Apologies for this late entry, was going to do it last night but the fact my brain was fried more than usual is enough of a reason to delay the writing of this.
Raonic - Gimeno Traver
Tough draw for Gimeno Traver, especially in the hot and dry conditions with the balls flying around. DGT was up a break twice i, this is one thing especially when playing a huge server that it's imperative to look after your own serve and take the break chances when they come along.
Unfortunately for DGT he wasn't able to confirm the break of serve, which is the oldest truism in the sport. It's not a break unless you hold serve. One thing at the ground level the Gimeno Traver forehand is a weapon and the sound off the racquet, it's something I wouldn't mind owning however the fact he has a Carlos Moya backhand offsets this. He hit some good passing shots but on one it bounced twice before it hit the net.
Raonic while not at his best in the conditions once he took the first set was not going to lose this match. It's commonplace once a player loses a tough set, that they drop their first service game of the next set and if the lower ranked guy has won the first set same thing happens.
Berdych and big Kevin Anderson are outstanding movers for guys of their size it's something Raonic will always struggle with. At times it looks like once he hits the ball that he isn't following it off the opponent, more like reacting to their shot and can get caught out. Naturally he'll never be an Usain Bolt, while he has the advantage of the huge serve like anything it has drawbacks.
At the end of the match there was an awful rendition of "O Canada" the anthem, it really sounded like moose were being castrated.
Robert - Bedene
Some journalist was allegedly saying Kohlschreiber had withdrawn hours before the match which was eventually proven to be true. If this was the case since the Lucky Loser sign in was closed and it would have been replaced as soon as it was available, this was definitely not the case as the man Stephane Robert was dressed in his regular clothes at 10.45 not the regular happening for a match starting at 11am.
Once the fans got to the court, then it was announced that Robert was the Lucky Loser. There was a delay in starting the match naturally but this day turned out it to be Robert's lucky day for sure. Robert lost in the last qualifying round to Michi Berrer who won as well.
He had the perfect opponent in Aljaž Bedene who is underdone and still coming back from wrist problems in very hot conditions. Bedene was a very good draw for anyone in this event maybe not as good as Volandri or Soeda Go. Robert took some time to settle into the match and especially in these conditions the first set was vital. Bedene wasn't hitting as freely as he can and Robert was being more aggressive especially with his backhand down the line and once he took the tiebreak, then the match was comfortable for him.
Bedene in the last set was struggling with the conditions and a lack of conditioning, whereas Robert was full of confidence swinging freely and took advantage of his luck. Now, he plays Przysiężny next.
Kavčič - Štěpánek
Of course the match of day well from my own biased perspective was between the sexiest man in tennis Radek Štěpánek and Blaž Kavčič. It's always tough to play against Štěpánek he didn't get to have so many women and still hold a good ranking in singles at his age with that forehand without some brains and tricks.
Kavčič dropped his opening service game and was a bit off his game in the beginning. In those brutal conditions it's not necessarily about who has the best tennis, more so who is prepared to do what it takes and how willing they are to stay out there to win.
Kavčič gets back on serve and then the crafty Štěpánek calls for an injury timeout at 5-5 *30-40 to get a neck massage. The umpire should have made him wait until the change of ends to do so, but there is nothing in rules to say he can't call for the trainer at that time. It was a deliberate move to stall momentum and throw Kavčič out of his rhythm, something Steps is known for pulling along with his variety, sneak moves to the net and backhand down the line make it an interesting challenge to play Thunder Lips.
After the delay Kavčič breaks serve but is unable to serve out the set. Kavčič gets very frustrated as Štěpánek takes the tiebreaker and seems to be moving without too many problems at this moment. Štěpánek's tactics worked initially as Kavčič was still upset with the manipulation of the rules for about 30 minutes as Štěpánek gets a double break. Kavčič gets one of the breaks back, but still loses the 2nd set but momentum has shifted as Kavčič gets an early break in the 3rd and starts playing the game on his terms hitting his forehand better with more pace and depth, still too many backhands down the line on the passing shot as Steps has been sweating on these.
Once Kavčič took the 3rd set, his superior conditioning and fitness was starting to tell as Štěpánek wasn't moving to anything 1m or 2m away from him. Even then Kavčič had to be focused on the possibility of Steps saving energy for the 5th. Still have to play an opponent who is ailing like there is nowt wrong with them. In this case Štěpánek decides to pull the pin and Kavčič with a big smile on his face endured the brutal conditions and came through them.
Now he has a date with some Swiss person called Federer.
Baurista Agut - Smyczek
Only saw the last set of this match and the best way to describe this match was murderation. Bautigol made chorizo out of Smyczek who wasn't able to handle the good clean hitting from both sides from Bautista.
The timing was excellent from Bautigol if his shots weren't winners on the first strike then he was served up fodder from Smyczek which got dealt with absolute contempt. Bautigol has improved a lot and can see what a great thing confidence can do to a person or vice versa when they don't have any.
Too bad for all his good play that Bautigol is drawn to play the roboto Del Potro.
Brands - Simon
Daniel Brands 6 match points and failing to get this one done. The man should have sat in the ice bath getting drunk after this match. The last set was strange neither guy really wanted to win it, more like they played not to lose and Simon can do passive play better than most in the tennis world.
For a man who was on crutches allegedly out for 6 weeks according to Mr. Rothenburg that Simon wasn't moving that badly. If you're able to jump and hit a backhand smash then you don't have an issue with your leg. Simon was being passive and using the pace of Brands, whereas Brands was using that massive serve of his to dictate play.
This match was the classic where the lower ranked guy doesn't believe he can win and the more chances he fails to convert the more likely Simon was winning the match. Only on 1 of the match points that Brands went for it was a short second serve from Simon, he runs around his backhand hits a massive off forehand which clips the tape and goes the wide. There were 2 good serves from Simon and 3 very passive shots from Brands.
Naturally when Simon broke, he served it out and took his first match point. Tough loss for Brands but he was very gracious taking photos with people who asked and signed autographs after he lost. Hopefully Cilic who took out Granollers in 5, superior conditioning won for Cilic as well as Granollers was cramping bad in the 3rd and 4th will be able to eliminate the injured Simon.
A licky boom boom down.