Monday, January 15, 2018
Day 1 : The Mailman delivers Coric to the dead letter office and other assortments
Well this was a very long day in equal parts rewarding and frustrating. Since this blog believes in the power of positivity and never branches out into the tree of cynicism, the frustrating parts will be dealt with.
Thankfully the weather today was mild which was good to watch tennis, however the issues with that are the crowds were very large and disorganised to a fault. The tickets I bought one for Sammy, yes, he is a legend and a veteran of Australian tennis who knows more about the game than I do. He also helps with reports and all round good bloke, went to pick his ticket up and there was a huge line of people to get in. I do this and then go to Will Call to pick mine up, previously they had a separate section for people to pick up Will Call tickets in a system that worked well, so obviously it had to be changed to include it in addition to cloaking and accreditation. In a huge surprise to maybe zero people the first day of a Slam it might be busy. I was there before the start of play and by the time my ticket was received almost 90 minutes had passed. Then again the tournament is making so much money, but offering less services and the prices for ground passes now are very steep to the point where they are almost pricing out the people they should be wanting to attract.
Now onto the tennis side of the things, there were some very interesting court selections maybe it was close their eyes and throw darts. The matches at the start were of course on opposite sides of the complex so in a huge surprise this where I started today
Cuevas vs. Youzhny
Thanks to Sammy for the first set was this one I missed due to the farcical situation aforementioned. Cuevas was solid had a break and played a sloppy game to give it back. Youzhny who was playing his first match of the year showed some good signs and managed to get 2 set points, which were saved by some excellent play from Cuevas and the other a forehand error from Youzhny.
Once Cuevas took the first set, he was fairly comfortable and there didn’t feel like there was any danger that he would lose enough momentum for the match to turn around in Youzhny’s favour. From the baseline Cuevas was good, when he is hitting the off forehand well that’s a good sign for the Uruguayan cause the backhand is a one of my favourite shots. Youzhny looked underdone and while he was hitting some excellent backhands himself, the forehand was breaking down which Cuevas took advantage of to roll through the second set.
It was more of the same in the 3rd set Cuevas had a break, played a sloppy game to get broken back. There was a passing shower which gave time for Cuevas to change shirts, collect his thoughts and refocus. Cuevas was able to break serve after the resumption and served the match out to get a rare win in Melbourne. It’s good for the game when Cuevas is winning matches.
Seppi vs. Moutet
Made my way to the other side of the complex where this match was being played. Moutet is a very flashy French player with a massive forehand, a lot of attitude, seems like some anger issues on court, also a love of slice forehands and dropshots. With this mix and slow start Sappi mode, the young Frenchman took the first set.
Seppi is the consummate professional, a tough player to beat, competes hard but fair and kept a level head, started to get used to the conditions as he only arrived yesterday after is a good gauge for the youngsters to see where their game is at. Seppi winning the Canberra Challenger which is good as it gave him matches, he needs the kilometres in the legs to be at his best.
As Seppi adjusted then he was able to make enough balls and work Moutet over, definitely not the best day for the Seppi forehand which he made a few errors but it was enough as Moutet start cramping in the 4th set. Thankfully Seppi used his experience and not fall for the antics and efficiently put away the talented but raw Frenchman.
Sela vs. Harrison
Tennis is not a nice sport at times, then again we can’t always have what we want in life. This match was going on simultaneously with the Seppi match but for some reason it was on a smaller court. Part of the Australian Open tradition on the outside courts is to watch Dudi “The Hebrew Hammer” Sela going through long matches with the boisterous but fair Israeli fans, it’s not an Aus Open without doing this at least once.
Sammy was here for most of it, but the organisers putting this on a small court wasn’t the best idea and the place was packed. Sela started slowly and lost the 1st set, then he got his act together, started making less errors and moving the ball around taking advantage of Harrison’s movement. Buoyed on by the Israeli fans Sela starts taking control, had a wobble serving for the 3rd set but thankfully had a double break so it wasn’t so costly.
Sela continues on his way plays a great game to break with plenty of variety, steps up to serve for the match and fails to do so, which lead to Harrison going on a streak of 4 games to take the 4th set when he really should have been finished off. That’s the main thing his new coach Michael Russell brings to the table besides improved fitness is to install that you must compete hard.
In the 5th set Sela wasn’t playing well enough to challenge Harrison and the brattish American took it in 5. Not a surprise after the match Harrison said to the support crew “fuck them off” about the Israeli fans as they say leopards don’t change spots.
Lorenzi vs. Dzumhur
Crossed back to the far side for this intriguing match. Dzumhur was just bitching the whole time about everything, the way he was playing, the situation, the meaning of life even after points he won.
Lorenzi took the first 2 sets, grinding away and not missing anything at all pissing Dzumhur off in the process. The match was mostly extended rallies with Lorenzi using his forehand to grind the Bosnian down who despite his very grumpy demeanour kept hanging in and the Bosnian support was loud which we fed off to take the 3rd set.
There was definitely some needle out there which isn’t always a bad thing. Lorenzi called for the physio to wrap up the thigh, maybe it was a strategic break as it didn’t seem to impede Lorenzi’s movement. Dzumhur while still acting like the world was against him, manages to make less errors and Lorenzi’s shots are getting shorter to level at 2 sets all.
In the 5th it was going along without too much drama except for some chatter, then the poor call at 30 all on Lorenzi’s serve where he got broken. The ball was clearly long even the biased Bosnians knew it and not Carlos Bernades best work that should have been overruled as this wasn’t even close.
Dzumhur closes out the match and completes the comeback. For the most part the Bosnian fans were fine but there was one point where they were mocking Lorenzi’s grunt after he hit the ball. It was a reasonable impression but thankfully it stopped after one point.
Millman vs. Coric
What a performance from the Mailman, he continued where he left off against Dimitrov in Brisbane. Was able there in the 2nd set this on paper was a tough but winnable match against the much hyped Coric.
Encouraged by a boisterous crowd no thanks to the four drunks near me who tried to be funny but they had a 1 from 20 success rate. Millman was playing some tough tennis hitting the ball very deep, the backhand was very safe and the forehand definitely had some more heat using that push Coric around the court.
As the Mailman took the 2nd set and got an early break in the 3rd. Young Coric wasn’t too keen on the battle and Millman grew in confidence being more aggressive with the forehand but within himself to easily crush Coric in the 3rd.
Millman was fantastic after the match he signed for everyone which was around 25 minutes then after the match. He chatted with everyone that wanted to speak with him, a Japanese fan who travelled from Kyoto, a Spanish lass who is a massive fan. Then there is the dad Ron Millman who is one of the great characters around and you can see he and his wife did a great job of raising John and his four sisters/
Outstanding performance and big opportunity for another 3rd round showing here at the Aus Open.
Sousa vs. Brown
A contrast in styles then most opponents are in comparison to Brown. The court was packed for this match, they know Brown is an entertainer and he brings in the people. Sousa was surprisingly calm by his standards only bitching every third or fourth point.
Sousa took the first two sets over the flashy Brown who still had the self belief that he could still come back. Brown started playing a lot better and Sousa’s level dropped a bit with the combination of huge serves and forehands took the third set.
Continuing on from previous set Brown was playing very well and got a break. In the latter part of the 4th set is where things began to change. Brown was up 40-30 on serve and charges to net. Sousa hits an excellent lob which wasn’t going at a fast pace which lands long and hasn’t been called. The umpire fails to overrule and Dreddy is far from impressed giving it to him, this game Sousa breaks back.
Not long after the non overrule, the umpire decided to overrule on the tramline and Brown is getting even more urined off that he has been already saying along the lines “you haven’t overruled all match, then you do on that one when it was not clear”.
While Brown takes the 4th set, he drops serve early in the 5th set and the pattern continues as Sousa is solid off both sides just making him play one more ball which leads to Brown making errors and Sousa with excellent forehands and passing shots takes the 5th set comfortably.
Sousa and Brown know it was a hard fought match and share a warm handshake, whereas Dreddy gave the umpire a refusal. It definitely wasn’t the best night for the umpire.
Diego Schwartzman the best little big man around and Boca Juniors fanatic finally manages to serve out the match against Lajovic 11-9 in the 5th set after the third time of asking. Maybe this will be the match to kick start the 2018 season after losing first round of the first two tournaments.
Casper Ruud, creating more history he was the first Norwegian since Jan Frode Andersen to win a match at Grand Slam level, qualified for his first Grand Slam. It was memorable one because it was 11-9 as well and two because this was the venue where his father Christian Ruud had his best ever run at Slam level.
Malek Jaziri came back from 2 sets down to beat Caruso. Jaziri has been struggling but he found a way and yes this person was out there watching the final set.
So the day started out poorly, ended fairly well and best of all the 5 set matches on the outside courts in the first few days are the place to be. Don’t take some journalists who seriously thinks Slams should be best of 3, no matter if they write for a so called respected paper.
Posted by Sigurd Sigurdsson at 4:42 pm