1) My R1 Combativity Award: Bernie Tomic
Bernie earned praise from John McEnroe, Andy Murray and JMDP. When asked about the young Aussie, each pointed out his “intelligence” and “good tennis IQ.” McEnroe touted Bernie as a future GS winner. Has the praise gone to Bernie’s head? You bet it has.
First, there was his advice to USO winner and fellow Aussie Sam Stosur, telling her to ignore the home pressure. Look at that — a 19-year old tennis player, with not a single title to his name, telling a Grand Slam winner how to conduct her business.
Before his R1 match with Fer Verdasco, Bernie trash-talked his opponent. He said, “If you keep the ball to [his] backhand corner, he’s not going to hurt you.” That’s a bit harsh for my tastes, but so far, he’s not said anything offensive. Fer knows his BH is weaker too. Then, this happened: “The last six months he hasn’t really done much. I think it’s a good time to play him.” While this comment, when dissected, is the plain and bitter truth, such material is not fit for public consumption.
Fer started the match well, going up two sets against a lackluster Bernie, who was suffering in the heat. Then, Fer imploded and the match quickly turned its tide. Bernie either found a new gear or engaged in the most juvenile version of “psych-out”. It was an awful match with a high unforced error count from both players. Whether by dint of his gamesmanship or his simply not being as mentally scarred as Fer (and Fer carries a fair load of baggage), Tomic won in a surreal comeback. He almost cried in front of the RLA crowd, who were more than ready to salute a potential home champion. I don’t get it — how does he cry after defeating a guy who “hasn’t done much,” and whose game he insulted the day before? Is he a split personality? I have a split opinion of Bernie — the game can be intriguing to watch, but the personality is in need of a harsh wake-up call.
For those keeping count, that’s two fellow tennis players Bernie has thrown shade at in the past few days — Sam Stosur and Fer. Stosur bowed out in R1, after losing to Sorana Cirstea. Fer lost to Bernie. The overfed ego of Bernie keeps growing.
In his presser, when asked about his R2 USO loss to Marin Cilic last year, Bernie said “Everybody speaks about [Marin] in the locker room. He can beat everyone and lose to everyone in the top hundred.” Someone put a muzzle over his mouth, already!
In any case, my “R1 Combativity Award” still goes to Bernie. Although mentally outlasting Fer is not a difficult task, it’s still a big win for the talented but brash Aussie. Of the three 5-set matches Bernie’s played in his career, he’s won 2 of them from two sets down. I suspect his entrance into R3 is highly likely now.
2) Prevalence of from-two-sets-down comeback matches:
Troicki came from 2 sets down to defeat Juan Carlos Ferrero — I am sadface from this result. In better news, Dolgopolov came from 2 sets down to defeat Aussie Greg Jones. Of course, there’s Bernie. He came from 2 sets down to defeat Fer as well. Lukas Lacko staged a from 2 sets down comeback win over old man Ivan Ljubicic.
Marcel Granollers had a close shave in his R1 match, when his opponent Jesse Levine levelled the match after being down 2 sets, to head to a 5th set. Apparently, Marcel was sick and vomiting during the the match, but he still won. The searing sun and +35C° heat have certainly not helped players. Donald Young also eked out a win in the same style (though he was not ill).
3) Obscure Pro, 2012 Oz Open Edition: How did my randomly chosen “obscure player” fare in R1? Lukas Rosol lost 0-6 0-6 2-6 to Philipp Petzschner. Late in the 3rd set, the spectre of a triple bagel loomed for the Czech, Rosol. Rosol finally held late in the 3rd set and then broke Petzschner, to win two entire games, before being broken to lose the match. So he avoided the dreaded triple bagel. There was a NYTimes write-up of the match, titled “Petzschner’s Bid for Punishing Perfection Falls Just Short,” so perhaps Lukas Rosol is no longer as obscure anymore?
The photographers did not release any photos of Rosol, focusing only on the victor, Petzschner, whose new clothing sponsor has him donning compression socks.
4) Photos: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is an ’80s Aerobics Instructor
As if Fer’s Adidas kit weren’t bad enough, Tsonga showed up in a neon-red/orange (is neon-red even a possible color?) kit.
The headband is the decisive exclamation point in the outfit. Bless the other players in the locker room who can keep a straight face when Tsonga walks past.
Mercifully, there was a mid-match shirt change. It’s like Jo suddenly caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror and recalled the great MJ lyrics, “I’m starting with the man in the mirror / I’m asking him to change his ways.” The headband stays though.
Jo won his R1 match over Denis Istomin and will play Ricardo Mello in R2.
What I’ll never understand is that Adidas actually make great casual sportswear (“Adi Does” is awesome :)), but I’m almost embarrassed to walk into their stores now, after seeing their official tennis kits.
Notable R1 losers: Fernando Verdasco, Radek Stepanek (in straight sets to Mahut), Nikolay Davydenko (the “R” question looms), Mikhail Youzhny, Juan Monaco (fought for a 5th set, only to lose steam at the end), Jurgen Melzer (the slide continues), Juan Carlos Ferrero