Marin didn’t exactly got his revenge on Florian Mayer today. Instead, he notched up his second straight-sets loss to the German in a year, 63 64. I watched, and it was dreadful.
Marin himself said that he made a lot of unforced errors and couldn’t find any rhythm, which is a pretty accurate summation. I’ve been making light and making fun of Marin’s downward spiral for a long time, but I may have just reached the end of my tether. I intend no disrespect to Mayer, who is an incredibly improved player over the last year and making himself dangerous to all sorts of people. But it was the same match that Marin has basically been playing for a year now and I have just had enough.
What is going on?! This is the man who has been tipped for the top since forever, because he’s always looked to be nothing but upside. This is the man who made the quarterfinals of the 2009 US Open by beating Murray, blasted Rafa off the court in Beijing, then went straight on to the semifinals of the Australian Open. He struggled his way through Zagreb afterwards through sheer willpower, and then … what? I don’t know. OK, so he’s had his moments – finals of Munich, semis in Washington, round of sixteen at Roland Garros – but that is the very least he should be accomplishing, and those moments should not be interspersed with losses to the likes of Andreas Seppi and Andreas Haider-Maurer. And I just don’t understand it. He hasn’t had any major injury problems that have been reported in the press, and it’s a fact that he didn’t forget how to serve, hit his forehand or approach the net. He just became unable to do any of them on a consistently successful basis, for no apparent reason whatsoever.
Watch him these days and he’s a wreck of a player. Even when he’s winning, he’s still a bundle of nerves and errors being held together by sheer strength of will that’s always liable to shatter. The Marin of two years ago would have at least made a concerted effort to take it to Rafa in Melbourne. And the kind of errors he routinely made against Mayer were simple flinching at the moment of potential victory, like choking on a point-by-point level, and I just … don’t … understand … why!
Personal problems? Injuries or illnesses we don’t know about? Or he’s tired and burnt out after his first major semi-final, so he has a couple of random losses, and that combined with the unprecedented pressure combines to rock his confidence, and he feels like he can’t play freely, and it just gets worse and worse and worse and every time he thinks he’s getting out of it, he starts thinking too much and loses and it gets worse again?
I have literally been wondering about this for a year, and I’m fed up with it. I don’t care what it is any more. I just want him to stop it. Like, now. Because the way he’s going, he’s going to end up Joe McDisappointment and he is far too good for that. He should be a challenger. He should be a contender. He should be in the top ten. He’s good enough. I know he’s good enough. Honestly, I could just grab him and shake him and yell that into his face until he gets that through his divinely-moulded Croatian head.
…. But then, I know about twenty people who want to do the same thing to me. OK, they wouldn’t call my head ‘divinely-moulded’ – or Croatian, come to that – but the general gist would be the same. You’re good! You can do things! Believe! And frankly, it would just make me want to prove them wrong so they would leave me alone. And then I could go to bed. With a bottle of gin. And a pie. All right, I just talked myself out of being angry with Marin. I suppose I’ll just keep hanging on until he starts winning again, however long it takes. And in the meantime, if he wants to join me in bed with a bottle of gin and a pie, I suppose that would be OK as well.
Er … where was I?
Well done Florian Mayer.
There was a bit of a big-name exodus in Zagreb today in fact. Ivan Dodig took out compatriot Ivan Ljubicic in straight sets, and Richard Gasquet retired after seven games (being in the quarterfinals after Arnaud Clement retired against him).
So Michael Berrer is through to the semi-finals, along with Mayer, Dodig and Garcia-Lopez. Well done all round.
Johannesburg semi-finals, meanwhile, are mainly populated by people you’ve sort of heard of, but only sort of. Two locals, Kevin Anderson and Izak Van der Merwe, are through along with Adrian Mannarino, who’s a yummy Frenchman in a fey sort of way, and Somdev Devvarman, who beat another local, Rik de Vroest.
And in Santiago, Interior Minister-meeting defending champion Thomaz Bellucci lost to certified living Ken doll Fabio Fognini in a fairly thrilling three-set match. Fognini led 4-1 before Bellucci fought back to take it to a tiebreak, only to be taken down by Foggers’ superior speed. Fognini will be joined in the semi-finals by compatriot Potito Starace (yes, Potito Starace has had a better week than Marin), who beat Nalbandian’s conqueror, the suddenly-relevant Horacio ‘Onion’ Zeballos. Also hanging around? Hot Santi Giraldo and Vanilla Robredo. So it’s still a bit sexy.
… And that is what has been happening on the ATP tour.