While Tokyo's tourney director is probably still in the hospital recovering from a panic attack, KL's tourney director has to be feeling pretty darn good right now. They've done a great job with the promo stuff and now they've backed it up with quality tennis, as the top four seeds have made the semis.
Nice run by Reeshard, by the way. Some quality wins on the way to the quarters and he gave Fer a tough match. Good job, Coke Head.
On a somewhat unrelated note, check out this remix of "1234". I hear at at Barney's with the best gay and we may have had a little dance party in the men's shoe department.
Today was Labor Day in the states, which means no working, lots of out of towning, and, if you're in the Bay Area, lots of trying to figure out how the hell you're supposed to get to a BBQ in the East Bay when the Bay Bridge is shut down. Let's just say Tommy wasn't the only one with that look this weekend.
But while we were being lazy bums, the action in NYC kept rolling.
Doesn't this look like a "Pic This" pic? But I can't think of the perfect caption, even though it's begging for one. Kinda like how Caro's begging to get f'd in the a.
Oh, look! Caption!
Smug little bastard.
The Sex expert.
This is Yanina Wickmayer. She is a quarterfinalist. Or something.
Slowly but surely, he's working his way back to form. Rafa started slowly (literally) against Paulie, eventually finding himself down 4-1. He looked a step slow and fairly tentative, and Paulie capitalized by jumping on every short ball that Rafa hit. But then he hit a ridiculous backhand flick passing shot and something seemed to flip. He got that fire back and the fistpumping and vamosing kicked into high gear.
I was gchatting with donkeygrooming at the time and she asked what the score was. I told her Rafa was down 1-4 but he would be fine. You could see it. Once he secured the first set 75, the rest was history. He closed out the match and played well. I still think he's a step slow and he doesn't trust his legs. But if he can keep notching some wins he'll be able to work himself out of it.
In the other matches of the evening, Gilles was able to close out on Kolya in three sets, and Big Berd bombed his way to a straight set win. He'll clash with Rafa tomorrow in what will be a tricky one for Rafa. Then again, they're all feeling a bit tricky these days, no?
Rafa made his triumphant return and actually played a full match, beating Petzscher 63 62. He looked much better than yesterday, particularly his serve, but every time he lunged for a ball or I heard his shoes squeak to a stop, I cringed. He take on next, who needed three sets and two calls to the trainer (bum right shoulder, apparently) to get past Hanescu.
Oh and Kolya beat Gonzo 76(2) 75. Not that you'd know this seeing as how there are no pictures of that match anywhere.
See, this is why RG needs lights. Because, due to a lack of lights at Roland Garros, one of Kolya's matches got held over last week, which meant he missed his appointment at the British embassy to get a visa, which means maybe now he can't play Queen's.
Q. Maybe you need to play on grass. Are you looking forward to that?
NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: Yes, because first I need to make visit to England. I don't know if I reach there, you know, coming to the Wimbledon (laughing.)
But should be, yes, next week Queen's. We'll see if I can get visa.
Q. Talk about your visa. What's the problem?
NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: Problem what?
Q. The visa, were you serious about that, getting a visa for England?
NIKOLAY DAVYDENKO: Yeah, just ‑‑ no, it's no problem. I try and make last week. I should be have appointment, but I played three days in a row. If you remember, I didn't finish my match and should have been next day play and I have appointment.
Yeah, I pass my time, and now the holiday in England Monday, and then, you know, try to do tomorrow. I know some players say I wait already 10 days hear about visa. And for me now I be in trouble.
If I go tomorrow, I should be receive my visa end of next week. I don't know what I can do. I should be play already Monday Queen's.
And for us, like Russian, it's really, you know, important to try to do faster. I don't know if I can do this week to do something.
Tsk. Why you gotta be hatin' like that, France? Still holding a grudge for that whole "Napoleonic Wars" thing?
What’s the best concert you’ve seen?
It was in Abu Dhabi on New Year’s Eve. I took part in an exhibition and then went to a Shakira concert in a 7 star hotel. It was the most amazing show I’ve ever seen....
When was your first kiss?
There have been so many I can’t remember!...
Who’s the nicest guy on tour?
They’re all really nice: Federer, Nadal. All of the guys in the top 100 are cool. But if you asked me which one was the best looking I’d say Feliciano Lopez. Everyone thinks he’s gorgeous, with his blue eyes and curly hair.
-- Up Close and Personal with Nikolai Davydenko
The iron men who won early this morning. Rafa made quick work of Lapentti, Muzz gutted out a tough win over Fognini, Kolya beat Nalby in three, and Lubey took out Goth Bols in straights. They'll all take a nap and come back to play their quarterfinal matches in a few hours (Rafa vs. Lubey, Muzz vs. Kolya). How fun for them.
 R Nadal (ESP) d [Q] N Lapentti (ECU) 63 60
 A Murray (GBR) d [Q] F Fognini (ITA) 76(11) 64
 N Davydenko (RUS) d  D Nalbandian (ARG) 64 57 63
[WC] I Ljubicic (CRO) d S Bolelli (ITA) 75 76(2)
It looks like Kolya is ditching the trusty stick that helped him win Miami and moving to Head. He's playing with a Head paintjob for now:
This move will give Head Nole, Muzz, Kolya, Gilles, Ernie, and Marat, just to name a few. Not a bad crew of boys. *Insert Marat likes Head joke here*
Muzz will face Fed and Kolya draws Rafa. Both matches will be played tomorrow with Muzz/Fed kicking off at 3pm local time (3am PST).
Speaking of Rafa, he's back to his usual presser antics, which means a load of hilarious pictures:
Well the kid everyone loves to hate walked away with his first TMC trophy and a huge confidence booster going into the off-season. Nole overwhelmed and outplayed a serve-less Kolya, winning 61 75. And no, the match wasn't even that close.
This was the best I've seen Nole play since the AO. His shot selection was spot on. His head was totally into this match and he was constructing points and executing shots beautifully. I love smart aggressive Nole.
As for Kolya, hey, it was a great tourney for him. He should have given Nole more of a run, but here's another huge batch of points that in 10 months we'll all totally forget about when we ask "how the hell is that guy in the top 5?"
And as much as he's hated by Rafa and Fed fans around the world (more Fed fans than Rafa fans to be fair), the bottom line is that Nole keeps it interesting. Don't like his antics on the court? Fine. Don't like the stupid shit that comes flying out of his mouth sometimes? Ok. Jealous of his awesomely soft kitten-like hair (TM gauloises)? Duh. But his talent is real and his game, when it's on, is just awesome. The only question with him is the mental side. He's more of a headcase that JJ and Ana combined. I wish he'd just embrace his "I'm the guy you love to hate" mantle for a while. But I think Muzz's rise into the upper echelon of challengers to the thrown will take some attention of him and give people another lightening rod to attack. Because really, if you don't like Nole for the crap he says and does, you really shouldn't like Muzz.
So going into 2009 we've got a wide open race in Australia. We've got a Rafa that has shown he can win on hard courts, a presuably 100% healed and hungry Fed, a confident Nole with a load of points to defend, and a confident and in-form Muzz looking to bust up the big Three. And then of course there will the dangerous outliers in Jo and Elf, and bracket busters like Gilly.
Oh yeah, Nole will finish the year on 10 points behind Fed. And, most likely, Nole will go into AO 09 at #2 because Fed isn't playing any warm up tournaments in January. How nutty is that?
The biggest question coming out of yesterday's epic Muzz/Fed match was whether or not young Andy's body could recover in 24 hours to beat Kolya. Apparently not.
Andy clearly had nothing left and lost listlessly to the relentless Russian, 75 62. Andy's legs must have felt like sandbags because there's just no way he loses to Kolya if he's moving well. Understandable, but disappointing. You have to wonder whether all that effort spent to beat Fed was worth it. Could it be that Nole's "tanking" against Jo showed more experience in energy management? I hate to answer yes to that but it's hard to argue.
Now we'll see whether Nole can capitalize or whether Kolya can take advantage of the cards being dealt to him. He got an extra days' rest to face an exhausted Muzz. Now, he's face a physically worked over Nole in the final tomorrow. Nole had some calf trouble today so we'll see if that affects his movement tomorrow.
Augh. If Kolya wins this I'm gonna be pissed. Like, mouth of a Safina pissed.
Well The Forgotten One has booked himself a spot into the semifinals in Shanghai, dusting the very tired Elf, 63 62. Even though he and Nole finish 2-1 in round robin play, Nole will be the #1 seed out of the group because he won their head to head battle.
As for the Elf, time to go home and rest up for Davis Cup. Methinks this was a blessing and he knows it.
When Nole wears black, he means business, and that's exactly what he gave Hot Crazy Train today in hard fought straight set win, 75 63.
Methinks the Train is starting to lose steam and I really hope his trip here to Shanghai doesn't affect his Davis Cup performance. Maybe that's why he was pouting in those player party pics?
In the second match of the day, Kolya won a very tough, very hotly contested three setter, finally winning 67(6) 64 76(0). Seeing as how these matches aren't being shown live in the U.S., I have no idea what happened to Jo in that last tie breaker. But losing at love in the final breaker? Sounds like a complete lack of concentration and focus.
Next up tomorrow, starting at 6pm local time:
1. The Number 2 Player In The World vs. Commodus
2. Andy vs. Andy
So here is tomorrow's quarterfinal action:
Muzzah v. Fat Dave (14.00hrs)
Rafa v. Kolya
Blah v. Fed (19.45hrs)
A Rod v. Jo Willy
You've got the collision of two of the hottest players on tour (not looks-wise, mind you), Rafa's attempt to avenge his Miami loss to Kolya, Fed's attempt to avenge his Olympics loss to Blah, and, in what I think is the most interesting match of the day, two players trying to find some resurgent form, A-Rod and Jo.
Given Jo's limping around in his match against Nole, I have to give the edge to Andy.
As for the Race to Shanghai it's pretty simple. Blah and Jo need to make the final to clinch a spot, and Fat Dave has to win the tournament.
Apparently out due to a wrist injury. I'll be honest, I wouldn't mind if he was out of Shanghai, too. That sure would help Commodus' chances of making it.
Jo Willy kept his strong fall run going but it wasn't easy against Grannollers. Granola Bar pushed our boy to three sets and Jo needed a tiebreaker to get the job done, 36 63 76(5). Eek! That was too close for comfort.
Nole and Crazy Train benefited from a couple of retirements, as Victor Hanescu gave Nole a scare before retiring with a leg injury in the third set, 67(8) 76(6) 31. JMDP had an easier go against Niemenen, taking the first set 64 before Jarkko retired at 42 in the second.
And now for the "upsets" of the day. I use quotes because really, they aren't THAT surprising. It never surprises me when Kolya loses early. Losing to Ginepri 46 64 64 was a bit unexpected, but so it goes. As for Gonzo, I think he ran into the same problem Blah did yesterday. He's got a big game and goes for his shots, but against a good counterpuncher like LaMonf, he gets impatient and goes for too much, hitting UFE after UFE, losing 63 64 . Bye Bye Gonzo.
Also losing today, the ever slumping Daveed, who lost to fellow Spaniard FeLo in straight sets, 64 76(4).
Stan and PEHK are deadlocked in the third set right now. A-Rod and Fed still to play.
OHHH!!!! I just realized who the newly shorn (stop crying, gauloises) Crazy Elf looks like!!!
Yeah, not much.
UPDATED: SEE? He totally has superpowers:
The ATP has officially cleared Nikolai Davydenko of any wrongdoing with respect to its initial suspicions that he may have fixed a match last summer. It must be great news for Kolya, as he has been having to play under this cloud for a year now. Unfortunately, as we all know, it'll still be brought up by commentators everytime he plays.
I actually like Kolya. He has a solid game (not a top 5 game but a solid game), he's pretty quiet and no-nonsense, and he seems not to take himself too seriously.