REUTERS/Shaun Best (UNITED STATES SPORT TENNIS) via Daylife
I missed most of Sunday’s Rafael Nadal vs. Nicolas Almagro match due to air travel, but my mom gave me the update when I landed: Rafael Nadal took his shirt off and the crowd went wild! And he blushed and said he was “shy” when Mary Joe Fernandez asked him about it afterwards. Oh, and he won the match, too!
Okay. . .that’s not the entire story. The scoreline was more straightforward (7-5, 6-4, 6-4) than the stat sheet. The match was scrappy – each player had 13 chances to break, with Almagro converting 5 and Nadal converting 8 of those opportunities. Almagro hit nine double faults and a total of 52 unforced errors. Rafa’s winners/unforced ratio was 20/25. Both players called for the trainer in the third set – Rafa for an abdominal injury that he’s been nursing at least since Cincinnati.
Julian Finney/Getty Images via Daylife
Rafa said he was not happy with his serve, which Almagro could attack, or with his level of play in general:
Q. So outside of the serve, where did you feel your level was today?
RAFAEL NADAL: Up and down a little bit, yeah. Almagro played really aggressive. I played a little bit short. I have to play more aggressive for next round, for sure. I gonna do.
But when asked about the abdominal injury, which required about ten minutes of on-court treatment, Rafael Nadal pulled a Venus:
Q. What did the doctor say about your injury? Are you worried for the next matches?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I don’t want to talk about injuries. Sorry. No, no, I am a little bit tired to talk about injuries. I am here to try my best every day. I won the match in three sets, so happy for that. I’m going to try my best next round. That’s all.
Q. You said you didn’t want to talk about injuries. Was that your knee or the abdominal situation?
RAFAEL NADAL: I said I don’t want to talk about injuries (laughter).
Q. We are used to see you much more cheerful, especially after a win. Today you answer as if you’re not happy.
RAFAEL NADAL: No, but I know I came here and I know everybody want to talk about the injury. I really don’t want to talk about that. That’s the thing.
You know what they say about a picture’s worth. . .
Grimacing Rafa by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images via Daylife.
But let’s end this on a happy note:
Rafael Nadal plays Gael Monfils in the Round of 16.