Zombie Week, part I

When it comes to tennis, some weeks are just like the others – and the results are so predictable/common they will probably go by unnoticed. But others are not. Well, this is one of the second kind.

Spanish champagne bath.

Starting with Gstaad, the more than famous Swiss Open included in its lineup a bunch of well-known faces, like the fan favorite (my words) and local kid (true fact) Stan Wawrinka, the clay rats Almagro, Fernando Bald-asco, his BFF Lopez, Major Mikhail Youzhny and others. But in the end, surprise winner!!! Not like 2009, when Thomaz Bellucci came out of the qualy and won the trophy, God, no. The 2011 was more favored than the young Brazilian – even seeded, the last seed, yes, but a seed.

Even though he surely gave some good money for a farsighted better, Marcel Granollers shocked and rocked the clay world (well, sort of). The sparring doubles-specialist for the Davis Cup tie vs. the USA dished two bakery products in his opener v. Bohli, disposed of Igor “Mr. Kirilenko” Andreev in the second, sent Wawa back to Lausanne and, without losing a set, reached the final four – impersonating his best Simon in a replay of Hamburg semifinals: Verdasco vs. Almagro, Youzhny vs. him.

Marcel then probably said to himself: If with three sets I am in the finals with six I am… well, the champion? Correct. For the first time since Houston/08, and only the second in his career, Granollers, also known as Granolla Bar (awful) lifted an ATP trophy – 6/4, 3/6, 6/3 over Fernando Verdasco. Not bad, really.

Big trophy, eh?

From Gstaad to Umag in a much shorter story. Alex Dolgopolov, the 2nd seed of the local tournament, having lost his four previous matches, were all doubts: “Will he ever regain the form that impressed us all in the beginning of the year?” “Can he win a match?” “What kind of shampoo does he use?”. I still don’t know the answer for the shampoo question, but well, he won. First, in the second round (he had a 1st round bless, aka bye), he was too hot for Volandri to handle him. Nice win – he had recent losses against worse opponents. In the quarterfinals, he made sure of limiting Albert Ramos’ success to the challenger level. In the semifinals – getting good now – he set a fair drop for the then-defending champion Ferrero in the rankings, advancing to a second career final.

This time, no meanie Spaniard to smash his dreams. And local guys, he fears not: 6/4, 3/6, 6/3 and Marin Cilic is now history. Just like Dolgopolov’s first title. Good to see, boy. Now get back on tracks and be a thing again, will ya?

All smiley

Another young fella – another promise – who was letting us all down recently was brought back to life by the Zombie Week. Ernests Gulbis, remember him?, the nice Latvian who owns a skill just as great as the fuck he doesn’t give to tennis (at least it seems). Ernie, whose life story must be as known as his personality, is a different character. He was all forgotten, having had his last win at the pre-FO event of Nice, in May, and sitting at a forgotten ranking of below-80. Ouch, for someone who started the year on the verge of the top-20.

But well, little Ernie started playing Deathmatch with us. Arcade mode, fair and square. Do your best and survive – if you have already played Call of Duty’s Zombie mode you know what I mean. He first played Xavier Malisse. Lost the first set – that’s when your life bar goes all shinning red and worrisome. But he came back and won. Nuts. But the second round is always dangerous – because he is Ernests Gulbis and there are no tennis-wise life insurance for him. Daniel Kosakowski. Who? Whatever. 2 and 4 and goodbye and hello quarterfinals.

Del Potro. I had heard Juan Martin would tear a new self in Ernie. But he said no and denied. And Del Potro could not keep his unbeaten streak at the Farmers Classic coming. Halted at five, and little Ernie was on to the semifinals – only his second this year, after that show of tanking v. Simon in Sydney.

Boogie-Woogie-Molov. The ginger American who’s surfing the best year of his career, having stopped Bellucci’s impressive – but all predictable – form in the previous round. Bogomolov promises title for son. Gulbis promises title for the cuttie he met at the club last night. Set, match, Letonia.

Final round. Gulbis vs. Fish, second consecutive final for the American. He’s the top-seed, the boss of it all. Gulbis is just Gulbis, people are expecting him to crack and tank and say goodbye every minute now. He DFs away the first set. Give up not on the plans this week. Aces – on second serve – for the second set. Breaks to start the 3rd. Breaks again. Gives one of the breaks back, faces BP when serving for the set again. Saves, wraps it up.

Ernests Gulbis def. Mardy Fish, 5/7, 6/4, 6/4. Game over, you win. DING DING DING. Gulbis now 4-0 in career finals (two singles, two doubles), adds Los Angeles trophy to his American sweep – joining Houston, Indianapolis and Delray Beach.

Extra life, new life, different life? We gotta wait to see – but if he only breaks the negative streak of 9 or something consecutive losses at Grand Slams 1st rounds, we can call it progress.

Posts for WTA events to be up soon.


About Pete S. Liguori
Pete was born in São Paulo, Brasil. Loves sports - pigskin fanatic, tennis lover. One of his most famous quotes is "I'm no Tolstoi, but I love the Dallas Cowboys" His favorite quote of all time is "I'll keep playing", unknown author.

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