If I were Andre Agassi I would have withheld permission for James Blake to wear that retro outfit with the dayglo pink compression shorts and loud pink and black shirt. Nothing is worse than looking at a picture of yourself a decade earlier. It’s not just the clothes, it’s that hair. Luckily Blake put on a do rag instead of a hairpiece.
Federer’s between the legs shot facing the net in his match against Tim Henman. When my regular playing buddy Abdul does it, he’s being lazy, when Federer does it, it makes the ESPN Top Ten list.
sometimes I wonder if players study anatomical texts just so they can come up with plausible medical problems to use as “strategical” time outs
Jim Courier and John McEnroe getting in some hitting during breaks from their day jobs. Okay, no big deal. But Jimmy Connors (with his new hip) and John McEnroe hitting, that was something to see.
Speaking of Connors, how about that rain-delay replay of a point in his 1991 match against Paul Haarhuis where Connors returned four straight overheads and finished off the point with a clean passing shot. Tends to make you forget that this was the same tournament where Connors called chair umpire David Littlefield a son of a bitch and an abortion among other things.
The outbreak of competitive dancing during the Blake-Carlos Moya match. The winner was a guy in a pastel jacket who must have been in his 60’s showing a mix of moves that were popular during the Ratpack’s heyday. For a minute there I thought I was at a Laker’s basketball game where everyone vogues for time on the jumbo-tron. Speaking of vogueing, Willie Ninja, a main figure in the New York drag ball circuit featured in the fabulous film Paris is Burning, died on Saturday from AIDS-related heart failure. Madonna is one of a long list of white artists who’ve popularized Black and Latino culture – remember her single Vogue – but trust me, the original vogueing crowd was and is vastly more entertaining.
More tales of medical time out abuse. Marcos Baghdatis took a medical time out in his match with Andre Agassi for a thigh muscle strain. Later in the match he got a medical time out for cramps in that very same thigh. So that’s how you get two time outs for the same problem despite the rule limiting you to one time out per complaint. The first time around you call it a muscle strain and get the area massaged. If the cramp returns, then you call it a cramp and get a second time out. And what’s up with Richard Gasquet? In his five set loss to Lleyton Hewitt he clearly had two medical timeouts for cramps in his legs – thighs first and calves second, how’d he pull that off?
Tommy Haas was either very smart or had a fortuitous medical problem. After a very long point at 5-5 in the fifth set in a match with Robbie Ginepri, he experienced a muscular problem that kept him from breathing deeply. At the end of the game the doctor came over and poked around his chest to evaluate the problem after which Haas took a medical time out for a total of five minutes. Earlier this week I was playing 15-point rally games with a guy who talked me into playing a third game after I’d beaten him easily in the first two. He got out to a 7-0 lead before I game back to cut his lead to 8-7. After that he said he needed a break, sat down beside the court and talked amiably for 6 or 7 minutes then started playing again. By then I was totally stiffened up and couldn’t hit a forehand to save my life. I’d been had, the guy knew I had grabbed the momentum and he’d successfully interrupted my flow. After Haas’s respiratory distress, he proceeded to win his service game easily then take the tiebreaker 7-1 and win the match. Haas may well have had a respiratory problem but sometimes I wonder if players study anatomical texts just so they can come up with plausible medical problems to use as “strategical” time outs.
More medical stuff and the shot of the tournament. I admit it, I get tired of the “heroic” label for players soldiering on with cramps, they’re not heroic, they’re out of shape. Still, the aforementioned Gasquet was down match point in the fifth set to Lleyton Hewitt (what’s he doing here in the fourth round, he has tendinitis in his knee doesn’t he?) and Gasquet’s right thigh was absolutely locking up with cramps, you could see the muscle bulge. Hewitt, of course, did his best to run Gasquet around and make the cramps worse. Hewitt hit a shot to the corner then came in to the net but Gasquet managed to hobble over to the ball and hit a dipping passing shot through the two inch window Hewitt had left him. The crowd was already screaming and now they were beside themselves standing and yelling. The cramps didn’t subside, though, and Hewitt served it out a few shots later.
How about the belly flop by Marat Safin in his five set match with Haas in the fourth round? Haas hit a passing shot then Safin propelled his big body completely horizontal and landed on his belly after, remarkably, hitting a winner. Safin lost the match in the fifth set tiebreaker and it’s surprising he got to the fourth round given his self doubt and verbal self-flagellation, but that was a spectacular expression of desire.
9-0 versus 0-9. Tomas Berdych is 9-0 in five set matches. Blake is 0-9 in five set matches. Blake, though, is a smart guy and he avoided a fifth set, and a fourth set, by beating Berdych easily in the quarterfinals, 6-4, 6-3, 6-1.
I told you I didn’t think Rafael Nadal would play in the final but I couldn’t figure out who would beat him. How could anyone have known it would be Mikhail Youzhny? And so much for Jim Courier’s opinion that Nadal would have been the number one player in people’s minds had he won the Open since he took the French Open title and got to the final at Wimbledon and has a winning record against Federer. For some reason Courier was prepared to ignore Federer’s 2, 670 point advantage over Nadal in the ATP standings. That’s bigger than the point gap between Nadal and Blake, who is ranked seventh. Case closed.
That’s all I’ve got at the moment, I have to take a break, I’m starting to see tennis balls in my dreams.