Australian Open: R3 Round-up — Reeshard & Nico!

R3 Combativity Award — Allez Richard Gasquet!:

Although the obvious pick for R3’s Combativity Award is Lleyton Hewitt, who just defeated Canadian hope Milos Raonic in 4 tight sets, I want to give a shout out to Reeshard instead.

I honestly did not think he could defeat Tipsy, mainly because Tipsy seemed to be on a streak with his finalist run in Chennai and his impressive showing at last year’s WTF.  Also, Tipsy recently talked about aiming to reach the top 5 in 2012.  However, Gasquet was able to match Tipsy’s aggression with his trademark backhands and his strong shots off the forehand wing.  The first two sets were closely fought, with Gasquet emerging the winner.

Gasquet bravely confronts his fear of winning. (Photo: Getty Images)

I think it was Todd Woodbridge who observed that contrary to conventional wisdom, it’s actually Reeshard’s FH that decides whether or not he wins the match.  I guess that speaks to the contrast between the strengths of Reeshard’s steady 1HBHs and his sometimes shaky FH wing.  Given his history of losing after initially taking the first two sets, this win was not assured by any means.  However, Reeshard maintained his calm and aggression.  It was a beautiful sight.  Still, Reeshard’s 6-1 domination of Tipsy in the 3rd set was partly attributable to Tipsy’s obvious tanking.  I don’t think Tipsy was injured, but in the 3rd set he was barely running for the ball and his demeanor had the air of resignation that re-directed all momentum to Reeshard.  Even the commentators noticed and rightly criticized Tipsy for his lack of effort in the 3rd set.

Conclusion: Tipsy should take acting lessons on how to better disguise the art of tanking.  Reeshard now has a R4 date with Ferru — this will be an exciting match.  While I still prefer Ferru to prevail, I’d like it if Reeshard could make it a competitive match.  The talent is there by droves.  But as is so often the case (eg. N A L B Y), it’s the other tools in the box that don’t always measure up to said talent.  Reeshard is also fussy, which may cut him down in front of a competitor like Ferru.  Still, props to him for making it this far.

Future of Tennis? Bernard Tomic defeats Aleksandr Dolgopolov: 

The much-anticipated match between the two youngsters lived up to its hype.  Tomic and Dolgo are both crafty players, who rely less on power shots and aim for out-witting their opponents through wrong-footing tactics and slicing-and-dicing techniques.  From what I saw of the match, it was definitely a creative display of talent that did not always take place on the baseline.  In that sense, it was a departure from the power baseline rallies of today.

Controversy arose in the 5th set when Bernie faked a challenge, leading to Dolgo's loss of a point. (Photo: Getty Images)

While journos hailed this match as the “new face of tennis,” I’m not sure I’m fully on board with that proclamation.  Dolgo is definitely a fun player to watch and I admire him for attempting to combine his slices with aggressive shots.  However, some of the endless BH slice rallies between Dolgo and Tomic had me questioning, “Well, if everyone is tired of baseline power rallies, how soon before they tire of endless BH slice rallies?”  Just because it’s a shiny new toy doesn’t mean you won’t tire of it soon.

In any case, due in part to some dodgy decision-making by Bernie Tomic, Bernie emerged the victor at the end of 5 sets.  Bernie faces a R4 encounter with Fed.  I am counting on Fed  to put a halt to the Australian media’s frenzy to designate Bernie as the second coming.  Bernie used a fake challenge to possibly trick Dolgo into losing a point.  Fed is an infinitely more polished veteran (he’s won 70 titles to Bernie’s 0), who is not afraid to mince words when push comes to shove.

I’ve retreated from rooting for Bernie to sitting on the fence.  I’d like to see more of how he comports himself when playing against his greatest idol, Federer.  This is an additional thing that irks me about Bernie.  He speaks harshly of “lesser players,” yet immediately assumes the on-bended-knee position in front of greater players.  He really ought to pick one standard and stick to it — par exemple, DelPo: It doesn’t matter whether DelPo’s playing Olli Rochus or Rafa Nadal.  He’ll throw his shoes or argue heatedly with the umpire, regardless the stature of the opponent (He really shouldn’t, but my overall point stands).

Best shot of the Oz Open (So far):

The most entertaining point goes to Nico Almagro of Spain.  He defeated Fed’ s compadre Stan in straight sets, in impressive fashion:

How does any other country than Spain have a chance to win DC with talent like this?

Notable R3 Exits:

Alexandr Dolgopolov (13th seed), Milos Raonic (23rd seed), Janko Tipsarevic (9th seed), Juan Ignacio Chela (27th seed), Gael Monfils (14th seed — Gael had an injured back, but managed to level the match from 2 sets down.  Then he lost the match on a DF in the 5th set), Stanislas Wawrinka (21st seed).


About mariposaxprs

I play favorites with Juan Martin Del Potro, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, David Ferrer, Feliciano Lopez, Gilles Simon and the long line of mercurial talent that drives me to despair in front of the screen at odd hours during the week.
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7 Responses to Australian Open: R3 Round-up — Reeshard & Nico!

  1. queridorafa says:

    Thanks for bringing some sanity/perspective to the junk-ball-love of late! It’s been driving me nuts–it’s not exactly “new,” for one, and it’s not THAT interesting, imo!
    Tipsy as top 5? Those just seem like disparate things.

  2. Oh, don’t dispair about the Davis Cup! Vamos Argentina!

  3. I’m kind of pulling for Tomic, but not because I like him necessarily. I am trying to get a sense of the future players to see who I could support in the future. That’s why I was disappointed Milos lost in R3; I wanted to see him play Nole. He would have lost of course, but I still would have enjoyed seeing what Milos would have brought to the table.

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Yea, I definitely understand what you’re saying about wanting to see more of the young players, just to get a sense of what we might be looking at in the future.

      From what I’ve read, it seemed Milos had trouble with nerves and he tightened up at the important moments. I think it was also his first time playing on a center court for any Grand Slam (he had never before played at Rod Laver Arena, Philippe Chartier, Centre Court, or Arthur Ashe). So it’s prob a steep learning curve.

      Tomic’s game is very solid for someone his age. Even though I despise some of his antics, when he’s playing a match, it’s usually an interesting viewing. I guess Tomic, Harrison, and Milos all learned something from AO, so maybe we’ll be in for more when they show up at Roland Garros and the next Slams. *Gulp*

  4. Arienna Lee says:

    Aw, I can’t watch the youtube video. Apparently it’s not “available” in the states. I’ll have to go search it out, because I’m happy to hear that Nico is playing so well. At least, I’ll be happy about it for another round 🙂

    I didn’t see the Richard/Janko match, but it sounds like a great result for Reeshie. Can’t abandon the David ship, now though…! I like your “combativity award series,” btw.

    I watched some of the Alex/Bernie match (tho I didn’t see the controversial point, thanks for the story) after I saw Rafa’s match with Lacko. It felt like a different sport entirely! Not only did it look like it was happening in slo-mo, but sounded so much more light-weight. One Dolg in the pack makes for colorful variety. But I don’t want a whole draw full of them!

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Thanks, ariennalee! I like that it’s a pretty subjective award, so I mainly choose whoever I like 🙂 I think they have Nico’s video clip on the AO site too—it might work for you there? I don’t know why they wouldn’t make it available in the U.S…

      Yea, I’ll be cheering for Ferru in this match too. Ferru has SF points to defend and I think he would mount a greater challenge against Djokovic in the QF. Whereas I’m not too convinced of Gasquet’s consistency at this point. It should be a fun R4 to watch! Ferru and Gasquet are almost polar opposites — the hardworking grinder versus the talented but fussy artist type.

      I spent my allotted tennis time watching DelPo’s match, but from what I saw of the Bernie-Dolgo match, they def did play with different rhythm and it was entertaining. Still, there were also endless slice rallies that were kind of mind-numbing. I like the idea of one Dolg in the pack, but not a draw full of them!

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