Friday, January 21, 2011

Life On Show Court 2

Today was my last day at the Australian Open - sadface. I finished it off with wonderful drinks with Dootsiez and PJ from All I Need Is A Picket Fence, which was the perfect way to end what has been a wonderful tournament for me. I have had the time of my life, and you can bet your bottom dollar that I will be back for 2012 - for even longer, if I can possibly afford it!

I spent a great part of my day on Show Court 2 today - first for Almagro vs Ljubicic and then for Azarenka vs Scheepers. Herein is my report.

Almagro was playing as well as I have ever seen him on a hard court. We all know that he is the Prince of Clay, but he was absolutely on fire today against Ljubicic. If you'd asked me to place a bet before the match, I would have said Ljubicic in straights. Instead, it turned out being the other way round.

I never realised Almgaro had such massive shots - he can hit the ball HARD. I think the only person I've seen hit the ball that (noticeably) hard is Soderling. And maybe Nadal. Seriously, his strokes were MASSIVE today. He has a real flair for the passing shot and the angled forehand. And he played a totally fierce second set tiebreak. That tiebreak was the real key point in the match, and it was Almagro who held tough. I was very impressed. I totally understand how he gave Tsonga such a good run for his money last year! Actually, Almagro has a pretty decent record in Australia, and I totally get why.

Ljubicic, on the other hand, was doing something weird with his shots. I don't know if I was influenced by his grunt, which made him sound extremely like he was in pain, but he seemed to be collapsing inwards on a lot of his shots - sort of curling up, which seemed to be really hampering his movement. I don't know if I've missed, like, his entire career, and he's always played like this, but I felt very much like he was playing through big pain. I was kind of glad Almagro put him out of his misery, to tell the truth.

And then it was time for the ladies. This was the first full ladies' match I have watched outside of Rod Laver Arena, and it was suitably compelling, even if the scoreline did not suggest it.

I have not been a big fan of Azarenka in the past. I don't know if I have changed my opinion, but I was pretty impressed with her today. Scheepers possesses some big shots - like, BIG. She can hit winners like nobody's business and she has a lot of power. But Vika didn't panic and deflected all that power straight back at her. It was great tennis from Vika, combined with a bit of inexperience from her opponent, which won her this match. And in a women's draw more wide open than ever, why shouldn't it be time for Vika to make a charge?

And then it was time for Federer. I didn't have Rod Laver Arena tickets, but I watched on the big screen in Grand Slam Oval. And had twenty minor heart attacks, even though Federer was in front virtually the whole time.

Federer played this whole match like he'd left the oven on - distracted and wanting to get off as soon as possible. He managed the latter, but it was a strange, nervy match. He oscillated between extreme brilliance and Federror, his evil shadow-self. And then there was his strange obsession with the drop shot...

But he'll be right. He's Federer. And that is the truth of the matter.

I'm watched the Rod Laver Arena night session as I write this. Stan Wawrinka has just put paid to an awful Gael Monfils. Seriously, could Monfils have played any worse in this match? He possibly has the worst mentality in tennis. I came to this conclusion after watching him tank the third set against Gil the other night, and it was only reinforced tonight.

We've watched Federer and Nadal. We know that tennis champions have minds of steel. Monfils demonstrated tonight that he does not have one. He fell apart, totally and completely. He might have the talent, he might even have the game, but unless he works on what he has upstairs, he's not going anywhere.

In short, it is time for Gael Monfils and Roger Rasheed to BREAK UP. Rasheed is infecting him with douchiness.

Stan, on the other hand, played wonderfully. He may be a little douchey in his personal life - I cast no stones, I said 'may' - but his backhand is a freaking work of art. That thing is gorgeous.

And then the second Rod Laver Arena match... poor Venus. That poor girl. Poor scheduling decision, considering her injured-ness, but oh my goodness. That girl was HURTING. Get well soon, Lady V!

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