Down Under Day 4: Karolina’s Sprem.
Meet Marcos Baghdatis. Every usher’s nightmare. Incapable of finishing a match “on time”, but utterly capable of bringing in mobs of rowdy, excitable fans armed with flare canisters.
For two sets, Baghdatis struggled on the “business points”. Whilst there was very little between Marcos and Ferrer during the first two sets, Ferrer – with his sheer doggedness and consistency – always played a fraction better towards the tail end of the set.
Had it been any other crowd, the vocalists would’ve been silenced at this point.
But this wasn’t any other crowd. Fun fact – Melbourne is the second largest Greek speaking city in the world after Athens. On a day like this, it comes in handy.
Groups of Cypriots and expat Greeks in the stadium cheered like energizer bunnies as Baghdatis clung onto the third set. Before we knew it, Baghdatis smelled a drop in level in Ferrer and clinched the fourth set. By then, the elderly and corporate ticket holders were leaving in droves to escape the “OLE OLE OLE MARCOS” chants booming through Hisense Arena.
Was anyone surprised? Who would Marco Baghdatis be without Australia?
Be it his inspiring 2006 run or his 2008 dusk to dawn epic against Lleyton, no matter how further down the rankings Baghdatis slipped, he’s always been treated like a superstar down under. And today, it took some superstar treatment for Baggy to finish the duel. But he did it the hard way – cramping, smashing rackets, shanking shots, missing opportunities … He did it. 4-6, 3-6, 7-6, 6-3, 6-1.
By the way, Sprembag = an item or not?
In the non-upset of the day, Gisela Dulko claimed her second glamour scalp in the last 12 months, downing Ana Ivanovic in 3 sets, 67 75 64.
I did not see it, nor do I wish to see it, with both players leaking a total of 146 unforced errors in the match.
I do not even wish to talk about Ana Ivanovic. why kick a player when she’s down and fading into irrelevance?
Her press conferences of late have filled with therapeutic “bingo words” like “balance”, “just enjoy”, “relax”, “the positives”. Exhibit A:
I think every athlete goes through it. You know, you just have to sort of, yeah, be positive and stay positive. Sometimes it’s hard.
But, you know, it’s like you have families that support us a lot and you can go through it together. And then, you know, I’m sure, you know, we learn from it. We’re not going to let it happen again.
Q. What do you do this year to give yourself a break when you’re away from tennis? How do you unwind and relax? Is there something different in your routine this year?
ANA IVANOVIC: Yeah, you know, I still have to find things that’s gonna make me relax. I really like reading and watching movies. Sometimes I spend too much time in the room; it’s not good either.
Just find something, go for a walk just to keep your mind off of tennis, you know, surround yourself with positive people.
At some point, you just say “whatever makes you happy dear” and look the other way.
While 2010 hasn’t brought about a change in fortunes with Ana Ivanovic, Venus Williams seems to be regaining her form. Against a potentially tricky Sybille Bammer, Venus was back to her “hard, flat and fast” best. While the first set went in a flash, she stayed aggressive throughout the second set, despite suffering a slight drop in form half-way through the set.
Although truth be told, Sybille Bammer managed a total of 4 winners in the match, and not for the effort of trying either. There is only so much you can do against Venus when you have zero offence game.
Venus plays her third lefty in a row – Casey Dellacqua next round, who enjoyed a 3-set victory over Karoline Sprem, while lil sis Serena enjoyed an equally sharp victory against ex Safina-conqueror Petra Kvitova.
The Williamses liked their lefty cupcakes, it seems.
Later on in the night, the Federer Funhouse resumed business as Roger sealed an easy win over Victor Hanescu, 62 63 62. 52 winners to 17 unforced errors. So shiny I’d like to wear it on a chain around my neck.
On a good day, mere mortals run, the all-time greats fly. Our man, he soars.
And even Jim Courrier couldn’t keep his hands off him.
Oh by the way, Prince Whatever walked in during the middle of the match. Apparently, it was a big deal.
Yes folks, feel the love I have for the royal family of Bri- err “Australia”.