Everyone ready for a little armchair vacation? That’s how I anticipate the start of the European clay court season, when my T.V. screen becomes a Matisse, that slash of Mediterranean blue melding with the luminous terracotta red of the M.C.C.C. court. It’s all so glamourous – the white handkerchief sailboats dotting the sea, the helicopters hovering over yachts and, of course, the tanned tennis players sweating and sliding in the foreground. I can feel the warm sun on my skin, the champagne-scented breeze as it rustles my hair and the sandpaper grit of red dirt caught between my toes. Ahhh. . .tennis paradise. But where’s Roger?
Some private paradise of his own, it seems – I like to pretend it’s a base camp at Mt. Everest. Way to practice at altitude, Rog!
Meanwhile, back at the casino. . .we have a pretty exciting tournament in store. Nole’s been providing some early tournament tension, indicating that he’s still not sure if that ankle he twisted during Davis Cup last weekend will allow him to play his first match on Wednesday. Via ESPN:
“I can’t 100 percent guarantee that I’ll be on the court on Wednesday,” Djokovic said Sunday. “I still have to be realistic and see if on some practices in the next few days I push myself to the limit, if I’m going to have any discomfort.”
Well, that kind of takes the air out of my sails(boats). Nole was in for an exciting tournament, potentially facing Youznhy in the second round, the winner of Gulbis vs. Isner in the third, Del Potro in the quarters and Berdych in the semis. That’s one heck of a workout just to get to Rafael Nadal, who is going for his 9th straight title in the Principality. He hasn’t lost a match here since he was 16 years old. That’s just insane.
This video of Rafa at the draw ceremony cracks me up for many reasons: 1. Rafa in his requisite blazer, jeans and slicked back hair 2. Two quotes: “The knees!” and “I will try my best!” 3. Apparently some kind of Nadal museum is being built probably because 4. If Rafa wins Monte-Carlo 10 times, he will be crowned the King of Monaco! (Why not?)
Andy Murray is Rafa’s seeded semifinal opponent. Andy could get Wawrinka in the third round and Tsonga in the quarters. Murray is trying to intimidate the future king of Monaco with his t-shirt. Desperate times call for desperate measures, right?
And a quick recap of this weekend’s winners, before we crack open the champagne and caviar.
Congrats to John Isner for beating Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 7-5 in the final of the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship in Houston today. I loved watching John rise to the occasion on home soil, and showing once again that he is a real threat on the red stuff. Sidenote – I feel like every time I turn on tennis these days, I’m watching Almagro suffer some kind of crushing loss, whether it be an epic five setter or this, losing a clay court event to a gangly American. I can’t get last year’s Davis Cup final out of my head, where the diabolical Czech, Tomas Berdych, called Nico “the weak point on which we can build our victory. . .He’s missing that little something that distinguishes great players [from the rest].” Ouch. As much as I love seeing John Isner win, I’m starting to feel seriously sorry for Almagro. Let’s go, Nico, prove that big bully wrong! (Here’s hoping he gets some revenge at Roland Garros this year.)
Speaking of Spaniards, Tommy Robredo beat Kevin Anderson in three sets to take the title in Casablanca this weekend. Wha? Tommy’s still around? Did anyone else completely forget about him? Well. . .good job, Tommy!
On the ladies’ side of things, Petra Kvitova continues to be the wildest of WTA wild cards, losing the finals of the inaugural Katowice Open to dirtballer Roberta Vinci.