Re: Queen's QF: Nalbandian defeats Malisse 4-6 7-6(2) 6-4
Such a joke this match wasn't on centre court, although after the antics of the Bogomolov match one can understand why. Anyway, here's what happened.
Malisse clearly the better player in the first set, convincingly outhitting Nalby from the baseline and Nalby could do nothing off the Malisse first serve. Whenever the rally lasted more than three shots, Nalby would be the one to miss first or else Malisse would just end it with an outright winner. Nalby having trouble absorbing Malisse’s pace. Still, there were the usual Malisse dramas.
Serving 2-3 from the side of the court lying adjacent to centre court, Malisse pays too much attention to finish of Cilic-Lu match and gets down 0-30. On-court interview with Cilic blaring into Malisse’s ear. Takes forever to serve, scowls in direction of phantom Cilic voice to which he nevertheless listens with interest. Nalby breaks to 15.
*4-2 Nalbandian serving, Malisse makes Nalby wait as he paces at the back of court until centre court commotion subsides; Nalby double faults. Malisse clearly distracted as booming voice of centre court announcer encourages fans to visit food court. Wind starts swirling, Nalby can’t get a first serve in, Malisse hits too huge and breaks right back. Malisse annoyed that his aces keep getting called out, but holds for 4-4. Huge hitting from Malisse continues to punish second serves of Nalbandian, who is broken for second straight time. At *5-4 Malisse double faults and the ball to blame is flung to the chair with scornful look. Immediately following are two big serves coupled with unanswerable winners to take the set 6-4.
Nalby leaves court to consult notes in the locker room; begins second set with new tactics. Unaccustomed to getting so overpowered from the baseline, and especially unaccustomed to being of decidedly leaner physique than his opponent, Nalby remembers his own hamburger days and realizes he must make X-Man run. Starts second set with serve/drop shot surprise. At 40-0 tries another deftly executed drop shot/lob combo; Malisse runs back and hits an outrageously good tweener, but Nalby is ready for it, and holds to love.
From here it goes on serve with Nalbandian successfully coming to net a lot more after being unable to match Malisse at the baseline. Both guys hold pretty easily for awhile, with Malisse at one point blasting 3 aces in a row to level at 4-4. Now Nalby joins Malisse in examining balls which cause him to lose points. It continues like this until the tiebreak.
Tiebreak, Nalby quickly goes up 4-1 by making good returns, first serves and even aces after not doing so the whole match; Malisse in disbelief, suspicious of balls. Nalby uses dropshot for 5-1. Malisse tries a little complaining at change of ends but has no rapport with this particular ump, so he gets on with it and aces for 2-5, only to follow with a lousy UE into the net for 2-6. He breaks a string to lose set point.
Third set. Malisse up 1-0 and has BP on Nalby serve but doesn't convert, bends over to feel the grass, continues mistrustfully wiping feet on court and complaining about balls prior to acing.
Nalby serving *1-2, Malisse antipathy to centre court side escalates, continually wiping feet now. Looks reproachfully at ump and points to deuce court: ‘You know, it’s wet over there.’ Wipes feet. Misses easy shot. Nalby stops mid-serve when sees Malisse with back to court and neck craned upwards towards people in back row of centre court. “Hello-oooo!” Malisse hollers up to them. Line judge frantically scurries over to shush Malisse and motions apologetically to centre court fans.
They both hold easily until 4-4, with Malisse now back on evil centre court side. Nalby suddenly starts getting service returns in. Facing double break point, Malisse puts hands on hips and politely calls up to startled centre court fans, “Hi guys! Can you please be quiet?” Embarassed linesman rushes over to shut him up again. Ace, 30-40. But on his second chance Nalby pulls out another dropper, knowing that Malisse will not even run. Goes on to hold to love and take the third set 6-4. Nice handshake at net as Nalby gives Malisse a friendly pat and the two veterans probably exchange tips on best local spot for burgers and chips.