Thursday, April 14, 2011


So it was largely a day where the unexpected remained unrealised in Monte Carlo. Rafa won (duh). Roger won (also unsurprising). Ferrer and Melzer won. Even Andy Murray won, though I don't know if we can necessarily call that 'expected'... but in a world where we all know Rafa is going to win the tournament anyway, pretty much everyone did what they were supposed to.

With a couple of exceptions.

I'm going to start with the lesser exception first, because really, I don't know if anyone ever actually expects Gael Monfils to win. There is always a possibility that he will - and he does often enough that he's seeded in this tournament - but it is never, ever a surprise when he loses. Even when it's to a qualifier. I'm pretty sure that qualifier-conqueror, Frederico Gil, is a specialist dirtballer, but even still... it could have been some random grass court specialist ranked #684748 in the world and there's still a chance Monfils would go down. That's just Monfils.

But you who is supposed to be consistent? People that played in the Wimbledon final last year, and who have been ranked in the top ten for a while now. I hope you're trembling in your boots, Tomas Berdych, because if you play like this when Wimbledon comes round again, you are going to get booted out of the top ten so fast that you'll get whiplash.

Seriously, I feel like people have been waiting for Berdych to 'arrive' for, like, ever, and when he had that Roland Garros/Wimbledon run last year, everyone thought his time had come at last. But you know what? I'm getting more and more confident that that brief period of tennis excellence from Berdych was a BIG FAT FLUKE. Because has he lived up to it ever since?

Not even a little bit, not even at all.

He lost to Ivan Ljubicic, who is, let's be fair, a very, very good player. But the guys at the top of the game - your Federer, your Nadal, your Djokovic - they didn't get where they are just by occasionally losing to 'very, very good players'. They have what it takes. And Berdych, it appears, does not. And at this stage? I don't think he ever will.

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