Sunday, January 24, 2010

Godzilla Is A Forehand

Oh, Dinara. Whenever I think you're getting back to something halfway decent, you go and get injured. It's great for MariKiri to get through to the quarters and all, but it's sad that Safina's finals defence had to end with her limping off the court.

Take care of her, Zeljko.

Match of the day yesterday surely has to go to Roddick and Gonzalez, though Henin and Wickmayer come in a close second. Let's talk Belgians, before I get off the subject of women's tennis altogether. I'm very glad Henin won this match, but Wickmayer is swiftly rising up the ranks of the players I like. She's got serious game, but I think her biggest asset is her intensity. She may have dropped off a touch in the third set, but that was coupled with a lift from Henin so obvious it must have been very discouraging indeed. She's made the US semis and now a fourth round here. I wouldn't be surprised to see her go even deeper at Roland Garros. I think her aggressive game would suit clay very well.

The queen of Roland Garros, Justine, was incredibly impressive. I don't know what's in the water in Belgium, but how do they produce these incredible comebacks from women that have been out of the game for such substantial periods of time? JuJu surely has to be one of the favourites to take the title now - but to get the final eight in itself is absolutely massive!

...though I'm sure she'll be measuring herself against the Clijsters yardstick, which is very demanding.

Also through to the quarters is Petrova, who is looking very, very dangerous - she'll face Henin next in a rematch of their Brisbane first round encounter. Petrova will be wanting to turn it around and she'll have the advantage of having played Henin recently, so I think that match is going to be a blockbuster to watch! The other quarter will be MariKiri vs Zheng Jie... so no matter what happens there, we're getting an unseeded surprise semi finalist!

Over to the boys, and we've set up a blockbuster quarter final with Nadal and Murray - though Roddick and Cilic has the potential to be epic as well. I forgot about del Potro/Cilic when I dubbed Roddick/Gonzalez match of the day before, because Delpo/MMC could definitely claim that title. Both these matches went to five sets and both totally could have gone either way - I was convinced that Gonzalez was going to beat Roddick in four, because he was completely zoning throughout the second, third, and most of the fourth sets. But then Roddick lifted his game right where it mattered, deep in the fourth, and after a handful of set points, managed to clinch it. Gonzo was never the same afterwards - he folded pretty badly in the fifth.

It was an interesting match, watching Larry Stefanki's two most recent prodigies going at each other. Roddick's serve frustrating Gonzo, but not as much as Gonzo's forehand bothered A-Rod. Seriously, that thing is Godzilla. It's terrifying. It could destroy Tokyo with one well placed swipe. And it really is the reason that Gonzo's been around so long, because pre-Stefanki, it was really all he had. Stefanki has certainly developed him into a more complete player - he's five times the player he was before - but the destructive power of the forehand... whoa.

But it's to be seen no more this tournament, with Roddick the victor. I actually think he has a real shot at making the final, even though his draw appears sort of nightmarish - at least he doesn't have to make it through JMDP now. Though, to tell the truth, JMDP, injured as he is, might have been an easier task than Marin Cilic, for whom this quarter final has definitely come at the right time in his career. He's shown a real maturity in his game this tournament, wearing down both Bernard 'whinger' Tomic and JMDP in five, and it'll be interesting to see how he plays Roddick now.

Whichever of these dudes win, I reckon they have a shot against the winner of Nadal/Murray. Nadal, by his own admission, is not feeling especially confident, and if Roddick or Cilic zone, I think they are very capable of wearing down Murray, especially if Rafa's been running him around the court for hours. But whatever happens, Rafa/Muzz should be an epic match - and I think it's the last time we'll see them play in the quarters for a loooooooooooong time...

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