Re: Johnny Groove rematch vs. Victor Haddad (last match 3-6, 7-6(8), 7-5)
From the GM thread:
Started off well, got the break in the opening game, 1-0, held to love, 2-0, broke again for 3-0. Then got broken for 3-1, then broke again for 4-1, then held for 5-1. As he served at 1-5, 0-30, I admit I thought, briefly, about winning the set by 6-1. So mentally I relaxed ever so slightly and he ended up holding in that game for 5-2.
A little bit of back story, I realized that the biggest thing holding me back is my oblique muscles. This was barely a few days ago, and I went hard on the obliques on both Wednesday and Thursday. Normally I don’t lift in the gym on the Thursday before a Saturday tournament match, but this time I needed to make the gainz, brah. And it really helped. I felt so loose, so free in the first set up to 5-1.
Then, slowly, gradually, I started to have pain, here, in my not as faymoose ass, on my right side. My right oblique was so fucking sore, still is. I could not finish the rotations on my shots. As a result, my glute muscles began to have to do more of the work. 5-2 I served for the set, hit 2 DF, as I was starting to feel it. 5-3. He serves, and holds for 4-5.
I knew I needed to hold here to have a chance of winning the match. If I take the first, I can gut it out for the win. I somehow found a way to hold serve for 6-4. 2nd set was something of a disaster. He served in the first game, I think I might have had a break point but I’m not sure, but he holds for 1-0. I try to stay in this mentally, but physically I am getting worse and worse. He breaks me for 2-0, and holds for 3-0. I am hurting pretty bad now, every step is painful. I think, for like a split second, about retiring. Fuck that. I’ve never retired from any match in my life ever, and I’ll be damned if today would be the first.
I am there on the changeover, massaging myself, stretching myself out, trying to get something going, but now he is playing much better, he is more confident. He sees that I am not moving well at all, late to every ball on the backhand side, and I am slicing too much. He plays to my backhand more. Not only this, but my balance is hurting along with my leg. Again he breaks me for 4-0, and now I am starting to lose it mentally. Some curse words.
When he served at 4-0, I had a break point to get back in it, but I slipped and fell, busted my ass, again, and he hit the winner past me. “Of course you gonna fucking slip and fall on break point, Jesus Christ. If I can make it through one match on a clay court without busting my ass, that’d be great” I yell. He holds for 5-0. I am pretty much toasted at this point, and toss in 2 more DF to give it away, 0-6.
I mentioned at the start that I thought the match would be 3 full sets, and I went to the desk to get a new can of balls for the third, but it turns out it was the 10 point TB to decide it. Ok, no problem, I think. With my leg as it is, I have a better chance in the shootout anyways.
I break him in the opening point, then hold for 2-0. Maybe I can find some type of way to get through this match? 2-1. 2-2. 3-2 to him. DF by me, and now 4-2 to him. Fucking A. But still I fight back. A good serve, he misses the return, 4-3. He plays a strong point for 5-3. At 5-3, he serves, we have a rally. Eventually he fakes like he will hit a drop shot, I start running forwards, he ends up slicing it deep, I stop, try not to fall over, get into position, and smack an inside out FH winner for the point.
“YES!” I yell. “Get back in this shit, motherfucker!” I yell. The last two words I said in a much lower voice, however. 4-5 now, me serving. It was getting to the point where I was really hurting in the rallies and I end up telling myself just to go for the winner on the first serve, why not? My mentality was one of a servebot in that TB, never thought I’d see the day lol.
At 4-5, I serve, we have a rally, and eventually I hit a forehand less than an inch long. He calls it long. I question. It is a tense moment in the match, and even though we are friends and sparring partners, I still want to slit his throat, metaphorically, of course. So I jog over there and check the mark, he was right, the ball was just barely long. “The margins that decide matches, eh?” I say, with a smile. “Oh my God, I know ha ha”, he said.
Now, 4-6. I serve bot. Big serve down the middle, he misses the return into the net. At 6-5, he hit a double fault! As we switch sides again, this time a 6 all, I tell myself to keep going, keep fighting, don’t give a fuck about anything else that happened earlier in the match, all that matters is this next point. At 6-6, he serves, we have another big rally, and he hits into my BH. I hit a backhand that I thought off the strings was going to land right on the line, but it ends up drifting juuuuust wide. Fuck. 7-6 to him. I serve at 6-7, we get into a rally.
What happens on this point is a microchasm of the entire match. I can’t tell you how many times the exact same scenario played out earlier in the match. We are in a rally, his ball drops ever so short, I blast my forehand inside out into his BH corner. He hits a shorter ball, one I can attack into his FH corner, and he is way off the court. This is my moment…And I set up to hit it, and as I go into my FH motion, I feel my obliques holding me back. I feel them tightening up. I feel my leg and arm having to do more. And of course my forehand lands right at the top of the tape. 6-8. “OH MY FUCKING GOD!!!!!!!!! SORRY FOR THE CURSING!” How many times did this exact scenario play out? A fuckton.
At 6-8, I hit a good serve, he hits a good return, but I have no desire to engage in another long rally. I go for the big FH winner DTL, it was open, it was there, but again I feel the obliques holding me back. I am unable to swing with the ferocity I was to swing with, the control that I need. I end up hitting it midway in the doubles alley, wide, out, 6-9 now. He served at 9-6, we have a rally, eventually he hits to my BH wide, I am too late to the ball, my core is unable to turn, and I slice it into the net. VAMOS! He shouts on the other side. AGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! I yell in agony at the same time. You can’t make this shit up. I recall trying to write a screenplay about my life and career, and I would try to come up with epic plot twists of matches but then I’ll go out and play a match like this that you just can’t make up.
“God damn it, I hate losing so fucking much, Fuck, fuck, fucking shit, god fucking damn it, fuck man” I say as I walk up to the net. “Well done, man, good stuff, good win,” I say, as I shake his hand, trying to be sportmanslike. “Thank you, was such a close match, man”, he said.
No matter how pissed off I was, and I was, and still am, the image of his 2 year old son walking from his wife’s arms and into his as he lifted his son up and started bouncing him on his arm, I just had to smile. My mood lightened. Slightly. Temporarily. I still lost another fucking match, again from a set up, and again in the 10 point Russian Roulette. But the scene with he and his son is something I won’t forget.
On the positive side, this is the first time in a long time that I finished a match with no arm pain, which is great. But I still have pain in my not as faymoose ass, and still do. I cannot really walk at all. I am stretching, icing, massaging all day today and tonight to be ready for consolation tomorrow.
Haddad looks like he put up a good fight against Barone in the next round, 7-5, 6-2 loss. Barone, who went 2-6, 6-4, 10-8 against Wojcik a few weeks ago in Fort Lauderdale, which is a great result for Haddad. Wojcik, who went 1-6, 6-4, 1-6 vs. #1000 ATP in Delray 250 Qualies last month. So it is not all terrible. Besides, even if I had won, I may have gotten destroyed by Barone considering my leg/oblique/side injury.
Hopefully I am healthy enough to play well in consolation tomorrow.
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