Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Legg Mason Day 4: So much tennis! So little time!

Alrighty! Let's get to it, shall we? I saw parts of 10 different matches today! Whew!

I started out on the grandstand, watching Wesley Moodie take on young American Ryan Sweeting. Sweeting was here last year, as well, and made it into the second round if I remember correctly. Moodie was here last year as well, and made a great run with some exciting matches.

Sweeting had quite the teenage fan club in the audience...I guess he is a bit of a hearthrob.

Moodie, as to be expected, served big and found opportunities to come to the net often.

Moodie's maturity and experience won out, as he took out Sweeting in a routine 6-3, 6-4 match. I sat at the top of the grandstand, which also gave me a view into court 2. Michael Berrer of Germany was taking on Swiss qualifier George Bastl. I didn't pay too much attention to the match, but Berrer won.

t was time to head into the stadium to watch Tim face young American, NCAA singles runner-up John Isner. Tim had already won the first set by the time I got there. After watching a bit, I realized that they had similar games...big serve, lots of rushing the net. The match was actually...kinda boring. Short points, lots of errors.

Isner is really tall:

When Tim lost the second set, I kind of thought 'Oh, he isn't playing 100 percent...he'll take care of business in the third set.' And I left...yes, that's right. I didn't watch the third set that was ultimately won by Isner in a tiebreak. Unbelievable! Bye Tim!

I left that match to return to the grandstand to watch Igor Kunitsyn battle Hyung-Taik Lee. Lee had a lot of crowd support. This was an entertaining match! Lee had a break in the first set, and several set points, but Kunitsyn held him off to take that first set 8-6 in a tiebreak.


My favorite action shots of the day were of Lee:

After the first set, I went back into the stadium court, but Lee prevailed in three sets, 6-7, 6-something, 6-1. It appears that Kunitsyn kind of faded, which after his marathon match with Grosjean yesterday, is not entirely surprising. But, he was fun to watch, and I hope he comes back and plays here again.

During all this switching back and forth, I usually go around the grounds and check out the practice courts and the women's matches. Nothing too exciting was happening with the ladies today, and I did see Roddick warming up on the practice courts, but didn't get a good picture.

Also, I highly recommend the strawberry lemonade stand...YUM!

Back to the tennis...Isner's conquerer in the NCAA final, Somdev Dev Varman, was playing hometown boy Paul Goldstein on center court. Goldstein squeaked out the first set 6-4 with one break. Gotta give credit to Goldstein, somehow he won this match by playing at least 6 feet behind the baseline. Dev Varman was either inside or on the baseline, but just misfired too often and Goldstein's excellent defense was the different IMO. Goldstein wrapped up the match by taking the second set 6-2. It is ironic, I think, that Dev Varman had to battle through qualifying and loses in the first round, while Isner ends up with Gonzo's wild card and a huge first round win!

Next match up...ANDY RODDICK!!! (insert sounds of squealing girls) I'm not Andy's biggest fan, not by a long shot, but even I thought this match would not be too much of a challenge for him.

Andy did keep the crowd waiting for his entrance. Tomas Zib was announced and walked out. Andy was announced and......and.....at this point I was wondering if he was taking a last minute bathroom break after what happened last week! But Andy did finally take to the court and Lars Graf got things started:

The Roddick serve:

Andy took the first set 6-4 with one break of serve. He got an early break in the third set, and then I left for a more exciting match.

Monfils!!! Monfils!!! Now, this was a guy I was excited to see play here in DC! He was playing Martin Klizan and squeaked out the first set 7-6 and was on serve in the second when I got there. Monfils got a break, but was immedidately broken back. Monfils broke again, and was able to hold onto this one to take the second set 6-4. Monfils threw in a bunch of double faults at baaaad times...a sign of not quite being mentally strong enough?

By this time, I needed a flash to get real good pictures, and we're not supposed to take flash photography during the match, so the action shots are not so good, if I even tried to take any. Here's the handshake at the end of the match, with Monfils pulling in the win:

I stayed on the grandstand to watch our NCAA heroes, Isner and Dev Varman, team up in doubles. Unfortunately, they drew #2 seeds Leander Paes and Martin Damm. Notice the varying heights in this picture:

Leander Paes is one of my favorite doubles players, and he didn't disappoint. I'm convinced that he has the best hands on the doubles tour, bar none! He got volleys back that were IMPOSSIBLE!!! He's a flashy player, and so much fun to watch. He told Damm to 'make some noise up there' at the net before one point. Hee, hee! They broke Somdev easily, and while I don't remember the score, I know Isner and Dev Varman didn force them to a 'champion's tiebreak' which Paes and Damm won. Good for the youngins making them work for it, though!

On the next court, Michael LLodra was desparately trying to stay in his match with Robin Haase. Llodra dropped the first set, and when I left they were 6 all in a second set tiebreak, and Llodra was trying to recover from a tiff he had with a line judge that resulted in the referee being called by the chair. I have no idea what happened, though! When I saw that Clement and Llodra were both coming to DC, I had hoped that they would have teamed up for doubles as well, and I'm surprised and a bit disappointed that they did not.

And finally...back into the stadium for Safin's match against Jan Hernych. Safin had already won the first set 6-2 won I walked in. I got a great seat since a lot of people left after that first set. But me, I know better, and Safin did not disappoint. He could not clear the net to save his life in the second set, and, breaking a racquet on the way, was on the losing end of the same score he posted in the first set. DC loves Safin, and really tried to pump him up for the final set. It worked, and he took it 6-2. He was like a new guy, bombing aces and really cutting down on the errors. Hernych put up a good fight, but it was not to be for him today. Safin wins 6-2, 2-6, 6-2. The hand shake:

Safin is definitely quirky on the court. When serving, he had one ball in his hand, and gesturing for another from the ball boy. He would take that ball and bounce it to the other ball boy. He would repeat until that ball boy didn't have any left and serve with the ball he had in the first place!!! He showed off plenty of soccer moves, too.

All right kids...that's all for day 4!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Legg Mason Day 3: Close Encounters

This day deserved a sub-title! A very full day, thanks to yesterday's rain, and lots of action going on!

I started off with a women's match, the first round of the ITF $75,000 tournament. I chose to watch Angela Haynes get her but *kicked* by Kristina Brandi. And man, I really didn't think it was going to be a blowout, but Brandi was just bossing her all over that court. Haynes looked a bit slow.

I only stayed for the first set, but later saw that Brandi won 6-0, 6-2.

Then I walked around a bit, and was watching another women's match from outside the fence, on match court 3 (Montinee Tangphong vs. Alina Jidkova...Tangphong hits a really clean ball), when behind a man suddenly started jerking around. Turns out he got stuck by a wasp...and there was a voice, with a German accent, asking the man if he was ok. The voice belonged to...Tommy Haas!!! That's the nice thing about this tournament, you can be just minding your own business, and then boom! There's Haas not three feet from you!

He was getting ready to practice:

That was my first close encounter.

I wandered back over to the grandstand, mostly because a friend of mine was being a ball kid (she's in her 30s!). And I got to catch the last three games of Somdev Dev Varman (our current NCAA singles champ) *schooling* Andre Sa! Holy crap! This kid is GOOD!!! Sa didn't know what hit him!

I stayed on the grandstand for the next match as well...Greek Konstantinos Economidis vs. Martin Klizan (from the Ukraine? I don't' remember). You can't tell, but Economidis has an eyebrow ring! He looked in control for the first few games:

My favorite shot of the day...Klizan in action:

I didn't stick around for the end, but I think Klizan ended up winning. If that is correct, I'm a bit surprised from what I saw, but maybe he just had a slow start.

By this time, I headed to the stadium, thinking that Kunitsyn and Grosjean would have started. But no, they were *still* playing out the end of the Johansson/Giraldo match!!! Turns out they split tiebreak sets, and I did get there in time to see Johansson break and hold to take the match.

That brought on Igor Kunitsyn and Sebastian Grosjean:

I was thinking Grosjean would take this one, but that it would be close. I was right on one account. It was close...it was LONG! The first three games took almost 25 minutes! After the first set (Grosjean won it in a tiebreak I think...I can't remember), I decided to go back to court 2 to see if Stretch and Booty had started playing yet.

And indeed, Jamie Murray/Eric Butorac had just started their match against Wesley Moodie/Todd Perry. This match was put on a small side court, and while that meant it was packed, I was able to snag a FRONT ROW seat, and I was literally sitting ON THE COURT!

I got hit with a ball that richocheted off of Moodie's shoe!

Jamie Murray, after hitting a great BH angled volley, almost ended up in my lap!

I did get another ball, but instead of hording it decided to give it back to the ball boy.


This was a GREAT match. It really should have at least been put on the grandstand, but the doubles field here this year is really deep! Lots of great teams here to watch! Moodie/Perry won the first set in a tie break. Murray/Butorac stormed through the second 6-2. Unfortunately, just a few sloppy points in the champion's tiebreak ended the tournament for Stretch and Booty, as Moodie/Perry are through. Though, if Perry doesn't start serving more consistently, they won't be around for long!

So now I headed back to the stadium, thinking that the Henman doubles match would have started. But no...because Kunitsyn won the second set, and they were on serve in the third when I got back to my seat! Unbelievable! This match lasted just short of three hours. Kunitsyn broke Grosjean once in the last set, and that was it...the Frenchman faded.

I spotted a friend, and decided to move down to the box seats to watch Henman and Bhupathi take on Michael Russell and Hyung-Taik Lee. While watching the match, I look to my left, and hey...there's Paul Annacone!!! (no i didn't take a picture of him...but I was tempted...it would have been way to obvious).

Russell puts away a forehand volley:

Henman's serve:

The match had some great, entertaining points, but Lee/Russell were outmatched, and I don't remember the score, but it wasn't close. They all looked like they had fun, though.

The last match of the night, which ended up starting at about 10:30, was Robert Kenrick vs. Alejandro Falla. Falla pulled through, though I did not stay to watch.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Legg Mason Day 2

As a Northern Virginia resident, and tennis geek, I purchase package tickets to all the sessions at Legg Mason. Last year I wrote about my experiences and posted pics, and since they were pretty well received, I thought I would do it again.

Day 1 was all qualifying matches, and though there were matches being played that interested me, I decided to pass since I knew I'd be spending so much time there this week. I wanted to see Treat Huey and Jan Michael Gambill, and sure enough, they both lost. Howoever, the kid who won the NCAA title, Somdev DevVarman, was playing, and he won! So I had hopes of seeing him play today.

Things to always take to Legg Mason:
*Water, but in a plastic bottle
*a towel, to dry off a wet seat, to cushion the tushie, to wrap around you when your skin is on fire from the sun...the towel is the most useful item in my bag!
*some snacks, unless you want to spend 6 bucks on a smoothie
*the camera!
*sunglasses, and or visor, since I'm still stuck on the sunny side of the stadium

So I packed my bag, and I was off! I drive to Rock Creek park, and then leave my car in one of the appointed parking lots and take the free shuttle to the stadium. It is a GREAT service that they provide absolutely free!

I spent a bit of time walking around, and glanced in at the practice courts. I saw Igor Kunitsyn and Leander Paes practicing, but didn't recognize or take the time to figure out who anyone else was. I headed into the stadium where Kevin Kim and Tomas Zib were on serve 2-1. Both men were serving well, and the first set went to a tiebreak. Zib was able to secure a few mini-breaks, Kim faded a bit, and that was the first set with Zib winning 7-6.

The next match featured Swede Thomas Johanssen and Columbian Santiago Giraldo. I figured it would be a somewhat easy win for Johanssen based solely on the fact that I had never heard of Giraldo. Johanssen, as expected, had a big serve, but his groundstrokes, in comparison to his serve and the groundstrokes of Giraldo, looked slow and off pace. Giraldo would be rallying with him and then KABLAM!, he'd hit a zinger with his FH. (Though, he was capable of doing the same with his BH) Only problem was that Giraldo would sometimes send the ball wildly out instead of zinging an impressive winner. He was fun to watch, though, and I hope to see more of him.

He did manage to break Johanssen, but then Johanssen broke right back, and the two were on serve when the sky opened up. I had just bent down to put my sun visor in my bag, and when I looked back up, it was raining!

Since I sit in the second tier, I can easily take refuge under the upper stadium seats. I spent at least an hour and a half under one of those last year waiting for the Blake/Safin match to resume after a few storms blew through. With DC humid summer weather, a passing thunderstorm, even a severe one, is hardly a surprise.

I figured today I would do the same thing...just wait it out. And sure enough, it stopped and the crews took to the court to get things dried off. But they didn't get much further when it started to pour again. I waited for about 45 minutes, then packed it in for today. I have no doubt they will get the matches in since Legg Mason is lighted, but I will just have to read about those matches on the internet. If the NCAA champ DevVarman won his match today, he would make it into the main draw!

Some pictures of the day's events:

Kim and Zib on a changeover:

Kevin Kim had 10 aces!

So did Zib, and though he had 10 less winners than Kim, he still won the match!

Giraldo's bullet-like groundstrokes:

Johansson warms up his volleys:

The rains came, and even a game of ring around the rosie wouldn't keep them away.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Legg Mason Tennis Tournament 2007

Inspired by the great feedback on Talk Tennis Warehouse I received last year when I posted daily updates and photos, I've decided to do the same this year on a real honest to goodness blog. As a silver series ticket holder, I receive a ticket to every session. This will be my third summer of attending the tournament in some way, shape, or form, and I thought it was a great way to start of my tennis blog!

The grounds of the William H. G. Fitzgerald Tennis Center are located in Rock Creek park, and the facility really is beautiful. In addition to the stadium court (center court) there is the grandstand:

Court #1, to the right of the grandstand:

Court #2, to the left of the grandstand:

The food tents:

And the Courtside Club, which my tickets give me access to, but I have never gone in because I don't want to miss the live tennis!

More information about the Legg Mason Tennis Classic can be found here.