Tuesday, January 18, 2011

This and That - Melbourne 2011

by Savannah

Someone Tweeted last night that it was amazing how the Australian Open got all of it's first round play over in two days as opposed to the three day format used by some Grand Slams. I had never thought about it but the person was right. The AO may last into the rush hour here on the east coast of the United States (The Lleyton Hewitt/David Nalbandian match ended sometime after 8a this morning) but no one can say that they were totally bored by the tennis. If a match made you reach for your stimulant of choice there was another one available online for your viewing pleasure. If your ISP provider doesn't make ESPN360 available to you there are live streams available of varying quality. I have noticed that the quality of the stream on ESPN360 does tend to decay, something I don't remember it doing before. The buffering, yes. I'm not sure why this is happening but it is annoying. So far the Eurosport based streams are the best. So is the commentary.

If you have HDTV watching is a joy. It truly is the closest thing to being there. ESPN2, and from what I can see Eurosport as well, are broadcasting in full HD. It's as if you can reach out and touch the players. Technology in this case is a beautiful thing.

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The star of last nights play is undoubtedly Agnieszka Radwanska. Sure she defeated 40 year old Kimiko Date-Krumm in three hard fought sets but what happened to her in the third set is what tennis fans will remember all season. After banging her racquet on the ground and committing what would be felony assault if she had treated a human being like that Aggie set herself to receive Kimiko's ball. Apparently the racquet was a Cee-Lo fan as it took it's "Fuck You" moment and broke into two pieces. The head of the racquet flew into the crowd leaving Aggie holding what looked like a shake weight. Her expression is priceless. This happened to Anna Lena Groenefeld a couple of years ago but this break took place on world wide television. I'm sure Babolat was not amused.

Okay back to real tennis.

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The match between resurrecting favorite Ana Ivanovic and relatively unknown Ekaterina Makarova was quite exciting. Forget that neither one could figure out how to close out the match. It's the WTA. What do you expect? It was totally up in the air as to who would win. On the way there were rally's and great groundies from both women.
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Someone in Ana's camp should really talk to her about her celebrations after each point won. At one point I was multi tasking (sounds better than saying I was doing something else right?) and heard a squeal and looked up to see a celebration worthy of someone winning the match. I was confused since it seemed that the match wasn't over. It wasn't. Those of us who tend to multitask don't like surprises.
Other than that Ana actually didn't play badly. Even her ball toss was better (it varied but on the whole it was better).
But the real news was Ekaterina Makarova. She kept her wits about her and pulled off the upset. The match was quite a nice diversion.

I'll stick with the WTA for now. I have to wonder why the women coming out of the States are all diminutive.Lauren Davis looked to be barely five feet tall (she is listed as 5'2") and at seventeen is very slight. She played on Rod Laver Arena against Samantha Stosur. At one point they zoomed in for a close up of Lauren. Deer in headlights. I felt sorry for the young woman. As the ESPN commentators are fond of saying she'll always remember she played on Rod Laver Arena in 2011 against Samantha Stosur.

Pam Shriver got sent out to give American's a look at Melanie Oudin, another short woman. She's now out of singles. It was a brief look since she was on a non television court.

Coco Vandeweghe lost to Alize Cornet 2-6, 1-6.

The United States did have something to cheer about though. Ryan Sweeting moved into the second round with his win last night over Daniel Gimeno-Traver in straight sets. Sweeting was born in Nassau, Bahamas but has trained in the States since he was twelve.

The other big winner on the men's side was Michael Russell who defeated highly touted Australian Matthew Ebden in four sets, winning the final set tie break 11-9.

John Isner also won his match.

Now for what can be called the marquee matches. Once again a Frenchman led the list. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga looked done and dusted after dropping the first two sets against Philipp Petzschner . When I checked the scores this morning I saw that not only did Tsonga take it five sets but that he won 4-6, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4.
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With French fans singing La Marseillaise cheering him on how could he not come back?
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When draws are released there are always one or two matches that you just know will be cake walks. When I saw that Juan Martin del Potro would face Dudi Sela in the first round I rolled my eyes. I mean Delpo is twice Sela's height at least so how could this not be a very quick match including a breadstick or two. Well Sela decided he wasn't going out like a bitch and fought Delpo with all the cunning and shot making in his body. Sure Delpo won in straight sets but he had to survive a first set tiebreak that went to 15-13. Delpo won the other two sets 4 and 4 but it was definitely not a boring match.
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The match everyone wanted to see was the "grudge" match between Lleyton Hewitt and David Nalbandian. Since everyone wanted to see it of course the match was set for the last of the day on Rod Laver. I didn't get to see any of it. From what I hear it was a thrilling affair with Nalbandian pulling it out in five sets 3-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(1), 9-7.
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As I said before Nalbandian is fit for his body type.

End Note

The commentary was much, much better last night. If you don't like what you're hearing do as TennisAce suggested and Tweet your displeasure. It works.

1 comment:

TennisAce said...

Wonderful write up. At this rate, I may just start linking your blog to mine as with work pressures being what they are I cannot seem to find the time to do my usual write ups of the majors.

For most of us who are fans of women's tennis, there have been some thrilling matches since the AO started. However, Makarova is not new to us. We know she has game. She won Eastbourne last season taking out some big names, including Stosur. She plays a very different type of game and anyone who pays attention to women's tennis knew that Ivanovic would have her work cut out for her.

I understand the courts at the AO are playing slow, and as a result I am really shocked at the result seeing as Makarova does her best work on fast surfaces.

No one will ever talk to Ivanovic about her fist pumping and celebrating of points because the folks in her box do the same thing. Say what you will about Fed, but I am yet to see anyone stand up in his box when he hits a magnificent winner. Come to think of it, I have never seen anyone in Nadal's box stand and applaud when he hits a great shot.

Sportsmanship does not end and begin on court. It also translates to those in the player's box. Would that a lot of these young players would recognise that fact