Hrbaty def Gaudio
This was the first match I went to and it took up most of my day. We were a bit disappointed about the big court because we didnt have that many supporters today but we sat close to the front and still had a pretty good cheer squad. There were many Slovaks supporting Hrbaty this week, but today there were only 3, because a lot of them had to leave for Sydney. I cant remember much except for the score because I was cheering so hard!
Both players played well, though not at their best. Hrbaty was dictating the points with his flat groundies as usual, but Gaudio was defending well, getting back almost every ball and just not missing much. There were some great points where Gaudio turned defense into attack and won the point, and Hrbaty hit awesome winners throughout. Gaudio was up a break in the first set, but Hrbaty played well to come back and take the tiebreak. In the 2nd set Gaudio was also up a break but Hrbaty again came back. In the tiebreak Hrbaty led 6-3 with two minibreaks, but choked it away with weak netted backhands. When Gaudio had a set point he hit a brilliant lob to win. In the 3rd set Hrbaty had his chances to break but didnt, and it went to a TB which Gaudio won convincingly. The score was now 7-6 6-7 6-7 and if you did not know these players you'd be thinking they were big servers, but they were hardly winning any points with their serve, most points being decided by long punishing rallies. Gaudio was being made to do most of the running by Hrbaty, who was dictating the points and Gaudio defending. This eventually took its toll on Gaudio in the 4th. As the match went over the 3 hour mark, Gaudio felt cramps coming on and called the trainer. After getting treatment he came back but was broken again and after that he tanked the set to save himself for the 5th. In the 5th set he was running well again and was back to normal. Hrbaty played great tennis to break early and led 3-1, but then Gaudio broke back and got it to 3-3. However Hrbaty turned it on again and broke and served it out in two hard fought games to win the set 6-3. When he won he leapt into the air and pumped his fist. The match lasted for over 4 hrs in the hot sun, and in the end it was Hrbaty's superior physical conditioning that won him the match. As the match went on Gaudio was tiring and cramping but Hrbaty was fine. A great example of how his fitness pays off in matches.
Johansson def Kim
After the Hrbaty match I went to see this, which was into the 5th set. Johansson was playing well, hitting many winners and not many errors, while Kim was playing bad. After the match Johansson did a little dance while he was signing autographs and the Swedes went wild
J.Johansson def Lopez
I only saw the first set of this which was not very interesting. Both players were serving big, consistently around 200kph, and most points were won on serve with very little rallies. Lopez hit one great winner after a rally, which was a running backhand passing shot down the line, but there werent many of those from either player. At 4-3 on serve Joachim turned it on, breaking Lopez with good tennis. When serving out the set his 1st serve deserted him and Lopez played well. He had opportunites to break but Joachim saved them and managed to hold his serve and win the set. Since the match was basically a serving contest I left for the Robredo match. After that match I went home as Joachim looked in control and I assumed it would be over, and I got such a shock when I got home 4 hours later and the match was still going! I watched on tv and the 5th set was enthralling tennis with high drama, but i dont regret leaving as I would never have got home had i stayed, it finished past midnight!
Baghdatis def Robredo
Marcos Baghdatis...all I can say is wow! He is great and one of the most entertaining players to watch. He is flashy, super talented, and can pull off some awesome stuff. I'd watched bit and pieces of his previous matches against Luzzi and Ljubicic, but this was the first time I'd sat down and watched a whole match. Marcos was a joy to watch, he really wears his heart on his sleeve and is very passionate and exuberant. You can see the fire in his eyes every time you look at him. He was constantly thumping his chest and pumping his fist to the fans to fire them up. And what fans he had today. There was a whole corner of Greeks dressed in blue and white with huge flags cheering, singing and chanting very loudly. They were more like football supporters than a tennis crowd. It was too bad there werent many ppl here, most seats were empty, but those fans created great atmosphere. Marcos was always entertaining the crowd, doing talented tricks. There were normal ones, like spinning the racquet on one hand and headbutting the ball to the ballkid, but some were amazing, like at one point he juggled the ball using his feet, while running forward at the same time! He has a funny ritual too where he bounces the ball between his legs using only his racquet, he does that before every serve, 1st and 2nd.
Anyway talking about the tennis, Robredo played badly. He wasnt hitting the ball cleanly and framed quite a few. Although he hit some great winners off the forehand and backhand he wasnt consistent enough. Marcos didnt play his best to start with either, and struggled a lot on serve but managed to hold on. Holding was an effort for him, and he'd get really pumped up every time he held, which wasnt a good sign for him! In the tiebreak Robredo played badly though, making many unforced errors and Marcos took the first set as a result. At this point I still thought Robredo would win, as he was playing badly and only lost it 7-6. However throughout the match Robredo did not lift his game like i expected him to, and Baghdatis kept getting stronger. I think Marcos is a confidence player, and once he won the first set he got really fired up and started to run away with it, outplaying Robredo from every department. He is good off both sides, forehand especially, and hit many great winners. He didnt volley much though, only when it was an easy putaway. When he won the 2nd set he fell onto his knees and pumped both fists, and that sent his supporters off! In the 3rd set he was ridiculous! Everything he touched turned to gold and was just hitting winners everywhere. Some of his shots were Federer like, he was that talented. There was one point where Robredo hit a hard deep return onto the baseline and Marcos did a half volley flick cross court which was going for a winner but the point had to be replayed because the return was called out but overruled. When he won the crowd was onto their feet, and even if you were a Robredo fan you could not help but feel happy for this guy. The Greek supporters went wild, setting off flares so the whole place was covered in smoke
He is a huge talent and will be making noise in the future. He has nice groundies and a good first serve, although his 2nd serve is suspect. He just oozes talent and he certainly has the passion and the will to win that is essential for anyone to become great.