Saturday, January 11, 2014

Welcome to the Jungle Grand Slam qualies

Yes, it's that time of the year when this rather infrequently updated blog sees more action than usual. Before Melbourne, I was at the early round of the Sydney tournament. There was the hoopla about the courts being a lot faster this year because of what happened in Brisbane. The jury is still out on that one.

This will read more like a summary of what happened during the qualies and will attempt to compose daily reports when the main tournament begins. Now all the qualifiers have been placed in the main draw, there are some potential upsets.

So Long We Hardly Knew You

Qualifying for a Grand Slam is one of the more difficult things to achieve in tennis, when you see the joy of a successful qualification, whether it’s the first time achieving it like Blaz Rola, Damir Dzumhur or Dominic Thiem to the veterans like the German weightlifter with the very soft voice known as Michi Berrer.

Dustin Brown

The ones we hardly knew this year were the number 1 seed Dustin Brown who still owns the coolest hair in tennis. He was outplayed by Dzumhur who returned very well and dominated from the ground. Urged on by the vocal Bosnian fans unlike many big wins, he followed it up by qualifying in style.

Amir Weintraub who had to defend second round points after qualifying fell in the 1st round to Herbert. It was one of those matches where he had plenty of chances but failed to convert. Got to say the single backhand of Weintraub is still impressive. He is the guy who plays at such a high level for Israel, but can’t do it consistently on the tour.

Diego Schwartzmann, he Argentine Oli Rochus with less feel around the net. He’d still be urined off losing his match to Zhang who made it through to main draw. 6-3 *5-3 leading and managed to lose 4 games in a row, had more than enough chances to break in the 3rd. It was the classic Schwartzmann lost it more than Zhang won, but it goes down in the book as a win which is all that counts.

Blaz Rola

This was “The Ayatollah of Rock n Rola” first attempt at qualifying in Melbourne and has a 100% success rate. Watched all of his matches, and in his case it was the best decision to go to the USA for university tennis at Ohio. When he finished school in Maribor, Rola wasn’t good enough to turn pro nor did he have the hitting partners or facilities at home to develop his game further.

Blaz Rola

Had a variety of opponents Alessio “Too Good” Di Mauro in an all leftie battle and “Too Good” was throwing in some moonballs, some angles and Rola found a way to get it done though it was far from impressive.

Next up for the “Ayatollah” was Rajeev Ram who was rocking the Rampras service motion even more than usual. It was a good challenge for Rola facing the low slice backhands and the net rushing from Rampras. Rola had a lapse but was able to pin Rampras on the baseline who moves as well as Sharapova on clay.

Today the “Ayatollah” played very well initially, using his big leftie serve moving it around well and the off forehand dominating Herbert who was irritated with how he was playing. Rola had another lapse which lead to Herbert jumping out to a 4-1 lead. This is something that the “Ayatollah” needs to get out of his game if he wants to progress into the top 100 for which is a reasonable and attainable goal.

Once Rola broke back, then Herbert started cracking it mentally, one of his racquets was destroyed, a ball hit out of the stadium and he gave the last break of serve away with two consecutive double faults. Rola served it out fairly comfortably and his matches were watched by Bedene and Kavcic though they weren’t there at the same time.

Dominic Thiem

Here is the latest product from Austria who has been rising up the rankings. It’s always better to watch players live than on a computer, but we can’t always get what we want.

The three matches with Thiem were very variable in relation to the way he played but he won, which is what counts. Rik de Voest served for the match in the 1st round, this was not a good impression from Thiem who was standing 5m behind the baseline and retreating on de Voest’s second serve giving up way too much ground to a player like de Voest. Thankfully the more credentialed player managed to get through.

Thiem was better against Bachinger, the second set was a bit of a tank but both players played fairly well. The Austrian kid seems to be the kind of player who plays better on the big occasion, today he knew he needed to step it up against the Poor Mans Jurgen Melzer otherwise known as Martin Klizan. Thiem was able to do this and now contesting his first Australian Open.

He is still very young needs to work hard on the speed endurance, going to take time to grow into this physique and find out what works for him, but with the right attitude can see him doing quite well.

Random Stuff

One of my friends when he saw Andre Ghem in qualies refused to believe he is Brazilian because of the light brown and red beard. I’m like in the south of Brazil there are German descendants down there you know like Giselle Bundchen, then he kept quiet.

Stephane Robert too bad he couldn’t get the Lucky Loser spot, though maybe he might with Simon doubtful. He is a top guy, quite an entertaining player in a strange way but the high risk game can backfire as well. Robert has come a long way in a year after the injury problems.

Wayne Odesnik is still a rat and it was strange he even had some people cheer for him, maybe they were clients in his pharmaceutical distribution business he had on the side.

Odesnik's former coach Felix Mantilla is still a man of the people and the backhand still looks good. He is working with pretty boy Pablo Andujar who has happens to be a Levante fan, yes they do exist.

"The Fog" Fognini the strut is still as awesome as ever watching him train. It's like Perlas is the father and he has this kid who has ADHD. It's interesting watching them work together.

Paul Capdeville still grunts like a constipated donkey and yes as annoying as before, though he didn’t grunt on a slice backhand that is something that takes some special talent.

Rhyne Williams is a bit a brat on court, never know he might be a good guy off the court, then again he might not be.

Very happy for Jimmy Wang qualifying for main draw, as he is a player with some flair and had some bad injuries as well. Well the Taiwanese fans will have fun that he is playing Lu in the first round.

Milos Raonic doesn’t have a good first touch when it comes to tennis football. He was playing Monfils against the coaches, all the others were pretty good but Milos needs a bit of work. The best one of the foot tennis was when it was Luis Horna & Pico Monaco against Robredo & Clavet. Horna good touch puts the ball for Monaco to volley straight into Robredo’s nuts.

Oscar Hernandez Farewell Tour

When the King’s name was on the Entry List I thought it was a joke, but he turned up and played for fun. The result wasn’t important, it was just good to see Oscar coming back and having a go after the back surgery that went so wrong.

Oscar’s got the wife, kid and is working with his old coach Marcos Roy with some coaching of juniors. He was delighted with the support, had plenty of friends in the crowd. His friend who he flew out with got upgraded to business class, while the King was travelling with his subjects in economy class.

As we know the King doesn’t sleep on an air mattress so his mate had to put up with that. Apart from the weather, can say the qualies was fun before the cattle come in on Monday.

Tomorrow will do a report on the main draw.


Michelle said...

Nice summary, Nils. Always enjoy your insight! Hope next week's weather isn't as miserable as predicted, keep cool.

Choupi said...

Your reports are always a delight to read. I love the way the put things and thanks for making me laugh at some jokes, like the constipated donkey grunting stuff.

Glad to read that Felix is now with Pablo, was ignoring about that. I'd love to meet that pair. I'm still so impressed by Pablo's perfect French...Ok, I'm digressing, sorry.

Thanks again for your reports. Keep on having fun down there and I hope the weather will be nicer next week.

Denys said...

Excellent summary there with a good amount of analysis and humour which is never a bad thing.

Mantilla and Hernandez sightings, all it needs some Kent Carlsson or Horna then Nils would be even happier.

Sam said...
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Sammy said...
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Nath said...

That's lovely, looking forward to the Pablo vs Jersey match report ;)