Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Be Prepared (Trust Me, You Are Not)

Cherbourg! It's going to be a thing this week. Be prepared to have your world rocked by my Cherbourg coverage. Be prepared to have your mind blown and everything you thought you knew turned on its head.

...I should probably make sure I've watched some of the tournament before I start making large, grandiose, sweeping promises, but hey, I bet you kept reading till the second paragraph!

Cherbourg is a Challenger event, and it is a defending champion that we all know and love in Nicolas Mahut, he who should have been given a wildcard to the Australian Open but who qualified anyway and made it to the second round. (Yes, I'm still harping on that hobby horse.) And he played last night, this Mahut of whom I sing, and he won.

And yes, this makes me happy.

I didn't see the match, but I'm going to talk about like I know what I'm talking about, so be prepared. (I've seen the stats sheet. Surely this is enough!) Mahut played a nasty first set of badness and despair wherein his opponent - qualifier Matwe Middlekoop, if you are a) interested and b) know who that is - pretty much walked all over him. The stats show that Mahut wasn't playing that badly - they're not great stats but they're not awful either - but the real telling one is the return. Middlekoop clearly had that serve cranking and Mahut wasn't reading it, because his return percentage on both first and second serves was not a happy fun joyful return percentage of sunshine and rainbows, if you know what I mean.

So, yeah. Down went Mahut in that first set. Into her mouth went Jodi's heart (or it would have, had I been watching. I was busy doing this thing called 'being asleep'. People are determined to have their tennis tournaments at very inconvenient times of those of us here in the land of Oz). But then what light at yonder window breaks (broke)? Suddenly, Mahut returned much better! Middlekoop returned much worse! And this trend continued until Mahut was winning 89% of points on his first serve in the third set. And, oh yeah, he was serving at 82%, so Middlekoop didn't get much of a look in there.

It highlights a) what a big freaking deal serving and returning is; b) the way that players - even ones you might not usually think of as 'great' - can change gears in the middle of matches; and c) that Jodi is capable of rabbiting on like a crazy person about a match she hasn't seen. (If you are new to this blog, I do this a lot. Be prepared.)

Anyway, it wasn't Mahut's most gloriously stylish win ever, but he got the job done, and a win is a win - no matter what that craptacular study I was talking about yesterday would have you believe.

I'm pretty sure that Mahut faces 'OMG, you killed' Kenny de Schepper in his next match, who came through a tough three setter. I know nothing about de Schepper, so I might just stop here before I start predicting matches I probably won't end up seeing. I'll just say ALLEZ NICO and leave it at that.

Oh, and also - whatever happened to Josselin Ouanna? Remember when he was all Safin-beating third-round-making at Roland Garros? Now he's getting smacked down by Ivo Minar in the first round of Cherbourg. What happened there?

1 comment:

Peg Duthie said...

Yay Nico! Thank you for the report!