The match today was close, I had a match point, I could've won. Those are the kind of tough matches where one point more means you win and one less that you lose.Whether or not David's defeat was a foregone conclusion after Haas saved that match point, it was a close and hard-fought match, a battle that lasted 3 hours and 22 minutes (tying the record for the longest three-set match this year, outside of the Olympics). And in the end, both kept up their own streaks. With his 6-7(0), 7-6(4), 6-3 victory, Haas extends his record against David to 5-0. Whereas David's losing streak continues. It's the first time since 2002 that he has lost four consecutive first-round matches. But unlike last week, he talked to Jorge Viale for ESPNdeportes.com after the match.
At this level, every match is tough, I'm not saying anything new here. When I was further up in the rankings, I also had first-round matches where I suffered, matches you could lose. I don't see that as something serious, except that losing in the first round means you don't get the chance to find your rhythm and get confidence.In an attempt to get another chance ahead of the US Open, David has asked for a wildcard at Winston-Salem, the 250 event in North Carolina that takes place next week. Whether he'll get the one wildcard that's left remains to be seen.
|(Nick Laham/Getty Images)|
At the start of the second set, the tables seemed to have turned. David held serve to love, and then managed to break Haas for a 2-0 lead, with the German now visibly (and audibly) frustrated. But then came the game that would change the course of the match yet again. In David's words:
I was leading by a set and a break, I had lots of chances to hold serve and he played some good points. At 2-0, I made an error, the other times he played well. It's a shame because I was a little bit better and he was getting annoyed.That error was the double fault he lost his serve on (after 5 game points). Back on serve now, the second set turned into a battle that would eventually last 86 minutes, with various break points on both sides but no further breaks. The most important one was of course the match point David had at 6-5 but that Haas saved with a good serve. In the tiebreak, they remained on serve until at 4-3, David made two unforced errors in a row on his own serve, and Haas eventually closed it out with an ace, 7-6(4).
The good things that can be taken from this match is that this time, it was close and that David played better than he did in the three previous matches, able to control more of the rallies and to construct points (50 winners, 36 unforced errors). He also held up better, physically than he did at Toronto, even if it wasn't enough in the end.
The problems on the other hand were obvious as well. Especially in the second set, his often way too harmless serve cost David a lot of points, as well as his early break. He also didn't return very well, then again he has always struggled against Haas in that department. Converting only 2 of 13 break points didn't help either, though at the same time, he saved 11 of the 14 break points that Haas had. - In the end, as is so often the case, it came down to a few moments, a few important points. Not just the match point but also dropping his serve at 2-0 in the second, or those errors he made in the second-set tiebreak. Those situations that would be a lot easier to get through with more confidence and match practice.
And then there was that little incident in the third set. At 3-3, 30-0, Haas served an ace that David wanted to challenge (in a timely manner, by his standards) but umpire Gerry Armstrong refused to let him, on the grounds that it was too late, while Haas said he'd be fine with a challenge. After that, David turned to talk to someone in the stands. That someone was Tom Barnes, the ATP supervisor, who was also in charge at the Queen's Club final. David asked him how quickly he needed to challenge, "a second, two, three, five? You tell me, Tom!" Here's what he said about it after the match:
Why is it so hard for the umpire to say challenge and then we'll see if it's good or out? The technology helps but the umpires make big mistakes with their judgement. Very big ones.It was only a very little incident this time but I think it fits with what I've called the "increasingly uphill battle" that David is fighting. Not just against his opponents but also against other factors, like umpires and the rulebook. He really needs to win again...
I'm not comparing this to what happened in Australia. That was an important point, today it was irrelevant. But it's something that goes beyond whether [that ball] was good or out.
Here's hoping he'll get the wildcard for Winston-Salem.