Thursday, May 08, 2008

Roddick and Blake, Roma Quarterfinalists

Andy Roddick and James Blake advanced to the quarterfinals at the Foro Italico today in Roma.

How can it be that these two Americans are both in the last eight of the same clay court Masters series event? In my recollection, this hasn't happened since 2002 when Roddick and Blake joinedAndre Agassi in the quartefinals. Roddick and Agassi both advanced to the semifinals, while Blake lost to Jiri Novak in three tight sets. Agassi went on to defeat Tommy Haas in the finals that year.

Roddick dispatched homeboy Simone Bolelli 7-6(5), 6-3. It was a tough match. Bolelli is a claycourt specialist, so he knows all about the geometry of the court. But Roddick fought from a break down in the first set to capture the tiebreak in a set that seemed to last forever. I was most impressed that Andy was able to win 50% of his second serve points against a man who hit deeper, wider and with more spin.

Blake had the tougher row to hoe against Spaniard Fernando Verdsasco. I saw none of that match, but a 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 victory is impressive stuff for a man who tends to mentally check out of claycourt matches when the going gets rough.

Meanwhile in Berlin, Serena Williams blitzed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3, 6-1 to advance to the quarterfinals where she'll face Dinara Safina who upset Justine Henin.

Good day for American tennis.


tristann said...

I am impressed at how well Blake and Roddick are doing. They are building some much needed confidence and momentum going into Roland Garros. I doubt we'll have a repeat of last year for the americans.

Will we see an all-american semifinal? Sure looks possible.

Helen W said...

It also augurs well for DC against Spain in September!

Michael said...

And Blake and Fish came SOOO close to pulling off an unlikely doubles victory over #2 seeds Nestor/Zimonjic.

I see that Gonzalez withdrew against Almagro. I wondered if there was any discussion anyone's ever heard about a withdrawing player being replaced with his last opponent. I remember a few times when one semifinalist gets a lot more rest that the others because of a withdrawal, which seems unfair to the players, and it means less tennis for fans. Certainly less drama and interest all around.

To me, it would make sense for the withdrawing player to be replaced by a "SLL" (super lucky loser), the player that the withdrawing player just defeated, in this case Korolev.

I'm sure there is a rub with how points would be allocated. I would imagine Gonzalez getting points for making the round of 16 (which he did). If his replacement lost the match, he would get no more points because of the substitution (only points for round of 32), but if he won, he should get the points for reaching the QF. So it would mean more total points for a tournament were the replacement to win.

I suppose the other objection would be that the player who faces the replacement wouldn't have adequate time to prepare for that particular player, having expected someone else. Perhaps they could have at least 2 hours' notice - I have no idea when Gonzalez announced he couldn't play.

rabbit said...

Michael, I think Safin would support your idea a lot :)

Craig Hickman said...

Lucky losers have left the theater by the time of a third-round withdrawal.

Michael said...

Craig, I don't mean the lucky losers who lost in qualification, I mean the person who just lost to the person withdrawing in the previous round. It's the same idea as lucky losers, just chosen from a different (and unambiguous) source.

In this case, it would have been Korolev, who played (and lost) to Gonzalez on Wednesday. If he wanted to, he could stick around for another day in Rome just in case Gonzalez couldn't play and he would be substituted in to play Almagro instead of Nicolas just getting a freebie into the QF. If Almagro wins, he's still in the QF as before, but he doesn't have the extra day's rest compared to the guy he plays, in this case Djokovic, who was out there for 2 hrs 45 minutes. On the other hand, if Korolev beats Almagro, then he's back and could potentially win, despite having lost once. Makes more sense than the ATP's round robin idea.

I don't know how often withdrawals happen late in tournaments, but it's not rare. It could make tournaments more fair, more exciting as players come back from the dead to potentially win. It seems simple enough- I would have thought someone had suggested it before me, and to powers higher than this blog (if there are any).

Rabbit, why would Safin enjoy this system? Do you mean he'd put it to use because he withdraws often? Or he tends to lose to players who withdraw in the next round?

Craig Hickman said...

michael, I'm being silly. I'm too caught up in the presidential race to see straight.

Many times, players leave early the next day, if not the same day, after their loss.

Round robin events have alternates in the case of a withdrawal in the round robin part of the event, but for single elimination tournaments, alternates don't make much sense no matter who the substitute is.