Rafa Roundup: Did you know Cher is a big Nadal fan?

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(Photograph by Tnani Badreddine/High quality Sport Photographs/Getty Photographs)

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This rivalry has been marked by excessive momentum swings. Nadal discovered his prime gear on tour sooner than Djokovic and received 5 of the primary six matches between them; then they cut up 4. Nadal received seven of the subsequent eight, then Djokovic discovered himself and received 10 of 12. Nadal obtained the higher hand once more, profitable six of seven over the subsequent two years, however Djokovic received 11 of 12 from 2013 to 2016 whereas Nadal was battling damage and kind points. However then Djokovic dealt along with his personal set of accidents and points, and Nadal had received 5 of the previous eight — with all wins approaching clay — earlier than Djokovic’s Friday win.

From 2012 to 2016, Nadal hit 30 p.c of his first photographs after his serves from contained in the baseline. However annually he has labored with Moya, that quantity has risen, first to 36 p.c, then to 39 p.c, then to 41 p.c, and final 12 months to 42 p.c.

Why is that so vital? As a result of when Nadal hits that first shot from contained in the baseline, he wins 74 p.c of the factors. When he hits the primary shot from behind the baseline, he wins simply 59 p.c of the factors.

And whereas Nadal usually drifts deep into the again courtroom when his opponents serve, the factors rapidly evolve right into a struggle for him to get ahead, to that nub of tape in the course of the baseline he earlier kicked clear to provide himself a goal to scurry towards in the course of the level.

Regardless that Nadal is giving himself much less time to arrange by getting into the courtroom for that first shot, he’s nonetheless hitting the ball again as exhausting as he at all times did, on common about 75 miles per hour, in line with Hawkeye, with a fierce stage of topspin that makes his ball really feel like a rock on his opponents’ rackets.

Novak Djokovic’s epic battle with Rafael Nadal within the Roland Garros semi-finals started trending on Twitter lengthy earlier than the match ticked over the four-hour mark. After 13-time champion Nadal received the opening set, Djokovic fought again to win 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-2 to arrange a gathering with Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday’s closing.

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