Monday, January 16, 2012

AO R1: Half a Good Start

(Highlights by Noubar, thanks.)

The contrast could've hardly been any bigger: Last year, David's first-round match against Lleyton Hewitt took almost five hours. This time, it took little more than just one. David was leading 6-4 and 4-2 in the second set when Jarkko Nieminen had to retire with an abdominal strain. So after a total of only 16 games played, David advanced to the second round where he'll face 16th seed John Isner on Wednesday. It's going to be their third meeting with David having won the previous two.

Often enough, or rather - far too often, going into a match there's a question mark concerning David's fitness. In this case, however, the question was how fit Nieminen would be after having played a lot of tennis last week (from qualies to winning the title at Sydney only yesterday plus also reaching the doubles final). At the beginning of the match he seemed to be handling the situation well and it looked like this would be an interesting match. And it was - but only for one set.

(Greg Wood/AFP/Getty Images)
As mentioned before, matches between these two usually involve many long and hard-fought rallies,
with Nieminen's defense forcing David to set up and execute his attacks well - otherwise they might get countered or he might end up getting passed at the net. This happened a couple of times during the first set, with David looking a bit rusty initially and lacking match practice in what was his first match of the season. But he soon found his rhythm and was able to play aggressively and with more depth and great angles, and without making too many unforced errors. At 3-3 David had his first break point and managed to convert it promptly before eventually serving out the first set to love.

At the start of the second set David broke serve
again and now looked to be in control of proceedings. But it turned out to be only the first in a series of altogether five breaks in a row. And while Nieminen was now visibly struggling on serve, due to his injury (he called the trainer after the third game), David also managed to lose his serve twice, after not facing a single break point in the first set. Up 3-2, after saving another break point and with a bit of luck, David finally held serve again. Before at break point for David in the following game, Jarkko Nieminen walked up to the net to shake hands and retire from the match.

All in all a good start, despite those two bad service games in the second set. David seemed to be moving well (I've learned to be careful with writing things like that...) and he played a pretty clean match, with 18 winners, 19 unforced errors and no double faults. What's also important is of course that he didn't have to spend too much energy during those one and a half sets. Still, on Wednesday losing his serve like that will be much more costly...
P.S. Krystle was there at the match. Her report you'll find here.
Edit: And what I almost forgot - the post-Auckland rankings came out today. David has dropped down 23 positions and is now ranked #87.

(John Donegan/AP Photo)

26 comments:

  1. finally got to watch David/Nieminen.
    Too bad for Jarkko, not really the way we wanted David to win, especially since we're fully aware of the cost of injury in a season :(
    I expected a long and tough match, 1hour per set, 4 sets, 4hours, etc.
    some beautiful strokes by David and... I kind of like his outfit :D
    the colored thingy on the shirt looks like olympic colors lol.

    Isner next... this time I'll be around all night and morning to wait for it haha!

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  2. I'm still trying to decide what I find worse, the yellow/orange Yonex shirts of the past or this new one by Topper... lol

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  3. lol it's actually far from being "olympic spirit" haha. More like "power rangers" colors! :D

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  4. It's just that this design is totally unlike the stuff they usually come up with (as worn by Chela, for example). They obviously wanted something very "special" for David...

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  5. It makes the "mullet" more noticeable because the shirt itself has a 80s or 90s thing to it.Also the commentator calling David one of the most unliked players on tour was a bit too much haha.Maybe hes not too popular with the players but hes always at the top of fans lists.

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  6. LOL. To be honest i liked David's shirt more than the 1st time i saw it in Kooyong, yeah looks like they wanted something "specail" for david, i always wondered if someday he will wear a shirt with a picture of donuts on it hehe.
    You think Isner-Nalbandian will be on one of the 3 main courts?

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  7. Maybe not donuts but huge Argentine steaks... lol
    And yeah Adrian, he does have a certain look going on now. I'm just not sure what to think of it...

    Anyway, nope, I don't think it'll be one of the big 3 for the next match. But hopefully one of the smaller show courts.

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  8. Did anyone see how Isners playing this year.Not sure really what to think about the match because its more on the Isner raquet and how hes going to serve.

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  9. I only saw like five minutes of his match today. At that point he was down a break in the second against Aussie WC Mitchell (#222) and not at all happy. But he obviuously pulled himself together again, after that.

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  10. Yeah, I just read about this on the little scroll news bar on Tennis Channel. Then I had to make sure who retired, and what better place to visit then here and get the cliff notes.

    And what a bummer. >_> Why does he always have get to injured in slams? Maybe he's just pushing his body too much. Nalby is 30 now; he's gotta take it easy.

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  11. But you did see that it was Nieminen, who retired - right?

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  12. just realized Davydenko lost today, David is facing a real chance to finally reach the round 4 of a slam again, Isner 1st, then Round 3 is easier

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  13. Well, I'm glad to see David won. I was watching the Tomic-Verdasco match last night and was about 10 minutes from going to bed to get up for David's match when Tomic came alive. Couldn't turn it off. My 18 hour time difference with Melbourne sucks for night matches. I'm glad David's match was quick so I didn't really miss much. I'm sure Australia is buzzing about Tomic, Krystle.

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  14. That Davydenko loses against nobody is not a surprises nowerdays, I way from the begin on worried about Nieminen, Isner and Lopez. The next 2 come now, at next, Isner.

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  15. Nadal was saying he feels his knee a little bit so it wouldnt be so crazy if he would go out early so I would say David has a pretty good draw going on here.I watched a little bit of the Verdasco-Tomic and it wasnt really good what I was watching.Also I very much dislike Tomic so it was unwatchable for me haha.

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  16. The first part wasn't very good, Adrian. That's why I almost turned it off. From the ninth game of the third set on it got very good, though. Yeah, sounds like Nadal might be a bit wounded. David's gotta get by Isner and then we'll see where the chips fall.

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  17. 3rd match Margaret court.

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  18. thanks Adrian!

    yaaaaay MCA again! :D

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  19. Wasn't expecting that - a nice surprise. :)

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  20. John's right about that. I watched Tomic vs Verdasco from the fourth set onwards and Tomic was hitting a lot of winners. Fifth set was exciting to watch and Tomic continued with the free hitting. Too bad I had to watch on a big screen without sound though... Sometimes I followed the crowd and clapped a good point then felt a bit silly considering I was watching in front of a screen.

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  21. Just to warn you - my old computer just died on me... Luckily enough, I was able to borrow a laptop as a temporary replacement. But I won't be able to record the match tonight.

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  22. I don't know if i'll be able to record either as there are 2 Eurosport channels, and Wozniacki will be playin in Hisense, Nadal on Rod Laver during david's match, if am lucky enough they broadcast david's match

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  23. Good luck, I hope you'll get to see the match.
    Well, I'll be able to watch it but I can't record anything at the moment and I also won't be able to write a report about the match as I'll be very busy with other things, tomorrow...

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  24. first match on MCA is playing Hantuchova, then Schiavone and then David, so I hope the first 2 matches will be over after 3-4 hours and David plays then without waiting

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  25. most of seeded players have to walk to round 4 but David has always difficult in round 3 by the latest because of his lower ranking

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