It was insanely hot yesterday and not just because Federer was playing tennis and generating insane hotness.
It was the kind of hot that made you feel like you were being slow roasted live, thinly veiled in a blanket of sweat, and every breath felt like you were breathing the steam out of a boiling kettle. How players managed to play any tennis at all was beyond me. I for one was melting into the seat just watching them.
And through the heat, I watched most of Berankis’ decisive win over Florian Mayer. After a year of injuries in 2012 that stunted his rise in the rankings, it’s nice to see Berankis in such good form. For a small player by modern tennis standards, when he’s on, Berankis plays like a much bigger guy, with easy power and an attacking, all court game. If he stays in form, he should give Toothface more of a work out next round after coming through two cakewalk rounds.
Mentioning Andy Murray’s cakewalk rounds, I had the unfortunate experience of sitting through his 2nd round match against the Portuguese dud Sousa. Faced with the choice between remaining on the outside courts and dying from the heat, or heading to my shaded seat in Hisense Arena and dying of boredom, I – unwisely perhaps – chose the latter, and was subjected to 2 sets of high volume shanks from Sousa, and Murray playing his autopilot, reactionary mode of tennis in response. Joy.
Day 4 capped off with Roger v Davo, which proved to be a much less competitive affair than their quarterfinal 3 years ago. Davydenko was a shell of his former self. Roger played messy, average-looking tennis, far from the “BOOM – one forehand and I’m pregnant” level that we know he’s capable of achieving. Hey, I’m not holding it against him. I was messy just sitting there, slowly steaming away in the late afternoon heat. H
ighlight of the evening turned out to be Federer’s neon pink shoes, which drew quite a few catcalls and giggles from the crowd (“I love you shooooes, Roja!” one man slurred drunkenly at the court. We all concurred).
And of course, being in Melbourne, it took less than 24 hours for the temperature to drop 20 degrees, as cold winds and 2 minutes of rain kept things chilled at Melbourne Park today.
Day 5 continued the tradition of uninspiring odd numbered days at the Open. Bartoli v Makarova kept things tight on Margaret Court Arena for a while, at least until it became a contest of who was capable of choking more in the final set, with the Hamster succeeding in outchoking Maka, losing 76 36 46. Jerzy Janowicz made a spirited start against Almagro, remaining virtually untouchable on serve for 2 sets, but losing each tiebreak faster than a deflated balloon loses air. How does one acquire a massive serve and not acquire the ability to win tiebreaks?
Even the much-touted blockbuster of day – Sugapova v Venus – turned out to be a fizzer. Sharapova looked to be in the same sort of crazy-eyed, bagel seeking form that saw her to the title here in 2008. She read Venus’ serve like a cheap novel and returned like it was retaliation. Her movement looks better than ever, and if you didn’t give Sharapova much of a chance before the start of the tournament, you’d have to now. Even with Serena waiting in the draw.
And as for Pova’s vein-popping celebration over the win, there’s been much talk over whether it was a sign of disrespect for Venus. The logic of course works either ways. Sharapova had to have valued Venus’ scalp enough for her to vocalize the fuckedyeahness of a win in such a way.
Was it necessary? Probably not. Did it come with any degree of disrespect or malice? I’m not so sure you could draw that conclusion from Sharapova’s reaction alone.