ATP Tennis 360

November 12, 2009 3:57 PM

Paris Masters: Nadal b. Robredo 63 36 75

The Spanish derby promised to be a tight match, and the opening stages confirmed the first impression, with Rafa doing his bit and Robredo playing decently well. Bu he was the first to hand a break point (at 1-2 Nadal) ging long after a spectacular return on the spin from Nadal. Finally he held to 2-2 and in the very next game went near the break with lovely plays, following up some superb hitting by stepping in from the baseline and forcing Rafa long to earn a break point. Rafa saved it but soon after, on a second serve, his weak strokes allowed Robredo to come to the net and force the error. Although Nadal sliced it long, the Mallorcan saved also the second break point and held ith an ace. At 3-5 Robredo won an eye-rubbing rally to 15 all, anticipating another brilliant pass down the line. However Nadal smashed Robredo's weak volley to earn two break points converting the second when the older Spaniard dragged a shot wide. When Robredo returned into the net, Nadal could held to 15 and seal the first set.

Nadal raised the level of his plays in the second set. At 1-1, with Robredo serving, he somehow got across a winning smash and sent a crosscourt forehand across his opponent's rear to go 0-30 up, but Robredo held. In the very next game the world number 2 stood still and invented a wining backhand returning an on-the-hoof smash before pounding an ace on the line to hold with relative ease. Robredo valiantly battled and built a break point at 3-2 but a crisp backhand volley at the net from Nadal brought it level. The Catalan, forced wide after a breathless rally, sprinted back inside and played a super lob sending Nadal scuttling and his lob long. Finally he converted the second break point, also if he was droven back by a crosscourt backhand pass: his comeback was astonishing and he surprised the Mallorcan with a volley across the net. The two held until Robredo got the set 6-3.

The fans started cheering every Robredo point, as sensing a possible major upset. The set went totally with serve until 4-4, with Robredo doing the most the entertain the crowd: lovely his crosscourt pass right on the far line, off his forehand as he arched back, to 0-1 15-0, brilliant his net play when he rushed in to anticipate Nadal's return in an old-school serve and volley just before holding to 3 all with a big ace. Nadal responded reaching an improbable passing shot from T-Rob and sending over the net a diving backhand volley Boris Becker's style. But he was in ruins soon after, when he doublefaulted for only the second time in the match at 4-4 30-40, sending Robredo to serve for the match. But, like Almagro yesterday, the fear of winning enmeshed him and Nadal broke back thanks to a series of bleeding errors taking the game by the scruff of the neck.

Rafa won 7 points to 1 rushing 6-5 and 40-15 up on Robredo's serve. T-Rob T-Rob saves the first mp, more by luck than judgment, but not the second.

With this victory Nadal is certain to have, from next Monday, at least 9025 points, 1125 less than Federer. This gives him some subtle chance to overthrow him and finish the season as the top-seeded player. In case of a quarterfinal exit, Nadal could surpass the Swiss champion but he should win the World Tour Finals and all his two singles rubbers in Davis Cup. Here's the three possible scenarios at the Masters Cup:

1-Federer lose all his 3 round robin matches: Nadal becomes n.1 winning the trophy, even with a single RR win, and winning his Davis Cup rubbers (1100 points in London + 40 in Davis)
2-Federer register 1 RR success: Nadal becomes n.1 winning the tournament with no more than a single RR defeat and imposing in Davis Cup (the gap would be 1125+200, the bonus victory, Nadal could gain 1300 points in London and 40 in Davis filling the gap)
3-Federer wins 2 RR matches: Rafa had to win all his matches in London and in Davis Cup (in this scenario Roger will increase his ranking by 400 points, so the gap could arrive to 1525 points; Rafa should gain 1525 points)

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