Gainful employment - it gets in the way. It always happens: in the only month tennis is really televised in Australia, I work more than any other month.
It also means I can fund my tennis junket in a couple of days' time. A double-edged sword, alas.
Due to said gainful employment, I didn't get to actually see any tennis, but I didn't need to see the match to know that Mikhail Youzhny's victory over Rafael Nadal in Chennai was a complete whitewash. What kind of result is that for the Number 2 tennis player in the world? Rafa is supposedly the heir-apparent to the Federer throne (though I think Novak Djokovic might have a few things to say about that!) When was the last time you saw Federer (or Djokovic, for that matter) beaten 6-0 6-1?
I appreciate that Rafa had played a long match against Carlos Moya less than 24 hours before hand - apparently it was one of the longest three set matches ever played, going for about four hours, I think. Sure, he was tired, and it's the beginning of the season and he isn't really all there yet. But 6-0 6-1? A week before the beginning of the Australian Open? Even I can see that that's really not good enough.
Tennis is an endurance sport. Tennis players are among the fittest people in the world. Five set matches can easily break the five-hour mark, and frequently go longer. It's almost a foreign thought to think of a tennis player getting tired.
Look at Federer. When was the last time fatigue played a real role in his game? To be fair, Federer rarely goes to five sets because he demolishes his opponents a little earlier than that, but when he does - the marathon final of Rome 2006 comes to mind, where Nadal beat Federer in a fifth set tie break - it doesn't really look like (to me, anyway) that fatigue effects him much. Federer didn't lose that match because he was tired. That one rested entirely on that breaker, and he got outplayed by the best clay court player in the world. No shame there.
I'm not questioning Nadal's fitness - obviously, to be as good as Nadal is, you have to be extraordinarily fit. But to lose 6-0 6-1? Mikhail Youzhny is a great player, and I think he can beat just about anyone in the top 20, including Rafa, but I wouldn't think he'd be able to beat them like that - bagel, breadstick.
(On a brief aside, I love that bakery tennis terminology. 6-0, a bagel. 6-1, a breadstick. I heard someone talk about 6-2 being a croissant once, and I like that one as well!)
In other news, what a win for the French wizard yesterday! I love watching Fabrice Santoro play, and even though I like James Blake, it was great to see Santoro win - even though I didn't get to actually SEE it, per se. Santoro is actually responsible for one of my favourite tennis strokes of all time - when he played against David Nalbandian in the quarters of the Australian Open in 2006, he sent this drop shot just over the net, and before Nalbandian could get to it, it bounced back to Santoro's side, such was the crazy spin! James Blake was the champion here last year, so he'll lose a lot of points... and it'll be interesting to see who gets up and wins it!
I'd like it to be Dmitry Tursunov. Or Carlos Moya. I think.
Chennai Open (Chennai)
Mikhail Youzhny def. Rafael Nadal, 6-0 6-1
Medibank International (Sydney)
Richard Gasquet def. Igor Andreev, 6-3 7-6 (8-6)
Fabrice Santoro def. James Blake, 7-6 (7-4) 6-2
Tomas Berdych def. Filippo Volandri, 6-1 6-3
Fernando Verdasco def. Feliciano Lopez, 6-3 4-6 6-2
Agustin Calleri def. Greg Jones, 6-3 6-2
Sebastien Grosjean def. Peter Luczak, 6-4 4-6 6-0
Gilles Simon def. Mardy Fish, 7-6 (8-6) 6-1
Katarina Srebotnik def. Anna Chakvetadze, 7-5 6-1
Daniela Hantuchova def. Dinara Safina, 5-7 6-4 6-4
Marion Bartoli def. Karin Knapp, 6-1 6-0
Sofia Arvidsson def. Elena Dementieva, 6-1 7-5
Nicole Vaidisova def. Camille Pin, 6-1 2-6 6-2
Tatiana Golovin def. Tzipora Obziler, 6-2 6-3
Shahar Peer def. Yuliana Fedak, 6-3 6-2
Francesca Schiavone def. Jill Craybas, 6-4 6-4
Kaia Kanepi def. Dominika Cibulkova, 3-6 6-1 7-6 (8-6)
Heineken Open (Auckland)
Juan Ignacio Chela def. Daniel King-Turner, 5-7 6-2 7-5
Nicolas Almagro def. Jose Acasuso, 6-3 6-4
Albert Montanes def. Jose Statham, 6-4 6-4
Jurgen Melzer def. Werner Eschauer, 6-4 1-6 6-3
Julien Benneteau def. Dudi Sela, 6-4 7-6 (7-3)
Florian Mayer def. Sam Querrey, 7-5 6-3
Olivier Rochus def. Michael Berrer, 6-7 (8-10) 6-2 6-4
Moorilla Hobart International (Hobart)
Alona Bondarenko def. Jessica Moore, 7-5 6-2
Vera Zvonareva def. Olga Poutchkova, 6-3 6-0
Flavia Pennetta def. Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-4 1-6 6-2
Olga Govortsova def. Victoria Azarenka, 1-3 ret.
Sania Mirza def. Lourdes Domínguez Lino, 6-4 6-0
Nuria Llagostera Vives def. Gisela Dulko, 6-3 2-1 ret.
Meilen Tu def. Emilie Loit, 4-6 6-1 6-4
Ioana Raluca Olaru def. Peng Shuai, 3-6 6-4 7-5
Anna Lapushchenkova def. Kateryna Bondarenko, 6-3 6-4
Ashley Harkleroad def. Yaroslava Shvedova, 6-4 6-3
Edina Gallovits def. Alberta Brianti, 6-2 6-3
Jelena Dokic def. Martina Müller, 6-4 0-6 6-2
Alla Kudryavtseva def. Monique Adamczak, 6-3 6-2