Saturday, 24 April 2010

Barca Roundup and Something Inspiring

-- I’m not inclined to apologise for the lack of Barcelona coverage.

The truth is, I’ve hardly been following Barca – my default position being that, with Rafa out, this should be Robin’s for the taking.


With nothing more than Dasco and (until this morning) lil’ol Thiemo de Bakker standing between Robin and the title, victory here would not so much serve as a signature-win, as losing would be a telling loss.

It’s not that Dasco can’t hurt Soderling, more that he’d need him to have a bad day. And right now I’d say he’s having rather more of those than Robin.

-- Sod’s learnt to slide on clay.

I kid ye not.

As little as I’ve seen of Barca, I did manage to catch parts of his match against Thiemo de Bakker today. And sure enough, there it was. Clear as day.

It was one of those moments of discovery when time itself appears to stand still - with Strauss’s “Sunrise” score playing in the background.

Trouble is, it currently looks about as natural (and as much of a stunt) as this.

Still, I can’t but help admire that he thinks it important to try.

-- My (very public) reservations about French tennis aside, Tsonga almost had me convinced these past two weeks that he’d “discovered himself” on clay.

His statements to that effect, his last two matches in Monte and second consecutive win over Angsty-Almagro in Barca this week, were almost too good to be true.

Which means, of course, that I suspect they were too good to be true.

I didn’t thankfully, get to see him fold against de Bakker yesterday, but from the reports I’ve read it was a torrid, sorry affair.

I’ve no doubt that he should be able to play on clay – it sits well with my view that clay court tennis has been rebranded over the past few years as a somewhat flatter, more aggressive affair, a not so distant cousin of hard (or indeed grass) court tennis.

In fact so sure am I of Tsonga’s ability on any surface, that I believe he’ll make the migration wholesale - foibles, warts and all.


So the Rome draws out. First impressions – Rafa and Roger in the same half, with a semi final face off in the works. That’s not exactly news of course, except no one seems to remember the last time this happened.

Scratch a little deeper, however, and you’ll quickly see that that’s only the (uninteresting) half of it. For this appears to me to be the most lopsided, systematically skewed draw since Daveed and Goliath squared off against one another in the “Valley of Elah Open” as the top two seeds.

In the blue corner:

  • Fed to face Gulbis/Baggy in his opening match. Really? Really.
  • Rafa most likely set to face Kohlschreiber in his. Yeah, His Right-Honourable Seed-Slayin’ self.
  • Hell, let’s throw Sod and Big Berd in there too. I mean they can always be relied upon to capitulate, right?
  • And just to prove to you we really are intent on painting every last bit of that town red, we’ll also throw in the Croatian Duo of the slightly improbable winner of IW and this year’s Delpo in for good measure too?

Meanwhile, over in the dead red corner we have:

  • Djoko (who must be thanking his lucky stars),
  • Tsonga/Dasco (not the toughest of tough cookies – at least not with the dough the French Tennis Federation use),
  • Ferrero/Ferrer (clay courters have a place in tennis I believe, though I’m no longer convinced it’s in the clay court season),
  • Muzza (in a self-proclaimed existential crisis)
  • Tipsarevic. Whom I only mentioned once in the past week because he can’t be a*sed to twitter.

(Photo: AFP)

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