Thursday, January 21, 2010

Australian Open Day 4: No, Marcos! Not the Shirt!

Curtain Call

Player: Ivan Dodig
Nation: Croatia
Age: 25
Current Ranking: #185
Notable Conquest: Juan Carlos Ferrero (23rd seed, Spain)
Tour Page:
Today's Result: loss to Stefan Koubek (Austria) in straight sets

Dodig qualified for his first ever Slam and then promptly took out a seed in the first round. Granted, Ferrero is far from the player he once was but the resume is nothing to sneeze at: French Open champion, US Open finalist, Aussie semifinalist and former World #1. Dodig will have a good story to tell for the rest of his life.

Volleyball Coach is a friend from my time in Japan. She is a bit of a tennis fan - at least more than most of my friends are - and is particularly appreciative of the eye candy on display in the men's draw. Arms and shoulders are her thing and she sings the praises of such muscular specimens as Nadal, Monfils and del Potro. She and my wife have, in fact, engaged in a bit of a tug-of-war over Rafa on facebook.

Volleyball Coach was, however, far less impressed by Marcos Baghdatis's shirt removal after his five-setter with David Ferrer (17th, Spain). Given her criteria, I can understand why. The arms are pretty scrawny.

Baghdatis (Cyprus) is a bit of a mystery. On talent alone, this guy should be firmly entrenched in the Top 5 for his entire career. His game is beautiful. To watch him is to watch a master painter at work. Some of the shots he finds reflect true genius. He is a former finalist in Melbourne and a fan favorite. He also plays a highly endearing role in Agassi's recent memoir. And yet, his career has been all over the map. Injuries and poor fitness seem the primary culprits. Personally, I think his high emotional investment has a tendency to work against him. When the inspiration is strong, he is magnificent. When it lags, he concedes too much. I'm not sure how you teach someone to have Rafa's every-point-is-a-war approach to the game but Baghdatis lacks it. I'm very fond of him as a player and would love to see him prove me wrong. The fact is, there are higher-ranked players who would kill for his weaponry.

Catching Up with Old Friends

Petra Kvitova (Curtain Call, US Open Day 8) - Kvitova's second round showing is an improvement on last year's first round exit and will thus help shore up her ranking points. She missed the French Open entirely in 2009, having made it to the fourth round the previous year, so she should be able to rack up some points there as well. No question, she got tuned by Serena Williams today but that puts her in good company. She's still only 19. The future looks bright.

All Part of My Fantasy

Carla Suarez Navarro (32nd, Spain) won, keeping me alive in the suicide pool.

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