Monte Carlo & Houston: Clay Season Starts

Monaco d. Isner, 6-2 3-6 6-3

The Houston tourny just finished, with Juan Monaco (Pico!) taking a 3-sets win over John Isner (who is now the top-ranked American at no. 9).  The Isner-mania has come to a brief lull, although it will surely resume once Madrid starts in May.

Back to the good news, though!  Off a reflexive pass volley, Pico played his consistent style of tennis that frustrated Isner’s attempts to attack.  He broke late in the 3rd set to go up 5*-3 and serve for the title.  This is Pico’s 2nd title of 2012 and he now rises to a career-high ranking of no. 14, which he last achieved in 2008.  This is a fine way to consolidate his impressive SF showing at Miami.  That’s two Argies in the top 15 now — how awesome would it be if one or both of them entered the top 10 sometime this year?  It would be very awesome.

Pico is due to play Monte Carlo, which has already started.  I’m not too hopeful about his chances, after flying overnight from Houston to Monaco, only to resume playing so soon after winning this title.  Ah well — sacrifices were made and Pico benefited from his choices.  Here’s hoping he continues his great season.  Chapeau!

Here is a photo of Pico celebrating in the swimming pool at Houston.  Dear Pico admirers, it may be worth a look 🙂  This, after I’d made a big show-and-tell of defending Pico’s honor last week as a tennis player! 😉  Right now, he has the best of both worlds.


In Monaco, Ljubicic Calls it a Career

After losing to fellow Croatian Ivan Dodig 6-0 6-3 in R1 at Monte Carlo, Ivan Ljubicic closed the doors on an illustrious career:

(Photos via Getty)

Ljubicic’s last match was unfortunately not available for streaming, which makes it the second high-profile retirement this year (after Gonzo) to which tennis fans had no live access. The wise man with the walnut-shaped head won 10 titles, including an Indian Wells Masters title.  He put in a superhuman effort to win the Davis Cup for Croatia in 2005, and a bronze medal at the Olympics with dubs partner Mario Ancic.  Chris Clarey wrote a lovely tribute to Ljubicic’s career — it captures Ljubicic’s wartime background and his beginnings in tennis — definitely worth a read!  Prior to reading the article, I hadn’t known that Ljubicic stayed with coach Riccardo Piatti since 1997 (Piatti is also currently coaching Reeshie Gasquet).

Ljubicic also spearheaded player participation in the ATP Player Council, having served as President and even as a member of the Board of Directors.  While the Player’s Council is certainly a work-in-progress, players like Ljubicic who committed long-term to defending players’ interests, certainly deserve due recognition.  The recent news that Roland Garros would increase prize money for early-round losers indicates a small concession in favor of the great majority of players.

The tributes poured in from journos on Twitter as well:

Farewell, Ivan.  I’m not sure I will fully realize the absences of Gonzo and Ljubicic, until some point in the near future (perhaps when a player politely concedes his argument over a line call to the chair umpire, or when a player comments in a decidedly short-sighted/un-Ivan-like-way about his career).  I fully agree with @UbiTennis’ tweet above, that they left behind something that will truly be missed.


In other Monte Carlo news, Rafa is on his quest to win Monte Carlo for the 8th year running.  Standing in his path is Novak Djokovic.  The clay season has verily started, with many of the top 30 players opting to play the scenic tourny set in Monte Carlo.  The draw is here, for viewing.  Right now, Fer-Rochus are on serve in the 3rd set, while Tomic just defeated Denis Istomin in straight sets (Bernie faces the winner of Chela vs. Dolgo in R2 — that should be an interesting match-up, either way).


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 Monte Carlo & Houston: Clay Season Starts

  1. Nice post, Mariposa! Since I was away from tennis for most of the 00’s the first time I really *noticed* Ivan was Indian Wells, so I have a very high impression of his abilities on court and off 🙂

    I did see Pico for most of Houston (though not the final) and he was grand. I was crushed for him today, at least he got all 250 pts from Houston–and here’s hoping there’s no ligament damage.

    • mariposaxprs says:

      If it wasn’t televised or streamed, did their retirements really happen? It’s hard to believe Gonzo and Ivan are no longer active—like something missing from the spice rack!

      Poor Pico–he was really playing his way into some form and then this happens. Such a turn of events in the space of 48hrs :(((

      • Sofie says:

        “If it wasn’t televised or streamed, did their retirements really happen?” reminded me of Celine’s line in Before Sunrise – “if none of your family or friends knew you were dead, it was like not really being dead…” and I got a little sad for a moment and then started thinking of all the things that happen without us knowing about them and of how our brains are often more than happy to just keep writing their own narratives…blah blah, blah…and before I knew it I was so far from Gonzo and Ivan’s retirements that I forgot if I actually wanted to say something about them. Hmm.

        But oh Pico 😦 Someone tweeted a picture of him down on the clay looking devastated…glad I did not see the whole thing in action. So sad!

        • mariposaxprs says:

          It’s funny because I’d been thinking about “Before Sunrise” earlier this week—seriously, I did! I have mixed feelings about that movie, b/c I think on one hand it’s unrealistic that two people could ever come together like that ever again. But then, I loved all the issues they managed to talk about in 1.5 hours—as if they’d known each other all along. That line, that “if none of your family or friends knew you were dead, it was like not really being dead” is so meaningful and bone-chilling at the same time. It was such an all-together lovely movie and I think it helps account for those times when we like to separate ourselves by focusing on our own narratives! Maybe I’m due to rewatch that movie sometime soon, huh? 😉

          As for Pico…it was all-around back luck for him. I ended up watching the video of his fall and it was painful to see. He seems to be rehabbing now and targeting a return before Roland Garros, so I’m hoping that it won’t be too much of a barrier to his prospects. Although history says that the injury will set him back a good long time, the optimist in me still thinks he can pull through this time! He’d been playing so well until this week too… 😦

  2. Dan Martin says:

    Reblogged this on Tennis Abides and commented:
    Ljubicic put in the road work to reach the top 5 without being blessed with great speed, flexibility or hands.

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Definitely! There was a Riccardo Piatti quote where he talks about how he often tells Gasquet that anything is possible, since Ljubicic (who wasn’t as talented as Gasquet) made it to no. 3 in the world. For a time, I wondered whether that type of advice would help or hurt Gasquet. I guess it’s a question that still needs to be answered. But it’s an incredible way to look at how much Ljubicic made of his career.

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