The first match on was actually the best match of the day. Ollie Rochus
v Kevin Kim
, with about 300 spectators at a peak! Karlovic
was on at the same time but by the time I made it to the matches, there was nowhere to stand or sit and so it was either the Rochus match or nothing. Karlovic was done by the time Rochus had just lost the opening set tiebreak. The entire match was full of spectacular shotmaking from the small Belgian and fantastic serving from the American. Kim came back from 0/40 down at one point, but once he held, it seemed that the momentum would stay in his favour. That continued into the second set when he had 0/40 on Rochus’s serve…but the Belgian was too good. Another tiebreak ensued and it became 1-set all courtesy of some great points from Rochus under pressure, and a mini-collapse from the American. The third set also ended up to be a tiebreaker which Kim led 6/3. Rochus refused to go away and was helped by a double-fault from Kim and a second serve…Kim then double-faulted on Rochus’s second match point…a poor way to end a spectacular match. Rochus kept up up his appalling habits...he spent much of the time "arranging" his overly tight shorts (for want of a better expression!)
I also saw Thomas Johansson
v Dmitry Tursunov
…Dmitry had Tojo under pressure from the start but was then chasing the match from mid-first set. Tojo had a customary let-down when serving for the set but didn’t make the same mistake the next time around. He also let a break slip in the second set, but Tursunov was away with the fairies by then and he never really looked like levelling the match.
played like crap for a good portion of the match but he was also helped by some equally poor errors from Hilton
who was feeling the pressure. When Paradorn was on, his shots carried too much weight for Hilton to deal with, but when he presented a short ball, Hilton put it away 9.5 times out of 10. However, Hilton wasn’t helped by having a weak serve which gave him so few free points.
I was eagerly looking forward to Ljubicic
– it turned out to be the second best match of the day. As you can expect, I was treated to a serving masterclass from both men. Ljubo also provided an insight into how to play like crap at just the wrong times…he had to break back in the opening set, only to play the crappest tiebreak possible. He then connected in the second set thus allowing most of us to think he would cruise in the third. Instead he decided to drop to 0/40 in the third game, only to recover. He then dropped serve cleverly in the 9th game. Luckily, Hanescu played 2 loose points and Ivan actually concentrated for 2 minutes so as to level the scores and eventually take the set to a tiebreak after a lengthly 12th game for Hanescu. Ljubo appeared to have it all sown up at 6/2…only for 3 great Hanescu points to pressure him at 6/5…and he then cracked. Hanescu had a match point but Ivan played magically and audaciously at the net to level things and he then finally (!!) converted match point #7 for a win…he won’t beat Ivo like that tomorrow.
Player sightings / moments
It was Paradorn’s birthday today (26) and he celebrated it with a win…he was presented with a cake on Centre Court – a lovely moment! His dad was milling around during his practise session with Ljubicic. Ljubo also embraced Paradorn's dad at the end...pity i didn't get a photo because it was quite endearing.
made a mark again today – he drilled a routine backhand return of serve into a ballgirl’s head (crouching beside the umpire’s chair) – unintentional I know! Anyway, he wasn’t the one checking if she was okay…Ginepri
(the opposition) did the honours. Someone needs to teach that man some manners. Commendably, the ballgirl didn't make a fuss.
Tojo was practising ahead of his singles match – we had a quick chat and he basically told me that Karlovic’s serve is “not possible to return.” Anyone brave enough to put an outright bet on him?
Ivan Ljubicic was amusing today. A dozen of us were watching him practise and when he finished some schoolkids (very annoying) asked him for autographs. One said, “What’s your name?” He replied, “Why are you asking for an autograph when you don’t know who I am?” They said, “I don’t know…what’s your name?” The reply: “Okay, give me a reason why I should sign for you?” Persistence: “What’s your name?” He finally cracked: “Ljoooobicic. But there really is no point me signing if you don’t know who I am – anyone can sign an autograph.” Still, he signed for them all!
I approached him a few moments later and I guess he thought I was an idiot too, so I decided to try to improve the situation! "Congratulations on your Liverpool win Ivan.” Most people think Rusedski’s smile is the widest….Ljubo’s set new records. He looked at me like an exasperated teacher that has finally got the right answer to a problem question that should have been attempted and solved as homework set the previous night. He was very respectful and gracious. His behaviour on court wasn’t quite so, but he didn’t go ape like Carlsen. He questioned a few calls and shouted / muttered strings of choice foreign words…but otherwise was okay. He seemed to almost accept defeat when Hanescu served for the match…thankfully he somehow came back.
turned up as Jekyll again today. He had a 30 minute hit with a kid - maybe a compeition winner or something? He played around a little and they both seemed to have fun. The press took a photo of them together at the end...might appear on ATPtennis.com early next week. I'm going to be glued to his match tomorrow with Hrbaty
...I expect Ken to win but Hrbaty is an infuriating player to play against so there is plenty of scope for Hyde to suddenly appear again!
practised together (again!) and fooled around a lot…quite entertaining, although it has had a negative effect on Ginepri’s results! The man can’t play right now – he needs a new practise partner. I spent much of their practise time trying to capture some of Dent’s contortionist expressions on camera…I have 2 classics!!! He grunts and has an expression like some half-wit that has turned up for class late and not been able to give an adequate excuse to a teacher. I’ve never seen anything like it. His forehead is so creased that he could have taken David Boreanaz's part of Angel in Buffy the Vampire Slayer without the need for special effects or even make-up.
Anyway, after the 155 minute matches involving Rochus and Ljubicic, action ended at the latest time yet of 8:15pm! Had the sky remained cloudy as it had for much of the day, I doubt Ljubo would have finished today. The sun came out at last around 5:00pm…hopefully it will shine on Johnny Marray
PS - I was limited in my use of smilies but you can can probsbly tell where the light-hearted points are anyway