Re: Week 46: Champaign, Illinois, USA [Final: Taylor Dent vs. Michael Russell]
Hey guys, just got back. The doubles championship couldn't have gone to a nicer group of guys. The Battistone brothers were absolutely through the roof on this one, and were high fiving and shaking hands of everyone in sight. Dann Battistone said that they had reached an all-time low last week, and were considering hanging their racquets up. They decided to come here and just have fun in what might be their last tournament for awhile, and they took the thing down. The Battistones blew three straight receiver's choice points on return (including two match points) before winning a tense second set tiebreak. Good for the brothers Battistone!
In the Dent-Russell match, Michael Russell probably hit 95% of his shots to Taylor's backhand (and 100% of his 2nd serves). He simply wore Taylor down, and it was obvious after the 1st set that Russell had this one on ice. Russell seems like a somewhat arrogant guy (he's not nearly as affable as Dent), and both had very kind words for one another afterwords. There were some great rallies in the match, but you got the feeling that it was advantage Russell once a rally got past four shots or so. Michael Russell's return of serve is one of the best that I have seen on any level (and I have been to A LOT of tournaments), and I'll be very interested to see what he does in '10 if he stays healthy. However, as you guys know, often times a player's form in November fails to carry over into January. In his speech, Russell said "I honestly hope I'm not ever back here again, but this tournament is a great tournament if you HAVE to stoop down to play these things." I know he was just being honest, but damn!!!