Saturday, August 7, 2010
Washington QF - The Review
(Highlights by Andvari, thanks; the match is available on the David on Screen page, thanks Krystle for the recording.)
It was David's first tough battle since his three-set battle victory over Youzhny at Monte Carlo but just like back then, he prevailed in the end. In a somewhat chaotic match that saw a total of 12 breaks and plenty of errors as well as patches of good play, David overcame Gilles Simon 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 in one hour an 57 minutes.
In today's semifinal, David will now face Marin Cilic, who defeated Janko Tipsarevic 7-6(4), 6-4. It will be David's second encounter with the young Croatian after beating him very easily in Davis Cup four years ago.
Already at the very beginning of last night's quarterfinal it became clear that this match would turn out very differently from David's previous matches at Washington. That this time, he wouldn't be able to get the early break a quickly build a comfortable lead. Instead, David began the match without any rhythm on his groundstrokes, spraying errors left and right, and also hardly making any first serves. The consequence was an immediate break for Simon and a 3-0 lead. But David remained unimpressed. Consolidating his groundstrokes, now starting to construct points and finish them off at the net. A strategy that would prove very successful in the match. After holding for 3-1, David now broke Simon's serve for the first time and afterwards drew level at 3-3. At 4-3, however, another patch of poor play from David got Simon another break, the one that cost him the set in the end. Even though serving for the set, Simon struggled mightily, serving two double faults in a row and then allowing David a break point - but at that moment, David failed to get his return into play and eventually Simon scraped through to take the first set 6-3.
The second set began with another poor service game from David and another break. After gifting it to Simon with series of unforced errors, David smashed his racquet. But releasing the tension (and venting his frustration) seemed to help. In the following game, with Simon now up a break and 1-0, David started to play aggressively again, going back to his strategy of setting up attacks with deep groundstrokes, mostly on the backhand side, and then finishing points at the net. And after first wasting three break points, he converted the fourth in that game to get the rebreak. Afterwards, the second set became David's most solid and best set of the match. With his first serve percentage now on the rise (68% for the set after only 38% in the first) and more chances to break Simon's serve. David did so again to go up 3-1 and now played with a lot more confidence, going for his shots while keeping down the unforced errors count. For the moment at least. At 5-2, Simon served to stay in the set and went up 40-15 before a double fault and a forehand winner from David took him back to deuce. The first set point for David that followed Simon saved with a service winner but on the second, David's return drew the error. 6-2
At the start of the third set, it was now David who immediately broke Simon's serve for a 2-0 lead. But only to go down 0-40 in his following service game that turned into what was probably the most dramatic game of the match. David saved three break points in a row to get to deuce and another one after that with a great lob winner before eventually losing the game after all, making the volley where he did the 360° turn but missing the easy one afterwards. Back on serve now, both David and Simon began to look more and more tired, committing more errors again and both struggling on serve. At 3-2, Simon's service game saw a deuce battle in the course of which David wasted another break point before on the second one, a lucky net cord gave him another break and the 4-2 lead. But once again David gave the break straight back with a double fault and a series of unforced errors. But only to then immediately break Simon's serve again, using what was another successful strategy last night, deep backhand slices that drew errors from Simon time and time again. Up 5-3 now, it was David's turn to serve for the match. And it was this very moment he chose to play his most convincing service game, all night. Two forehand winners to go up 30-0. An ace to set up 3 match points. And then another ace to finish it, 6-3.
Prior to last night's match, David talked about how he wasn't happy with his serve. But the serve, as well as everything else basically, did work in this match - in patches. The question now is whether David can manage to find a way of playing more consistently again (48 unforced errors last night). And how much this match has taken out of him.
Here's David's TennisTV interview from last night.
And Juan from La Raqueta No Se Mancha has made this clip of David's press conference.