600 Countdown

Hello again! Remember when Daily Scores was the best tennis-related blog on the Interwebs? Hell, no? Well, maybe that’s because it never happened at all.
Anyways, I’m not baaaaaaaaack. Just not yet. As you might now, I’m a working man now, sun-to-sun, and all the hard work is turning my neck red and… no, just kidding. I answer e-mails.
Whatever.
I have this idea that, in order to succeed, you must do something different. Talking about daily tennis is not actually innovative, not the iPad of blogging or something. And I’m not sure I will get to watch as many matches as it takes to make insightful analysis.
So let’s just take it post-by-post. May not be the greatest thing in the whole wide world, but that’s what we have for today (well, that ought to be funnier in Portuguese). Still.
Today’s subject is one of my favorite, tennis-wise. Andrew S. Roddick. Rodman, Rodderino, Roddinator, A-Rod, Andrew Stephen, etc. The bald guy with a Mohawk. You know who I am talking about.
For those of you who already follow me – and I believe it’s the biggest part; I wasn’t followed much after the US Open – you might recall the #600Countdown and #20MillionWatch, two hashtags I implemented while Andy searched for his 600th career win and 20 mil in Prize Money. Well, he surpassed the second in Basel, if I remember well. And is 11 wins away from accomplishing the first.
This is the subject of this post. An stat of how many matches it took for Roddick to reach 11 YTD wins – and since 2001, he is finishing season well above 11 YTD wins. So here we go.

2001: 6 events (Davis Cup, Memphis, San Jose, Delray Beach, Miami, Atlanta). Andy started his 1st full year in the big leagues still playing some CH events, and that’s what caused him to reach his first 11 wins of the season only in the final week of April. The 11th win came against Stefan Koubek, in Atlanta semis. He would go on to claim his 1st ATP title that week. Record: 11-4.
2002: 4 events (Sydney, Australian Open, Davis Cup, Memphis). Already in the top-15, Roddick started 2012 losing to his all-time nemesis Roger Federer in Sydney semis. He would advance to the Australian Open 2nd round and claim two wins in the Davis tie v. Slovakia, entering Memphis with a 6-2. A three set win over Blake in the final in Tennessee would not only give him his 1st title of the season, but also his 11th win. Record: 11-2.
2003: 5 events (Sydney, Australian Open, Memphis, Delray Beach, Indian Wells). Maybe few people had Andy’s best year coming when 03 started. He lost in the second round of Sydney to Lee, but also made his first AO semifinal in the very next event, including that epic v. El Aynaoui. He’d lose to Schuettler in the next match; Roddick also fell in Memphis final to Dent and Delray first round, to Fish, which delayed his 11th win of the season. The “magic” number came in Indian Wells first round, against Thomas Enqvist. Andrew would lose – again – to his Australian Open nemesis in the QF, but we all know what happened in the rest of the year. Record: 11-4.
2004: 4 events (Doha, Australian Open, Davis Cup, San Jose). Starting the year topping the rankings, Roddick opted for a Middle East start instead of Oceania. He lost in the 2nd round of Doha, before playing his first and only Slam as the top-seed, where he would fall to Safin in the quarters. After claiming two wins for Team USA vs. Austria, Roddick entered San Jose bearing an 7-2 record. He didn’t lose a single set that week, claiming his first tournament of the year. The eleventh win came in the semifinals, vs. Kendrick. Record: 11-2.
2005: 3 events (Australian Open, San Jose). Shortest for 11 wins so far. Roddick reached his second career semifinal at the Australian Open, before losing to eventual runner-up Hewitt in four sets. He claimed his first title about three weeks later, in San Jose, against Saulnier. The #11 came only in his 13th match of the season: Memphis opener, against Hyung-Taik Lee. Straight sets win. Roddick would go on until withdrawing in the semis, giving Kenneth Carlson a final pass. Record: 11-1.
2006: 5 events (Australian Open, Davis Cup, San Jose, Memphis, Indian Wells). Roddick was off to a shaky start in the new season. Despite being ranked #3 in the world, he lost to eventual finalist Marcos Baghdatis in the fourth round of the Australian Open. He also fell to Pavel in his first DC match of the year, in five sets, followed by a semifinal run in San Jose (losing to then-#60 Andy Murray in the semis), QFs in Memphis (losing to Le Fantôme) and finally claiming the 11th in Indian Wells third round, beating Fernando Verdasco in straights. He would lose to Igor Andreev in the very next round. Record: 11-4.
2007: 4 events (Australian Open, Davis Cup, San Jose, Memphis). Having finished the year as the world #7, Roddick reached his third Australian Open semifinal in the last five season, losing to (who else?) Federer. He then helped his country with two wins in a tie v. Czech Republic, made it to the semis of San Jose again (losing to Murray another time), claiming the number eleven in the very next event, once again over a Swede: 6/2, 7/5 over Thomas Johansson. Record: 11-2.
2008: 5 events (Australian Open, Davis Cup, San Jose, Memphis, Dubai). After failing to Peppo Kohlschreiber in one of the most memorable matches (at least for me) I have heard about, Roddick beat Jojo Melzer in the only match he played that tie. Andy claimed his first title of the season in San Jose, adding five more wins to the count and another title for the shelf. A loss to Robin Soderling in Memphis quarterfinals and the eleventh only came in his opening match at Dubai – 6/2, 6/4 over Juan Carlos Ferrero, against whom he had won the US Open years earlier. Rodderino would later beat #14 Mathieu, Rafa, Djokovic and Lopez to take the title in the UAE. Record: 11-2.
2009: 3 events (Doha, Australian Open, San Jose). In 2009 – maybe his last great year at the tour to date – Roddick equaled his 2005 record in shortest for 11 wins. He reached that number after semifinals in Doha, Melbourne and San Jose. #11 was a second round triumph over Ernest Gulbis. He would later beat Haas, before being halted by eventual champ Stepanek in the semis. Record: 11-2.
2010: 3 events (Brisbane, Australian Open, San Jose). In 2010, Roddick kept his 2009 Wimbledon-runner up momentum into the early moments of the season, winning his first tournament of the year for the first time, beating Stepanek in the Brisbane final. Roddick then fell to Cilic at the Aussie Open, narrowing missing the full defense of his ’09 semifinal points. Starting the year 8-1, heading into San Jose, Andy reached his second final of the season in three tournaments played so far, claiming the 11th win in the quarterfinals, against Tomas Berdych – whom he would defeat weeks later for his last Masters title to date. Record: 11-1.
2011: 3 events (Brisbane, Australian Open, Memphis). Following a relatively disappointing season hampered by injuries – including mono – Roddick’s 2011 was off to a good start, reaching Brisbane final again, but losing to Soderling this time. For the first time ever in an odd year (he didn’t play in 2001) Roddick missed the semifinals of the first Slam of the year, losing to Wawrinka in a match that, personally, drove me crazy, surfacing his push-and-volley style that so much bothers me. Andy’s redemption – and one of his most remarkable runs of the year, along with the US Open – came in Memphis. He won his only title of the year beating ’10 US Open nemesis Tipsarevic, Del Potro (for the first time), old time rival Hewitt and an up-and-coming Raonic (finishing him off with that epic MP) in a row. Not bad. #11 came in Memphis semifinal, against the resurgent Juan Martin, then ranked #298. Record: 11-2.

Conclusions? If Roddick starts the year with a new momentum (we are all pretty sure about a new hairstyle), we can all expect him to get those damn 11 wins quickly. It depends a lot on his schedule – he will start in Melbourne for the first time since 2008 – but I’d put a buck on the 600th coming in one of the pre-Indian Wells USA events.

First times

WOW it’s been a while. I can’t even remember the last time I used this space to talk to you, but I’m sure it was during the US Open – the last tennis match I remember watching from beginning to end is Sam-Serena.

Quite a while. Lots happened since. Asian swing, started on a new job, and NFL. These three factors, plus the lack of Robin Söderling and convincing Andy Roddick runs kept me away from the sport that, from the first day of the Aussie Open and the second-to last of the US Open, is my favorite. I am not ashamed in assuming NFL is my all-time favorite sport. In fact, I’m warning you: I might use Daily Scores to post football-related articles. Be aware.

Just a clarification: This post is not meant to start a comeback. Hell, no. I don’t have much time. And there is not much tennis left out there this year. I am writing this just because this is a special occasion.

Tomorrow, for the first time ever, I will attend a tennis match.

I have already traveled the world… in front of my TV. But had never had the opportunity to watch two professional players battling for actual money and actual ranking points from the stands of a gymnasium before.

There aren’t many tennis events in Brasil, you know. Okay, we’ve got a Future in every week of the year, and there are quite a lot of challengers, and the Brasil Open. But hey: Only one or two of the challengers are in São Paulo – which happens to be the city I live in. And until this year, the Open was in Bahia. I recommend you to check on a Brasilian map. It’s not close. Not cheap either.

But good news: Koch Tavares and the ATP decided to adapt O2’s World Tour Finals, but with a much lower profile, left a wildcard available and brought it to my ‘hood, you know.

So well. I will try to get you as many pictures as I can – most of them taken from my cellphone. I will also try to write about the matches I watch – still don’t know if tomorrow’s OOP has been already unveiled. But I’m probably going to watch the last two matches of the day – likely to be both from the Green Group (Bellucci-Klizan, Beck-Reynolds).

I’m not sure what to expect. Have no idea how does it feel to watch a tennis match from somewhere else than the TV, or to sit down for hours (ok, more than one, less than two, probably). But I do expect it to be awesome – my first time on a tennis stadium, after all. Will keep you updated. For the old times.

See ya tomorrow, then. And Saturday and Sunday too, of course.

Porque enfim ele venceu a si mesmo.

 

Future de Neckarau, dia 07/05/2001. Nesse torneio, um menino tímido, de jogo estranho e certas dificuldades com o inglês começa a sua carreira profissional. Elimina o então 200 do mundo, Oliver Mutis, mas perde para o 406, Oliver Malcor. Saiu de lá com 300 dólares, um ponto no ranking e a promessa de que talvez um dia emplacasse. A partir daí começou aquela já conhecida caminhada de tenista(Destacando uma final de Future contra um tal de Rafael Nadal, na época o 238 do mundo). Em 2004, ele entra pela primeira vez na chave de um torneio nível ATP, no Australian Open. Venceu Richard Gasquet na primeira rodada e logo depois perdeu de forma humilhante para David Nalbandian. Mas para o bem ou para o mal, 2004 foi o ano que mudou sua vida.

Florian com 10 anos de idade.(Mayer com 10 anos de idade).

Depois de 2004, ele começou a fazer campanhas regulares em alguns torneios, como no Masters de Hamburgo(oitavas) e semis em Estoril(Perdendo pra Juan Ignacio Chela, que nunca mais o venceu). E então chegou Wimbledon, que seria apenas mais uma luta pra conseguir alguns pontos e, quem sabe, passar da primeira rodada. Aí que as coisas mudaram de figura. Depois de eliminar Wayne Arthurs, Guillermo Coria, Wayne Ferreira, Joachin Johansson e parar em Sebastien Grosjean, já nas quartas, Florian Mayer se tornou o novo fenômeno do tênis alemão.
E começou a pressão em cima do menino tímido de 20 anos, no sonho que ele se tornasse o novo Boris Becker. Logo os alemães viram que não era bem assim. Os resultados não estavam aparecendo e ele não repetia a façanha em nenhum GS e nem título ganhava. Em 2008, depois de sofrer muita pressão e de 3 finais perdidas(Sopot 2005 e 2006 e Munique em duplas), ele pifou de vez.
Florian Mayer sofre de uma doença chamada de Síndrome de Burnout, que é um distúrbio psíquico de caráter depressivo, precedido de esgotamento físico e mental intenso(palavas da Wikipedia) e que quase termina de vez com sua carreira. Suas palavras sobre o que sentia na época são: “Tudo aquilo me estressava, não me divertia mais jogando tênis. Decidi parar.”.
E ele parou, durante praticamente todo o ano de 2008, Florian apagou o tênis de sua vida. Fez tudo o que queria fazer e não tinha chance. Até que em 2009, ele decidiu voltar ao profissional, recomeçando do zero e provar a si mesmo que era um novo homem.
Voltou em 2009, com o ranking 409 e logo no primeiro Challenger que disputou(Noumea), fez final. Depois furou o qualy do Australian Open e perdeu na primeira rodada para Juan Martin Del Potro(campeão do US Open nesse mesmo ano). Neste ano, ele se limitou apenas a torneios nível CH, salvos alguns torneios na Alemanha e os GS. Em 2010, protagonizou uma virada épica no Australian Open contra o amigo, compatriota e curiosamente da mesma cidade(Bayreuth) Philipp Petzschner e novamente encarou Juan Martin Del Potro, dessa vez perto de se lesionar.
E ele continuou sua caminhada relativamente discreta até chegar no torneio de Hamburgo, quando venceu Juan Carlos Ferrero nas quartas, quebrando um tabu de alemães não chegarem nas semis do torneio. Perdeu pra um Goubev inspirado. Depois disso fez finais em Estocolmo(com direito a tietagem da Princesa Victoria). Até aquele momento, Florian se aproveitou da sombra de Philipp Kohlschreiber e Tommy Haas, que eram muito mais carismáticos e com mais apelo comercial.

Victoria toda alegrinha( partir de 4:45)

 

Em 2011, depois de 10 anos de carreira, começa a virada na sua vida. Florian começa a ganhar uma regularidade absurda em torneios e rapidamente chega ao posto de número 1 alemão(a decadência de Kohlschreiber ajuda bastante nesse fator, mas não é determinante). E mesmo com campanhas pífias em Grand Slams, ele chega a uma final, em Munique.
Ele tinha tudo pra vencer. Era seed, jogava em casa, estava em boa fase o adversário(Davydenko) estava em decadência. Mas ele mais uma vez sentiu a pressão e perdeu sua quarta final. Ainda assim, não se deixou abalar dessa vez  fazendo quartas em Roma e ganhou a Copa do Mundo das nações, vencendo todos os seus jogos de simples e finalmente entrando no top 20. Aí ele se desencontrou novamente, perdendo pra um adversário vencível em Roland Garros e Wimbledon, perdendo uma chance de ouro em Halle, amarelando na Davis quando sacava pra dar um ponto pra Alemanha e se deixando intimidar por Nicolas Almagro em Hamburgo. Alternou com algumas boas campanhas de duplas nos Masters da US Open Series.
Quando tudo parecia andar para o pior, ele consegue fazer terceira rodada no US Open(feito inédito na carreira) e decide jogar um torneio totalmente fora de época, Bucareste, onde seria seed 2.
O início foi desanimador. Apesar de ter vencido seu primeiro jogo, tomou um pneu do fraco Carlos Berlocq, enquanto o seed 1 , Juan Ignacio Chela voava no torneio. Depois venceu dois jogos com autoridade, cedendo apenas três games para Albert Ramos e tendo um otimo aproveitamento de primeiro serviço contra Volandri. Enquanto isso, Pablo Andujar, que o havia eliminado desse mesmo torneio no ano anterior, mandava Chela pra casa. Florian estava em mais uma final, a chance de ouro de provar que conseguia vencer um torneio.
O início do jogo mostrou grande nervosismo dos dois lados, mas Andujar estava conseguindo se sobressair, atacando mais e acertando. Conseguiu uma quebra e quando sacava em 3-1(40-15), veio a virada. De alguma forma surpreendente, Florian conseguiu colocar a cabeça no lugar, quebrou de volta e passou a dominar o jogo. Depois disso, Andujar fez apenas mais um game, no fim do segundo set. Estava acabado, depois de 10 anos de carreira e há duas semanas de completar 28 anos, Florian Mayer conquista seu primeiro título de simples e enterra um fantasma que o perseguia desde 2004.
Não é apenas um titulo, é a coroação de um ano maravilhoso na carreira e a prova de que ele conseguiu vencer seus fantasmas internos e que não sucumbe a pressão. Eu costumo dizer que é o fim de um ciclo e o começo de um novo, onde ele está mais confiante. Espero que agora ele possa conquistar coisas à altura de seu talento.

Match Point

 

E sim, ele ainda se enrola no inglês

 

Por Germana, tenista de sofá, fã do outrora glorioso tênis alemão, em especial do senhor Mayer e que ganhou esse espaço depois de floodar a  timeline do dono do blog haha.

Pete’s highlights: The US Open in fourteen facts

Should I have done this earlier? Yes, I should. But a mix of laziness + lack of time + lack of will to sit at the laptop to write delayed the process. Better late than never. Here, I present you, my final analysis of the US Open. A day-by-day commentary on all the action in Flushing Meadows.

 

This girl is gonna be a thing real soon.

Day 1 – The future is bright, my friends – If the first day of the US Open told us something (other than Kvitova’s consistency), it was that there are a bunch of young girls out there ready to make some noise. Americans Irina Falconi, Christina McHale and Madison Keys all survived the August, 29th, with wins over Zakopalova, Wozniak and Craybas, respectively; Heather Watson gave her best to Sharapova – and Maria barely survived; her countrygirl Laura Robson, who debuted at the main draw of a Slam, advanced to the round 2 after Ayumi Morita retired in the second set. Thing is, they may now be winning in the first Monday of Slams. Soon, it could be second.

 

Simona Halep celebrates: The last of the 2011 Slam champions fell to her hands

Day 2 – Meaning of ‘Open Field’ – As Simona Halep finished off with Li Na in two sets – 6/2, 7/5 – another thing was clear, after only two days into the Open: For the first time since 2008, WTA would crown four different Slam champions in the same season. With Kim out for the year-and-maybe-more and Petra Kvitova’s surprising-but-not-so-much loss to Dulgheru, Li Na was the only reining Slam champ alive in the draw. As she lost, 2011 Grand Slam winners left the US Open bearing an outstanding 0-2 record at the remaining Major. Good? Bad? I’m going for the first.

 

Waves after beating Dolonts; Let's just all hope this wasn't her last US Open win.

Day 3 – We are gonna miss Venus Williams – Whether you like the Sisters or not, you must admit they are true legends of the sport. Seven-time Slam champion Venus Williams, after getting through Vesna Dolonts in the first round, set the anticipated, big-serving meeting with Sabine Lisicki. A meeting which never happened – Venus was forced to withdraw due to an auto-immune disease that causes her retirements galore. At 31, and with health problems, Williams’ future as a tennis star doesn’t seem like a long road anymore. Which only shows how we are gonna miss her exotic dresses and big serves when she calls it a career.

 

Day 4 – Some people are stupid and should never be allowed to touch a computer – Seeded #29 and en route to an imminent third-round meeting with Wozniacki, Jarmila Gajdosova, or simply Jarka, had her run halted by doubles-specialist Vania King in the second round. Winning only two games – both in the first set – Jarka, who was born in Slovakia, said goodbye, to Flushing Meadows. And to Twitter. Thanks to some shitheads who offended her, Gajdosova announced she would no longer be part of the TwittFamily. The decision, however, was not permanent, and she is already back. What is, unfortunately, permanent is the prickness contained in some lost souls, who ramble around the Internets to harass players. Go get a life, morons. Or better. GFY.

 

Day 5 – Balance is maintained – Anyone who closely follows tennis could have called it: From the beginning, it was 100% certain Sharapova wouldn’t win the US Open. And I’m not saying that just because Serena was in the draw. No. Just because of this: Maria Sharapova has a 3-2 record in Slam finals, being 3-0 in even numbered years and 0-2 in odd ones. In the event that Masha had been the last woman to survive, I’m sure the balance that keeps the world as we know it would be disrupted, and we would be locked in a black hole that transgresses the limits of time and space. Truth or not, she lost to Flavia Pennetta in three sets, the first big win for the Italian in 2011. That automatically assured an “underdog” in the semifinals – since the other seed in this half, Kvitova, had already said goodbye.

 

Ashe's lights were too much for her and McHale; Soon it won't, anymore.

Day 6 – Easy, USA – First of all, let’s cut this “USA teniz iz dead!!!!!!11111!!!”. It is not, mainly on the ladies’ side. But still, let’s be patient, shall we? For the second consecutive day, the organizers put one of the up-and-coming players to play on Ashe, night session. Just like Christina McHale in the day prior, Sloane Stephens couldn’t show her best tennis, as she fell to (a reborn?) Ana Ivanovic in two sets. Can’t blame neither Sloane or Christina. They are still teens, with lots to learn. Better not expect anyone to sub in for the Williamses like, now. We all know what happened to Oudin. Giving time to time is the key.

 

This was from her McHale match, but really, I could not leave this pic out.

Day 7 – Ladies’ nite in Queen’s – Anyone who stayed for the night at the BJK complex and truly appreciate this sport can’t say they felt disappointed. On the Grandstand, Samantha Stosur and Maria Kirilenko played an instant classic – besides the longest WTA Slam tie-break, with Sam squandering eight match points and Kirilenko battling her way to a third set. In the end, the Aussie, as you can imagine, survived a clash that showed all the grit, fighting and skills that women’s tennis have, proving that strong is beautiful, yes, but beautiful beyond photoshopped athlete-models and Stella McCartney dresses.

 

Yeah.

Days 8 -  AWESOME. (While it lasts) (And it’s not a lot) – Wasn’t that hard to figure out I was talking about Svetlana Kuznetsova, right? The crafty Russian, who has two Slams to her name, showed once again her enormous potential in the match v. Caroline Wozniacki, in the fourth round. Sveta, alongside Schiavone and Stosur, has one of the most interesting and plastically pleasant styles in the whole WTA. However, Kuznetsova is like a time-bomb these days. She was hitting forehands with a good depth and volleying like awesome (though her overheads were simply ludicrous). She kept the level until the 7th game of the second set, if I’m wrong, when she squandered a break lead (she was holding her games with certain ease before) and everything went boom. Caro won 6/7, 7/5, 6/1, and not only sent Kuznetsova packing, but also “helped” sending Juan Monaco home in a quicker way.

 

Bored Pavs is bored. And cute.

Days 9 and 10 – Rain rain go away rain – The morning of the ninth day of the US Open saw rain. The morning, noon and night. Play was called off before anybody even thought about calling it on. The very next day saw another ‘wet problem’, as the discussion about a roof began to surface again. As a result, only 10 games were played (3 in Muller-Nadal, 3 in Young-Murray and 4 in Roddick-Ferrer) that day, that even saw the ladies’ coming out to warm up. Play was once again canceled, though. HOWEVER, thanks to rain we had this EPIC pic from Anastasia Pavlyuchencute.

 

Day 11 – WTA is not ready for Serena – As I’m used to say, you can’t blame someone for being too good. You can’t also force other people to love it. That’s more or less how I feel about Serena Williams (by the way, I know this topic would fit better in other days, but apparently the other days were already taken by better headlines). Thing is, as she made a typical-WTA first set, but picked up the pace and demolished Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the second, it was clear that that woman, who stayed almost a full year away from pro-tennis and was back into a Slam semifinal without dropping a set, is way above the others. You can’t really blame her. Her opponents? Maybe. But still, while she keeps hungry the way she is, only someone playing the match of a lifetime will be able to beat her. As for the others, expect beatdowns and sleepwalks through the late rounds.

 

Day 13* – There is nothing wrong with Caroline Wozniacki’s game – And this affirmative is justified by the last topic. Let’s say Caro suddenly changes from her comfort zone, morphing into a more aggressive – therefore more susceptible to errors, like, say, Cibulkova. I can already see people claiming her style is “dumb”, mere “ballbashing” and that “she doesn’t deserve to be #1”. Caro is what she is, guys. Can’t blame her for dating a golfer, can’t blame her for making whatever capitol sins she commits on Twitter. It’s not pushing – it’s defense-oriented tennis. (I think). It’s not pretty, but has assured her a lead by over than 3000 points on the #2 Maria Sharapova.

 

This pic is pretty lovely

Day 14 – Samantha Stosur is a FREAKING MONSTER – #1, she’s Australian and #2, she is a former doubles #1. These two factors combine into the fact Sam has the variation running through her veins. And she indeed does! Very few players can mix it up like Stosur these days – with an outstanding kick-serve, slices and volley. Sam is, however, also a paradox: her best results as a singles player came in the slow clay surfaces, like Charleston and Roland Garros. And even though she is already a grown woman (27) who’s not part of the “blonde” group of WTA players who sometimes drag more attention thanks to their looks rather than their tennis, she is also keen to having blackouts, walkabouts and then it’s done.

The former #4 did, however, leave all the downsides of her game in the closet when she left the hotel room that day. Samantha brought her A-game into the final and, counting with Serena’s inability to work with the first set, the Aussie literally ate her up with the 2nd serve forehand return winners to clinch her first Major title, 6/2, 6/3 scoreline. Quite good for her debut on the Arthur Ashe stadium, huh?

I would also like to leave my sincere wishes that this title triggers Stosur’s A-game more often. I know she has been in the top-5 and now she is a Slam winner, but with her skills, she should have way more than three singles titles. She should be a permanent contender for any and every WTA tournament held.

 

* – The day 12 of the US Open was used only to play the ATP semifinals.

Guts

It is truly a pity that in the other end of an amazing, almost unbelievable comeback/heart-warming history of overcoming there is always someone heartbroken, lonely packing his/her stuff, throwing the towel behind the neck and leaving, head-down, timid waive to the crowd and some tears in the eyes.

It happened today.

After the match point converted. This pic says a lot

Flavia Pennetta, straight out of a big win vs. Maria Sharapova and Peng Shuai played each other on the Louis Armstrong Arena, for a place in the US Open quarterfinals – Flavia had been there before, twice, but for Peng it would be a first.

Saying it was an instant classic won’t make justice to the match. O.K., I only watched it from the second set on, but still, it was a pretty boring tennis match. When it comes to tennis, however, the skills of the two players involved are never the only reason why a match is interesting. There is a very rare, almost unique, sauce out there, common in many sports, but only the professionals of tennis have mastered it to another level. For this rare spice, we call Drama.

And this we had galore today, mostly from the Italian part involved. From the very beginning of the second set, Flavia Pennetta started feeling ill under the blazing New York sun. From the middle of it, she was barely moving and sweating – a lot, like, really a lot, in an uncomfortable way even from viewers. But of course she wouldn’t let it go without a fight – after all, she was closer from the win than her Asian counterpart, since she had the first set already in her Adidas (I’m assuming it’s Adidas) bag.

So they played, with the constant threat of Flavia throwing up, the same way Peng was missing chances. Pennetta served for the set at 5/4, Shuai broke her, typical WTA thing. But the real deal was the tie-break.

Dry-heaving – and I’m not sure this is a verb, but what-ever – and with her movement heavily compromised, the Italian saw Peng open a 5-0 advantage, that became a 6-2 lead, with multiple set points for Peng – and who knows what would have happened to Pennetta in an eventual decider?

In the end, no decider was needed. I wish I had the video for the entire breaker, but unfortunately, I don’t. So the match point follows. It was Flavia’s fourth of the afternoon, and crowned one of the most emotional and dramatic comebacks I have seen in a while. Pure guts. In the end, you can’t just not feel bad for Peng and pumped for Pennetta.

But still, I believe it’s worth thanking Flavia – not just congratulating her for reaching the Open quarterfinals for the third time in the last four years – for sending us another reminder why we love this sport. Forza!

HERE A LINK FOR THE VIDEO, since I can’t incorporate it to WordPress.  Meh.

In the quarterfinals, Flavia Pennetta will play unseeded Angelique Kerber; whoever will prevail, will debut in a Grand Slam semifinal.

Featured match of the day – US Open day 7

I did it once, I did it twice. I’m doing it… is ‘thrice’ a valid word in English?

Featured match of the day, the famous cannot-miss, the one that will make sure your money invested is worth. Tomorrow, this match is the second on the Arthur Ashe stadium, after Nalbandián – old and fat – and Nadal – meh, no big deal, he’s let Djokovic inside his head and ever since declined – finish the supporting act.

FFF = Feel my French Fierceness

For the fifth time they will meet – and the local has the edge, 3-1. In the rankings, they are both situated way lower than they should and separated by 60 spots: the American is currently ranked #21 and Le French currently sits at #81, having just returned to the top-100 this week.

And why this clash is just so special? Well. ONE: They haven’t played each other since 2008, when Roddick mounted a comeback to beat Jules in the Round of 16 of Miami; TWO: Jules is en fuego, or as you would say in French. He qualified and reached the finals at the inaugural Winston-Salem open, but intentionally tanked the final, in order to let John Isner enjoy some glory at home. This week, the Wildcard Benneteau got rid of Almagro’s top-10 ass and Istomin to reach the third round – therefore adding forty-five more points to his. THREE: Andrew S. Roddick is, well, playing at home. And he is always entertaining – whereas he might be smashing racquets and/or arguing line calls for it. He might stall double-digit aces, and even so tickle his opponent with his backhand or groundstrokes in general hit from the first row of the stands.

A.S.R. looks at the draw: "Playing HIM, again?"

FOUR AND FINAL REASON WHY THIS IS THE BEST MATCH ONE COULD DREAM OF: They are both MYTHICAL players. I mean, WHICH tennis fan has never heard the fortunes that involve the glorious past of Andrew S. Roddick and Julien F. Benneteau? For those who are not familiar to Julesses (pronounce it as if there was an apostrophe there) glories, I link here a post I, as the president of the first Julien Benneteau Fan Club, wrote. Here, here, grasshoppers. Fulfill your curiosity. And Roddick, well, he is a living legend. I have also wrote a tribute for him – and many many other posts.

So, if you want to witness the ultimate clash – an early final for the last Grand Slam of the season, doubtless – between two contrasting styles: A.S.R.’s big serve-outpace-him style that is a trademark of the Open Era and J.F.B.’s all-around, baseline-hitting, first implemented by the pre-1968 Frenchmen who liked to play tennis wearing tail-coat, well, then, meine Damen und Herren, you must tune in to the Arthur Ashe, not before 1:30 PM and hold on to your hats, because a hurricane is due to strike.

#earthwillshake #monsterclash #comeonandy #allezjules

 

PS: This post is loaded, I mean LOADED with sarcasm. I shouldn’t have to say this, but given some recent happenings, I feel like it’s better.

The right way

I had to reissue this post in the middle of the writing process. All because Venus Williams’ unspecified illness turned out to be Sjogren’s Syndrome, autoimmune disease that causes fatigue and joint pain. I really have no words to describe how saddened I am, so I only leave here a wish for a speedy recovery.

Now the happy part of this post. I’m back to writing about the ladies! It’s been a good while, really. I can’t even remember – but I suspect the last time I had aired a post with WTA as main subject was back in Wimbledon. So let’s talk McHale, shall we?

I once wrote a post about the situation of the American tennis – talking about this ‘between harvests’ (I think I used this very same term) period, when the Williams sisters weren’t around, and the US women’s tennis was left in the hands of girls like Mattek-Sands and King. I also mentioned about the up and coming teenagers.

Among them, Christina McHale.

She is decent at tennis.

Well, she is here. Not here like, ‘hey, look at me Caro, I’m coming for your ranking’. It’s more like ‘hey, look at me Caro, I might be coming for your ranking someday really soon’. All normal, as predicted – we are beyond the point 15-yos could win Slams.

I got to watch her for the first time today. And, well, I was really impressed. I follow her since the start of the year, I think, when she would either have WCs or qualify. First time I took a closer look, she was taking Sveta out of Indian Wells. Back from the digression. Today, playing Bartoli – who, in other news, is not quite the same since Wimbledon – she felt no fear. She totally went for it – just like Marion, in fact; the French showed some A-display of tennis, hitting hard and even making some cash at the net, breaking Chris twice and serving for the set at 5/4.

But then McHale broke her, and I have no idea how, because my stream just puff, died, and the whole match changed after. Bartoli even had a confident hold at 5/6, yes, but that was it. Her gameplan totally failed in the tie-break, and Christina had it in the bag, 7-2. In the second set – which I barely watched – the young American broke her twice in the first three games, lost one of the breaks, but re-broke and ended up sealing her way to the 3rd round with a 7/6, 6/2 win over seed #8.

How she used this forehand pretty much impressed me today

Darn good, highlighted by her backhand – some killer winners she hit – her conscience – she craftily moved Bartoli around to hit winners into the open court – and total and complete absence of fear. And the results of course: In her last three events, the Jersey native took out world #1 Caroline Wozniacki (Cincy), two-time Grand Slam champion Sveta (Dallas) and now Bartoli.

Of course, she’s not ready yet – and I (who am I to say something?) didn’t even have to tell you this – one who’s aware of her post-upset results will understand and concur. The consistency – against everybody, and through a week – is not there, just like big, important results outside the USA.

But for a 19-year old, who has just broke through the top-60 and is almost in the second week of the US Open, I dare to say she is in the right way.

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