Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Anna Kournikova And Martina Hingis Play Doubles Exhibition

Anna Kournikova has delighted her many male admirers by returning to the courts of Wimbledon to play a doubles match with former world number 1 Martina Hingis. Hingis and Kournikova teamed up to play British pair Sam Smith and Anne Hobbs.

Team Anna/Martina quickly found themselves up 3-0 against their older opponents with an excited patron yelling out "Come on you grannies" which was received with much laughter and clapping from the crowd. The comment also seemed to fire up Smith and Hobbs with Kournikova's infamous serve allowing the British team some break point chances.

Anna also required a medical time out at 5-3 in the second set after she got a bleeding blister on her hand, a sure sign that the Russian beauty hasn't played in a while. She said after the match her last singles match was 6 years ago against Martina and she has barely picked up a racquet since.

"For me personally it's an amazing opportunity to be back at Wimbledon, my favourite grass courts. I haven't been here since 2002...Playing with Martina, I think we just picked it up today where we left off eight years ago...I had so much fun today. Kind of jittery a little bit. You don't know how everything is going to go. But I had an amazing time." 

Rumours from a few months ago stated that Hingis was considering a comeback after her 2 year ban for cocaine use was completed but Hingis has denied that, saying the mental commitment is too great. "I did it. I had my comeback. I was very happy with it. I lived through all the emotions. I missed it when I was away for three years. That's why I did the comeback.

Now it's different. I'm going to be 30 years old. Like I said before, it's a commitment you have to do. You travel 35, 40 weeks a year. I think I've played enough tennis in my life. Tennis gave me everything I have today. I'm grateful every moment."

Kournikova ruled out a comeback, saying even exhibition matches are hard now. "For me it would be impossible really physically to be on the tour. It even bothers me a little bit playing like today. I mean, it wasn't strenuous match. It was quite fun and giggly. I'm sure I'm going to feel it tomorrow and I'll be sore. Even to prepare for the specific tournament, the last two months, I've had to have therapy, like real therapy, every day for an hour, hour and a half.

This is just for kind of the fun matches. I would have to live in the trainer's room for three hours every day. I have five different things wrong with my back from two herniated discs."

Interestingly both former top players commented on the state of the women's circuit today.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I think that right now there's still those amazing names: the Williams girls, Henin, Clijsters. Thank God they came back. I just think, to me personally from the outside, it looks like there's not that many household names besides those really four girls, plus Sharapova.

MARTINA HINGIS: It's quickly changing.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: A true tennis fan, he will know who Jankovic is, Wozniacki, people that are between 5 and 10.

MARTINA HINGIS: Even Ivanovic.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Before, I think it was many more household names. Hingis, Williams, Clijsters, Henin, Pierce, Sanchez, Graf, Capriati. We played in an era where I think there were many generations. There was the older generation, the medium and the younger. I think I played the late '90s. It was such a huge mix of generations and people.

But right now, anybody who is outside of top 5 or 10, a normal sportsfans, I don't think they would recognize the names of the girls, even though they're amazing and good.

MARTINA HINGIS: We just had different style. Everyone had its own style. That made it unique. Pretty much now it looks very much the same, like the hard hitting, yeah.

I think they just don't teach it anymore.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Now it's about the power.

MARTINA HINGIS: We just played a lot more tennis, so... Different way, different way of coaching I believe, you know.

Kim Clijsters And Venus Williams Fall At Wimbledon

Kim Clijsters and Venus Williams both had bad days at the office being defeated in the quarterfinals. Venus fell first to the tournaments 'hot' player on the women's side, Tsvetana Pironkova ranked 80 places behind Williams. Pironkova has never previously made it passed the second round of Wimbledon but has hit peak form for the tournament, scalping some big players along her path to the semi's including Marion Bartoli. Tsveta secured the 6-2, 6-3 win over Williams in just an hour and 25 minutes.

It isn't the first time Tsveta has beaten Williams, the most notable was a first round Australian Open defeat where she won 9-7 in the third set. The Bulgarian was hitting with much more depth and accuracy than her American opponent and will now face Vera Zvonareva in the semi's.

The loss only further highlighted the recent poor form of Venus with 29 unforced errors throughout the match, some truly embarrassing. Her foot work was off. Her ground strokes were off, her entire game was off. When she had chances at the net, Venus dumped easy volleys into the bottom of the net.

Rightfully so Tsveta is elated with the win and it will be interesting to see her match against Vera as she looked steady as she closed out the match. Vera on the other hand, can fluctuate wildly in terms of mental focus throughout a match. "I had won one over her before and I actually thought I could win today, so I was going for it."

Kim Clijsters also seemed to be lacking the form that saw her defeat Justine Henin in the fourth round. After taking the first set and looking for a straight sets victory Clijsters lost her forehand and Vera Zvonareva pounced, holding her nerve as she progressed through the match. The 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory is the first one for Vera over Kim.

As the players entered a third set Kim sprayed forehand after forehand either wide or into the net, seeming tentative on her backhand as well. Kim will next play an exhibition match "Best of Belgium" with Justine Henin.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Nadal Passes Mathieu

Rafael Nadal has shown that he is still able to compete at Wimbledon despite calling for the trainer to attend to his left elbow and right knee in his previous match. Nadal defeated Mathieu comfortably in straight sets, a welcome relief for the Spaniard after two five set matches in previous rounds. Rafa defeats Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-4, 6-2, 6-2.

The trainer was called during the match but for Mathieu who was struggling with a back injury after working hard to meet Nadal in the fourth round.

"I had a little injury problem in my second round and then a bigger problem in my third round but today was much better and I didn't feel anything, so that's very positive." Nadal sayd he took some anti-inflammatory medication and did a lot of physical therapy to be ready for his match.

Nadal's next opponent is Robin Soderling, who was pushed ot five sets by David Ferrer but had previously not dropped a set in the tournament. Rafa and Soderling played a match a few years ago at Wimbledon that left the Spaniard enraged after Soderling imitated Nadal's rituals. At the time Nadal said that the Swede was "very strange. I have said hello to him several times to his face and he's never said hello to me. I thought it was me but I asked around the locker room and almost nobody had anything nice to say about him."

Since Soderling has started working with Magnus Norman, his game and his reputation amongst players has improved. Nadal now says he has no issue with Robin. "I had a little bit of a problem in this tournament a few years ago. After that I never had any problem with him."

It will be interesting to see how Nadal goes, given he is not 100%, against the big hitting Swede who has looked to be the strongest seed so far this tournament.

Roddick Watches Another WImbledon Slip Away

Andy Roddick has made no secret of his desire to win Wimbledon, arguably the greatest prize in tennis. Once again that dream has slipped away, this time he wasn't even within touching distance. Roddick was unfortunately placed in a difficult section of the draw after falling down the rankings as a result of barely stepping foot on the European clay courts.

Overnight Roddick was defeated in the fourth round in what should have been a straight forward match by the in form Yen-Hsun Lu from Chinese Taipei . After being pipped at the post in 5 sets in the final last year by Roger Federer, Roddick has again been pipped at the post in the 5th set. Ultimately, after leveling at two sets all in the fourth, Roddick went down 4-6, 7-6, 7-6, 6-7, 9-7 after 4 hours and 36 minutes, Yen-Hsun Lu dedicating match to his father who died in 2000. "For me I really thankful for my family. Also I'm really upset because my father's passed away I make this result. I'm really proud to share this victory with him in the sky. I hope he sees this match."

Andy told press he was "pissed off" and that he had "played like crap" as he made an early exit from his beloved tournament. Roddick apparently smashed a racquet in the locker rooms after the match.

"Of course I'm going to be pissed off when I wake up tomorrow. If you got fired from your job, you probably wouldn't wake up the next day in a great mood. We're better than those questions."

"If I want to consider myself a contender for this tournament, I've got to get through that match. He had a game plan, he stuck to it and he deserved to win more than I did. That's for sure."

Monday, June 28, 2010

Clijsters Takes Henin Out, Jankovic retires

Kim Clisters had a nervous start against rival Justine Henin. Kim has pegged Justine in the third set tie breaker of both matches they have played since both players returned from retirement. After the match Kim said Justine "came out of the blocks really fast" and that she had felt "overwhelmed".

Clijsters improved her first serve percentage in the second set and started using her forehand to get into the games and pushing Henin back into a more defensive position.

In the end Clijsters yet again proved to be too strong for her compatriot winning 2-6, 6-2, 6-3. Henin will no doubt be devastated, having planned her comeback around Wimbledon in an attempt to claim the Grand Slam that has eluded her.

On another court Jelena Jankovic, who played with a heavily strapped thigh, retired in her match against Vera Zvonareva. Jankovic retired at 6-1, 3-0 after falling behind 0-4 in the first set, allowing Zvonareva to take the set in just 24 minutes. Jankovic double faulted 6 times during the match. It was later reported that Jankovic was struggling with a back injury.

What Treatment Has Nadal Had On His Knee?

The other day I mentioned that I suspected Rafa Nadal had undergone PRP treatment for chronic knee tendinitis. My reasons for being suspicious are that:
  1. PRP is one of the latest treatment methods for tendinitis
  2. I'm fairly sure Rafa would have tried everything else
  3. I noticed before Monte Carlo Rafa was wearing a strange little band aid patch like what people have put on post-scope except it was over his muscle (see video)
  4. He has had a noticeable mark on his right knee near the patella tendon (see photo.)
  5. Rafa talked about a 'new treatment' that had led to a vast improvement in his symptoms that he needed to have three times.
  6. Rafa's specialist Angel Ruiz Cotorro says the treatment he will have straight after Wimbledon is to "improve the regeneration of the tendon."
Enter PRP.

So what is PRP? Platelet Rich Plasma. A certain amount of plasma is extracted from your own blood and then separated and injected into the tendon in the same treatment session.

How PRP works is that it helps inhibit excess inflammation so that rehabilitation and activity can be resumed and symptoms improve. It also stimulates the release of growth factors that helps generate more cells while recruiting other cells that aid tissue repair. Growth factors contain cells that assist will healing and tendon regeneration by better simulating the initial healing response. These factors basically help the tendon repair, allowing you to maximize your body's healing response.

Now as far as I know, and as far as been has revealed to the public, Rafa has chronic knee tendinitis not tendinosis. PRP can also be used to treat tendinosis which is basically an accumulation of repeated injuries to the tendon that have failed to heal properly. A tendinosis is essentially a chronic cycle of poor healing in the absence of inflammation, whereas tendinitis is inflammation to the tendon caused mostly by overload.

How does PRP work in the real world? It's hard to say. I have only treated one patient who had the injection after 2 years of tendinitis in both hamstrings. Initially the side she had treated with the PRP was worse but after a few months she seems to now be making some steady progress on both sides. I couldn't say I believe that it was the PRP because both sides are improving, and I know James Blake had the treatment and it didn't really help (although he also refused to take anti inflammatory medication before trying PRP). It's not a common place treatment but if I was Rafa I'd do it - can't make it any worse than having to skip the chance to be defending champion at Wimbledon.

Unfortunately this treatment doesn't mean we can just breathe a sigh of relief because our favourite Spaniard will be healed. He will still be prone to having issues with his knees because of his style of play and the demands of tennis - both of which I can't see changing in the foreseeable future. However it should mean he has less injuries, recovers faster and does less damage with each episode. There is currently not a lot of long term research about the effects of PRP on tendinitis however, it has been used for some years in surgery to assist wound healing.

As Rafa stated in his post match interview the recovery from PRP injection (if that is indeed what he has had) does take some time (it can be quite painful from what my patient tells me and from what I head along the grape vine). Nadal will skip Davis Cup in favour of his injections once Wimbledon has finished.

My issue with point 4 of my theory is that Rafa could have slipped and got this mark (although it was originally white and has not become dark) and lately a lot of his tendinitis has been above the patella but it's part of my theory.... I'd love to hear your theories.

To see previously written information on tendinitis and it's effect on players click on What happened to Rafa Nadal and Gilles Simon's knees?

Jennifer Capriati Hospitalised With Suspected Drug Overdose

Jennifer Capriati was hospitalised yesterday with a suspected drug overdose. The emergency call came from a hotel in Florida with the 34 year old then rushed to hospital.

Capriati's father told press his daughter was "recovering well"

This is not the first time Capriati has been involved in a drug scandal. In May 1994 she was arrested for possession of marijuana. in 1993 she was involved in a shop lifting incident (to the value of $35)

Capriati's troubled career has been well documented with the former star also having issues with her parents.

Nadal Continues To Deny 'Unsporting' Behaviour

After denying that calling for the trainer against Philipp Petzchiner was a deliberate move to try and disrupt his opponents momemtum in his post match interview, Rafael Nadal has been force to again deny the accusation of unsporting behaviour.

Nadal took to his blog for The Times to deny this accusation and clarify the claims that Uncle Toni was coahcing him.

"Got some questions today after my practice about my knee. It's feeling better and I expect to be ready to play tomorrow.

I have always been a very fair player and yesterday when I called the trainer I really needed him since I was in pain. I know there has been some controversy because of that but I don't think it is fair. Like it was not fair the way the umpire gave me a warning for coaching. Toni was only saying to me to be positive and I don't think that's giving me any advice. So there you go. I am normally not commenting these things but I feel it was important to tell you about it."

While it was very effective in disrupting Petzchiner I believe Rafa. I have never seen him do anything 'unsporting' ever. He checks his opponents are OK if they fall. He waves to fans when his name is announced along with his achievements during the warm up. He always has complimentary things to say about his opponents and he plays when he shouldn't. He was gracious in defeat at Roland Garros last year. There is no way Nadal committed such a sin. He knows how to accept a loss.

Just for a little amusement value, here's what Rafa said about Uncle Toni and his cousins.

Dear Rafa, congrats to your tough win against Haase. But I wasn't too nervous during the match, as I knew you were going to win! I saw the video on your site taken when your little cousins were visiting you. They're cute! But I wonder if Uncle Toni is as strict to your cousins as he was with you? You seemed to be the disciplinarian there ;-) I look forward to seeing a whole week of Rafa tennis at Wimbledon next week! Hugs, Natalie

RN: Many thanks. My uncle was kind of tough with me but on the sports education. He is tough, or shall I say strict with his sons but a bit less with his daughter... 

Hi Rafa, Thanks for taking the time to do this blog; you are a great champion and role model. Your fans really appreciate it and love to hear about the "real life" during competitions. I am a Mum with two lovely sons. Mums keep all sorts of memorable stuff - school certificates, pictures etc. I am running out of space and they haven't reached 18 yet! You are an outstanding and popular tennis player that the media loves to follow so there are so many pictures and articles about you. Your Mum must want to keep some of those memories. How does she decide what to keep? Does she have help with this task? Where does she keep it all? Hoping to see you bite that trophy at Wimbledon. Debra John, Kent
RN: She keeps a lot of stuff but not everything. I do keep everything that I play with, I mean at least one model. Shoes, shirts, racquets... One day I will have them all exposed.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Weird Wimbledon

There has only been one week of play so far but it has been a bizarre week at Wimbledon.

It all started with Roger Federer opening proceedings on center court in what should have been an easy match, and an easy path to the quarterfinals after he was gifted the number one spot, and therefore an easy draw, by the Gods of Grass, essentially snubbing Nadal as world number 1. Instead of coming out and playing the routine match we expected from Federer, he looked rusty and far from his best as Falla took him to five sets, almost knocking him out on multiple occasions. Things didn't improve for Federer until he comfortably beat Arnaud Clement in the third round.

Then there was the match that seemingly never ended. The match that broke all records for match duration, aces served (by both players), games in total and in the final set and it was the match that captured the attention of the world. That match was of course the EPIC between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut, that was so EPIC that the word itself must always be in capitals when describing the match. The match covered three days without rain delays, exceeded 11 hours of playing time, the fifth set alone was 8 hours as the players got to 70-68, the match finally ending, creating records that will undoubtedly never be touched again.

After Isner and Mahut walked their shakey, fatigued legs out of Wimbledon the next leg to shake was that of world number 1 Rafael Nadal. Nadal seemed to keep finding himself up against 'hot' players in a difficult section of the draw, surely a little annoyed that Wimbledon decided to re-jig the seedings. Nadal struggled, really struggled against the huge hitting, and even bigger serving of Philipp Petzchiner. First his left elbow started hurting and the trainer was called. Then his troublesome right knee started hurting and the trainer was called again as Philipp's rhythm was disrupted, allowing the Spaniard back into the game. Nadal repeatedly had his leg treated throughout the course of the match and was warned about receiving coaching before admitting after the match that his knee has been worrying him since Miami.

Then there was the now infamous Spit-gate in which Victor Hanescu spat in the direction of some patrons who were heckling him. The patrons were later arrested but no charges were made and as it turns out the arrests were not related to the Hanescu incident. Hanescu then proceeded to swear at them before deliberately foot faulting and defaulting the match. He was fined yesterday, $7,500 for msconduct and another $7,500 for not giving his best effort.

Svetlana Kuznetsova was also accused of unprofessional behaviour when she refused to shake Anastasia Rodionova's hand after she was defeated.

Aside from the limited grass left on the courts the second week of play should be interesting. Andy Murray is progressing easily through his quarter of the draw. Federer will be watched closely as he plays Jurgen Melzer and possibly Tomas Berdych. If Nadal's body can hold out long enough to get to the quarterfinals he is likely to struggle against Robin Soderling, who has a history of tagging Nadal when he's down in Grand Slams.

David Ferrer Battles Back To Win In Five Sets

David Ferrer jogged around the court as he yelled, fist pumping, a spring in his step and the scoreboard on his side as Chardy seemed to crumble from a leading position in the fifth set. Ferrer had lead early in the match taking a two sets to love lead before Frenchman Chardy found a way into the match. As Chardy powered away to a 5-3 lead in the fifth set it looked like David was set to become another Spaniard to fall early, after Verdasco, Robredo, Garcia-Lopez, Ferrero and Almagro, all big names in Spain, fell in the first round.

David joins Rafa Nadal as the only Spaniards left in the draw who have any chance of doing well. Unfortunately, both David and Rafa have struggled and have had to produce some exceptional play against some big hitting players who have arrived at the tournament 'hot' and ready to challenge. Nadal was also dealt the additional blow of being bumped down in the seedings and therefore into a harder section of the draw.

Ferrer is notorious for his ability to play scrappy tennis and work his way into matches and he used every ounce of his ability to claw his way back into the fifth set and take the match. The depth of his shots was incredible, breaking Chardy and then holding serve to level at 5 all. Chardy almost seemed shell shocked as the Spaniard came roaring back into the match, aided by a few double faults from his opponent.

Chardy served his tenth double fault at match point to give Ferrer the match 7-5, 6-3, 4-6, 3-6, 7-5 and a spot in the fourth round where he will face the inform Robin Soderling who is yet to drop a set.

Nadal's Knee Dramas Continue, To Skip Davis Cup

As we suspected after seeing Nadal in Monte Carlo with a strange shaped 'band-aid' on and a subsequent mark left behind on his knee, it turns out that he has been having treatment on his right knee to combat chronic tendinitis. If I had to guess it sounds like Rafa has either had cortisone of PRP (more likely PRP) injected into the tendon itself to try and help it heal.

So it seems that incident in Miami where Nadal violently thumped his own leg on a change of ends when playing Roddick in Miami was in fact his knee rearing its ugly head as I suggested at the time.

Nadal has about 36 hours to recover as much as he is capable of before hoping for an easy match against Paul-Henri Mathieu. It's fair to say if Nadal doesn't get an easy match, and doesn't recover well enough.... well we have all seen what happens when Rafa plays Robin Soderling with a bung knee.

See what Rafa had to say about the knee, the elbow, calling a trainer to disrupt play and his plans to miss Davis Cup.

Q. How much are you worried about your knee? Is there a risk you should skip the Davis Cup tie after Wimbledon?

RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah. Well, sure, I am a little bit scared about the knee. But, you know, it happen. I had a treatment after Monte‑Carlo. So I had the problem. I didn't say nothing before, but you know, guys, how is everything. I had the problem against Roddick in the semifinals of Miami.

I don't like to say nothing in that moment because when you lose, always looks like an excuse. But I can say now I had the problem after I played in Monte‑Carlo with a little bit of pain on the knee, on the left knee, because that's what happened there.

After Monte‑Carlo, I didn't play Barcelona because I had to do a treatment, new treatment. You know, I tried to play the clay season perfect because in that moment the right knee was better than the left. But at the same time I know the knees are not hundred percent recovered. But playing on clay and maybe on grass, if is not very long matches, can work well.

But the last treatments I did between Monte‑Carlo and Rome was perfect. I didn't have no one more problem on the left knee. But just I did one time, and I need to do three times.

I didn't have time to do it at the right knee before because I had to play. The clay season was my main goal of the season. After here I gonna do it another time, no? My goals for me is a big disappointment not be in the Davis Cup on France, you know. Some confrontations, if you play at home against some country, maybe you cannot play this one. But playing in France for me is a very special confrontation and a very big motivation for me.

But I talked with the captain, I talked with the president of the Federation a few days ago, and I said, Guys, I never arrive to the US Open with my hundred percent of conditions. I had last year broken abdominal, two years ago playing crazy here. After Olympics, I did arrive very tired. And I really want to try to go there with my best chances, no, to play, to play my hundred percent.

So I need to do this treatment after here. If I play Davis Cup, I don't have enough time to recover and play tournaments, Cincinnati. Everything was perfect for me last few months, and I need to be ready to finish the season well. My goal is try to keep having the chance to be No. 1 for the rest of the season. That's gonna be difficult. But if you are not in hundred percent of condition, is going to be impossible.

Q. Philipp said you were running exactly the same before and after the timeout. He said you could have played another two or three sets. He said it was a clever timeout because it broke his concentration. What do you think about that?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, everything is fair to think what they want. I never call a treatment ‑‑ I never call the physio when I don't have nothing, not one time in my career. If I call the physio today, it was because it was bothering me a lot, the knee, no?

The last day, it starts a little bit, and I didn't call the physio because I can't resist that. But today I needed to take little bit time. I have the quadriceps muscle very tight and I need to relax it a little bit. Maybe with this relaxation, the knee works a little bit better.

That's why I called the physio.

Q. How bad is your knee right now? You said you're scared. What are you scared of?

RAFAEL NADAL: My knee is like this. I don't know how bad is my knee. My knee, I can finish the match. We will see how is going the next day. But, you know, I am here to try my best and to try to keep in the tournament and playing well, no? I am not thinking about scared or retired or something like this. That's not going to happen.

Q. You did say a little while ago you were scared. What does scare you about the knee, maybe long term if not for this moment?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, no, I not scared, because I know what I have on the knee, is not something new, is something from the past. I know what I have to do to recover the knee. I didn't have time to do it before here. But after, I have the new treatment.

With the new treatment, the left knee works perfect. So when I going to do that to the right, hopefully that's going to be the same.

Q. What special treatment?

RAFAEL NADAL: For me I can't explain now, especially in English. Sorry. 

Q. Was there something with your arm as well that the trainer was looking at?

RAFAEL NADAL: Yes. I called the physio because after one serve I felt something here. But I told the physio I don't want to take out the medical treatment. So Petzschner must know that, too.

I didn't want to have the treatment because I feel it a little bit better after the game. I feel something after one serve. I said to the umpire, Please call the trainer for the next changeover. I can finish the game playing well. When I finish the game, I feel it well, so I don't need the trainer.  

Q. Can you clarify about how your arm feels now?

RAFAEL NADAL: The arm is perfect. Work perfect. Perfect. Perfect is perfect.

Wounded Warrior Nadal Survives 5 Set Battle

Philipp Petzchiner and Rafael Nadal had played on two prior occasions, never on grass, the Spaniard winning both in straight sets. Today was a different story. Petzchiner belted balls around the court, throwing down incredible serves not allowing Nadal into games. The German showed incredible touch and skill at the net, playing with variety and making Nadal work for every point. Despite his body protesting, the trainer being called multiple times for his knee and elbow, Nadal won 6-4, 4-6, 6-7, 6-2, 6-3.

Only three games, and one break of serve, into the match and the men had already served 7 aces between them, 3 to Nadal and 4 to Petzschiner. Nadal's blistering forehand was on display from the outset. Also on display were some incredible shots from Petzschiner, including a few lucky let cords and reflexive volleys, even with Rafa thumping the ball directly at the charging Petzschiner.

At 4-3 Rafa served an ace to go up 40-0, hitting a ball boy in the process, apologizing quickly and profusely, with a cheeky smile from both the ball boy and the lines-woman. 

With Nadal serving for the set Philipp went on the hunt for a cross court high backhand volley from Nadal that had him straddling the court-side fence, almost landing in the laps of some very happy ladies in the front row. Nadal again waited to move until he was sure his opponent was OK. An ace down the centre line gave Nadal the set 6-4 in 42 minutes with 14 aces between them and both players serving above 60% of first serves in.

The fifth game of the second set was pivotal, both players scrambling around the court and producing some incredible shots, Philipp covering the net beautifully, reading some of Nadal's passing shot attempts well. Eventually Petzschiner held after saving multiple break point chances and challenging a return from Rafa that had been called a winner. Rafa followed with an easy service game to level at 3-3.
Petzschiner, serving first in the set, forced Nadal to serve to stay alive in the set. Two errors, including one uncharacteristic smash dumped into the bottom of the net, some missed first serves and some smart play from the German brought up triple break point. Nadal played aggressively, forced into the net by a let cord, and after some forward and backwards at the net Petzschiner came out on top, taking the break and the second set 6-4.

Philipp, once again serving first, came out swinging in the third, prompting Patrick McEnroe to Tweet "Is Nadal going down?". As soon as the question was asked Nadal seemed to realize he needed to try something else, rushing to the net to try and get ahead of his opponent. Some huge serving, over 130kmph, got Petzschiner out of trouble, allowing him to dictate points and get to the net quickly, or not allow Nadal to touch the ball at all.

The huge serve of Petzschiner seemed to trouble Nadal, the Spaniard being forced to guess the direction at times. Every time Rafa produced some incredible passing shots Petzschiner had the answer on his serve. Varying his pace and direction on serve Petzschiner kept Nadal on his toes, holding to go ahead 4-3 in the third set with 16 aces and significantly more un-returnable serves under his belt.

At this point in the match you could understand if Nadal was cursing the Wimbledon Gods for placing him as second seed and Federer as first seed with substantial differences in the draws for the two players. 

Every point Nadal won on serve he started yelling "Si!" and "Vamos!" to try and pump himself up as Petzschiner continued to trouble him with his varied game. This time Rafa made no mistake on a smash to bring up game point to level at 4 all. Luckily for Nadal the free swinging German swung a little too much, running around the serve to hit a forehand well long. 

The signs for Nadal didn't improve after holding serve. He called for the trainer at the change of ends. Michael Novotny, ATP physio, came out and looked at Nadal's left elbow but didn't treat it. Nadal survived, just, to level at 5 all cheering himself across the line and the inspired Petzschiner continued to mix up his game with his huge serve, great ground strokes and some serve and volley. Watching you also got the feeling Nadal was, once again, drawing the short straw on luck outside of Paris.

Rafa started blocking balls back in to play, not looking like a confident former Wimbledon champion. He got burnt a few times trying to thump the ball right back into Petzschiner at the net instead of going for the open court, Petzschiner pushing the ball back over the net, behind Nadal. Working hard to get Petzschiner away from the net, Rafa pushed him back with a lob, bringing up break point which was, again, saved by three huge serves. 

Nadal had to force a tie break to prevent Petzschiner serving first again in the fourth set, a clear advantage with the German throwing down bomb after bomb.

In the tie break Petzschiner brought up triple set point, breaking a string and then overplaying a forehand but a giant serve gave Petzschiner a two sets to one lead. Philipp had served 19 aces and hit 49 winners and was giving Nadal an almighty run for his money.

Rafa had an early break point chance and missed it with Petzschiner at the net again, much to Rafa's annoyance. Interestingly Nadal started stretching his right quad, his right knee being the one to give him trouble in the past. Nadal tried to lift but it seemed like a combination of bad decisions from Nadal and Petzschiner always having the answers allowed the German to hold his opening service game.

The trainer came back out, this time for Rafa's right knee.

The momentum shifted very slightly and luck gave Nadal a chance and he took it, breaking for a 3-1 lead. After getting warned for being coached from the sidelines, Nadal managed to break in the final game, securing the first serve advantage for the final set.

The trainer then came back out, this time for Petzschiner, the German pointing to his left thigh.

Nadal was extremely lucky to escape with his first service game after Petzschiner dropped and easy volley into the net after playing too casually. Out of nowhere the German started to play some double handed backhand returns, continuing to very effectively mix the rhythm of the match.

A code violation was handed to Nadal in between serves at two all which made Rafa furious, seemingly spurring him on. It seemed unlikely that Nadal had received any coaching in the 10 seconds between finishing a point, getting a ball and setting up for another serve. The Spaniard received another rub down at the change of ends, possibly an unfair use of resources considering he didn't appear to be hampered by the leg in any way.

Petzschiner started to look a little weary and irritated as Nadal broke to position himself to serve for the match. Nadal served it out to love.
It was an incredible match from both players with Petzschiner hitting an incredible 63 winners to Nadal's 56.

In winning today, Nadal has taken another step towards a likely quarterfinal meeting with Robin Soderling who is yet to drop a set and has looked to be in incredible form so far. Nadal is going to need to harness all his powers of recovery to heal in time for his next match against Paul-Henri Mathieu

Article also available on

Hanescu Fined $15,000 For Spit-Gate

Victor Hanescu has been widely backed up by past players and commentators over spit-gate, where he spat in the direction of patrons who had been heckling him and were later arrested. What has disgusted many was the manner in which he ended the match, deliberately foot faulting before throwing in the towel at 0-3, with the withdrawal being called a "disgrace on the tournament".

Today Hanescu has been fined $15,000 USD, $7,500 for miscondouct and another $7,500 for not giving his best efforts on court.

The fine seems a little harsh. I'm not condoning the incident but I think it was the umpire who should have stepped in earlier (really without prompting) and have the unruly fans ejected, knowing they were interfering with play.

It poses a question though.... If Hanescu is being fined for unprofessional conduct, shouldn't Svetlana Kuznetsova also be fined for refusing to shake the hand of her opponent?

Yes Kuznetsova may have been irritated by the call for the trainer and the point arguing from her opponent Anastasia Rodionova but her response was also unprofessional.

Food for thought.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Serena Williams Wins In Dominating Style

Serena Williams showed no mercy against Dominika Cibulkova, defeating her in straight sets 6-0, 7-5. Williams came out and quietly went about her business of dismantling Cibulkova's game and making her look like a novice. After just 12 minutes Serena had worked her way in a 4-0 lead, creating incredible angles, and returning the ball as fast, if not faster, than the speed at which it was served. The set was over in 18 minutes with Serena winning 100% of points when her first serve was in.

After running away with the first set Williams continued to serve incredibly well, with 75% of her serves being un-returnable. The crowd cheered loudly when Cibulkova finally got back on the board at on all in the second set. Once Cibulkova got used to absorbing the pace off the Williams racket, Serena had to start working a little harder as Dominika managed to get into a few games, even serving an ace.

Dominika was in trouble in the eight game before producing and incredible forehand passing shot with Serena smothering the next - an extremely difficult person to pass. As the match became more competitive Serena started grunting, willing her balls in. Cibulkova managed to fend off one break point and level the score at 5-5. When Williams got another match point, she mad no mistake about it but seemed irritated with herself and unimpressed with the win.

Over the years Serena has showed a skill that is only exceeded by Roger Federer's... the ability to peak for the Grand Slams. Serena has, for some time now, shown little interest in smaller tournament instead enjoying life off the court or trying different things in weekly play. Not only does this attitude preserve her body and aid her longegivity in the game, it gives her what she wants most, the chance to accumulate as many Grand Slam titles as humanly possibly.

Serena is peaking at just the right time once again, dominating all those who come in her path on her quest to defend her Wimbledon title.

Serena will likely face Maria Sharapova next.

Serena is also playing in the doubles with Venus, attempting to defend their title from last year as well as take a step towards a calender year Grand Slam in doubles. The sisters are the current title holders in the women's doubles for Wimbledon (2009), USO (2009), Australian Open (2010), Roland Garros (2010).

Lopez Goes Down Swinging

Feliciano Lopez came out firing in the first set against Jurgen Melzer. Lopez's game is perfectly suited to grass courts with a huge serve and some serve and volley play. Lopez, not the traditional Spaniard, was on fire, twice breaking Jurgen Melzer in the first set. Just as Lopez took his foot off the accelerator, allowing Melzer to make up one of the breaks, an elderly lady needed to be attended to and carried out of the front row in a wheelchair.

After some sloppy play from Feli, and some slightly more inspired play from Jurgen, Lopez eventually served the set out 6-4.

Jurgen battled to hold serve in the opening game as Feli produced some incredible return winners and came to the net regularly. Melzer tried to play some volleys, but with the increasingly worn and hard court the balls were sitting up more. Eventually, after fending off four break points, Melzer held the first game of the set. Feli then faced two break points on his own serve after the umpire wouldn't allow him to challenge for some unknown reason. Melzer converted with an incredible angle on a backhand for a 2-0 lead.

Feli seemed to completely lose his way until Jurgen gifted him some free points, particularly after not playing a ball he thought was long, but every opportunity Feli had, no matter how good his read on the serve, he dumped the ball half way down the net and Melzer was at 4-1. Melzer took the second set 6-3.

Lopez is known to go through waves and fluctuations in play from which he sometimes recovers quite quickly. This time he did not. He went down an early break in the third set and handing it over 6-2.

Early in the fourth set Lopez again went down an early break at which point the Spaniard looked deflated as his opponent took a 4-2 lead. Melzer, a different player to the Jurgen that started the match, quickly found his way to match point, Lopez only able to save one match point. Melzer will now most likely face Roger Federer in the next round unless Arnaud Clement can produce a miracle.

Melzer won 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in just under two an a half hours.

Hewitt Into The Fourth Round

The crowd were subdued, seemingly unmoved by the names in front of them; Gael Monfils and Lleyton Hewitt. Monfils had won his last few matches against Hewitt but it was the Australian who drew first blood, breaking to take a 5-3 lead before serving the set out comfortably.

Interestingly Monfils' coach, Roger Rasheed used to coach Lleyton, and had educated his charge well, Gael seeming to have a very specific game plan. It worked well in the second set, with Gael having the advantage of serving first, keeping up with Hewitt and creating a tight tie break that could have gone either way, both players having set points. Ultimately it was Hewitt who showed he had more guts, taking the tie break 11-9 as Gael tried to slide desperately to retrieve a ball, almost doing the splits into the net.

Throughout the match almost every time Gael tried to put on a show for the crowd, leaping, sliding and throwing his body around, Lleyton punished him for doing so. Monfils paying the price for balls that sat up high instead of falling dead as the surface became progressively harder as the grass wore away under the hot sun shine.

In the third set Hewitt had led 4-1 with a break of serve before Monfils made a comeback despite starting to limp occasionally after an awkward slide. A loud cry of "Allez!" followed a beautiful down the line forehand that gave Gael break point on Hewitt's serve at 4 all. Some gutsy play from Hewitt that saw him play dangerously close to the line got him out of trouble.

A double fault on match point was all Hewitt needed to make it through to the fourth round with a 6-3, 7-6, 6-4 scoreline.

Friday, June 25, 2010

What Happened Today?

- Exhausted John Isner had nothing left to offer after his 11 hour first round match against Nicolas Mahut. Today he attempted to back up the performance when he took on Thiemo De Bakker, one of the break through players of 2010, but came up short and with a sore neck. Isner was treated for neck pain during the match and didn't stay on court long, he lost 6-0, 6-3, 6-2. Isner looked like he was struggling to walk.

- Isner's fellow warrior, Nicolas Mahut, has been offered a free Club Med holiday by the company to recharge his batteries. Impressively Mahut played doubles after the conclusion of his epic match with Isner yesterday. Apparently Mahut was crying uncontrollably and shaking in the locker room after losing to Isner. He deserves a holiday.

- Maria Kirilenko's some times dodgy serve, played up again a bit today as she struggled to control the power of Kim Clijsters. Clijsters is hoping to claim her second Grand Slam since her return to the tour almost a year ago, and her first ever Wimbledon title. She beat Kirilenko 6-3, 6-3.

- Novak Djokovic who is currently on court against Albert Montanes has been seen shaking his arm and wearing Kinesio tape on his neck... watch this space.

- Venus Williams has a new book coming out on Tuesday called "Come to Win".... Hasn't it been a while since she has won? (Acapulco?)

- After being shafted to Court 2, instead of Centre Court in front of the Queen as she had hoped, Serena Williams came out swinging, destroying opponent Anna Chakvetadze 6-0, 6-1. Serena did get to meet the Queen after practicing her curtsy. "My curtsy didn't go the way I wanted. I didn't get the right wrist action, and then I got nervous. It was amazing to meet the Queen. And to meet her at Wimbledon, it was really an unbelievable moment... I have mixed feelings about playing on court two. I don't think I should be out there. But when I was leaving, I stayed for a while, and I signed tons of autographs. A lot of these people can't get into the Centre Court so that was a good thing."

Rafa Nadal Answers Fan Questions

As has become the norm for Grand Slams, Rafa Nadal has been blogging and answering fan questions for The Times... Here is the latest from the Spaniard.

Hi everyone,

Let me start today this post by saying that I only got the questions last night when I was already asleep. That is the reason why there was no blog last night. Sorry for that. I know that I was supposed to do it this morning but I didn't have time today since after I woke up and had my breakfast had to go to practice.

I normally try to sleep more than usual if I am playing in the afternoon or late afternoon. That way the day is not that long and I don't get tired before the match. A question of routine. And because of that routine I missed meeting the Queen Elizabeth today. I would have loved to and they've told me she would be at my match, so I was really looking forward to meeting her at the end of the match. Unfortunately, Her Majesty left and I missed the opportunity. Hopefully another time I will have the honor and chance to do so.

Coming back to my match, I'd said before how difficult is to play here at Wimbledon against great servers. Well, it was a very tough match today and I was really pushed to the limits. Thankfully it went well.

Tomorrow a day off, some practice and then concentration to see Spain play in the Word Cup...

Thanks all

Did you see the Isner/Mahut match? Do you think they might play all week? Sia Morris

I saw a lot of it. Clearly not all of it. WHAT AN AMAZING MATCH!!!! I really congratulate both players for what they've done!!!

I am watching the Isner/Mahut match right now, and I am amazed that they are now at 52 games all in the fifth set. Do you think there should be a fifth set tie-break like at the US Open or should the players play it out like we are seeing?  Traci

No, no. I prefer it like this. We would have never seen something like this!!! What an effort!!!

Federer said before the tournament that his draw looks more easy than yours. Would you agree? Susanne

I normally agree with Roger... :-)

What do you enjoy the most when playing Davis Cup for your country? Arlene McLean

The fact that I am representing my country and also the fact that we are playing as a team.

Rafa, you clean?? What do you do - like dust, scrub the floors, clean the toilet...? Does your team help out? I guess big muscles help... Yours in astonishment, Emma.

Hahhahaaha. This week a bit of everything... but not much, believe me...

Do you find it hard to get out of the habit of "cleaning the line" with your foot when you change from clay to grass? Sam

That's a very good and funny question. Can't do it here so no habit like that here.

During your match yesterday John McEnroe said you had size 11.5 feet but wear size 10 trainers. Is this true? Why? Doesn’t it hurt? Sam Bastiman

Not really. I have a special shoe size, that's why Nike does them custom fit for me. I am a 10.5 in any case...

What are your thoughts about the controversy with the French World Cup team? JoAnn Chu

Not much, they have to fix it among themselves. It was strange though to see the players not practicing one day. Very strange. 

The blog can be seen daily at

Isner and Mahut... How It Ended

Haase Has Game, But Nadal Triumphs In Five Sets

Rafael Nadal has been pushed to five sets over night to progress through his difficult quarter to secure a spot in the third round. Amusingly Nadal altered his Facebook status after the match saying "I told you it would be a difficult match!!!" His opponent, Robin Haase, sent down an incredible 28 aces during the match and worked Nadal around the court, producing some brilliant winners on the run, passing Nadal at the net which is no small feat

After falling behind two sets to one Nadal eventually ground Haase down and exhausted the way only Nadal can, winning 5-7, 6-2, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3. In the first set Haase played at an incredible level, producing 13 aces and serving at 86% compared to just 62% for Rafa, simply blasting Nadal off the court and not allowing the Spaniard much hope of breaking in the first set. Nadal was finally broken in the last game of the first set. Nadal rebounded immediately.

Rafa broke in the first game, aided by an error from Haase and a brilliant cross court passing shot, demonstrating his incredible ability to just wipe the slate clean. Nadal seemed to get a better read on Haase's serve, allowing him to conduct rallies and work his opponent over, breaking early, before securing a double break to take the second set 6-2.

Haase has returned to the courts recently after spending almost 18 month off trying to recover from knee surgery. The Dutch player called for the trainer to have his mid foot assessed. The treatment seemed to do the trick because when they started the third set Haase made Rafa run. Robin played with some incredible depth, forcing Nadal to play defensively.

At 2-3 Nadal was working hard to try and hold, but the scrambling skills of Haase, combined with the fact Rafa failed to put away two smashes, then pushing a volley wide, gave the Dutchman a break point chance which he converted with a violently struck forehand cross court winner. He then proceeded to consolidate with a HUGE service game, barely letting Nadal touch a ball. Suddenly Nadal was serving to stay in the third set.

Rafa was off and flying in the fourth round, heaving a backhand down the line with a loud "Ya" before thumping a forehand return winner with a screaming "Si!" and a fist pump. The devastating forehand of Nadal thumped Haase and brought up two early break points which Robin successfully defended before Nadal eventually broke.

A small slip in the third game saw Hasse grimace, grab his hip flexor and try to loosen his pelvis. Nadal responded by running his opponent. Again in the third game, this time of the final set, Haase pulled up, again with the right hip flexor, when reaching for the ball.

Nadal was on fire in the fourth and fifth set and there was no stopping him. With a double break in hand Rafa finished the match off with another love service game.

Despite the fact that five sets were played Nadal was happy with the outcome. "I'm very happy to win in five sets. Everybody prefers to win in three, but is not possible a lot of times, especially in this surface because all depends on a few points. Played probably four bad points in two sets and I lose both sets. That's the tennis like this. But mentally I think I was perfect in the fourth and in the fifth." Impressively the Spaniard didn't lose a point on serve in the final set and won 23 of 29 points he played at the net, showing the importance of net play on grass. He also improved to a 13-3 lifetime record in five sets

The importance of the Wimbledon title is not lost on Nadal, who chose to practice instead of meeting the Queen. "Yeah, was disappointing for me. But, you know, the Club knows, Wimbledon Club knows that before, because I have my routines before the match. I had a very difficult match, before the match, I know going to be a very difficult match. I had to practice around 12, so was impossible for me. 

Seriously I thought the Queen was going to be in my match, and I would love to have the chance to meet her after the match. But wasn't possible because I think the Queen left before. For me was disappointing. I was excited to meet her. But was very important match for me, too."

When asked if there was anyone he would change his routine for he responded; "You know, I am playing in Wimbledon. Is not a joke. I love this tournament. I have a lot of respect for the Queen. I have a lot of respect for this tournament. Always was my dream play here. Today is a match, is a match day for me, no? So I have my things to do, and I try to do my best what I think is the best to win the match, no? So not in that case."

Nadal with now face Philipp Petzschner on Saturday in the third round. Rafa leads their head to head 2-0 but has never played Petzchner on grass.

Federer may have also played five sets, but this was a very different five sets. Nadal looked sharp, showing that he had a few extra gears to rely on in times of trouble.

Kusnetsova Sulks After Loss

Svetlana Kuznetsova has stubbed Russian-born Australian Anastasia Rodionova after she was beaten 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 Kuznetsova by-passed the waiting Rodionov, shook the umpires hand and left the court without shaking her opponents hand, much to the crowds disgust.

In her previous match Anastasia had not endeared herself to the English crowd, beating home crowd favourite Anne Keothavong, repeatedly complaining about line calls and arguing with the umpire throughout the match. Her behaviour distracted her opponents. Rodionova's antics are well known after she was removed from a match in Cincinnati in 2007 for poor behaviour, firing a ball into the crowd towards her opponents supporters.

The Australian defended herself after the match, saying;  "When they make one or two really bad mistakes you don't trust the umpire when he didn't overrule once for me, especially when it is in such a tight situation. Of course, you know you are playing against a local girl and all the linesmen are locals so you kind of hope that the chair umpire would overrule. He didn't, so . . . I actually want to see a replay of this match and see how it was because I did question some calls but when you are in the match you want everything to go in when you hit."

Svetlana, who has slipped from 3 to 19 in the world rankings since the beginning of the year has played some woeful tennis at best this year. Apparently it was this same behaviour that irritated the prickly Russian. She later took to Twitter and posted this: "guys after match like that i dont even want to answer to u about my longest match,even if i would know)))))"

Isner Finally Defeats Mahut

A picture tells the story. A story of two giants of tennis, one a particularly tall giant, standing by a score board on court 18 at Wimbledon, one smiling, one frowning, the scoreline unbelievable.

John Isner and Nicolas Mahut have FINALLY completed their first round match after three days, multiple world records and just over 11 hours of play. It is the first win Isner has recorded on grass.

The incredible scoreline that had a fifth set that dragged on for over 8 hours eventually finished at 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68.

The statistics for the match were equally ridiculous.
  • 5th set longer that previous longest ever match played (6hrs 33min)
  • Most games in a set: 138
  • Most points in a match: Mahut 502, Isner 478
  • Winners: Mahut 244, Isner 246
  • Highest ace count ever (both players): Mahut, 103, Isner 112
It was the type of match you can hardly believe happened, or ever ended for that matter. Sadly the epic tale is over, surely never to be repeated and unfortunately someone had to walk away the loser.

Q. In the finish, was it the will to win or fear of failure that got you across the line?

JOHN ISNER: Oh, that's a good question. I think it was more so the will to win. Obviously in the back of my mind is, as I'm sure it was with him, I don't want to be on the losing side of this. It's going to be a little bit better to be on the winning side.

But I think it was the will to win. Not that I outwilled him. I mean, obviously he gave it his all. I just kind of was a little bit more fortunate than he was.

Q. He did look devastated. Could you imagine what it would be like?

JOHN ISNER: No, I can't. I don't even want to think about that.

Q. Would you elaborate? What's painful about it?

NICOLAS MAHUT: The loss. I mean, I lost this match. I just wanted to win. Was just better than me. Really painful to lose this kind of match.

Q. Do you take a sense of pride in having competed this hard and this long even though you did lose?

NICOLAS MAHUT: Yeah, ask me tomorrow I will probably say yes. Tonight, it's really difficult. 

Novak Djokovic What Were You Thinking?

Sure they were white. Sure they were probably expensive. Sure they were nice, BUT they were still tracksuits pants and Novak you were meeting the Queen of England. Even Andy Murray and Jarkko Nieminen managed to change shirts and look less like they were heading down to the gym, and they had just played three sets of tennis.

Roger Federer, Jelena Jankovic, Martina Navratilova, Andy Roddick, Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki dressed appropriately to meet the Queen but Novak seemed to forget that his appearance showed a lack of respect to a Queen who religiously wears white gloves.

Maybe Novak got a bit confused in terms of proper protocol after seeing a dirt covered Rafael Nadal reach up and kiss Queen Sofia of Spain, but there is some familiarity and friendship between Nadal and the Spanish royalty, whereas Novak was meeting the Queen for the first time.

Queen Elizabeth has not attended Wimbledon since 1977 and after hearing that Andy Murray was worried about what the appropriate bowing protocol was, and that Serena Williams had been practicing her curtsy, only to be moved to a court the Queen was not watch (although she did get to meet her), Novak should have known how important the event was.

Maybe in another few decades he'll be get it right with Charles or Wills.

To meet a Queen who wears white gloves and prides herself on tradition, etiquette and everything, even butter at the table being immaculately presented, tracksuits simply ain't gonna cut it Novak.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Isner And Mahut In Longest Match Ever

John Isner and Nicolas Mahut tried to battle to the death for a second round spot today as play continued on their first round match which was the longest match ever in terms of duration and games played in a fifth set. The match had been halted on Tuesday after Isner won the fourth set tiebreak due to poor light and the match will continue on Thursday. The two played for exactly 10 hours before play was ceased, unable to decide a winner after an epic fifth set that saw the men stuck at 59-59.

The interesting thing is the match is stuck at 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 59-59 and because it's only a first round, whoever wins will have to play Thiemo De Bakker on the same day. The fifth set alone was over 7 hours.

The match was the longest Wimbledon, and the world, has ever seen and it's about to get longer.

Interestingly here are some 'longest' stats to show you how epic the Isner V Mahut match was:
  • Longest ever (time) 5 set match Fabrice Santoro d Arnaud ClĂ©ment 6 hrs 33 min 6–4, 6–3, 6–7, 3–6, 16–14
  • Longest 5th set (games) 2003 AO Andy Roddick d Younes El Aynaoui 4–6, 7–6, 4–6, 6–4, 21–19

  • Ivo Karlovic set the record in 2009 for most aces served in a match (Davis Cup) at 78.
Needless to say both players, who's skills of recovery are not widely coveted (particularly Isner), will be sore and weary tomorrow and will likely struggle to make it deep into the tournament after the energy sapping, fantastic, history making match when they resume play.

Full article

What Happened Today?

- Evgeny Korolev was giving the ball a good thumping in his match against Lleyton Hewitt. Hewitt was serving incredibly well and controlling the match from the beginning. At one point Korolev went for a return, swung and miss and accidentally released his racket instead, hurling it into the net before shaking his head with a rye smile. Anna Kournikova's cousin started struggling with a shoulder injury late in the second set and received and medical time out. After that he stopped thumping the ball so much and Hewitt raced into the third round when Korolev was forced to retire as he struggled to serve. Hewitt won 6-4, 6-4, 3-0.

- Justine Henin won her second round match in straight sets over Kristina Barrois 6-3, 7-5 after failing to serve the match out at 5-1 in the second set. Henin talked about the lapse after the match saying,  "It was good until 6-3, 5-1. My intensity dropped. I reacted well to it, though. It had happened to me a lot in the past, but I have experience. And everything else was positive. I was serving well today, so that was really good."

- Jurgen Melzer took out Viktor Troicki in their 2nd round match winning 6-7, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-3, doing the same thing he did in the French Open against Novak Djokovic, battling back from a two set deficit.

- Florian Mayer followed up his first round scalp (Marin Cilic) with that of Mardy Fish, recent finalist at Queens. Mayer won the match 6-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.

- Gael Monfils played a topsy turvy match, occasionally hopping on his heavily taped left leg at times looking like he was dancing and other times looking like he was testing the knee. Monfils had looked fairly comfortable after taking the first two sets 6-4 before becoming a little sloppy and getting distracted in the tie break by a point that went against him. As Beck served to stay in the match at 3-5 in the fourth set it became obvious the the knee was a definate issue and that once again the ticking time bomb that is Gael Monfils was looking at disaster.

It has been an injury riddled season for the French star. Monfils withdrew from Brisbane with a shoulder and Estoril with a stomach virus. He has also spent some time off this year with a hand and wrist injury as well as struggling at various times with his knee.

The hobbling Monfils eventually won 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-4 and will face Lleyton Hewitt in the next round.

Roddick Serves And Volleys Into Third Round

After 142 minutes of play Andy Roddick defeated Michael Llodra and prevented a 5th set in a high quality match that saw Llodra shock Roddick with some serve-volley tennis. Initially in the first set Roddick seemed content to stay on the baseline, unsure of how to manage Llodra's all out assault before he changed his tactics and gave Llodra a taste of his own medicine.

As John Lloyd pointed out, Llodra had a chance to look at a 2 sets to love lead but wasn't quite able to do so. "When you play Roddick on grass and he is playing at his best - a lot of times you are fortunate to get one chance to take him in the set. Llodra had that chance with two break points in the first game of the second set but he didn't take it and paid the price."

In the third set Roddick began to read Llodra's lefty serve better and made comfortable work of the Frenchman who had a slight dip in his intensity. Early in the fourth Llodra appeared to struggle briefly with an injury before finding a way to elevate his play, neither player giving break point chances leading up to the tiebreak.

Roddicks swift feet and powerful passing shots eventually made the difference, particularly in the fourth set tie break which he managed to win 7-2. With wife Brooklyn Decker courtside, completely aware of how important this tournament is to her man, Roddick put on a good show fighting back from 15-40 in the opening service game of the fourth set.

It was a tidy match with only 11 unforced errors to Roddick and 16 to Llordra in the 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-6 match.

Roddick also sent a firm message to his opponents, saying he's playing better this year than he did last year. "He played pretty flawless for two sets, but I hung around. I'm playing better this year than last year, but at this tournament you start over every two days. It's a great court, the pinnacle of our sport, and it's great to be back here."

Roddick will face the winner of Kohlschreiber and Gabashvili in the fourth round.

Clijsters Safely Through To Third Round

Just after Justine Henin managed to book her place in the third round after failing to serve for the match at 5-1 (eventually she beat Barrois 6-3, 7-5), Kim Clijsters has also secured her third round match. Clijsters and Henin move closer to a possible all-Belgium fourth round. Neither of the two have won Wimbledon and have set it as one of their goals for their 'second' careers, both having come out of retirement in the last 12 months.

Clijsters defeated Karolina Sprem in a routine match 6-3, 6-2 after Sprem made a promising start but failed to maintain her efforts. Sprem tried to take advantage of her huge serve, but was unable to maintain a consistent level of play that really troubled Kim. It took Kimmy just 73 minutes to wrap up the match.

In her post match interview, Clijsters said the scoreline was not indicative of the quality of the match.She also talked about her desire to with the tournament. "To win Wimbledon would be a dream come true. It was such a pleasure to be part of the event here last year when they opened the roof. It was tempting last year when they offered me a wild card but I just wasn't quite ready."

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Things Bleak For Blake

Things aren't looking too good for James Blake right now. Not only has he returned too soon after undergoing PRP therapy on knee tendinitis, berated Pam Shriver from commentating in the commentary box during his match but he's now saying that he will be unable to beat most players in the top 100 when he's at 100%. During his rehabilitation he has refused to take any anti-inflammatory medication - a huge issue when dealing with an injury characterized by chronic inflammation.
Blake was defeated 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 by Robin Haase.

During the match Blake complained that he could hear Pam Shriver's commentary and then when she responded saying her must have "rabbit ears" to be able to hear her, he retaliated by saying it wasn't his fault he could hear her (and a minor obscenity). Shriver later said she shouldn't have contributed once she knew he could hear her. "I should never have said a word to him once I realized he could hear me. He was already down a set and a break and once I realized I could be heard, I've got to step back, talk quieter. That's the only thing I regret. And I helped make what happened into an exchange. I shouldn't have."

Blake was not impressed with his performance. "You know, it's almost embarrassing to go out and play a Grand Slam match like that. The knee is not great. I just took 10 weeks off. I thought that was going to do it and be the answer. The reason I wanted to take time off is I didn't want to continue playing in pain."

Worryingly, Blake doesn't sound like he's in a mental state that is likely to improve soon, if anything it sounds like he has started thinking about retirement. "I can’t beat these guys at 80%. I can’t beat a lot them at 100% on a given day. So to think that I’m gonna compete with the top level of the game at 80% is just silly" It's a huge sentiment for a player who fought his way back after a fractured cervical spine (neck) and after the zoster virus left half of his face paralyzed. It's a bleak time for Blake.

On PRP treatment, I have a patient with chronic tendinitis who underwent PRP on one side but not on the other and the non treated side is better, although both continue to progress slowly. Simply put, if you refuse to manage tendinitis properly right from the beginning then you will struggle to keep it at bay when you abuse your body the way tennis players do... James 10 weeks break is not enough.