40 thoughts I had watching *that* Rafa Nadal US Open point 1,000 times 5 years ago

40 thoughts I had watching *that* Rafa Nadal US Open point 1,000 times

The best tennis rallies tend to be those which go on for eons, 20-plus shots of power, technique and a whole lot more.

That's not always the case, though.


The penultimate point of Rafael Nadal's US Open third-round victory over Andrey Kuznetsov lasted just nine shots. 10 if you count the Russian's despairing effort that fell well short of the net.

But for 24 hours it was all anyone could talk about at Flushing Meadows, and may well remain the defining moment of a tournament which looked like it could mark the Spaniard's return to grand slam contention but ended one round later at the hands of Lucas Pouille.

Like everyone else in the Arthur Ashe stadium on Friday night, I was dumbstruck by the point, which Nadal turned on its head with the sort of shot you only play if you're (a) two points from victory, (b) a true showman or (c) both.


In response, I did what any self-respecting spectator would do. I watched it back 1,000 times, in homage to my good friend Andi Thomas' efforts to do the same with Hal Robson-Kanu's Euro 2016 goal against Belgium.

You can watch it once, twice, or 1,000 times here, after which I'll share some of my thought process as I watched it again and again and again.

1. Wow


2. Wooooooooooow

3. How do you even decide to try that?

4. The laughter from the commentator is perfect. That's exactly how you should respond to something so ridiculous.

5. Wait, did he drop his racquet?


6. He sure did. That thing flew away. Straight into his path. Sometimes you make your own luck.

7. That Kuznetsov lob was pretty special, actually. That should have been point over.

8. Why didn't Kuznetsov go through his legs too? Imagine how much better that would have been. Back-to-back hotdogs. What a spoilsport. I'm glad he lost.

9. Actually I've changed my mind. That shot is about as far as you can get from professional technique. It's like a coach playing against some guy off the street and being run close. In fact, it looked quite a bit like that in the first set, come to think of it.

10. Why don't they wear all-white, like at Wimbledon?


11. Feels a bit like Kuznetsov gave up a bit with that last shot. Hard to blame him.

12. Becoming a tennis player when the middle of your name is 'net' is just asking for trouble, don't you think?

13. Yes, yes, unless you're Svetlana Kuznetsova. There's always an exception to prove the rule.

14. When I was having breakfast with former US Open finalist Alex Corretja on the day of the game, he told me a story about the first time he met Nadal. He rocked up at the elite tennis centre in Spain and was greeted by a confident 15-year-old kid who was already warmed up and ready to go. Nadal absolutely leathered that first shot and Corretja said he didn't need to hit it that hard. Nadal's response was that he always hit the ball like that. After watching his career it's tough to argue with that.

15. The breakfast? I went for the arepa, with chorizo and eggs sunny side up. It was damned tasty, too.

16. He had an omelette, I think. I can't remember for sure. Lazy journalism.

17. Still bothered by the non-white kit thing. Which is weird, as I have no reason to care.

18. Sure, I guess the black and fluorescent yellow combo is kind of snazzy. It's more the shoes that are the problem. Tennis shoes ought to be white, I can give them both a pass on the other stuff.

19. 40 unforced errors? That feels like a lot

20. Does that last one make it 41? Feels like there should be some mitigation allowed

21. When Nadal was interviewed after the point, he was asked whether he meant for that shot to be a lob. It must be difficult to stay humble after that, so credit to Nadal for not literally demanding they bring out a solid gold throne for him.

2016 US Open - Day 5Chris Trotman/Getty Images

22. Thinking about that commentator's laughter again and how perfect it is. I wish more people would lose all inhibitions and go down that route. Imagine if the commentator for James Rodriguez's goal against Uruguay had just said 'fuck off, that's not real. I'm done', rather than trying to stick to the script.

23. The crowd noise is really trippy if you close your eyes. It's like some sort of weird human accordion.

24. Why do they have blue courts for two grand slams and red and green for the other two? Feels like yellow always gets shut out of these things without a chance to state its case.

25. One of the guys behind us in the stadium kept shouting 'you can do it, Andrey'. Fair enough in the first set or even the second, but you'd have thought he might have given up hope by this stage.

26. That 'un-believable' from the co-commentator at the end. Why can't we break more words in two? Definitely feel it adds to the drama.

27. Less is definitely more when it comes to commentary. You really appreciate how there's no need to fill empty space with random thoughts that have nothing to do with the action.

28. I wonder how much J.P.Morgan had to pay for that space behind Nadal.

29. If you squint a bit the umpire's chair looks a bit like a giant Pez dispenser.

30. What happened to Pez? Do they still make them?

31. Is that a yellow dot or a mini tennis ball next to the server's name? I really hope it's a mini tennis ball.

32. I wish we could have got a microphone on Kuznetsov as he was chasing down the lob. Definitely feels like he was saying 'shit-shit-shit-shit-shit'. Or, you know, whatever the equivalent is in Russian.

33. It's 'derr'mo', apparently. Yes, I went and looked it up.

34. Just noticed that those ball-boys on the right look a bit like sphinxes. Well, more like that photo of a cat posing like a sphinx. You know the one I mean.

35. Those ball-boys stood against the back wall - are they meant to be camouflaged? I barely noticed the guy in the middle until just now.

36. The Wimbledon ball-boys aren't in camouflage, are they? Best I remember they're the exact opposite. There's definitely some bright purple involved. You'd think things would be more uniform across the four grand slams.

37. Nadal really has some great facial expressions, doesn't he. You'd think I'd get tired at looking at the same guy for 900 loops but there's something about him.

38. How high does he jump at the end, there? How does he have the energy after two hours flat out?

39. I could easily watch this another 1,000 times.

40. I won't, though. I've got an article to write.

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