Thursday, January 13, 2011

Auckland QF - David Outrallies Isner

(Phil Walter/Getty Images AsiaPac)

The last time David and John Isner met on a tennis court, David had major problems returning Isner's serve, to the point of not only losing points but not even being close to getting the ball back into the court. Today was a very different sight, closer to what would have been expected for this kind of match-up.

The score was 6-4 7-6(3) but it was much more dominant than that. David was the far superior player from the baseline, on return and also more successful in the serving department. It was quite a wooden performance from Isner, who constantly hit groundstrokes into the net, and often into the middle of the court, forgetting that it'd be wise to be more aggressive given his poor movement.

At the start of the match, David was true to his word from yesterday's interview and made it clear he would try to move Isner around the court, again using his trademark accurate groundstrokes. It was with this kind of tennis that he manufactured his first break of serve at 2-1. Just when it started to look like David would dominate the match, he followed up the break with a sloppy service game that had him down a break point, and playing a long game, but he saved it with some good tennis. There were a couple of crucial points in this match where David was down break points, but whenever he was, he raised his game up another level.

After that, the rest of the set was business as usual. Both players held serve more comfortably, and David started to win points in slightly less spectacular fashion, realizing that Isner wasn't much of a threat from the baseline. But also because it didn't take much for Isner to make an error.

At the start of the second set, Isner received treatment on his arm injury. Given that in his previous interviews, Isner already commented on his poor play in the tournament, I didn't really know how he was affected. Or whether he was just playing poorly.

The second set continued in the same fashion as the late part of the first set, with both players holding serve the whole way. David continued to be the better player from the baseline, but by now Isner had picked up his serve getting more cheap points. Though it was really the only way he could win points most of the time, or either through sloppy errors from David. There were many close games on Isner's serve, but Isner often brought out a big serve at the right moments. David went down a set point in 5-4 in the second set, but he really stepped it up the next three points to come back and win the game.

Again, David continued his trend of playing well in tie-breaks, convincingly taking it 7-3, although it was also a reflection of how David was generally the better player in the match. Some of the highlights in the tie-break included his excellent down-the-line shots. But the tie-break also included some really ugly backhands from Isner dumped in the middle of the net, and appropriately that's how the match finished. It's the second match-up where David has played against a guy with a weak backhand, but in this case Isner's backhand was even worse.

All in all, it was a very solid performance from David, a continuation of yesterday. His groundstrokes were excellent, not that Isner was ever likely to threaten him in this department. It was always more a matter of consistency and concentration.

Sorry if there are any slight inaccuracies in this report. My computer crashed several times, and I missed a couple of games here and there especially in the first set.


  1. Pretty accurate report in my opinion. Nalbandian could have been significantly sharper within his own service games. The first serve percentage was quite bad today, especially in the second set. But you are right that he was clearly the superior player with a far better all-around game, especially in terms of baseline skill/talent.

    Probably the most pleasing thing to me about the wins over Petzschner and Isner is how he served out matches/sets. He was able to close out Petzschner when serving at 5-2 in the second set of their match, and he finished off Isner at 5-4 in the first set of today's match. Hoepfully that's a sign of what is to come for the rest of the year. Far too many matches of Nalbandian have been complicated or lost because of not serving out sets and matches.

  2. As for the Almagro match: Almagro had a tough one against Mannarino, and with this match being the first semifinal, Nalbandian should jump all over him early and just try to take over from the start, not giving Almagro a chance to get anything going.

    They've only played once on hards, in Paris 2007, and Nalbandian won routinely. Playing the way he has thus far in Auckland should have the same result as Bercy did. There's no good reason for him to lose to Almagro.

  3. I really like the photo I picked. It looks like David could be doing something else than playing tennis, don't you think? The size doesn't fit the blog too well, but I went for it anyway.

    Well it didn't matter what his first service percentage was today. I don't know whether it carries across from match to match anyway.

    Almagro should be a tougher opponent from the baseline than David's previous two opponents. Or at least it should be much more difficult to boss him around.

  4. Unfortunately I wasn't able to record the match due to my problematic computer at the time.

  5. Almagro:
    "Nalbandian is one of the top players of the world. He's strong from the baseline, has a good forehand, he's serving good and the backhand is amazing," Almagro said.

    "But when I have played with him I play really good. I beat him in the final of Acapulco and the other one was I think in Rome -- both on clay, but I need to play my best tennis if I want to beat him tomorrow."

  6. I like what Almagro says, Noubar - it's flattering to David, but he's also being positive about himself and his chances. I'm looking forward to this match.

    Krystle, I like the photo too - it's a pretty unusual action shot.

  7. i dont like almagro, he will go to any measures to get a win even if it means cheating/gamesmanship, he also tends to be a difficult matchup for david.

    should be an interesting match.

  8. Noubar, do you know of anywhere online where there is footage of the Acapulco final? I wasn't able to find a feed at the time of that match, and no one has ever posted any highlights on youtube. Maybe you have an idea where to find some high-quality highlights?

  9. Chris, the best highlights of David matches on youtube are made by my friend Andvari.
    he collects DVDs of all David matches and makes HLs from it, he has 80 DVDs but doesnt have the Acapulco final, me as well wanted to watch that, but unfortunately couldnt find any.