>Rafael Nadal has booked a place in the Roger’s Cup semi final’s where he will face Andy Murray in a rematch of their brilliant Australian Open quarterfinal which ended in Nadal withdrawing injured. Nadal struggled to find his momentum early in the match before racing to the finish like 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in two hours.
In his opening service game Nadal quickly fell behind 0-40, he made a brief comeback before the aggressive play of Kohlschreiber won the break. The German, who has never beaten Nadal, quickly raced to a 3-0 lead, taking advantage of some short, high balls off the world number one’s racquet.
Nadal shook his head in disbielf as he struggled to find his range in the beautiful day-time conditions. Philipp powered on, showing off some impressive net skills and pushing Rafa around the court anad forcing the Spanaird into defence mode. Nadal had been standing up in the court in his previous matches, but for the first set and a half Rafa seemed to morph back in to an older version of himself, standing well behind the baseline.
Somehow Nadal turned it around and reversed the scoreline by breaking Philipp and getting a handy 3-0 lead in the second set. Aside from that minor blip, Kohlschreiber was strong on serve, despite the slow decline of his first serve percentage.
After winning the second set 6-3, Nadal continued to work his way into the match, slowly but surely breaking down Kohlscreibers serve and forehand, taking the ball sooner and rushing the German into error.
In the third game of the third set Rafa had three break point chances, and after hitting another wide he thumped his shoe with his racquet – an unheard of expression of anger from the placid Spaniard. After fending off a fourth break point Philipp pushed Rafa deep in the court and followed it up with an intellegent drop shot landing just out of the quick Spaniards reach to hold.
Nadal struck in the seventh game, breaking Kohlscreiber to love to position himself comfortably in the lead at 4-3. Somehow Nadal dug a ball back that was behind his body to create a brilliant cross court passing shot. He finished off the game with a brilliant down the line forehand. It was becoming increasingly evident that the huge decline in Kohlscreibers first serve percentage (down from mid 80′s in the first set to mid 30′s in the third) that was making it easier for Nadal to control the points, and more and more difficult for Philipp to continue playing what was brilliantly inspired attacking tennis.
Philipp managed to do the unthinkable when serving for the match – beat Nadal’s legs with a drop shot three times, saving the game with a beautiful cross court backhand. Playing faster between points, (interestingly with no signs of the $500,000 watch) Nadal’s forehand was lethal in closing out the match
After the match Nadal expressed disappointment with his play for half of the match but was happy to be in the semi’s again. “Philipp played well at the beginning and I made a lot of mistakes, but I found confidence on my serve in the second set and finished the match much better.”