...he returns well no matter who is on the opposite side, whether it's Rafa, Andy or has nothing to do with Rafa taking more than 25 sec to serve...I agree it would do good to Rafa to shorten the time as it is the rule he has to comply with, but Rafa has been like this forever even when he was I still think Nole's return game needs to be recognized as supreme, rather than being underestimated with excuses that Nole is able to return Rafa's serve so well because Rafa gives him time to "think and observe his body language"...that is rather funny IMO...

natashao , 3/16/12 12:22 PM

I wonder if Rafa and Marc will compete at the olympics, they are obviously a dream team.

nadline , 3/16/12 1:03 PM

^^^^ ROFL!!

bleck , 3/16/12 1:55 PM

natashao, again nobody says that Nole's return is not top class. Why are you always assuming things? Things are not strictly black or white as we see them, saying Rafa making it more difficult for Nole to return serves doesn't mean that Nole is not a top class returner of serves! However, if you watch that USO 2011 match between Fed and Nole, and you'll notice how a good serve, or rather serving well like Fed did for the first two sets, can give Nole plenty of problems. One has to serve consistently well and with all sorts of varieties in order to trick Nole and keep his good returning at bay. One thing I notice about Fed, he always serves very quickly, sometimes as quick as taking only 15 secs between points, with same serve motion for all his varieities in his serves. Dolgo is another who serves very quickly and places his serves anywhere he wants and it's difficult to guess where he's placing his serves.

IMO, Rafa can never serve like them, his best is when he's confident like when he's at USO 2010. At that USO, as good as Nole is/was as a returner of serves, he still couldn't handle Rafa's big serves. Rafa may never serve like that again, however, he can go back to his pre USO 2010 level, serving with varieties and good placements, with better pace than in the past, between 110-125 mph, and as I mentioned, vary the time he takes to serve, don't make it so predictable.

luckystar , 3/16/12 1:59 PM

And, during that USO 2011 final, Rafa's serve pattern was so predictable, always that lefty kick serve at the ad court and most of the time, duly returned by Nole. He seemed clueless then against Nole's great return. When Rafa is not confident, his serve is the first to go off. It's no coincidence that his serves were off during 2011. During his peak years, from 2008-2010, he didn't have any problem with his serves, as he's playing with lots of confidence and with varieties in his serves.

luckystar , 3/16/12 2:31 PM

It's clear that when Nole is nervous the ball bouncing numbers soar! I'm wondering if, when Rafa is nervous, he takes more time to serve? If that's the case it would be very difficult to change, because it would be a calming mechanism.

deuce , 3/16/12 2:34 PM

I think so, deuce, and that's why I said when he's not confident, his serve is the first to go off. As long as he has some big wins under his belt again, I believe his confidence will return. He'll relax a bit and his serves should then get back on track. He wasn't that 'slow' in the past, at least not consistently like it is now.

luckystar , 3/16/12 2:52 PM

lucky, no matter what you say and how you say it I still disagree with your opinion that if Rafa goes on and serves faster Nole will not be able to read his "serving body language"...for me that is just nonsense and I am allowed to have my own opinion...Nole is not a mind reader, he is simply able to return Rafa's less dangerous serve...serving well is a different thing than taking time between the points...what makes you think that Rafa will serve anything like Fed if he accelerates the time between the points?! Also, we all know that Rafa will never serve like Fed who is simply better server than Rafa, as well as Fed will never play top spins like Rafa and that is what makes them unique in their own way...I think so far at IW Rafa is proven to be the most in-form and most consistent player and what bothers me is that no matter how well Rafa performs you will still find something to criticize...why don't you just enjoy the moment...:)

natashao , 3/16/12 7:25 PM

Current ATP-rankings

1. Djokovic 12 500 pts
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