Monday, January 26, 2009

The Favorite?

Fernando Verdasco decided that Andy Murray was not. Overcoming a slow start, he finished off a 2-6, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 upset and one of the Big Four is sent packing in the fourth round.

I hate the labeling of the Big Four.

And Murray seems to have succumbed to all the (believed his own?) hype. Whatever the case, this loss is going to linger for a while.

Verdasco was calm and cool and focused. His first Slam quarterfinal. Must be nice working with spiritual guru Gil Reyes and wunder coach Darren Cahill.

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are somewhere cracking up.

Rafael Nadal is quietly, efficiently, kicking ass.


oddman said...

Vamos, Spaniards! Nando, Rafa, Carla - all still in.

You are so right Craig. Rafa very quietly going about his business. And thoroughly too.

I'm lovin' it. I wonder how the British press is going to come down on Andy.

ceruleanxstar said...

Sadly, the labeling of the Big Four probably isn't going to change back to the Big Three. Murray has really not proven himself, so why is everyone so eager to lump him with the others just because of a few wins he's had over them? He's still slamless. As much as I dislike Djokovic's attitude, he's got a point about Murray being supposedly favored over the world's no. 1, a guy long forecasted as GOAT who won the last Slam of the year, and the defending champion (who's a few points away from being no.2)...

Even if Murray had won over Verdasco, losing sets 6-1 and 6-3 are huge signs saying "vulnerable here!"

sG said...

It was an insanely good match! Watching the cuts Verdasco took at the ball, the angles he and Murray found...! It was one of the best matches I've seen at AO 2009. Unlike the Fed/Berdych match during which Berdych lost confidence and steam, this match had real zip -- from *both* players -- from start to finish.

I was amazed by Verdasco's freshness entering the fifth set. He had sweated very little despite playing very hard, and his breathing appeared remarkably even throughout even the toughest of points. Murray, comparatively, looked a bit worse for wear in the fifth. His first serve yips did not serve him well.

Great win for Verdasco! Reyes is a conditioning genius.

tristann said...

I've got to hand it to you, Craig. You picked Verdasco as this year's hot-streak guy and you were right. I hope he does not reach the final, and as well as Nadal is playing, I do not think Verdasco or either of the french guys will beat him. But if there is anything I have learned from previous AO tournaments is to not take anything for granted, so just keeping my fingers crossed.

But anyway, very impressive performance by Verdasco. The difference in body language between the two players in the fifth set was striking. Murray always has a hangdog look about him, but in the 5th he also looked bewildered.

Craig Hickman said...

Bewitched, bothered, and bewildered.

Verdasco shocked the shit out of him by playing that service game at 2-3 so tough. After he held, Murray bent over his racquet exactly in the way Lindsay Davenport did after that remarkable rally late in the deciding set against Venus Williams in the Wimbledon 2005 final.

Verdasco won the match right then and there. Murray dropped his serve in the very next game.

Tennis is mostly mental.

The pundits were silent after this upset. They had grown so used to the voices of prediction in their own echo chambers, they simply have no idea what to say about the fact that their "favorite" got beat so soundly in the decider.

MMT said...

Full credit to Verdasco for hanging tough, particularly after going down break point at 2-3. I honestly thought he'd lose the match if he lost that point - he did lose the point, but fought back well.

I have to say, however, Murray appeared to me to be affected by his illness, and would expect to see him continue to progress during the year. I doubt he would have lost the match had he been 100%

The British media are collectively big idiots and I'm sure they'll come crashing down on him again like they did after he lost to Nadal at Wimbledon. It serves them right, they're as stupid as they are over-anxious, and it's why I never give any credence to anything coming out of the British press.

tangerine said...

What Big Four? There was never a Big Four to begin with. The UK press has egg on its face and a gigantic piece of humble pie on their plate. Eat up!

Winning DC has given Verdasco new life, it's good to see him finally living up to his potential. Will he be this year's surprise AO finalist?

I can just hear Federer and Djokovic snickering over "AO favorite" Murray's loss way over here. Nadal, as usual, is keeping to himself and just quietly going about his business of destroying everybody in his path. I feel this title is his to lose. Vamos, Rafa!

Craig Hickman said...

Tangy, I pegged Verdasco a the surprise finalist before play began. But he'll have to get by Tsonga and Rafa. Doable, but doubtful.

At this point, Juan Martin del Potro may have to suffice.