Up North: Remember this guy?
The only American male player other than Sampras, Agassi and Roddick to make a slam semi in the last decade – Robby Ginepri.
It was an error strewn affair when Soderling stepped on court to face the 100th ranked American overnight in Chennai, as the Swede’s “honeymoon period” after beating Roger Federer for the first time in Abu Dhabi came to an abrupt end.
Sodering started the match well, but soon found himself down a break, conceding the first set 6-4. After seeing off 3 break points at the start of the second set, Soderling went on a roll, breaking Ginepri for a 3-0 lead.
He had another 2 break points for an insurance break, but Ginepri did not back off, holding serve and promptly breaking back to even the score in the second set. With momentum under Ginepri’s wings, Soderling’s game fell apart. Robby G broke in the 11th game and served out the match, 64 75.
It was a disappointing exit for the tournament favourite, but Soderling denies that heat played a factor in his loss.
“Everything went wrong, but the heat was not a factor,” the Swede said. “I tried my best, but it was an off-day. I was just not hitting the ball well.
“It is hopefully just a one-off thing.”
Looks like Sodercakes will be in town earlier than expected for Kooyong.
Good news for Robby Ginepri though. His career has taken a dismal turn since making the 2005 US Open semifinal. Is this a sign of better things to come for the American? Given that it was his first match of the year, it doesn’t hurt to be a little optimistic.
“It’s great to start the year with an important win,” said Ginepri.
“Robin has had a fantastic run in the past year, and one is never sure what to expect in the first round against a player of his calibre.
“But I just wanted to serve and return well and it all came together in the end. I am quite excited about this win.”
Over in Qatar, Roger put left Abu Dhabi loss behind him and his Rolex in his locker, beating Christophe Rochus 61 62. It was an exhilarating display, as Federer tallied 47 winners to 12 unforced errors in 15 games to take the match.
In the post-match press conference, Federer sounded – if possible – even more upbeat and enthusiastic than usual.
Someone’s pumped up for the Australian Opennnnnnnnnn.
“I feel like it could be a great season,” Federer said. “I had a break after the US Open and another one at the end of 2009, and I’ve come into this season pretty refreshed.
“I don’t often get a chance to steamroller someone like that. My movement was explosive and nice, and I feel physically fine and mentally fresh.
“I feel eager to do well and I feel like I’ve got more titles in me,” he concluded.
You know Rog, if you burn out early, you’ll have my charming wrath to answer to. Tough love 2010. Tough love.
Some short highlights from the match.
With the win under his belt, Roger took to the court to frolic with the ball kids.
In the preceding match, Rafa also made an official start to his season with an easy win against Simone Bolleli. Nadal broke our favourite Italian hunk twice in the first set, and once in the second to seal the match, 63 63. So far, so good.
While Federer, who is not too far off from the all-time record of weeks at No 1, has made no secret of the fact that he intends to cling on to the top spot, Rafa doesn’t see it as a goal.
“… for me it’s not important. If you win tournaments you will have your chance (of being No 1).
“But I am just trying to play well here. If I win I have more chance of being world No 1. But I’m taking it day by day, and so for me being No 1 is not a lot.”
Later on today, Roger will take on Safin-lookalike Korolev, while Rafa finds himself faced with another Italian, Potato Star Ace.