Sunday, 2 November 2008

As It Happened...

As I type, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has just taken the first set from David Nalbandian in rambunctious style.

I don't normally do these on-the-go match report postings but I wanted to try a little experiment and there's a first time for everything I suppose.

Don't be surprised if I don't do it again for a while.

1st Set

Tsonga started serving and came out all guns blazing - he went up 3-0 up very quickly. His plan looks to be to dominate Nalbandian with his flamboyant and extrovert play, quickly stifling any resistance the Argentine might show. Nalbandian finds his feet in the fourth game and holds serve for the first time. But he's not being allowed any rhythm and is often being given the run around as Tsonga shows us again how comfortable he is from both the back of the court and at the net.
Tsonga drops slightly in form and there are some promising signs from Nalbandian with more approaches to the net that were so effective against Murray. But it's too late to salvage the first set and Tsonga serves out to take the set 6-3.

2nd Set

Nalbandian begins serving, and is made to earn the first game which goes through several deuces. 1-0
Tsonga holds his service game quite easily - he's using his serve to great effect, and is winning most points in his service games very quickly. Nalbandian holds too, though not as easily as Tsonga.

Wow! Three aces from Tsonga to level the 2nd set at 2-2
looks to be taking his time between points as he deliberates whether to challenge - he's not going to be rushed by Tsonga.
He keeps his head and holds. 3-2

Another beautiful inside out forehand winner followed by an ace. Tsonga's doing the perfect job of keeping Nalbandian guessing, keeping him off balance. Another love service game. 3-3

Nalbandian's thinking well now - he draws Tsonga in twice with exquisite drop shots and follows up one of them with a lob which even the super-athletic Tsonga can't reach. Tsonga's still trying to impose himself on Nalbandian but it's another love service game. 4-3

Tsonga's serve again. A wild forehand strays long - Tsonga wants to watch he doesn't try too hard. 0-15
Oh Dear! A double fault and Naldbandians 0-30 up.
Nabandian senses blood and draws Tsonga into a rally which Tsonga loses by sending a running forehand wide and suddenly it's 0-40.
Tsonga regroups - same formula: Big serve, crunching inside out forehand and a finish at the net. 30-40
Another two aces including one saved break point! The crowd is going wild! It's Ad.Tsonga.
Nalbandian's getting into more of the rallies now - definitely a turning point in the match.
However Tsonga holds his serve on the second attempt with an ace. 4-4

A very confident service game by Nalbandian including a superb wide angled double handed backhand that puts Tsonga hopelessly off balance. More solid serving follows and Nalbandian holds 5-4

Tsonga's Service: He stops playing - he thinks Nalbandian's return landed past the baseline and mounts a failed challenge. 0-15
Great play from both men, culminating in another aggressive rush to the net from Tsonga which Nalbandian defuses with a superb short cross court flick pass. 0-30
Oh No! Tsonga sends another forehand wildly long. 0-40
Tsonga nets a forehand and it's game and 2nd set Nalbandian 6-4

3rd Set

Great serve out wide from Nalbandian. 15-0
Whoa! Massive inside out forehand return of serve from Tsonga. 15-15
Nalbandian nets a forehand as Tsonga looks to impose himself again. 15-30
Another wide serve from Nalbandian causing problems for Tsonga. 30-30
Tsonga sends his return long. 40-30
Nalbandian is feeling some pressure as he nets his forehand. Deuce.
Another serve out wide - that's really getting to Tsonga. Ad Nalbandian
A high bouncing return allows Nalbandian control of the point - he comes in and executes an outrageously angled back hand smash. 1-0

Big serve followed by another approach shot down the line - allows Tsonga to smash. 15-0
Great 2nd serve down the T. 30-0
Another Ace! 40-0
Another unreturnable serve allows Tsonga to hold 1-1

Nalbandian sends the ball past the baseline - he wants to be careful he doesn't allow Tsonga back into the dominating position of the first set. 0-15
Great approach from Nalbandian followed by an angled volley. 15-15
Huge hitting from Tsonga in the longest recent rally, grinding Nalbandian down as he eventually nets a return 15-30
Nalbandian's losing focus - a forehand return sails wide and it's 2 break points. 15-40
Another netted return gives Tsonga the break 1-2

Good defending from Nalbandian forces Tsonga to net a return 0-15
Tsonga belts a forehand down the line winner 15-15
Big serve down the middle, unreturnable 30-15
Another ace out wide 40-15
Nalbandian draws Tsonga into a rally and sends a backhand near Tsonga's feet, drawing the error 40-30
Ace 1-3

It's looking ominous as Tsonga wins a rally Nalbandian should have with a Mammoth inside out forehand winner 0-15
Great drop shot from Nalbandian draws the error from Tsonga 15-15
Two unforced errors from Tsonga 15-40
Another ace 2-3

Tsonga's forehand clips the net, and although Nalbandian scrambles to flick a return back, it allows him to easily claim the point 15-0
Great angled backhand return from Nalbandian 15-15
Tsonga's 22nd ace. 30-15
Another angled backhand return 30-30
Nalbandian follows an aggressive return with a rush to the net, drawing an error from Tsonga 30-40
Two aces and suddenly it's Ad. Tsonga
Another big serve - Nalbandian can't find the return. 2-4

Tsonga can sense blood as he comes in and applies the pressure, finishing the point off with a smash 0-15
Great serve out wide followed by the drop volley 30-15
Nalbandian's coming in every point now - Tsonga belts a cross court forehand which Nalbandian gets a racquet to but can't get back 30-30
There's that sensational backhand smash from Nalbandian again 40-30
Unforced error from Tsonga and Nalbandian holds 3-4

Huge serve which Nalbandian somehow returns - though he's being run ragged. 15-0
Unforced error from Tsonga 15-15
Shot of the match so far for me - an inside out forehand winner seemingly from nowhere 30-15
Dumped return of serve from Nalbandian - he throws his racquet down, drawing boos from the crowd - give the man a break! 40-15
Easy pass down the line for Tsonga 3-5

Tsonga wants to end it quickly - Nalbandian lures him in with a drop shot - Sensational lob from Nalbandian 15-0
Shotmakings getting better and better - Tsonga chases Nalbandian's dropshot down this time and flicks it so wide it's almost parallel to the net! 15-15
Down the line approach shot followed by a drop volley from Nalbandian 40-30
Hold on! *Rubs eyes* No ones approaching the net! Great rallying from both men from the back of the court - but Nalbandian cannot get to Tsonga's crunching backhand cross court winner. Deuce
A rarity: big serve from Nalbandian drawing an error from Tsonga. Ad Nalbandian
Down the line winner from Nalbandian 4-5

Nalbandian sticks with Tsonga from the back of the court drawing the error 0-15
An approach shot from Tsonga - although a poorly executed drop volley gives Nalbandian the point 0-30
Tsonga nets another attempted approach shot 0-40
Poor netted return from Nalbandian. 15-40
Drop shot from Tsonga lures Nalbandian in - he flicks it up but it's an easy put away for Tsonga 30-40
Big serve down the T followed by a sensational forehand down the line. Deuce
25th Ace down the T gives Tsonga Championship point. Ad Tsonga.
Tsonga's putting everything into this (last?) rally - blasting everything back close to the baseline. Nalbandian can't keep up with this - He nets a forehand giving Big Jo his first Masters Title!

Well that was an intense experience - real time match reporters all over the world: Hats off to you! Although I won't be doing it again for a while (I prefer to watch tennis without multitasking), I quite enjoyed the experience.

Congratulations Jo-Wilfried! Welcome to the Big Time - though with your personality and style of play, no one can seriously deny you belong there.

Tsonga image by paphio distributed under licence
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