Posted by gauloises1 on January 21, 2011
After I talked up the chances of young guns Robin Haase and Kei Nishikori against big dogs Andy Roddick and Fernando Verdasco, the inevitable happened.
Nishikori was overpowered and generally blasted off the court by Fernando Verdasco, especially that whole forehand thing he’s got going on. Kei wasn’t at his best – he needed medical attention on his back – but Verdasco beat him 62 64 63, so that’s fairly comprehensive.
Haase made a better fist of it in a weird match which started with him breaking Roddick’s serve and injuring his ankle almost at the same moment, prompting a rash of greatly exaggerated rumours that he had retired on the ever-more-cursed Hisense Arena (Troicki retired there earlier after one set against Djokovic). Whether it was feeling the ankle or just the usual way Robin starts a big match – and I’ll go with the latter – he was absolutely untouchable for the first set, slamming forehands past Roddick and passing the American every time he ventured to net. After taking the set 6-2, he continued to look quite good, but Roddick forced it to a tiebreak. It was one of those moments when you knew with some certainty that the winner of the tiebreak would take the match, and Haase wasn’t quite up to the challenge, throwing in a couple of excruciatingly-timed double faults. After that, the fight went out of him and Roddick won the match in four.
This is the doubt I have with Haase. He’s absolutely unstoppable when he’s on, and I think if he can play like that in a three-set match, he’ll make a lot of noise this year (as long as his body stays in one piece). Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of middle ground between redlining and deflating. If he can learn to take a deep breath before the start of each match and get his efforts a little more under control, he could be a force to be reckoned with. If not, he’s destined to be a flashy loser to top seeds forever.
Far from seeing new faces in the round of sixteen, then, we’ve got Roddick facing Stanislas Wawrinka, whose whole midlife crisis-inspired departure from wife and child to focus on tennis seems to be working out pretty well for him so far, and Verdasco taking on Tomas Berdych in a match that could be glorious, or hideous.
But it’s not over until Tomic and Berankis lose, which should be later tonight. So stay tuned.
Posted in australian open, fernando verdasco, kei nishikori, robin haase | Tagged: fernando verdasco, kei nishikori, robin haase | 4 Comments »
Posted by gauloises1 on January 20, 2011
I’m pretty sure I’ve used this title before, but that was in my “first career”, OK? It’s all different now.
So amid the Delpo loss and the general malaise that attends me when everyone bangs on about how well Fedal are playing (and they are), there’s reasons for optimism about keeping it interesting as a crop of young players are into the third round, stacking up good wins, and generally making some noise.
Say hello to adorable, curly-topped Canadian qualifier Milos Raonic, who beat twenty-second seed Michael Llodra 76(3) 63 76(4). I’ve been interested in Raonic since I watched him play the sadly-missed Gonzo a couple of years ago in … somewhere in Canada, a match in which the kid had matchpoints, and although he was sidelined in 2009 by injury, he’s definitely back and in the mix. He played a fantastic match against Llodra and kept a cool head despite some dramatics from Llodra, a failed attempt to serve for the match and an extremely dodgy line call. He’s got a massive serve, flashy groundstrokes and a certain “tonight we dine in HELL!!!” quality on the court, which I find irresistibly appealing. He plays Mikhail Youhzny next.
The newly anglicized “Richard”, nee Ricardas, Berankis is also into the third round after David Nalbandian retired down 16 06 02. So there’s a certain amount of good fortune in getting Nalbandian when he’s self-confessedly “empty” after his marathon efforts against Lleyton Hewitt in the first round, but Berankis had an excellent 2010 on the Challenger tour that saw him break the top 100. He plays a much mature game than his 20 years would suggest, and while I think David Ferrer is a bad match-up for him in the next round, I’m sure we’re going to hear his name a lot in 2011. Because he’s good … you know, for a short Lithuanian.
I know, I know, Bernard Tomic is a brat and stole Mahut’s wildcard and pretended to have swine flu to get out of practicing with Lleyton Hewitt and is generally the devil incarnate. But with all the reasons to dislike him personally, you can’t deny he’s a pretty talented young man. And a sneaky little bit of me loves, not just his game, but his self-assured demeanour on the court. He beat Feliciano Lopez 76(4) 76(3) 63 and while I’m sure 99% of tennis fans will rejoice to see him getting the inevitable beatdown from Nadal in the next round, I’ll be sad. Because after years of watching young British ‘prospects’ fold like a house of cards in their home Slam, I’m both amused and fascinated to watch someone owning the spotlight so far. What can I say? I like a bastard. And it seems like Tomic has enough personal and familial demons to keep his career interesting for all concerned.
Technically I should have blogged about this yesterday, but time unexpectedly became an issue (have you ever tried to assemble an IKEA wardrobe?!). And technically Nishikori isn’t really a new face or new name – he’s won an ATP title and been to the fourth round of the US Open, after all. But after struggling with injury and hooking up with Brad Gilbert, it seems like he’s on his way back to where he should be, beating Florian Mayer 64 63 06 63 (I was watching, and we’ll call the bagel a blip) to make it into the third round and set up a meeting with Fernando Verdasco. Nishikori’s compact game and speed around the court often do well for him against big hitters. Verdasco of course plays well in Australia, but regardless of the outcome, we should be seeing Special Kei and his flying forehand on the main stages a lot more from now on.
I know, I’m really stretching the definition now. I just wanted to point out that big-hitting Robin Haase beat Juan Monaco to set up a meeting with Andy Roddick tonight. I find a lot of joy in Haase’s aggressive game and think he has a good chance against Roddick. We’ll see …
Anyway, if either of this four pull off an upset and make it to the round of sixteen, it could be pretty cool. I’m just saying.
Posted in australian open, bernard tomic, kei nishikori, milos raonic, richard berankis, robin haase | Tagged: bernard tomic, kei nishikori, milos raonic, richard berankis, robin haase | 6 Comments »
Posted by gauloises1 on June 25, 2010
It’s the new dance craze – let’s all go five sets in the early round at Wimbledon! Today’s offenders: Rafa Nadal and former (and possibly future) next big thing, lanky Robin Haase. Nadal won 63 in the fifth, but there were definitely scary moments; Haase is somewhat in the mould of Delpo and Cilic, a tall and lanky hitter of big, clean shots, and it showed.
Rafa didn’t play badly at all and his victory owed a lot to his remarkable ability to pull something magical out of the bag at exactly the right moment, so not too much cause for concern. I’m sure we’ll be seeing plenty more of this sort of thing.
Because god knows you can never have enough.
Also guilty: Rafa’s next opponent, Philipp Petzchner, who put away Lukasz ‘zombie’ Kubot 6-2 in the fifth; Julien Benneteau, who survived his second five-setter in as many matches against Andreas Beck; Jeremy Chardy, whose 8-6 fifth set scoreline against Lukas Lacko looked frankly feeble; Fabbers Fognini against Michael Russell; and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who was given all he could handle by the artist formerly known as Oleksandr Dolgopolov Jr.
Battling valiantly but finding themselves unable to compete in the marathon stakes, the winners in four: Sam Querrey, who beat Ivan Dodig; Tobias Kamke, who sent Andreas Seppi back to his ground state of porn and tears; Xavier Malisse, who backed up his victory against Boss by putting out Julian Reister; and Nose Job, who took four to subdue Martin Fischer.
Must try harder.
Posted in jo-wilfried tsonga, rafael nadal, robin haase, thomaz bellucci, wimbledon | Tagged: jo-wilfried tsonga, rafael nadal, robin haase, thomaz bellucci | Leave a Comment »
Posted by gauloises1 on June 23, 2010
Stick with me while I attempt to catch up on everything that I missed at Wimbledon while I was there. (And yes, I know I may be stretching the definition of ‘upset’ somewhat with some of these …) This is who we’ve lost so far that we wouldn’t have expected to …
Sam Stosur and Francesca Schiavone crashed out to Kaia Kanepi and Vera Dushevina respectively. That’s an entire French Open final gone right there. You’d almost think it was played on a different surface or something.
Verdasco lost to Fognini in five. And still needs a haircut.
Damn Croatians. You’re supposed to be the reliable one, Marin! Although why anyone thinks that, I don’t know. Anyway, I watched this match. It made me sad.
Please don’t let that be your last Wimbledon, OK?
Grass is not Shahar’s best ever surface, it must be said. She lost to Angelique Kerber in three. Still, I’ve been vaguely touting Kerber as a thing-in-waiting, so there’s that.
Big win for bronzed god Daniel Brands, who took out Kolya in straights. Kolya is another one who doesn’t thrive on the grass at all, though. Plus that whole fractured wrist thing.
If a result doesn’t upset anyone, is it still an upset? I’ve decided that this qualifies on the basis that Robin Haase did the upsetting, which means he actually won a match. Shock face.
Not sure what’s the bigger not-really-a surprise, Mel losing in the second round or the fact that she made it.
And how about a big hand for our upsetters …
Posted in angelique kerber, daniel brands, fabio fognini, fernando verdasco, florian mayer, francesca schiavone, james blake, jarmila groth, juan carlos ferrero, kaia kanepi, marin cilic, nikolay davydenko, robin haase, samantha stosur, vera dushevina, wimbledon, xavier malisse | Tagged: angelique kerber, daniel brands, fabio fognini, fernando verdasco, florian mayer, francesca schiavone, james blake, jarmila groth, juan carlos ferrero, kaia kanepi, marin cilic, melanie oudin, nikolay davydenko, robin haase, samantha stosur, shahar peer, vera dushevina, xavier malisse | 4 Comments »