I hear Gulbis is entertaining a la Safin in his press conferences this week. Take this snippet after beating Volandri on Thursday (via tournament website):
Gulbis cannot win a match at the moment without being asked about his misspent youth – that lost 2009 season when he spent more time off court than on. This is the second time that he has reached the quarter-finals of a Masters tournament, the first being two years ago in Cincinnati. Was the time in between wasted, someone dared to ask? “Sorry, I don’t agree. I have had a good life. I’m a young guy and I didn’t waste it. Maybe tennis-wise but tennis isn’t everything in life. It’s not all my life…… I was living more experiences, even bad experiences in the end are good. I know what I don’t need to do – to not succeed! I know how to do that perfectly! If you need some tips on how to not succeed…! Now I’m a little bit smarter and I think I’m doing better.”
Well, he played a little smarter – and better – than his opponent on Friday. The Latvian kept the Rome semis from being an all-Spanish affair by taking out Feliciano Lopez: 7-6, 6-1 in the quarterfinals. He faces the Spanish King, Rafael Nadal, in the next round. Nadal’s beaten Gulbis both of the times they’ve played – on hard courts in Madrid and at Wimbledon in 2008 – but Ernie’s managed to win a set each time.
Nadal said he “was in trouble for a long time” on Friday during the first set of his quarterfinal match vs. Stanislas Wawrinka. Stan did fight valiantly, earning his nickname “Stan the Man” and showing off his strong serve and gorgeous one-hander. But I think Rafa’s sense of urgency has more to do with incredibly high standards rather than real danger – he did win the match 6-4, 6-1.
“I don’t think I played my best match tonight,” Nadal said (via the tournament website) “I think that the level in Monte Carlo (where he won the ATP Masters 1000 for the loss of only 14 games all tournament) was unbelievable. The final I played unbelievably and also in the semi-final too. I played well but I was probably playing better in Monte Carlo.”
Novak Djokovic failed to avenge his recent Monte Carlo loss to Fernando Verdasco on Friday, losing 2-6, 6-3, 6-7 (4). I’m not really sure what to make of this comment:
“I didn’t do well in the States where I usually do very well and now I lost the quarterfinals here but these are all very good results so far and it’s just the start of the season. I want to practice, work hard and you can’t have every year the best year in a career – except if you are Nadal or Federer! I’ve had real problems with allergies for the past two months and this has been really troubling but everything else is in order and I’m happy with the way I played, so definitely the French Open is the place where I want to get a good result.”
The guy sounds a little confused – is he happy with his results or not? Is he feeling good or not? Maybe the Benadryl just kicked in? As a fellow sufferer, I know allergies can indeed be a serious problem, but it’s just not going to earn the same concern as say, knee tendinitis or a broken wrist. “Yeah, Nole lost – but he took ‘Nando to three sets with a stuffy nose and wicked itchy eyes!” Maybe carrying a pocketful of Kleenex and wearing nasal tapes on court would help. Though this pose helps to elicit some sympathy:
Fernando Verdasco will face countryman David Ferrer in the semis. Ferrer took out Tsonga on Friday in a Rafaesque performance: 6-4, 6-1. Verdasco has beaten Ferrer six of the nine times they’ve played, including last week in Barcelona.
Before he and partner Yves Allegro lost to Querrey/Isner in their doubles quarterfinal, Roger Federer was presented with the Compeed Elegance Award:
Wow! The Compeed Elegance Award, people! Whoo hoo! (Yes, Compeed is a brand of cold sore patches.)
Now come on Roger, let’s win Estoril already. Now that would be a consolation prize.
I love how Roger likes to get all touchy-feely with his doubles partners. Touched by greatness, indeed.