Well, that was a waste. I was kicking back on Wednesday evening, glass of wine in hand, ready to watch Rafael Nadal battle the feisty David Ferrer in his first ATP singles match since Roland Garros. Then Ferrer retired after the seventh game and all I got out of it was: Rafa looks good in blue and David has an adorable habit of licking his top lip from left to right and then from right to left while waiting to return serve. (And against Nadal, Ferrer’s tongue covered a lot of ground.)
Oh okay, I got more than that – like Rafa’s serve is screwy and his court sense and movement are still coming out of hibernation. To be expected. No big thang. But how strange that his first match back, Rafa gets a guy with a gimpy knee?
Nadal chose to accentuate the positive after his match:
Anything gonna be ‑‑ everything gonna be positive. Only bad thing can be is if I have another time problems with the knees, but the rest of the things, everything is positive, no? Every match, every point. Because everything is helping me to be ready as soon as possible when I return to my level.
The Comeback Kid speaks:
Nadal gets Phillipp Petzschner next.
I’m a huge fan of Jo-Dubya Tsonga. And he keeps driving me crazy with these close matches. Rainer Schuettler is a good player but Tonsga needs to start dominating these dudes, not scraping by 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the second round.
The guy who is playing like a top dog right now: the Mosquito a.k.a. Juan Carlos Ferrero, who beat Gael Monfils in straight sets on Wednesday. How fitting that the Anti-Safin took out the guy who beat Marat Safin in the previous round. I’m going to start calling Marat the Anti-Ferrero from now on.
In other old guy news - when I saw that Tommy Haas retired against Fernando Gonzalez I thought, “Oh no, what bizarre, career-threatening calamity has befallen the resurgent German now?” Then I read it was a blister on his right hand that done him in. Getting cocky with the Tennis Gods, Tommy?
The Old Guys even have their own video:
I was hoping for a Marat Safin cameo at the end – toasting his contemporaries from a Moscow nightclub or amongst a colony of Penguins on the tip of Patagonia or wherever it is he plans to go after Bercy. A missed opportunity, ATP.
Andy Roddick is not quite an old guy at (almost) 27, but he’s definitely a tour veteran. After beating Igor Andreev 6-1, 7-6(3) on Wednesday, he spoke about the surge of support he’s received after this year’s Wimbledon:
It’s been humbling, that’s for sure. I don’t know that I’ve ever had this level of support in my career so far, and that’s not saying I haven’t had support, but you know, there’s different support than kind of like at a tennis tournament, at a match, and support now where it’s kind of walking to put cream in your coffee at the coffee shop.
Tomorrow’s the best day of the tournament, with all the men in Round of 16 action. Here are the match-ups:
Youzhny vs. Djokovic, Del Potro vs. Hanescu, Roddick vs. Verdasco, Murray vs. Ferrero, Petzschner vs. Nadal, Gonzalez vs. Davydenko and two Davis Cup specials in Wawrinka vs. Federer and Simon (remember Gilly?) vs. Tsonga.
Of course, I can’t sign off without congratulating this week’s greatest Come Back Kid, Kim Clijsters, who beat Patty Schnyder in straight sets on Wednesday in Cincinnati. “Does it look easy?” she asked reporters after her match. Why yes, Kim, it does. It should get a little harder when she meets Svetlana Kuznetsova in the Rd. of 16, but then I thought Kimmie had no chance against Bartoli.
At post time, the WTA’s Kim Clijsters comeback video wasn’t embeddable – click here to check it out.
In other Cincy news Ana Ivanovic continues to make tennis look very, very hard, with a second round, straight-set loss to Melinda “who?” Czink. Serena Williams served 14 aces to breeze past Kateryna Bondarenko and Jelena Jankovic got past Maria Kirilenko.