Roland Garros 2009: Honestly, Teimuraz Gabashvili Gave It His Best
For the Georgian, his second round French Open match followed the same story as so many others had facing Rafael Nadal in his House of Horrors.
No matter how many terrific shots that Teimuraz Gabashvili came up with, it was never enough, as he fell 6-1, 6-4, 6-2. It's a scenario that no lunatic could find the right mind to put money on the 24-year-old from Tbilisi to win.
Nadal, relegated from his normal lair on Court Philippe Chatrier, the Spaniard was clearly not pleased about being moved to Susan Lenglen court. But amphitheater aside, the results were very much the same.
Just the path Nadal took to get there was not as expected.
Gabashvili came out, playing an absolutely ridiculous first three points to grab a very rare 0-40 advantage off the Nadal serve, but then he became human again. Nadal punished every error in the Georgian's game, and even things that wouldn't be errors under normal conditions.
After Nadal held serve, Gabashvili quickly began to realize that it didn't matter how many good shots he hit. He wasn't going to be winning any free points today.
After the dread Pirate wiped the deck with Gabashvili's confidence, driving out to a 6-1 first set win, the world No. 72 sat there on his bench.
He wasn't thinking about beating Nadal.
He wasn't daydreaming about the UEFA Champions League Final, like Nadal was doing.
He wasn't even thinking about the first set that had just transpired.
He just sat there and soaked in the crowd, who were showering him in cheers of motivation to make it more of a match.
So when he took the court for the second set, having less of a chance of winning than Nadal being hit by lightning twice in the next five minutes, he carried a strange attitude for a man who just got absolutely annihilated. He wasn't confident, just determined.
He ran out to a 40-0 lead yet again in the first game of the set, but this time, he made no mistake. He slammed the door behind Nadal, Uncle Toni and the rest of the crowd so hard that everyone suddenly woke up.
Gabashvili had a point. He continued to hold serve while Rafa threw every sink in his hacienda at him, in attempt at getting that all-important first break.
It wasn't coming.
Nadal had his best chance in the seventh game of the set, where he had a pair of break points. But if you couldn't see it coming like a TGV at full throttle, Gabashvili roars back to take the game to deuce.
After 10 more minutes of jousting than Nadal wanted, Gabashvili came away with yet another hold of serve, taking a 4-3 advantage in the set. But heart or not, that game physically took it's toll, and Nadal scampered away with the set like he just robbed a 5 & 10.
Everyone knows this match is as good as over. Nobody on the planet comes back from two sets to love down against Rafael Nadal on clay.
Might as well head on home. It's going to rain soon anyway.
Not so fast padre. The Representative Democracy of Georgia might have something to say about that. As long as Teimuraz "Tsunami" Gabashvili draws breath, we have a second round match to finish.
If that's not the Bane of Fernando Gonzalez himself on Court Susan Lenglen, then slap me silly.
Nadal, with visions of a Barca championship dancing in his head, took the court with one thought in his mind. Get off this damned court!
Rafa ran out to a speedy 3-0 lead and every announcer calling the match proclaimed Gabashvili was out of gas and ready to fold faster than a house of cards in a hurricane.
But with utterly nothing left to play for, Gabashvili continued to pour his heart into the match, and continued to make Nadal work for every game. He even started holding serve again.
Nadal finally closed out the match, as Gabashvili smacked a return a few centimeters out of play. Rafa is no fool, he knew he had to work for every point in this game. Which called for a celebration, as he launched a ball somewhere over the Boulevard d'Auteuil.
Enjoy the match tonight, Rafa. Gabashvili played his heart out.
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