Thursday, March 17, 2011

This and That - Indian Wells 2011

by Savannah

It's amazing to me that the announcer working with Lindsay Davenport can't stop whining about how the ATP #1 has played three qualifiers. Doug Adler and Robbie Koenig implied that their favorite, the World #2 would have no trouble in his match against an up and coming American. When that American showed some spunk and didn't roll over and play dead they had to change their tune. Both men got through in straight sets.

I decided to look at the draws and see if one player was getting a free ride while another one had to fight his way through the invading hordes.
The world #2 played his first match against Igor Andreev, currently ranked #96 and won in straight sets 7-5, 7-6(4). He next faced Juan Ignacio Chela, world #32 and won that 6-0, 6-2. His third match was against world #152 Ryan Harrison whom he defeated 7-6(4), 6-3.
The world #1 played his first match against #162 Rik de Voest winning 6-0, 6-2. His next match was against world #105 Ryan Sweeting, and he won that one 6-3, 6-1. His third match was against #84 Somdev Devvarman and saw him win 7-5, 6-4.

I don't think either man had to exactly cut his way through a swarm of invading barbarians. That said Somdev Devvarman gave the world #1 a more difficult time than many expected. I thought that the match would be a tough one because Devvarman, who had never played his opponent before had nothing to lose. Second of all India, especially in the ATP, is fighting to become part of the conversation when power countries are discussed. Thirdly the world #1 sometimes has a hard time against people he's never played before. He still managed to avoid tiebreaks and the scoreline accurately reflects how the match went.

Ryan Harrison showed that he is still playing junior level tennis. Yes he pushed the Monogram more than expected but in the end Harrison's inexperience showed. I also suspect that someone got to him and he kept his nasty attitude confined to his interaction with ball kids. I know a lot of Americans are looking to him as the successor to Andy Roddick but anyone whose tantrums make Roddick's look lame is not someone I want representing my country on the world wide tennis stage.
Speaking of Andy Roddick I'm beginning to wonder if he requests Fergus Murphy to chair his matches. It seems that just the sight of Murphy puts Roddick in a bad mood. As soon as something happens, a questionable call, a fly landing on court, Roddick goes smack off lacing into Murphy who can only be the straight man to Andy's antics. Yesterday it was a let call. When the machine goes off the chair has to call a let whether a let call is justified or not. That's been the case ever since net judges were replaced by the little sensors on the top of the net. This didn't happen last night either. So when a let was called as required Andy took advantage of the opening and lit into Murphy dropping an audible F-bomb along the way. At this point I don't think any fine has been levied against him.

Unfortunately when these tirades happen it usually means Andy is losing.
Richard Gasquet ignored all the drama taking place across the net and managed to win against Roddick in straight sets 6-3, 7-6(5). Gasquet's coaching team now includes Sebastian Grosjean, seen above in the forefront, and Riccardo Piatti. Whatever they're doing seems to be working so far.

There's a new men's doubles team to take notice of. Xavier Malisse and Alexsandr Dolgopolov, already nicknamed Team Ponytail, have taken out the top ranked Bryan Twins and last night, in a match that was dubbed the Ponytails vs the Fro's, took out the Murray Brothers. I haven't seen them play yet. I hope that fans get a chance to see some of the teams playing Indian Wells more often. The doubles have been exciting so far.
I think at this point it's time to give new owner Larry Ellison a huge round of applause. He wants this tournament to become a Slam and right now he's done the upgrades needed to put his plan into action. As a fan he has put Hawkeye on all courts. From what I hear he's done a facilities upgrade. I find it significant that Serena Williams, at the end of her USA Today interview said that she would even play Indian Wells. Of course it was in the context of her coming back and getting to the top of the heap but it is a significant statement and one that I don't think she would have made without the change in ownership.

Congratulations Mr. Ellison. And thank you.


Helen W said...

Savannah, Rafa won his match against De Voest 6-0, 6-2.

BooksHere said...

Rafa won his match against Rik de Voest 6-0, 6-2. de Voest did not retire. Can you clarify what Harrison's tantrums have been? I have not followed his play on the tour.

Savannah said...

Correction made. Thank you both. :)

Whole Sight said...

I like Harrison's game better than you do, and thought he played good tennis against Federer just as he did against Ranoic. Dangerous return game, super hands at net, and a good serve for someone only 6 feet. In my view, what Harrison lacks is not so much experience as a power ground game: he has no major weapons that I can see, and once Federer adjusted in the second set by playing the forehand more conservatively and getting in the first serve, Harrison could not keep up. Or so it seemed.

As for attitude, I have always preferred openly aggressive players (someone named Serena comes to mind), and so Harrison's bristly confidence along with his amped-up return game suit me quite well. I've seen him be terse w/the ball kids - ("Towel" in a grumpy voice - he needs to learn the face-scrubbing gesture which is instantly understood in any language) but I haven't seen him be nasty to anyone yet. At age 18 he still has a few things to learn and if he can learn manners then he'll be okay.

TennisAce said...

Savannah, come on now. Goodall and Koenig are fan boys of Federer? Surely you jest. Did you see Koenig's tweet last night while Nadal was playing? It says it all.

As I have said on many occassions, Goodall and Koenig are fans of tennis. Does not matter who is playing, they give praise where it is due and criticise when it comes to it. If any fan of tennis is a legitimate fan of the sport, you have to really enjoy what you see in terms of the play of almost every single player on both Tours. Of course people have their favourites, who does not, but I still believe that Koenig and Goodall, while they do gush and go into paroxyms of pleasure at Fed and Nadal's play, also do the same about many other players. I have even heard Goodall go on and on about Woznaicki, so there you go. They are fans of the sport and frankly I think they do a pretty good job of calling the match.

Finally, when are we going to get it that Federer and Nadal are a cut above the rest. I have seen Harrison play but at that time I did not witness any antics but I have heard a lot of folks complain about him on twitter. The less said about Roddick, the better. For all the good that he says and does, he just loses whatever hugs he gets by behaving like a total jackass at times.

Savannah said...

TennisAce Koenig and his partners are usually my faves when it comes to commentators EXCEPT when they call a Federer match. The other night was exceptionally bad. Everything Federer did was "Maestro like", the most beautiful thing they'd ever seen. It was as if he were playing alone. They also do the same thing when it comes to Murray, but to a lesser extent now.

I think that Harrison does have a future in tennis. He, and his game, need to mature quite a bit and I hope his handlers give him the speech about catching more flies with honey than vinegar when it comes to on court behavior.

TennisAce said...

Savannah, I too like Goodall and Koenig. They are experienced commentators and they bring the viewer into the moment when it comes to match calling. They anticipate the plays, they bring the viewer into the matches, and for me personally, they know tennis.

They are not like the ESPN/TC guys who are too busy telling us how so and so signed a deal worth millions of bucks etc. They tell you why Fed's footwork is the way it is; they tell you why Nadal hits his forehand like that; they give you information.

Helen W said...

Tennis Ace, when Rafa finally took over the No 1 ranking, Jason 'n Robbie were still referring to Roger as the "World No 1" for months. They can be nauseatingly biased when calling a match, which in my view is extremely unprofessional.