Sunday, February 11, 2007

Czech Mate

For the first time in 10 years, the United States has won a World Group Davis Cup tie away on clay. Andy Roddick clinched the tie for the team in a four-set victory over the Czech No. 1 Tomas Berdych. (Incidentally, his girlfriend Lucie Safarova lost her final in Paris today as well.)

It was far and away the best best-of-five claycourt match I've ever seen Andy play. He agreed. "As far as the weight of the situation goes," he said, "it definitely could be one of my best matches on clay."

"We saw today why Andy Roddick is the fourth best player in the world," Czech captain Jaroslav Navratil said.

Perhaps I better publish a few more fleeting thoughts.

His backhand down the line was working, as was his slice and even a few drop shots, all good strategies against a tall player who doesn't like to run or bend down to dig up shots. But I was most impressed with Andy's demeanor throughout the encounter. He was so focused and even-keeled, he hardly celebrating the victory. He looked as though he was ready to play another set. I so enjoy when American tennis players prove their naysayers wrong.

In the dead rubber, Bob Bryan subbed for James Blake and won the match 7-6(5), 6-4. Perhaps somebody heard me. Maybe Blake will prove me wrong in the near future.

The US will take on Spain, on the back of Fernando Verdasco's win, in the quarterfinals in April in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, most likely on indoor hard. We'll look to avenge the loss in the 2004 final in Spain on clay.

The best of the rest

In other action, Belgium overcame Australia in the deciding rubber. After Hewitt battled to five-set victory over Oliver Rochus, Kristof Vliegen's straight-set victory over Chris Guccione made him the host nation's hero. Belgium will host Germany who closed out Croatia when Tommy Haas dismissed Ivan Ljubicic in straight sets.

Teenager Juan Martin del Potro replaced Jose Acacuso and clenched the tie for Argentina in a star-making five-set thriller over homeboy Jurgen Melzer. (Incidentally, the WTA final today in Pattaya City featured an Austrian, Sybille Bammer, against an Argentinean, Gisela Dulko. The Austrian prevailed in three tights sets.) Argentina will next travel to Sweden who advanced to the quarterfinas when Robin Soderling outlasted Max Mirnyi in five sets in the fourth rubber, breaking the unbeaten winning streak of Belarus at home.

Richard Gasquet became the King of France when he clenched the tie for France with a straight-set victory over Romania's Andrei Pavel. France will face Russia in a rematch of last year's quarterfinal. Igor Andreev was the Russian hero once again as he closed out the tie in the fifth-rubber with a four-set victory over Nicolas Massu.

Savannah's Round 1 Photo Essay


Anonymous said...

Hi Craig,

It was wonderful DC weekend for the winners and sad for the defeated teams. But now, it’s over, and I hope you can afford to be less serious. Let’s enjoy some funny stuff:

“Russia clung to their crown in the first round on Sunday”

“Safin looked disgruntled throughout and twice complained to the umpire about the home supporters, who whistled and jeered him on crucial points.
He repeatedly gestured to the crowd, who kept up their barrage of noise despite attempts by Chilean captain Hans Gildemeister to calm them down.
"People should know that we've come here to play good tennis," the big Russian said afterwards.
"There's no need to insult people when they're playing. There's no need to shout between points. We're here to compete, and nothing more. We're not here to rob the Chileans of their land."
Reuters - - - 12/02/2007 00:18”

I realized that Safin speaks Spanish (unfortunately in this case), while Igor Andreev probably doesn’t, since Igor didn’t seem to complain too much.

Before this DC round, I only noticed that Andreev was the last man who beat Nadal on clay. I didn’t see the ties, but he must have been brilliant. His attitude was really mature, gracious, “A happy yet quiet hero”.
“I am happy, of course. We came here to win and we did it, it was not easy, you (to the local press) should be proud of your players, who gave all they had in the court”, said Andreev.
. “I just need to focus on my career and win more matches, I am returning from a long injury and need to improve my ranking. If my country needs me, I’ll be there”.

What is beautiful about DC is that when you fell your team mates helped you to get up, and next time you’ll help them.


Craig Hickman said...

Andreev is wonderful on clay. Nice quotes by Safin. He gives good interview!

Thanks for posting, Lan.