Remember how I said in the OOP preview post that I was worried about Stanley because, y’know, something’s gotta give SOMETIME?
Well, that “sometime” did not turn out to be yesterday, as Wogie McFogie again proved to be much too good for the guy across the net. Try as he might, Stanley had no answers to his Friend Roge’s game. When your opponent’s weakest shot is as good as your strongest shot – that’s when you know that you’re kinda screwed.
Federer was on song from point 1, his backhand out-dazzling Stan’s backhand, and his shots kept singing and zinging for two sets, until a lapse in the third set allowed Stan to seize the advantage of a break-up. It was short lived as Roger broke back, and then broke again to comfortably avoid a tiebreak and seal the match.
It’s okay, Stanley. You will always have Campfire Times.
Federer’s quarterfinal opponent – however – is yet to be decided, as the Lord F and Monfees match was suspended due to darkness. As I write this, they’re still lock in a battle of “who-is-brain-cramping more” in the fifth set, as Monfils very Monfils-ly farted two match points and then the usually steady Lord F farted three game points. Ah well.
(Edit: A further 3 MPs on Lord F’s serve not farted, and Monfils is through to face Fed.)
Novak Djokovic, however, rolled over Reeshie Gasquet, who simply couldn’t keep up with, losing quite tamely in three sets. Sooo…Satan hasn’t lost in half a year, is on a 41-match streak and in very close proximity of wrestling the number 1 ranking from an out-of-sorts Rafa Nadal.
The proximity of only one friggin’ match in fact – because his quarter-final opponent, Fab Fog announced that he was pulling out from the tournament due to a left-thigh injury sustained in his marathon with Albert Montanes the day before.
After all that drama of a 5th set which includes:
1) Fab Fog receiving treatment mid-game when serving to stay in the match at 4-5 down, amidst fans’ booing;
2) Montanes blowing FOUR MATCH POINTS;
3) 95-minute set with the final score-line of 11-9.
It was a complete GIVEN that Fab Fog was going to get sporked by Satan’s pitchfork, especially since he was limping to the net after the match – but the retirement sees Djokovic getting a whooping four days’ rest before his semi-final match.
Somewhere out there, Montanes is sending hitmen to Fab Fog’s door, and Djokovic is sending lots of flowers, chocolates, and attractive female massage therapists.
For the ladies:
Marion Bartoli reached her first RG quarterfinal after Gisela Dulko retired with an ankle injury. Excuse me while I angst in a corner again – SAM, IT COULD’VE BEEN YOU.
And another top seed in the form of Vera Zvonareva took a tumble, losing to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (first time I typed her name right without looking! And then I found out I got it WRONG so it’s right again now) in three sets. So none of the top 3 seeds made it to the quarterfinals. This has not happened in a very long time.
Franny Schiavone is on the right track to her title defense, beating Glitter Gal JJ in three competitive sets. Daniela Hantuchova’s gallant run ended with Svetlana Kuznetsova – the latter prevailed over the sometimes Battle of the Brain.
I may be looking waaay ahead but I’m already looking forward to the Franny/Sveta semi-final. Please not to implode against Bartoli, Sveta. Keep yourself together and win your next match to give ME my wanted semi! I WANTS IT.
We have a blockbuster Saturday coming up in Woop Woop. Wafa faces off first match against a resurgent del Potro. Normally, I would not worry, but given Rafa’s performance in his last two matches, del Potro seems to be in with a chance to win.
In a dystopian world, my anticipation of a Fedal final would be completely derailed by both delPo and Satan.
BUT IT IS OKAY.
Unlike every other tournament, this time in Woop Woop, we get a second chance to reach Dootsie’s ovarian happiness. FEDRINKA plays Dolgopolove and Xman in some kinduva alternative dream doubles final.
Either way, the firelog routine – IT HAS TO HAPPEN. I WILL DIE OF A THOUSAND SQUISHY PENGUINS IF IT HAPPENS.
OOP – STADIUM 1 start 11:00 am
 R Nadal (ESP) vs J Del Potro (ARG) – ATP
 N Djokovic (SRB) vs  R Federer (SUI) – ATP
Not Before 3:00 PM
 B Mattek-Sands (USA) / M Shaughnessy (USA) vs S Mirza (IND) / E Vesnina (RUS) – WTA – DOUBLES FINAL
Not Before 4:00 PM
A Dolgopolov (UKR) / X Malisse (BEL) vs R Federer (SUI) / S Wawrinka (SUI) – ATP – DOUBLES FINAL
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. While we’re due for a Spanish final over in Monte Carlo, Barcelona was overtaken by the Italians this weekend. Congratulations are in order to Franny. She needed only 59 minutes to wrap up two breadsticks for Roberta Vinci and bring home her third WTA career title.
2. A good word also for my compatriot Sam Stosur, who’s through to the Charleston final after defeating Dani Hantuchova in straight sets. For an Aussie, Stosur’s deceivingly good on clay. Not many players would want to be on the receiving end of her serve and forehands on this dirt.
Stosur will be facing Vera Zvonareva, who overcame a manically pro-Oudin crowd, followed by a freak Wozniacki injury to reach the final.
Aww, I hope it’s “just” a sprain ankle.
3. It is so Nole these days to follow up his best match in recent months against Nalbandian with one of his worst, as he lamented a 62 63 loss to Nando.
I wish I could say that Fernando Verdasco came out and played a brilliant match, sending forehands whizzing down the line past Djoko before turning around to his camp roaring “TALK TO THE HAND YO!” Or something that effect.
But he didn’t.
Errors gave way to more errors. Nole struggled with his serve, and when he did manage to send down a decent first serve, he seemed so surprised by the accomplishment that he could barely keep the ball in court for a few shots in a row. Nando did the one thing well to seal the win and make his first Masters (pseudo or otherwise) final: not choke.
But having lost the last 9 out 9 matches against Rafa, let there be no illusions or hopeless dreams. Go Rafa! Bring home the title baby.
4. A win today will put Rafa ahead of five-time winner Anthony Wilding and level with Reggie Doherty, who won from 1897-1904. No player has won the same ATP Masters Series 1000 title six times since the new tour was formed in 1990.
So that Rafa kid, he’s really something on clay, huh?
A teeny history lesson: The two men with whom Rafa shares his little piece of Monte Carlo history – Doherty and Wilding – were all past Wimbledon winners.
For Wilding, his last win in Monte Carlo marked a bittersweet turning point in his life. A little over a year after his Monte Carlo victory, he volunteered for army and was killed in the trenches in Flanders. On the marble tablets of past winners lining the corridor behind Prince Albert’s Royal Box at the tournament, next to the name Anthony Wilding, it reads: “Mort pour la Patrie.”
Unlike Wilding, Rafa (hopefully) won’t ever be asked to die for the defence of his homeland. Yet in a way, Monte Carlo is his spiritual homeland. No matter how many injuries plagued him over the past year, no matter how well or badly he played during the early hard court season, Monte Carlo is the one place Rafa can come back to at the start of every clay season and turn the tables.
From now on, we’re on his soil, and he’ll defend it, not with his life, but with his body.
1. How much does Rafael Nadal want to win Monte Carlo? As much as Sue Sylvester wants non-Sneaky Gays, more than an obese person wants hot chips with chicken salt and North American Federer fans want their Federporn delivered on Thursdays.
Analogies, I’m terrible at them. He wants it bad is what I’m saying.
Two matches, 2 breadsticks, 2 bagels. They don’t come served steaming hot with Swiss cheese, but that’s not to say they’re not just as a good. As far as I’m concerned, they’re better that way.
2. 5 Spaniards in the final 8 in Monte Carlo. Someone once told me that Spanish players are white shirts to French players’ tie-dyes. Outside Nadal and – for mostly nostalgic reasons – JCF, not a lot of them catch my eye.
Well … at least not in any professional way.
Mentioning JCF, he served up some baked goods of his own on route to a 61 36 75 victory over Jo-Wills. The Mossie might be 16-1 on clay this year, but he comes up against an impossible roadblock next: Mr Bakery himself.
“I would love to play him in the semi-final or the final, but right now the draw is like this,” Ferrero told reporters.
“I have more experience. Maybe my serve and my backhand are a little bit better, and physically I’m stronger than in 2003,” he said, although he would not state he was a better player overall.
No, he would not and should not, having only won 2 of his last 8 meetings against Rafa. But he did hit us with this fabulous line.
“I know Rafa very well but we all know he is the number one public enemy on clay.”
Nice one. You’re gonna go down Juanqui, but you’re gonna go down swingin’.
Surprisingly, one Spaniard didn’t make it to the quarterfinals – Tommy Rob, who was dispatched in straight sets by a certain Daveed, 63 64.
Nalbandian smiling on a tennis court generally blows my mind.
Nalbandian smiling on a tennis court with what appears to be Roger Federer’s hair makes my brain combust into a gooey pile of ashes.
WHY MUST YOU DO THIS TO ME?
3. “Upset” of the day, Marin Cilic was booted out of the principality by Montanes 64 64, although I’m not sure how upsetting it really is when a big-serving Croatian loses out to a small and speedy Spaniard. An Australian Open burn-out and movement issues on clay in equal measures.
The upset of the tournament so far, however, goes to Mandy, who made the trip to Monte Carlo in vain, losing his first match to Kohlschreiber. As good as Kohlschreiber is, it has become clear by now that Mandy’s in a psychological funk. The Fed didn’t just defeat him to win the Australian Open crown, he broke him.
But the strange thing with Andy Murray is his incredible self-awareness. He’s always been one to know his own limitations. It’s solely up to Mandy now to unbreak himself out of this lethargy that has been clouding over his tennis since his tears in Melbourne.
Q. Could you compare the moment you are living now, this result, with another moment of your career?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I’ve been – I mean – obviously the last two tournaments have been bad. You know, yeah, it’s been a long time since I lost a couple of matches like this.
But I think, you know, I have to make sure that, uhm, you know, I don’t panic. You know, everyone I think can go through periods where they don’t play well. You know, I’ve lost to good players. Obviously, the score line has not been very close in the last couple of matches.
I just need to start playing better. It’s probably been a couple of years. Last year, the whole year, I was very consistent. The years before that, I was a little bit inconsistent. But I need to try and find that again and find my consistency, then I’ll start to play well.
No reason to panic for Muzz fans – if he has any, I suspect a small part of him is living for the July-September stretch of the season already. Bizarrely enough, sometimes I feel that more so than perhaps even Federer, Andy Murray is the one player at a stage in his career where he cares only about majors.
Because he ran out of things to prove elsewhere a year ago.
4. Excuse the total lack of WTA coverage, usually women’s tennis interests me a lot more than men’s tennis during the clay season.
It’s been so far so good for the top seeds in Charleston, as Wozniacki (def Schnyder), Petrova (def Wozniak), Jankovic (def Rodina) and Zvonareva (Bondarenko) all progressed into the quarterfinals in straight sets. Peng Peng Shuai Shuai and Dani Hantuchova are also in their first clay quarterfinals of the year, as they wrapped up their wins over Vesnina and Angelique Kerber respectively in 3.
As I write this, Sam Stosur is up 3-0 in the final set, after taking the first set 6-1 but conceding the second 3-6 against Vera Dush.
Slam her, Sammy!
Over in Barcelona, Franny defeated local favourite CSN for a place in the semi, while Shvedova, Dulgheru and Vinci all came through their quarterfinals in straight sets in front of what seems like a total of 5 spectators.
Small revelation while I was streaming Barcelona yesterday – Roberta Vinci = vastly underrated player. Amongst her, Franny and Flavs, the Italians have one stylish Fed Cup team.
5. Time to file that restraining order Jelena, Daddy’s on parole.
The AP is reporting that the Serbian court has freed Damir Dokic on parole. Dokic was convicted of threatening to blow up the Australian ambassador and sentenced to 15 months in prison. That sentence was later reduced to 12 months. Dokic was released on Thursday.
We hit it off right away.
And now we’re – like – so inseparable.
It was a love not to be denied, as a beaming Rafa turned up to Roger’s match to check out the ‘combabition’.
Perhaps it was the presence of his great nemesis that unnerved Fed, perhaps he couldn’t handled the wind (broken twice serving into it), or perhaps FloSer just refused to worship at the Temple of the Mighty Fed, Roger put on a rather inexplicable performance in his 76 76 win over Serra.
Apart from a few so-good-it-should-be-outlawed shots, Ferd the turd was out in full force today, as Roger wasted a break in the first set and a double break in the second en route to a shaky win. The serve – usually so clutch – let him down in a few tight spots, while the forehand is still fickle. On a positive note, never have I appreciated the Federer backhand more.
Slightly off topic, but seems like the twins fell ill after the Aus Open. Stoopid Roger.
Q. How is that sort of challenge evolving of fitting your tennis around having a family with you as they get a bit older?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, the traveling has been real easy, to be quite honest. I’m surprised how easy it’s been, because I expected it to be hard, to say the least.
So for that side we’re very happy. Little ones had issues after Australia, the teething, the ear infections and stuff. That was kind of rough, but at least we weren’t traveling too much. Mirka was sick; I was sick, as well. So it was something maybe we had in the family.
But, you know, now everything is great again. And as days go by, they become more and more active, so it’s a lot of fun to interact with them.
Yeah, everything changes in the room, you know, whereas before you had tables and chairs, you know, it’s empty space now so they have room to move. So it’s a lot of fun.
On the women’s side of things, rain disrupted a busy day in Miami, but it did not steer the tournament favourites off course. Venus overcame a very shaky start against Daniela Hantuchova to win in 3 sets, 16 75 64. She was rusty, MIA for most of the first set, but in the end, Miss Vee came through on the clutch points. Not that you’d expect anything else from her.
As for Dani … no amount of coaching – on or off court – can win a match for a player. That’s just that.
Meanwhile, the Belgian Bakery was all the rage in Miami with Kimmy finishing off Vika 64 60 and Juju b’sticking Vera 61 64. Disappointing performances from Vika and Vera. As solid as the Belgians were, they both came out like deflated balloons.
Still on track for the dream semi and a citrus final. But for how long?
Q. You spoke on court after the match about the fact that your father worked here for a few months, and there was a chance for a while that the family could have emigrated to Australia. Could you elaborate on that?
ROGER FEDERER: I don’t remember quite ‑‑ I was maybe 12, 14 years old. I remember actually my parents having a debate, are we moving away from Switzerland to come live over here.
At the end, they just said, Look, we have all our friends over here. And even though it’s lucrative and nice to go to Australia, they love the country, they also asked us kids. And we were like, whatever the parents decide. What are we gonna decide here?
So at the end they decided to stay in Switzerland. So, yeah, it was interesting time, you know, but it was quickly decided on. I think we even went ‑‑ I mean, went on vacation here maybe before I joined the National Tennis Center at 14.
We went on a big vacation here through Melbourne and Brisbane and Cairns and everything to maybe get a better idea of the country. Beautiful vacation, but at the end we decided to stay in Switzerland.
Q. What was your father doing out here? And secondly, Australia Day is coming up, and traditionally any new citizens who want to change nationalities choose that day to do it. You’ve still got time.
ROGER FEDERER: I would probably move first to South Africa than Australia, because I have that passport, too. No, my father was working in the paper industry. I don’t know how you call it in English. Ask him yourself. He’s in the corridor sometimes.
Hello Roger?! You big tease. WE’RE SO READY TO ADOPT YOU: you’re easygoing enough for this country. You play cricket. You’ve hired numerous Australians – EASING THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IN THIS COUNTRY. Rod Laver loves you. The crowd loves you. I celebrate your puny left arm every Friday. You’d be the next Pat Rafter, but clothed.
COME TO MAMA!
Umm … back to the tennis. After a day of upsets and close shaves, Day 6 of the Australian Open turned out to be an underwhelming affair.
Roger Federer progressed safely past Montanes. After a sharp first set, Federer shanked a few backhands in the second and third sets and elicited a few miffed roars.
But he stayed solid on serve throughout, facing no breakpoints and only one deuce. Did what he had to do, and we’re safely through to the next round.
Oh, and Monkey made his 2010 debut today. Hi Monkey! Long time no see.
Roger’s history with his fourth round opponent plays like a broken record. Lleyton Hewitt may not be the player he once was, but he’s still one of the safest bets you can make for fourth round. He’s through after Marcos Baghdatis pulled out of their encounter, down 6-0 4-2 with a shoulder injury.
I’ll spare you the picture of Lleyton, how about Bec instead?
Looking back on the last few years, it seems that all my memories of Baghdatis involve him collapsing onto a court in pain, or getting some part of him rubbed during a medical time-out.
You can either blame the Tennis Gods for that, or you can blame Baghdatis’ level of fitness for allowing someone so young to spend so much of his career injured. And that part, he can control.
His shoulders certainly looked alright when he visited Brighton Beach today.
Dude, that’s not how you play cricket.
Let Roger show you.
See Roger? You’re definitely an Aussie inside.
In other matches of the day, Verdasco had an easy day at the office as Fed’s sometime hitting partner Stefan Koubek retired with an illness after losing the first set 6-1. Djoker needed no retirement to bonecrush a third round opponent ranked more than 100 places below him, defeating Istomin 6-1, 6-1, 6-2. Talk about cupcakes, Nole faces Kubot in the fourth round.
You’ll excuse my peevishness at these presscon questions.
Q. Has the locker room respect for Davydenko grown over the past couple months?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: In my own opinion, I don’t look at him in a different way. I always had the respect for him because I always was aware of his quality as a player. He’s an incredible fighter.
As I said, he was one of the players that was kind of underestimated in the last five years. He’s already five years in a row in the top 10, top 5 in the world were you got to give him credit for that. Basically 80, 90% of tournaments he’s reaching quarters. That proves his quality.
Lately he just stepped it up. I think he feels it as well. He feels that he can beat anyone now.
Q. Are you still one of the least‑known players? Do you get bothered for your autograph? You said no one in London did at all. Are you becoming a little bit more…
NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: If I go outside now here, it’s be difficult to do in autograph. But in the street in the city, yes it’s easy. Nobody recognize me and it’s good feeling really. Really good feeling.
Q. You live your life.
NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: Yes. I like what ‑‑ how I enjoy my life, yes, like this.
Q. If you make the final, would you like to play on Margaret Court Arena? You’ve spent a lot of time out there. Are you disappointed that you haven’t played on center court yet?
NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: No, no. Why? It’s always I know I starting here at Australia at Show Court 2, Margaret, then maybe Vodafone, like before was, yeah.
I don’t know. Rod Laver, it’s from quarterfinal always I starting to play. That’s was I think it’s good. I know I’m not like No. 1, No. 2 like always will need to play on center court.
But, if I know if I reach quarterfinal and I play center, it’s also good feeling, you know, like coming here, 2010, I play if center court Australian Open.
Lemme get this clear: For years, all the players and true tennis enthusiasts have known Kolya to be one of the most dangerous players to have never won a slam. Tennis media has been the one under-appreciating him all this time. And now they’re trying to spin a story of the charismatic Russian, overlooked by superficial fans and flashy fellow players, when they’re the ones doing the overlooking?
Oh just pass me a bucket.
Jo-Wills had a tougher time in his match, overcoming a slightly injured but spirited Tommy Haas. In probably the highest quality match of the day, the two went toe-to-toe for the majority of the first two sets. Haas lost his head a little in the third set, conceding it with a breadstick, but went up 5-3 in the fourth.
Just when Tommy was looking to level at 2 sets apiece, Jo-Wills mentally checked back into the set and simply overpowered and outgunned the German.
After the match, Jo took his time to show Jim Courrier how to properly do the happy-jump.
Gotta say, I like Jim, but he’s gotta stop cracking all these “dad jokes”. They bring back memories of personal trauma.
While it’s all about the two Belgians on the women’s side of the draw, it’s easy to forget that for the first time in tennis history, two Chinese women, Li Na and Zheng Jie, have made it through to the fourth round of a slam.
Just goes to show how much I know about the Chinese players – both Li Na and Zheng Jie are married to their coaches. How when why?
Q. Are you talking with Zheng during this (slam) process?
NA LI: Yeah, we are talking a lot. We can go like eat together and shopping together. We are not against, so we are friends. (Laughter.)
Q. Both you and Jie Zheng are married and have a coaching husband. So this relationship works pretty well for a woman’s tennis player?
NA LI: I think they have different player. I don’t know how is another player. For me, if my husband come with me, if I have something, I can just talk to him next second. We can communication fast. I think for me it was the best way. I don’t know how is another player. Everyone is different. Yeah.
Li Li Na Na is closing in on her goal of making the Top 10 in 2010 after defeating Daniela Hantuchova in 3 sets in one of the more competitive matches of the day.
The two were evenly matched in both their shot-making abilities and brainfarts, but Li was by far the more athletic one of the two.
Watching Dani’s beautiful ball-striking today, I couldn’t help but wonder what would her career have been like if she came with just 20% more mobility. How can someone so slender and light move with such heavy feet?
In other matches, Serena and Venus continued their march towards a semi show-down as they both overpowered their opponents to reach the fourth round. Very impressed with Venus’ elevated form so far this tournament, not so impressed with the banana peel dress.
Venus has to watch out next round, as she faces a red hot Francesca Schiavone, after Franny pretzeled Aga 62 62 to equal her best ever performance at the Australia Open. Vika, Carol and Zvoom Zvoom Zvonareva also made it solidly through to the next round, all in straight sets.
See what I mean about an underwhelming day of tennis?
As a relatively low-key first event of the year, the Brisbane International has a knack of attracting the comeback crowd.
While Henin won her first match back on tour with a thriller, Kim Clijsters has been blasting her way through the draw, taking just 60 minutes to crush Alicia Molik 6-0 6-3. It’s time to face the music – we really, really suck.
It only took two games for the crowd to realise that Clijsters had arrived in Australia even better than she was back in the US last year – moving seamlessly, hitting clean and sharp groundies off both wings.
The Aussie commentators got one thing right: Kim’s playing like a No 1 player right now.
Molik on the other hand came back on tour with only half the serve that she had before.
“My first service game set the tone. I had a lot of opportunities. And when you apply scoreboard pressure on your opponent you get a few more errors,” Molik said.
“Kim ran away with it. She got a lot of confidence and it was difficult for me to get a lot of rhythm in that first set. I found some in the second but it was too late.
“Had I served better I would have been in the match and given myself a shot.
“She played incredibly clean tennis, hit the spots and didn’t give me a look in to attack or any short balls.”
With all sides salivating at an all-Belgian final, Clijsters said she can’t wait to play Justine again.
“It would be a good challenge but there’s a lot of other girls I can look forward to playing as well: Ana Ivanovic, (Maria) Sharapova, Venus and Serena (Williams),” she said.
“Those big matches are what you do this for. We love to play tennis to play in those kinds of matches.
“So, hopefully, Justine and I get ourselves into that position, whether it’s here or Melbourne or whenever this year.”
It’s been too long since the last Belgian civil war, I tell ya.
Clijsters meets one of my faves Lucie Safarova next round, who scored a dominant win over Aleksandra Wozniak.
Meanwhile, tournament 4th seed Daniela Hantuchova also sailed past Agnes Szavay, recovering from a shaky 0-2 start to close out the win 6-3 6-1. It was a disappointing performance from Szavay, whose second serve can be found at the WTA Lost Property.
The other two matches of the day on Pat Rafter Arena saw two Americans progress through to the next round in different fashions.
“Margin of error” is alien concept to James Blake, who – after so many years on tour – is still tempted to whack the snot out of the ball. It’s one of those qualities that endeared him to me years ago – Blake lives by the sword and dies by the sword, which makes him exhilarating half the time, a ‘bloody idiot’ the rest.
After a dismal year that saw him fall outside the top 40 with a string of injuries, Blake started his year with two tough 3-set wins against Sam Querrey and Marc Gicquel. But looking healthy and moving beautifully around the court, something tells me that the only way for Mr Lightbulb Head to go is up.
Joining Blake in the quarterfinals, Andy Roddick navigated his way past two Aussies – Luczak and Ball in straights. Both underdogs had their changes, with Carsten Ball getting a set point on Roddick in the first set. But with some clutch serving and solid court coverage, Roddick went on to hold and sucked the energy out of the local crowd.
Not a bad showing given his extensive time off. Although we won’t know the true extent of his rust or form until he faces a quality player.
So it’s time to say goodbye to Ai Sugiyama.
The reaction of her fellow players speaks volumes about Ai as a player and as a person. Like Fabrice Santoro, she combined the talent she had with excellent work ethic, making a record 62 grand slam main draw appearances in a career that spanned 17 years. As we’re so often reminded by the US Open publicity machine: it must be love.
Given her impeccable grand slam record over the years, it’s ironic that Sugiyama’s swansong came in the form of a retirement, as she pulled out of her match against Nadia Petrova trailing 6-0 2-1.
Meanwhile, Nads continues to entertain in her cheerleading costumes from the 80s.
For Marat Safin’s last tournament, can we get all the ATP players to line up, make tearful speeches and give him little bouquets of flowers?
Marat would immediately unretire in protest against such indignity. And somehow, that would be awesome.
Poor Dinara. As if MariKiri and Ana aren’t enough to compete with, now Daniel Hantuchova will be rocking the adilibria line and hogging the limelight.
Daniela Hantuchova, a former top five player and two-time winner of Indian Wells, will start working with the adidas Player Development Program team consisting of coaches Sven Groeneveld and Darren Cahill and physical trainer Gil Reyes over the coming weeks and months as she enters a new phase in her career. The Program which was created in 2006 in the spirit of the adidas founder Adi Dassler, offers a unique mix of advice and support, from coaching and fitness training through to hitting-partners, nutritional advice and career management plans.
For the US Open, Daniela Hantuchova will wear the FW10 adilibria apparel range featuring the stylish lilac purple layered tank top accompanied by a cobalt skort with a low waist and mesh overlayer to create a feminine silhouette. The adilibria tennis apparel range features ClimaCool® technology to ensure sweat quickly evaporates from the skin keeping the body at its maximum performance temperature.
adilibria Fall/US Open:
Adidas clothes bore me, but at this stage in Danni’s career, maybe it’s a good time to join the Sven family. Wish her well with the whole “two-outfits-per-year” thing.