And because whitelinefervor will visit his wrath upon me if I don’t … all hail Henri Kontinen, who beat Dustin Brown of the Jam planet in ‘den Bosch today. That’s HenKon’s first match since April after he *mumbled* his *mumble* and his first non-Davis Cup ATP main draw win of 2010. Hooray.
Because there are no photos, have one of HenKon bonding with an ostrich.
Just under 24 hours. Exactly 1,000 votes counted. People I didn’t even know read this blog weighing in hilariously in the comments. Probable, I’m not going to lie, massive corruption. One candidate breaking through the fourth wall to campaign for himself. And at the end of all things, one man is left standing.
Well … sort of.
With 25.8% of the vote … David Ferrer!
And with 25.9% of the vote … Henri Kontinen!
Ladies and gentlemen, I believe what we have here is a hung blog.
So … what do we do? Declare a second, special run-off election? Disband the blog? Set fire to everything and run around in our knickers for a bit? I say no. As the unelected, autocratic head of state here, I’m going to broker a compromise that will hopefully be acceptable to everyone. Yes, I’m Gauloises1. And basically, I rule.
So I suggest the following. I love HenKon dearly, but is he really ready to carry the weight of New Balls, Please at this tender stage in his development? I say no. So I’m declaring David Ferrer the official New Balls, Please interim ultrafave until the return of Delpo. Tagline and all. But I will also commit to obsessive, downright nauseating coverage of HenKon, because frankly, he deserves it.
Update: Please note that polls will stay open until midnight GMT tonight, in the grand electoral tradition. There’s still time to campaign …
So. It’s time to face up to the elephant in the room. Even the most optimistic estimates acknowledge that we are facing a long, barren summer/autumn/winter/future without Delpo on the tour, and whatever news we do get about him is likely to be depressing. It’s also true that, for some inexplicable reason, Delpo has become the main mascot, poster-boy and raison d’etre of New Balls, Please. He’s our tagline. He’s the majority of my posts. And while it’s safe to say that this will always be the case, now that the first shock of the news has worn off and the reality of Roland Garros, Wimbledon, Davis Cup and almost certainly the US Open without him is sinking in, the mind turns inevitably to coping strategies. Not for me personally; enough drinking will almost certainly take care of that. For this increasingly sporadic blog of mine.
Henceforth, I propose the following: the immediate adoption of an interim ultrafave as the stand-in recipient of my most obsessive blogging attention. I’ll do my best to watch his matches and rhapsodise about them or bewail them at length; I’ll keep you up-to-date on the latest news about him, no matter how trivial; and I won’t let a week go by without posting new (or old but suitably appealing) photos, no matter how specious the excuse. I’ll even change the tagline of the blog to reflect the shift in focus. And in the spirit of election day in Great Britain (I get excited about voting, OK?), I thought I would make this a democratic decision and hold a poll. Obviously whoever it is will probably get dumped like yesterday’s empties when Delpo comes back, but in the meantime … You, the reader (there may only be one of you these days), will decide.
So, without further ado, I present to you my shortlist for the stand-in mascot of New Balls, Please.
Cons: I’ve been anywhere between ambivalent and downright mean about him in the past, thus risking increasing my well-established (and deserved) reputation for fickleness; only known bromance is with Steps; frequent discussion of his sandwich-avoiding girlfriend will also probably be necessary; he may find out about me and eat my liver.
Suggested tagline: “New Balls, Please: Feeding the masses on Lucie Safarova’s leftovers.”
Cons: Not that much actual news about him, so I would have to make it up find some.
Suggested tagline: “New Balls, Please: Nobody nose Bellucci like we do.”
Pros: former Wimbledon boys’ champion trying to make it on the tour, offering you a unique chance to get in on the next big thing very, very early; prolific tweeter; supplies a lot of his own cute photographs; well-established bromance potential.
Cons: would force me to blog a lot about Challengers and Futures and such; potential massive loss of investment if he isn’t, after all, the next big or even a thing.
Suggested tagline: “New Balls, Please: In three years’ time, we’ll look amazingly prescient. Maybe.”
Pros:Starting to capitalise on his huge talent (not a euphemism); hilarious press conferences; never dull.
Suggested tagline: “New Balls, Please: Where we’d do Ernests Gulbis for free.”
So those are the candidates – but only you can decide. Please cast your vote, and then elaborate on your choice/suggest alternative taglines/ let me know who should have been on the shortlist and why in the comments. Remember: destiny is in your hands.
(Please note that I’m going to do what I want regardless of your vote, just as soon as I’ve figured out what it is I want. I did say this was inspired by the UK’s general election.)
Bad news for cute boys and the girls who love them; Henri Kontinen and Grigor Dmitrov both lost their first round matches at the Stockholm Open today. Grigor got just two games off Jarkko Nieminen, and HenKon lost two tight sets to fellow qualifier Michael Berrer. Ah well, at least they can console each other. Hopefully in some way that involves staying away from ladies of the evening/policewomen disguised as such.
Also, HenKon, WTF is with that bandana? To paraphrase IRTTY, please stop raiding Clement’s armoire. And in a seamless segue, Clement himself won his first ATP match in like five months, beating fifth seed Andreas Beck 62 64. Oh – and Nose Job won. Always a cause for minor celebration.
The Kremlin Cup also chugs along, losing a mere three seeds, two at the hands of American journeymen. Wayne Odesnik saved one match point on the way to defeating second seed Victor Hanescu, who seems to be a bit burned out judging by his recent results, and Robby Ginepri defeated the Artist Formerly Known as a Top Player, Igor Andreev. Whatever.
Singles – First Round
W Odesnik (USA) d  V Hanescu (ROU) 57 75 64 – saved 1 M.P.
R Ginepri (USA) d  I Andreev (RUS) 63 67(9) 76(1)
 J Tipsarevic (SRB) d D Koellerer (AUT) 64 63
 F Santoro (FRA) d [WC] A Kuznetsov (RUS) 46 62 62
A Golubev (KAZ) d  M Vassallo Arguello (ARG) 75 63
[Q] S Stakhovsky (UKR) d [WC] M Biryukov (RUS) 60 62
[Q] M Kukushkin (KAZ) d F Fognini (ITA) 64 57 64
C Rochus (BEL) d M Gicquel (FRA) 75 ret. (sore throat)
M Granollers (ESP) d [Q] N Kiefer (GER) 64 10 ret. (lower back pain)
Doubles – First Round
 F Cermak (CZE) / M Mertinak (SVK) d F Santoro (FRA) / M Youzhny (RUS) 76(6) 75
 E Butorac (USA) / R Ram (USA) d I Kunitsyn (RUS) / M Safin (RUS) 62 64
Singles – First Round
[Q] A Clement (FRA) d  A Beck (GER) 64 62
[Q] M Berrer (GER) d [Q] H Kontinen (FIN) 75 76(7)
T Bellucci (BRA) d [Q] F Nielsen (DEN) 76(6) 63
O Rochus (BEL) d [WC] A Vinciguerra (SWE) 63 62
R Kendrick (USA) d O Hernandez (ESP) 63 64
J Nieminen (FIN) d [WC] G Dimitrov (BUL) 60 62
A Seppi (ITA) d V Crivoi (ROU) 64 61
Doubles – First Round
 B Soares (BRA) / K Ullyett (ZIM) d [WC] P Brydolf (SWE) / A Siljestrom (SWE) 76(1) 63
 J Kerr (AUS) / T Parrott (USA) d M Melo (BRA) / A Sa (BRA) 62 61
B Becker (GER) / D Skoch (CZE) d L Arnold Ker (ARG) / J Monaco (ARG) 60 76(3)
F Lopez (ESP) / M Lopez (ESP) d G Garcia-Lopez (ESP) / P Luczak (AUS) 75 63
Still a bit way behind with this whole tennis thing and frankly am only blogging now because I’m too nervous about stuff I have going on tomorrow to sleep. But still! Tournaments are happening! Tennis is being played! Prostitutes are being solicited!
Fairly good day for my guys in Stockholm today. Two seeds are out already; Benjamin Becker at the hands of compatriot Simon Greul, and Albert Montanes at the hands of a certain Horseface. Well done indeed. The Pimback continues as Joachim Johansson beat Luczak, and Pico had a scare against Jan Hernych (who came fairly close to beating JMDP in Montreal, if memory serves) but survived, as the beautiful should.
And give it up for HenKon, the very lovely Henri Kontinen, who beat the seventh seed Marco Crugnola to qualify into the main draw. This boy is the future of ATP adorableness, I’m telling you. Unless he turns out to be one of the johns.
Routine stuff in Moscow at the Kremlin Cup today. Homeboys Mikhail Youzhny and Teimuraz Gabashvili posted wins. I am happy about this.
Singles – First Round  M Youzhny (RUS) d H Zeballos (ARG) 61 76(5)
 P Cuevas (URU) d Y Lu (TPE) 64 62
T Gabashvili (RUS) d K Beck (SVK) 36 64 64
P Starace (ITA) d [WC] E Donskoy (RUS)63 63
Doubles – First Round A Golubev (KAZ) / E Korolev (RUS) d  R Hutchins (GBR) / H Tecau (ROU) 76(4) 26 10-8
M Vassallo Arguello (ARG) / H Zeballos (ARG) d [WC] I Belyaev (RUS) / P Davydenko (RUS) 61 63
Singles – First Round
 J Monaco (ARG) d J Hernych (CZE) 62 57 75
S Greul (GER) d  B Becker (GER) 26 63 75
G Garcia-Lopez (ESP) d A Martin (ESP) 63 62
L Mayer (ARG) d  A Montanes (ESP) 64 63
[WC] J Johansson (SWE) d P Luczak (AUS) 75 62
Doubles – First Round  J Coetzee (RSA) / S Huss (AUS) d [WC] H Kontinen (FIN) / J Nieminen (FIN) 26 63 10-6