I'll be the first to admit I don't like Lleyton Hewitt. I'm not sure anyone actually does like Lleyton Hewitt. I'd venture to say that the majority of Australians who barrack for him don't actually particularly like him. And I've always found it amusing that he is apparently Argentina's Most Hated International Sportsman. (After the Chela thing, it's unsurprising, I guess!) I don't like him, but I have to admit - he played some fine tennis today.
I think what was most impressive about his game today was the way he used the defensive topspin lob. He almost overused it. Shot after shot, he sent those things spiralling over Mahut's head - and damn, it was a successful tactic. I've never really paid much attention to the technical aspects of his game before, being too consumed in disliking his personality, but that's something I'm going to keep an eye out for in the future. I can't imagine it would be a very successful clay court technique, but on the faster courts, like grass, I can see how it would really work for him. Mahut's movement wasn't impaired or anything - it wasn't like he was too slow to get there - but the lobs were just too good.
So, well done, Lleyton. I still don't like you, but you play an all right game of tennis.
A good win for Dmitry Tursunov today - though sadly it came at the expense of Stan Wawrinka. Tursunov is a favourite of mine (as you might have already been able to tell!) but I like Wawrinka as well, and he had a great run to the Doha final last week. A terrible loss for Tommy Robredo - I have no idea what was going on there! Radek Stepanek is no slouch, but he isn't really in Robredo's league, and so that was a bad loss. Likewise, Ana Ivanovic almost totally lost it there against Virginie Razzano. She ended up winning 7-5 in the third, but Razzano was leading that set 5-2 at one point... she seemed to go on a mental vacation.
Speaking of that, it was pretty clear that what picked Ivanovic back up again was her coach talking to her. When did that particular innovation begin? I've never even heard of it before. Both Ivanovic and Razzano had their coaches courtside at various points. Now, tell me I'm wrong, but I thought that being coached during a match was very-bad-extremely-banned-if-you-do-it-you-are-cheating? So when did this friendly coach talk start? Because I don't like it. A tennis match is between two individuals. Doesn't everyone say that tennis is this huge mental battle? Because it seems to me that calling your coach down for a pick-me-up and positive affirmation runs kind of counter to that notion? If tennis is a kitchen, picking up Roger Rasheed's extremely intelligent metaphor of a few days ago, Razzano was in Ivanovic's kitchen making a huge mess... which Ivanovic's coach proceeded to neaten up a bit. I mean, Ivanovic still had to do the big tidy, but the coach started it off for her.
I know they can both call the coach, so it's not unfair, but it seems sort of... not in the spirit of tennis.
In other news, very sad that Federer and Haas both had to pull out of the AAMI Classic in Kooyong... especially Federer. That makes me very gloomy indeed. I was looking forward to watching him play this week... though I might get to see him in the flesh next week (hopefully healthier!)
Medibank International (Sydney)
Radek Stepanek def. Tommy Robredo, 6-4 6-2
Carlos Moya def. Stefan Koubek, 1-6 6-4 6-2
Lleyton Hewitt def. Nicolas Mahut, 6-3 6-4
Evgeny Korolev def. Paul-Henri Mathieu, 6-1 ret.
Dmitry Tursunov def. Stanislas Wawrinka, 6-3 6-3
Andreas Seppi def. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 3-6 6-3 6-2
Steve Darcis def. Joseph Sirianni, 6-1 7-6 (7-4)
Chris Guccione def. Alberto Martin, 7-6 (8-6) 6-4
Ivo Minar def. Alun Jones, 6-2 7-5
Justine Henin def. Lucie Safarova, walkover
Svetlana Kuznetsova def. Shahar Peer, 6-3 6-4
Ana Ivanovic def. Virginie Razzano, 6-1 2-6 7-5
Nicole Vaidisova def. Daniela Hantuchova, 6-4 6-2
Francesca Schiavone def. Marion Bartoli, 2-6 6-3 6-2
Katarina Srebotnik def. Sybille Bammer, 4-6 6-1 6-2
Kaia Kanepi def. Sofia Arvidsson, 3-6 6-3 6-3
Jelena Jankovic def. Tatiana Golovin, 6-1 2-6 6-3
Heineken Open (Auckland)
Philipp Kohlschreiber def. Michael Russell, 7-5 6-2
Sergio Roitman def. Lukas Rosol, 6-2 7-5
Nicolas Massu def. Greg Jones, 6-4 6-2
Moorilla Hobart International
Eleni Daniilidou def. Alona Bondarenko, 6-3 6-3
Vera Zvonareva def. Ioana Raluca Olaru, 6-3 6-2
Sania Mirza def. Alla Kudryavtseva, 6-3 6-4
Elena Vesnina def. Nuria Llagostera Vives, 6-3 6-2
Ashley Harkleroad def. Meilen Tu, 7-6 (11-9) 2-6 6-1
Edina Gallovits def. Olga Govortsova, 6-3 6-2
Casey Dellacqua def. Anna Lapushchenkova, 6-4 4-6 6-1