Nadal has a difficult start to 2012

2012-01-04 09:51

Doha – Spain’s Rafael Nadal had to fight hard not to lose his opening match of 2012, going a break of serve down in the final set.

The French Open champion fought back yesterday with typical courage in his 6-3, 6-7 (2/7), 6-3 win over Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber but it was a patchy performance which left an impression that tennis is a bit of a struggle for him at the moment.

Nadal found it hard to achieve rhythm and consistency with his ground strokes, sometimes leaving the ball short, and allowing his intensity to subside surprisingly during a second set spell when he went 1-4 down.

But after dropping serve in the first game of the final set, the world number two began to hit some more solid blows, particularly with inside out forehands taken from the backhand corner, and finished looking much more in charge.

“I didn’t have a chance to practise much, I had problems with my shoulder and knee, and arrived feeling so-so,” Nadal said, referring to an off-season curtailed by the late finish of the 2011 Davis Cup.

“So a victory was very important. The beginning was a bit risky but I came back well and played a bit more aggressive.”

This was not though the Nadal depicted in his new year resolution, one who aims to become more permanently an aggressive player, taking the ball on or inside the baseline at every opportunity.

“When I say I want to be more aggressive, it doesn’t mean that I want to try that every day,” Nadal explained.

“It doesn’t mean it will happen in the first match.

“I need time. But I have decided to play aggressive. This is something which is needed.”

Nadal was probably referring both to his long term physical survival on an increasingly arduous tour, and the extra dimension needed to answer the surge of Novak Djokovic, who took over as world number one last year.

He might have made life easier for himself had he converted the two break points he had at 5-5 in the second set, but Kohlschreiber saved one with a bold volley and another with a pressurising backhand drive.

The world number 43 from Germany also produced some good variations as he tried to deny the winner of 10 Grand Slam titles as much rhythm as possible.

But Nadal, who next plays another German, Denis Gremelmayr, believes his shortcomings were just some of the normal difficulties in re-acquainting himself with a tennis match. He later came up with a more positive interpretation.

“I was happy with my level,” he said. “I think it is really positive I am through, and that is very important. I am happy having matches on the court. I didn’t know if I would be here a week and a half ago.”

Later Nadal’s perennial rival Roger Federer had an utterly different start to the year.

The second-seeded defending champion from Switzerland needed less than an hour to get past the former champion, Nikolay Davydenko, by 6-2, 6-2.

Federer admitted he surprised himself with the level of his performance against the Russian opponent who beat both himself and Nadal while winning the 2010 title here.

“I played aggressively, served well, and I had good movement, which is surprising early on in the season,” said Federer.

“But there again every match is new, and I will have to work on my game because every match in the draw is potentially tough.”

He next plays Grega Zemlja, a qualifier from Slovenia who won 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 against Sergei Bubka, a wild card entrant who is the son of the Soviet pole vaulter (of the same name) who was repeatedly voted the world’s best athlete.

Later Gael Monfils, the fourth-seeded Frenchman, joined his compatriot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the second round when he won 7-5, 6-3 against Rui Machado, the world number 67 from Portugal.

Monfils, a finalist here six years ago, quickly recovered from the disappointment of failing to close out the first set on his serve at 5-4, combining his familiarly brilliant court coverage with an increased ratio of attacking at the net.

“That is what I want to do to try to improve my game,” said Monfils.


Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.