Diamond Balls Invitational
There’s a reason why the Hopman Cup is my favourite pre-Open tournament. Have a guess why?
a) It’s not even a real tournament.
b) You get to yell “FUCKEINNNE YEEEHAAAACHT” every time a girl returns a clean winner off a guy’s serve and makes your vagina proud.
c) The Hopman Cup invitation senders have a knack for picking relatively unnoticed players (unnoticed by me, that is) and shooting them up the rankings like that time when Itchy put Scratchy into a cannon and lit him on FIRE.
d) Diamond ball trophies. Duh?
e) ALL OF THE FRIGGIN ABOVE.
Like I said, it’s one of my favourite pre-Open tournaments and I hope to make it to Perth one day for it.
ANYHOO. Some notes so far.
As far as my tennistic tastes go, my favourite players being Wogie, Wafa, Sharapower and the Williamses, you can’t exactly say I’m the kind of person who pays any attention to players who earn less money in a year than the GDP of a third world country.
But each year, I watch the Hopman Cup with a genuine attempt to get acquainted with a “lesser” player, someone with the potential to be “more of a” player. In 2009, that person was Sabine Lisicki. In 2010, I loved Golubev and MariHoe Martinez Sanchez. And of course, so far this year, I’ve caught promising glimpses of Bemelmans and Kristina Mladenovic. Both have pacey, aggressive, good looking games. Both gave their higher ranked opponents a run for their diamond balls. Both play like they should be ranked inside the top 100.
But in the end, Bemelmans lost to Hewitt 64 63, and Mladdy faded away against Socks, 63 36 61. For Bemelmans, it came down to his bizarre lack of match experience for a guy aged 22 years ancient. There was little evidence of his match awareness and intent in the way he played Hewitt, which, as you’d expect, proved to be costly for him. For Mladdy, the Laura Robson de la France, it was a lack of fitness that saw her go gently into the good night in France’s tie against the US of A. Rankings and consistency-wise, there is room for vertical movement for both, and I’ve got my fingers crossed that at least one of them will be shooting up the rankings like Scratchy on FIRE.
The one set syndrome. We saw it on display again, and again, and again. Laura Robson showed tremendous grit against Schiavone for a set before letting her guard down early in the second set to lose 75 63. Andy Murray couldn’t find inroads into Potato Star Ace’s game until he took the first set 75. Within the space of one game, Potato had gone from aspiring princess to Cinderella in rags. He bared registered in the second set, losing 75 61. (Italy won the tie after a dramatic mixed doubles match, 67 76 10-2)
Likewise, Andrey Golubev, cutiepatootie royale who hails from the Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, showed some truly unplayable shotmaking in taking the first set against Djokovic 64. But he let down his guard too quickly, eventually losing the next two sets 36 16.
Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? How long the extra-ordinary can realistically last, and how, how exactly, do we turn the extraordinary into our ordinary state?