Big shirt, big game, I s'pose.
After sweating buckets (he reportedly lost 2.5 kilos in his last match vs. Tomic) Rafa came out in what can only be described as a tent-like-kite-thingy (that's a technical term) and played his best match in Melbourne, bouncing a frustrated Cilic, 2 4 and 3. He's lucky it wasn't a windy night, I swear he would have flown around the court like that flying squirrel in those Optus commercials.
Rafa said that he finally felt 100% physically and he was less tired and sweaty this time around. Good news for Rafa, bad news for the field and all the ladies (and boys) who like to see a greased up, clingy, shirt-changey Rafa.
Speaking of which...
Q. Do you find it distracting when everybody is calling out, I love you, Rafa?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I feel fantastic (laughter).
Q. Are you able to block it out?
RAFAEL NADAL: No, I heard everything. But is nice (smiling).
Q. What about when the girls whistle at you and take pictures of you when you're changing your shirt?
RAFAEL NADAL: That's a very good feeling (smiling).
Q. Could you tell us more about this Armani campaign? Was it a good experience? What do you think of the pictures?
RAFAEL NADAL: Was a long experience, but very good experience, no? Is always nice to know different worlds. The fashion world is something that I didn't know before.
Yeah, was a good session of photos, long one. But hopefully the result are satisfactory, so... I worked very hard, seriously (laughter). So, yeah, was nice. A different experience and I enjoyed.
Q. Do you find you sexy on the picture?
RAFAEL NADAL: I'm not the right person to say. I always watch myself so so. But what do you think? Do you like it?
Q. Yeah, I do.
RAFAEL NADAL: I happy if you like it (smiling).
The hilarity of the exchange simply does not translate in black and white. Here's hoping video of the preser makes it online. The boy was in a good mood and absolutely flirty.
Next up, Daveed, who needed four sets to get by the jaw-droppingly impressive Milos Raonic. Everyone loves a little Armada on Armada action, especially between those two grinders.
Today was a weird day. Walk with me.
First off, it was Heineken Day at the Australian Open which basically means, if I understand it correctly, cheap beer. If you had a grounds pass you could get in and drink pretty cheaply on site. So things were already kicking by the time I arrived at noon.
The sun was out and the Ozone-less Aussie sky was beating down pretty good for much of the day. The heat only contributed to the odd happenings around the grounds. I'm sure the crowd over at Court 6 was settled in just to watch some hot Pico on Feli doubles action with a side of thigh porn. But you knew it wasn't going to be that straightforward when Pico came out with his hair tied back like Baggy.
So of course we didn't get much hot Pico on Feli action. Instead, we got gross Pico/Feli on Mahesh action. DID NOT WANT.
I was watching the match and my take on the haps is this: Pico and Feli took exception to Leander and Manesh yelling "Vamos" after points, taking cheap shots at them, and there are some reports that Leander kept trying to body check Pico on the changeovers. After Mahesh "Vamosed" loudly after Pico missed an easy volley late in the second set, all hell broke loose.
Feli jumped in and all four started barking at each other at the net, getting into each other's faces. Pico tried to pull Leander aside to discuss the sitch and Pascal jumped down off his chair like Batman and tournament officials got into it and started to separate the four. Pico got mad that the officials were physically pushing and pulling him away when all he was trying to do was talk it out with Mahesh.
Of course the cuties would lose and Feli refused to shake hands and words were had. I guess I'll let the boys explain themselves:
I mean, we were playing, match was quiet, and one of the players, he was trying to provoke us all the time. At one point, we were a little bit tired of the style he was using on the court, and that's all what happened. But at the end, I was talking to Mahesh and everything was fine. Nothing else to comment.
He was trying to provoke us all the time. I know it's the style he been using the past 20 years. But that's okay. Nothing else.
What say ye, Mahesh?
We always do play a very aggressive style of doubles. That's what's given us all our good results. They, being two singles players, they've probably never seen it before. They probably were taken aback a little bit. They were probably not happy that we used the word 'vamos'. I don't think they have a patent on that one. Small things like that added up. Kept adding to their frustration that we were playing good tennis as well.
Unfortunately, believe it or not, this is not the first time it's happened to me. When Leander and me were playing Orsanic and Oncins in Dubai 95, they got upset because we used 'vamos'. This was in 2000. Two years ago when I was playing González and Acasuso at the French Open, I used 'vamos' and they got upset. I've been using it for a long time. If these guys are going to get upset, I'm going to continue to use it.
LEANDER PAES: At the end of the day, whether it's 'vamos' or 'allez', we're Indian, nobody has patent, we're saying it to each other.
I would probably side with Leander and Mahesh if they didn't come off as so damn smug in their presser. I suppose being on the winning side earns you the right to be smug. They're right, the Spaniards/Argies don't "own" the language, just like the Serbs don't own "ajde". But don't pretend that you don't know what you're doing and that you're all innocent and taking the high road. I saw the match, dudes. You, Mahesh, were being an intentional prick.
From there I tuned in to see Vera cruising over Lucie, having pocketed the first set and up 4-2 in the second, only to double fault to give Lucie the break back. From there Lucie found a whole 'nother gear and would force a tiebreak that was tight and involved a lot of fantastic rallies. Finally, Vera would hit an incredible lob winner reminiscent of the one Kim hit against Venus at the USO10 that got her match point and she was able to close it out. But it was very close to calamity on Laver.
So there I am, reclining in my chair, when I tune over to watch Moose vs. GGL, and this is what I see on the second point:
As Andy would say after he cruised to victory in an hour and 20ish minutes, "It's a bit embarrassing."
Of course, while Andy was plastering GGL, Jo was running out of gas against Dolgopolov. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! But yes. He seems to have picked up a lower back issue and after fighting as best he could for three sets, he dropped the last two 1 and 1. So super cutie Jo is out and Dolgo lives on to take on The Sodness Monster. Barf.
Oh, but it would get weirder.
Big John was locked in a dogfight with Marin "The last 10 months never happened" Cilic and he looked well on his way to winning when he battled back and eeked out the third-set tiebreaker to go up 2-1. But as is the case with most of John's matches, it came down to a few points and with the sun beating down, John looked gassed. Instead of just blasting and trying to put pressure on Marin, he sat back, content to rally and hoped for Marin to miss.
Marin didn't and the match went into extra innings, the first five setter that Big John would play since Wimbledon. Marin would finally win 9-7 in the fifth. John was absolutely gutted in press. He would have played Rafa.
To round out the day's weirdness, The Cone actually made a match of it with Kim (though it was more Kim being wonky than Cone doing anything other than monologue in French and slam her racquet a bunch), Marcos retired in his match with Melzer with a PINKY INJURY, and Makarova and IVETA BENESOVA are in the fourth round after they each bounced seeds, Nadia and Pavs, respectively.
Did I mention Robbie decided to screw with me and dropped into the Live Blog?
And this all happened before the sun went down...
I still have to do a double take when I see Ana ahead of Masha. It seemed as Masha was actually part of the conversation at every Slam, while Ana had an eight month pity party. Solid years from Nails and Shahar (though really, how did that happen?) and nice to see Lil' Mash and Pavs finish the year with the highest year-end rankings of their careers. Hell, that can be said of a lot of the ladies: Caro, Bepa, Sam, Fran, Nails and Shahar, to name a few.
As for the guys, it's still weird to see Mischa in the top 10 and I'm shocked that Marin's first six weeks basically carried him to a top 15 ranking. But what's really surprising is the Tournaments Played stat.
Muzz played the fewest number of tournaments in the top 25, only 19, which is two fewer than the three big boys ahead of him. Sod played 24 tourneys and Tomas played 26(!), and I don't think this includes Davis Cup ties.
Marcos played 29 tournaments? That just makes his participation in New Haven either Herculean or Dumb and Dumber, depending on your take. Speaking of Dumb and Dumber, Sam Q really needs to take a look at his schedule next year. 27 tournaments? No wonder the guy was gassed through the second half of the year.
I'm still blown away that Andy only played 19 tournaments. That explains my state of constant longing.
Posted by C Note on November 29, 2010 in Ana Ivanovic, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Andy Murray, ATP, Caroline Wozniacki, Francesca Schiavone, Marcos Baghdatis, Maria Kirilenko, Maria Sharapova, Marin Cilic, Na Li, Robin Soderling, Sam Querrey, Sam Stosur, Shahar Peer, Vera Zvonereva, WTA | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
Surprising that they're out of Wimbledon? Not really. Surprised they're out *this* early? Well...yeah, kinda. Cilic hasn't been able to find the form that got him to the semis of Melbourne (yes, that's right, that happened, remember?). It's really annoying. I love the fluidity of his game but I'm beginning to realize that he doesn't have a big weapon that's commensurate to his size. I'm sure they're working on that but it sure is hard to watch his form in the meantime.
As for Fran, she had quarterfinal points to defend here. She obviously gets a free pass. But I would have liked to see her get to the third round here.
As far as I'm concerned, if you beat Fed you should automatically win the tournament. I just feel like those are the rules. So congrats, Alberto.
I had the lovely opportunity to meet Matt Cronin at Indian Wells. Ana was playing Sevastova that night and Matt intimated (I'm being kind here) that Ana would have no problem with Sevastova. I piped up and said I didn't think Ana would win the match that night because, well, she sucks, and Sevastova had just come off beating JJ in Monterrey. Sure enough, the kid, who looks like she could be fellow Latvian Ernie's little sister, beat Ana easily. Now she has her first WTA title in Estoril. Keep an eye on her. She could be a bracket buster. Perhaps this year's Rybarikova?
Over in Munich, Mischa scored a solid win over Marin to take the title. I don't know what's up with the lanky one. I'm starting to think that's not actually Marin, but Mario. He came out of the gate flying and has sputtered ever since leaving the continent of Australia.
But yay for Mischa! Champagne jizz for all!
No surprises today in Monte Carlo, thank God, as Jo had a tough go with Nico back came through in two tight sets, 76(5) 75. Kind of a big win for the guy on clay. So, you know, ROWR!
Fer got really mad at that ball and destroyed Apricot, 62 61. Like, whoa.
Marin put on his guyliner and came bag against Igor, 67 61 64. You really need to cool it, Marin. You're verging on Brandon Flowers territory. Here's hoping you don't crash and burn and turn into a heaping pile of suckitude like the Killers did.
And this is a cute picture of a guy who won.
Singles - Second Round
 M Cilic (CRO) d I Andreev (RUS) 67(4) 61 64
 J Tsonga (FRA) d N Almagro (ESP) 76(5) 75
 F Verdasco (ESP) d J Benneteau (FRA) 62 61
 T Berdych (CZE) d [WC] R Gasquet (FRA) 62 60
Singles - First Round
 T Robredo (ESP) d H Zeballos (ARG) 63 63
 S Wawrinka (SUI) d V Hanescu (ROM) 62 64
 J Melzer (AUT) d P Mathieu (FRA) 63 62
A Montanes (ESP) d  M Baghdatis (CYP) 64 62
M Llodra (FRA) d F Fognini (ITA) 63 63
V Troicki (SRB) d L Kubot (POL) 46 62 62
F Serra (FRA) d S Robert (FRA) 76(6) 36 64
[Q] T de Bakker (NED) d E Schwank (ARG) 63 75
Davis Cup once again did not disappoint. There was drama, there was passion, and there was national pride. But most importantly there were hot sweaty dudes rubbing up on each other. Like all over the world. On behalf of all the women in the world who are currently celebrating Woman's Herstory Month (see what I did there?), I say "thank you."
A blockbuster tie on paper, except that, well, it wasn't really. Spain played without Rafa, Fer, Feli, and JCF, and Switzerland claimed they were short a player. I don't know what they're talking about but the Switz were heaping their hopes on the spittle-strewn shoulders of newly daddied Stan.
In the end it was a true team effort as Daveed won his first rubber, Marcel and Tommy teamed up to take the doubles, and Daveed came back on Sunday to take his second rubber. Vamos, Spain.
France v Germany 4 - 1
Look at that. That is the definition of teamy. All the Frenchies were on hand to support each other as France demolished Germany 4-1, clinching the tie with the doubles win on Saturday. Ok, not all the Frenchies were there. But I don't think Guy wanted Jeremy's bad mojo anyway, so thanks for staying away, Jerms.
Russia v India 3 - 2
Russia's into the quarters over India as Mischa clinched it in the fourth rubber. Tough couple of days for Somdev, who couldn't convert either of his matches. That was a pretty monumental task anyway.
Sweden v Argentina 2 - 3
Well done to you, Argies and welcome back Nalby! What a way to make a splash. Dude saved the Baby Blues by helping with the doubles win and then winning the decisive 5th tie. Thank god he did. I'd much rather see Nalby/Elf in the DC quarters than Sod and his merry band of Swedes.
Croatia v Ecuador 5 - 0Complete mismatch, really. Marin and Ivo vs. The Brothers Lappentti in Croatia? Move along, Croats.
Way to make it interesting, guys. One of the BryBros gets food poisoning from some chicken curry, has to pull out of doubles, eyebrows are raised, and then Nole and Halpert play a 4+ hour five setter, which Nole wins to clinch the tie. Huge win for Nole and the Serbs, but for me, the star of this tie was Johnny Isner. In his first DC tie the kid jumps in to play doubles with the non-tummy-afflicted BryBro to beat Nenad and Janko. Then he comes back the next day and battles on clay, his worst surface, in front of a hostile crowd to force the world #2 into a five setter that Nole narrowly wins, 6-4.
So yes, congrats to Serbia. Seriously, you know how stoked I am for you guys. But can I please get a standing slow-clap for Halpert? He showed so much heart this weekend.
Belgium v Czech Republic 1 - 4
This one goes into the Croatia/Ecuador category. Moving on.
This one's still going with Chile one win away from clinching the tie after they dropped the doubles today. Go get it, Gonzo. And God bless.
Kolya and Marin came through, with Playstation needing three sets to finish off Serra. And with all the speculation regarding Jo, he did take the court against Marseille champ, Llodra, and pulled out a tight first set before Llodra retired.
In other news, Janko won. That's news.
Singles - First Round
 N Davydenko (RUS) d F Serra (FRA) 67(5) 64 61
 [WC] J Tsonga (FRA) d M Llodra (FRA) 76(9) ret. (left hamstring)
 M Cilic (CRO) d A Clement (FRA) 62 64
 M Youzhny (RUS) d. L Lacko (SVK) 67(3) 76(5) 61
J Tipsarevic (SRB) d A Seppi (ITA) 76(4) 75
M Berrer (GER) d S Stakhovsky (UKR) 64 76(3)
T Robredo (ESP) d J Benneteau (FRA) 62 61
[Q] S Devvarman (IND) d M Chiudinelli (SUI) 64 75
[Q] B Phau (GER) d [WC] M Ghareeb (KUW) 30 ret. (back)
Five and a half years. That's the last time Feli won a title. So kudos for snapping that streak, dude, with a 75 61 win over Christophe Robert.
Marin defended his title in Zagreb, giving him his fifth title of his career. He's also 15-1 on the year. But more impressive? He didn't let Goran's one week coaching stint derail him. Seriously, that's huge.
Well Johannesburg got weird. Daveed fell in straight sets to Stephane Robert (!) 75 64. Robert is ranked 100 in the world. So...yeah.
In Zagreb, Marin is cruising. He beat Ivo yesterday and ousted Douchestamp today to cruise into the finals, where he'll face Michael Berrer. Way to not fuck shit up, Goran.
As for Santiago, the semis are yet to be played but it's shaping up to be a Gonzo/Pico final. Nice.
Marin started strong in the first set, but as the match progressed those 18 hours on court started to get to him and Andy stepped it up. It definitely wasn't the show of dominance that he showed against Rafa, but it was a fairly straightforward Muzzard-like win. This was Muzz's third Slam semifinal appearance and will be his second Slam final.
Marin looked to be cruising, taking the first two sets fairly easily. As it turned out, it might have been because A-Rod was having some nerve problems (heh) in his shoulder that was causing numbness in his fingers. Andy would press on and decide, well, if I'm going win or end this quickly I'm going to have to swing away. And swing away he did. The third and fourth set was the most impressive performance I've seen from A-Rod. He was playing aggressively, flattening his groundstrokes, hitting winners, it was great. Well...great if I was an A-Rod fan.
So the fifth set came. And I was certain Cilic was going to cave. He looked tired and Anydy looked like he had figured him out. But for whatever reason, Andy retreated back into his conservative game. He had triple break point in the first game of the fifth and failed to convert, allowing Cilic to hold. From there, Marin settled down and Andy completely lost any foothold on the match.
So once again, Andy flirts with a big five set win, only to fall short. He and Fernando need to go to group therapy together. It's getting annoying. And yes, Andy was not 100%. But seriously, he totally had Marin. He just completely lost the plot and gameplan. P-Mac had some interesting thoughts after the match. He said that A-Rod's conservative game, the game that comes naturally to him, keeps him in the conversation. But it's not enough to beat the top guys. Everyone acknowledges that Andy's performance in the third and fourth sets should be the standard that he shoots for. Unfortunately, it just doesn't look like he wants to play that way.
Congrats on your first Slam semifinal, Marin! Now lose please. Thanks.
I feel like I've waited for a year for Marin to finally break through in a Slam. Sure, he beat Muzzard last year at USO, but that didn't count. Muzz played horribly. But I thought Elf, though a bit niggled by injury, played well enough to win today had Marin not upped his game. So good on the lanky Croat for getting it done.
He'll face A-Rod next, who withstood a strong challenge from Gonzo. Should be an interesting one, though Andy should be able to serve his way into the semis.
And, finally, we come to Chennai. Which is running this befuddling banner on its official website:
I mean, we get it. The season's long. People get hurt. No need for a demo.
Singles - First Round
 R Soderling (SWE) d V Hanescu (ROU) 63 64
 G Monfils (FRA) d P Mathieu (FRA) 62 62
T Berdych (CZE) d  M Cilic (CRO) 76(8) 36 64
 T Haas (GER) d B Becker (GER) 76(5) 64
J Melzer (AUT) d J Chardy (FRA) 64 64
L Hewitt (AUS) d J Isner (USA) 62 64
I Ljubicic (CRO) d J Benneteau (FRA) 63 36 61
N Almagro (ESP) d P Kohlschreiber (GER) 67(2) 61 76(6)
V Troicki (SRB) d J Monaco (ARG) 61 62
Singles - Second Round
S Wawrinka (SUI) d  A Roddick (USA) 34 ret. (left knee)
 N Davydenko (RUS) d I Kunitsyn (RUS) 64 62
 F Gonzalez (CHI) d [Q] T Bellucci (BRA) 63 64
 R Stepanek (CZE) d A Beck (GER) 75 64
Unfortunately, much like C Note, I haven't had any access to TV today; ergo, I didn't see a single second of any of the finals. They're all waiting impatiently on my DVR, though.
Yeah, I'm gonna be looking at those for a while.
And he used those big paws to lay the smackdown on Rafa, 61 63. I mean...that's something.
Tuxedo will face The Falcon, who beat Sods 3 and 3. Good job, Nole. With the win Nole will rise to #3 on Monday, bumping the injured Muzzard down a spot.
Now please take the title. Kthxbye!
So that happened.
Congrats to my favorite non-mono'd Croatian for salvaging what has been a lackluster season by booking himself into the quarterfinals with the win over THE GREATEST TENNIS PLAYER WHO EVER LIVED (according to the British press). He executed his gameplan to perfection, serving big and crushing the no-pace sitters that Andy kept throwing back at him. Tuxedo really didn't let Muzz get away with any of that. All credit to him.
It came out after the match that Muzz has been suffering from a wrist injury for the past few weeks. In a nice and very professional presser, he refused to talk about it and reiterated that Marin served well and he didn't return well. That's gotta be tough on the kid though.
I salute you.
Tuxedo will take on the quiet giant, who is ever so silently making his way through the draw.
Some dudes have a tendency for the dramatic. They just refuse to get it done quickly and cleanly. They want the stage and the refuse to leave it. These are those dudes.
These boys all had a 5 set workout today and in JCF and Marin's cases, they had to come back from 2 sets down to seal the win.
Congrats to Taylor, Nico, and Nico.
A-Rod's off doing some cross training at Yankee stadium.
(The jury's out on the "comfortability" of the Cole Haan gear.)
And then everyone and their mother showed up to the BNP Paribas Taste of Tennis event as if it were a free buffet. Even the Daveed's sensitive soul couldnt say no to that. But trust me, he was way emo about it. Well, or whatever the Spanish equivalent to emo is.
Shit, even Bepa showed up. BEPA!!! That's how crazy this is! And dudes! She even went to the K Swiss event! Dammit, now I want to just do Patron shots with her. And that's saying something. Because I feel about Patron the way Bepa feels about her racquets.
Let's face it, when Bepa is the only Russian at your cocktail party, something's gone horribly awry. Unless it's like...a U.N. peacekeeping envoy cocktail party, in which case, you better get ready for a shot of peace with a harmony chaser.
But seriously, where are the Serbs in all this? You're telling me a party was thrown and Ana wasn't the guest of honor, Nole wasn't invited, and JJ didn't crash it? What is this world? And where the fuck are Marat and Dina? My head hurts.
The players have been hitting the practice court at the BJK center.
Which of course means practice pics.
No one needs to see a concave chest.
Marin bounced back from the early ousting last week to take out JCF in straight sets. Something tells me Ferrero's running out of gas. Meanwhile, Ivo scored a nice win over Gael, 64 67(5) 76(2). So...LaMonf should be well rested going into the USO.
In other upset news, Daveed took out Stan and Jeremy upset Boredo.
Singles - First Round
 G Simon (FRA) d [WC] W Odesnik (USA) 63 62
I Karlovic (CRO) d  G Monfils (FRA) 64 67(5) 76(2)
 M Cilic (CRO) d J Ferrero (ESP) 63 64
J Chardy (FRA) d  T Robredo (ESP) 63 75
 R Stepanek (CZE) d V Troicki (SRB) 76(2) 10 ret. (foot)
I Andreev (RUS) d N Kiefer (GER) 61 75
B Becker (GER) d M Vassallo Arguello (ARG) 63 63
N Almagro (ESP) d D Sela (ISR) 64 10 ret. (groin)
P Mathieu (FRA) d M Zverev (GER) 67(4) 75 63
[Q] I Ljubicic (CRO) d F Serra (FRA) 46 63 64
D Ferrer (ESP) d S Wawrinka (SUI) 75 62
J Acasuso (ARG) d [Q] L Kubot (POL) 64 63
[WC] M Safin (RUS) d [WC] R Ginepri (USA) 75 76(2)
S Querrey (USA) d [Q] Y Lu (TPE) 63 64
Doubles - First Round
F Lopez (ESP) / F Verdasco (ESP) d S Huss (AUS) / R Hutchins (GBR) 46 76(2) 10-3
T Berdych (CZE) / P Kohlschreiber (GER) d N Davydenko (RUS) / I Kunitsyn (RUS) 57 76(4) 10-7
R Lindstedt (SWE) / M Melo (BRA) d J Coetzee (RSA) / J Erlich (ISR) 76(3) 36 14-12
That's what Day 3 of Davis Cup is all about: Heroes. And the great thing about Davis Cup is that these heroes often come from nowhere. They're journeymen players who experience the biggest wins of their lives on this stage. And there is something ridiculously awesome about it.
Over in Spain, it was looking like PEHK would be the man of the day. He fended off a strong comeback from Fernando to notch an 8-6 in the 5th win. Who knew the German would knock off Nole and Fer on clay in the span of a month and a half. And if Hero #2 didn't step up in the next match and Germany had taken this tie, I would argue that Techno's win over Fer was the biggest of his career. But alas.
After the Fer's tough loss Spain had to be feeling a bit of pressure. Especially with Beck having taken Fer to five challenging sets a couple days earlier. But in stepped cool as a cucumber JCF, who swashbuckled his way to a fairly businesslike straight set win. And so Spain advances and Germany goes home. Sure, it all shook out the way we expected, but the fun is in the process. Spain will face Israel in their semifinal.
But the thing about heroes is that there's always a goat. And no, I don't mean GOAT, I mean goat. And unfortunately for Argentina, that goat was Pico. Poor guy was unable to notch a singles win during the tie and that's what's why the 2008 finalists are going home. As for Steps, he was able to fight off some knee pain and help bring this one how for the Czechs, who will have an away tie with...
This was a hard fought tie for the Croats. They had that epicly long day on Friday, wherein Ivo and Marin needed 5 sets to take care of Blah and Sockless. But Marin came out and took care of business in four sets, dumping Blah and sending a very clear message to PMac that JAMES BLAKE IS A HORRIBLE TENNIS PLAYER!!! It's time for everyone to accept it. He's clearly in a bad spot. The fact that Querrey CA was left off this team still chaps me. Fuckers.
Tommy won the first two sets 7-5, let Marin back into it, and then in the fifth, Marin loses a 5-3 lead after having match points. Are you kidding me???
The match has been suspended and will be completed tomorrow with the score knotted up at 6-6.
So many no-win matchups today that leave me a bit empty inside. In addition to the Dani/Jay-Z match, we have Sorana (yay!) beating Sania (no!) 64 64. Then we had Jo getting a walkover from the always tasty but losey Goth Bols.
And then we had the match that we all totally hated on being the match of the tournament so far. Tough tough loss for Sammy, though if anyone can deal with it and not let it get him down, it's Querrey California. And a great win for Marin. He pretty and I like him.
I really kind of meant it in a "lookit all those straight set wins" kind of way, but then I found this...
Posted by Carrie on May 27, 2009 in Agnes Szavay, Alize Cornet, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Andy Murray, ATP, Ernests Gulbis, Feliciano Lopez, Fernando Gonzalez, Fernando Verdasco, Gilles Simon, Guest Blogger, Janko Tipsarevic, Marin Cilic, Na Li, Roland Garros, Victoria Azarenka, WTA | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
There is a Croat. He is very tall. Very lanky. His name starts with an M. Ends in an itch. He has dark hair. And he is super at tennis.
And his name is not Mario.
Marin "Tuxedo Mask" Cilic continued his strong start to the season by beating fellow Croat Average Mario to win his home tourney in Zagreb. This is his second title of the year.
I like Marin. He's just a no-frills, solid and workmanlike. Not unlike Mario, in fact.
I really thought it was going to be a tighter match, but the Elf adjusted to Cilic's game after dropping the first (despite Tuxedo Mask serving at 32%), tightened it up, and reeled off the next three sets 64 64 62. He's now the youngest quarterfinalist at AO since 2001.
His reward? TMF, who suvived a scare from Big Byrd to win in a 3 and a half hour five setter, 4-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2. I didn't see the match so I only know what I've read and what I can surmise from the scoreline. Sounds like Fed's experience won him the match, not his quality of play.
Nice try from Berdych though, who was actually pretty positive in his presser. He'll always be one of those guys who I hate to see in my guy's part of the draw. When he's clicking, he's impossible. Too bad the nerves got to him here.
This one's gonna be a scorcher. Both Marin and Elf came through today and are on a collision course in the fourth round. Tuxedo Mask took it to Daveed, bouncing him in straight sets, 76 63 64, and Elf took care of the ever dangerous Gilles Muller, 67 75 63 75. Both of these guys are clicking, fighting, and full of confidence.
Really looking forward to it.
Fearing that historical tensions between the rival supporters might boil over into violence, Tipsarevic asked tournament organisers to move his game against Cilic away from the outside courts - where spectators can wander around as they please - and onto one of the tightly supervised show courts.
Melbourne is home to large communities of expats from the former Yugoslavian states, whose volatility was all-too-clearly demonstrated by the notorious Australian Open riot of 2007. That was the year when gangs of Serbian and Croatian fans fought a pitched battle in the elegant "garden area" of Melbourne Park.
"Normally the problem is with people who live abroad," said Tipsarevic. "And especially in Australia because it's so far away from their homeland. It's stupid to say these people love Serbia more, but they do feel nostalgic for it - and sometimes they cheer too much.
"I told the guys who are in charge of the schedule what might happen, and I'm glad they listened to me and put us on the show court, where the chance of violence is reduced. The problem is that if the Serbs and Croats pass by each other, and someone says something rude, then they will start to fight."
Tipsarevic's forebodings were borne out by the atmosphere on No 2 court, which became aggressively polarised and partisan. The pro-Cilic faction sat in the south-eastern corner, decked out in their red-and-white checked shirts. The Tipsarevic devotees camped in the western stand, wearing long capes decorated with the Serbian flag. Both groups chanted slogans and shouted obscenities in their own languages - which, fortunately, were completely unintelligible to the majority of spectators.
"The things that they were saying were really not nice," explained Cilic, who was the target of much of the abuse. "It was tough to play, of course. But I was trying to stay focused on the match and do as well as I could. When they said a couple of bad words to me, Janko told them to be quiet."
The rival fans' behaviour may have been more typical of an "Old Firm" football derby than a tennis match, but the players still maintained an impressive level of sportsmanship. Tipsarevic and Cilic came out dressed in identical kits and did all they could to avoid igniting an already inflammable situation.
"We were talking to each other when we went to the net," Tipsarevic explained, "and he told me, 'I don't know about you, but for me this is really tough, playing in these conditions.' I said, 'For me, the same.'
"Both the Serbs and the Croats were a little bit incorrect," Tipsarevic added. "They were singing songs that were nothing to do with tennis, because of the history we have between each other."
The players still put on an absorbing show, as witnessed by the long lines of spectators queuing for a seat in the stands. At 6ft 6in, Cilic is even taller and more lethal on serve than his compatriot Mario Ancic (5ft 5in), and he bombed down a fusillade of aces on the way to a two-set lead.
Tipsarevic rallied in the third set, taking advantage of his opponent's brief loss of concentration to spray a series of forehand winners. But a lucky net cord helped Cilic to steal the initiative back in the fourth, and he quickly closed out the match.
"Given all the things that were going on, the tension and provocation, I was glad to win it in four," Cilic said. "Things were getting tighter towards the end."
The police kept a close eye on the fans as they streamed out of the venue. The more hot-headed elements formed two lines in the concourse underneath the stadium, singing, gesturing and staring each other out. Happily, though, the atmosphere was closer to West Side Story than Goodfellas.
"We kept an eye on the match but no ejections were needed and the police have been very happy with the way things have gone so far this week," said a spokesperson for the Victoria police. After the riots of 2007, and the incident last year when two Greek supporters were doused with pepper spray, the 2009 Australian Open has remained a non-contact sport.