Thursday, January 21, 2016

Day 4 : The Mailman delivers the goods

It has been a long and rewarding day so if these reports make less sense than usual, then that’s the reason. Today there were 5 matches today that I was interested in. Managed to see 4 of them and it ended up 4-1 which was fantastic.

Sousa vs. Giraldo

This was the most difficult match out of the 5 as the feisty Joao Sousa lined up against the likable big hitting Colombian Santi Giraldo. Sousa started off solidly and in a strange twist didn’t complain much at all. Normally Sousa is very grumpy on court questioning every little thing.

Giraldo, while he has some big shotmaking skills he has a few clear weaknesses which have prevented him progressing and stabilising within the top 30. These were highlighted today, Santi doesn’t defend well at all, when he is out of position he goes for the spectacular winner. In contrast Sousa is an excellent mover and knows how to defend. Sure it’s great to have big weapons but it counts for nowt if you can’t defend when needed.


Sousa had nine break chances and managed to convert one which was enough to take the 1st set. Giraldo served well on those break points but eventually couldn’t hold out any longer. The second set was more of the same, the highlights were made by Giraldo but Sousa was just more solid went it counted.

In the 3ed set Geraldo played better made less errors whereas Sousa had a letdown. Once Sousa got his concentration back it ended up a comfortable win for the pork and cheese.

Robert vs. Ram

What to say about a match that should have been won easily and then ends up in a 5 set battle. That’s the fun with animated Frenchman Robert, he makes shots that no one has tried and misses the easy ones.

It was all so comfortable with Robert leading a set and served for the 2nd set. Once he dropped this gave Ram an opportunity to regroup which he did successfully taking the 2nd set. From there on Ram served better and was on a hot hitting streak especially on the forehand. Rampras continues to hold serve and is dictating in the rallies protecting his lack of speed around the court. Robert plays a poor game to lose the 3rd set.

A group of young kids sit behind Robert’s chair and Stephane talks to them trying to get them to cheer for him. The 4th set was a mix of Robert feeling good, Rampras hitting big forehands, using his slice backhand. Robert was defending his service games well amongst Rampras teeing off and gets the 4th set.

Momentum was with Robert at the start of the 5th, he breaks early with some clean hitting down the line, passing shots off the back foot. After he broke serve, he has forgot the golden rule of tennis. It’s not a break of serve unless it has been confirmed. Robert missed too many first serves and Ram was able to get the effective first strike in.

As the set develops Robert has to fight a lot in his service games but manages to hold whereas Rampras was holding with more ease in spite of Robert getting more returns into play.

In the 12th game Robert manages to hit some good returns and he’s feeling the love this is when he plays his best tennis. When there is nothing to think about, a big stage and this was his time to strike. On the second match point he hits the winning shot and lets out a great roar to the delight of the majority of fans who were cheering the Frenchman.

Millman vs. Muller

This one turned out to be a journey and thankfully it was a happy ending which doesn’t happen very often.

The match started in bright sunshine and the quicker courts were advantageous to Muller on who was dialled in on the serve. Millman played one poor service game in the 1st set and Muller made him pay by breaking him and taking the set.

Muller has an early break in the 2nd set and the same pattern is continuing. The Luxembourger serving well, Millman not getting into the match until a game where Muller was 40-0 up and Millman makes a couple of returns putting Muller under pressure where he cracks and is broken back. Millman gets momentum and breaks him again levelling at 1 set all.

This was an unusual crowd for a match involving an Australian. It helped that Tomic and Hewitt were playing at the same time. So there were no Fanatics or the other boorish types who think they are funny when in reality they are as funny as shaving your bikini line with a blunt razor. This crowd were having fun and giving the Mailman great support.

Millman continues where he left off at the end of the 2nd set as the conditions start to change with the lights starting to take effect making it slower and heavier which favoured the Mailman. He runs through the 3rd set easily, returning well and playing in the court dominating the baseline rallies.

As the 4th set progresses Muller is starting to get more aggressive as he realises he is being pushed around and during this time his groundstrokes are holding up. Millman is playing more defensively as Muller gets the break then serves it out to take it to a decider.

Millman’s temperament and body language have been excellent in the match especially from the first break he got in the 2nd set. He hasn’t won a 5 setter before losing to Ito on this same court and Baghdatis in Melbourne. There is a first time for everything.

The Mailman starts the set out in a positive manner and is in an excellent returning groove off the high quality Muller serve. He gets an early break but can’t consolidate as it gets back on serve straight away.

It’s tough playing a big server in many ways the best thing is to take care of your own service games and if there is a small window then take the chance when it comes along. Hitting with Wayne Arthurs who could hit 100 serves off the same toss was very helpful to Millman in preparing for this match.

Muller staying in the match with his serving and the forehand is the one that crumbles under pressure. Millman is stepping into the court getting the balance right between attack and defence. The crowd are loving it and spurring him on. There was the chant “I believe, I believe, I believe he will win” and the Mailman delivered a great victory in the end.

This was a great win under the circumstances, coming back from extended layoffs with injuries, unsure about his future in the game. He was never the prodigy, didn’t have the agents fighting to sign him. So him making the 3rd round here is a great achievement.

Millman is very popular among his peers and yes I’ll admit to personal bias in this case. In a sport where there are a lack of natural characters, yes I mean media trained to point of sucking out anything that resembles their true personality. Millman is refreshing in that he is honest, well spoken and definitely does things his way which is great.

Other stuff

Dudi Sela aka Hebrew Hammer is a great story. He never had too much money and he lifts for Davis Cup ties plus the Slams. He was lucky that Verdasco took out Nadal since the Nadal forehand would break down Sela’s backhand like he did last time.

Dudi Sela

Verdasco had a letdown after his big moment but Verdasco has plenty of parties to go to and plenty of women to meet. Dudi or maybe that’s Daddy Sela since he has two children now. If he can he’ll only travel 3 weeks at a time, so he can spend more time at home. Huge chance for a 4th round spot against Kuznetsov.

Lukas Rosol that was an impressive straight sets win over Jack Sock. So far Rosol has played 6 close sets either 7-6 or 7-5 and won four of them. The big Czech is looking to rebuild this year and a solid start so far.

Today was long and rewarding, but it was worth it as to witness John Millman making the 3rd round of a Slam. This is an individual who’d be easily top 3 when it comes to quality people on the tennis tour. I’m always happy to see good people doing well and maximising their potential.


Anonymous said...

Great stuff! Santiago from MdQ.

Denys said...

Wonderful description of what was obviously a special moment. Look forward to the rest of the entries.