Cincy: Hard court voodoo.
It ain’t just Rafa’s knees crying out for another tub of Tiger Balm these days. Wednesday in Cincy saw two players – Isner and Istomin – retire mid-match after both injured their ankles. It’s the irony of tennis that the most democratic surface of all tends also to be the most brutal.
Prior to the day, I asked whether Troicki a minion? The answer came in the form of a 63 75 win, Djoko moved swiftly through to a 4-1 head-to-head against his countryman. He’ll have his hands full next round though – the retirement of Isner put through a certain Daveed Nalbandian, who got some much needed time to rest after his runs in the last two weeks.
Also getting some much needed rest – despite outplaying Istomin thoroughly in the first set, Feddy le Teddy will be glad to have an early night in preparation for the meeting against the perennial dark horse Kohlschreiber tomorrow. As Roger Federer has never won more than 2 matches in Cincinnati in even numbered years, I think you might want to watch this one without breakable objects in your vicinity. In his post-match press conference, Roger acknowledged Kohly as a dangerous player:
Q. Talk about tomorrow’s match with Kohlschreiber. What do you have to do well to win? Maybe some big threats, tools that he has to your game?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, he’s a tough player. I saw him play really well last week already. Unfortunately he ran into Rafa; now he runs into me in the second or third round here in Cincy.
I hope I can come through. It’s an interesting matchup for me, because he came to Switzerland to practice with me just prior to the American trip. So we spent some time there practicing, worked on our games, playing practice sets a lot.
So now here we are. You know, it’s not gonna happen that you play each other; now it does. It’s gonna be a tricky match because of what we went through the last couple of weeks.
I’m happy he’s playing well. He’s a good guy. He’s dangerous. He’s got the shots. He’s beaten great players along the way. Roddick at the Australian and Djokovic at the French, and has played a close match against me — a few close matches against me in the past.
Yeah, we’ll see how it goes.
Q. Making it the finals in Toronto sort of let’s things start to die down. People were requesting whether you’ve peaked. Kind of the question you’ve been answering for a while now.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, isn’t it strange what a final can do? Yeah, I mean, same thing. Murray hasn’t won a tournament since November, now he’s one of the favorites for the US Open; Rafa couldn’t play tennis anymore until the clay court season came around; I lost the final of the Australian Open in five sets and I couldn’t play tennis anymore after that. Still I ended up winning three slams.
So that’s why I just think — I know tennis is a fast-moving sport, and the best players get judged very harshly. But I think you don’t always have to judge the present.
You have to judge one or two years back, plus how have the matches been played. 7-6 in the third doesn’t always mean that you played poorly, let’s say. You can also leave tournaments having not won them playing well. People forget that.
The last sentence is a rather succinct way of summing up how I felt about Toronto. Onwards and upwards. But not without more reactions on the Wilhem Tell-gate, which has become a bigger youtube sensation than I expected, making it onto the Sydney Morning Herald.
By the way, the last time I checked – 68% of Australians voted that it was real. Both political parties in this election wish they had Roger Federer’s credibility right now.
Q. Can I ask you about a serve that you didn’t make tonight, but that’s obviously being talked about a lot on the Internet. Is that for real?
ROGER FEDERER: Oh, that thing? Yeah. Well, there’s a lot of the debate at the moment, you know. You know how it is with magicians. They don’t tell how their tricks work, you know. (Smiling.)
I don’t do it that much, but, yeah, it was shot in one piece and it was – the guy took a chance. (Smiling.) It worked out. I’m happy.
Q. Back to the video for a second, have you ever done anything like that before, knocked something off somebody’s head?
ROGER FEDERER: Um, well, I had to do it before so I knew I could do it, otherwise it was risky for him, right?
But no — what was the – what did you mean exactly?
Q. Knocking the thing off the guy’s head.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, it worked out. I’ve done it before.
Q. So it was definitely real?
ROGER FEDERER: Not saying that. A magician doesn’t tell how his tricks work, so… (Laughter.)
SNEAKY MAN, STOP PUNCHING ME IN THE OVARIES.
In other matches, Rafa had a bit of trouble in the second in trying to close out Taylor Dent, going down a break before ending Dent’s short-lived euphoria. On his quest for his first Cincy final, Rafa will face Benneteau next round, who dished up the real surprise of the day in easily dispatching the Concubine, 6-4, 6-2. Benneteau and Rafa split their last 2 meetings.
What should be more prestigious? Winning the Indian Wells/Miami double? Or the Rogers Cup/Cincy double?
I’m going with the latter: shorter span of time, more intensity and depth of field, not to mention it’s later on in the year when the players’ bodies experience a lot more wear-and-tear.
And the fatigue showed when Mandy bizarrely lost a set in his 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-2 win over Chardy. He’ll have no reprieve next round, as he faces Gulbis for a place in the quarterfinals. This one is slightly predictable: either Ernie blows Muzz off the court, or loses the match because he’s sending his groundies all the way to Stockholm. I’m going with the latter, as Gulbis needed over 2.5 hours to overcome Melzer in a third set tiebreak.
Lastly, on an unrelated note, join me in a song. “IT’S TIME TO TRY DEFYING GRAVITY. I THINK I’LL TRYYYY DEFYING GRAVITY…’cause you can hold me downnnnnn.”