There’s to be no getting around it: it would have been a consummate disaster for him not to win this one given the industrial-grade hydraulic leg-up he had received.
There were retirements: Istomin’s foot deprived us of what could have been a telling match either way (I’ve been following Dennis since he almost put Rafa out of Queens and, if you aren’t already, I suggest you do the same).
There were walk-overs: though for all we know, Kohls injured his shoulder falling off a bar stool in convulsive fits after viewing a scratchy DVD labelled ‘GiggleFest’ someone had sneakily slid under his hotel door overnight.
And he didn’t even display the sense of fair play or good breeding by “manning up” to face a top five player now, did he?
Personally, I don’t think Muzz and Djoko were ever a factor last week.
And whose fault is it that Rafa went out to Baggy anyway? Or that “Baggy-was-as Baggy-usually-is” a mere twenty four hours later?
There were, believe it or not, other talking points. There’s to be no getting around that either:
-- Fed’s kamikaze chip-and-charges; they got him burned at the net so many times I almost expected to hear of skin grafts being applied during a carefully screened MTO. And yet he persisted. Occasionally it paid off. Some even went as far as to suggest the match went on for as long as it did because he was “trying out stuff”.
I doubt that very much. Mardy was simply serving too well.
Though there’s no question he’s been experimenting and, quite evidently, has been since Toronto: those opening sets he played against Djoko and Berd were so suffocatingly swift, so intoxicating in their intensity that had he polished up any sooner, would likely have been called up for a false start.
Though you get a sense that none of that somewhat dismissive brilliance would have been possible were it not also accompanied by it’s evil twin: those macabre, episodes of fug we saw later - so “neuerratic” in nature they might almost have been born of a dysfunctional aura and under a full moon.
“Cincy Tennis”, on the other hand, was a whole lot more straightforward. Where he might once have swung he sliced, where he might once have shanked he held back. And when he did deem it appropriate to end the rally, did so knowing he could end it on his terms either with either a very dressy drive volley at the net or a more routine forehand belted crisply from the back of the court.
I like what what I’m seeing – whether or not and however we choose to credit Annacone’s involvement is, at this stage, almost irrelevant.
-- Fish lost this on a single break deep in the final set. The previous two sets went to lengthy tie breaks. Fed wasn’t holding back one bit. All of which speaks volumes for a guy everyone seems so keen to hurl pejorative shit at (myself inc.).
It’s completely disingenuous to suggest that the match went on for as long as it did because of Fed’s ambivalence at his own play – almost as disingenuous as it is to harp on about Fed’s crappy breakpoint conversion rate without once giving a nod to the Mardy serve.
So now, if you don’t mind, I intend to give that nod.
And now, if you don’t mind, I intend to go back to hurling pejorative shit.
-- ARod posted back to back wins over Djoko and Sod. Ok, so it didn’t end the way he wanted (he only narrowly avoided a final set bagel against Fish) and he really should have known better than to come down on the ump in the way he did – an act that is now as hammy as it is bedraggled. But his last comparable spell was back at IW/Miami.
All things considered, an uplifting week not least in terms of his #9 ranking. That’s right, that great American rankings crisis was….not quite the subprime credit crunch we thought it was.