Tommy Robredo is one of those players that I have, without meaning to, somehow conspired to see play a lot. He's not up there on my favourites list or anything, but somehow I always manage to catch a bunch of his matches. And I kind of love him now - a love born of familiarity more than anything else, because I doubt he'd stand out to me otherwise. He's not spectacularly interesting or anything.
But. Yes, I have just been all like, 'I love you, Tommy, but hot damn you are boring,' but when I saw him play John Isner at the Hopman Cup yesterday, I realised there was a reason I kind of loved him, and it's his speed. The way he can run down balls is pretty awesome to watch. They actually did a bit of stats thing on the TV where they showed how often Isner was hitting the ball to Robredo's backhand - something like 71% of the time. However, despite the speed of the Isner groundies, Robredo was running round most of them to hit forehands. Because he could.
And his passing shots! Oh, his passing shots! There is something in the Spanish air which predisposes the Spaniards to hitting beautiful passing shots, and Robredo is no exception. The best tribute I can pay them is silence.
The Isner/Robredo match was a seriously good match. It went 7-6 in the third, with Robredo coming out on top, but it was a titanic struggle - and it looked like it was going to be all Isner until one moment midway through the second set. Robredo had struggled mightily to get it to 30-all on Isner's serve, and then he hit an absolutely inspired forehand to bring up break point. He went on to break Isner - the only break of serve in the match - and run off with the set. And even though the third set went deep, you kind of had the feeling Robredo was going to win.
Spain won the tie 3-0, cleaning up in the women's singles and the mixed as well, and they surely must be favourites to win the group now. Another failed year at Hopman Cup for Australia.
Over in Brisbane, there were quality wins for Alicia Molik and Matt Ebden, which surely must turn Tennis Australia's collective frown upside down. Good stuff.
Hopman Cup (Perth)
Spain 3, USA 0
Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez def. Melanie Oudin, 6-4 6-4
Tommy Robredo def. John Isner, 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 7-6 (7-4)
Martinez Sanchez/Robredo def. Oudin/Isner, 6-4 7-5
Brisbane International (Brisbane)
Kim Clijsters def. Tathiana Garbin, 6-2 6-1
Alicia Molik def. Ekaterina Makarova, 6-4 1-6 6-4
Vania King def. Sybille Bammer, 6-4 6-1
Andrea Petkovic def. Iveta Benesova, 6-7 (6-8) 6-2 6-1
Melinda Czink def. Lucie Hradecka, 6-4 3-6 6-3
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova def. Olga Govortsova, 6-4 6-1
3 weeks ago