I rarely want to write about the same player two times in a row, but I have just watched the conclusion of the first set of Almagro vs Nadal in ATP Barcelona. It was such a typical “Nadal set of tennis”. Let me tell you why.
Nadal rarely comes out of the starting blocks strongly against good players. He's probably nervous. And in Barcelona Almagro came out firing all cylinders (like usual) and got to 3-0 with some powerful shots before Nadal's engine started humming.
Nadal then won four straight games and you'd thought Almagro would be deflated. But the aggressive Spaniard played well and managed to get to 4-4 and had three break points. Exciting stuff!
But Nadal is the best player on tour when it comes to killing off break points and so he held to 5-4.
Almagro was serving. He hit two winners and got up to 30-0. Were we heading for a tiebreak?
No. And the next point told you the whole Nadal story.
After some heavy hitting on both wings, Nadal got a short shot which he approached and moved into the net. Almagro managed to pull off perfect a lob on his backhand side. Nadal rushed back and OBVIOUSLY hit a tweener (a shot between his legs) straight back to Almagro's backhand. Almagro fired a heavy backhand into Nadal's forehand corner, it could have been a winner shot but somehow Nadal was there with a slice forehand.
The shot was set up for Almagro with another backhand. Was he going to hit a blasting winner? Nadal's slice was good and the ball skidded low. Almagro set up to smack the ball and smacked it…
in the top of the net.
A Nadal set of tennis.