Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Aus Open Recap and Random Notes

Aus Open Summary

There were plenty of long days and I really didn't have the amount of time needed to write my reports during the tournament, because if I did then it would have been very pedestrian and poorly done. Needless to say that I didn't want that to happen, so I will still have plenty of memories from the event, and it will done chronologically from the 2nd round onwards so lets see how this pans out.

2nd Round:

Serra vs. Nieminen

Old que sera Serra he is probably a really good guy, but fuck I can't stand him as a player and sometimes in life you need certain things to reassure the current views held and this match was one of those times.

For some reason this is a bad match up for Nieminen, in most cases you can tell why some head to head results are the way they are. I mean Federer to Roddick, as Fed negates Roddick's serve, Nadal to Federer, as he can break down his backhand, but this one is a mystery and not sure one that is going to be solved.

Nieminen has 2 sets to 1 lead and is playing quite well, not overly aggressive but well enough to get this done in 4 sets. He lead a break and had match points, but the old Nieminen curse of being passive on the big points came through again and couldn't serve out the match in the 4th set. Serra is there a mix between the clownish errors, the odd decent shot but somehow is still in this match. Nieminen's body goes the wrong way and his ankle is stuck, he pulls up and then gets a treatment for it and not long after this the clown Serra gets an injury timeout for cramp, which of course is not legal these days, and Nieminen is pissed off with it. At the same time the injury timeout shouldn't account for the easy smash missed in the TB, classic Nieminen and not for the right reasons.

At 5-5 in the fifth set break point down after an elongated rally, he comes into the net off a bluff and Nieminen hits an excellent passing shot and Serra pulled off a brilliant angled backhand drop volley off the shoelaces. He even had "what the fuck, how did I do that" expression on his face. Once Serra held that game, then it was no surprise that this guy broke to take the match. He hits 104 unforced errors and not even close to the same amount of winners yet wins this match, got to love this sport. Sure Nieminen was going to get smoked in the next round, better it was he than Serra and Murray lost too many games against him.

Troicki vs. Mayer

Saw parts of this match and not a surprise that the "German Gigolo 2" was doing well in this match. He has been rebuilding his ranking in the challengers and came in with some good form and his unorthodox game would throw Troicki off his game. The two handed jump dropshot is still a thing of awkward beauty and the forehand swing that goes for 5 minutes yet generates the same power as Volandri's first serve.

The third set was the key here and went to the tiebreaker and Troicki was getting pissed off big time, of course when you are losing it's easier to focus on external factors as to why this is the case. Giving stick to the female umpire, though Troicki is not in the same league as Roddick for this nonsense and the last set Mayer was just toying with him and quite fun to see.

Sorry Jess.

Berdych vs. Korolev

Not exactly the epitome of tactical sophistication in this match. Kazakhstani Korolev was hitting some big shots off both sides, this match was very streaky with lots of big hitting and some shots missing the court and almost ending up in the MCG.

Berdych started the better and had a break in the 1st set at 4-2, then a combo of big hitting by Korolev and some dumb stuff from Berdych loses 7 games in a row to lose the set and go down a break in the 2nd. Korolev going for more big shots and Berdych when playing from behind actually did a bit of defending to get the break back and then loses serve for the 2nd set. The 3rd set was more of the same Berdych breaks for 5-4 and can hardly land a first serve in that game and Korolev hit some big forehands off the weak serves and pushed Berdych behind the baseline for the break.

Korolev holds and then breaks for the match, not sure what to make of this, funnily enough Berdych actually hit a topspin forehand with more than 1mm clearance over the net, he still can't hit a kick serve and Safarova lost early so that impacted on him. Korolev did play quite well, but this performance was a bit comedic from Berdych.

Llodra vs. Monaco

Llodra starts the match serving bombs like Ivanisevic and volleying like Edberg which in turn frustrates Monaco who can't get into the extended rallies and Llodra streaks his way to a 2 set to love lead. Monaco is a fighter though and even when down a break in the 3rd set, it didn't feel like he was out of the match. Llodra couldn't keep that level up with the shoelace volley winners and finding the corners with the serve in addition to pounding winners from the baseline. Monaco breaks back as he is able to get some rallies going and Llodra drops his level naturally. The end of the 3rd set was hilarious with both players breaking each other and falling into a tiebreaker, which Monaco shades thankfully.

After taking the 3rd set Llodra goes into tank mode once Monaco gets the second break of serve who is able to get to play the match finally on his terms and into the 5th set Llodra lifts his level, but Monaco's was in the groove and was able to complete his first two sets to love comeback.

Almagro vs. Becker

"Cabezon" Almagro starts well, using the heavy serve to open up the court and hitting heavy from both wings, even the feet seem to be moving better than usual which is a good sign for him. He has the greater weight of shot and able to use that to take a 2 sets to 0 lead. Becker kept fighting and lifted his level of play by taking more chances and being aggressive which paid off for him. Almagro's level didn't drop too much, it was more of a case of Becker stepping it up.

For the 2nd time in a row Almagro was in a 5 setter after winning the first 2 sets and just like in the previous round against Malisse. "Cabezon" was able to focus and not get too pissed off with himself and took his break chance when it came around. There were times when it got like this, that Almagro would whine like a bitch and not focus on the match and then it would be done when we woke up.

Youzhny vs. Hajek

Youzhny didn't have to do much in this match as Hajek as much as I like the guy was woeful. Not sure if he just felt crap mentally or was ill from bad food in the players restaurant. He had a lot of variation in this match, but not in the right way sadly. It was more of variation of errors, had it all footfaults, missing smashes long, bouncing twice before hitting the net or missing open court shots. It was a contrast from the performance against Gineprick, then again he was playing someone better than that.

Hajek must be kicking himself after Youzhny withdrew in his 3rd round match against Kubot with a wrist problem.

Koubek vs. Dodig

The match between the two qualifiers, one the experienced Koubek and the other Dodig who is limited as a player but does fight hard. The first set was hard fought and once Koubek took that, then Dodig run out of steam mentally wasn't moving his feet much, missing easy shots and Koubek just worked him over and ran away with the match easily.

Montañes vs. Robert

Got there at the end of the 2nd set and somehow Robert was up 2 sets to 0. From what I saw of Robert it wasn't too impressive and didn't have a doubt that Montañes would win this match. Fat Albert started serving better, using the angles to stretch Robert out wide and then worked him over with his forehand. Once he took the 3rd set then there was only one winner as Fat Albert worked Robert into the ground who was going for big winners to compensate for his lack of conditioning. This was working now and then, but Montañes was fitter and better once he got the short balls he dispatched them off either side.

He has improved quite a lot as I remember when he first came on tour he had a poor backhand, but now his backhand is solid and can hit some winners off that side on the right ball and it shows that he has won some tour titles now. Got to acknowledge when players have improved their game irrespective of your feelings towards them.

3rd Round:

Isner vs. Monfils

Monfils started off in some stoned daze and had no clue what was going on with the big tree Isner playing very confident and competent tennis ran through the set 6-1 with a mixture of massive serves, big forehands and some good touch at the net. He moves better than Karlovic and has a better forehand than the taller Croat.

After the slow start Monfils wakes up and starts playing a bit better taking his break chance in the 2nd. Monfils breaks in the 3rd set and is leading 4-1, then plays a stupid game full of errors which gives Isner the break back. From there Isner recovers from the lapse and is back to the form which he started the match with and playing full of confidence even hitting backhand winners now. Gets it to the 3rd set tiebreaker and takes it. There weren't many opportunites on serve for either guy in the 4th set, but the big Isner who loves the tiebreaks, played another excellent breaker and got the W.

Monfils got passive as well as being lazy and got punished for it.

Cilic vs. Wawrinka

This match was awful considering the ability of both guys. Cilic thought he was playing Tomic in the first set and it showed. Wawrinka just slightly better hence he took the 1st set, but after that Cilic progressed from crap to tepid and Wawrinka was just hitting balls for the sake of hitting balls, there was no thought process as to where the ball should be positioned on court for him to take advantage of his backhand down the line especially.

It got to the point that halfway through the match, a group of us guys in between points were focusing on this girl in the crowd who was around early 20s in glasses in a shortish skirt. She had good legs and let the whole male population know she was wearing a g-string not that it was a bad view at all. She was there for around a set and a half, but probably watched 1 or 2 points in total.

Cilic was trying to work some angles and Wawrinka was working the back fence, it was a poor showing from Stani. Thankfully the match ended in 4 sets, it was not quite as bad as a WTA match, but these guys can produce so much better over 110 unforced errors and almost half the winners in totals and it's not like these two are crafty players who try and force the errors from their opponent say like Nalbandian for example.

Davydenko vs. Monaco

It was very windy for this match and Monaco couldn't hit an elephants arse with a banjo in the first set, let alone find the court. Davydenko got into the rhythm of the match very quickly and was working Monaco around the court with ruthless precision. This result was not in doubt, just a difference in class levels. Davydenko's timing was first class in these conditions and Monaco was struggling with the conditions and the machine like qualities of Davydenko.

Almagro vs. Falla

Finally an easier match for Almagro against Falla who had vocal Colombian support, but Almagro kept them quiet with good all play and Falla looked like he was happy to make the 3rd round and didn't play aggressively at all. He gave the initative away and Almagro was quite happy with and took advantage of that. Unlike the ridiculous shit earlier on stupid Saturday it was actually quite easy to get a seat on the court for this match, but it was one way traffic all the way.

4th Round:

Tsonga vs. Almagro

Both of these guys are quite expressive and a good contrast of styles made for a fun and entertaining match. Before it started I thought Tsonga would have too many big guns and win it in 3 sets, but I was happy to be proven wrong in this one. Tsonga took the first 2 sets with the big serve and moving forward when he had the chance, unlike previous times Almagro didn't drop his head at all.

It was a pleasant surprise to see him fighting on and was able to hit some big forehands as well as his trademark backhand to get back into the match taking the 3rd set and he took the 4th set tiebreaker. The comeback possibility was there, that he could ride the momentum and steamroll his way to a 3rd 5 set win in the tournament. His running forehand winner off a smash by Tsonga 6m behind the baseline won't be forgotten.

The dumb dropshot serving at *7-8 at the first point of the game put him behind the game and from there big Tsonga was able to break for the match. Disappointing for Almagro, but good to see him fighting so hard when it's not always the case for him and it was a very entertaining match which was worth watching.

That was pretty much the live tennis I saw, there was some other stuff as well, but I will address that next

Random Stuff

- Oscar Hernandez knows about his Facebook Appreciation Society, even though he is not on Facebook anymore.

- Pico Monaco and Horacio Zeballos are very cynical about the chances of Argentina in the World Cup. Monaco "we'll be lucky to get out of the group" and Zeballos "we can't do nothing with this guy as coach".

- Marcos Daniel was arguing with a heckler and there was no woman involved at all, it was totally made up and he got cleared. He played doubles with Koellerer and said never again with this guy. "It was too much, he started screaming after 1 game I can't get the ball in the court". "I tell him it's alright don't worry about it Federer".

- Rui Machado overrating Portugal's chances thinking they will make the semis of the tournament.

- Louk Sorensen really has no neck.

- Got to talk to Thomas Muster he looks and speaks like a surfie. The wine business is going quite well and no I didn't ask him about Horst Skoff.

- Found it ironic that Mantilla and Muster were sitting 2 seats apart at the Nadal/Murray match especially after what happened between them previously.

- Monaco and myself walking stopped to watch the LaLo and Roddick match. Then both witnessing LaLo hitting a topspin backhand winner and looking at each other, how the fuck did that happen.

Now onto the people who I'd like to thank for many different reasons some will read this and others won't. This is not in any order at all.

Peta, Kristen (she looks much better than Henin), Sammy (my right hand man), big James, the drivers, the people at the practice desk who gave me info so others could get to the sessions first and get their pics and shit done. The man known as Gago, big Lance for the scoring updates and the Koellerer match which was fucking hilarious. Niko K for helping me out and partying with, big Mike the Jamaican legend always fun to see him, Jimbo, Paul McNamee for putting up with my questions, this person known as Kellie and last of all the people who let me stay at their place for 2 weeks while this tennis show was happening, they were wonderful.

It's done for another year and we'll see what happens next time.


A. said...

So Jess is getting a sorry for Victor's loss and I get nothing about Rafito :ras:
You're breaking my heart :(
What's the story with Mantilla and Muster?
Serra is unbearable, every time I see him I wish I could slap his face, he looks even smugger than Federer, I wonder why...

GlennMirnyi said...

Watching Almugro almost beat Tsonga must have been a sight to behold...

Great write-up man.

Anonymous said...

Great Article looking forward too seing you in 2011 on your world tour. James

Krystle Lee said...

Thanks for the report. It's especially good considering it's been a while since that first week of tennis, it's still very detailed. Good selection of matches you've chosen to cover, which included a lot of the ones that I was curious about such as Berdych vs Korolev and Cilic vs Wawrinka since I considered potentially watching those at one stage.

I'm surprised that they ended up having plenty of spare seats for the Almagro vs Falla match. I just left early assuming that it would be full. I guess everyone else was thinking the same thing?

billhaven said...

good read man.


rocketassist said...

Love the way Pico laughed at LaLo's backhand winner.

Great stuff.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all your work and the reports.

Choupi said...

Thanks again for being our special reporter at the AO. Always enjoyable reports to read through. Glad you're still having a blast down there. The return to the "real world" is always hard after live tennis. So good luck!!

sue said...

Sorry this is late but I have been a wee bit too busy for my liking! Great write up! Glad you had a good time and got to meet up with lots of folks. Thanks for the Almagro write up as well. Always liked watching him play even if I don't like his antics sometime;)

Martine said...

Thanks a lot for the reports!
Great read as always and like this I can still enjoy the AO even though I missed most of it :-)

Loved the random stuff too!

Good you had a great time there!


Marc said...

Fantastic and detailed write up. Yes, the comment is a bit late but loved reading about these matches in detail.

The random moments were funny as well, especially Zeballos's comment about Argentina in the football World Cup.

Joel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joel said...

Thanks as always for the expertise. :P

I don't know if I am more excited that King knows about his Facebook society or sad he blew out of Facebook. :(