May 5, 2011 Leave a comment
Whoa. I’m still shocked and can’t think in a proper way to start this one.
So, Bellucci, who had only an average record and cumulated sub-par exhibitions before Madrid recorded his second ever top-10 win – the first top-5 win for Brazil since Guga beat Federer in Roland Garros – against a Murray whose hair is drawing more attention than his game?
To lose against players he should beat, it’s not something uncommon when we’re talking about Murray. But goddamit, none of them are from Brazil – until today. Therefore, I had no clear reasons to talk about it.
Just to situate you, Brazil is a small (tenistically speaking) country. We had Guga and pretty much only him. We’re not the biggest lovers of the noblest sport ever, true that, but the Braziliards who are, are die hard fans.
That being said, I shall continue.
Very well. I must admit Bellucci exceeded my expectations. Given his last matches – a.k.a. being easily beaten by Cuevas, after a three hour nail-biter against Edouard Roger-Vasselin – I didn’t even think he could get past Andujar – who’s having a great clay-swing for his standards. But he did.
I then thought Munich finalist would kill him in the second round. He didn’t. Ok, he retired, but since he walked onto the court, it counts as a win for Thomaz and a loss for him. Whatever. Murray next.
No clay genius, I thought. But he is still Murray. And Thomaz is known for having some meltdowns. During his matches, he shuts down the mental switch and goes for a walkabout. The match? Forget about it.
So, naturally, my only thought was: “If he holds on mentally, he can put up a fight today”.
And, well, he did. Even though I was paying more attention to Soderling-Tsonga clash (I’m glad you pulled it, Robin), I heard the millions of comments popping on my timeline. Bellucci served very well today – almost nullifying Murray’s returns – and also his returns were just as good. Best of it all, as I have probably already said, he kept mentally strong.
When had to save BPs. When Murray served at 4/5 in the first set. When he broke in the second. When he broke for it again in the second. To crown his best win EVER, I ought to say this was his better match EVER.
Result? 6/4, 6/2, and there is not a single person I know that is not surprised with this result. He will play Berdych next – they’ve already met this year, in Indian Wells, and after four or five tight games, Bellucci lost it mentally. Was a cakewalk after that.
We, tennisfans, know that some wins and some losses are career defining. That a single match, a single UFE can change a career, the professional life of one. For Murray, this loss won’t change much. But I hope the win will do it for Bellucci, transform him into a “serious”, more focused player, mentally stronger. That his coach, Larri Passos, will use this match to show him the talent is there, he just needs to learn how to use it properly and more often. I really wish we are going to see a new, better, Thomaz Bellucci after this Madrid QF run – his best result ever at a Masters.
Let’s not fool ourselves, though. The learning starts NOW. It’s not like “Oh, I beat Murray, I’m fine”. NOW is the time to work harder – so this win won’t be considered a casualty, a distant, nearly forgotten memory.