I've just returned from the men's final of the Medibank International - and one thing's for sure, I am looking forward to Melbourne, where my hotel is within walking distance of Rod Laver Arena. To get from Central Sydney to Ken Rosewall Arena, it's two trains and a hike. But whinging aside, yay tennis!
Baghdatis and Gasquet was always going to be an intriguing match up - if we had to have two unseeded players in the final, these are probably the two I would have picked. Actually, the seeds in the men's draw weren't that great anyway, so all things considering, this was a good final. And it was certainly a more entertaining match than the women's match the night before, which, despite featuring two Big Name Players OMG, was not exactly a blockbuster.
So we have an intriguing match, a final in balmy Sydney, what could possibly go wrong?
Of all the nights to rain and force the match to go late late late, it had to be the one where I'm catching an early flight the next morning. Typical. It started to fall at 30-0 Gasquet in the second set, Baghdatis having just won the first, and persisted for the better part of an hour. And it's pretty dull when you're there all by yourself and there's no tennis and there's rain... though you do get to eavesdrop on the people around you and wince at their tennis (and other) faux pas. (What is the plural of faux pas? I have no idea). My favourite one was 'Feliciano Verdascus', who apparently won Kooyong today... though there was a 'Twilight is extremely well written' one which made me wince. But my feelings on tweenage literature are not the subject of this post.
As you can tell, I am rambling, because I am tired and need to sleep before aforementioned early flight. I will be concise. Gasquet did not play badly at all - in fact, this is the best I have seen him for a long time. I don't know if we'll see him in the top ten again this year, but he should definitely better his ranking significantly if he stays out of trouble. He played some backhands tonight that... whoa. Yeah. They were pretty amazing. I think Gasquet should have a special exhibition against Wawrinka one day. That would be like... backhand porn.
So his backhand was great, his forehand was pretty solid - he didn't do a whole lot wrong. If one shot let him down, it was the serve - he served two doubles in a row in the tiebreak which probably didn't help him a great deal. Baghdatis, on the other hand, was cranking the serve - he got a lot of cheap points off it. This match was definitely won by Marcos and not lost by Richou, because both of them played pretty well. The difference was in the serving and hitting the lines - I haven't seen the error count, but I'd imagine Marcos would be pretty economical, considering the level of aggression he played with.
Gasquet started out with the wrong game plan, I think, which cost him his very first service game, which end up costing him the set. He was playing a lot of junk balls around the service line, and Baghdatis was just eating them up. I couldn't tell whether he was just sort of feeling out the court or whether he was trying to lure Baghdatis in - he did set up a couple of points beautifully where he lured Marcos in and then passed him. Baghdatis started off playing a lot deeper and it paid off.
This was a match with long rallies and it was very entertaining. I hope to see more of both these boys at the Open! And congratulations to Marcos - it's really something being in a crowd that's full of crazy Cypriot fans, and I really loved the atmosphere. Keep smiling, dude.
Roger: older and not quite out
6 months ago