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Archive for the ‘robin soderling’ Category

Consolidation.

Posted by gauloises1 on February 20, 2011

Rising a spot in the rankings isn’t any good unless you’re going to sink your teeth into it and make it yours. Enter Caroline Wozniacki and Robin Soderling.

What I like about Wozniacki is that she wants to be no. 1. She’s only ever reached the third round in this tournament before, but with the ranking on the line, she not only beat the woman who beat her last year, but recorded back-to-back victories over Jankovic and Kuznetsova, beating the latter 61 63 in a composed and assertive performance which showed her terrier-like mentality as the weapon it is. Due respect.

Kuznetsova was pretty disappointing, I thought; a great tournament and a collapse in the final. But she still looks on course to do something big this year, if you ask me. Wimbledon champion 2011?

Speaking of doing big things, Robin Soderling further justified his claim to the world no. 4 spot by winning his second title in two weeks at the Open 13 in Marseilles, beating Marin Cilic 67(8) 63 63. It was far from his best match, but what was very impressive was the way that he dug deep, battled himself and his own demons and got through it with a resounding win. That’s his third title in 2011, and if anybody out there still thinks he’s a one-trick pony, then I don’t know who you’re watching. I think he looks more like a major contender than he ever has before.

As for skinny love there, it wasn’t his best but it was so far from his worst. One woeful game in the third set was pretty much all it came down to, and he showed a lot of heart and confidence that’s been missing for the last year or so. He called it a “good start” in his post-match interview and said that he hoped to build on it in Indian Wells and Miami. I’ll drink to that.

Posted in caroline wozniacki, dubai, marin cilic, marseilles, robin soderling, titlists | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Not So Much Marchons, Marchons in Marseilles

Posted by gauloises1 on February 19, 2011

Not a great day for the home nation in Marseilles. Defending champion Michael Llodra went down 61 64 to top-seeded and frankly scary Robin Soderling in the quarterfinals. Can we all agree Soderling is the real deal here? OK, he hasn’t won a Slam, but he’s kicked on from his initial breakthrough against Nadal at Roland Garros and kept himself consistently in the conversation, and right now he’s looking pretty fair to take the Marseilles title in addition to defending in Rotterdam. I get the feeling that people are waiting for his particular flash in the pan to be flushed. It doesn’t look like it’s going to happen any time soon.

Speaking of pans and flashes, or flushes; Tomas Berdych, often bracketed with Soderling, lost his quarterfinal to Marin Cilic today. Yes, you heard me. Marin Cilic. In straight sets. I didn’t see it, but he was apparently rather good.

I shan’t comment except to say that at the very moment or thereabouts that he was closing out his victory, I was holding forth to my lunchtime companion about how very gorgeous he is in person. The word “dreamy” was employed. Coincidence?

A further unseeded upset was provided by Dmitry Tursunov, who is making quite the renaissance of late, defeating Jurgen Melzer in three; and to pile woe upon the French, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga played a cracking match against Mikhail Youzhny and still lost despite keeping it interesting to the very end.

Posted in jo-wilfried tsonga, marin cilic, marseilles, robin soderling | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

The Week In ATP Winners: Soderling Repeats Rotterdam, Almagro Is Awkward

Posted by gauloises1 on February 13, 2011

Rotterdam

After last week’s first-time titlists, it’s a bit repeato on the ATP tour this week. Robin Soderling successfully defended a title for the first time in his career, beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 63 36 63 in the final. Oddly, it was Philipp Kohlschreiber who pushed him the hardest all week. But with Djokovic withdrawing and Murray losing in the first round to Baghdatis, it always looked like being Soderling’s week.

Costa do Saiupe

Nicolas Almagro won his second Brasil Open title at a tournament which I … didn’t watch. So I will merely post these mildly amusing photos from the trophy ceremony.

 

It was another solid week for Alexandr Dolgopolov – FYI, I absolutely refuse to call him either the ATP-sanctioned “The Dog” or the popular “Dolly”, sue me – getting to a final. I’m not quite sold on his long-term potential (future top 10, really?) but keeping up the momentum of Australia is a really good sign. I like watching him a lot and I hope he stays healthy.

And so the ‘Golden Swing’ (that just reminds me of a particularly upsetting sex-based episode of geriatric comedy Waiting For God) creaks on to Buenos Aires …

Posted in alexandr dolgopolov, costa do saiupe, jo-wilfried tsonga, nicolas almagro, robin soderling, rotterdam, titlists | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

ATP Week Ahead: Rotterdam, San Jose, Costa do Saiupe

Posted by gauloises1 on February 7, 2011

Rotterdam

500; Robin Soderling defending; draw here.

Top 8 seeds: Robin Soderling, Andy Murray, David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych, Jurgen Melzer, Mikhail Youhzny, Ivan Ljubicic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Points of interest: What isn’t of interest? Soderling’s no. 4 ranking is on the line unless he can defend his title or Murray puts in a dismal performance, which is pretty likely given his draw: Baghdatis, Lopez or Mayer, probably Ljubicic … Just the kind of draw that a man recovering from a battering in a major final needs. Look out for first round meetings between Dimitrov-Tsonga, Gulbis-de Bakker, and Paire-Simon. Fun on the bun.

San Jose

 

250; Fernando Verdasco defending; draw here.

Top 8 seeds: Fernando Verdasco, Gael Monfils, Sam Querrey, Xavier Malisse, Denis Istomin, Benjamin Becker, Lleyton Hewitt, Kei Nishikori

Points of interest: I thought Fernando Verdasco had a broken foot – and yet. Two men attempting to bounce back from a disappointing Australian Open – Monfils and Querrey – along with Nishikori and Ivo Karlovic on the comeback trail. Also? Delpo, Delpo and Delpo. In that order. He plays Teimuraz “Basher” Gabashvili in the first round.

Costa do Saiupe

 

250; Boss defending; draw here.

Top 8 seeds: Nicolas Almagro, Albert Montanes, Thomaz Bellucci, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Juan Ignacio Chela, Tommy Robredo, Potito Starace, Victor Hanescu

Points of interest: Sexy men on sexy clay.  

Posted in ATP week ahead, costa do saiupe, fernando verdasco, juan carlos ferrero, robin soderling, rotterdam, san jose | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

The Word on Day Eight.

Posted by gauloises1 on January 24, 2011

Few of the men and women cracking me up today. Good quotes.

Q. You’re so different, at least you seem so different, to Pistolesi. He is always telling jokes. I don’t know if he does it with you. But I know him since he was 18 years old. Do you like the company also or you don’t see away from tennis?

ROBIN SODERLING: No, we spend a lot of time together. He’s a great guy.

I think you’re wrong. I think we’re very similar. It’s just that I don’t tell you guys jokes (smiling).

Q. Well, start.

ROBIN SODERLING: No (smiling).

source

He’s a funny guy.

Q. Do you have a favorite Billy Connolly joke?

ANDY MURRAY: No. That’s the thing. We used to listen to it all the time, from maybe like 10, 11 years old until I was up to 15, 16. Then I haven’t seen that much of his stuff for a little while. I’m hoping I’m going to be able to go along and see it. We got a few little tidbits when we were talking to him.

My mum and dad were pretty lenient with that stuff. Probably why my language is so bad on the court (smiling).

source

 

Q. It was a very exciting and tough match. In the end you lost. Why do you think you lost?
SHUAI PENG: Bad luck (smiling).

[...] The tennis is like this. Like sometimes you down, you win. Sometimes you up, you lose.

source

Wise words.

Q. Maybe next time you go into a Grand Slam, you should have no practice and no matches.

AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA: Yeah, I think I should have surgery before every Grand Slam definitely

source

Q. Do you find it distracting when everybody is calling out, I love you, Rafa?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, I feel fantastic (laughter).

Q. Are you able to block it out?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, I heard everything. But is nice (smiling).

Q. What about when the girls whistle at you and take pictures of you when you’re changing your shirt?

RAFAEL NADAL: That’s a very good feeling (smiling).

Q. Could you tell us more about this Armani campaign? Was it a good experience? What do you think of the pictures?

RAFAEL NADAL: Was a long experience, but very good experience, no? Is always nice to know different worlds. The fashion world is something that I didn’t know before.

Yeah, was a good session of photos, long one. But hopefully the result are satisfactory, so… I worked very hard, seriously (laughter). So, yeah, was nice. A different experience and I enjoyed.

Q. Do you find you sexy on the picture?

RAFAEL NADAL: I’m not the right person to say. I always watch myself so so. But what do you think? Do you like it?

source

Nothing puts Rafa in a good mood like beating one of my favourites.

And my favourite quote of the day …

Q. You won the first set, then what happened after that?

FLAVIA PENNETTA: She won the second and the third.

source

Ask a stupid question …

Posted in agnieszka radwanska, andy murray, australian open, flavia pennetta, rafael nadal, robin soderling, shuai peng | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

The Big Yin & The Little Ukrainian.

Posted by gauloises1 on January 24, 2011

And in ‘matches few saw coming’, Andy Murray will face Alexandr Dolgopolov in the quarter-finals after the latter upset Robin Soderling in five sets.

This may have been the first year that Soderling made it past the second round in Melbourne, but it was still a fantastic match from Dolgopolov, who after a slow start never really looked like losing. More than anything, it was his sheer lightning speed around the court that did for Soderling, who looked slow and lumbering against Dolgopolov’s brilliant retrieving. He defended everything and consistently put Soderling in uncomfortable positions, drawing the error or stinging the Swede with his backhand down the line.

Soderling was visibly frustrated on the court, and wasn’t playing his best, although in this kind of match it’s hard to tell how much comes from the irritatingly brilliant defense down the other end of the court and how much it just wasn’t his day. My theory, for what it’s worth, is that he misses Magnus. Would he have lost if he had that calming, handsome presence benevolently smiling and occasionally nodding at him from his box?

R.I.P. true love.

Not to take anything away from Dolgopolov. The lost Bondarenko brother’s blend of patient aggression and ability to hit winners on the run is very reminiscent of Andy Murray, in fact, so it could be an interesting match in the quarters. Nobody counterpunches better than Murray, though, so I’m betting that Dolgopolov’s shining run of wins against big hitters will come to an end in the next round. Well … I’m hoping. Murray was totally dominant in a 63 61 61 victory over Jurgen Melzer, although I think the support of a certain Billy Connolly may have had something to do with it.

Who could lose with this in their box?!

I just wanted to use these photos.

Posted in alexandr dolgopolov, andy murray, australian open, magnus norman, robin soderling | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Wimbledon Day 9: … And The Rest

Posted by gauloises1 on July 1, 2010

OK, I’m so tired I can barely see, so let’s just wrap the other guys up in one mammoth, picture-heavy post …

Rafael Nadal d. Robin Soderling, 36 63 76(4) 61

Odd match, this one. I didn’t see much of it, but what I did see confused me. I looked at the score and Robin was leading 5-0 in the opening set; then I looked back and he was going off on Pascal Maria.

Weirdness. Anyway, Rafa obviously righted the ship and that’s about all I can say about that. So the closest thing that the draw has to a defending champion left is through to the semi-finals. Yay. As for Robin, he fizzled a bit after a devastating start to the tournament, but it’s still a good Wimbledon for him. I want him to keep this up and kick on in the summer. It can happen.

Novak Djokovic d. Yen-Hsun Lu, 63 62 62

It’s remarkable how under-the-radar Nole has been this tournament, even in the quarterfinals. Perhaps that’s exactly what he needed, because something’s working. OK, so it was a tough ask for Lu to back up his win over Roddick with a win over Nole, but from what I saw, Djoko (heh) was playing absolutely fantastic. His semi-final against Berdych should be a cracker, and if Berdych has any kind of a letdown from the form he displayed against Federer, Nole has an excellent chance to make the final. Nole. In the final. It could happen. And he looks like he’s having fun. I think that deserves a small picspam.

Fly, Nole. Fly high.

Andy Murray d. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 67(5) 76(5) 62 62

This was billed, I think deservedly, as Murray’s first real test of the tournament, and in some ways it didn’t quite live up to the expectations. Murray came out worryingly passive, wasn’t serving great, and the imperious form of the early rounds looked like it might be proving to be an illusion.

As Murray’s early break in the second set dissolved and Jo went up a minibreak in the tiebreak, it looked like a lot of the glee I heard from people in my office at the thought that Federer was out of the way (hello, Nadal?) was going to get the kind of response it deserved. Luckily for Murray, however, Jo made a bizarre decision at 5-5 in the tiebreak to leave a reflex stretch return from Murray, and it dropped in to give Andy a set point which he duly took. That decision seemed to take the wind out of Jo’s sails completely and he rather faded away in the third and fourth sets, allowing Murray to cruise to the finish line.

So a lucky escape for Murray in some ways, but he got the win. He’s through. And from now on, what with that Nadal bloke and everything, getting the win is all that matters.

Keep it going, handsome.

Posted in andy murray, jo-wilfried tsonga, novak djokovic, rafael nadal, robin soderling, wimbledon | Tagged: , , , , | 10 Comments »

Wimbledon Day 7: There’s No Ferru Like a Five-set Ferru

Posted by gauloises1 on June 29, 2010

Because even when he comes out on the wrong end, as he did today to Robin Soderling, the images make it all worth it.

Robin, meanwhile, having dropped his first sets in the championships so far and looking for the first time less than invulnerable, goes on to face Rafa Nadal. Best of luck with that, Robin.

You’re going to be needing that.

Posted in david ferrer, robin soderling, wimbledon | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

Wimbledon Manic Monday Preview: Gentlemen

Posted by gauloises1 on June 28, 2010

I’ve decided the best way to sum up Friday and Saturday’s action at Wimbledon is to look forward to Manic Monday, a.k.a. the greatest day of tennis in all the year, when the entire R16 – men and women – play on the same day.

Roger Federer v Jurgen Melzer

H2H: 0-0

Roger’s got his Wimbledon back on track with a straight sets victory over Arnaud Clement, a good match-up for him at the best of times. Jurgen Melzer toiled slightly more with a four-set win over Feliciano Lopez. Doubles partners in the juniors, these two have unbelievably never played on the senior tour. Melzer can be a tricky opponent and knocked out Novak Djokovic at the French Open, and Roger has obviously looked wobbly, but I reckon he’s found his feet now. Prediction: Roger in four.

Winner to meet …

Tomas Berdych v Daniel Brands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

H2H: 0-0

Daniel Brands has, for me, been one of the surprises of the tournament; after beating Igor Andreev, Nikolay Davydenko, and Victor Hanescu (albeit in circumstances which bear examination, more on that later), he’s now through to the round of sixteen in his very first Wimbledon. And that’s not something that every bronzed sex god can pull out of the bag (I saw him at several points during Wimbledon, and he is.) He’s been excellent in tiebreaks and high-pressure situations, but Berdych certainly should be a bridge too far; he won his first two matches in straights and did get taken to five by Denis Istomin – but Istomin has been having some very good results of late. Definitely the hottest match of the day, anyway … Prediction: Berdych in three.

Novak Djokovic v Lleyton Hewitt

H2H: 3-1

Probably the most eagerly anticipated match-up of the day on the men’s side, what’s surprising to me is that Nole has won both of their previous meetings on grass; once at Queens in 2008, and once at this stage during Wimbledon in 2007. Since that time, however, Nole has been floundering – not least at Wimbledon – and Lleyton is arguably riding a great wave of confidence, coming off a win against Federer in Halle and a very decent Wimbledon last year. Everyone seems to be giving the edge to Hewitt, who’s had a good run including a straight sets defeat of Gael Monfils in the third round; Nole, on the other hand, seemed to make progress in his defeat of Taylor Dent, but laboured to a victory over a dreadful Montanes. I’m going with Nole, however, in the hope that that will Make It True. Prediction: Nole in five.

Winner to meet …

Andy Roddick v Yen-Hsun Lu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

H2H: 3-0

Please. Despite many predictions of an early exit, Roddick has withstood inspired tennis from Michael Llodra and Philipp Kohlschreiber to be in the fourth round. When he does go out, it won’t be to Lu – no disrespect to the player from Chinese Taipei, who I saw putting paid to Horacio Zeballos in the very first round. Prediction: If it isn’t Roddick in three, something’s gone seriously wrong somewhere.

Julien Benneteau v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

H2H: 3-3

Neither of these two have had a very smooth route through, but through they are as part of a stellar showing for France at this year’s Championships. Benneteau has played fourteen sets in beating Vliegen, Beck and Fognini’s eyebrows, while Jo was stretched to the limit by the artist formerly known as Oleksandr Dolgopolov Jr. in the second round. I’m surprised their head-to-head is so evenly balanced, but Jo won their only other meeting on grass, and I’d be surprised if it didn’t go the same way – especially since Benny has had to work so hard to get here. I just hope it isn’t a total disappointment, as it is all too often when the French play each other. Prediction: Jo in three.

Winner to meet …

Sam Querrey v Andy Murray

H2H: 0-3

Sam has never taken so much of a set off Andy in their previous meetings. And Andy has yet to drop a set at this year’s championships. I think both these things might be about to change. Murray has yet to be seriously tested – and now has the full weight of our nation’s expectations back on his shoulders after the abysmal performance of England’s footballers at the World Cup today – while Sam has had two tough matches against Malisse and, er, Ivan Dodig. He also has his famously laid-back attitude (when he’s not storming back off to the States in a snit) which serves him well on an occasion like this. Still, I think Andy will win. I have to believe that when Andy loses here, it won’t be to Sam Querrey, Queen’s champion though he might be. Prediction: Murray in five.

Robin Soderling v David Ferrer

H2H: 5-2

Two of my favourite players still in this year’s draw. I’m excited. But not that excited, because Robin has looked in fearsome form and while that sometimes means a player is ripe for an upset, especially when they’re being tipped as a strong contender, it’s not going to come from Ferru (bless him), who narrowly escaped defeat at the hands of Jeremy Chardy last round when the latter enacted what I don’t think it’s unfair to describe as a massive choke. Will Ferru prove me wrong and deny everyone a Nadal-Soderling quarterfinal? No. Prediction: Robin in straights.

Winner to meet …

Rafael Nadal v Paul-Henri Mathieu

H2H: 9-0

You’ll notice Paul-Henri Mathieu is pictured running into a wall. There’s a reason for that. Rafa encountered a spot of bother in his last match, courtesy of an inspired and determined Philipp Petzchner, eventually triumphing in five sets during which he called the trainer more than once and was warned for coaching. However, Rafa says the knee (for which he called the trainer – also, something in the armular region, possibly) is not an issue, and while Mathieu has been on a good run, most impressively beating Mikhail Youzhny, it ends here. Honestly, we all know Mathieu is frantically talented, but does anyone really think he’ll keep it together enough to seriously challenge Rafa? Prediction: Rafa in straights.

What do you think?

Posted in andy murray, andy roddick, daniel brands, david ferrer, jo-wilfried tsonga, julien benneteau, jurgen melzer, lleyton hewitt, novak djokovic, paul-henri mathieu, rafael nadal, robin soderling, roger federer, sam querrey, tomas berdych, wimbledon, yen-hsun lu | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

RG Day Fifteen: Now With Words

Posted by gauloises1 on June 8, 2010

Not good words, though. So first allow me to distract you with the coolest photo I may have ever seen.

Gladiator.

OK, so. I’ve been putting off blogging about this, not because I’m not happy about it, but because I’m not really sure what I can say about it, apart from ‘wow’. (Although I recommend everyone reads C Note’s fantastic post on Rafa’s mentality, if you haven’t already.) In the nicest possible way, the final felt like going back in time, in that I didn’t really learn anything from it that I didn’t already know. To wit …

… Rafa is awesome. He is. He was. Ruthless in defense, relentless in his pursuit of every single ball and every single point, and able to bring again that twist of wonder (slightly sick wonder, if you’re rooting for the other guy) at doing things not just that no-one else can do, but that it seems no-one should be able to do. If you want that slightly more technically, you’re on the wrong blog I was particularly impressed with the consistent depth he got on his shots and how well he served, two elements that were missing last time he played Soderling at Roland Garros. And if you want it in numbers … well, it’s his fifth Roland Garros title; he got the Clay Slam (it’s a thing); he won twenty-two straight matches; and he dropped just two sets doing it (neither in Paris). I mean, what can you say about that? Apart from ‘please can you donate some of your sperm to British tennis’? I know some ladies who will volunteer to, er, take care of the logistics.

Love the look on the ballgirl’s face.

… Rafa likes winning. I amused myself throughout the third set by wondering whether he’d cry. He did. And if you saw his celebrations, it was impossible not to get some sense of just how much it meant to him. It can be a little mystifying, but it’s never less than moving. And it’s not about the numbers or the ranking; it’s just about being there, playing his tennis, and winning. It’s as pure and impenetrable as that.

Q. When you won, did you feel that this was a triumph of all the hardships that you’ve experienced over this past year?
RAFAEL NADAL: The feeling is when you win you know how many hours you had on court, how many hours you was thinking and working to play your best tennis, how much time you wait to win another time a title.
For me was 11 months without win a title, so a lot of tournaments going back to home without a victory. A lot of moments, difficult moments, because in a few of these tournaments I had to retired for the problems.
So is difficult moments to accept I say before, and this, sure, it’s very important for me. It was personal goal to be back at my best. So I did.
And for me, sure, the important thing is Roland Garros. But for me the biggest thing is the personal satisfaction to be here, to be here another time and to be at the top level.

And he really means it.

… Winning Slams is really, really hard. And no, this didn’t just dawn on me, but it did grow out of the similarities I saw on Sunday to Murray’s performance against Federer in Melbourne, and Stosur’s performance against Schiavone on Saturday. In all three cases, the losing player had been to some extent the player of the tournament, providing the upsets, the drama, the out-of-this-world performances. Robin’s tennis against Marin and against Federer reached a level for me, like Sam against Justine and JJ, that their opponent had not matched throughout. And yet it gets to the final, and that tennis simply isn’t there.

For the record, I don’t think Robin played a bad match at all. He wasn’t superlative, but honestly I think that was Rafa as much as anything else. Rafa played so well and gave Robin so few opportunities that when Robin did work himself into a position that he had the point on his racquet, he overpressed and missed. And while Robin is perfectly capable of overcoming that – we’ve seen him do it – on the day, in the moment, for the final, he just didn’t have it.

And then this happens.

The situation is of course exacerbated when you have two players at the top of the rankings who are so consistently and phenomenally capable of bringing it on the big occasion, which really underlines how incredibly bloody difficult it is to beat Federer and Nadal in the same Slam (raise your hand, Delpo – the left one, please. And carefully.) Honestly, what kind of absurd heights is someone going to have to reach in order to beat Nadal in a final at Roland Garros? Are we ever going to see it? Answers on a postcard.

… Robin is adorable. In case this message hasn’t filtered through. He is as nice, as sweet and as gracious as you could ask for. So there.

But like I say … I already knew all of the above. I really did. There may have been some ridiculous premature burial of Rafa by elements of the media and the fandom over the past twelve months, but I believed that it would be revealed to be totally myopic once Rafa got his feet (and functioning knees) back on clay, and so it has proved. I know that often being a fan leads more readily to despair, whether because you care more or because it’s an effective method of insulating yourself. But did anyone really believe that we wouldn’t see this again?

I’m really asking. Now that the dust has somewhat settled, what did you make of the final? Deja vu all over again, or did you find this triumphant reprise of familiar themes satisfying? To quote Daniel Bedingfield … I wanna know.

Posted in french open, rafael nadal, robin soderling, titlists | Tagged: , | 7 Comments »

 
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