Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bullfight

That's the all-Spaniard semi-final is going to be - a bullfight. Left-handed giant-killer Nando Verdasco goes up against the biggest left-handed giant of them all, Rafa Nadal, the machine. Rafa I expect a lot of people would have picked to get to this point. Nando... not so much.
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We have a grand old tradition at the Australian Open of a surprise finalist. Well, I say old... three years old. Marcos Baghdatis, Fernando Gonzalez, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga... could Nando be this year's surprise?
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Well, let's not count our chickens before they're hatched. He has to get through the Raging Bull first - and as Gilles Simon will tell you, that's easier said than done.
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Naf and I were having this conversation the other in the comments section of her great blog Tennis With Attitude (it's in my blogroll - check it out) about whether Rafa might actually be a cyborg. I have to say, it's a distinct possibility, the way he's been playing. That said, however, he showed a couple of signs of mortality last night - or maybe the heat was playing havoc with his internal workings or he rusted up a bit. Hard to tell. He still put the beatdown on the little bird in straights, but it was tougher going than he's been used to - which one would expect, because, hello, top ten player, but still... He seemed to have a total unwillingness to hit anything other than his funny-looking slice or a couple of pushes off his backhand - I think he only made one outright backhand winner the whole match. His backhand is hardly the Ultimate Power Shot his big lefty hooking forehand is, but it sure doesn't suck... so what was with that? Maybe it was just tactics against Simon, but they were weird tactics.
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I make him sound like he's on the brink of explosion. Lies, all lies. He's a unit. Much as I'd like to see Nando be this year's Marcos, I wouldn't like his chances of getting through the Rafinator.
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But didn't he put up a good show against Jo-Willy? He's a great player, Nando, but he doesn't have half the arsenal the big guy does - and he still managed to beat him into submission! What a run for him - beating Murray and then Tsonga in quick succession. That's a bit spesh - very Marcos, actually, when he took out Roddick then Ljubicic (then Nalbandian!) in '06. For sure he'll be in the top ten next week, and he really deserves it - Davis Cup is mad, but it doesn't get you any points. He's capitalising on that win and converting it into some WILD form.
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It's going to be an interesting match against Rafa - though I do think Rafa will get him, I wouldn't be surprised to see Nando at least grab a set. He's a lefty too, which means that forehand-to-backhand thing Rafa usually has working for him is neutralised. So that means we'll have the big-lefty-hooking-spinny-weird-but-highly-effective-thing that Rafa works against the Verdasco forehand, which is pretty much a rocketship. Gonna be interesting... and also the hair matchup is going to be a good one too. Rafa's hair seems to be dripping with sweat the second he sets on court. Nando's hair? It never moves. IT NEVER EVER MOVES. I am not convinced that it is not a helmet.
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Oh yeah, and some women played tennis yesterday too. Dementieva put an end to the great run of Carla Suarez Navarro, which I didn't see, due to gainful employment, but was hardly unexpected. She really could go all the way, Elena, if she can keep her serve and her head together. And then Serena thwarted an all Russian semi-final quartet by taking out Svetlana Kuznetsova, despite Sveta being a set and 5-3 up. Them's the ways of champions, and no-one's doubting Serena's credits in that department. That said, they closed the roof after the first set, and if it had stayed open, I would not have liked Serena's chances... it will be interesting to see how the heat goes today, and whether we play in or outdoor. It's not quite the same when they're playing in air-conditioned comfort. I like to see how the conditions come into play. But sometimes I guess it's just too darn hot. And it is, let me assure you - it is really, really hot in this sort of eastern part of Australia right now! REALLY, REALLY HOT.
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Today's Results
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Australian Open
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Men's Draw
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Rafael Nadal def. Gilles Simon, 6-2 6-2 7-5
Fernando Verdasco def. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-3 6-2
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Women's Draw
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Elena Dementieva def. Carla Suarez Navarro, 6-2 6-2
Serena Williams def. Svetlana Kuznetsova, 5-7 7-5 6-1

4 comments:

Tennis Talk, Anyone? said...

Hey Jodi, what's up? Glad you're enjoying the tournament! I see Verdasco as a poor man's Nadal, and going up against the real deal is really gonna be a test.

But like you said, there is always a surprise finalist! I hope it's not the case this time, since I picked Rafa to win and I want to save face!--Van

Naf said...

Ha ha! How DOES Verdasco do that with his hair? I was just saying yesterday that there's a man who puts more into his hair than any woman I know. Robo-Nadal is totally going to destroy him (thanks for the shout-out!) though.
I'm a little disappointed with Sveta. She totally had Serena in a corner.

Thomas Rooney said...

It should be a cracker. Really looking forward to it.

Would you be able to email me when you get the chance? I would really appreciate it.

Cheers

Thomas

Jodi said...

Van - Verdasco really is a poor man's Nadal, isn't he? But he's also riding high on a wave of confidence after the Davis Cup and the two upsets he's pulled here, so who knows what special he can pull out of the bag? I'm pulling for him, I admit - I love the surprise finalist!

Naf - whatever Nando puts in his hair, I want to know what it is. Anything that can withstand a five-hour tennis match in sweltering conditions is the product of the GODS.