Despite having never been a fan of Roddick at any point during his career, there is still something thoroughly depressing about watching him lose first round at a grand slam. Even if he did lose to a Frenchman … in France … on clay – by far his least relevant surface. (It may be of relevance to mention here that the Frenchman in question had a win/loss record of 1-9 at Roland Garros coming into the match, so clearly, the said Frenchman is not your typical, dreaded clay machine). Read More…
To say that there is a fair bit of controversy going around the fact that ITWA has managed to get Roland Garros to cock-block the availability of players’ press transcripts is a massive understatement. I thought about writing something about this for the Fence, but then again, I’m hardly a tennis blogger/writer, I’m in all honesty just a
obsessive rabid insane nutters fan with only a casual interest in writing about tennis. Plus the fact that I can’t come up with anything more intelligent than “you all are a bunch of dictatorial wankers” so I will leave it to Dootsie, who is bona fide blogger and is more eloquent with the written word than I’ll ever be, especially on this issue.
So moving onto Day 3 wrap (Day 4 is well underway as I write this – and Pants had just won comfortably, through to the 3rd round and facing one of my least favourite people, meh).
1) When Rafa was trying to claw his way through a very determined John Isner, Bobby Sod Soderling breezed through his first set with Ryan Harrison with a bored, dismissive air that suggested nothing less than a fast, straight-sets win. Not so. In midst of biting down my thumbnail over Rafa/Isner, Sodders found himself down a break in the second set.
He eventually broke back, but Harrison doggedly hung on to snatch the second set in a tie-break. Third set went Sod’s way, and the fourth seemed to be heading the same direction as well with an early break on Harrison’s service. But Sod soon found himself broken back, and it was neck-to-neck until an error from Harrison’s forehand earned The Yoker the break, and he served out the set without difficulty. Not a scare as major as Rafa’s – but still a scare nonetheless. Hey, Soddy, I need you to hang around a little longer for this tournament so don’t go around losing sets and matches.
2) Mandy Mooray won his match easily, playing French qualifier Eric Prodon. I didn’t watch the match, but post-match articles suggested that he was sluggish and not focusing very well. That sort of reminded me of his match against Stakhovsky in Australia – where he was grouchy and distracted but won convincingly anyway. It’s a Slam – I don’t think we’ll seeing much of Practice-Match-Andy. He’ll be fine.
3) Fetus Fed Dimitrov continues to try and find his ground among the big boys, losing to French headcase Jeremy Chardy in straights.
4) Hairbandwagon rolls on with Alex Dolgopolov scoring a comfortable straight-sets win over Rainer Schuettler, oldest player in the top 100 at the age of 35. I don’t think it’s an indication as where Dolgo is for the tournament – Schuettler was hardly a test. The thing with him is that he plays such aggressive, high-risk tennis that can be a train-wreck (and HAS been a train wreck more often than not all clay season thus far) if his crazy is not working for him. It’s hard to read him for now. I don’t think he’s lazy or that he doesn’t care – he wants it, but sometimes it just doesn’t seem like he wants it ENOUGH. For now, it seems like he’s lacking that sort of drive and focus that one MUST have if one wants to be at the top. He still has time to prove that his AO run isn’t a fluke, and I’m waiting – WANTING – for him to prove that it wasn’t a fluke.
He plays Andreas Haider-Maurer (cool name but I have no idea whossat) next and am I worried he’ll lose? Err, yes. On paper he should win, SO PLEASE WIN OKAY.
5) The Fernando Verdasco who can play tennis showed up long enough to beat Juan Monaco in four sets – exceeding my expectations, as I was sure he would somehow manage to fart away significant leads to end up losing. His year and his tennis has been really unspectacular so far – taking a fast nosedive out of the top 10 since beginning of the year, and if he loses early in Roland Garros, he’s out of the top 20 even.
6) Other Spainiard Nicolas Almagro fell to Lukasz Kubot in 5-sets. Having watched Kubot at AO this year, the guy CAN play but even so, taking out the one of the heirs apparent to the title of the Prince of Clay is quite surprising.
7) Most of the seeds survived – even those that were not expected to, for example, Samurai Sam, who proved that he can still win matches by packing of Philipp Kohlschreiber. Granted Kohli was guy who knocked out Satan last year, this result is a surprise to me. Everyone’s favourite new Frenchie Nicolas Mahut also fell in his hurdle, losing in 4 sets to Kevin Anderson.
8) Shrieky blasted Mirjana Lucic off court, dishing out a bagel in the process. She’s looking good – kit-wise and game wise. Never used to like her, but has warmed to her over time. Here’s to hoping she goes far.
9) Ana Ivanovic – apparently injured – lost to Johanna Larsson in three sets, after serving a bagel in the second. I…actually don’t know how she’s still relevant anymore in the scheme of things, girl can’t seem to string herself together for the last two years. But I can’t honestly say I care a lot about Ivanovic so moving on.
10) Aussie girls continued to roll, with Jarmila Gadjdosova scoring a win over Virginie Razzano in an emotional, heart-rending match. Both girls had just lost their significant half in very different ways – Jarka through divorce, and Virginie through death. Virginie’s bravery and heart was the one thing that stood out brilliantly in her loss.
“Me playing here was a decision from my fiancé. He wanted me to continue my life. He wanted me to play here and keep fighting on the court. With my family and friends here and the public, I tried my best to keep my emotions and play for him. It took me a lot of courage to go on Court Philippe Chatrier. It was difficult for me to be here. It was painful, it was hard, but I did it for Stéphane.
“He had faith in me. He knew I had this strength he also had, and this is why we worked so well together. We had courage. We fought together day after day.
“It’s difficult, especially when you lose someone who was – and who will forever be – the man of my life, whom I love and will always love. I have beautiful memories in good times and not so good times. It’s a history that’s alive, that we built together for 11 years. And I’ll continue to build it through my sport, through my passion, tennis, which gives me courage and mental strength.
Source: WTA website
11) Dominika Cibulkova was upset by Vania King, losing in three but seeds for the ladies remained largely intact with Mama Kim leading them into the second round.
And that’s all about Day 3 from this girl’s point of view. I wrote an essay of some sorts on Rafa/Big John, which is found in the post below this one, so clickey if you’re interested.
Day 4 wrap will come, but not today. As Day 4 is still going.
Day 13. Semi-finals day for the men.
Play starts 2PM local (Parisian time)
Court Philippe Chatrier:
Rafael Nadal (ESP)  vs Andy Murray (GBR) 
Roger Federer (SUI)  vs Novak Djokovic (SRB) 
P.S. Did a rambly sort of semis thoughts here. Something just a little more substantial.
Miami Monday Preview
- Stosur, probably the least fierce member of the WTA top 10, take on Masha Epitome-of-Fierce. You won’t want to miss this train wreck of shrieky implosions.
- Wogie takes on Baby Jesus, one of the few guys on the ATP who seems to root against Fed in a partisan way. All the more reason to SMASH HIM LIKE A GUITAR.
- Rafa plays Flopez, the last man to beat Rafael Nadal on grass; but the Universal Law of Paella says Nadal makes a quick meal out of him.
- Jo-Willy seeks revenge against his Aussie Open spoiler Dolgolurve, preferably shirtlessand moob-ful.
- I’ve seen Kim play some fairly atrocious tennis just in 2011 alone, but in 9 out of 10 cases, she’ll come through, playing like a hot mess and looking like a total winner. Expect more of the same against Fistpumpovic tomorrow. Prove me wrong?
STADIUM start 11:00 am
 S Stosur (AUS) vs  M Sharapova (RUS) – WTA
 C Wozniacki (DEN) vs  A Petkovic (GER) – WTA
Not Before 2:00 PM
 R Federer (SUI) vs  J Monaco (ARG) – ATP
 R Nadal (ESP) vs F Lopez (ESP) – ATP
Not Before 7:30 PM
 A Dolgopolov (UKR) vs  J Tsonga (FRA) – ATP
Not Before 9:00 PM
 A Ivanovic (SRB) vs  K Clijsters (BEL) – WTA
GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
C Berlocq (ARG) vs  T Berdych (CZE) – ATP
[Q] O Rochus (BEL) vs  M Youzhny (RUS) – ATP
A Medina Garrigues (ESP) vs  J Jankovic (SRB) – WTA
Not Before 4:30 PM
 F Schiavone (ITA) vs  A Radwanska (POL) – WTA
 G Simon (FRA) vs P Cuevas (URU) – ATP
COURT 2 start 11:00 am
S Peng (CHN) vs  A Dulgheru (ROU) – WTA
P Petzschner (GER) vs J Tipsarevic (SRB) – ATP
 N Almagro (ESP) vs F Mayer (GER) – ATP
 M Bartoli (FRA) vs  V Zvonareva (RUS) – WTA
Watching Woger serve through my appropriately heart-shaped sunglasses may have been the most orgasmic experience ever.
Rally For Relief. I won’t sum up everything that went on because Tignor has done a great job capturing the highlights.
A year ago, we united for Hit For Haiti in the same arena. It was spontaneously organised. It drew a huge crowd with less than 24 hours’ notice. People lined up last minute and moved swiftly to their seats. It was as chaotic as it was natural. Things just … fell into place.
Rally For Relief this year, despite the amazing response, didn’t quite have the same organisational neatness to it. The atmosphere in Garden Square and Rod Laver Arena was lively and happy, but hours before we were able to go in, there was a Mecca-like human meat jam outside Rod Laver Arena – somewhat appropriate, but totally avoidable.
Despite the organisational clusterfuck, once in the arena, we were immediately treated to Federer’s normally scheduled practice session with Federcone and a young Australian (?) junior. And boy, was he lazy! MOVE YA FRIGGIN FEET!
Half an hour later, McSquishy packed his bags as the capacity crowd broke into a chorus of applause and wolf-whistling. 15,000 people watching a practice session, clapping at your forehands, groaning at the misses?
Even Wogie McFed might find that to be a novel experience.
As for the actual Rally For Relief exhibition: the Djoker joked, Murray moaned, and substitute linesman Aaaaandee Roddick roared “IT WAS YOUR RIGHT FOOT” and foot-faulted Vera Zvonareva.
It was that kinda exho.
All of it was amusing, but none surprising – we all knew that Djokovic reveled in this sort of situation. If tennis were a Shakespearean court, the Djoker would naturally take on the part of the joker, one that waltzes in and offers a round of slapstick entertainment to break up the intensity that often typifies tennis.
And Roddick? We all knew he owns dry humour the way Federer owns hi- ah …
Not to mention Ahndee Mooray’s idea of humour turned out to be trading moans and grunts with Ana Ivanovic. Needless to say, I was immediately turned off having bébés FOREVER.
The real surprises for me came from the girls.
Caroline Wozniacki wiggled her rear-end, strutted her stuff and flicked her hair, all done with cheek of course. But there’s a girl comfortable in her own skin, knowing she’s hot potatoes.
Justine Henin: happy, relaxed, easy-going. It shouldn’t be this shocking but it was. We couldn’t feel much of that lionness-trapped-in-lamb’s-body vibe she normally exudes. And by the crowd’s reaction to her, we’re more appreciative of Henin than perhaps … ever.
The others. Victoria Azarenka missed a tweener so badly that she walked off court in self-mockery and shame. A few points later, Ana Ivanovic attempted another one poorly, “I just missed it to make you feel better.” Miss Muffet has cheek. Who knew?
And who could forget that immortal line offered by Miss Muffet? “Can you stand me behind me?” She said naively to Djoko as she prepared to receive Roddick’s serve. Watch again the fleeting look that crossed Djokovic and Roddick’s faces. A moment later, the crowd got it and started to snigger.
Unintentional, but utterly priceless.
And then there was Stosur. Just a year ago, she was star-struck, quiet and shy as a local favourite in Hit For Haiti. This year, she held her own. Granted, none of the last four doubles players, Kim, Rafa, Roger and Sam, was micced. But there was no longer a sense from Stosur that she didn’t think she belonged, that she wasn’t a “top player” in the same league as Azarenka, or Zvonareva or Kim. She had a new sense of calmness and settlement that just wasn’t evident in her demeanour last year.
Last but not least, the Roger/Rafa doubles pairing. It happened, I eyeballed it. And now my eyeballs are so privileged and priceless I’m considering taking out insurance on them.
But proving that too much of a good thing can lose to Sam Stosur, Wogie and Wafa took turns to see who could fail more spectacularly at an overhead smash. The result was that the girls took away the battle of the sexes, and Kim and Sam did the victorious chestbump to rub it in.
But at the end of the day, let us not forget the purpose of all this stuff and nonsense. The flood waters are receding in Queensland (and the rest of Australia) and people are returning to find their homes destroyed, evidence of their memory drenched and erased forever. The clean-up and rebuilding efforts will cost this country billions, and the emotional toll will be higher.
Rally For Relief raised an amazing $1.8 million today for the cause, and https://rallyforrelief.tennis.com.au/ will continue to accept donations, with QER (corporate) matching every dollar donated. Please do what you can.
PS. Who says Federer and Rafa fans hate each other? It was lovely to meet some Rafanatics pre-match today, and we didn’t even scratch each others’ eyeballs out. Now that’s civility!
PPS. By the way, the rest of my photos from today are here. Practice photos earlier in the week are on the same account.
OH-MAH-GAH! Can you hear it? The rustling of feet around the world. Tennis players are resurfacing from their winter hibernation and making me very excited from a Southerly direction.
Funnily enough, South is the direction most players are headed right now. The little isle(s) of New Zealand welcomed the giant siren known as Maria Sharapova today, as Sharpie arrived to a large media contingent at Auckland airport.
Sharapova is due to play the ASB Classic in Auckland, starting 3/01/2011. She has also requested a wild card to Sydney, making this the biggest build up to the Australian Open for a player who normally doesn’t play any warm up tournaments before the big O.
I think it’s safe to say that she doesn’t want a repeat of last year’s Australian Open first round travesty.
Over in neighbouring Astray-lia, other players are arriving to partay down-under. Roddick wasted no time getting back on the practice courts in Brisbane, while Ana Ivanovic wasted no time getting back into a photo shoot in Perth.
Geez Louise. Who barfed tinsel all over this?
“So we started the workout and he was doing really well, and I was actually going to cut him short because if he’s not finishing the workout healthy then it doesn’t really matter.
“Andy looked at me and said, ‘You don’t win the %#@!!% Australian Open by cutting short your workouts’.” – Lance Hooten, physical trainer of Woddick.
Justine Henin, who, like Ivanovic, is also due in Perth for the Hopmans Cup, has chosen a rather peculiar place to train during her off-season: Sanya, on the tropical island of Hainan off the Southern coast of China, where the climate is said to be rather “Australian”. While in China, Henin took some time to visit her Chinese 6th Sense Academy and do some press.
“I had a pretty good start [to 2010], which I hadn’t managed to achieve before. But after playing tennis for 14 years it was physically very hard for me to come back. I am just slowly coming back to the top.”
“I was never 100 percent fit this year. I wasn’t yet ready to play at that level. And with the elbow injury I got at Wimbledon, it became even more difficult.
It was a difficult summer. I injured my elbow, demaged my ligament and I thought maybe it was over for me.
“Now the ligament is getting better but I have to do a lot of work on my elbow and my muscles. I have to trust my elbow again. It’s been through a lot and it has to be strong. It will take several months to be 100 percent.”
Some rather gloomy quotes aside, Henin remains hopeful.
“Step by step I am heading in the right direction now but only winning matches can give me that confidence. I’ve been working very hard. If my elbow continues to improve in the next few weeks or months, I think I have good prospects for the future.”
On the current field:
Henin said the quality of play on the tour had not changed much during her retirement. That actually allowed her to find her feet in a short time. She rose up the ranks to world No 12 in six months and boasted a remarkable 32-8 win-loss record this season …
“I don’t think a lot of things have changed,” she said. “No one is really dominating the tour. It feels similar to how it was.”
Still, Henin acknowledged the power of the new generation, singling out new world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki from Denmark.
“She is very talented. She troubles a lot of players. I am sure new players will emerge in the next few years.”
“I’m not a machine. I could not last five years,” she said.
“I am near the end of my career. To have fun – that’s the most important thing in remaining competitive at this level.”
“My goal is to play in London,” she said. “Winning the gold in Athens was one of the best moments of my career.
“It’s special playing in the Olympics. You are playing for your nation and you don’t feel alone on court.”
Source: China Daily
Quotes that make you go: oh dear.
Coming off a serious injury, straight into a slam with Hopman Cup as preparation and a tonne of points to defend for the first half of 2011? In short, Justine Henin is going to lose the bulk of whatever 6 months worths of points she currently holds.
But then she’s going to fight up that rankings ladder like the tenacious ladder-climbing bitch she is. This is how it goes. And this time, she’ll enjoy the whole process, baggage free.
Justine 2.0. Didn’t cha know?
As for Wogie McSquigie, after training with Jarko Nieminen earlier in the offseason, Feduhruh is currently hitting up a hot hot sandstorm in Dubai with 26 year old, World No 86 Michal Przysiężny.
According to the Polish press, Whathisface arrived in Dubai on 25 December, and spent the first two days training exclusively with Wogie, before being joined by the Cone.
Then from Monday (27/12) to Thursday, Annacone will coach the pair for around 3.5-4 hours a day. In addition to training on court, they will also be doing some general physical training. Wogie McSquigie will be covering all costs associated of the stay with whatever he keeps under his mattress.
Evidently, the collaboration was set up by Marco Chiudi, who Przysiężny had trained with in Germany.
Here’s a video from those with prying eyes. Merci beaucoup!
Some people count down to the New Year. I count down to tennis. Not too far away now. STAY STRONG MY FELLOW ADDICTS. STAY STRONG!
Yes. There is an outdated and fastly-irrelevant “real” tournament on right now known to many as the Davis Cup, but for most of the non-French and non-Serbian players, the Australian Open is the next thing on the horizon. (Yes, you Davis Cup diehards just stabbed me in slow-mo in your head).
So in the spirit of “How-Many-Weeks-Til-Real-Tennis-Starts-Again?”, here’s a review of what the Relevants are wearing next Australian Open.
And to relish the irony, I shall open this post about the Relevants with a photo of Ana Ivanovic and Dani Hantuchova.
Not a huge fan of the green and purpose combo, but at least it does not burn retinas. But my problem with the dress has nothing to do with the colours: in what universe do breast-zips serve any functional, decorative-or-otherwise purpose?
But it’s okay really, especially considering the acidic, clashing colours Adidas has for its cover girls at Roland Garros …
And as we talk about Adidas’ many failures, starting a collaboration with Stella McCartney must be ranked near the top somewhere. Caroline Wozniacki’s outfit at Australian Open 2011:
UPDATE – sorry, the blue dress was for Roland Garros. Looks like we’re stuck with this for the Australian Open, which isn’t too bad.
Henin, Dinara, MariKiri. The same old designs every year. Only this time, Adidas thought it would be a great idea to use pink-and-green outside the strictly Christmas season.
Continuing the watermelon-themed outfits …
(I miss Jo-Willy. That is all)
What are the chances that Ahndee Mooray wears those outfits for the entire season in 2011?
1. Sometimes, you see it in his eyes.
When they grow into two round saucers, you see the panic and excitement therein: “HOLY SHIT. I-CAN-DO-THIS-I-CAN-DO-THIS-CAN-I-DO-THIS-DO-I-THINK-I-CAN-DO-THIS-HOLY-SHIT-I-DON’T-THINK-I-CAN-DO-THIS?!”
And for a moment there, he had me fooled. Victor Troicki served for the match, a bad call by the umpire and a pea-brained funk later, Rafa had broken back for a tiebreak, where the playing field is level and inspiration and will prevail. I wasn’t fooled anymore, even on those two match points Troicki had.
Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal cracks me up sometimes he can’t even help himself. Psssssst, this ain’t a slam, darling.
Have a beer, Rafa. Just … drink it.
2. Bali wild cards have been awarded to Ana Ivanovic and Daniel Hantuchova.
Neither has won a tournament this year, so let’s call it for what it is: the WTA privileges marketability over merit and its professionalism as a peak body of female athletes. It’s not new or surprising in anyway, but it does deserve a judgmental frown from the idealist in me. There’s another side to Dootsie that desperately wants to believe that women’s tennis, or women’s sport in general, operates on merits as opposed to sex appeal.
But alas, I sounded naive even saying that.
[Personally, I would’ve liked to see Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, Jarka Groth, or Kimiko Date Krumm get a chance to play in Bali.]
3. Caroline Wozniacki is no longer just Scandinavia’s No 1…
It’s not her problem. She has no control over the rankings. She just wants to play EVERY. SECOND. FUCKING. TOURNAMENT.
But what was different this time round was that even before the fury that usually came with the dethroning of Serena Williams started, there was an outpouring of support for Carol. The fact that so many were rushing to defend her even before she ascended the top spot speaks volumes for what we’re all thinking deep down – the No 1 spot ain’t worth its weight in slams.
4. I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again: more so than Federer or Nadal, more so than anyone on the ATP tour, the person who is most defined by his single-minded pursuit of slams is Andy Murray.
That was what I thought about yesterday, as I watched Andy Murray put in a lackluster performance to be served off the court by Papa Ljubs. A respectable performance at the WTF aside, this year’s just about over for him, motivation-wise.
5. While the year may be over for some (read: half of the WTA), for Juan Martin Delpoopoo, 2010 has been a non-starter.
And he leaves Asia non-started, a little demoralised even. There’s not much harm in that. Ideally, Ponyboy should be satisfied with his ‘comeback 2010’ if he just gets one or two wins under his belt before calling it a season. The real comeback starts in 2011.
I wonder though, as I do with Maria Sharapova as well, just how far we’ve moved on without them.
SPECIAL EDITION FRAZZLES – Served by yours truly.
On the menu: cupcakes, muffins, bricks, perhaps a few asterisks too?
Which one would you like to take? Because folks: Andy Murray is gone, GONE. And NO ONE CARETH. *Sally Draper lisp* In related news, Ahndee Mooray apparently 62% Scottish as I write this, whadaya know.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR OUR FRAZZLE-FILLED LIVES?
Why I’m glad you asked!
- It means that the top half of the draw is smashed into James Frey. In a Roland-Garros-09-parting-of-the-seas kinda way, only swap Roger Federer for Rafael Nadal, Paris for New York.
- It means that there are too many of Rafa’s playstation mates left in the draw. Some of you share my boredom. Others don’t. That’s okay, since none of it will change the outcome.
- It means that it is very unlike that Murray, a “pre-tournament favourite”, will ever be a “pre-tournament favourite” again. That’s what you get for rocking the US Open Series, then flaming out early at what should’ve been your best tournament, TWO FUCKING YEARS in a row. Am I complaining? Why yes. But more on that later.
- It means that there are two Swiss in the second week of a slam. Coulda been three if Nutty Patty had survived Wicky. They make ’em good in Switzerlandia. They make ’em real good.
- What does this mean for the bottom half of the draw? ABSOFUCKINGLUTELY NOTHING. The 3rd seed? Still in. The fifth seed? Lurking just around the corner. Second seed? FRAZZLE. Only perceptions of loadedness has gone up.
- How unfair! How cupcakey! Now Roger has the bitchiest draw of all time – Melzer, 5th, 3rd, and top seed – if he wants to win. OH SHUT IT. When the draws came out, Rafa had the tougher half. It’s beyond the control of everyone except for Murray how that pans out. Besides, I’m a firm believer in Dootsie’s Principle of Cupcake Equal Opportunity: eventually, everything evens up. So cut the crap.
- Jurgen Melzer is the bane of my existence right now. NOTHING ELSE. We all need to put our tunnel vision goggles on. *hands out tunnel vision goggles*
THAT IS ALL UNTIL LATERS ALLIGATORS. Frazzle away!
ARTHUR ASHE – 11:00 am
He doesn’t care about Masters anymore.
He doesn’t know how to handle big hitters.
He’s no longer motivated after winning 16 slams.
The crowd is bored of a guy who has dominated tennis for the last 7 years.
Roger Federer’s brain has turned into baby poop.
With the exception of the last, Roger Federer proved all of the above statements to be false as he roared his way to a 63 57 76(5) win over Berdy.
To my fellow Fedophiles: take this rare chance to relish our smugness, repeat after me (resort to fist pumps and neck movements if necessary) FUCK YEAH FUCK YEAH FUCK YEAH FUCK YEAH.
And to those experts who called it otherwise: UP YOURS UP YOURS UP YOURS UP YOURS.
How do I sum up the match? Fed floated, he fell. He flailed, he fought. And boy, did he fight like the junkyard dog he used to be! Before the lung infection, before Indian Wells and Miami morphed Federer into a scrappy, slightly timid player, unable to claim the chances gifted to him. He dug deep, changed his body language after getting down 1-4 in the final set and found the emotional energy to stay strong in the match.
The first set wasn’t as close as a 63. The second set should’ve ended in a tiebreak. The third set should’ve been lost at 3-6. But it matters not.
What matters is that I saw deliberate wrong-footing tactics, instead of his usual go-with-the-flow approach. I saw an incredible 24 out of 29 points won at the net for a guy who normally looks too lazy to bend down for a volley. I saw improved movement around the court. I saw a set and a half of sublime backhands NOT dunked into the net. I saw some spectacular clutch serving at 5-6 in the third set when he needed the tiebreak. And best of all? I saw a crowd who treated him as one of their own and carried him to victory.
It wasn’t always pretty, but it was the sort of mental wobble he needed to battle past to become competitive mentally again, and regardless of what happens tomorrow or (should he win) on Sunday, Toronto has provided him with enough of an upward momentum for the US Open series.
That’s what matters.
As for Berdych – dude made a stand. He fought any breakpoints Federer had after the first set with positive, aggressive tennis – key to his ability to push this match to a third set tiebreak.
… and that’s as nice as I’ll be to a guy who fist-pumps and death-stares after his opponent’s errors. Mental games? You ain’t no Lleyton Hewitt bitch.
Numbers for you to crunch on.
Meanwhile, Rafa seemed to have contracted Roger’s breakpointivitis for a while during his match against Kohlismylover, eventually toughing it out 36 63 64 despite having numerous opportunities to break earlier in the third set. Kohlschreiber played an electric first set but made the error of letting Rafa into the match too early in the second set. From then on, Rafa started to loosen up and Kohly unknowingly fell into a more passive pattern of play, particularly on his returns.
Rafa will have to perk up for his next opponent, as Toothface had no trouble dismissing an out-of-sorts Nalbandian 62 62. Meanwhile Djoko breathed easily against Jeremy Chardy in the last match of the night session – 62 63.
We have a great weekend of tennis excellence lined up: in Canada, the men’s top 4 are through to the semis for the first time in tournament history, while in Cincinnati, 3 former World No 1s are due for some semifinal action.
Maria Sharapova prevailed in a dominant win over Marion Bartoli – 61 64 – despite a slight wobble when trying to close out the match in the second set. Not that I saw any of it – I was too busy eating Neapolitan ice cream with my eyes. She’ll meet Nastya Pavs for the first time tomorrow for a place in the final.
By the way, Nike? This double-helix thing isn’t working for me.
Ivanovic, on the other hand, defeated the 114th ranked Uzbek, Akgul Amanmuradova, in tongue twister 6-1 6-3. Woah, she’s back! Er … if by back you mean beating players outside the top 100, instead of losing to Julie Coin. Grand slam success surely just around the corner now bitches. You watch!
Kim Clijsters had a tougher time than I expected against Flavs, eventually coming through 7-6 (6), 6-4 despite making 39 unforced errors. You’d think she’ll make it past Ivanovic, you’d think, wouldn’t ya? Judging by form this week, I doubt it’ll be a walk in the park.
Enjoy the frazzles folks. We get to keep up the smugness for at least another day.