Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Burnie Challenger Round 1 : Everybody Wang Chung Tonight

It’s already February and it’s the last event that I’m travelling to for the year, hope this will change in the future, but enough of that.

This comes from the throbbing metropolis known as Burnie located on the northwest coast of Tasmania. Too bad they don’t play the Fed Cup tie on King Island and move the men’s challenger to Hobart that would be a lot better for the fans, though it’s a good thing that I am not in charge of the tour.

The event has had a mix of everything weather wise. At the moment it’s raining and there could be some double duty days. Day 1 there was only one singles match completed, Tuesday got the first round completed in singles. The doubles are behind schedule, but that always takes a lesser precedence than singles.

Round 1

Lindner vs. Minar

Only got to see the last set of this match, as I arrived from a horrible bus ride in the afternoon. Lindner who is the son of Bob Lindner, a former Queensland and Australian rugby league player. He qualified for main draw, in most fields qualifiers have an advantage as they are used to the conditions.

Minar was playing in this very sexy hot pink number. There were fences so I couldn’t take pictures of this funky shirt. He came from Singapore and not exactly sure when he arrived, but he looked like he was drunk and not caring too much.

Lindner who is a tall guy with a good lefty serve was able to use this well and not too make too many mistakes from the ground. Minar was making quite a few errors and couldn’t make much headway into the Lindner serve, who took the match and his biggest scalp on tour.

Tuesday had everything weather wise. It started off boiling hot, then it got cloudy, very windy that the fence on centre court almost fell down. So, play was suspended on centre court until they got some maintenance people to fix the fence. The wind in the afternoon was so hilarious, it was gale like and just hitting the ball in the centre of the court and hoping for the best.

Polansky vs. Lojda

Both guys haven’t been in great form for a while. So it was far from surprising that it was a close match. Polansky started the better, he was trying to play close to the baseline whereas Lojda who seems to have copied his strokes from Jürgen Melzer, is mostly defending.

Polansky was slightly the better player in the 1st set making more things happen, whereas Lojda seemed quite heavy legged and just reacting. The 2nd set is a bit different Lojda starts being more offensive and playing further in the court and is able to push Polansky around the court, hitting some big off forehands and then finishing off with angled cross court backhands. In the process Polansky is dropping short balls and getting punished.

Lojda, a former US Open junior champ hasn’t really kicked on in the seniors. He has an early break in the 3rd and looks like he is going to run away with the match, but Polansky keeps fighting and Lojda starts to make more mistakes. Polansky breaks back and then Lojda is playing from almost the back fence, just running and trying to be Franco Squillari with the big off forehands, but not having the required heat. Polansky takes advantage and breaks twice for the win.

Cipolla vs. Millman

Very tough match for Millman here, one because Cips is in solid form this year and has a unique and difficult game to play against, second Millman only arrived on the Monday night. He and Klein were stuck in Singapore for various reasons, unlike the rich guys on the tour, sometimes finances are a hard thing to manage.

Cipolla started very well, the slice backhand was hitting the targets and keeping very low. The outside courts play a lot quicker than centre court. Millman was struggling with timing and this was due a lot to Cipolla’s play as his rally ball naturally comes in a bit lower than usual, plus Millman feeling a bit shit. Cipolla is not the guy you want to play when you aren’t on your game.

The pattern continued Cipolla wasn’t making errors, hitting good length on his shots, the forehand was reliable and the slice almost as sexy as Guccione’s, but not much is that hot. Cipolla comfortably takes the 1st set 6-3.

Second set is very similar to the first, whereas Millman is extending the rallies and Cipolla is defending well. Unfortunately for Millman, he could hardly hit a winner, as Cipolla was running, running and making shots from everywhere, which lead to some great comments from Millman. After one very long rally, side to side, forwards and backwards. Millman comes to the net hits his only decent volley of the day and Cipolla rips a running forehand past him. He says “ how the hell did you lose to Benoit Paire in straight sets at the Aus Open”. Cipolla stands at net just smiles.

Some other comments there was a donkey overrule on the far side, not from a clear mistake either. Millman tells the umpire using a Adam Feeney line “You are a liar”. The umpire fires up and says to Johnny, you call me whatever, but don’t call me that. Then after an overrule on a call a blind person would see, he came out with “well done you have reached a personal best”.

Cipolla was just too solid all around in an excellent performance. Millman tried to move to the net, but was volleying poorly for the most part and couldn’t get into the court to force Cipolla to hit topspin backhands.

Bester vs. Matosevic

The conditions changed in this one from burning hot to cloudy and fucking windy. No it wasn’t just breezy, it was very windy. Matosevic said as a joke, they should stop cause it’s too windy and then the referee came out and stopped it and Marinko wasn’t enjoying it at all.

Bester was playing quite well at the start, hitting some good length and Marinko was sluggish initially. In the 2nd set Matosevic picked it up, able to his backhand to better effect and was able to take it 6-4.

In theory Matosevic should have been able to take the last set, but the ball was moving around so much and he was getting pissed off with the wind that he couldn’t hit his shots and mentally he was too pissed off. Bester played the conditions as well as he could and didn’t whine about them too much, in the process knocking off the top seed and plays Cipolla for a place in the quarter finals.

Guccione vs. Klein

Gooch was in a huge serving mode and not missing many and Klein was jetlagged, so this was a battle between former champs. Klein even had some crowd support, plus he provided some comedy moments in the match.

Klein played one poor service game and lost the 1st set. Gooch the Stud with the wind at his back was kicking the ball over Klein’s head at ease, so he had try and get some action at the other end. Klein had a mid court forehand and swings to hit it, but hits his leg and the ball bounces twice before it goes in the net.

Another Klein classic, as he was getting humbled with the serve out wide. He decides to charge the serve, no chip just charge and ran past the thing, as he knew he had no chance of returning it.

It goes to the tiebreaker, which is quite hard fought. Klein manages to get to set point, he plays it well has a chance for a backhand pass which he rips down the line. It’s halfway between the ground and the net on the backhand side of the Gooch, who then gets a racquet on it and hits a drop volley with underspin to save set point.

On the match point Klein hits a decent serve and the Gooch doesn’t quite catch it, hits the top of the tape and dies, therefore winning the match on a dead netcord. Klein is just shaking his head and then after the match as I was watching it with Millman, who precedes do a Klein impression when he went down with cramps and it’s right on the money. The crowd that were still there weren’t quite sure what was going on.

Zemlja vs. Ebden

This had the potential to be an excellent match, but Zemlja unlike Kavcic isn’t going on with the good form from Australia. Here he looked heavy legged, didn’t give a shit about the match, this doesn’t help at all when playing Ebden, a guy who has been solid for some time, who likes windy conditions and does well in Australia.

The match worked out pretty much as expected with Zemlja just hitting the ball, not thinking about what to do with it, most noticeable was that he didn’t move his feet much at all. Whereas Ebden was playing the percentages hitting down the middle, letting the wind do the work a lot of the time.

Rain delay came at the right time for Zemlja, so he hoped it had, but while he was striking the ball better after the break. He played one lazy game, had game point but couldn’t convert, saved break points a few times, it was not meant to be his day and now Ebden plays the “Golden Child” Tomic next round.

In other notes Erik Chovka who qualified is a really cool guy and took out a very jetlagged Rosol. Chovka is a Czech-Canadian leftie who lives in Montreal, so speaks Czech, French and English. Had to ask him the important question, which is the secret of a good poutine? The cheese has to squeak, once it does then you have a fresh, high quality poutine.

Big Sammy Groth couldn’t take out “Golden Child”, he served 20 aces but still not enough, too many holes from the ground. He was fairly quiet with the commentary, usually you get some good stuff from Groth when it’s not working for him.

Paolo Lorenzi who took out the junior finalist from Aus Open Saville, he was just happy to get through, lets say the standard of pasta at the club isn’t quite like what he is used to in Italy. Matosevic loves giving to Cipolla and Lorenzi saying that it’s al dente and even better than you’d get in Italy.

1 comment:

Chinaski said...

Great reports as ever