Julian Benneteau has just played the match of his life, knocking out Roger Federer in three sets, in his opening match.
The funny thing is it’s difficult to see what Federer did wrong. If anything. He’s cruised through similar stages in the past playing only fractionally as well.
Today, he hit fifteen aces, hit more winners than Benneteau and served in the 70s. That’d be percentages, not the era of disco jingles.
He could maybe have thrown in a few more tactical lobs to Julian’s rabid net rushes, and I’m sure we’ll hear that rust had something to do with this.
But every once in a while someone succeeds in landing a blow for the little man. You'll pardon me if I take a moment to celebrate that (no offence Fed Fans); whether he was bolstered by the Parisian crowd or not, Julian will likely treasure this one for years.
Now watch him go out in the very next round.
Roger will feel this one keenly too I believe; his second consecutive loss remember, and something of a knock to his campaign to end the season as world #1.
I still think he’ll keep a hold on to it however.
It would be more worrying had he lost due the errant play we saw so much of earlier on this year. Today he appeared confident and secure as ever; and if you contrast that with the horror of a match Nadal played today, you'll likely understand why I believe Rafa will need to pull out all the stops (and then some) to get anywhere near to staking a claim for the top spot.
Rafa got through alright. But only just, and he was considerably aided by Almagro in the later stages of this sorry mess; besides, rank amateurs get through, park players get through. Heck, I even get through sometimes.
Most troubling of all was the way he let rallies lengthen and play out unnecessarily in the most unRafa-like way imaginable; at times, it almost had the feel of an exhibition match, with the way in which each ball was fed systematically back to Almagro, who possessed neither the will nor the might to put it away.
A confusing, convulsing bloodied pulp of a mess.
I know it’s not always that Rafa does well here, but we’ve usually season ending injuries to thank for that.