(Photos: Getty Images)
There is one more semifinal match left to play. Some say the match is moot but it isn’t. If Fernando Gonzalez makes it past Tommy Haas into the men’s final, it will prove that it was his tennis, not Lleyton’s misplaced ego, James Blake’s latest underachievement, or Rafael’s lack of preparation that got him this far.
If I were Larry Stefanki, I would not be making victory speeches before the match is played at 7:30 p.m. Melbourne time (as we all know by now that’s 3:30 a.m. on the east coast of the States). Instead of talking on the record about match strategy, you and your player should be looking at that second set of the other semifinal. Roger sent you a nice little nasty-gram. I hope you pay attention to it.
Many people are saying that they’ve never seen a set of tennis like Roger played against Andy Roddick. I have. I hate to keep saying it, but part of your tennis education involves seeing the 2006 Dubai Final. Roger played a perfect first set. His opponent couldn’t touch anything he hit over the net. But that opponent came back and won the match. Who did he play? Rafael Nadal. See it. Then we can talk about perfect sets of tennis and how to deal with them.
Don’t get me wrong. Andy has come a long way since he started listening to Jimmy Connors. Must be a Virgo to Virgo mind meld in effect. Andy is now patiently constructing points and actually kept to his game plan during his match against Federer. Racquet toss aside, I think Andy should come away with some positives.
He should also tell PMac to STFU and not predict that Andy was going to win the Australian Open on the basis of his almost-win at the Tennis Masters Cup last year and his actual win over Roger at Kooyong. Roger could’ve played Andy with less anger. In fact, he did play him with less anger. Ask Novak Djokovic.
So, Mr. Stefanki, talk less, coach more. Your player will likely advance in four sets to face Roger in the final.