Sunday, January 20, 2008

A weekend to remember!

And it isn't even over! Or, is it? Wait, add four hours, change pm/am...ok, yes, at least in Australia, the weekend is over.

And for once, we are thankful for the rain and smart Aussie planning. The first grand slam to have not just one, but two covered stadium courts, a rainy day in Oz means we still get tennis. And this time, we got LOTS of tennis. Enough that you were afraid to go to sleep, because you may miss something. You will be able to tell a die hard tennis fan by the circles under their eyes but the smile on their face.

Now that I'm caught up on my sleep, I thought I'd catch up on my thoughts here.

The upset bug started with Australia's own Casey Dellacqua. Once highly criticized for her lack of fitness, she broke through upsetting 2006 champ Amelie Mauresmo. It isn't so much a surprise that Mauresmo went down, but who it was that took her out. The shots of Dellacqua's family in the stands, crying, is heartbreaking. Momo's certain decline, at least to me, is also heartbreaking. Her best tennis is behind her.

ESPN took no prisoners in their coverage of some of the American brats...uh, uh, I mean men. Highlights of Mardy Fish acting like a crybaby, and Andy Roddick arguing with the chair ump (saying something along the lines of 'stay in school kids, you don't want to end up a chair ump') and making himself look like a total heel. Way to go boys. They both lost, Roddick going down to German Philip Kohlschreiber. Really, Andy has two things, his serve and his forehand, and the thing is...everyone else that and *more* these days. It isn't enough. He will continue to decline. Plus, his personality loses him fans every time he opens his mouth. I was disgusted by the on court antics of both Fish, but especially Roddick.

So, some minor ripplings started things off. I say minor, because really, I wasn't too surprised to see Roddick go out. Anybody with a good ground game is going to trouble him, and Kohly has more than just a 'good' ground game. Fish's tournament, even with a first week loss, was not bad for him.

The ripples soon became waves.

Another American, a less bratty and more honorable version, James Blake, found himself in a lot of trouble real fast. Down two sets to Grosjean and down breaks in the third, it seemed as if we were witnessing another Blake meltdown where he goes quietly into the night. But suddenly, as if someone literally put a sparkler in his arse, Blake came alive, and once again defeated the five set monkey on his back. Good going James! He remains as the last American man in the draw, though props to Spadea for lasting as long as he did, going out in the third round to Ferrer.

The waves continued to rise.

It is safe to say that it is becoming just as hard to be a Gonzo fan as it is a Safin fan. After his utterly spectacular display in Oz last year, it is has been nothing short of a roller coaster ride. The hungry up and comers don't care who you are or where you've been. They just want to win, and Gonzo became victim to the young Marin Cilic. Last year's finalist, gone before the second week!

But what of the other finalist from last year? Well, before we check in on him, the women were having a rocky time of their own.

ARad caused a storm of her own in last year's USOpen when she dispatched defending champion Maria Sharapova. I guess she was eager to prove it wasn't a fluke, as she took out #2 seed Sveta Kuznetsova!!!! Holy crap! Not to be outdone, perennial 'pretty girl but not a big game' Maria Kirilenko decided to cause some waves that didn't revolve around her face, clothes, or body when she took out Anna Chakvetadze, the #5 seed.

And then started what everyone thought was going to be a mundane match for #1 seed Roger Federer against the forgotten Serb Janko Tipsarevic, who is sometimes better known for his tattoos, piercings, and being one of the few players to wear glasses as they play. He quietly goes about his matches, and cuts a dark, serious, and intelligent figure on court.

He was ready for the storm. He had a plan. He was not afraid. The waves reach their peak!

Tipsy stretched Fed to 10-8 in the fifth, the longest Fed has ever been taking in five sets, and the earliest he has been in trouble in a major EVER. He did by never backing down and not being intimidated. He had the belief. He troubled Fed with hard, flat serves, and a blazing inside out FH. Fed allowed him in by not being quite on with his timing, especially in the beginning of the match, and also by not taking advantage of BP. It seemed as if Fed got a little lazy, thinking that every match, unless it is against Nadal, would be a walk in the park. Tipsy took him by surprise, and nearly took him out IN THE FIRST WEEK. Oh what a match! One of those that you were happy to be watching, when you hear the amazement even in the voice of the announcers...if only there wasn't that darn time difference.

I watched up until the third, but have the whole thing on DVR, and I've watched the replay. And, as much as I love Fed, oh how I wish Tipsy had come through. I hope he takes a lot from this and starts becoming a threat on the tour.

And if you thought it was over, you were sorely mistaken.

Meanwhile, a few people were actually making their way quietly through the draw. AnaIvo, Djoko, Serena, Venus, Masha, Petrova, and Henin all were through, and Caroline Wozniaki and Marta Domachowska took advantage of their opportunities to advance as well. Nice to see some new names in the second week.

The night session in Oz was supposed to start at 7:30 (their time). But, because of the Fed/Tipsy match, it started late. Venus took out Sania Mirza pretty routinely, and then, just before midnight, Marcos Baghdatis and Aussie Lleyton Hewitt took to the court. And you knew that sleep was not going to be yours quite just yet.

I had a few hours, between 3am and 7am, before I got up to go to my tennis lesson. Baggy/Hewitt were just getting started!! I went to my lesson, caught some of the match at the club, then came home, caught a bit more, fell asleep for a few games at in the beginning of the fifth, and then woke up for the end. And I'm *so* glad I saw it. The emotions and fight these guys displayed was just unbelievable. When Hewitt finally came through in the end, and he dropped to the court...oh my. These two players shared a warm embrace afterward, so nice to see, especially after the bratty antics of the Americans, and both left the court in tears. It was heart wrenching to see, and still gets me on the numerous replays.

A few hours later, play was to start again! Yes! A tennis fans' best day, by far!

A few more men went down, with Kohlschrieber's run being ended by the Fin, Jarkko Neiminen, but the bigger news was JWTsonga, who after taking out another brat, Brit/Scot Andy Murray, in the first round continued to take out seeds by defeating his doubles partner, good friend, and French hopeful Reeeechard Gasquet. Tsonga may have taken time to develop his game, but it seems to be in fine form now!

Nalbandian seems to have spent his off season...sleeping? He went down without a whimper to JCFerrero, who is always a threat on hard courts. And so, Fed breathed another sign of relief.

Hey, remember that Nadal guy? Yeah, he is still in the tourny, and got handed an easy last match when PHMathieu retired with an injury.

Also, in the time I started writing this and the tennis has come full circle, local gal (if you can call New South Wales local) Casey Dellacqua has been ousted by Jelena Jankovic, but takes a success slam experience with her.

Some women's quarters are lining up nicely...Henin/Sharapova (rematch time!) and Jankovic/S. Williams are making me salivate. I hope we see good tennis prevail!

And, in the match that makes tongue twisters giddy with glee, Ferrero will meet Ferrer.

Whew! All for now!


Anonymous said...

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Ricky Dimon said...


What days you going to Miami. All be all day Thursday - Sunday.

I'm banned from the boards so let me know if a TT gathering is going to take place.



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