Friday, 27 February 2009

Houdini does Dubai...

How does he do it? I speak of course of the amazing escape act of Novak Djokovic.

Yet again we are confronted with the prospect of him (seemingly) on the way to a title, having not faced a single player in the top five (and only one in the top ten).

I raised an eyebrow when I heard we weren't to have the pleasure of Roger and Rafa's company (Roger's withdrawal here and at Switzerland's upcoming Davis Cup fixture suggest that he's, for the time being at least, placing a greater weight on his claims to
GOAThood -- which I'm not sure I find all that surprising) ; but that eyebrow became increasingly furrowed as I heard, first of A-Rod's offering to the sport n'politics debate (if I hear those two words mentioned in the same sentence again...) and then just yesterday, of Murray's departure (citing a virus that's troubled him since last month apparently).

(Djokovic image by AP Photo / Kamran Jebreili)

was in a last-ditch effort at spinning this into something resembling an evenly contested event, hoping for some fireworks today from our man Reeshard (maybe - just maybe if he got to the final - he could pull off something special there) , whose recent performances I just two days ago described as 'gritty' and 'resilient'. Well although it was an all but crushing defeat he suffered to David Ferrer today, I'd just like to point out (coz I certainly didn't know this), that Reeshard actually considers Daveed his bugbear - he said as much after his defeat to him at the 2007 Tennis Masters Cup - I believe his words were something along the lines of "I'd rather face Federer or Nadal...". Interesting.

Though nothing of course like an excuse for the excruciatingly inexcusable practice of playing so far behind the baseline that you're practically bumping into the line judges. I've often criticised Rafa and Marat for much the same thing. But
Reeshard's the worst offender I've seen at the higher levels of the game. At one point against Bolelli yesterday, the topspin he imparted on one of his - oh so fine - backhands actually caused the ball to begin it's descent before it'd cleared the net. That's how far back he was. It's made all the worse by the fact that he's annoyingly adept at taking the ball early and we all know about his shotmaking when he does that.

So while I cut him some slack in his loss to
Ferrer today, and while he has shown some very convincing improvements this year, this I have to say Reeshard is beginning to look very much like one step forward and two rather hefty strides back.

Give the
linespersons cattle prods I say.

Remind me again why I went off on a
Reeshard tirade. Oh yes, a credible opponent to Djoko and the possibility of a rather romantic finish to tomorrows final.

Well, let me say right off that
I want to see Djoko do well. I've been propping him up these months gone by - trying to turn a blind eye when he occasionally reverts to his previous "I'm cool in an abrasive kinda way" misdoings - and I certainly don't want him to be painted as someone who only wins when the top seeds aren't around because, well, he is one of the top seeds and we all know he can get it done against the very best.

Which is why I find it both frustrating and amazing that once again, through no fault of his own, a series of withdrawals will serve as a very large asterisk against a title here, should he come through against
Daveed tomorrow.

It's not quite as bad a situation as Rome or the Tennis Master's Cup last year (Rome in particular should appear beside an asterisk of such gargantuan proportions that the title is relegated to a mere footnote) -- that semi against Simone was quite something and suggestive of a return to form -- but will I'm sure give his critics more fodder to dish the dirt on him, which if he truly is beginning to rise from the ashes again, is just plain mean...
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