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"Climbing the Comeback Mountain with the Tower of Tandil."

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Shtoo-rill IV: Everyone Else

Posted by gauloises1 on April 28, 2011

And now for a melange of other people from the past few days, again courtesy of Pedro Mendes. (He also gives me lifts in his car. He’s like the perfect man.)

Antonio Van Grichen, checking out the craic. Again.

The lovely Bella Bellucci in his match against Frederik Nielsen. He’s in the quarter-finals tomorrow against Pablo Cuevas and keeps wandering past looking infuriatingly handsome when no-one has a camera to hand. Rude.

A small selection of photos of the beautiful Jarmila Gajdosova  (who I also wrote about for from her matches against Voracova and Dellacqua.

Igor Andreev, who was not loving life against Milos Raonic.

Milos Raonic himself, who’s just incredibly impressive in person and is about to take the court against local wildcard Joao Sousa.

Casey Dellacqua, who showed flashes of her old ball-striking in her defeat yesterday to Jarka G. Nice to see her back.


Sloane Stephens, who impressed in her defeat to Monica Niculescu. She’s going to be a thing.

Monica Niculescu, who annoyed in her victory over Sloane Stephens.

Romana Oprandi. No words.

Frederico Gil with doubles buddy and pal Leonardo Tavares. Wee Fred, as I’ve started to call him, is a huge star here in Estoril; he’s the highest-ranked player Portugal has ever produced and was their first player to make it to a final at this very tournament last year. He gets mobbed while the likes of Tsonga and Soderling walk past unnoticed. It’s lovely.

Jo himself, who lost to Pablo Cuevas yesterday but was the soul of graciousness in his presser, insisting that Cuevas just played too well. Well played, Jo. Well, not actually well played, but you know what I mean.

Posted in estoril | 5 Comments »

Shtoo-rill III: Delpo Time!

Posted by gauloises1 on April 28, 2011

Here are some belated photos of JMDP from his first two matches against Sousa and Falla (courtesy once again of the legendary Pedro).

After an initial wobble against Sousa, JMDP looked terrifyingly solid against Falla yesterday and now faces Robin Soderling in the quarter-finals tomorrow. I wrote a sort of thing about that match here on; by way of prediction, let me say that on on-court form, JMDP will win. On practice court form, Robin will win. Either way, it’s going to be exciting …

Here is the transcript of yesterday’s (very short) press conference …

Your level today, was it even better than yesterday and how pleased are you?

Yes, I played much better today. I feel confidence with my game and basically with my serve. Always it’s tough to play against this kind of player but I made a good match, I go through and hopefully be ready to play against Soderling.

You’ve beaten him on all surfaces but never clay. What are you thinking of for the next match?

Well, for me, I think it’s going to be different here with different weather, different surface. He’s playing really well this season, he made fantastic results on clay and he’s playing really good tennis. Of course I will try to beat him but I will need to be focused during the match all the time and try to take my opportunities and be in good shape to beat him.

How close do you feel you are to the kind of form you had in 2009, and what aspects of your game need to get better, do you think?

I don’t know, I’m trying to come back at a good level. I think I’m improving very fast and I don’t know if I can play like I did in 2009 or not; maybe I can play worse, or better, this year. But I know it’s a long road to be safety [sic], to be healthy and play on all surfaces against all the players and at a good level too. But I am trying to improve my game, and improve my body, my physique and I will see if I’m ready to play again.

Guess who asked the final, idiotic question? Yes, that’s right. I did. In fairness, I wasn’t expecting to say anything. In fact, I thought seriously that I wasn’t going in for fear of crying or falling over or spontaneously combusting. But then he walked in, all giant and … giant with his tousled hair, and I couldn’t resist. And then nobody else had any questions after the first two and, well, I couldn’t let him leave thinking he wasn’t wanted. In fact, I couldn’t let him leave.

So I said a question, the only question which occurred to me at that point (apart from “So, Juan Martin, how are you so GIANT and AMAZING?!”), and he answered me looking at me all the time with his amazing green eyes – which, in person, are up close and amazing. And I pretended to scribble notes in my notebook and audibly giggled when he said he needed to improve his body, and thanked him very politely after he finished, and then went off and died in a corner.

Oh, and you don’t get the full humiliating force of this story until you realise that I was sunburned at the time, but only on the bits I’d missed with my factor 50, while the rest of my skin continues to be blinding white.

And that is the story of probably the one and only time I will ever get to be in a room with Juan Martin del Potro, let alone have him speak to me or look at me with his huge, amazing green eyes. (Seriously, I think I’m pregnant. With a green baby.) But just in case I do catch him tomorrow (my last day), can anyone think of any sensible/witty/incisive questions I should ask him?

Apart from “So, Juan Martin, how are you so GIANT and AMAZING?!”. Because he is.

Posted in estoril, juan martin del potro | Tagged: | 11 Comments »

Shtoo-rill II: The Verdasconing

Posted by gauloises1 on April 26, 2011

Hey, so. I wrote a thing about Heather Watson for and another thing about Alisa Kleybanova which should be up soon. But because I love you, here’s some more pictures courtesy (and copyright) of the fantastic Pedro Mendes of the goings-on in Estoril.

Jarmila Gajdosova sexing it up.

Pablo Cuevas. Likewise.

The very cute Tiago Fernandes, who will one day be a thing, mark my words.

Heather Watson, a.k.a. Our Hev, who had a really tough match today against Tamira Paszek and missed qualifying into the main draw. She was understandably gutted, but we won’t forget her.

Adrian Mannarino and Gaston Elias respectively, both of whom lost today.

Antonio Van Grichen, coach of Vika, Vera and Ivanovic, checking out the craic.

Jo and Marc Gicquel checking out the Chardy-Mannarino match.

Bendy Robin, who has been just a beast on the practice courts.

Dimple close-up during the practice match with Verdasco. Believe me, it wasn’t Verdasco’s tennis that was worrying him.

Verdasco wringing out his shirt. Love the expression on Robin’s face in the second photo.

Verdasco using the world as his washing line. He was not looking good in practice today, I’m told. Tennistically, that is.

Gilles and Yves Allergo playing doubles on Centralito. They lost to Pablo Andujar and Daniel Gimeno-Traver, but the most entertaining part of the match was waiting for Gilles to explode in frustration. Which he duly did, yelling “Ah, this fucking bitch of a line!” during the second set. Comedy gold.

Posted in estoril | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments »


Posted by gauloises1 on April 23, 2011

That’s how you pronounce ‘Estoril’, apparently, and that’s where I am, havin’ it large (and sometimes small). I’m doing some writing for other sources but I thought you’d appreciate some photo content.

No, they’re not my photos. I didn’t bring a camera – at least, not one that I can hook up to a computer. (I’m bringing the disposable camera back.) These are courtesy of the fantastic Pedro Mendes and I’m sure you’ll agree he’s a handy man with a lens.

The omnipresent Jeremy Chardy, daring you not to look at his bulge.

The very beautiful Jarmila Groth Gajdisova at the draw ceremony.

The very lovely Heather Watson, who had a great win in qualifying aganst Karolina Sprem and was then nice enough to chat to me afterwards. Forgot to ask if she would be stalking Delpo though.

Speaking of which …

The big man was on cheerful form in practice today, generally goofing around and being a bit lazy. He was cracking those forehands, though. And was promptly engulfed by a crowd of autograph-seeking kids as he left the court.

… No comment.  

(These photos belong to Pedro Mendes, so please don’t steal them.)

Posted in estoril, heather watson, jarmila groth, jeremy chardy, juan martin del potro | Tagged: , , , | 8 Comments »

Played For and Got.

Posted by gauloises1 on March 21, 2011

Much to be said about tonight’s final between Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic, and indeed their respective semi-final victories over JMDP and Federer at Indian Wells. Unfortunately it’s late here and I have been beaten into submission by blueberry vodka this weekend, but I will say this …

Is there any doubt that Novak Djokovic is the best player in the world right now? He is 18-0 in ATP matches since the start of the season, he has just beaten Federer to reclaim the world no. 2 ranking, and in beating Nadal 46 63 62 today for the Indian Wells trophy, he has become just the third player to twice beat Federer and Nadal in the same tournament. And unlike Nalbandian and Davydenko, the other two members of that little club, the man has two Grand Slam titles. No other player has had a run like this in the Fedal era.

Today’s match was a strange one. Neither player was quite at their best and inevitably, Nadal’s kerplosion midway through the second set will garner a lot of attention. But you can’t consider it in isolation from the man on the other side of the net, and Djokovic simply kept getting better and better. In a battle of wills, it was Nadal who blinked and Djokovic who bore down relentlessly. How cool is that?

It won’t last, because form is evanescent, because the body and mind can only give so much, because there is Nadal to contend with and clay season is approaching fast. But right now, Djokovic is supreme.

It’s fun. 

Posted in indian wells, novak djokovic, titlists | Tagged: | 12 Comments »

“A Bit More Emo.”

Posted by gauloises1 on March 18, 2011

The transcendentally excellent sketch featuring Andy Murray and the cast of Outnumbered for Comic Relief:

I genuinely love this, not just because Muzz has successfully graduated from the Dan Radcliffe School of Acting and is merely Harry Potter bad as opposed to unbelievably bad, but because of Dad’s final comment: “He was a bit standoffish, wasn’t he?” Because you just know that is Andy’s daily experience; being incredibly nice and gracious to people’s requests and still getting condemned for being, well, him. It’s funny because it’s true.

And I hate saying this because I sound like a horrible TV presenter but … ifyouenjoyedthissketchpleasepleasedonatetoComicRelief. Thanks.

Posted in andy murray, video | Tagged: | 6 Comments »

Mr & Miss Intensity

Posted by gauloises1 on March 18, 2011

Congratulations to Maria Sharapova and Rafael Nadal, who competed their way into the Indian Wells semi-finals last night.

Sharapova effortlessly dominated the first set, then completely lost her way, struggling with Peng’s retrieving and resistance and above all her own serve, which totally collapsed. It really looked like she was going out until with her back against the wall, she reeled off two clean and beautiful backhand winners in consecutive points and from that point on, never looked back. Very well done to her, although I don’t favour her chances in the semi-final, given that Wozniacki is (I think) her equal in competitive tenacity and has a game built to elicit the kind of unforced errors she’s so prone to.

Huge props to Peng Shuai for her run here. She’s going to be in a Slam quarter-final before the year is out. /bold prediction

Yet again, I didn’t see Rafa play because it was in the middle of the night. I did watch the first set and thought that Karlovic’s excellent play rather than anything Nadal was doing or not doing was responsible for the good doctor taking it 75. Nadal came back strongly in the second set and finally scraped through (quoting the headlines) 9-7 in the final tiebreak.

Sad for the good Dr. Ivo but he’s had an absolutely amazing run here in Indian Wells and should be getting a wildcard anywhere he wants one from now on. And he’s 32. Christ on a bike.

Posted in indian wells, ivo karlovic, maria sharapova, shuai peng | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Indian Wells Runs Dry

Posted by gauloises1 on March 17, 2011

Bit of a damp squib, today’s day session as Wozniacki and del Potro both progressed to the semi-finals without playing a whole match.

Azarenka played a hotly-contested first two games with Wozniacki, went down an immediate break after having chances to break in the first game, and then was 30-0 down in the third when she pulled up mid-point as her left leg buckled under her. She hobbled off court, returned after an injury timeout and, limping, finished out the game. Her coach Samuel Sumyck advised her to “be wise” and retire, and she did. Really sad, a great disappointment and a worrying sign for the rest of the season, given that a left thigh problem troubled her for much of 2010 and prevented her getting any rhythm. Apparently the injury is to the left hip flexor. Get better soon, Vika. I’m sadfacing all over the place for you.

It was particularly poignant after Wozniacki brought a Japanese flag on to the court and asked for a minute’s silence to mark the events there, apparently something she and Vika had cooked up together.

I know I disparage Wozniacki a lot, but really, the WTA couldn’t hope for two nicer women than her and Vika.

Hot on the heels of that particular crapfest, Tommy Robredo was forced to pull out due to what I’ve heard reported as a left abductor injury, which was troubling him during his previous match with Querrey and reportedly has been a worry for some time. Robredo said he has a strain in two different places and is risking a tear. Absolutely right for him to pull out, but it’s a shame – for him, for the ticket-holders, the fans, everybody. I hope he recovers quickly.

About the only person it doesn’t entirely suck for is JMDP, who can probably go back to bed now as he is in the semi-finals, which should be happy but really isn’t under these circumstances. He will play the winner of the Nadal-Karlovic match later on tonight.

Posted in caroline wozniacki, indian wells, tommy robredo, victoria azarenka | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Men’s Quarter-Finals Set at Indian Wells.

Posted by gauloises1 on March 17, 2011

Juan Martin del Potro and Tommy Robredo we know about. But who else is in the quarter-finals? Stunningly, these three:

Neither Roger nor Rafa had a particularly easy time of it during last night’s night session – which I didn’t watch because it was in the middle of the bloody night – as Ryan Harrison and Somdev Devvarman respectively put up a good fight, but they still won in straight sets and progress. It doesn’t quite match Djokovic’s frankly terrifying 60 61 victory over Viktor Troicki, but then what does? I’m starting to idly wonder if Nole kept on being unbeatable for the next, say, two years, whether I would eventually find it boring. I don’t think so.

Rafa will face Ivo Karlovic in the quarters after the Croatian with a mission beat Albert Montanes, 76(7) 62. I must admit I haven’t watched Karlovic since he upset Ferrer earlier in the tournament, but he does seem to be doing something right. The winner of that will meet either JMDP or Robredo.

Based on the fun last night, it looks as if Djokovic’s next match might finally be a challenge for him after Richard Gasquet completely outplayed Andy Roddick for a 63 76(5) victory. I can’t really do justice to the way Gasquet played except to say that it was a beautiful, brief shining reminder of exactly why we’ve all talked about this man forever. He backhanded Roddick to death, was cool and clutch in the biggest moments, and had the American so frustrated that he tossed his racquet more than once and attempted to give the umpire a warning for “freaking ineptitude”. I can understand his emotions at being so publicly trampled upon, but he doesn’t win my respect with that attitude – particularly because I don’t think he would have behaved like that if he’d been across the net from, say, Federer. Anyway, Gasquet moves on with a well-deserved victory, and if he brings the same form to the court against Djokovic, we could have a classic.

Completing the final eight is Stan Wawrinka, who has quietly been having a dead impressive tournament, proving too good for Nikolay Davydenko, Marin Cilic and Tomas Berdych in succession. It’s hard to put your finger on what separates top-flight Stan from regular Stan, and harder still to predict if he can bring it to the court against Federer, but if he does this could be another brilliant match. All in all, it’s a sensational quarter-finals lineup with the tantalising possibility of upsets. I’m excited.


Singles – Fourth Round
[1] R Nadal (ESP) d [Q] S Devvarman (IND) 75 64
[2] R Federer (SUI) d [WC] R Harrison (USA) 76(4) 63
[3] N Djokovic (SRB) d [16] V Troicki (SRB) 60 61
[12] S Wawrinka (SUI) d [7] T Berdych (CZE) 36 64 64
[18] R Gasquet (FRA) d [8] A Roddick (USA) 63 76(5)
[25] T Robredo (ESP) d [21] S Querrey (USA) 61 63
I Karlovic (CRO) d [23] A Montanes (ESP) 76(7) 62
J Del Potro (ARG) d [32] P Kohlschreiber (GER) 76(3) 76(7)

Doubles – Quarter-finals
A Dolgopolov (UKR) / X Malisse (BEL) d A Murray (GBR) / J Murray (GBR) 67(7) 63 10-8
R Bopanna (IND) / A Qureshi (PAK) d N Djokovic (SRB) / V Troicki (SRB) 61 76(5)


STADIUM 1 start 11:00 am
[1] C Wozniacki (DEN) vs [8] V Azarenka (BLR) – WTA

Not Before 1:00 PM
J Del Potro (ARG) vs [25] T Robredo (ESP) – ATP

Not Before 3:00 PM
[16] M Sharapova (RUS) vs S Peng (CHN) – WTA
M Knowles (BAH) / M Mertinak (SVK) vs R Federer (SUI) / S Wawrinka (SUI) – ATP

Not Before 7:00 PM
[1] R Nadal (ESP) vs I Karlovic (CRO) – ATP
D Hantuchova (SVK) / A Radwanska (POL) vs S Mirza (IND) / E Vesnina (RUS) – WTA

STADIUM 2 start :
Not Before 1:00 PM
[6] V Azarenka (BLR) / M Kirilenko (RUS) vs [8] B Mattek-Sands (USA) / M Shaughnessy (USA) – WTA – After Suitable Rest

Not Before 3:30 PM
A Dolgopolov (UKR) / X Malisse (BEL) vs R Bopanna (IND) / A Qureshi (PAK)

STADIUM 3 start 12:30 pm
R Turner (USA) vs V Verma (USA) – IWTG CHAMPIONSHIP 4.0
N Dechant (USA) vs R Romero (USA) – IWTG CHAMPIONSHIP 3.5

Posted in andy roddick, indian wells, ivo karlovic, novak djokovic, rafael nadal, richard gasquet, roger federer, stanislas wawrinka | Tagged: , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Indian Wells: Bartoli and Wickmayer to Meet in Semi-finals

Posted by gauloises1 on March 17, 2011

And yes, catty people, I would buy a ticket for that match.

OK, maybe I wouldn’t. But that’s mainly because Bartoli’s match with Ivanovic was so dreadful. Marion was clearly having some serious physical issues to the extent that she looked about to die between points, and although she played well, particularly in the first set, it would only have taken a small amount of fortitude from Ivanovic on her serve to take it to a third set, which would have put paid to Marion’s challenge. So a bit of an UFE-fest, all told. But it’s still an encouraging tournament for Ivanovic, who’s so nearly put herself back together, and as for Marion – it’s her third Premier semi-final in different events, and I say allez to that.

A bit of revenge and a first Indian Wells semi-final for Wicky, who beat Peer 63 63. I didn’t see the match – did anyone? – but no doubt Wickmayer’s shorter fourth round match served her well against Peer, who had to battle for hours. I like her chances against Bartoli.

Posted in ana ivanovic, indian wells, marion bartoli, shahar peer, yanina wickmayer | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »