I don’t know if the surface is fast in Madrid or not, for some reason they didn’t let me into the draw, but the players are certainly acting like it’s as slick as a bowling alley. Paradorn Srichaphan spent his entire match with qualifier Gorka Fraile hitting ever ball as hard as he possibly could. Even Gael Monfils got into the act. He’s typically a defensive player and scampers all over the court running down balls with those long legs but he looked more like Fernando “the hammer” Gonzalez in his match against Dominik Hrbaty. Up 4-2, 40-15 in the first set, Monfils hit a hard serve that Hrbaty managed to mis-hit deep to the corner. Monfils retreated six or seven feet behind the baseline, leaped in the air and and hit a 116 mph forehand straight downhill.
Monfils is a pretty excitable guy, he looks like a young colt prancing around the court at times and the last thing you want to do is dampen a young player’s enthusiasm.
Monfils won the first set 6-3 and the second set was tied at 2-2 when he jumped into the air one more time while he was pretending to go after a Hrbaty overhead that was out of reach. This time it cost him, he twisted his right foot as he landed and there went the match, he left the court in a wheelchair.
Monfils is a pretty excitable guy, he looks like a young colt prancing around the court at times and the last thing you want to do is dampen a young player’s enthusiasm. It was difficult enough to watch Boris Becker change from a young guy who loved to celebrate his winners on court into a brooding presence who screamed at himself during matches. But this is Monfils’ third foot injury in the last few months, he had a stress fracture in one foot and a torn ligament in the other. At the very least he has to tape his ankles and more importantly, he has to focus on the job at hand – winning the match. If you watch a tennis match between top players you don’t see a lot of jumping. Players jump into their forehands and sometimes leap up to get to hit an overhead, but if you see a player hit a jump backhand, that’s usually because he or she is out of position. Monfils should choose more earthbound forms of celebration and work on his footwork.
The horns hand sign essentially substituted for a middle finger and he must have known that.
If Rafael Nadal gets to the final again this year, he’ll have a lot of help. The Madrid crowd cannot be described as bi-partisan. Robbie Ginepri broke Feliciano Lopez, a Spaniard, to go up 3-1 in the third set then waited for Lopez to go through his “injury time out when you’ve just been broken” delay tactic. Lopez challenged the call on the first point of the next game and won the challenge so the point had to be played over. Ginepri approached the chair for clarification as the chair umpire had called the score as deuce, which was clearly wrong. The Madrid crowd was already whistling at Ginepri but then he held up his hand and gave them the horns hand sign and the crowd went crazy. For the next few points they yelled as loud as they could every time Ginepri hit the ball and the umpire did very little except say “gracias”.
The umpire lost control of the match, the crowd was still whistling while Ginepri was serving at match point. Ginepri won the match 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, and it was a good win for him considering his fragile mental state this year but he certainly could have made it easier on himself. The horns hand sign essentially substituted for a middle finger and he must have known that. Ginepri was either telling the crowd “I love you” – doubtful under the circumstances and he didn’t have his thumb extended – or he was giving them the hook-em horns sign for the University of Texas – again doubtful as he has lived in Georgia since he was three years old. In Italy and Brazil the horns hand sign is an insult flashed to someone whose wife has been cheating on him.
Next time Ginepri might want to keep his hands to himself when he plays in Europe or South America.
See also: 2006 ATP Fantasy Tennis: Madrid Masters