Was anyone else underwhelmed on Thursday? Some matches had promise – Djokovic v. Andreev for example – but petered out predictably. Roddick v. Bolelli lost its charge faster than the battery in my ancient cell phone. At least Verdasco v. Blake lived up to its dreamboat status, with Blake playing the role of mental warrior as Verdasco melted like a pint of Chunky Monkey left out on the counter. I love Fernando, but he needs to toughen up. Speaking of Fernandos, the other Fernando pulled out against Almagro, thereby spoiling the tennis nerds’ match of the day. Right now I’m watching Robredo and Davydenko going at it, which is about ten times more entertaining than the Karlovic v. Federer match earlier today. My idea of tennis hell is watching nothing but the opening rounds of the Pattaya Women’s Open or Ivo Karlovic playing anyone in any round of any tournament. And don’t get me wrong, Ivo seems like a kind, gentle person and deserves all of his success. That doesn’t make him fun to watch.
So what’s the best thing about tennis? There’s always another day, another round, and some fresh match ups. The Rome quarterfinals are an intriguing mix of Big Dogs and “players’ players” types. Holding the top spot in both categories, our man Roger Federer will be taking on Radek Stepanek – one of the tour’s ultimate acquired tastes – in what is bound to be a battle at the net. Djokovic (Big Puppy) is facing down the well-rested clay court dynamo, Almagro. Andy Roddick is guaranteed to get testy (and tested) against the oft-underrated Robredo, and Blake v. Wawrinka will be a wacky, three set toss up with some great shot making and bizarre lulls in concentration.
SIDE NOTE: I wonder, is Stan W. going to sneak into the top ten by the end of this year a la Tommy Robredo or Tomas Berdych? The Second Swiss (not to be confused with the Swiss Miss) seems to be making a slow creep in the hopes that nobody notices. Watch out, Gasquet!
SIDE NOTE #2: Did anyone else get a funny feeling that the WTA was up to something this week? Turns out that Dinara Safina knocked out Justine today at the oddly-named Qatar Telecom German Open in Berlin. Talk about a slump – what’s wrong with the World No. 1? If you want in on the women’s action, you can live stream the final (Sunday at 7 a.m. EST) on the WTA website.
SIDE NOTE #3: Is Simone Bolelli a babe at the Juan Carlos Fererro level, or is he a viable candidate to enter the solid gold, undisputed, even-straight-men-dig-him Marat Safin category? Okay, maybe that’s stretching it. Perhaps this burning question deserves a poll. . .