Friday, April 17, 2009

Take Two

A general view of the Monte Carlo Country Club is seen during a match between Andy Murray of Britain and Feliciano Lopez of Spain in their first round match in the Monte Carlo Masters Series tennis tournament in Monaco April 21, 2008.
Reuters

The skies are blue, the sun is bright, the Mediterranean calm. The warriors return to the court in Monte-Carlo to complete their third-round matches, to play their quarterfinals. A few will have to do both.

Discuss.

98 comments:

Craig Hickman said...

Rafa is playing some crappy tennis right about now. Lapentti is doing his thing.

Craig Hickman said...

Rafa's having a hard time sliding.

Pamela said...

I am not sure how I feel about him not wearing tape on his knees anymore, but he's not getting to his shots the same way. Maybe he just needs more time.

Come on Rafa, quickly now. It's double duty day.

Craig Hickman said...

I didn't even notice the lack of tape.

Pamela said...

Craig, I hope you (or anyone)updates on the Djokovic - Verdasco match. That should be good. I hope the smurf loses. Come on Verdasco.

This should be a saturday. All this tennis. Off to work I go.

Craig Hickman said...

Oh yeah, Murray finished off his match over the Gorgeous One earlier today.

This is the first time he's won two consecutive matches on clay as far as I can remember and his first time into the quarterfinals of a masters event on the slippery stuff.

Craig Hickman said...

Hot Sauce off to a slow start, falls behind 0-40 and is broken with a backhand error. Djoke is already on the board at love.

This could be ugly.

Craig Hickman said...

Hot Sauce is in a pissy mood.

Craig Hickman said...

Hot Sauce remains out to lunch and drops his serve and the set with the dumbass tennis.

Djoke is being solid off both wings, but doesn't need to do anything special. Just keep the ball in play till Verdasco misses.

Craig Hickman said...

Hot Sauce finally gets a break point on Djoke's serve. Let's see what he does with it.

Craig Hickman said...

Djoke serves an ace.

Craig Hickman said...

This is so ugly. Hot Sauce saves a few break points to level the second set, the Djoke double faults to face a break point, and Hot Sauce hits a routine forehand into the Mediterranean.

Craig Hickman said...

Finally. Hot Sauce breaks after an extended rally when Djoke's backhand sails long.

Now let's see what, if anything, he does with it.

Pamela said...

I like the Smurf's chances of losing if this goes 3 sets. I don't think he'll develop a sore throat, but you never know. lol

I figured out what bugs me about Verdasco's game. He's a ball bully. He over-hits too much, mostly because he aims for the lines - it's clay!!! How about a little margin for error?

Craig Hickman said...

Not a damn thing. Errors galore. Back on serve.

Craig Hickman said...

Verdasco just buried a routine forehand into the net on another of Djoke's break points.

He's really not interested in winning this match.

Craig Hickman said...

Verdasco breaks serve. Actually Djoke broke himself.

I'll go feed the animals and maybe he'll serve out the set while I'm gone.

Pamela said...

O M G! The Adidas Development Program and all of it's fancy coaches and high profile names can't teach Verdasco to keep the ball in the flippin' court?

Ok geez, he held but seriously. These are not forced errors.

Craig Hickman said...

Well, that worked.

Karen said...

Morning All, I was watching this match and I just flipped and went to watch Spongebob - not really interested in tennis right now. I wonder if that is how the players feel at times. Tennis fans are so cruel, this morning over at tennis.com there was a discussion about the lack of assets of Rafa's girlfriend. Geez people, these guys choose who they want to be with, not who we think they should be with. You should also read the comments about Mirka. My goodness. Just proves to me that some tennis fans are really prejudicial, irritating a**wipes, with absolutely no sensibilities etc. etc. etc.

Matthew said...

Verdasco is just about done and dusted. Pretty ugly match, this one.

Craig Hickman said...

So Verdasco has Djoke waaaaaay off the court, and instead of coming to the net to put away a floater, he stays on the baseline and allows Djoke to win the point by playing defense.

One of the reasons why I don't like clay court tennis is that it makes players far too passive. Even the ones who know how to play on the stuff just hang around on the baseline retrieving retrieving retrieving until the opponent misses.

There is no real point construction or strategy. Just pure retrieving.

Where's the tennis?

Craig Hickman said...

Verdasco simply refuses to beat a player ranked in the top 3. Has he ever?

Matthew said...

Final winner/unforced error ratio:

Verdasco 9/48
Djokovic 18/39

Oof.

Also, Verdasco beat Nalbandian when he was ranked #3 way back at Wimbledon 2006, Roddick when he was #3 at Rome in 2005, and JC Ferrero at Valencia in 2004. But his top ten record is pretty bad, from what I can tell.

oddman said...

Perhaps, Craig. I haven't seen clay court tennis that way myself. Recall last year's MC final - I thought Rafa took the offense at the end of each set, and had Raja running all over the court, back and forth, until he had an opp to put away the winner or force an error from an out-of-position Fed. I thought that was a gorgeous tactical match.

Don't know why Verdasco can't string together two good matches.

And, what a lovely pic of the court at Monte Carlo - so beautiful, with the sea behind it. I hope Mirka's shopping to her heart's content.

Karen, I don't know why some fans like to rag on the players' girlfriends/wives - jealousy, I think for the most part.

Matthew said...

I have a feeling that Beck is going to get manhandled by Stan. Beck is 23, and before this tournament he'd only played 23 ATP-level matches in his career (record 9-14).

But then again, he managed to beat Kiefer, Simon, and Monaco (fine players all) so who knows?

Craig Hickman said...

oddman, when Rafa's at his best, he's very aggressive on clay. But he's an exception to the general rule, really. That's why he's so far ahead of everyone on clay.

Coria came to the net a lot behind vicious angles. So did Guga.

But these run-of-the mill clay courters don't play tennis as far as I'm concerned. They just retrieve retrieve retrieve.

Craig Hickman said...

Beck has a vicious forehand. When it finds the court, that is.

Can anything think of a currently active lefty who has a better backhand than forehand?

Craig Hickman said...

Matthew, thanks for the stats. I tend to erase that Roddick match from my memory because he had those 3 matchpoints, overruled a Verdasco double fault, and then lost the match in three.

Craig Hickman said...

Just as I was complaining about retrievers, Beck is out there hitting the cover off the ball. Too bad for him he's missing so much.

Matthew said...

I don't think we can expect much from this match. But we still have Nadal-Ljubicic and Murray-Davydenko to look forward to.

Poor Ljub.

Also Craig, both and Davydenko play defensive tennis even on hardcourts. Will watching them play on clay be a total snoozefest?

Craig Hickman said...

Ominous clouds are rolling in.

Craig Hickman said...

Actually, Davydenko hits hard flat winners on hardcourts and he takes the ball so early. I don't consider him a retriever. I don't mind his style of play, I just don't like him at all.

Matthew said...

Oh come on, what's not to like about this guy?

http://www.atpworldtour.com/5/photos/2008/davydenko_blog1.jpg

Karen said...

@Craig, here here. Completely o/t. This morning I was watching a youtube match of Serena v Justine, Wimby 2003. During the commentary one of the commentators was informing viewers as to why they were watching a women's semi-final rather than a match that had apparently been interrupted by rain the previous day. The commentators informed viewers that it is the policy of the Wimbledon organisers to schedule a match that had been previously postponed not for the first match of the day, but as the second match (or words to that effect). I guess that answers the questions of Wimbledon 2007.

Craig Hickman said...

I don't think it does at all, Karen.

Karen said...

Really Craig, I did not think it would either for different reasons than you would think

Craig Hickman said...

Beck saves match point with a 130mph ace smack on the center line.

Craig Hickman said...

The AELTC is too stuck in its ways. It was presented with several opportunities to use a little common sense and instill some fair play, and it failed at every turn.

::

Beck saves his third match point with another ace on the line.

Craig Hickman said...

But he double faults on his fourth.

Karen said...

Thanks for the match call Craig. I like that guy Beck if only because he took out someone that I just cannot stand (Simon that is). Yaay for Stan, at least he did not diminish as a result of beating his good friend Roger yesterday. Hope he takes the title. It would be good to have another name to look forward to on Monday morning as a title holder.

Craig Hickman said...

Rafa just broke himself from 40-0. He's still in a pissy mood.

Pamela said...

Rafa does seem annoyed already. This has been a long tennis day. Ljube has had to play twice as well, so I hope that's not what is bugging him.

Karen said...

@Everyone - I just think the players are just tired - mentally, emotionally and physically. Everyone's game is off these days. I think it is as a result of the long season, the lack of rest in between tournaments, the constant defending of ranking points - it just never stops and you wonder whether there is any purpose to it. I am sure that a lot of us have at some point in our lives become dissatisfied with our jobs and wish for something more - perhaps it is the same with professionals athletes. I saw an interview where Rafa said that his dream was to win Wimbledon. He just wanted to be the first Spaniard in a long time to win there. Maybe because he has crossed that hurdle he is now wondering what next. Also, he said that it was his dream to play Roger and to just compete with him. Now that he has basically chased Roger from the game, I guess he is also asking - ok what next. A journalist wrote a long time ago, how many darned times does a certain someone have to win the same tournament. I am sure it does get a bit monotonous after awhile.

Helen W said...

Karen I think you make really good points. Rafa has told us that winning Wimbledon was a childhood dream. I can imagine getting to World No 1 could also have been a goal he felt from the heart. But now what? Yes, he could set himself another goal, but how do you really internalize such a goal to the point where it can really motivate you?

For Roger I believe he really wants to tie or break Sampras' Slam record. He probably also really wants to take back the Wimbledon crown. But how does he motivate himself to grind through lesser tournaments?

Pamela said...

Rafa takes the first set 6-3.

Karen, I'm not sure it's fatigue from playing. Some of the players just seem annoyed with the court and the conditions, despite it being the same for everyone. I don't know.

Rafa is going for 5 in a row here. Perhaps it's mental fatigue, as you said.

Karen said...

HelenW - word

Craig Hickman said...

I'm sure Rafa still has goals.

He's just in a pissy mood. Didn't he break up with his girlfriend recently?

He's not all there. But I've seen this in him many times. It just usually happens on hard courts.

Helen W said...

As others have said, I think the players are already worn out, emotionally & mentally if not physically. I haven't watched all the matches here or at Miami, but those that I have followed have contains some fabulous shots and rallies, but very few really compelling matches. They seem to be streaky, losing focus, etc.

Helen W said...

Craig his girlfriend was at one of the previous matches.

Pamela said...

Xisca is there, and they are fine.

Rafa has said within the last three days that he has to work on his concentration. That's a fair statement to make since he's been a little "off" since his first match in Miami. I'll take Mental Fatigue for 1000 Alex. lol

It has to be exhausting to run the table this time of the year repeatedly and to do it without the man you were chasing for greatness. As odd as it may sound, I'd be willing to bet that Rafa misses the "old" Roger that he was chasing. There's nothing to chase anymore.

Karen said...

@Pamela - you are so right in that regard. I think they actually brought out the best in each other. Each forced the other to play beautiful tennis. It is just that whilst Rafa was rising to the occassion, Roger it seems decided that he did not wish to play, took all his marbles (or racquets) and went home. I saw a picture of both Roger and Rafa during IW, and they looked so happy together, laughing it up on the practice courts etc. You get the feeling that whilst they are competitors they remain very good friends off court. I saw an interview where Roger was asked whether he had invited any of his fellow professionals to his wedding and he said something about their playing schedule. I like to think that he perhaps asked Rafa and Rafa could not make it because of the whole Monte Carlo thing. Then again Xisca maybe saying to Rafa - I am so not going to do a Mirka - I will wear the hat, I will sit in the stands, but damned if I am going to walk 10 paces behind you - no

Helen W said...

I agree with Craig that Rafa is in a pissy mood. So, for that matter, is Roger. So why is it that the top two players in the men's game are out of sorts?

With Rafa, because he is so strongly built and so fit, fans seem to expect him to be able to do anything and never ever get tired. Even today, when he had to play 2 matches on the same day, the commentary was often "O well, he's so strong it won't be a problem for him."

Fans also expect the players to have no mental or emotional lapses as well, although it is equally hard (if not harder) to come out there day after day after day and maintain full concentration for the duration of every match.

I think we would have better matches if there were less tournaments. I think we have inhuman expectations of our faves.

Helen W said...

BTW, one of the commies mentioned that the last time Rafa has lost a set at Monte Carlo was in 2006 in the final against Roger. That's quite a record!

em said...

You see, this is when I realize that tennis is fun but looking at the picture in this post and my mind wandered right out of the court, the ocean singing me to it

lost in translation?


::

Yes! we can

em said...

One of the reasons why I don't like clay court tennis is that it makes players far too passive.

Hey Craig,
You are adorable

I liked playing on clay court. You are right about it appearing to make a player passive.

From what I remember, the real enjoyment often is the bantering, the playing for its own sake, in between wanting to win

That is what Serena just reminded me of

sorry for barging into your discussion
just a thought

::

Craig Hickman said...

em, this is a public forum. Barge in all you want.

Craig Hickman said...

While it's apparent Rafa and Raja respect each other, I'd be surprised if they were actually friends.

Rafa can chase history, too, y'all. No, he's not close to 14 Slams, but there is other history to make.

::

Davydenko doesn't look like he's been anywhere. Of course, I may change my mind if he puts himself in a winning position and starts to gag for lack of match play. But he's far more comfortable on clay than Murray. Doesn't mean he's going to win, but he's playing his Andre Agassi inside-the-baseline-taking-the-ball-on-the-rise game.

Pamela said...

I don't think they are friends either, not in the sense that some seem to imply. They obviously respect each other and enjoy the rivalry. Although, I'm sure Rafa enjoys it more at the moment.

I want Davydenko to win this match. Someone beside me just said Murray's neck looks like a snake does when he swallows a rabbit. lol I couldn't disagree.

Craig Hickman said...

This isn't a bad match, actually. Davydenko's ball striking is making Murray actually hit the ball instead of dink it around.

Helen W said...

Agree Craig. I haven't watched that many matches at MC, but of the ones I have seen, this is the best tennis by far.

Craig Hickman said...

Murray tried to draw an error on set point with high balls, but it didn't work. He ended up making the error. Back to deuce.

Craig Hickman said...

Davydenko has got to be exhausted. he played a three setter against Nalbandian while Murray had to play a set.

I forgot about that when I previewed this encounter.

Davydenko looks like he's done.

Helen W said...

Agree. Mammothly unfair scheduling. Again.

Matthew said...

I don't know where everyone else is watching the match, but the feed on tennistv.com seems to have died, at least for me. Any thoughts/suggestions?

Matthew said...

Oh, never mind, it's back. Looks like I just missed a poor tiebreak, is all.

Pamela said...

I'd have love to seen Nalbandian trounce Andy M.

For those that were wondering:

http://greattennisphotos.blogspot.com/2009/04/photo-xisca-supports-rafa-in-monte.html

Helen W said...

Matthew I experience the same irritating stops with TennisTV.

Graf_sampras said...

Rafa said after the news of roger's marriage:

"It's making already think about marriage and children in the years, no?"

the spanish Bull WILL PRODUCE ....

little Rafabulls...

each one born picking his behind....
hehe.

Graf_sampras said...

GO MURRAY!!!


hehe

Craig Hickman said...

Murray has a hand problem. He seems to be having trouble with his two hander.

Craig Hickman said...

Well, here comes a choke, no?

Craig Hickman said...

Davydenko is too tired to come to net anymore.

Helen W said...

Anybody checking the betting patterns? :)

Helen W said...

What a crock. Kolya is dead on his feet. And the commies are busy criticizing his unforced errors. Sheesh.

Craig Hickman said...

Choke.

Craig Hickman said...

Helen W, I know Davy is tired, but these drop shots take just as much energy to get over missing as a hard flat backhand up the line.

Helen W said...

I hope some of the players, in their pressers, comment on the scheduling.

Matthew said...

If Davydenko had won (which now seems all but an impossibility) he would have beaten two grand slam finalists on the same day. Surely, that would have been a first, right?

Craig Hickman said...

See what I mean. The backhand up the line is the shot.

Craig Hickman said...

I simply cannot stand Andy Murray.

Pamela said...

What a shame. (for me)

Craig Hickman said...

Helen W, the scheduling is what it is because of all the rain. The only person who could've complained is Rafa for having to play second fiddle to Raja yesterday, but other than that, what would you have like to see differently?

Helen W said...

Maybe extend the tournament by an extra day?

Helen W said...

Yesterday they also moved the first match (Monaco -- Beck) to Court 9. Maybe they could have had either Roger or Rafa on Court 9.

Craig Hickman said...

They're not going to extend the tournament by an extra day if they don't have to.

Karen said...

Craig said:
I simply cannot stand Andy Murray.

Craig, I could not agree with you more. I have tried so hard to see what others see in him but he just seems so darned insincere. I just dislike his tennis, his face, everything about him. It is just plain annoying, even the way he stands to receive serve - those teeth and that look on his face - he looks like the Grim Reaper

Karen said...

This Girl C-Woz is playing some really good tennis. You can always tell when someone is playing well - look at their break point conversions or look at how many break points they have saved. One would say well if they were so good they would not have that many break points against them in the first place, but the fact is it is not about how many break points you get against your serve, it is about how many times you have frustrated your opponent by saving them. I think she saved 5 break points against Razzano and gave her a bagel in the final set - good stuff - at least I will get to see her play tomorrow - yaay tennis on tv

Craig Hickman said...

Karen,if Murray needed me to save his life, I'd save it.

But it's really really hard watching him play tennis.

Matt said...

Craig, I COULD NOT AGREE WITH YOU MORE. Murray is HECK. I simply CANNOT STAND watching him. At all. Ever since his whinging last year at Wimbledon about not getting seeded higher.

Get. The. Heck. Out. Of. Tennis. Murray. PLEASE.

Karen said...

Craig, you are a better man than me because I would perhaps let him die. Put him and the world out of its misery. LOL. I am sorry I just do not like the fellow

Craig Hickman said...

Karen, now c'mon.

edma1022 said...

I would rather watch a cricket match than Murray's brand of "rope-a-dope" tennis.

Actually, outside of watching Rafa's powerful, sliding, beautiful clay play (and now he's transcending to hc), who's there to watch in the ATP?

Well, there's still Marat's tortured play (bits of genius and destruction).... other than this - bleh.

Savannah said...

I simply cannot stand Andy Murray.
================
Tell us how you really feel Craig. ;)

Clay court tennis is passive? I guess all that mindless ball bashing that takes place on HC's is better than point construction, long detailed q&a sessions between the players and seeing which player finally breaks and goes for it? Not to mention the physical demands and knowing when and how to slide. Just sayin' my friend.

Karen said...

Savannah and Craig duking it out. I have to say that I actually prefer hard court tennis - with the way how hard courts are playing these days, you cannot tell the difference between hard courts and clay these days. During IW there were 15-20 stroke rallies going on during matches. I like when I am watching tennis and there is point construction. This happens on both hard courts and on clay, but on clay it just seems so monotonous and while I admit to seeing the beauty in the point construction of the clay game, you will see it in the hard courts as well. I have seen some really nice rallies taking place, especially on the women's side. On the men's side it is usually all about the serve. I watched Marbella recently and I have to admit that some of the point construction of the match that I saw between Suarez Navarro and Jankovic were just spectacular, but then again I have also seen that type of point construction during the USO as well - so I guess at the end of the day it all depends on the players and their ability to construct a point, whatever the surface

Craig Hickman said...

Savannah and I duke it out every year round this time.

Just a blatant reminder that we are not the same person, as some of our readers think.

;)

Karen said...

Really, I cannot imagine that people would think that you are one and the same person, because you both have differing views about tennis

Craig Hickman said...

It's just a few folks. Nothing major. I'm flattered, of course.