• Nadal and Mayer in Acapulco quarters

    2/28/13 11:10 PM | Cheryl Murray
    Nadal and Mayer in Acapulco quarters Rafael Nadal will take on Leonardo Mayer as the Spaniard looks for his third consecutive semifinal.

    Rafael Nadal has been working his way back into form over the past month. The Spaniard, who has been No. 1 in the world, currently sits at No. 5, even though he took more than half a year off. Nadal lost in the final of Vina del Mar, captured the title in Sao Paolo and looks for the title here in Acapulco before he moves onto European clay.

    The No. 2 seed showed some of his best form yet in his second round match against Martin Alund.

    Leonardo Mayer is ranked 77 in the world and he was 1-3 on the season coming into this week; Acapulco marks his best result of the year by far.

    This week, Nadal has started to show the kind of form that has earned him the title King of Clay. His movement has improved and his biggest weapon, his forehand, is clicking. Nadal's backhand is not yet a weapon, but he should be able to easily handle Mayer even without that shot at its best.

    Prediction - Nadal in straight sets.

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Looks good till now

atul1985 , 3/1/13 4:49 AM

I saw this match on the tennis channel. Again it was a blowout in the first set, with Rafa coming out strong and taking control. Then Mayer started banging aces and serving much better and also becoming more aggressive. The second set was much tighter. Rafa had to fight off some break points, but managed to hold his serve. I also think that as Mayer raised his level of play, Rafa then went into another gear. He was hitting some insanely good forehands and even dtl backhands. I even saw him hit a single-handed backhand for a winner. The crowd loved it! Rafa his a banana shot for a winner and he was fist pumping. Rafa seems to thrive when his opponent plays better. His groundstrokes are clicking, with more depth and penetration and accuracy. Double faults at crucial points in the match really hurt Mayer.

Now Rafa will really have a true test, meeting Almagro in the semis.

Nativenewyorker , 3/1/13 6:11 AM

^^^Good analysis.
Mayer went for broke in the 2nd set but Rafa still managed to hold him off and it forced Rafa to show what he can do. He needs practice to get out of tight spots and that's exactly what he did today. There were gasps from the crowd at some of Rafa's shots. Breathtaking!

Vamos Rafa

nadline , 3/1/13 6:27 AM

solid match. Almagro will tell us a lot about Rafa.

RickyDimon , 3/1/13 6:32 AM


Did you see that single-handed backhand Rafa hit for a winner late in the second set? The crowd went wild! I don't know how Rafa even got his racket on it! He was turned around and couldn't even see where he hit it with only one hand! Unbelievable!

Then there was a down the line forehand that was unreturnable and a fist pump from Rafa, like I've still got it! A banana shot for a winner. Then there were some dtl backhands for winners. Rafa thrives on a challenge. The look on his face as he was producing some of his best tennis since he came back, was wonderful to see.

The crowd really loved it! Then Rafa jumped in the air when he won the match. The nicest moment was when he acknowledged the crowd at mid-court and did his little fist pumps and shadow boxing! Happy Rafa!

Now Rafa has a chance to see how he matches up against Almagro. It's a big step up from guys like Alund and Mayer, but I think it's time. We can now see where his game is really at as he goes up against a quality player. I look forward to this match.

Good luck, Rafa!

Nativenewyorker , 3/1/13 6:34 AM

Fair to say that Almagro could be fav. heading inot this match...but lets see how it unfolds

atul1985 , 3/1/13 6:56 AM

Almagro was serving unbelievably today against Zeballos. He was having 100% first serve % in the first set and winning 87% of those! Incredible! It will be a big test for Rafa, Rafa doesn't seem to handle Mayer's big serve all that well allowing Mayer to hold serves till 5-5 in the second set. Rafa needs to be more aggressive with his ROS against Almagro. Almagro serves big and hits big, very difficult to defend against; his weakness is his poor transition to the net. I think Rafa knows how to handle Almagro but hope that Rafa doesn't spend too much energy dealing with Almagro; hopefully no second set lull from Rafa from now on.

luckystar , 3/1/13 7:09 AM


I do think it's fair to say that Almagro would be the favorite in this match. I didn't watch Almagro's quarterfinal match. According to lucky, he served extremely well. So that will be a challenge for Rafa. But I think it's important for Rafa to go up against someone like this so that he can gauge where his game is at and how he handles a quality player. That's the only way he can get a sense of how much real progress he has made in these three tournaments.

I think Rafa's ROS is better than it was in the previous two tournaments, but of course it still needs improvement. I thought that Mayer served much better in that second set. There's not much you can do against an ace or a big first serve. But the six double faults were costly to Mayer. Rafa did well to hold his serve and fend off some break points in one game in the second set. He will have to do that against Almagro.

Nativenewyorker , 3/1/13 8:57 AM

I wanted to pass on some information I got from vb concerning the possibility of Rafa playing at I/W. There was an interview with Uncle Toni and he said that Rafa's doctors are not concerned about the hard court at Indian Wells regarding his knee. Their concern is playing too many games one after the other. Of course, Uncle Toni didn't commit to playing there at this time. We know that the plan is to evaluate the knee after Acapulco. However, I also read that Rafa said that the knee is feeling good. So that's encouraging regarding possibly playing at I/W. I also think that Uncle Toni said something about not wanting to have too many weeks off without playing.

Things are sounding very encouraging. I would be so happy if Rafa plays I/W! That would mean that the knee is doing well and he will be feeling confident and ready to handle more difficult competition.

Fingers crossed!

Nativenewyorker , 3/1/13 9:13 AM

NNY, the back to the court backhand down the line is one of Rafa's signature shots. I've never seen anyone else do it. Last night it was sooooooo breathtaking. Slowly, Rafa is finding his form and he is able to move better. There is not too much he can do with big serves. Just like Alund, in the 2nd set, Mayer started going for his shots in a big way, and for a while I thought we were heading for a 3rd set because Rafa was not getting enough of a look-in on Mayer's serve, but finally, Mayer wilted and it was GSM Nadal. Phew!

nadline , 3/1/13 9:26 AM


What I love is how Rafa improvises in the moment. He was totally out of position as he tried to hit the shot. He couldn't even really see where he was hitting it. That's Rafa at his best, when he just finds a way to hit a shot back for a winner. I recorded the match and rewound it twice to see it a few more times. I know he always hits a two-handed backhand, but he didn't have the time to even get both hands on the racket to hit the ball. I remember the crowd gasping when he made that shot.

It's nice to see his traditional backhand down the line working now, too. It's also great news to hear that he the knee is feeling good and he is not in pain! You can tell by the way he plays and moves on the court. His court coverage was very good in this match. He is also getting to those drop shots now.

I agree with you that there is not too much that can be done with big serves. Mayer just came out playing a lot better in that second set, much the way that Alund did in the previous match. Rafa's ROS is not where is should be, but it's definitely improved from the first two tournaments.

It sounds like Almagro is serving amazingly well. But I like to think that Rafa rises to a challenge. I hope he can come out and play some great tennis. It was just so nice to see some of his trademark shots again. I also loved seeing how happy he was after the win. He is enjoying himself and that's a good thing!

Nativenewyorker , 3/1/13 9:48 AM

Anyone have any decent highlights yet? only v blurry ones on youtube at the moment.

willmw101 , 3/1/13 9:59 AM

Rafa played another good match...he is slowly getting there...I loved the way he was saving himself out of trouble on those break points...I love the way he raises the level when needed...and I am encouraged with his improved personal favorite was him being brave enough to serve and volley when he was in trouble...that is a good sign of confidence...and I believe he should have more of those against Almagro...Almagro will begin the match hitting hard down the line. When it comes to long rallies I am afraid Almagro will be advantaged and I hope Rafa cuts the points so that he does not exhaust his knees too much...I believe Unlce Toni and Rafa will have to come up with some tactics against Almagro. I would hate to see Rafa standing way behind the line defending...He can do much better than that...
So, I hope to see Rafa cutting the points, serving well and doing some more volleys...I know he has been making UEs on net but he should still force some of those shorter points since Almagro can hit forever, similar to Ferrer...
Yes, Almagro is a real test and tough opponent since he has been playing really well. But Rafa shall employ the right tactics and will handle him!
Vamos Rafa!

natashao , 3/1/13 11:15 AM

Here is the full match

nadline , 3/1/13 11:17 AM

Yeah but it looks like it was recorded on a toaster :D

Thanks anyway Nadline :)

willmw101 , 3/1/13 11:24 AM

^^^ Try this one...

Great match for Rafa. A real confidence builder. The BH DTL winner was beautiful. Great to see best match from Rafa so far. Great analysis NNY!


Conspirator , 3/1/13 1:46 PM

I saw only a few points of the second set, and to me, Rafa looked great. Those shots were powerful and precise, just devastating.

danica , 3/1/13 3:23 PM

Thanks, Conspirator. The TennisTV one is much better, there were so many to choose from in the search, I picked the one with the longest time on it at the time.

nadline , 3/1/13 3:35 PM

thanks conspirator :)

willmw101 , 3/1/13 3:41 PM

I saw this match and it was a war despite the scoreline.If it wasn't for all of Mayer's double faults the match would have gone another set and lasted 3 hours.

stratocast51 , 3/1/13 4:14 PM

Maybe, but Mayer got a lot of free points from serving much more aggressively than he usually does so the double faults were a byproduct of that.


Conspirator , 3/1/13 4:25 PM

BTW, Rafa is a HEAVY 5:1 favourite to beat Nico so, if anyone really feels Rafa is the underdog, here is a chance to make some coin.


Conspirator , 3/1/13 4:28 PM

I don't think Mayer could win the second set and forced a third set, simply because Rafa is more experienced playing a tiebreak. Rafa was so good in saving break points that Mayer at best could only forced a tiebreak and I know Rafa would end up winning the tiebreak. Rafa was definitely playing better here than Vina Del Mar so it's unlikely that Mayer could win the second set.

I think Rafa will be too good for Almagro, because Rafa moves better and is better at the net. As long as Rafa can hold serve, he'll find a way to win.

luckystar , 3/1/13 4:46 PM

@stratocast51 , 3/1/13 4:14 PM

Of all the silly arguments. You might as well say if Rafa hadn't made any UEs, he would have won 61 63. You get free points from aces, similarly, you lose points for DFs. Simple.

nadline , 3/1/13 5:09 PM

stratocast51 must be a Fed fan.

holdserve , 3/1/13 6:20 PM

Savour a snapshot of Rafa at work against Mayer

nadline , 3/1/13 8:28 PM

I have been watching my recording of this match today. I can't get enough of that one-handed backhand down the line shot. It was 5-4 in the second set, 30-all on Mayer's serve. That shot got Rafa his first match point, but he was unable to convert and Mayer held serve. I still cannot believe how Rafa managed to hit that shot. He really was turned around and out of position, with his back to the court. He didn't have the time to hit it with both hands and he just sliced it back. That was the shot of the match for me. However there were a number of great shots from Rafa. You could tell that he was feeling it and sensed that his rhythm and timing was coming back. He hit some beautiful forehands down the line with such accuracy and depth. Nice to see!

As far as stratocast's comment, suffice to say that I do not agree. As others have said, if you go for the big serve then you also risk double faulting more. Mayer had six double faults in the match and some of them were are crucial points and quite costly.

This match was not a war! The first set was a blowout. In the second set, Mayer started serving aces and getting big first serves in more. He also became much more aggressive with his groundstrokes. Rafa holding his serve and saving break points was key in that second set. As Mayer raised his level of play, so did Rafa. That's when he started blasting forehands down the line and also some backhands. Rafa was smart with his serving. He has been doing so well and his stats show it. I believe that he had 64% of first serves in, 85% of first serves won and 58% of second serves won. He also had four aces! Nice!

I do not think this match would have gone to a third set. Rafa had his chances to close it out when he was up 5-4. He finally managed to get the break at 6-5 to win the match. If it had gone to a tb, I have no doubt that Rafa would have won. He used his smarts to outthink Mayer at critical points in that tight second set.

There was never any doubt about who was going to win the match.

Nativenewyorker , 3/1/13 11:17 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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