Tag Archive | Tommy Haas

Don’t Trust Anyone Over 30? Think Again

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“Don’t trust anyone over 30!”

That was the rallying cry of the 1960s American counterculture movement, raging against the Establishment. The System. Entrenched Power.

The two Golden Oldie Tommies — Robredo and Haas — are not part of the power structure in men’s tennis. Roger Federer, on the other hand, is. Yet, those three men — while living on different sides of the tracks — all created very special memories in the first week of Roland Garros. They proved that, yes, you can sometimes trust someone over 30. Grandpas might not be agents of the counterculture, but they’re cool in both senses of the term — they’re composed under pressure, and they’re the life of the party in Gay Paree.

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This being a Federer fan blog as well as a general-service tennis blog, we’ll make sure to emphasize how the old-man narrative at Roland Garros in 2013 magnifies Roger’s legacy. Our story begins, though, with Robredo.

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Robredo’s Marathon Mastery

It’s been 86 years since another man forged two-set comebacks in three successive major tournament matches. In the 1927 Wimbledon tournament, Henri Cochet turned the trick. One would think that in light of all the amazing comebacks registered over the decades in men’s tennis — think of Pancho Gonzalez over Charlie Pasarell at Wimbledon in 1969, or Novak Djokovic rising from the dead against both Andreas Seppi and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga last year at Roland Garros — SOMEONE would have won three straight five-set matches after losing the first two sets in each of them. Yet, no one did… not in 86 years.

Not until Tommy Robredo took center stage in Paris this past weekend.

Keep this in mind about Robredo: He had to take more than a year away from the sport due to a left leg injury that required surgery. Robredo, who has made multiple major quarterfinals and spent some time in the top 10, dropped to No. 470 in the world rankings 12 months ago (a statistic courtesy of ATP tennis researcher Steph Trudel). Of all the people who would figure to break this 86-year drought, Robredo resided at the bottom of the list. He had to fight off four match points — two as a receiver of serve — to defeat Gael Monfils on Friday. His Sunday comeback against gack-prone Nicolas Almagro completed one of the most marvelous feats in modern-day tennis… not because Robredo lacks talent, but because the Spaniard’s absence from the sport had not exposed him to the grind of the majors and the five-set gauntlet that is part of them.

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Robredo wasn’t much of a factor in the clay-court tournaments that preceded Roland Garros. It’s not as though he possessed a full supply of match play that prepared him for extended five-set combat. He did this on the fly, and from a position of relative obscurity, without having any momentum to catapult him into this tournament. His achievement is truly remarkable.

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Like a Haas, Like a Boss

Whereas Tommy Robredo’s tennis career was interrupted by a leg injury, Haas — as you might know — has seen his hard-luck career get derailed by not just his own injuries, but injuries suffered by his parents in a motor-vehicle accident. Haas has needed to step away from tennis for at least three extended and separate periods of time. He has needed to care for his parents; rehab a shoulder injury; and rehab from a hip injury. A black cartoon raincloud has hovered over his career. Yes, he has allowed some winnable matches at majors to slip through his fingers, but one can only wonder how Haas’s tennis life might have unfolded had he not been so frequently visited by adversity.

When Haas lost 12 match points in the fourth set on Saturday to John Isner, the German-American — forced into a fifth set — had to feel miserable. Who wouldn’t? He didn’t play poorly on 10 of his 12 match points — Isner simply served bombs on most of them — but he double faulted when handed a match point late in a fourth-set tiebreaker. That kind of failure can and does linger in the mind of any athlete. Haas was broken in his first service game of the fifth set, and when he fell behind Isner, 4-1, the match — while not over — certainly pointed to an Isner victory.

Haas, a tormented player who conducted a lot of open verbal dialogues with himself during Saturday’s third-round match, insisted on fighting to the very end. He got a look at a break point when trailing 4-2 and converted it to get back on serve. Later, at 5-6, Haas saved a match point on his own serve. Finally, at 8-all, Haas broke Isner, and when he held one game later to take the match 10-8 in the fifth, a number of accumulated demons had been banished.

Haas, with his movie-star looks, could easily transition to other less strenuous careers. He could spend more time away from the court with his wife, Sara Foster. He could put his body through so much less wear and tear. Yet, Haas has chosen to climb the mountain at 35 years of age. He’s not a top-tier contender at majors (the same goes for Robredo), but something deep inside him is pushing him — to compete, to persevere, and, most of all, to win a lot of high-stakes tennis matches. He is looking to the center of his very being. When he looks there, Haas sees a lot of fire left.

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The Great Federer

One of the paying customers at Court Philippe Chatrier on Sunday evening in Paris was Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays The Great Gatsby in the latest movie version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic. The last line of Gatsby, shown in the film, is as follows:

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

When a great athlete advances in years and loses the full-flight quickness that once characterized his peak years as a professional, it is so easy to travel into the past, to reminisce about days gone by, when legs were young and first steps to the forehand corner came easily. It is so easy for fans of Roger Federer to recall the halcyon days of 2006 and 2007, when the wine flowed and the wins piled up and the band played a ceaselessly merry tune. Today, it is so much more of a grind for Federer to win at the highest level.

He’s won “only” one major since the 2010 Australian Open. Rafael Nadal (2010) and Novak Djokovic (2011) announced their presence as the two ATP players immersed in their best years, performing at the height of their powers. Federer has to settle for being “only” the third-best player in the world, “only” a semifinalist on most occasions at majors. He played bravely and well against Andy Murray in the semis of the 2013 Australian Open, but was beaten by a younger player who was simply and unquestionably better. It’s not that Federer has declined — he really hasn’t — but that the competition is aged 26 and 27 while Gramps/Pants/Granny Smith/Woger-With-A-Chewwy-On-Twop is approaching his 32nd birthday. It’s simply more of a climb these days. Success still arrives, but at the expense of more effort from an older body.

It’s so natural to want to think about the past, especially when almost everything that could possibly be achieved in any kind of profession has in fact been attained. Federer’s won the Grand Slam. He’s won 900 matches. He’s won seven Wimbledons. He’s reached 23 straight major semifinals and now 36 major quarterfinals. He’s made 10 straight major finals. He’s reached 40 major quarterfinals, 33 semifinals (with a chance for 34 on Tuesday), and 24 finals. His name already litters the ATP record books, especially in the Open Era. He doesn’t need to hit another tennis ball to prove anything to his fans or to the wider tennis community.

Yet, he continues.

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He continues to fight like a junkyard dog, gutting out another comeback from a two-sets-to-one deficit in the early rounds of a major. Though pushed yet again by Gilles Simon at a major (hello, 2011 Australian Open second round), Federer once again managed to find solutions in a fifth set against his fellow Frenchman. (Federer is Swiss, but please — he is loved as a native by the Paris crowds. He’ll meet Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in an all-French quarterfinal.)

Federer the problem solver continued to find the right assortment of shots in the right moments. He continued to hit clutch serves when the pressure of the match reached its zenith at 5-3 in the fifth. He faced his nerves, which brought him so close to an exasperating loss of serve at 5-3 and raised the possibility that he would lose yet another match after failing to win match point. He withstood all the pressure, all the heat, that comes with being a target for the competition.

He made another major quarterfinal, earning the right to say that he has not missed the round of eight at a major for nine full years.

Nine. Full. Years. (Imagine a golfer finishing in the top 8 of each and every major tournament for nine full years without interruption.)

Nothing can or should diminish what Tommy Robredo and Tommy Haas have done this past week at Roland Garros. Comparisons between or among similar feats should not reflexively be seen as diminishments of one feat; they can and should be seen as elevations of the other.

What Robredo and Haas have done the past few days stands on its own merit. The two members of the thirty-something crowd have won legions of new admirers while becoming even more beloved by longtime tennis diehards. The hunger and passion Robredo and Haas displayed — both during and after their victories — moved a lot of people very deeply, showcasing tennis at its inspirational best.

Yet, with all of that having been said, it is certainly worth noting that Robredo and Haas arrive at their passions quite naturally: They’ve never made a major-tournament final. The elusive quest for supreme glory is something that looms before them, a long-denied prize that might never be captured but is still worth chasing.

Roger Federer? He’s won just about every prize imaginable, Davis Cup being an exception. He’s prevailed in just about every kind of situation in tennis, Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros being the one fundamental exception. Federer has had none of the bad luck Robredo and Haas have suffered. He is not impoverished in terms of achievements and successes the way Robredo and Haas are. Yet, his level of fight is just as substantial, his hunger just as evident.

Roger Federer comports himself and plays his sport with a distinct Old School flair. He’s not a member of the counterculture. Yet, he’s a man over 30 who can be trusted even more than Mr. Robredo and Mr. Haas. You see, Robredo and Haas are producing pieces of one-time magic that are unlikely to be reduplicated. They’re making the second week of a major with guts and guile, winning by the skin of their teeth and fending off all manner of challenges from without and within.

Roger Federer? He’s been getting to the second week of a major for nine full years, competing more like a starving artist than a man who — monetarily and professionally — has accumulated a king’s vast riches.

Tommy Robredo and Tommy Haas are very, very special tennis players who have added to their legacies of achievement.

Roger Federer is, shall we say, Specialerer.

The Special-est, you could say.

The man over 30 who should be trusted by anyone and everyone in tennis.

I close with another quote from the era of The Great Gatsby.

In 1931, The Sporting News said this about the sport that sustained the United States through overwhelmingly tough times in the first third of the 20th century:

Great is baseball — the national tonic, the reviver of hope, the restorer of confidence.

We human beings need uplift from outside sources. We need pick-me-ups from people and cultural beacons and social occasions that inspire us, excite us, and introduce us to new horizons of possibility.

For the tennis player, the solo athlete, this inspiration has to come primarily from within. Therefore, a variation on the Sporting News quote is something that applies both to Mr. Federer and to our own (tennis) imaginations at the same time:

Great is Federer — the enduring tonic, the reviver of hope, the restorer of confidence.

Wimbledon Men’s Preview: A Conference of Anti-Experts.

Doots: Alright bitches. Let’s get down to business. First thoughts on Wombly draw?

PJ: Looks good for the Old Man, looks good for Rafa, whatever for Djokovic and LOLOLOLOL for Muzzface.

LJ: I’m overwhelmed by the amount of WTFckery 1st round matchups we have.
Kohli vs Haas: WHYYYYY? Both would have made good runs to 4th round.  Read More…

RG/Halle: Well trolled, tennis.

Apologies for the lack of updates in the past week. Sometimes life gets in the way of a full blown tennis addiction. (Yes, you heard it right: LIFE. Even those of us stuck in the National Crapital of Australia have one sometimes).

Truth be told, I didn’t feel right to move on to Halle without first wrapping up Roland Garros. And I couldn’t wrap up Roland Garros because the semifinals and final were  some of the most uninspiring tennis seen in the latter stages of grand slams for years. Devoid of both quality and drama, where the only suspense concerned the fickle Parisien weather, and not the tennis played on court.

In short, everything we expected to happen happened, in a mediocre, lethargic fashion.

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Roland Garros 2012 Day 3 & Day 4: What you don’t expect.

Ah, gay Paree and clay Paree. I’m not a huge fan of clay-court tennis, or Roland Garros in general – my best moments of the Slam stands alone at Ferrero winning and Federer winning. Adding on the magnificent time difference from Land of Oz plus hectic times at work…let’s just say I haven’t feel so disconnected from a Slam in a very long time.

But still, it is a Slam, and it still invokes feelings of excitement and anticipation in me, even if, so far, I haven’t had the opportunity to properly watch a full match that features another player not named FederBrainfart, or read up on full tennis analysis and news etc etc etc. And things have been happening. Man, have they been happening.

Perhaps the biggest news thus far is Serena Williams losing to Virginie Razzano in the first round. It may be worth noting that Serena has never ever lost in the first round of a Slam – until now. It was a match full of drama and momentum swings and stuff that’s Hollywood-worthy, or so I heard. Serena was up 5-1 in the tiebreaker in the second set, lost the set. She was trailing 0-5 in the third, and clawed back nail and tooth and guts and spleen to come back to 3-5. Razzano needed 9 match-points before finally managing to win the last set 6-3.

Wowza.

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AO2012 Day 3 Wrap: Five-setters. They’re cool. (by PJ)

This is not going to be coherent, let me warn you first. I’ve had very little sleep, I’m cranky about the fact that I have to work while there’s tennis going on, and I’m extremely SKDFJSLKGJKSDJFSKD about the fact that I cannot, for the life of me, get a ticket to go to Hewitt/Roddick tonight (EDIT: I GOT A TICKET. IT IS ON. YESSSSSSSSS!!!! Actually in the end I had two, my life is a comedy of errors…).

Unless I want to pay AUD$279.00 on Ebay but I am not that desperate or stupid. I have a TV, I’ll survive. With tears and a big bucket of ice-cream.

(Also I wrote this at work while my boss is away at a meeting, because I wouldn’t have time otherwise. I don’t know how Doots did it on a consistent basis.)

Ooooh the drama from yesterday. All from the men’s side, too!

So. Batshit Crazy Dolgopolov has apparently decided that he will start killing me early in the year. After one five-setter on Monday, he was so in the mood for another one yesterday, performing Houdini-like magic to escape from his match with Tobias Kamke.

I had a bad feeling about the match even before it began, partly thanks to Dolgo’s admission that his Gilbert’s Syndrome may have reared its head, and also because he was no show at his scheduled practice session.

I had a bad feeling when he looked both orange and also a little green in his pumpkin outfit in the first set. It wasn’t a BAD first set per say, he was a bit unlucky with his crazy to lose serve and lose the set. But then it seemed like whatever was bugging him went away, as he upped his ante and played spectacularly to serve two breadsticks and snag a 2-sets-to-1 lead.

But Crazy do as Crazy does – went completely fucking batshit insane in the 4th – played the dumbest tennis I’ve seen from him in a while. Forehand spraying wide, backhand finding the net, first serve lost on Planet Pluto. Truly horrific performance in the 4th, and I was burying my head in my hands, going  “YOU FUCKER, YOU COMPLETE TOSSER OF A FUCKER.”

He got broken pretty quickly in the fifth, and my heart sank to depth of my shoes. I had none of that steely resolve I had on Monday when I was just way beyond pissed and all “IF YOU LOSE, YOU LOSE IN FRONT OF ME!!!”. I was just…sad. Sad that he couldn’t live up to his potential and his game, sad that he may just exit the tournament in the second round. Therefore I ditched him for Isner and Nalbandian…and hey, maybe he just needed a break from me cursing him, as he managed to survive a matchpoint (on his serve) and eventually win the final set 8-6.

Tough task ahead against Bratomic. I will probably be the only one backing him in the crowd.

Also, seeing Dolgopolov emotional and frustrated and smashing racquets is no fun. I take back what I said about wishing he’ll show more emotion/fire. He should go back his I-couldn’t-care-less mannerisms. That sort of demeanour and attitude seemed to work for him better.

Ahhh Isner/Nalbandian. Isner = 5 setters. That’s just the way he rolls, and yesterday was no different. 5 sets, although the final score of 10-8 is a far cry from *that* Wimbledon match. But man, you gotta feel for Nalbandian. A bad decision late in the 5th set could’ve been really costly. We’ll never know for sure, of course, but it he could’ve gotten a look at a second serve…who knows. The umpire’s decision is questionable. He did call the score and gestured to resume play, but it may have been done a tad too quick. Nalby’s time in taking to challenge was definitely much less than, say, Del Potro or Nadal. Still, the decision was made, play went on, and Nalby never really covered from that.

Marathon Man Isner earns himself a berth in the third round and potentially playing Rafa in the fourth. Another 5-setter? Who knows. (I wouldn’t hold my breath though…)

Other snapshots from the day:

1)      Baghdatis/Wawrinka was fun. Would’ve been fun even if Baghdatis pulled a Baghdatis and play 5 sets till 6AM in the morning. But Stanley needs his Ewok sleep, and after failing spectacularly to serve out the match, came back fiery in the 4th and smashed the Baggy serve to break him three times (Baggy went one up and smashed 4 racquets).  But man, those Greek/Cypriot fans were just too much. Cheering on every single point won by Bagman? Heckling Stan’s serve? Really?

2)      Bernie Bratomic beat Sam Querrey. Not surprised. But definitely not pleased. He plays Dolgo next. I will probably be there trying not to kill Tomic, kill Dolgo or kill myself. On paper, Dolgo should win. They both play the same brand of game, only Dolgo plays it better. Unfortunately, he’s also way way WAY more crazy. And he hasn’t been very convincing in his last two matches. Hope he won’t be affected by the crowd in RLA – my one voice will not be enough to drown the Fanatics.

3)      Fetus Fed Dimitrov nearly pulled off an upset, but couldn’t sustain the physicality of 5 sets, suffering from cramps and muscle tightness in the fourth and fifth sets. Nicolas Almagro escaped the fate of Mardy Fish.

4)      Ah, Mardy Fish. Flailing and failing as (Alejandro) Falla fired past him. I do think he works very hard to get to the top 10, to where he’s at now, but his on-court behaviour was appalling. Dude, don’t be an ass to the ballkids. There is no need to give the kid a death stare just because he was half a step late with your towel. Geez.

5)      Delpony – looking in form as he outplayed Blaz Kavcic. Kavcic had the upperhand a couple of times, but Delpony was never really threatened at all. With Fish fried, that quarterfinal is looking very likely.

6)      Tommy Haas, possibly playing his last Australian Open, put up a credible fight against Rafa but the inevitable is inevitable. The tour will become so less hot when Tommy finally hangs up his racquet. That man is beautiful beyond belief. #shallow #perverted #haasishot

7)      The women left all the drama to the men yesterday. Azarenka and Clijsters were especially devastating in their form, giving their opponents a mere game. Ouch.

Tonight could be a blockbuster or a washout. Either way, I AM NOT THERE. FUCK MY LIFE.

Till next time, if I am still alive to blog after tonight/tomorrow.

PJ

P.S. No Pants, you say? Well, have some.

He did not play yesterday as Andreas Beck, suffering from a back injury, gave him a walkover. Cosmic Gods of the Universe were pissed at Tennis Australia for putting Federer at Hisense, I understand, but Gods, don’t take it out on poor Beck. Anyway, Roger goes into his 3rd round match with Ivo Karlovic without much match play. Hope this will bode well…

You people know how I am. I worry excessively OKAY.

P.P.S. I’m writing for Tennis Grandstand as well for this year’s AO. A version with no swear words and less personal emotion is up here: On the Grounds: Day Three of Australian Open.

P.P.P.S. Photos are my own.

20 for 30 – Roger Federer’s Early Round Tests At The Majors (by Matt)

PREAMBLE

Hi, everybody! It’s Matt Zemek, known as “Moonpie” when he gets tennis predictions horribly wrong. Doots has graciously offered me the chance to paint the Fence this week – thank you, Doots! Enjoy my (not-so) United States of America!

I’d like to give this week my own special flavor – writers have to be true to their literary voices – yet still maintain the Fed-centric feel that you come here for. Because I’m into writing, the “Fedporn” I have to offer will flow through the word, not the photo. It’s the most sensational, inspirational, celebrational, Pants-elational PJ who will contribute her own Fedporn-rich photos and whiz-bang additions to supplement your dose of Moonpie musings.

I welcome suggestions for writing topics this week — no, not because there’s a dearth of them, but because it’s the last major of the year and therefore the last time in which the eyes of the sports world fully focus on tennis until the third week of January in Dootsland (aka, Australia).

Now, on with the show as week two of the 2011 United States Open commences.

NEVER TRUST ANYONE OVER 30… UNLESS IT’S FED!

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USO 2011 Day 6 (by PJ): It’s all good…ish.

Today was the day that I finally spent some quality time engaging myself in USO tennis. I had been so flat-out busy with work the past week that I couldn’t afford to stay up late/wake up early/sneakily take some time off work (as I usually would). Seeing it was Sunday in Aussieland, I actually crawled up at 430AM in the morning to catch Roger’s match against Marin Cilic.

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USO2011 Day 4 (by PJ): Oldies rocking socks.

Hola and hello to all! I hope you’ve been enjoying the lovely LJ’s posts, and now it’s back to yours truly for a bit. I have to admit I’m doing this wrap post without actually watching any tennis – only livescoring (at work – and that is no easy task, trying to maintain a balance between not tearing my hair out and pretending to work).

I, however, did set an alarm at 4AM, just to check the score of Federer/Sela, and he was seemingly cruising and I was definitely half-dead so I crawled back to bed, feeling somewhat assured. From the Twitter timeline and the stats, Pants played a good, solid match – losing only 8 points on serve and a 45% BP conversion (which is quite spectacular for him).

How lovely and also, how very hot of you.

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RG2011 Day 2 (by PJ): Chilli Pepper Red

Hijacking commencing…HIJACKED!

Hola, loyal Fence sitters readers. Yes, you’re again stuck with some of my guest blogging for this year’s French Open. With Dootsie facing exams, interviews, working a zillion jobs a week and preparing for her big exchange and trip-round-the-world, I’ve been asked to give our favourite Aussie Federbitch a hand in maintaining the Fence for this Slam Season.

So, Day Two of the French saw our beloved Roger Federpants taking on Feliciano Lopez for his opening match. I’m sure we all don’t need reminders on how “Matchpoint Lopez” took Fed to three TBs in Madrid. To be honest, I wasn’t THAT concerned, simply because – well, I don’t think Feli can hang with Fed in best-of-five, in a Grand Slam setting. That being said, I wasn’t exactly doing jumping jacks of joy, for Deliciano IS tricky, and is probably one of the least-wanted person for a first-round match-up for any play. I expected a fight, because I know Feli wasn’t going to go away easily.

Roger had breakpoints in Feli’s very first service game of the match – 4 break points in fact – and he sort of farted two, and Feli saved two with some solid serving. Have to admit that I did feel a slight sense of OH MAH GAH CRAP when Fed didn’t manage to convert – thought that he’d get broken in his next service game. He didn’t, though (thank you for proving me wrong, darling!) and he did well to convert his 5th breakpoint late in the set – and served out the set with relative ease.

Set 2 was as straightforward as it gets as well – for Roger, anyway. Again, he had a couple of break points in Feli’s opening service game, and again, he didn’t manage to convert, and again, another opportunity came later in the set where he managed to capitalise, convert and then clinched the set.

Set 3 was more neck-to-neck, with Feli and Fed piling the pressure onto each other. No break points were offered, and inevitably it was to be decided in a tie-breaker. Feli gave up two mini-breaks through some pretty uninspiring play, although he got one back on Fed’s serve. But then Feli double-faulted to give Roger match point, which he happily took it with an ace – game, set, match, FEDERPANTS, through in straight sets in two hours.

As far as a round 1 match goes, it was a good match. Feli actually played quite well, but just couldn’t keep it together well enough to pressure Roger like he did in Madrid. Momentary lapses and a couple of loose points by him was all it took for Roger to pounce. And Roger played a good, solid match – with more than just a couple of breath-taking plays of amazeballs (exhibit A, Dootsie’s post just before this).

And also, the Man was looking all gorgeous and fiery in cherry-tomato red. I’m still not sure about the horizontal stripes (I’m not a fan of horizontal stripes – period) but I like the color and the white shorts. Here, you all be the judge.

Obligatory Monkey!Fed photo for drooling purposes…

On other players, in tid-bit format:

1)      The SHOCKING Win of the Day: French qualifier Stephane Robert beat Big Berd Tomas, semi-finalist from last year in 5 sets. What made it even more BWUZZAH HUH was the fact that Berd was up TWO sets to love. He led by a break in the 5th set, and had one match point, but couldn’t find a way to win. Robert, a veteran at age 31, ranked 140 in the world, has never beaten a top-10 player, never won a main-draw match in Paris, never won a 5-setter. To call this the biggest win of his life may be a mild understatement even.

I tuned in to a bit of the final set in between watching Fed and Feli – and Robert was just giving it absolutely everything – really really gutsy play that paid off more often than not, props to him. The French crowd was 101% behind him (which helped) but the mental collapse of Berdych in sets 3 and 4 is kind of puzzling. To lose in this fashion – to a qualifier – was even more Old Berdych than the Old Berdych, if you get what I mean. Although I kind of doubted whether did the New Berdych really arrived, or it was just Old Berdych in a fancy suit for a couple of months. Anyway, congrats to Robert – but I have a feeling he won’t get too far.

2)      The Crowd-pleasing Win of the Day: Everyone’s favourite comeback kid Juan Martin Del Potro defeated Dr.Ivo Karlovic in four sets. A tight contest in the first which saw the Doctor prevailing in the TB, and then relatively straightforward for JDMP to break once in each of the following sets to win the match. JDMP did waste like a zillion break points (obviously bidding for that exclusive membership into Federer’s special club) but he won in the end, and is now a step closer to the Djokovic 3rd round showdown.

3)      The Whatevs Win of the Day: Satan Djokovic steamrolled Thiemo the Bakery, giving him a pretzel and a breadstick in the process. Streamed about two games of the second set, and Bakery was giving it as much effort as it would take to lift a Styrofoam ball, so that’s that. Speaking of Djokovic – his quarter has just been cleared beautifully with Marin Cilic and Berd both biting the dust…so let’s see if JDMP can do anything here.

4)      The Breaking Aussie Hearts Win of the Day: Carlos Berloq, Argentinean journeyman, gave Bratface Bernard Tomic a lesson on how to play clay-court tennis, bundling out the youngest player in main draw in straights. For the first time since 1949, there will be no Australian men in the second round of the French. Oh Aussie (men’s) tennis…what can you do to shine again?

5)      The Breaking PJ’s Heart Win of the Day: Marsel Ilhan beat Tommy Haas in 4 sets. I guess that’s not unexpected with Haasi barely having any match-play for the last 14 months, but in my little fangirl heart, I hoped. In his post-match conference, Haasi  expressed that he was happy to be able to finish the match, and hinted at possible retirement on the horizon:

I’m just kind of right there where I’m not sure where the body will be. All I try to do is to get it back to a place where I feel really comfortable for a few hours playing a match.”

“And if that’s possible, then I’ll continue to play if I still have some success. And if I know it’s next month or the end of the year that that’s not the case, then I know where I am at and I can make a decision if I continue to play.

Which clearly showed that he was actually not ready to play at all – if he was concerned about just finishing the match. Adding onto the recent injury woes of the likes of Ferrero, Roddick, Hewitt (fine, I admit it…so mock me)…it’s approaching a point where I have to wave goodbye to all my early favourites, which makes me all contemplative and melancholy and sad – although I certainly hope The Ultimate Favourite hangs in there for a few more seasons.

6)      The WHOA-She-Did-It Win of the Day: Anastasia Rodionova beat 25th seed and doubles partner Nadia Petrova in three sets. Even when she was up a break in the 3rd, I fully expected Rodi to brain-cramp, freak out, smash racquets and eventually lose the match. But she didn’t. And she joins Sammy Stosur in the second round – let’s hope Jarka Gajdosova can make it as the third Aussie laydee to advance!

Other tid-bit wraps: Michael Llodra and Milos “Next Big Thing” Raonic are the other men’s seeds to fall – Llodra losing to Belgian qualifier Steve Darcis amidst hissy fits towards the umpire about crowd control, and Raonic to Michael Berrer in 4 sets. It’s pretty disappointing for Raonic in a way – although the red stuff is not his favourite, I did think he would go further. Nikolay “Last Big Thing” Davydenko avoided another first-round slam loss, beating Denis Gremelmayr in straights. Kolya CAN play on this stuff (two-time FO semi-finalist) –  I, for one, really hope he can sustain some semblance of his old form.

It was a relatively smooth day for the ladies’ seeds – top seeds all cruised through comfortably with no notable upsets. Christina McHale and Sara Errani provided the drama for the women though – with McHale leading 5-0 in the deciding set…and promptly ended up losing the match 7-9 in the third. Ouch.

Day 3 sees some exciting match-ups – notably Clay Monster Rafa Nadal taking on Big John Isner, as well as Jarka, Shierky, and MAndy in action. Ryan Harrison scored the last lucky loser spot and will be taking on Bobby Sod (good luck, Ryan, GO BOBBY) and my favourite ponytailed headcase Alexandr Dolgopolov takes on Rainer Schuettler for his first-round match. Dude, don’t make me embark on the journey to quit you because I actually really like you.

Good day of tennis impending!

– PJ

P.S. photos taken from daylife.com

Picket Fence Newsreel: the Alchemist.

1. Fire! Water! Air! Earth!

No, it’s not some weird Captain Planet cult invented by Gen-Y Federer fans, just the new Wilson BLX racket.

You know you’re suffering from Federer withdrawal if you watched the entire thing despite the annoying voice and the background that looks like it was stolen from a TV promo for ‘Charmed‘.

Advertising fail, Wilson.

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2. More on the earthquake in Chile: Gonzo has told the Chilean press that he might pull out of Indian Wells to raise money for Chile’s earthquake victims.

“What I want is to help, and I’m looking at the possibility of not going to play at Indian Wells and to stay in Chile to help.

“I have several ideas and in a couple of weeks I’ll try to do something to generate resources. I want to send a message of hope to all of Chile. What does not kill strengthens. I have received many messages from my colleagues, including Roger Federer, who is very concerned about what happened in Chile. I hope that we pull through this.”

Gonzo also asked his countrymen to stop the looting. “There are more important things than to go looting, we should all be united,” said Gonzalez, adding that he will try to raise Chilean spirits by leading them to a Davis Cup victory. “I hope to win and so give a little joy to our country is suffering so much.” [Chile’s DC tie against Israel has be rescheduled to start on Saturday]


He might act like an asshole on court at times, but Fernando Gonzalez is a decent guy who’ll do anything for his country. If you didn’t know that already from his performances at the Olympics.

You know who else is a decent guy? The Swissy who messaged his colleague out of concern.

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3. Talk about earthquakes, the tectonic plates need to calm down.

After Haiti and Chile, Taiwan has also been hit by a 6.4-magnitude earthquake in the South. There is widespread damage and disruptions to communications around the island. Local news reports said several people were injured.

The Chinese Taipei Davis Cup team is in Melbourne, preparing for their tie against Australia this weekend.

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4. Will he or won’t he?

First, Nalby tells the press that he’ll play Davis Cup on a wheelchair if he has to. Then he pulls out. Now, it seems that Bandy will be making an appearance after all in Argentina’s tie against Sweden. He’s down for doubles, but may play a singles rubber if things get close.

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5. Indian Wells wild cards have been issued to Henin, Moya, Nalbandian, Ginepri, McHale, Glatch, Mattek-Sands, Molik, Daniilidou, Paszek, Ryan Harrison and Alja Tomljanovic.

Perfect. All need we – apart from a picket fence – is for TMF to make an appearance too.

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6. Mentioning Indian Wells, casualties so far: Vesnina, Mirza and – I believe – the newly Americanised Tommy Haas. Haas recently underwent surgery on his right hip and is expected to be sidelined for up to 6 weeks, or – as retirement gossip has it -forever.

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7. More pictures from Ethiopia, courtesy of SI.

A little medicine for all your withdrawal symptoms. ‘Cause I’m thoughtful like that. 😉

xx doots