Tennis Freaks

“1821: Nadal, I’ve noticed, has a problem with his shorts, in that they keep on getting stuck up his jacksie and he has to pull them out before every point. Not sure why he doesn’t just get a size up, he’s probably loaded.”

Archive for rafael nadal

Nadal v Bellucci as it happened

Roland Garros, Paris, 25 May-8 June

French Open: Sunday 25 May to Sunday 8 June

French Open

First-round result:

R NADAL (Spa) bt T Bellucci (Bra)

7-5 6-3 6-1

* denotes server

Third set:

1528: A fine performance from Nadal and a magnificent effort from all of you, thanks for your texts – even the dubious ones. Time for a quick break (and for some you I recommend a cold shower) before we’re back with Murray v Acasuso at about 1700 BST. My colleague Caroline Cheese is already going through her pre-match preparations, impressive stuff.

Nadal 6-1 Bellucci
There we have it, Nadal seals victory with another break of serve and, as usual, his relentless power just proves too much for an opponent on clay. A decent effort from Bellucci though.

1526: “Roddick@Queens? Brill, I’ve got weekend tickets. I’m hoping for Rafa, Djokovic, Roddick and Murray in the semis. Hopefully the draw will work out.”
From Sarah, Bucks, via text on 81111

1524: “I think Andy ‘i like to win in a hurry’ Murray will have no problems against Jose ‘i can do so’ Acasuso.”
From Dan, Frimley, via text on 81111 (Good work, Dan)

1522: “Ah fair enough (see 1512 entry) , i think my eyes are deceiving me today, i could have point my life on balls being in and they werent… Maybe its all the pant watching i have been doing.
From Lauren via text on 81111

Nadal 5-1 Bellucci
Nadal has a very minor scare at 0-30 but comes up with a beautiful swinging serve down the centre line for an ace, and he saves a break point by taking charge with his forehand. Nadal wraps up the game with a drop shot that Bellucci, understandably, doesn’t really look like he fancies chasing down. Been a long afternoon.

Nadal 4-1 Bellucci
Bellucci stays just about alive in this match with his first service hold for a while. Meanwhile, out on Court Three, Julien Benneteau proves he is not in the least bit afraid of Vince Spadea and sees him off in five sets. Just Stephanie Cohen-Aloro against Ioana Raluca Olaru to go before Murray against Acasuso. I am never typing that sentence again.

1512: “Yes Lauren (see 1506 entry) , it is just you.”
From Chris via text on 81111

Nadal 4-0 Bellucci
There’s a bit of mild controversy as Bellucci claims he stopped on a point because he heard a call from the crowd, but the umpire is having none of it. Nadal powers on.

1510: “Can ne1 outlast Rafa? 5 day matches, coming back from 2 sets down… Bellucci has 2 do something brilliant now 2 stand ne chance of winning.”
From Sarah, Cambridge, via text on 81111

1506: “Is it just me who thinks bellucci looks about 9ft tall??
From Lauren via text on 81111

Nadal 3-0 Bellucci
Nadal takes complete control with a second break in this set, grabbing it with a delicate angled forehand. For all those Murray fans out there Vince ‘I ain’t afraid aya’ Spadea is doing his best to hold our man up by taking Julien Benneteau to five sets on Court Three. There’s a women’s singles to follow, so I reckon we’re looking at some time after 1730 BST.

Nadal 2-0 Bellucci
Nadal consolidates the break and Bellucci looks a bit forlorn for the first time today. Should be plain sailing now, but don’t forget we’ve got Andy Murray coming up later. And thank you Helen and Missy for your positive comments, I just hope you’re not reading this while operating heavy machinery.

1459: “Clearly something has got into the water, the ladies on here seem to be frisky today! As a riposte could i just say, Ana Ivanovic is slighty attractive.”
From Stu in Redhill via text on 81111

Nadal 1-0 Bellucci
Bellucci looks on course for an easy hold but lets Nadal back in to deuce and the champ soon has a break point. Bellucci does well to win a long rally but Nadal gets the break two points later and that could well be that. The sounds of baying French schoolchildren fills the arena. Terrifying.

Second set:

Nadal 6-3 Bellucci
A confident hold of serve and Nadal moves two sets clear and looks all set for the second round.

1445: To summarise the flood of dubious texts prompted by Rafa and his underwear issues, Jude finds it “loathsome”, Sarah from Bucks is more of Djokovic girl, Steve in West Sussex has odd thoughts about Rafa’s left bicep, and someone out there still holds a candle for Billie Jean. What a world. Oh and, yes, Soph from Cambridge , Roddick will be fit for Queen’s and Wimbledon.

Nadal 5-3 Bellucci
Bellucci goes for a serve-volley early on and takes the point with a stop-volley that would have made Sampras proud. Remember old Pete? Charging into the net, smacking aces, volleying everything that moved… jumpers for goalposts etc. And I’m back in the room – Nadal gets a break point but Bellucci saves it with a fine wrong-footing forehand. A second chance arrives for Nadal and this time he takes it…. with a volley! Dear old Pete would be loving this.

1436: OK, that last text message regarding Nadal crossed the line – you know who you are, ‘anon’.

Nadal 4-3 Bellucci
A few signs of frustration from Nadal in this game as the tenacious Bellucci keeps him on his toes until, at 30-30, the Brazilian skies a backhand and then fails to chase down a drop shot. It’s not easy going for the champion so far but he had a similar match against Juan Martin del Potro early on last year, and it didn’t do him any harm.

1431: “As much as I love Nadal, I wouldn’t rule Bellucci out just yet. He appears to be as much of a fighter as Rafa.”
Sarah from Cambridge via text on 81111 (Thank you, Sarah.)

1431: “I’m with caroline re Marat Safin – phew!”
From anon via text on 81111 (I give up.)

Nadal 3-3 Bellucci
Bellucci gets back on level terms with a very confident love-service game and he’s not going anywhere for the moment.

1428: “Rafa is definitely maintaining those pants (see 1408 and 1418 entries) , believe me i have been keeping a close eye on them :)”
From lauren via text on 81111 (OK ladies, I managed to maintain a sense of dignity and self-restraint through a whole Sharapova match, so I’m sure you can do the same.)

Nadal 3-2 Bellucci
Just watching these two smack forehands is making my shoulder hurt. Bellucci gets to deuce with a cross-court forehand that leaves Nadal scrambling in the dust, but he follows up with a poor approach and Nadal takes the game with… guess what, a massive forehand.

1421: “Thats it. Game over. Bellucci needed to win that first set to stand a chance. If he wins now I’ll eat my own face.”
Pete from liverpool via text on 81111

1418: “In reply to ginny (see 1408 entry) , i have noticed that Rafas new trousers have a slightly looser fit than normal which may mean fewer wedgies, unlucky for us girls!”
From vicky via text on 81111

Nadal 2-2 Bellucci
Bellucci comes through a really entertaining game with a winner off his apparently weaker backhand side.

1408: “Bellucci really needed to take that first set. He might still get a set but he needed to get the early momentum.”
Mark Petchey on BBCi

Nadal 2-1 Bellucci
Another tidy service game from the three-time champion and it looks less and less likely that this afternoon will be the first time he suffers a defeat at Roland Garros.

1408: “Is rafa enjoying any of his usual pant picking action this afternoon?”
From Ginny via text on 81111 (Relatively little undergarment maintenance so far but I’ll let you know if the situation changes)

Nadal 1-1 Bellucci
Bellucci takes some frustration out with a crunching serve that puts Nadal on his backside, although the champion still gets close to making the return, and the Brazilian holds to 15 with a backhand volley.

1404: ” Im pretty sure the radio1 number is 81199, which means that “bethannie, hollie n rachel” (see 1322 entry) need to sharpen up their texting fingers. best wishes to mr rampage.”
From david via text on 81111

Nadal 1-0 Bellucci
It’s bright sunshine for the first time this week at Roland Garros and the sunny outlook is enhanced for my colleague Caroline Cheese with the news that Marat Safin has just beaten Jean-Rene Lisnard. She looks upon Safin in a not entirely professional manner. Back in the real world, Nadal holds to love.

1359: “I’m not sure what the future in this match is for Bellucci, but I certainly think his future in men’s tennis is a very bright one.”
Mark Petchey on BBCi

First set:

Nadal 7-5 Bellucci
Good stuff from Bellucci when he comes to the net at 30-15 and takes the point with a couple of sharp volleys, but the Brazilian double-faults to be pegged back to deuce. Nadal gets his first set point but mishits a backhand, and Bellucci saves a second with a forehand. Set point number three and Bellucci double-faults – shame to finish a good set in that way.

1349: “Piers do you think that anyone will take a set off nadal in the first week?”
Mike, having his hair coloured in Newcastle, via text on 81111 (This clockwatch is taking a strange turn but, yes, I think he might lose a set or two early on. Maybe in the next few minutes. Keep us updated with hair news.)

Nadal 6-5 Bellucci
The, er, “beautiful Nadal” (see below) is back on track with a love-service game and ends with a “C’mon!”, which is a recent variation on his native “Vamos!” Bellucci faces a test of nerve here to see if he can force the tie-break.

1345: “Typical, i’ve been sat waiting since monday afternoon to enjoy the beautiful nadal at his best and when he finally gets on im at work! Relying on you to keep me informed piers!”
From anon via text on 81111

Nadal 5-5 Bellucci
Another perfect drop shot leaves Nadal stranded way behind the baseline and Bellucci holds to love to draw level.

Nadal 5-4 Bellucci
A pumped up Bellucci breaks straight back, much to everyone’s amazement.

1338: “I’m glad to report Rampage (see 1322 entry) is feeling better today and enjoying the tennis.”
From Matt, via text, on 81111

Nadal 5-3 Bellucci
Nadal is really fizzing down the forehands now and when one lands smack on the baseline, Bellucci cannot handle it and gives up two break points. The Brazilian then tries to drop shot Nadal again but the Spaniard is too quick and grabs the break.

Nadal 4-3 Bellucci
Contrary to rumours flying around on 606, Bellucci was not the star of the 1980s film K-9. That was James Belushi. Nor is he related to Italian actress and model, Monica Bellucci, who really is quite special. Thomaz has only a thumping serve and great big forehand with which to make his name. Nadal, who is of course the nephew of ex-Barcelona and Spain defender Miguel Angel Nadal, holds serve.

Nadal 3-3 Bellucci
Two of the biggest left-handed forehands you’re likely to see are locked in battle here – a battle you have to think Nadal will win in the end. Bellucci shows some nice touch with a superb angled backhand though, and takes the game with a big serve.

1322: Don’t forget you can text your words of wisdom if you’re in the UK on 81111. That number is shared with Radio 1 texts, for whom the following message is intended I think: “Rampage was sick last night. Loved it bethannie, hollie n rachel x x x”.
My condolences to Mr Rampage and best wishes on a speedy recovery.

Nadal 3-2 Bellucci
Nadal holds in double-quick time.

1318: “Nadal keeps looping it into the advantage corner, but Bellucci isn’t a rightie. On top of that, Bellucci can really spank high forehands, and Nadal is just feeding em right in there.”
philisophicalarfster on 606

Nadal 2-2 Bellucci
It’s worth noting that Bellucci has won four clay-court titles on the lower Challenger level tour this year and came through three matches in qualifying, so he’s no mug, as they say in Paris. A deft drop shot comes as a shock to everyone, Nadal included, among a barrage of heavy hitting. Still, the three-time champion is the best in the world at getting everything back and recovers the break immediately.

1312: “Bellucci has got beautiful poise on his backhand side and he reminds me of a left-handed Kuerten. He seems to have a sense that he belongs with the top players.”
Mark Petchey on BBCi

Nadal 1-2 Bellucci
We’re under way and it remains blustery out on Philippe Chatrier Court, but thankfully no sign of rain yet. Nadal looks relieved to have finally been let off the leash but finds it tough going early on, facing break point after Bellucci smashes a huge forehand winner. The Brazilian goes for too much with another forehand but he converts a second break point to take a surprise lead.

In other early men’s matches, 2003 champion Juan Carlos Ferrero retired in the second set against Marcos Daniel, fifth seed David Ferrer saw off Steve Darcis, and Aussie battler Lleyton Hewitt had a good win over Nicolas Mahut.

Nadal 1-1 Bellucci
So, third time lucky, let’s hope this time we can get through without any rain interruptions. They managed two games last night in which both men held serve.

Nadal remains the world number two and three-time defending champion, Bellucci remains the world number 76 and a huge outsider.

Third set:

1240: A quick break now so that I can get a cup of tea, Nadal and Bellucci can warm up, and several hundred French teenagers can nip out for a fag. Back soon.

“I just think at the end it was physically a little too much for Rodina and she didn’t quite have enough. Sharapova, once again, delivers.”
Sam Smith on BBCi

Sharapova 8-6 Rodina
“Ma-ri-a, Ma-ri-a,” chant the youth of Paris, disproving my theory that every French teenager is in London at the moment. Sharapova closes out the match surprisingly easily, with a couple of dust storms and double-fault number 17 proving the only obstacle. She finally seals the win after two hours 28 minutes – zut alors.

Sharapova 7-6 Rodina
The quality of Sharapova’s drop shots has been variable, to say the least, but she finds a winner at the right time to get to 30-30. A backhand error from Rodina hands Sharapova her first break point of the set but she drags a backhand wide. A slapstick rally of net cords and missed chances follows, with Rodina putting a forehand long with the court gaping. Sharapova takes advantage by forcing an error on her second break point and the world number one can see the finish line, at last.

1228: Just to clear up the mystery that has gripped no-one but myself, the Noel Gallagher lookalike in the crowd is in fact her coach, Andrei Youzhny, brother of Russian player Mikhail. So he’s not Hispanic.

Sharapova 6-6 Rodina
Like Kenny Loggins, Sharapova is on a Highway to the Danger Zone here. At 15-15 she gets a huge slice of luck when a thumping forehand catches the net and loops just inside the line. She then pulls a forehand winner down the line before a desperate attempt at a lob that Rodina smacks away. Sharapova recovers with a huge forehand that literally knocks Rodina off her feet. No tie-break so we could be here a while.

1222: “In that game I was expecting a mental cave from Rodina but it didn’t happen, and she looks like a player who almost believes she can win this.”
Sam Smith on BBCi

Sharapova 5-6 Rodina
It’s all looking good again for Rodina at 40-15 but she drags a couple wide and is pegged back to deuce. In a lengthy rally, Rodina withstands a battering and forces the error before sealing the game.

Sharapova 5-5 Rodina
A thumping backhand winner followed by the now traditional Sharapova double-fault leave Rodina at 30-30 and just two points from victory. Rodina is playing in her first ever Grand Slam match, just to get things in perspective. Sharapova again comes up with two big first serves to get herself out of trouble.

Sharapova 4-5 Rodina
A slightly dubious drop shot gives Sharapova the first point – it’s a bit floaty and would probably have lobbed one of the Rochus brothers, but it does the job. The wind is blowing the ball all over the place and Rodina looks frustrated for the first time, as does Hispanic Noel in the stands, but she hangs on. One game from a huge shock. That’s huge, people.

Sharapova 4-4 Rodina
Rodina lunges out wide and hooks a forehand pass around Sharapova at the net for 15-15, and follows up with an even better forehand winner down the line from behind the baseline. Sharapova dumps a forehand into the net and it’s 15-40, two break points for Rodina…..

Sharapova smacks down two of her best serves of the day, the stuff of champions. She then double-faults, but recovers with yet another huge first serve and takes the game with a classic cross-court forehand off her hips.

Sharapova 3-4 Rodina
No sign of cramp as Rodina serves her way to 40-0 and moves back in front. We are getting close to a major shock now – the top women’s seed has not lost in the first round at Roland Garros in the Open era, i.e. since 1968.

Sharapova 3-3 Rodina
Sharapova opens with a wayward forehand and double-fault number 14 but despite struggling desperately for form, the top seed battles back. A searing forehand winner gets Sharapova to 40-30 and prompts Rodina to crouch down and feel her leg – maybe cramp. Sharapova holds.

Sharapova 2-3 Rodina
In contrast with Sharapova in the previous game, Rodina looks very much in control on her serve. She takes it to love and certainly has the upper hand at the moment.

Sharapova 2-2 Rodina
After plenty of tense, scrappy stuff, we get the point of the match so far at 15-15. Both players strike the ball beautifully in a lengthy rally that ends with Sharapova arrowing a backhand down the line that Rodina just cannot return. She responds with a flowing off-forehand winner but Sharapova edges the game. “C’mon!” she screams, as dad Yuri urges her on from the stands. He scares me.

Sharapova 1-2 Rodina
A big serve sees Rodina hold serve and she looks pretty unflappable at the moment. Sharapova has made 49 unforced errors and 12 double-faults so far. I would consider that a solid set, but the world number one is probably not going to be happy with those stats.

Sharapova 1-1 Rodina
A few unforced errors from Rodina let Sharapova off the hook a bit and the top seed is still shrieking and urging herself to “C’mon!”, which is a good sign if you’re in the Maria camp. I remain utterly impartial.

Sharapova 0-1 Rodina
Rodina takes the lead in the match for the first time and Sharapova will need all her battling qualities to get through this.

Second set:

1133: “Sharapova has given Rodina so many points. All credit to Rodina but she hasn’t done anything dazzling and Sharapova is faltering.”
Alastair Eykyn on BBCi

Sharapova 3-6 Rodina
Sharapova does her bit and moves to 40-0 but Rodina will not lie down and recovers to deuce, at which Sharapova double-faults again. A poor approach and dodgy volley set up Rodina to make the winning pass and level at one set all.

Sharapova 3-5 Rodina
The dust is blowing all over the place and annoying the players during the changeover. It reminds of afternoons spent on Broadstairs beach when I should have been in double English. Fortunately, neither of these two ladies are likely to be smacked in the head by a wayward frisbee. So, Rodina…. a love game betrays no sign of nerves at all and I refer to my original prediction, this could be a test for Sharapova now.

Sharapova 3-4 Rodina
The service problems look to be behind Sharapova as she eases to 40-0, but moments later we have double-fault number 10 and it’s deuce. The world number one grits her teeth and fires a superb forehand winner down the line before closing out the game.

1114: “What’s hurting Sharapova right now is the amount of unforced errors – eight in the first set, 13 so far in the second.”
Sam Smith on BBCi

Sharapova 2-4 Rodina
The camera keeps returning to someone who I presume is part of the Rodina ‘support team’, although he looks like a Hispanic Noel Gallagher. Anyway, Rodina does brilliantly to recover from 0-30 and move two games clear.

Sharapova 2-3 Rodina
Blimey, Sharapova’s serve has fallen to pieces. Successive break points, including one effort that I swear bounces before it hits the net, hand Rodina two break points. The top seed does well to hold serve and looks fine once the ball is in play, but the serve is a worry. She had terrible shoulder problems last year and that could be playing on her mind.

Sharapova 1-3 Rodina
Rodina dumps a forehand into the net and it’s deuce, but Sharapova lets a backhand slide wide on game point and Rodina consolidates the break. If anything the wind is getting stronger out there.

Sharapova 1-2 Rodina
A love game gets Sharapova off the mark and she doesn’t look unduly concerned at the moment. Some fashion facts from Alastair Eykyn on BBCi – apparently Maria is wearing a dress inspired by the 1920s that, according to her website, “reflects her dynamic sense of style”. I’m starting to worry about Alastair.

1055: “I’m starting to notice that backhand of Rodina, she gets up behind it and really transfers her weight well.”
Sam Smith on BBCi

Sharapova 0-2 Rodina
At 15-30, Rodina decides to have a go at the net. Some would say brave, others foolhardy. Sharapova gets Rodina in her sights and batters her with a succession of brutal groundstrokes, forcing the error and getting to 15-40. All credit to Rodina though, she comes battling back to hold serve. Gritty stuff.

Sharapova 0-1 Rodina
Think I’ll steer clear of predictions for today. After Rodina returns from a lengthy ‘comfort break’, Sharapova clearly decides it’s time to practise her forecourt game and trots up to the net. It’s not her natural habitat at the best of times, especially on clay in a howling wind, and she’s soon 15-40 down. The first two break points go begging but Rodina grabs a third to keep the match alive.

First set:

Sharapova 6-1 Rodina
A screaming return winner gets Sharapova to set point and she duly converts to wrap up the set in 29 minutes, making my lazy prediction of a possible test for the top seed look particularly rash. I now predict she will win easily.

Sharapova 5-1 Rodina
We’re up to three double-faults from Sharapova now but from 15-30 she steps aside and hammers an off forehand deep into the opposite corner. Rodina cannot convert a break point, at which point Sharapova gets a time violation warning from the umpire. If looks could kill. Still, she takes it out on the ball and goes on to hold.

Sharapova 4-1 Rodina
OK, Sharapova is up and running now, sweeping to another break and skipping back to her chair, You’ve got to hand it to Maria, she is always completely focused right from the off no matter what the tournament or who the opponent.

Sharapova 3-1 Rodina
With the wind behind her, Sharapova gives us the first service hold of the match. I would say it silenced the crowd but they’re already silent. You never get the impression at Roland Garros that people have been camping out overnight to get into the place. Maybe they’re all out actually playing tennis and that’s why the French have got loads of good players.

Sharapova 2-1 Rodina
Sharapova gets Rodina on the run early on and earns another two break points at 15-40, but Rodina saves the first with a big serve and the second with a running forehand. However, Sharapova clubs a forehand winner to get to advantage and Rodina overhits a forehand – three breaks in three games.

Sharapova 1-1 Rodina
A quick rundown on Rodina – she’s 19, ranked at pretty much a career-high of 103 in the world, and… hang on, she’s just broken back. Could be a test for Sharapova today.

Sharapova 1-0 Rodina
It’s extremely windy on Philippe Chatrier Court at the moment and almost completely bereft of spectators. None of which bothers Sharapova in the slightest and she breaks immediately – nervous start from Rodina.

1009: “The weather ruined my annual French Open dream last night. Ever year I have a dream in which the trophy is handed over to someone but a thunderclap woke me up before I got to see who it was last night.”
Sam Smith on BBCi

WEDNESDAY 1007: Day three of the Rafael Nadal v Thomaz Bellucci clockwatch begins…. with Maria Sharapova against Evgenya Rodina. Rafa will be back after the women’s top seed begins her campaign.

TUESDAY 1910: Play is officially called off for the day, so Nadal and Bellucci will be back tomorrow for a third attempt to play their match. Keep an eye out on our schedule page to see tomorrow’s line-up, should be a busy one.

1848: And the heavens open again! The rain comes pouring down, the umbrellas go straight up, and the covers are across.

Nadal 1-1 Bellucci
It’s a battle of the forehands early on and that’s a dangerous game against Nadal, who finds one searing pass that the Brazilian cannot handle. Bellucci holds his nerve though and takes the game with a thumping backhand.

Nadal 1-0 Bellucci
A solid enough start from the champion, who does not look in any particular hurry despite the late start.

1838: “Bellucci does have a good serve and has leapt up the rankings – this has the potential to be fascinating.”
Mark Petchey on BBCi

1835: The players are out and knocking up , with Rafa sporting a vibrant green number that puts me in mind of the The Riddler from Batman. Bellucci is about to take on the closest thing to unbeatable in sport, I am about to try and eat a baked potato with bolognese while updating this clockwatch. Very different challenges but equally great.

1820: So where were we? Only 28 hours ago we got ready for Nadal v Bellucci, and finally we’re going to get it…

“So the facts and figures don’t stack up too well for Thomaz Bellucci here. While Rafael Nadal is the three-time defending champion, unbeaten at Roland Garros, and increasingly viewed by many as the greatest clay-courter of all time, Thomaz has a less glittering CV.

The man from Tiete, Brazil, has played just six ATP level matches in his career and won only one in 2008. Still, he came through three matches in qualifying, seeing off Martin Slanar, Ivo Klec and Tomas Zib no less.

And at 20 years old he has a year on Nadal, so maybe he’ll be able to tire the older man out. It’s a plan….”
BBC Sport’s Piers Newbery 28 hours ago

1817: Mauresmo wraps things up after seeing two match points go begging, to the delight of those hardy French souls who sat through the rain. And now they should get a bit of Nadal v Bellucci to warm them up.

1807: “When she gets going it’s absolutely terrific, and I’m sure a lot of players would swap their careers with Amelie Mauresmo’s.”
Sam Smith on BBCi

1805: Mauresmo looks to be cruising now at 4-1 up, but you never know with Amelie.

1755: “This weather is just stupid! it going to take the first week to complete just the first round unless this horrid weather improves, gotta feel sorry for the players that are geared up to play, only to be sent back to the lockerroom.”
From Will, Hampshire, via text on 81111 (In fairness, sent an hour ago when it was raining)

1750: Mauresmo breaks at the start of the decider but I wouldn’t bet on her to serve it out from here. Meanwhile, Nikolay Davydenko has raced to a straight-sets win over Thomas Johansson. The Russian could play Marat Safin next – tasty.

1745: “The inconsistency from both women has been disappointing – you feel it’s totally there for the taking for either one of them.”
Jonathan Overend on BBCi

1715: Play is under way again and apparently things are looking good for up to two hours of uninterrupted action.

1654: Would you believe it? The covers are coming off so we might get to see some action soon. Mauresmo and Savchuk will be hoping they can get back out there and finish their match off, not sure if we’ll get to see Nadal and Bellucci though.

1626: At least 30 of Tuesday’s 72 matches have now been postponed, including top seed Maria Sharapova’s encounter against Evgeniya Rodina. There will be more to come.

1550: After much sweeping away of water, the covers are about to come off. Then it starts to chuck it down again. You can forget about 1600 BST, I’m afraid.

1444: Apparently there will be no play before 1600 BST. This is no great surprise, bearing in mind it’s still raining. I am told that only 25 of 56 first-round matches were completed on Monday, stats fans.

1417: Well, we had a good run but the rain is back and the covers are firmly on. What had begun yesterday afternoon as a Rafael Nadal v Thomaz Bellucci clockwatch is now turning into a rainwatch.

The men’s champion will not be in action until Amelie Mauresmo and Olga Savchuk finish their match, with Mauresmo currently leading by a set without looking too convincing. Stay tuned for weather updates.

1240: Amelie Mauresmo and Olga Savchuk are waiting to come out while everyone looks nervously at the sky. In charge of operations and apparently taking the Alan Mills role is a, frankly, very attractive blonde lady. Well done France. More importantly, the players are now out on court. You can follow this one through our live scores, I’ll be back to cover Nadal v Bellucci… fingers crossed.

1225: Look sharp everyone! The covers are off, they’re sweeping the court and we might just get some action soon.

1112: And people moan about Wimbledon, eh? No change in Paris where the rain continues to fall.

1029: I should point out that Nadal and Bellucci are scheduled second on Philippe Chatrier Court after Amelie Mauresmo takes on Olga Savchuk. We’re going to get an official weather update at 1100 BST, but unofficially I can confirm that the covers are on and steadily filling with rain.

TUESDAY 1000: After an exciting couple of trips across London I am back to confirm that it is still raining in Paris, and the start of day three will be delayed until at least 1100 BST. Judging by the weather forecast, we may not get much play today.

MONDAY 1809: There we have it, play is officially suspended for the day. Come back bright and early tomorrow and we’ll have another go.

1801: “Thomaz, with “z”, is usual in Brazil (see 1530 entry) . Though the 1943 orthographic reform changed it to “Tomás”, many parents prefer the archaic name out of fancy. So we can find both, Thomaz or Tomás, or even Thomas. We had another good player of the same name, Thomaz Koch (Roland Garros quarterfinals, 1968).”
From andrefontenelle on 606

1743: Seventeen matches have been postponed for the day. The rain has actually eased off a little, but the covers are still on. Reminds me of Wimbledon last year. Grim.

1740: “Bleak scene at RG. Bellucci has only played six atp matches with one win! haha rafa is unbeaten in french open, im not gonna lie, it doesnt look good for the young brazillian!”
FromWill, Southampton, via text on 81111

1606: “Rain rain go away come again another day I wana c my Rafa play.”
From Sonia, London, via text on 81111

1532: The covers are coming across on Phillipe Chatrier Court – rest assured we’ll be back whenever the action starts.

1530: If there are any Brazilians out there, can you let us know if the use of ‘z’ in Thomaz is a regular thing, or does it suggest that Mr Bellucci has added it for a bit of glamour? By the way, it’s raining properly in Paris so there’s a bit of a delay.

1520: OK, so the facts and figures don’t stack up too well for Thomaz Bellucci here. While Rafael Nadal is the three-time defending champion, unbeaten at Roland Garros, and increasingly viewed by many as the greatest clay-courter of all time, Thomaz has a less glittering CV.

The man from Tiete, Brazil, has played just six ATP level matches in his career and won only one in 2008. Still, he came through three matches in qualifying, seeing off Martin Slanar, Ivo Klec and Tomas Zib no less.

And at 20 years old he has a year on Nadal, so maybe he’ll be able to tire the older man out. It’s a plan….

Story from BBC SPORT

Federer v Nadal as it happened

Monte Carlo Masters

Final result:

R FEDERER (Swi) v R NADAL (Spa)

5-7 5-7

By Phil Harlow

Second set:

1602: “Well done Nadal – first championship of 2008 – most players would’ve given up at 4-0.”
noname on 606.

1559: A fantastic match for the neutral to watch – but what will it do to Federer’s confidence? The world number one has now lost seven of his eight meetings with Nadal on clay.

Federer is working with a new coach, and the new approach did seem to pay dividends at times. Can he take heart from that? Or will he be thinking that there’s no way past this amazing 21-year-old?

Federer 5-7 5-7 Nadal
This is a battle of wills – and the indomitable Nadal wins it. Federer goes 40-30 up thanks to an awesome serve but a reaction volley goes past the baseline to bring up deuce.

It’s nip-and-tuck, but a wide forehand gives Nadal match point and a long backhand hands his opponent an incredible fourth Monte Carlo Masters title in a row.

The Spaniard drops to his knees in celebration and then jogs in to shake hands with a crestfallen Federer at the net.

1551: “Federer’s level has dropped by no more than 10% and suddenly he is being humiliated. Incredible what difference a few per cent make.”
NoRtHeRnMiDz¿ on 606.

Federer 5-7 5-6 Nadal
The momentum is all with Nadal. He holds to love with some brutal shots that make Federer look ordinary. I know where my money would be if I had time to put a bet on…

Federer 5-7 5-5 Nadal
Top play from both players as Federer finally stops the rot by holding serve.

There were a couple of shots of outright genius from Federer, including a volley at full stretch with his back turned on the ball. Nadal also plays some breathtaking shots, but Federer just about does enough.

Federer 5-7 4-5 Nadal
Nadal wins his fifth game in a row in one of the most impressive turnarounds you’re ever likely to see in sport, nevermind tennis.

Federer is still playing some nice stuff on occasions, but he just seems powerless to do anything about it. A backhand, played at full stretch well behind, goes into the net from Federer and he will have to serve to stay in the match now.

1539: “Nadal has just come back like a freight train, this is incredible!!”
kingachilles on 606.

Federer 5-7 4-4 Nadal
This is an incredible turnaround, just incredible. Nadal goes 40-0 up on his opponent’s serve as Federer’s majestic form of just a few minutes ago seems to desert him.

A misjudged backhand down the line goes wide and we’re back on serve. You have to take your hat off to Nadal though. How many players would still think they had a chance at 4-0 down to the world number one?

Federer 5-7 4-3 Nadal
Great game from Nadal as he holds serve again. The next game is going to test Federer’s skills and resolve to the limit.

Federer 5-7 4-2 Nadal
Nadal goes 30-0 up on Federer’s serve, but a magnificent second serve gets the world number one up and running.

But Nadal keeps the pressure up and is rewarded for his commitment to a set most players would have given up as a bad job. Federer goes long at break point down. Surely this set can’t escape his grasp though, can it?

1525: “Federer is treating Nadal to a lesson in clay court tennis at the moment.”
Anon via text

Federer 5-7 4-1 Nadal
Both players are still giving this everything. Nadal, stung by what has happened in this set so far, finally holds serve with some vicious hitting from the back of the court. Federer throws in an exquisite winner for good measure, and the set is still firmly in his control.

Federer 5-7 4-0 Nadal
This is just incredible to watch – Federer is in absolutely sensational form. He goes 40-0 up, with his first ace of the match helping him on his way. Nadal wins one point, but Federer seals the game.

Federer 5-7 3-0 Nadal
Federer has just played one of the best games of his superlative career. Everything he touches is coming off, with one backhand – played on the rise and with the minimum of backlift – drawing gasps of admiration from the crowd.

He breaks Nadal’s serve to love. Absolutely brilliant.

Federer 5-7 2-0 Nadal
Federer is suddenly playing his best tennis of the match. A great stretch volley at the net puts him 30-0 up and a glorious forehand on the next point takes him within sight of consolidating the break.

Nadal produces some breathtaking shots to close to 40-30, but Federer seals the game after the Spaniard can only put a difficult backhand into the net.

Federer 5-7 1-0 Nadal
Impressive start from Federer as he instantly puts the disappointment of the last set behind him. He breaks Nadal in the first game of the set. We’ve still got a match on here, don’t worry about that.

1509: “Nadal will go down as the greatest clay courter of all time – even though there’s only Federer that can challenge him.”
singhsta2006 on 606

First set:

Federer 5-7 Nadal
A fantastic two-handed backhand down the line puts Nadal 30-0 up as the set gets serious. Federer wins the next point but then goes long after a lengthy rally to give Nadal two break points.

A slightly bizarre point sees Federer play a nothing shot into the middle of the court, giving Nadal every chance to put the ball away. The world number two obliges and Federer loses a set in which he broke serve twice. A massive psychological blow for the world number one.

1501: “Federer’s performance on serve will be crucial to him getting a win that could possibly define his season and even his career.”
Big talk from thebeautifulgameturnedugly on 606.

Federer 5-6 Nadal
Nadal becomes the first player to hold to love. Not a bad time to do it either. Can Federer follow suit and take us into a tie-break?

Federer 5-5 Nadal
Federer looks to be comfortably absorbing the pressure as he races into a 40-0 lead. But Nadal puts some doubts in his opponent’s mind – helped by a slight hesitancy at the net by Federer – with three smart points in a row to go to deuce.

But once again, Federer finds what is required as two tremendous first serves ensures he holds serve.

Federer 4-5 Nadal
The first ace of the match, and it really was unreturnable, takes Nadal 40-15 up. A brief exchange at the net goes Nadal’s way and the game is his. The pressure is back on Federer now.

Federer 4-4 Nadal
What is going on out there? Nadal goes 30-0 up after a surprising mishit from Federer, and three points later the Spaniard has broken back for a second time. It’s almost like a women’s game, dare I say it…

Federer 4-3 Nadal
The drop shot is becoming a real weapon for Federer. The world number one goes 40-0 up on his opponent’s serve courtesy of a delightfully worked point that leaves Nadal chasing shadows.

Nadal saves the first break point, but a lob on the next point goes well clear of the baseline to give Federer his second break of the set.

Federer 3-3 Nadal
Federer smashes a relatively easy chance into the net to allow Nadal to take the game to deuce.

A beautiful shot down the line gives Nadal a break point, but Federer suddenly ups his game with three classy points in a row to hold. This is shaping up very nicely indeed.

1435: “Federer needs some first serves if he’s going to win. He missed four or five in his first service game.”
NoRtHeRnMiDz¿ on 606

Federer 2-3 Nadal
Federer takes Nadal to deuce with some incredibly accurate shots to the very outer reaches of the court.

But Nadal keeps it together and holds serve again as Federer’s returns both go long.

Federer 2-2 Nadal
A comfortable hold for Federer. He shows great athleticism to put away a tricky overhead smash, but otherwise he is untroubled. Intriguing stuff so far.

Federer 1-2 Nadal
Nadal hold his serve as Federer goes wide of the tramlines with an improvised flick after a cunning drop shot.

But there’s enough in the play so far to give Federer plenty of encouragement. He seems to have plenty of time on the ball – doesn’t he always though? – and is getting somewhere with moving Nadal around.

Federer 1-1 Nadal
Well Federer’s lead in the set didn’t last very long. Nadal breaks back at the first time of asking with four points in a row. Something tells me we could be in for a reasonably decent match here…

Federer 1-0 Nadal
Great start for Federer as he goes 30-0 up on Nadal’s serve. A fearsome forehand down the line from Nadal gets his fans going, but on the next point Federer comes to the net and puts away a volley to give himself two break points.

Unlike some of their other meetings on clay, Federer takes it at the first time of asking as a Nadal error gives his opponent a morale-boosting early break. Blimey.

1412: Hold on to your hats. Off we go…

1409: “I really just hope that both players come out onto court pumped up and play great tennis. Nadal is the favourite but I have to pick Federer.”
The absolutely unbiased Federerprotege on 606.

1403: The players are out on court in Monte Carlo, enjoying a little practice before the serious action gets under way. Nadal looks very much at the races and fully focussed. Federer actually looks fairly relaxed, for what it’s worth.

1350: Afternoon all, we’ve got the two best players in the world going head-to-head in the final of the Monte Carlo Masters. So who is your money on?

It’s the third year in a row that these two – Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, in case you weren’t quite sure – have faced each other in the final here.

Nadal has the edge on clay, no doubt about it. The Spaniard has a fantastic record of six wins and just one defeat against Federer on the surface.

Story from BBC SPORT

Tsonga v Nadal as it happened

Australian Open, Melbourne

Men’s semi-final result:

J-W TSONGA (Fra) bt R NADAL (Spa)

6-2 6-3 6-2

By Phil Harlow

THIRD SET:

1050: “What a man, what a player! Maybe Andy Murray will lose to the eventual champion?”
Ben in Oxford via text

“This man is going to be a megastar now. Nadal has never been beaten like this – not this easily, not in a Grand Slam and not when he has been playing so well.”
BBC Sport commentator John Lloyd

Tsonga 6-2 Nadal
The two players emerge from their seats and Tsonga gets an absolute hero’s reception from the crowd.

A Nadal mistake and an accurate overhead volley put Tsonga 30-0 up. Nadal, ever the fighter, fires a beautiful passing shot and pumps his fist like a super-charged Tim Henman.

But on the next point Nadal plays an air shot as the sheer ferocity of Tsonga’s volley takes him by surprise.

And, fittingly, the Frenchman seals it with yet another ace. The crowd is on its feet and Tsonga applauds them back.

Tsonga 5-2 Nadal
A fantastic forehand winner leaves Nadal rooted to the spot as Tsonga goes 40-15 up with some glorious tennis.

Next point sees Nadal go long with a backhand and Tsonga, now two breaks up, is just one game away from the final.

1040: “It’s not really so surprising. Nadal has had no serious challenges up until now and his record on hard courts is poor. All credit to JWT though.”
Jo, Bristol via text

Tsonga 4-2 Nadal
Nadal is looking all at sea in Melbourne. A net cord sees the ball bounce enticingly in the middle of the court but the world number two’s attempted drop shot hits the net about a foot off the floor.

Another mistake on the next shot from Nadal and it’s another easy hold for Tsonga.

Tsonga 3-2 Nadal
Not a great game from Tsonga as Nadal holds without too much trouble. But the big man knows that the telling blow has already been struck and that holding his serve from here on in will be enough to take him into the final.

1034: “We realised Tsonga was good, but we didn’t know he was this good.”
BBC Sport commentator Sam Smith

Tsonga 3-1 Nadal
Tsonga is going from strength to strength on the big stage as he holds to love.

A couple of rash – even angry – shots from Nadal give the impression that he is starting to realise that the game is up – and he’s not happy about it.

Tsonga 2-1 Nadal
That game was just a nightmare from start to finish for Nadal as he handed Tsonga the break in the third.

It was largely self-inflicted from Nadal as he misses the target from the net with 90% of the court to aim at. Another mistake at 40-15 down and that’s that. The set and the match are Tsonga’s for the taking.

1026: “Tsonga’s stinging like a bee now! Can he finish it off?”
Helen via text

Tennis purists – that’s a reference to Tsonga doppelganger Muhammad Ali, by the way.

Tsonga 1-1 Nadal
Nadal is playing like a man possessed as he goes 40-15 up on Tsonga’s serve with some good old-fashioned hard work, but Tsonga battles back to deuce, albeit with some good luck.

The umpire overrules on a Tsonga serve and the Frenchman is furious, shouting “you are wrong” at the official. To be fair, the overrule was wrong.

Tsonga responds with a great ace and then takes the next point to seal the game. Top stuff under pressure from Tsonga.

1019: “This is fantastic for tennis. For a couple of years it has been ‘same old, same old’ and finally we could have someone fresh and exciting breaking through.”
craigtenniscoach on 606

Tsonga 0-1 Nadal
After another trip to the bathroom for Tsonga, Nadal comes out fired up and takes the first game of the set confidently.

Nadal will need to come from two sets down for the fourth time in his career if he is to make Sunday’s final.

1014: “Let’s reinstall some faith in Nadal, our champion who will make Tsonga fall!”
Ryan B via text

SECOND SET:

Tsonga 6-3 Nadal
Simply brilliant stuff from Tsonga as he holds to love to seal the second set. The crowd go billy bananas and Tsonga is rather pleased about things as well.

Tsonga 5-3 Nadal
Nadal is psyching himself up like he’s about to take Tsonga, a Muhammad Ali look-a-like, lest we forget – on in the boxing ring, hitting himself in the chest after winning a point.

But Tsonga wins his way to a break point courtesy of a drop shot volley over his shoulder that was so beautiful it should be on the front cover of Vogue. He makes no mistake as he smashes an overhead volley into the ground and over Nadal’s racquet.

Brilliant stuff, and the fans in Rod Laver Arena can sense they’re watching something special here.

Tsonga 4-3 Nadal
Tsonga never lets Nadal get into the game as he wins it comfortably. Before the game started, he just had a quick word with the umpire about Nadal’s fidgeting in-between points when returning. A good sign that he will not be intimidated by the star facing him across the net.

Tsonga 3-3 Nadal
The crowd inside the Rod Laver Arena is really warming to Tsonga’s exuberance before an unforced error at 30-30 takes the wind out of his sails a little.

He soon gets the good people of Melbourne going again as a delightful drop shot gives him the initiative to take the game to deuce. But Nadal is not in the mood to give up on this and he does the necessary to hold again.

Tsonga 3-2 Nadal
Tsonga is making this look – well not easy, but comfortable. Nobody would be able to tell which player was appearing in his first Grand Slam semi-final. this is only his fifth major, don’t forget.

Tsonga 2-2 Nadal
Nadal holds comfortably for the first time in a little while. Is he finally playing himself into this match after such a slow start?

0948: “Tsonga is a joy to watch… let’s hope he can beat Djokovic in the final!”
Estesark on 606

0946: “How long will it be before the crowd adopt a Black Lace-inspired ‘Do do do… come on and do the Tsonga’? Sorry, I’ll get my coat…”
Elvis via text

Tsonga 2-1 Nadal
A simply breathtaking shot from Tsonga as he plays a half-volley drop-shot from Nadal’s return that catches the Spaniard off guard.

A couple of mistakes from the big man takes it to deuce – the first time in the match that Nadal has had him under any kind of serious pressure – but an ace and a long forehand from Nadal see him hold.

Tsonga 1-1 Nadal
Tsonga – the son of a Congolese international handball player, in case you were wondering – gets a slice of luck as Nadal trips over his own feet chasing an invitingly bouncing ball at 30-30.

Nadal challenges a call at break-point down and gets it right by approximately 0.000002 millimetres to take it to deuce. He has to save another two break points, but eventually holds on to his serve.

Tsonga 1-0 Nadal
Tsonga went for a comfort break at the end of the last set, but it is business as usual as he holds to love to start the second set with a bang.

Nadal is just not putting his opponent’s serve under any kind of pressure at the moment, but surely his experience will help him to find a way to change the dynamics of this match.

FIRST SET:

0924: “This is simply brilliant stuff that Tsonga’s showing.”
Gintonic4all on 606

Tsonga 6-2 Nadal
A very sloppy overhead from Nadal sets the tone for the game as Tsonga races 40-0 up to give himself three set points.

At the first time of asking, he smashes yet another forehand winner past Nadal to break to love and seal a massively impressive opening set. That’s the first set Nadal has dropped all tournament.

0919: “This just shows what a great chance Andy Murray would have had if he’d beaten Tsonga.”
James, Southampton via text

Don’t let’s spoil the fun, James….

Tsonga 5-2 Nadal
Some of Tsonga’s forehands are frightening to behold, hit with astonishing power and athleticism. Nadal, fighting for everything as ever, gets to 30-30 but the Frenchman wins two comfortable points to move within sight of the first set.

Tsonga 4-2 Nadal
Nadal gets the benefit of an over-rule from the umpire on an ace and goes onto hold serve for the second time. He still doesn’t look entirely comfortable out there though.

Tsonga 4-1 Nadal
Another ace from Tsonga and two perfect serve and volley points put him into a 40-0 lead. He seals it with a third ace of the match for a love service game. Have some of that.

Tsonga 3-1 Nadal
The Tsonga forehand is quite some weapon, but Nadal’s backhand is not too shabby either. Tsonga is looking to target the serve, but Nadal ups his game a little to get on the scoreboard.

Tsonga 3-0 Nadal
Tsonga’s serve is causing Nadal problems already with the world number two struggling to get the ball back into play.

An unreachable ace finishes the game off and it’s a dream start for the unseeded player. Blimey.

Tsonga 2-0 Nadal
Nadal starts off with a double fault and then a beautiful volley from Tsonga puts the Frenchman 30-0 up. Nadal – whose ability to get the ball back over the net beggars belief at times – fights back to 30-30 before another Tsonga volley gives him the first break point of the match.

A fabulous reaction volley from almost point-blank range at the net sees him take it. What a start from the Frenchman.

Tsonga 1-0 Nadal
An inauspicious start for Tsonga as he goes 30-0 down on his serve, but some powerful hitting to the furthest reaches of the court moves Nadal around and sees him take four points in a row to seal the game.

0848: We’re pretty much there. Last drinks are drunk and sweat is towelled off as Tsonga prepares to start the match.

0844: The roof is half closed in Melbourne, by the way, to save time in the event of rain. Not sure if that will have any impact whatsoever, to be honest with you.

0842: Nadal does his traditional zig-zagging sprint back to the baseline and the pair start to knock a few balls about as the tension builds.

0840; A bit of psychological warfare from Nadal? The Spaniard keeps Tsonga waiting for nearly two minutes as he quaffs a drink on the sidelines before jogging out for the coin toss.

Tsonga wins the toss and opts to serve first.

0838: After a Spinal Tap-esque wander around the backstage corridors, Tsonga and Nadal emerge to massive cheers from the Melbourne crowd.

0835: Both players are buttonholed by an Australian journo on their (incredibly long) walk to the Rod Laver Arena.

Breaking news: both players expect “a very tough match”.

0833: Almost every seat at the is taken as the fans wait for the players to emerge, and the TV cameramen – as is their usual way – focus on several attractive young ladies in the crowd. I take no notice, of course.

0830: This match sees the world number two taking on Tsonga, a man ranked 36 places below him in the ATP list. But will that show out on court given Tsonga’s tremendous form in getting to the last four?

0825: What a game we have in prospect here. Jo-Wilfried was magnifique in his quarter-final demolition of Mikhail Youzhny, while Nadal overwhelmed Jarkko Nieminen with muscular brutality.

Which man will be left standing at the end of this one?

Story from BBC SPORT

Nadal v Mathieu as it happened

Australian Open, Melbourne Men’s fourth-round latest:

R Nadal (Sp) v P-H Mathieu (Fra)

6-4 3-0 (ret)

* Nadal wins after Mathieu retirement

 

By Sarah Holt

Second set:

1127: “It’s strange it doesn’t look like he’s limping. It’s not the way to retire. You at least have to look as though you are in some kind of discomfort before you retire from a Grand Slam. I’m still in shock. It just looks like he was getting beaten and had enough.”
BBC Sport’s John Lloyd

Nadal 3-0 Mathieu
A third double-fault takes Mathieu to 15-15. Things are looking a bit ominous again here as Nadal moves to 15-40. Mathieu looks very casual and doesn’t move as Nadal passes him to break again. And Mathieu has had enough. He slings his racquet to the ground and then retires from the match.

Nadal 2-0 Mathieu
No danger of Nadal missing a single shot out here as he powers to a love service game, finishing it off with a back-handed drive volley at the net.

1119: “Nadal couldn’t have asked for a better draw in his wildest dreams. It’s not his “fault”, of course, but he’d probably acknowledge himself how happy he is he got a bit of luck.”
ShatteredHand on 606

Nadal 1-0 Mathieu
Nadal is a man of a mission here. He threads a couple of belters down the line to grab three break points and there is nothing Mathieu can do to stop the immediate break.

First set:

Nadal 6-4 Mathieu
A rare double fault takes him to 15-15 and Mathieu sends him dashing around the court, and then hits a big forehand at 15-30. No luck for the Frenchman after another close exchange of shots, and Nadal lashes down a third ace for 40-30. And no mistake from the Spaniard as he closes out the game for the first set.

“That was a brilliant exhibiton of serves from Nadal, and Mathieu just can’t get at it at the moment. You just think how can Mathieu really hurt Nadal?”
BBC Sport’s John Lloyd

Nadal 5-4 Mathieu
Mathieu hangs on, so Nadal will have to serve out the set.

Nadal 5-3 Mathieu
Mathieu receives more treatment at the changeover and his luck changes a little as he gets to 30-30 on the Nadal serve. Lots of groaning out there in a long rally but Mathieu goes long at 40-30 and does likewise to hand the Spaniard the hold.

Nadal 4-3 Mathieu
Mathieu is doing his best to stay with the French Open champion out here at 30-30. The Frenchman clatters down a forehand after a long rally and eventually holds, but it’s not easy.

Nadal 4-2 Mathieu
Nadal is showing no signs of letting up here and he holds to love to march onwards.

1050: Mathieu is taking an injury timeout to get his left calf seen to. Meanwhile, the BBC’s commentary team in Melbourne amuse us by concurring that they would agree to coach Roger Federer for a small fee – as long as they also negotiated a share of his bonuses.

Nadal 3-2 Mathieu
A better game from the Frenchman as he hits some solid serves to hold to 15. When Mathieu returns to his seat the trainer is immediately called out and starts massaging the Frenchman’s shin. A problem already?

Nadal 3-1 Mathieu
Nadal is yet to miss a first serve and looks pretty unstoppable right now as he knocks out a love service game.

Nadal 2-1 Mathieu
Mathieu is in a bit of trouble here as Nadal manoeuvers his way to three break points. The Frenchman hits long and it’s an easy surrender to the world number two.

“He’s looking very sharp tonight. Mathieu is trying to put him under pressure but Nadal just doesn’t look like he’s going to miss.”
BBC Sport’s John Lloyd

Nadal 1-1 Mathieu
A more straightforward game from Nadal, who holds to 15.

Nadal 0-1 Mathieu
Mathieu opens the serving in a dashing black and white outfit. Nadal is straight onto him and takes him to deuce. The second seed hits long and then nets to see Mathieu hold. The office rota guru asks: “Are all Frenchmen plucky?” Hmmmn Mathieu might have to be after that game.

1032: “Sarah, are you married to Michael Holt by any chance? I have heard a few rumours”
Sooty in Devon via text Oooh no, not snooker. Neither am I married to Chicago rapper Hollywood Holt.

1028: If we look at the head-to-head record between these two then Nadal is the overwhelming favourite. The Spanish 21-year-old has a 6-0 record over Mathieu and beat him in four sets on his way to his third French Open title in 2006. But Mathieu is a plucky Frenchman and could give him another test in Australia.

1025: World number two Rafael Nadal walks out on court to face Paul-Henri Mathieu for a place in the quarter-finals of the Australia Open.

Story from BBC SPORT

Federer v Nadal as it happened

Masters Cup semi-final, Shanghai: R FEDERER* (2) (SWI) v R NADAL (Sp)

First set: 6-4 Second set: 6-1

By Pranav Soneji

Federer 6-4 6-1 Nadal
Major apologies to Moobabe, who is very much on my side (although not too sure after the ‘goon’ comment on 606) after my Federer praising. However, something special from Nadal, who hits a beautiful top spin forehand return which just lands on the right side of the service line. But it’s all in vain – Federer records his sixth win against Nadal in 14 meetings when Rafa fires a backhand return into the net. Some consolation for Spanish fans, at least Federer will be up against David Ferrer in the final on Sunday.

Federer 6-4 5-1 Nadal
Brilliant opening rally sees Nadal claim a confidence-boosting point with the deftest of cross court volleys. He follows that up with an ace and takes the game to love.

Federer 6-4 5-0 Nadal
As much as I would like to reassure JMMClondon (see below), it’s difficult not to laud superlatives on Federer when he plays tennis from another planet. The world number one is sensational – he wins the game to love and Nadal looks like a beaten man.

“COULD THE BBC PUNDIT BE LESS BIASSED TOWARDS FEDERER. PLEASE WE WILL LIKE TO SEE A NEUTRAL COMMENTARY FROM THE HIGHLY RATED BBC!!!!! JUST TENNIS JUST REVIEW HOW MANY TIMES FEDERER APPEARS IN YOUR COMMENTARY AND THEN COMPARE WITH NADAL!!!!!”
JMMClondon on 606 (their capitals)

Federer 6-4 4-0 Nadal
Rafa’s confidence is ebbing – he surrenders a 30-15 lead through unforced errors to present Federer with a break point. And just when it couldn’t get any worse for Nadal, he double faults at the worst possible time.

Federer 6-4 3-0 Nadal
Just brilliant from Federer – his eighth ace sees him take a 40-0 lead. He wins the game when Rafa overhits a forehand beyond the service line. Rafa is attempting to pump himself up, but he’ll need to pull more than rabbits out of the hat to stop Federer in this form.

Federer 6-4 2-0 Nadal
Shot of the game from Federer – a beautiful floated backhand slice cross court gives Nadal about as much chance as I have of repeating that shot on the concrete courts behind BBC Television Centre. Roger has just moved up three gears – he’s making all the shots he was missing 20 minutes ago and breaks Nadal when the Spaniard fires a return into the net. Ominous signs for Rafa.

Federer 6-4 1-0 Nadal
More bullet serves from Federer and Nadal is starting to look forlorn. Probably not a good sign.

“Holy beejesus, Federer is serving well at the moment. Six aces already, 83% first serve.”
philosophicalarfster on 606

Federer 6-4 Nadal
The legions of Spanish supporters are willing their tyro on, waving the red and yellow flag at any given opportunity. But Nadal’s nerves desert him just when he needs them most as Federer takes a 0-40 lead. A Federer error, this time on the backhand, sees Rafa claw a break point back but a thumping forehand winner on the next point sees the defending champion take the first set.

Federer 5-4 Nadal
Although his strokeplay hasn’t been of the highest calibre, it’s Federer’s serve that is getting him out of trouble. He clinches the game thanks to a deft volley.

Federer 4-4 Nadal
An absolutely incredible backhand winner from Federer lands just on the line. He tries the same shot the next point, but this time finds the net. Rafa, wearing an electric blue sleeveless number, slams a forehand volley to take a 40-15 lead. And he wins the game the next point when Roger, clad in a maroony-red effort, fires a forehand into the net.

Federer 4-3 Nadal
Federer’s serve is as accurate as a laser-guided cruise missle, although Nadal rightly challenges a call on the third point. Rafa takes a 15-30 lead with a lovely backhand and collects his first break point with a thumping forward winner. More steely nerves from Federer, who holds on and wins the game with the first glimpse of serve-and-volley.

Federer 3-3 Nadal
Here’s a stat for you – Federer has won 33 successive semi-finals. He takes a 0-15 lead with a flowing forehand from a weak second serve. But the Swiss star makes two uncharacteristic unforced errors and Nadal holds out to take the game.

Federer 3-2 Nadal
The first bit of pressure on Federer as he goes to 0-30 down. However, this is Roger Federer we’re talking about. He eats pressure for breakfast. He proceeds to serve four successive aces to take the game. The crowd absolutely loved that. So did I.

Federer 2-2 Nadal
A brilliant chip return from Federer forces Nadal onto the back foot, setting up the platform to take the game to 30-30 with a sweet forehand winner. A great rally ensues in the next point, but Federer’s attempt at a forehand winner goes wildly out of court. Nadal wins the game with a forehand that just clips the edge of the service line.

Federer 2-1 Nadal
Federer somehow manages to land a cross court backhand volley from a fierce Nadal drive down the line at 30-0. And in keeping to the previous two games, serves an ace to retake the lead.

Federer 1-1 Nadal
‘Right back atchya’ says Nadal, who serves a faultless game, finishing off matters with an ace straight down the middle.

Federer 1-0 Nadal
A confident start from Federer, landing three of his four serves in to race to a 40-0 led. Nadal smashes a flowing forehand winner as Federer comes to the net, but the world number one wraps up the first game with an ace.

1138 : The players knock up for serve. Nadal is one of the only players in tennis with some sort of decent record against Federer, winning eight of his 13 previous matches.

1132 : Both men are introduced on to the court by a brilliant boxing-style introduction from the MC, so the Spaniard wanders in through a cacophony of “RAAAAAAAFFFFFAAAAEEEEEEEEEEL NAAAAAAAADAAAAAAAAL”. Meanwhile the world number one looks slightly embarrassed by the “ROGEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRR FEEEEEEEEEEDEEERRERRRRR”. Imagine if they did that at Wimbledon.

Morning, afternoon – and if you’re lucky enough to be anywhere near Shanghai, a very good evening.

It’s another episode of the epic Federer v Nadal rivalry, this time the two will battle it out to see who will face Spain’s red-hot David Ferrer in Sunday’s final.

Story from BBC SPORT

Federer vs Nadal as it happened

Wimbledon men’s singles final result:

R FEDERER (Swi) 1 v R NADAL (Sp) 2

7-6 4-6 7-6 2-6 6-2

FIFTH SET

Federer 6-2 Nadal
Nadal plops a forehand into the net and the Spaniard is reeling. Someone needs to have a word with Bjorn, he’s gone from battleship grey to chilli-red in the space of four hours. Nadal claws his way back into the game but makes it 15-30 with a mis-hit forehand that lands wide. Federer bunts a backhand long before Nadal shows a featherlite touch at the net, angling a backhand volley to leave Federer nailed to the turf. Federer, like a batsman anticipating a slower ball, runs round a Nadal second serve and clumps it straight back past the Spaniard. The umpire then overrules the line judge and Hawkeye makes the umpire right – Nadal’s advantage. Federer brings it back to deuce with a gun-barrel straight backhand down the line before Nadal gives Federer a Championship point with a ballooned forehand. Nadal saves! Federer gets a net cord that the Spaniard manages to pick up and the Swiss puts a forehand long. A second Championship point after Nadal finds the net with a forehand – and that’s that, Federer’s fifth successive title, sealed with a sizzling overhead. Down goes Roger and on come the waterworks – he really is a sensitive guy. Now that, my friends, was what you call a classic and it was a pleasure telling you all about it.

“There’s nothing as nail biting as reading your live report whilst on a train with an intermittent signal.”
Gary, on a train near Northampton, via text

Federer 5-2 Nadal
That’s a regulation hold for Federer, securing the game with his 24th ace.

Federer 4-2 Nadal
I wonder how Sir Cliff’s holding up – I, for one, am tensing up as the end draws near. That’s mesmerising tennis from Federer, chasing down a poor Nadal volley and whipping a forehand down the line. And that’s three break points, Federer ramming home a forehand winner. Rafa saves the first, Federer pushing a forehand long. But he can’t save the next – what a point. Nadal and Federer pepper the lines in a lengthy exchange before the reigning champion puts Nadal away with a disguised forehand winner. Big fist pump-roar combination from Federer, he knows he’s got Nadal on the ropes. How much dog as Nadal got in him? We’re about to find out.

Federer 3-2 Nadal
Roger’s timing is temporarily off and he frames a backhand wide. Nothing wrong with the next point though, sending a booming serve down the middle and finishing it off with a forehand winner. Federer goes long, and loses a challenge, to make it 15-30 and he hands Nadal another two break points by spooning a forehand wide. This is getting serious. Nadal blows the first, sending a forehand just long, and Roger shows his manliness with a thunderous serve straight down the middle. Federer is some scrapper – Nadal goes long to hand him the advantage before finding the net with a forehand to hand the Swiss the game. This is sport at its best, and certainly the best men’s final since Ivanisevic v Rafter in 2001.

Federer 2-2 Nadal
Solid backhand volley from Nadal takes him to 15-0 and he’s at the net again, this time dispatching an overhead. Nadal puts a tame backhand into the net before rearranging his smalls for the umpteenth time today. That’s one little tick he might want to iron out. Good scrambling from Nadal and eventually Federer mis-hits a forehand long and the Spaniard holds.

“If Nadal keeps reading Federer’s serve as well as he did in that last game, he has a fantastic chance to win here.”
Andy Murray on BBC Five Live

Federer 2-1 Nadal
Fabulous backhand volley from Federer but Nadal hits back with a fine backhand down the line. That’s classic Nadal, wrapping his racquet round the ball on the run and whipping it across Federer and he earns two break points when Federer balloons a backhand long. Nadal, however, blows both, missing the line with an attempted forehand winner on the second. Advantage Federer as Nadal finds the net with a forehand and Federer shows some serious grit to hold, whipping a forehand down the line. The defending champion dodges a bullet.

Federer 1-1 Nadal
Great scrapping from Federer at the back of the court but Nadal moves to 30-15 with a dreamy forehand pass. Federer fluffs a forehand but follows up with a doozy of a forehand that clips the sideline. The Swiss, however, hands Nadal the game with a backhand that lands wide.

Federer 1-0 Nadal
Nadal challenges again – he’s not making any friends in the Federer household – but this time he’s wrong and Federer wins the point. That’s a comfortable hold from Roger, but the crowd seem to be with the Spaniard here at Wimbledon, just as they were with Federer at the French.

“You have to think the momentum is with Nadal now. But we don’t know about his knee, he has cooled down a bit with this mid-set break and Federer has been able to think things over a bit. It’s a coin toss now, it really is.”
BBC Sport pundit Jimmy Connors

“There’s no tie-break in the fifth set. Federer could be in trouble.”
Mike from Poole via text

FOURTH SET

Federer 2-6 Nadal
Nadal finds the line with a backhand to move to 30-0 but Federer’s clinging on for dear life hear, manoeuvring Nadal around the court before winning the point with a surgeon’s touch, whipping a forehand down the line. But that’s a hold for Nadal and also the set, the Spaniard outlasting Federer from the back of the court. We have a decider and it’s official – we have a classic…Nadal’s off to powder his nose…

Federer 2-5 Nadal
Another ace from Rog…and another. Nadal gets a foothold in the game courtesy of some serious forehands and a cheeky drop-volley, but Federer holds quite comfortably. Borg and Santana are having a natter – that’s six Wimbledon titles wedged into just two seats.

Federer 1-5 Nadal
Minor repairs is all, it seems – Nadal is given the run-around, but he punches a backhand winner past the diving Federer. Federer finds the baseline with a backhand volley before Nadal comes up with a double-fault. Hope that injury isn’t affecting his serve…it’s not affecting his backhand – he makes it 30-30 with a clunk down the line. And Nadal holds, Federer sending a backhand return just wide.

“Roger isn’t enjoying the battle, whereas Rafa looks like he is having the best day of his life.”
Gary, Coventry via text

Federer 1-4 Nadal
Federer sends a backhand long as Nadal moves to 15-30 and Federer is a brooding presence at the moment, he makes Heathcliff look like Julian Clary when he’s a bit upset. A little exchange between Nadal and Federer – Roger made a snide remark after Nadal sent a forehand long and Nadal pats a little barb back his way. But Federer clings on, coming up with a couple of big serves at the right time. This is a bit of a concern – Nadal has got the physio on and he’s going to work on his right knee. Nadal would make a mighty fine poker player – not a flicker as the quack prods and pokes his kneecap, although I can hear the cracks from here. Here comes the magic spray and on goes a patella strap. Patch him up and get him back out there – I’m enjoying this.

Federer 0-4 Nadal
Easy hold for Nadal and the winners are spewing forth from his end of the court – he finishes that game with an ace.

Federer 0-3 Nadal
Brutal hitting from Nadal, fizzing a forehand down the line to move to 15-0 and Federer gives up another point, patting the ball tamely into the net. The lineslady takes one for the team as Federer makes it 30-30. Nadal challenges and Hawkeye makes him right – his forehand grazed the line. Then ensues a bizarre exchange between Federer and the umpire – I think he asked for Hawkeye to be turned off. And that’s the break, Federer clipping the top of the net with a forehand. Federer tottering, Nadal’s dander well and truly up. Federer has the raving hump and he has another chunter to the umpire at the end of the game – “it’s killing me” he says, referring to Hawkeye. Federer rattled, and you don’t see that very often.

Federer 0-2 Nadal
Nadal has the bit between his teeth and he moves to 30-0 with a forehand winner. Federer has been getting 81% of his service returns in, so he’s really making his opponent graft. Federer makes it 40-30 with a forehand winner down the middle, but Nadal holds courtesy of a deep first serve.

Federer 0-1 Nadal
Federer is quick out of the blocks in this fourth set but Nadal brings is back to 30-30 with a whipped cross-court pass. That’s a break point for Nadal, Federer spooning a forehand long, and Nadal draws blood, leaving Federer groping at the net with a dipping forehand winner. Roger’s been mugged.

THIRD SET

Federer 7-6 Nadal
A mini-break for Federer, the Swiss clipping the sideline with a forehand. Roger goes 2-0 with a beefy forehand that Nadal can only steer wide, but Nadal breaks back with a fizzing forehand return. These balls are going to need a good rub down and a weekend at a Champneys health resort after this match. Nadal goes long with a forehand, but rams home his 18th forehand winner to make it 3-2. Federer strikes back with an ace out wide before Nadal has a lengthy towel-down and the champion moves to 6-2 as Nadal blazes a backhand well long. Federer blows one set point with a tame backhand into the net but Nadal goes long with a backhand on the next point – that’s Federer’s set, and what a brutal set it was. Federer goes off to point Percy at the porcelain while Nadal collects his thoughts and gets some ‘energy’ down his neck.

“There’s a lot of gruelling rallies out there, with both players contesting every point and refusing to give an inch. Sooner or later, that will take it’s toll on one or both of them.”
BBC Sport pundit John Lloyd

Federer 6-6 Nadal
A couple of net cords and a well-constructed point for Nadal, bringing Federer in with the sliced backhand before whipping home the forehand. Nadal has a sniff, but blows it, crashing a forehand into the net. Big chance that. Federer slams home an ace, which Nadal challenges – it grazed the line, and I reckon Nadal knew it – and wins the game with another. We have another breaker…

Federer 5-6 Nadal
Federer challenges but loses – Nadal’s serve just grazed the line. Good defence from Federer at the back of the court but Nadal hammers home the overhead. Federer’s eyes widen at the sight of a very hittable second serve, but he blazes wide, before Nadal hits a forehand into the net to make it 40-30. Federer, whoever, goes long with a forehand and that’s a hold. This is Roger’s longest game of the tournament so far – how’s he going to hold up? Connors reckons he’d rather had had Nadal’s route to the final, and he knows a thing or two about tennis.

Federer 5-5 Nadal
Federer hammers home another ace to move to 30-0, and another to make it 40-0. That serve has been a serious weapon in this set. A woman’s touch from Nadal, caressing the ball over the net and leaving Federer floundering and Nadal brings it back to deuce. Federer wins the next point, however, Federer rising like a salmon and putting away the backhand smash. And that’s game Federer, the Swiss picking a ball up off his toes at the net after a frenetic exchange.

Federer 4-5 Nadal
Nadal ease 30-0 but Federer forces a mistake with some searching groundstrokes. Nadal uses up another challenge, the ball was correctly called out, and Federer has a little moan-up – Roger’s not a fan of Hawkeye. Federer is peering through the letter box, but Nadal slaps it shut, outlasting the Swiss in a lengthy rally before finding a big serve that Federer can only parry into the net. Haven’t seen an celebs on Centre Court – but there’s Sir Cliff, exchanging some Christian rhymes with a lady in a floral dress.

Federer 4-4 Nadal
Federer dispatches a forehand volley before giving Nadal the run-around with some hefty groundstrokes – 40-0. Nadal slams a forehand return wide and that’s another easy hold. Nadal not keeping Federer honest on his serve at the moment, he needs to be making him graft.

Federer 3-4 Nadal
That almost defied belief from Nadal, wrapping his racquet around the ball on the run and whipping a cross-court winner past Federer. ‘Pop’ goes his racquet, and he opens up a new one. Nadal mis-hits a backhand wide but Federer comes up with an unforced error of his own, fluffing a backhand. Federer finds the net with another backhand and that’s a hold for Nadal. All very comfortable on serve for both men at the moment, but you get the impression it could to go off at any moment.

Federer 3-3 Nadal
Federer comes to the net and punches home a winner before coming up with his 13th ace. Nadal does manage to win a point on the Federer serve when the Swiss finds the net with a backhand. More acrobatics from Nadal, retrieving on the tumble, but Federer dinks the winner cross court to win the game. The line judge called it out, the umpire overruled.

Federer 2-3 Nadal
Awesome from Nadal, whip-cracking a forehand winner down the line, and more of the same, the Spaniard fizzing one past Federer on the other flank. Fairy Liquid hands from Nadal, dinking an angled drop-shot that leaves Federer rooted. This is a dog fight – who’s got more mongrel?

“While Nadal’s playing exquisite tennis, I’m a bit perplexed as to why Federer is choosing to duke it out on the baseline with the Spaniard.”
sports4ever07 on 606

Federer 2-2 Nadal
Federer sends down ace 11 and 12 and moves to 40-0 with another serve that Nadal can only parry. Cheap game for Federer, Nadal plonking a backhand into the net – that took about a minute.

Federer 1-2 Nadal
New balls and Federer switches to a new racquet, as is his habit. Some hearty groundstrokes from Nadal and he moves to 30-0. Beautifully-constructed point from Federer, luring Nadal in with a sliced backhand before whipping home the forehand winner. That’s a serious piece of low torque titanium mesh Nadal’s wielding, and that’s a hold, Nadal whipping home a forehand winner.

Federer 1-1- Nadal
Nadal is taking plenty of time between games, even when he’s not supposed to, and you can’t help thinking there are some mind games going on here – Roger doesn’t like to be kept waiting. Federer eases to 40-0 before Nadal pulls off a crackerjack shot, an angled backhand on the run. But Federer out-slugs Nadal from the baseline and that’s a hold.

Federer 0-1- Nadal
Backhand winner down the line from Federer before he gets a spot of chin music from Nadal, the ball rearing up off the sideline. Federer fends the ball off and puts away a classic cross-court backhand winner. Nadal levels things at 30-30 but Federer has a break point after Nadal goes long with a backhand. Federer is unable to punish a Nadal second serve, slicing a backhand long, and Nadal pulls out a plum of a serve to hold. Big cahones from Nadal.

“Federer is getting a little irritated over the last couple of games and I get the feeling he is a little off-kilter at the moment.”
BBC Sport pundit Jimmy Connors

SECOND SET

Federer 4-6 Nadal
Federer is getting a little testy out there – another net cord and Nadal puts away the forehand winner. Shades of Becker from Nadal, the Spaniard scrambling at the back of the court before clipping home a backhand winner while tumbling backwards. Federer has another little chunter – he thought his serve was out and wasn’t prepared for the return. Not clever. And that’s two break points, Federer unable to live with a beefy backhand, and Nadal only needs one, punching a backhand winner past the groping Swiss. Things are level – told you it would be a classic…

Federer 4-5 Nadal
Nadal gets a welcome net cord and makes the most of it, fizzing a top-spin forehand past a groping Federer. There is something almost sinister about the way Federer goes about his work – silently floating across the surface of the court, oblivious to the maternity ward gruntings coming down from the other end. Federer finds a break, but Nadal finds good length on his first serve to save. An unforced error from Federer, plopping a backhand into the base of the net, and Nadal holds, Federer sticking his return long. Federer had his head in the door, but Nadal managed to slam it closed.

Federer 4-4 Nadal
Nadal goes long with a forehand and misses the sideline with an attempted pass. Nadal getting some serious whip with that grip of his, but Federer gets the better of a baseline rally before winning the game with a forehand volley. Getting to the business end of the set now…

“Federer has only had his service broken four times in these Championships so far. When he serves at his quickest – around 130mph – his opponent has just 0.55 seconds to react, which is the equivalent of facing an Andrew Flintoff seamer. It is no wonder he is so hard to break.”
BBC Sport analyst Jason Goodall

Federer 3-4 Nadal
Federer has a grumble about a Nadal serve, but doesn’t challenge. Nadal moves easily to 40-30 but a couple of unforced errors gives Federer a whiff of a chance. Federer, however, does blow another challenge, Hawkeye deciding his forehand down the line was just out, and Nadal takes the game.

“It’s crucial that Nadal wins this set, you don’t want to go two sets down against Federer. And the Spaniard is hitting the ball outrageously hard in a bid to stay on top of the current champion.”
BBC Sport pundit Jimmy Connors

Federer 3-3 Nadal
Nadal has a sniff at 15-30, Federer punching a backhand long, but Federer dredges up a big first serve to make it 15-40 – no he doesn’t! Nadal challenges and Hawkeye says it just missed the line. Federer bristles. Nadal then outlasts Federer from the baseline to earn two break points, but Federer saves with two aces. Touche. This is savage serving from the Swiss – another ace, and Mirka screams “allez!” Fine hold from Federer as Nadal goes long with a forehand. Gutsy.

Federer 2-3 Nadal
Some meaty ground-strokes from Federer, and he moves to 30-30 with a searching forehand that leaves Nadal groping at thin air. Federer, however, balloons long from the rear of the court before Nadal outlasts Federer in a distinctly clay court rally. Nadal’s girlfriend is clinging onto her stress ball for dear life. What would I give to be that stress ball.

Federer 2-2 Nadal
It is difficult not to use boxing analogies when you’re writing about Nadal – a bold and bristling unit, he goes about his business like a welterweight brawler, bouncing from foot to foot and sending home the occasional clunking blow. That said, that’s a straightforward service hold for Roger.

Federer 1-2 Nadal
Nadal gets the better of a lengthy exchange, failing to put away the overhead but forcing Federer into a mistake on his backhand. Nadal in Road Runner mode, skipping across the baseline and just failing to put away an attempted forehand winner, but that’s a hold, Federer plopping the ball into the net on his forehand. It’s all strappy tops and flip-flops on Centre Court and there’s a couple of fragrant English peaches in the front row. Lovely stuff.

“That’s a continental quilt of a jacket that man’s got on – in fact, it’s a bet…”
BBC pundit Andrew Castle

Federer 1-1 Nadal
Cat and mouse at the net and Nadal wins the point, dredging up a backhand pass from nowhere. But that’s a safe hold for Federer, the Swiss sealing it with a forehand winner down the line.

Federer 0-1 Nadal
Federer puts away an overhead and there is something balletic about everything this man does, whether it’s displaying soft hands at the net or driving home a forehand smash. Federer challenges, but the shot from Nadal was in. Solid hold from Nadal and he seals it with a whipped forehand pass.

“This is tennis of the absolute highest quality we are seeing here.”
BBC Sport pundit John Lloyd

FIRST SET

Federer 7-6 Nadal
Federer holds on his serve before Nadal draws level with a scrambling backhand pass from the rear of the court. That’s the first mini-break, Nadal finding the net with a backhand. Federer moves 3-1 ahead after Nadal misses the sideline and 4-1 ahead courtesy of a sturdy serve. Nadal closes the gap but that’s another mini-break, the Spaniard missing with a forehand. Some welcome luck for Nadal as he benefits from a net cord, but Federer brings up three set-points with an easy forehand winner. Nadal shows some spunk, however, winning the next two points to make it 6-4, but he mis-hits a backhand wide…no he doesn’t! He’s challenged, and Hawkeye shows it clipped the line. Tremendous scrapping from Nadal, and he’s levelled, Federer sticking a forehand into the net. The Swiss edges ahead again, Nadal finding the net with a forehand, but that’s another unforced error from the reigning champion, Federer making the net billow with a backhand from the back of the court. This is very tense – another unforced error from Rafa and that’s the set to Federer, the Swiss hitting the lines before floating to the net and punching home a backhand volley. You get the feeling Nadal needed to draw first blood in this match, but one thing’s for sure – even when the fat lady’s singing, Rafa will still be swinging.

Federer 6-6 Nadal
Meaty forehand from Nadal leaves Federer floundering at the back of the court and Nadal moves to 40-0 with a big first serve. That’s class from Nadal, leaving Federer rooted the spot with a cleverly-disguised backhand winner. We have a tie-break…

Federer 6-5 Nadal
Federer all over the net and he moves to 30-0 with a forehand volley. Another ace from Roger, but he makes it 40-15 with a forehand that goes long. It’s another solid hold for the Swiss, however, and he finishes it off with a gentle forehand winner.

Federer 5-5 Nadal
Nadal just misses the line with an attempted backhand pass but makes it 15-15 with a change of pace, getting Federer scrambling with a cheeky drop-shot. Nadal has cranked the grunt up to 11 and he gets the better of the best rally of the match so far, recovering an attempted backhand pass from Federer before delivering the coup de grace, a pearler of a forehand pass from behind the baseline. We have a final, ladies and gents.

“What will be starting to prey on Federer’s mind is that he has generally hit good approach shots, but when they are not absolutely spot on, Nadal is whipping winners past him.”
BBC Sport pundit John Lloyd

Federer 5-4 Nadal
I suspect these Ralph Lauren shirts the ball boys and girls are wearing would go down a storm in the bars of Basildon – how big is that logo? No problems for Federer on his serve, a safe hold to 15.

Federer 4-4 Nadal
Nadal comes into the net but he’s not comfortable up there, dollying up a volley and Federer punishing him with a whipped cross-court forehand. Nadal retaliates, fizzing a forehand winner down the line before Federer misses with an attempted forehand winner. Roger goes long with a backhand before giving up the game with another unforced error. Solid hold from Nadal.

“The way Federer sweeps the ball around the court leads me to believe that he is a thoughtful and caring lover.”
Nozza on 606

Federer 4-3 Nadal
Straightforward hold from Federer, despite the double-fault, the Swiss hitting the lines and Nadal unable to cope.

Federer 3-3 Nadal
Nadal really giving Federer the run-around and he forces the Swiss into an error with a beefy forehand into the corner and Nadal burns Federer with a fizzing top-spin forehand down the line. Rafa’s hit a hot streak, although he could do with buying his shorts the next size up, they’re permanently riding up his jacksie. That’s a hold and Federer knows he’s got a game on.

“No wonder Nadal’s been on court for fourteen hours. Half that time he’s preparing to serve.”
Greg, Tom and Jamie via text

Federer 3-2 Nadal
Gossamer touch from Federer, catching out Nadal with a peachy drop-shot at the end of a muscular exchange. Good retaliation from Nadal, whipping a cross-court forehand winner from behind the baseline. Another pass from Nadal, this time a double-fisted backhand, and he earns his first break with a forehand winner off a Federer second serve. Federer finds a big first serve to bring it back to deuce but goes long with a forehand. And Nadal’s broken back, clubbing a backhand down the line to leave Federer floundering. This is bubbling up rather nicely.

Federer 3-1 Nadal
Federer goes long with a forehand before Rafa sneaks into the net and puts away a volley. Nadal slugging away from the baseline and he forces Federer into an error on the backhand before dredging up a big serve to seal the game. Better from the Spaniard, he’s loosened up a touch.

“Rafa is a little over-anxious, while Federer is comfortable hitting the ball short in the court to bring the Spaniard into the net. It’s the perfect start for the Swiss.”
BBC Sport pundit Jimmy Connors

Federer 3-0 Nadal
Apologies to Mirka – she’s Roger’s girlfriend, not his wife. Although I’m sure she’d like to be. Another regulation hold from Federer – he gets a slice of luck with a net cord and seals the game with a dreamy cross-court backhand pass. Anxious start from the Spaniard, Roger looks as if he’s knocking up against his garage wall.

Federer 2-0 Nadal
Some robust serving from Nadal takes him to 40-0 and the Spaniard is stalking Centre Court like a baby bull. Nadal really is a fine physical specimen, like a load of snooker balls poured into a flesh-coloured stocking. Nadal comes up with his first double-fault of the match and makes it 40-30 with a forehand into the net from close range. Federer then unfurls his first winner of the day, a cross-court backhand that leaves Nadal nailed to the spot. Fine defence from Federer while Nadal fails to put away an overhead and ends up losing the point – break point. Federer, however, sticks a backhand into the net to make it deuce. Big serve down the middle from Nadal, but he follows up with another unforced error, slamming a forehand into the net. Nadal makes a rare foray to the net but fails to put away a forehand volley and Federer makes him pay, picking up a ball off his toes and fizzing a backhand winner down the line. Nadal saves, the Swiss plonking a forehand long, but Federer earns another break point, punishing a tame second serve. And that’s first blood to the defending champion, Nadal slapping a forehand into the net.

Federer 1-0 Nadal
Federer kicks off with an ace and moves to 30-0 after Nadal plops the ball tamely into the bottom of the net. Nadal does win his first point courtesy of a fluffed Federer forehand, but Federer holds after Nadal can only stick a return into the net. No dramas in the opening game.

1412: Shirt-sleeve weather at Wimbledon and it’s bordering on a miracle that we’re playing this final today after the Biblical weather we’ve been having. And here we go, Federer about to get play under way…

1407: Players are knocking up and the atmosphere is crackling on Centre Court. Federer, as ever, looks the more relaxed of the two, as if he’s having some hit and giggle at Centre Parcs. His girlfriend Mirka has plumped for the C3PO look today. That jacket’s actually made of gold…apparently.

“No doubt! Federer is going to please us by doing it for the fifth time. I found him to be decent and wonderful. May God bless him.”
Danny on 606

“Federer is so lovely and polite. Hope he equals Borg’s record.”
Donna via text

1403: Here’s the toss. Rafa keeps them all waiting, knees bouncing up and down in his chair, before bounding over to the net. The UK’s youngest guide dog owner flips the coin, Roger calls correctly and the Swiss will serve first.

1401: And here they come, Federer resplendent in white blazer and slacks (he’ll be handing out tie and blazer-badge combination packs after the game) and Nadal looking like he’s just flown in from an 18-30 in Benidorm. Not since Vere St Leger Goold back in 1879 has SW19 seen anyone as fly as Federer.

1358: Nadal and Federer have their little pointless chat before taking to the court – Nadal looks jittery, as if he’s just about to go over the top, Roger looks like he’s just walked off the set of The Great Gatsby.

“He is the most complete player on the tour. But if I have the chances in the final, I will believe more than I did last year. If I win here, it will be the best moment of my career…”
Rafael Nadal

“Federer is the complete tennis player – he has no weaknesses. To see him play is like watching an artist. If he continues the way he is doing, he’ll be the greatest player ever to play the game. Nadal needs to serve well, keep him at the back of the court and come in a little bit more.”
Five-time champion Bjorn Borg

1350: A big question is, how is Nadal’s body bearing up after a tortuous week? He’s been involved in every day of action since last Saturday. Federer, of course, had his feet up for five days so should be fresh as a daisy. He certainly looked as fresh as a daisy in his semi-final against Richard Gasquet, but has shown signs (Hallelujah!) of mortality in this tournament. A souped-up Nadal could take advantage.

1348: McEnroe, Connors and Borg are chewing the fat on Centre Court like three old soaks propping up a bar. All three have aged well, and I, for one, am stoked they all get on so handsomely.

“For anyone who plays tennis, this is the tournament to win…”
Five-time champion Bjorn Borg

1345: The suspicion is that the gap between Federer and Nadal on grass is larger than the gap between Nadal and Federer on clay, but if all our suspicions came true, Jimmy Connors wouldn’t have beaten John McEnroe in 1982 and Sue Barker and Cliff Richard would be married.

“If the courts were as slow as they are now when I was playing, Borg would have won 10 Wimbledon titles…”
Three-time champion John McEnroe

1340: So this is it, the final most people expected and the final most people wanted. In boxing terms, it’s a classic match-up – the stylist versus the slugger, the rapier versus the cudgel. Forget fast cars and Frenchmen on bikes, stick with this – it could be a vintage encounter

Nadal v Djokovic as it happened

 

Wimbledon semi-final result: R NADAL (Spa) 2 v N DJOKOVIC (Ser) 4

3-6 6-1 4-1

DJOKOVIC CONCEDES THE MATCH THIRD SET

Nadal 3-6 6-1 4-1 Djokovic
Nadal breaks again as Djokovic looks to be struggling. The Serb calls for the trainer a second time but decides he can’t continue and concedes the match. Surely there must be more troubling him than a blistered little toe? All will be revealed, I’m sure.

Nadal 3-6 6-1 3-1 Djokovic
Nadal hits the fastest serve of the match so far – an unplayable 130mph effort – and closes out with his fourth ace. Djokovic is looking a little stiff and deflated again.

Nadal 3-6 6-1 2-1 Djokovic
Djokovic hits a wild forehand way out of court to gift Nadal break point at 30-40, and the Mallorcan snaps it up. Surely nothing can stop him now.

Nadal 3-6 6-1 1-1 Djokovic
Nadal hits a blistering down-the-line winner at full stretch for 40-0 as he levels, but Djokovic looks more mobile now, more committed to longer rallies.

Nadal 3-6 6-1 0-1 Djokovic
Djokovic survives two break points at 15-40. Maybe that nice long sit down while he was receiving treatment has done him the world of good.

1328: The trainer duly arrives and the NoDjo right sock is removed to reveal a nasty looking wound on the little toe. Our Boris reckons if that’s the only problem, Djokovic should pull himself together and get on with it.

“Nadal is the man in charge, he’s the captain of the boat now.”
BBC Sport analyst Boris Becker comes over all nautical

SECOND SET

Nadal 3-6 6-1 Djokovic
Nadal is playing the winning drop shots now as he closes out the set. Djokovic calls for the trainer at the changeover, but he’s currently attending to Richard Gasquet on Centre Court, apparently. A brief intermission ensues.

Nadal 3-6 5-1 Djokovic
The belief is draining from Djokovic’s game as Nadal breaks him again. The Serb is increasingly playing hit-and-hope shots against an increasingly confident Nadal.

Nadal 3-6 4-1 Djokovic
This set is heading the Spaniard’s way, but he still finds time to have a go at Swiss umpire Andreas Egli at the changeover over his performance in the chair. I told you not to make him angry…

Nadal 3-6 3-1 Djokovic
Limping and feeling his back (also troublesome), Djokovic is relying on his serve to get him through, but surely it’s not going to be enough, even against a Nadal who is still not completely in the zone.

“I’m afraid to say that Djokovic is thinking about quitting. He’s shaking his head and just moving forward anymore.”
BBC Sport analyst Boris Becker

Nadal 3-6 3-0 Djokovic
It looks like Nadal’s time has come in this semi-final as he wins 40-15 to go 3-0 up. He’s still making the odd unforced error but the force is surely with him now.

Nadal 3-6 2-0 Djokovic
The turning point. Djokovic thinks he has the game won but Nadal challenges a baseline call and this time Hawk-Eye is on his side. He earns breakpoint and converts it with a smash at the net. Boy is he pumped up now.

Nadal 3-6 1-0 Djokovic
Nadal looks be stepping up a gear as he belts a double-handed cross-court winner to take the opening game on his own serve. What he needs to do is make Djokovic chase around a bit more as he clearly doesn’t want to.

FIRST SET

Nadal 3-6 Djokovic
With his serve working well, Djokovic closes out the set. An ace is challenged by Nadal but Hawk-Eye favours the Serb. Don’t make Rafa cross, whatever you do – have you seen the size of those arms?

Nadal 3-5 Djokovic
Nadal is definitely finding form as he cruises through his latest service game, hitting one powerful forehand winner that even a fully mobile Djokovic wouldn’t have got anywhere near.

Nadal 2-5 Djokovic
Djokovic seals the game with a fantastic backhand drop shot that just clears the net. BBC commentator Simon Reed detects an “old-fashioned” look from Nadal at the changeover which suggests he feels the Serb might not be as injured as he’s making out…

Nadal 2-4 Djokovic
Nadal is gradually feeling his way into the match as he holds comfortably, but it may be too late to save the set.

Nadal 1-4 Djokovic
Djokovic holds serve with relative ease – you get the feeling he really needs to win this first set to stand a chance of reaching the final. If Nadal recovers to take it, I fear it could be over in three.

Nadal 1-3 Djokovic
Nadal is still not firing on all cylinders but manages to hold. Djokovic is clearly in some discomfort but is coming up with some delightful drop shots as Nadal stays back. I predict this will not be another five-set marathon.

Nadal 0-3 Djokovic
Nadal is making a slow start, as he does sometimes, hitting three errors on his returns and then watching a Djokovic ace whistle past him.

Nadal 0-2 Djokovic
Then again… Nadal is broken at the first time of asking as Djokovic races to 0-40 before the Spaniard wins a point. The Serb wins it on the next.

Nadal 0-1 Djokovic
Oh, dear. Djokovic holds his opening serve but only after saving three break points and is clearly troubled by his sore foot. He’s trying not to get drawn in to long rallies with Nadal, who can sense his opponent is struggling.

1210: Nadal, 21, has a 4-1 head-to-head record against his 20-year-old opponent, including a straight-sets victory in this year’s French Open semi-finals, but this is their first encounter on grass.

1205: The players are knocking up on Court One in conditions which are dry, sunny and far less windy than on Friday. Pre-match gossip has it that Djokovic may be nursing a foot injury, but we’ll see…

“Djokovic is super fit and mentally as tough as they come, but he’ll need to be at 150% against Nadal.”
BBC Sport analyst John McEnroe

This mouth-watering match-up between two of the hottest young guns in men’s tennis has to be the pick of Saturday’s semi-finals at Wimbledon.

Despite his moans about this week’s rain-hit schedule, Spanish second seed Nadal will be fresher after easing past Tomas Berdych 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 6-2.

Djovokic also looked to be cruising into the final four at two sets to love up against Marcos Baghdatis, but the Serb fourth seed eventually needed five hours to see off the Cypriot 7-6 7-6 6-7 4-6 7-5.