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Archive for the ‘milos raonic’ Category

Indian Wells: Blaze of Glory

Posted by gauloises1 on March 16, 2011

(WC) Ryan Harrison d. (WC) Milos Raonic, 76(1) 46 64

Blame Canada the U.S.A.

I was really hoping that Raonic would take care of Harrison in this particular battle of the North American young guns / wildcard recipients. For one thing, I really do like Raonic; for another, I don’t care for Harrison at all, mainly based on how he behaved at Queens last year (a lot like Roddick at his worst without the charm). But I was nothing but impressed by his game yesterday and his attitude; he threw himself neck-or-nothing at Raonic’s serves and the net equally and displayed great touch and a cool head at the biggest moments.

Not that Raonic played badly at all. It was a fun, high-quality match that had a lot of wild predictions being thrown around (the Grand Slam rivalry of the future? We’ll see) and Harrison’s play definitely definitely justified a big celebration.

He gets Federer next. Best of luck with that, young man.  

Posted in indian wells, milos raonic, ryan harrison | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

Indian Wells: Kvitova, Groth, Hewitt Out

Posted by gauloises1 on March 12, 2011

That’s the bad news. The good news is that it’s televised from tonight. Thank god. 

The women’s matches were the more interesting last night, as the top seeds were in action for the first time. Almost all cruised through, including Clijsters, Zvonareva and defending champion Jankovic. The highest-profile casualty was Petra Kvitova, who is seemingly intent on proving that she is simply not to be trusted week in or week out; she lost in three sets to Barbora Zahlalova Strycova, thus easing Ivanovic’s draw a little. Andrea Petkovic managed a very tricky opponent in Lucie Safarova, but Jarmila Groth, the 29th seed, lost to Sara Errani and 30th seed Tsvetana Pironkova went down to a dare-we-say-she’s-slightly-resurgent Alize Cornet.

No major names in action on the men’s side yet but plenty of interest. Delightful to see Julien Benneteau getting a straightforward 64 64 win over Feliciano Lopez, and the unseeded Davydenko surviving a potentially tricky encounter with Fognini. Wildcard Bernard Tomic rather battled to a victory over Bopanna, and fellow young gun Milos Raonic- remember him? – is back and beating Marsel Ilhan like it’s going out of style.

Disappointing losses however for Lleyton Hewitt, roundly defeated by Yen-Hsun Lu, and Kei Nishikori, edged in three by Igor Andreev. Never mind boys.

Meanwhile, in a development that is in no way related to next summer’s Olympics, half the men’s field have also been playing doubles and there were wins for Federer (with Wawrinka), Nadal (with Marc Lopez), Melzner, Quisner, Djokovic (with Troicki) and the Murray brothers. And a good time was had by all, I’m sure.


Singles – First Round
[WC] J Blake (USA) d [Q] C Guccione (AUS) 36 63 62
R Mello (BRA) d R Ramirez Hidalgo (ESP) 64 63
P Cuevas (URU) d P Andujar (ESP) 75 63
J Benneteau (FRA) d F Lopez (ESP) 64 64
[WC] B Tomic (AUS) d [Q] R Bopanna (IND) 67(5) 76(1) 64
S Giraldo (COL) d D Gimeno-Traver (ESP) 64 67(5) 63
Y Lu (TPE) d L Hewitt (AUS) 62 63
A Golubev (KAZ) d F Mayer (GER) 62 61
L Kubot (POL) d M Kukushkin (KAZ) 76(8) 64
B Becker (GER) d T de Bakker (NED) 62 75
F Serra (FRA) d T Gabashvili (RUS) 64 67(1) 76(4)
N Davydenko (RUS) d F Fognini (ITA) 57 62 64
[WC] M Raonic (CAN) d M Ilhan (TUR) 62 76(4)
[WC] R Harrison (USA) d J Chardy (FRA) 67(5) 76(2) 63
P Petzschner (GER) d D Brown (GER) 64 75
I Andreev (RUS) d K Nishikori (JPN) 64 67(2) 64

Doubles – First Round
R Federer (SUI) / S Wawrinka (SUI) d [2] M Mirnyi (BLR) / D Nestor (CAN) 61 62
M Lopez (ESP) / R Nadal (ESP) d [4] M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) 76(5) 76(2)
[5] J Melzer (AUT) / P Petzschner (GER) d N Almagro (ESP) / D Ferrer (ESP) 36 61 12-10
J Isner (USA) / S Querrey (USA) d [6] M Llodra (FRA) / N Zimonjic (SRB) 36 63 10-8
A Dolgopolov (UKR) / X Malisse (BEL) d T Berdych (CZE) / J Tipsarevic (SRB) 46 64 10-8
A Murray (GBR) / J Murray (GBR) d M Melo (BRA) / B Soares (BRA) 75 36 10-6
N Djokovic (SRB) / V Troicki (SRB) d J Chela (ARG) / J Monaco (ARG) 63 75
J Benneteau (FRA) / R Gasquet (FRA) d K Anderson (RSA) / P Kohlschreiber (GER) 64 76(4)


Singles – Second Round
(2) Kim Clijsters (BEL) d. Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS) 62 60
(3) Vera Zvonareva (RUS) d. Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) 63 76(4)
(5) Francesca Schiavone (ITA) d. Zuzana Ondraskova (CZE) 62 60
(6) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) d. (WC) Coco Vandeweghe (USA) 62 61
(10) Shahar Peer (ISR) d. Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) 46 76(5) 63
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) d. (12) Petra Kvitova (CZE) 36 62 75
(14) Kaia Kanepi (EST) d. Gisela Dulko (ARG) 36 62 62
(15) Marion Bartoli (FRA) d. (Q) Monica Niculescu (ROU) 26 63 62
(17) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) d. Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) 62 75
(19) Ana Ivanovic (SRB) d. Kimiko Date-Krumm (JPN) 64 62
(21) Andrea Petkovic (GER) d. Lucie Safarova (CZE) 76(8) 75
(23) Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) d. Melanie Oudin (USA) 64 63
(25) Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) d. (WC) Sania Mirza (IND) 63 63
Sara Errani (ITA) d. (29) Jarmila Groth (AUS) 75 46 62
(Q) Alizé Cornet (FRA) d. (30) Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) 75 36 62
(32) Julia Goerges (GER) d. Sybille Bammer (AUT) 61 63

Doubles – First Round
Jans/Rosolska (POL/POL) d. (2) Peschke/Srebotnik (CZE/SLO) 16 62 105
(3) Huber/Petrova (USA/RUS) d. Hercog/Hsieh (SLO/TPE) 60 62
(6) Azarenka/Kirilenko (BLR/RUS) d. Llagostera Vives/Parra Santonja (ESP/ESP) 57 63 119
(7) Benesova/Zahlavova Strycova (CZE/CZE) d. Martínez Sánchez/Medina Garrigues (ESP/ESP) 76(4) 67(3) 105
Chuang/Dulgheru (TPE/ROU) d. (WC) Hampton/Oudin (USA/USA) 63 46 106


Stadium 1 (from 11.00hrs)
1. Dinara Safina vs. Daniela Hantuchova
2. ATP: del Potro vs. Ljubicic
3. Caroline Wozniacki vs. Sloane Stephens
4. ATP: Nadal vs. de Voest
5. Anabel Medina Garrigues vs. Maria Sharapova (NB 19.00hrs)
6. ATP: Soderling vs. Berrer (NB 20.30hrs)

Stadium 2 (from 11.00hrs)
1. ATP: Verdasco vs. Berankis
2. Samantha Stosur vs. Laura Pous-Tio
3. ATP: Young vs. Murray (NB 14.00hrs)
4. ATP: Tipsarevic vs. Querrey
5. ATP: Malisse vs. Tsonga
6. Svetlana Kuznetsova vs. Christina McHale

Stadium 3 (from 11.00hrs)
1. ATP: Baghdatis vs. Devvarman
2. ATP: Karlovic vs. Ferrer
3. Ekaterina Makarova vs. Victoria Azarenka
4. Peng Shuai vs. Li Na
5. ATP: Sweeting vs. Monaco
6. ATP: Bryan/Bryan vs. F.López/Raonic

Court 7 (from 11.00hrs)
1. Elena Baltacha vs. Flavia Pennetta
2. Alexandra Dulgheru vs. Lucie Hradecka
3. Dulko/Pennetta vs. Jankovic/Pavlyuchenkova
4. Kops-Jones/Spears vs. Mattek-Sands/Shaughnessy
5. ATP: Bellucci/Harrison vs. Cilic/Karlovic

Court 8 (from 11.00hrs)
1. ATP: Robredo vs. Zverev
2. Grandin/Uhlirova vs. King/Shvedova
3. ATP: Simon vs. Schuettler
4. ATP: Almagro vs. Russell

Court 4 (from 11.00hrs)
1. Klara Zakopalova vs. Urszula Radwanska
2. Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Iveta Benesova
3. Anna Chakvetadze vs. Maria Kirilenko
4. Sofia Arvidsson vs. Nadia Petrova

Court 6 (from 11.00hrs)
1. ATP: Nieminen vs. Montañes
2. Simona Halep vs. María José Martínez Sánchez
3. ATP: Smyczek vs. Kohlschreiber
4. ATP: García López/Montañes vs. Kubot/Marach

Court 5 (from 11.00hrs)
1. Aravane Rezai vs. Zhang Shuai
2. Alisa Kleybanova vs. Agnes Szavay
3. ATP: Dolgopolov vs. Hanescu
4. ATP: Bopanna/Qureshi vs. Butorac/Rojer

Posted in alize cornet, barbora zahlalova strycova, indian wells, jarmila groth, kei nishikori, lleyton hewitt, milos raonic | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Week In Winners: Memphis Edition

Posted by gauloises1 on February 21, 2011

OK, I was putting this off, but I’m knackered and off early in the morning and I just can’t wait for more photos to come through right now.

Ladies first: it was a sad ending to an exceptional tournament for Rebecca Marino when she was forced to retire, trailing by a set, in the final due to an abdominal injury she sustained during the semi-final. The young Canadian and female Delpo was in tears on the court, but comported herself fairly well and gave a very nice, mature press conference that you can see here. So congratulations to Magdalena Rybarikova, who clearly decided to have one of her somewhat rare good weeks and certainly deserved the title.

 But let’s talk about tonight’s final between Milos Raonic and Andy Roddick, shall we? Actually, I don’t know if I can because I’m very tired and still buzzing too much from the match to be articulate about it. It’s easy, looking at the score (two tiebreaks and 75 in the third) that this was your basic big-serving contest coming down to a few clutch points here and there. And although the latter is true, it was such a fun match. Roddick, who was clearly suffering from a cold, followed on where he left off against Delpo, deciding to match Raonic in the neck-or-nothing (to paraphrase Georgette Heyer) department, and Raonic handled the entire match magnificently. Not for a moment did he look overawed by the occasion or, come to that, the second-best player even when he was trailing. Roddick said during the trophy presentation that he was outplayed for two and a half hours and just ‘hung in there’, and while that’s a little too self-deprecating, it also gives an accurate flavour of the match.

But then sometimes all you need to do is hang in there and seize your opportunity when it presents itself. Raonic after being down a break in the third set broke back, held fairly easily, pressed but was unable to get anywhere on Roddick’s serve, and looked as if he was on his way to holding serve at 5-6. A couple of errors and it was 30-40. And then … this happened.

(There’s a better quality version here, but I couldn’t embed it.)

That, ladies and gentleman, is one of the best balls-out death-or-glory match-point shots you will ever see. Let’s not pretend Raonic didn’t play that point well. His cross-court backhand volley was brilliantly executed and could – should – have been a winner. Roddick had no business getting to that ball, still less hitting it back for a winner. And yet.

I said after the match that if I was Raonic, I would be feeling gypped. And I would. But I would also learn a big lesson from this: that sometimes you just have to say ‘too good’, and one amazing shot from your opponent doesn’t mean you didn’t play some fantastic tennis. He did, he really did – and then had the gall to be adorable in the trophy presentation, saying (I’m paraphrasing) “at least I’ll be in one of the most-watched YouTube points of all time. I’ll be on the wrong side of the court, but at least my name will be in the description.” Be un-won over, I dare you.

But the day belonged to Roddick. It was his fiftieth final, his thirtieth title, and had to be one of the best points he’d played in his career. It was also funny in a poignant sort of way to see him cram his hat back on his head afterwards, as if to hide his receding hairline. (It’s OK, Andy. You still have an amazing bum.)


 Roddick referred to himself as an “old guy” when he was congratulating Raonic afterwards, and while I wouldn’t go that far, it’s difficult to deny that he probably only has a handful of opportunities left to thrill the tennis-watching public at large like that. I was so glad to be watching. Thanks for a great match.

NB: Not to spoil the moment, but I’m away for a couple of days, so blogging may be light.

Posted in andy roddick, magdalena rybarikova, memphis, milos raonic, rebecca marino, titlists | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Dark Times.

Posted by gauloises1 on February 20, 2011

Andy Roddick d. Juan Martin del Potro, 63 64

Hearty congratulations that I nearly almost feel to Andy Roddick, who played impressively to claim his first win over Delpo and advance to his 50th (!) career final. If he wins tomorrow, it will be his 30th career title. That’s just insane. As Delpo said, “Andy I think will be in the top 10 forever.”

It’s, you know, hard to overlook the dispiriting aspects of today’s match to what Roddick did right, but really he did a hell of a lot right and if he played like this every match then things would really become exciting. He was fired-up right out of the gate, an aspect of his performance noticeably lacking against Hewitt, and broke Delpo in his very first service game (shades of last week’s semi-final against Verdasco).  He had his tactics worked out perfectly; Delpo had a fair amount of success in the first set when he pinned Roddick back behind the baseline, but Roddick refused to allow him to do that on a consistent basis, playing aggressively and actually hitting out.

Delpo did call for the trainer early in the first set for some intensive thigh massage, complaining of tightness in his hamstring, but it didn’t seem to hamper his movement too much. He was slow moving out to the forehand side and as a result Roddick repeatedly stung him with his backhand down the line (that he apparently has), but he’s had that problem since his comeback. As for the injury, I’m hoping (and believing) that it’s what it appears to be – a slight strain as the result of playing a decent amount of matches last week and this that his body has become unaccustomed to.

Roddick said after the match that he felt he’d played one bad game. That would be his first service game of the second set, a fairly woeful one which saw him give up the break; but Delpo, frustratingly, couldn’t hold despite ample chances. One of the things I’ve always associated with Delpo is his ability to pull the big serve, the big shot out of his pocket at the right moment, and he didn’t have that today. He had easy holds, but only when he was down a break; a fair amount of aces, but not at key moments; and some massive winners that he couldn’t land when he had to. Frustrating.

But I was talking about Roddick. He had some issues with his shoulder, self-diagnosed as a pinched nerve and not too much to worry about, but as the set went on and Delpo became more frustrated, his focus switched more to defense and he really showcased some absurd retrieving. There was one point in particular when Delpo was hitting the ball as hard as he could (meaty grunts and everything), and Roddick simply got everything back until he managed to draw the error. All in all, he had a solid tactical plan and executed it near perfectly.

And he made this face.

But as well as Roddick played, this match was a salutory reminder (again) of how far Delpo has fallen from his former level. I keep trying to remember how giddily happy I am to see him playing again, because there’s just nobody like him, and he’s taking lesser opponents in his mammoth stride right now; but there’s no denying that it’s utterly disheartening to see him being handled by players that we all know he can contend with. It’s an interesting education in the difference between mid-ranked players like Sela or Gabashvili, and the top-flight guys (I may be stretching a point to include Baghdatis in that, but the likes of Roddick and Verdasco, certainly). It just really bites that right now Delpo is on the wrong side of that line.

But then I’m losing myself in dark thoughts and I hear this quote from Delpo’s presser. Asked what the difference was in Roddick’s game that explained the result today, he said that the last time they played was in 2009 and “that was my year”.

And that just kills me. Because I simply will not countenance that kind of thinking. Obviously I’m charmed by his wry, man-of-few-words acceptance of his situation – I’m only human – but that’s the sort of thing I think to myself in maudlin moments. It’s not the sort of thing that anyone else is allowed to say or that he’s allowed to even think. Because your best days are not behind you, Delpo. They’re just not. You’re absurdly young, painfully talented, and healthy (sort of, even if you do need to be sellotaped back together in the middle of every match). You’re going to be fine, and back, and better than you were before. You just are. Keep the faith. No pasaran!

… Maybe the new tagline of this blog should be “drunken Delpo fan therapy”. But still.

Anyway, on to Delray Beach with Delpo. And Roddick will be facing Milos Raonic in the final, after the wee Canadian defeated Mardy Fish  64 46 63 earlier in the day. Fish was fairly feeble, I thought, but Raonic was once again very impressive. He’s guaranteed to become the highest ranked Canadian ever or something even if he doesn’t win the title, and if he does, that’s a ridiculous achievement. Hell, it’s still a ridiculous achievement if he doesn’t. I still think we’ll get his true measure once the white-hot confidence that’s currently sustaining him runs out and we see how he regroups and kicks on from there, but at the same time I refuse not to be a little bit excited about someone who holds out such great promise.


Posted in andy roddick, juan martin del potro, memphis, milos raonic | Tagged: , , | 6 Comments »

He Won, He Won #3, a.k.a BRING IT ON

Posted by gauloises1 on February 19, 2011

Very, very exciting, people. Delpo beat Michael Russell 64 62 to make the semis of the Memphis 500, thus proving once and for all that elves really do pwn hobbits at everything except ringbearing (and the jury’s out on that one). He still hasn’t lost his serve once in the tournament and will go up against Andy Roddick in tonight’s semi-final.

Roddick had a good win last night over Lleyton Hewitt, but he did come out miserably flat. Either way it should be a good match; both of their most recent encounters went to three sets. And whatever happens, Delpo’s in the semi-finals of a 500. This is very, very good. But don’t take my word for it, let him tell you himself.

The other semi-final will be contested between Mardy Fish, who beat Sam Querrey, and the seemingly unstoppable Milos Raonic, who beat qualifier Robert Kendrick in three aceriffic sets.

I know most of you will be rooting for Raonic (as will I), but the laws of universal justice require me to call attention to the very sweet shoutout to Delpo from Fish in this Q&A, courtesy of the legendary Bobby Chiantapelli:

Juan Martín del Potro mentioned you’d play more doubles together this year. Your thoughts on him and his game right now?
I love Juan! He’s one of the best guys out here, one of the most laid-back guys. I’m a lot older than him. We played a few times. I remember playing him here one year. It might have been 2007 when he was still really young. He was ranked 60 in the world or so. I beat Juan like maybe 6-1, 7-6 in a tight tiebreaker. I played really well, and I thought this guy could be really, really good when I left the court. I remember that. I was happy to see his results. We played doubles in Madrid. We had a great time. So we’ll try to play again. He’s certainly one of the best players in the world and a pretty good doubles partner for me.


Bless. Meanwhile, the ladies final will feature Magdalena Rybarikova against the tournament’s last seed standing, Raonic’s compatriot Rebecca Marino.

Go Canada.


Singles – Quarter-finals
[1] A Roddick (USA) d L Hewitt (AUS) 46 63 64
[4] M Fish (USA) d [5] S Querrey (USA) 63 64
[WC] J Del Potro (ARG) d [Q] M Russell (USA) 64 62
[WC] M Raonic (CAN) d [Q] R Kendrick (USA) 64 36 63


Singles – Semifinals
(6) Rebecca Marino (CAN) d. Evgeniya Rodina (RUS) 67(1) 64 61
Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) d. Lucie Hradecka (CZE) 62 46 64

Doubles – Semifinals
(2) Govortsova/Kudryavtseva (BLR/RUS) d. (3) King/Krajicek (USA/NED) 36 62 108
(4) Hlavackova/Hradecka (CZE/CZE) d. Pervak/Senoglu (RUS/TUR) 62 61

Posted in andy roddick, juan martin del potro, magdalena rybarikova, mardy fish, milos raonic, rebecca marino, video | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Game, Steps & Match.

Posted by gauloises1 on February 18, 2011

Milos Raonic: still happening. Fresh from his victory over Fernando Verdasco in the finals of San Jose, the pair met in the first round of Memphis and the result was the same, Raonic winning 64 36 76(5).

Verdasco, with a hint of sour grapes, was less than complimentary:

“For me that’s not a real match in tennis,” Verdasco said. “I hope to play soon against him in clay court to show him what it is to play tennis, and play rallies, and run, and not only serve.”


Saucer of milk, etc. Anyway, Raonic’s run continues after defeating Radek Stepanek tonight in the second round. Steps was on ebullient form, coming up with some superb play to save match points and snatch the second set tiebreak out from under Raonic’s feet, 10-8.

He celebrated thusly.

The third set also went to a tiebreak, but Raonic showed impressive composure to close it out with an ace even when some typical Steps-like antics were employed (going around high-fiving the linespeople at 1-6 down, for example). The Canadian has to be feeling the effects of so many matches now, emotionally and physically, but his confidence is frankly absurd and this mini-tear continues to be so much fun to watch. It may not be real tennis, but it’ll do me.

Posted in fernando verdasco, memphis, milos raonic, radek stepanek | Tagged: , | 11 Comments »

Milos Raonic: Going To Happen

Posted by gauloises1 on February 15, 2011

Or in fact already happening, as the Canadian is up to 59 in the rankings after defeating Fernando Verdasco 76(6) 76(5) to take the San Jose title at the weekend.

I’ve got to confess I didn’t see this match. Well, I saw some of it – it started at 3 a.m. and I wanted right up until the point that Milos went something like 0-6 down in the first set tiebreak, at which point I assumed (with what I feel was some justification) that Verdasco would close out the tiebreak and use that boost to win in straights. How he didn’t, I’m not quite sure.

But he took it well.

But I’m assuming that Raonic carried on playing the way that he did for the first twelve games – mahoosive serving, confident aggression and a total lack of fear. The hype will now officially be out of control, given that he comes from a country with only slightly more top-flight players than Great Britain (and no Andy Murray), and while his talent is unquestioned, he’s been on a ridiculous run in 2011 and it remains to be seen what kind of consistency he has once that white-hot adrenaline has worn off. So the jury’s out – but it has plenty to deliberate upon.

Go Milos.

Posted in fernando verdasco, milos raonic, san jose, titlists | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

Spaniard on Spaniard.

Posted by gauloises1 on January 24, 2011

All is set for the fifteenth meeting between Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer. Imagine my excitement.

Rafa, wearing what for him is a distinctly baggy shirt, looks to be recovered from his fever and put in probably his best performance of the tournament so far in defeating Marin Cilic 62 64 63. He didn’t play his best, but he really didn’t have to; it was businesslike more than anything, not expending too much energy and giving Marin enough rope to hang himself (these days, a tennis racquet).

It’s a step forward for Marin to have won three consecutive matches to get this far, but his performance today was a perfect example of everything that’s bedevilled his game for the last 12 months; lack of first serves, lack of confidence, lack of confidence and lack of confidence. He consistently managed to get to 30 or deuce on Rafa’s serve, but from there only got three break points which he couldn’t convert, and he didn’t help his cause by getting irritated by Rafa’s slow pace of play, which will never change despite getting twice warned by the umpire. He wasn’t anywhere near good enough today.

David Ferrer was too good for young Canadian qualifier Milos Raonic, who took the first set but couldn’t sustain the red-hot quality of play that has got him through the tournament so far. Hurt by a lack of first serves, he was predictably outsteadied by Ferru, who played well and was sweet to him at the net.

I really wish I could muster some excitement about Nadal-Ferrer in the quarterfinals, but there’s a reason that Ferrer’s not won since 2007, and as well as he’s playing right now, I don’t see that changing.

Enjoy happy Ferru while it lasts.

Posted in australian open, david ferrer, marin cilic, milos raonic, rafael nadal | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

Young Guns Go For It

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: , , , , | 6 Comments »