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ae wowww said:
I think the French guy no-one has recognised is Jean-Michael Pequery?
it wasn't pequery when i saw him at queens
 

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Discussion Starter #62
Thursday, August 4th:

Today was the last day that I'll have the run of the grounds in the daytime without the masses (day sessions on Friday, Saturday, Sunday). I arrived again around noon. Ivo Karlovic & his coach got dropped off right when I did so we walked in at the same time. Since all the singles players had matches today most of them practiced earlier so mostly doubles guys were on all the courts. The exception was Robby Ginepri who always practices at the hottest time of day (1:00 p.m.). Someone who appeared to be Bobby Reynolds (the most anonymous player left in the tournament) was also practicing in the stadium. Wayne Bryan was out on the very dry clay courts running another kids clinic, this time with Travis Parrott. "Travis Parrott is a professional tennis player. He can hit the ball like you've never seen before." Mr. Bryan at one point told the kids that if Parrott couldn't hit back 50 straight returns, he [Parrott] would buy them all lunch from McDonald's. Of course, he was getting them all back & when he was in the 40s the kids started screaming "miss, miss." More impressive is Mr. Bryan's ability to toss the balls & yell into his handheld microphone at the same time.

Later in the day, I watched a little of Muller v. Clement & then Andy's Roddick's practice session on one of the practice courts. Today he was on the left court which is the closest to the main entrance so there was quite a mob there. These two little boys near me weren't convinced it was really Roddick. When they finally agreed that it was, they then argued over whether or not the person he was practicing with was James Blake. (It was Dean Goldfine.) They were having a much more serious practice than any of the other ones I've watched this week. (Roddick did take time to check out the female player who came to practice on the court next to his & stopped practicing to ask the doubles guy that came off that court who she was.) When the practice was over, he totally psyched out the mob waiting for him outside the gate by pretending to retrieve a ball & instead just walking across the other two courts & out the far gate. Just a few minutes later Chela & his team walked by (presumably to use the same court).

I ran into someone I knew & didn't get back to the Clement v. Muller match until it was nearly over. Muller had been up when I left, but Clement came back to win the match. Muller looked very tired all week. I went to meet my guest & we picked up dinner. We looked in on Berdych v. Grosjean. The French guys that had been supporting Clement moved over to cheer for Grosjean, but it wasn't enough.

We settled into the stadium to watch the entire Roddick v. Chela match. Tonight was the fullest I've seen the stadium thus far. (Some of the Srichaphans stuck around & were supporting Roddick.) In the second game of the match, Roddick was 30-0 up in Chela's service game & suddenly stopped playing. The umpire & the crowd were confused for a while (I thought at first it had something to do with the flashes going off), but Roddick had noticed some sort of commotion in the upper deck behind the umpire. It turns out someone was having a seizure & the umpire had to alert the EMS to come & take them out. (Roddick to the rescue again!) The match was a lot more onesided than the score might suggest. Chela was playing fairly poorly & hit a lot of double faults. They had a few good rallies in the 2nd with Roddick really showing some wheels running down Chela's drop shots. Roddick only faced two break points the whole match (both in the first), but one return that was barely out in the tiebreak cost him the 2nd set. He stepped it up a notch in the third & quickly converted a break point (& had five break points to go up a double break) before finishing off the match with a spectacular drop shot. After the match Wayne Bryan got on court again to run another game with Andy for Nautica. It was the return Andy's serve contest I've seen them do before in Washington with the exact same sequence of events: Roddick bombs in the first two serves (garnering gasps from the crowd) & then throws in a 75 mph the contestant can easily get back. When the female contestant has a turn, Mr. Bryan says if she can get it back she wins a date with Roddick so he serves the next serve underhanded.

By this time, the Ginepri v. Horna match was over. A guy who watched it told me that Ginepri seemed to be playing better as the match went on & came back from 2-6 down in the tiebreak only to lose it 8-10. He seems to be a player that gains an advantage by playing at the hottest time of the day so 7:00 p.m. may have taken away his edge.

We watched the first set of the Knowles/Stepanek & Karlovic/Hernych doubles match in the grandstand (& could look over into the other doubles match with Black/Ullyett & Kerr/Oliver). Then it was back to the stadium where James Blake was already up a set on Tomas Zib. It was a fairly short & unremarkable match. More than half the stadium had cleared out, but there were some particularly fervent Blake fans in one section that kept everyone from falling asleep. Blake looked pretty pumped when he broke in the second.

We checked back in on the Knowles/Stepanek & Karlovic/Hernych match to find them now in a third set. It didn't take us long to figure out that the people in front of us were the family of Knowles (parents, wife/girlfriend, & three other friends). They cheered loudly the entire match (particularly Knowles's father). We watched a little of the last doubles match (Bhupathi/Damm v. Beck/Berdych) before heading home for the day.

Tomorrow: quarterfinals!
 

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Thanks for the report smucav :hug:
 

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Discussion Starter #64
Friday, August 5th:

Totally different atmosphere today with the short-timers arriving for the big matches on the weekend. There's a different shift as the number of players are dwindling & even the practice partners & what not are heading on to Montreal or elsewhere. (I saw Sebastien Grosjean & his family outside the transportation trailer packing all their stuff into the car.)

I arrived shortly before 12 & watched a bit of the Paradorn v. Horna match. The Srichaphans were at about half there usual number today (maybe they couldn't get off work?) & most of the ones there were younger kids. Horna literally melted down. He had the trainer out there giving him icepacks every changeover (& someone questioned why they don't play day sessions in the early rounds?). I walked around a bit to check out the practice courts. Hanley was jumping rope while Huss practiced with a coach. Jamie Delgado was practicing with a random guy. I met a female player (Stephanie Dubois from Canada) I had met earlier in the week for lunch & we watched the rest of the match on the closed-circuit t.v. It was interesting to hear what life is like for week-in, week-out for a lower-ranked player.

The main attraction was the Roddick v. Karlovic match. There was actually a pretty good crowd for 3:00 p.m. Karlovic is the worst returner I've ever seen play. It was obvious that he wasn't going to break Roddick. Roddick just had to wait for the break points & converted them when they came. There was just a feeling in that air that Roddick was going to break when he did in the 2nd. The crowd (& Roddick) were pumped & he carried the momentum into the 3rd. Karlovic started wilting in the third & really fooling around between points (he got called for a time violation at one point). For such a serve-fest it was a fairly entertaining match. (I told my friends last Sunday that they would be able to see Roddick with the extra Saturday day session tickets I managed to get for them, so I'm glad I was able to correctly predict both the results & the schedule.)

There was some time to kill before the evening matches so we just walked around & then got dinner. (The meals today were the best all week.) We started off watching the Tomas Berdych v. Bobby Reynolds match in the grandstand. Berdych has looked good all week, but Reynolds was really matching him shot for shot. Very few errors from either player in this match. Both of them were consistently hitting 100+ mph returns. Reynolds finally sailed one return just long to lose the first set tiebreak. (I noticed Dean Goldfine in the stands checking out the competition.)

By that time, James Blake was already up a set on Arnaud Clement in the stadium. (Tonight was the first session that was completely sold out & pretty much every seat was full.) Right as we walked in, Blake broke Clement in the second. Clement was just not serving well & hit a number of double faults on key points. When Blake went up a second break it the third, the crowd went wild. After Blake left the court (signing autographs in the corner for a long time), Wayne Bryan got on the court again & did another game (the exact same one I saw him do with some little kids a few days ago.)

We went back to the grandstand to catch the end of Berdych v. Reynolds. They had traded breaks, but were back on serve & went to another tiebreak. Reynolds came up with some amazing winners to save several match points (Berdych contributed a double fault), but after missing a first serve at 10-11, he tried to throw in a first serve on his second serve & double faulted.

By then, the Bryans v. Hanley/Huss were underway in the stadium. This was a much more entertaining match than the one the other night. Lots of good rallys--Huss had some sharply angled returns--but the Bryans were too good. In the second it looked like a thunderstorm was brewing, but the Bryans managed to break & close out the match right before the rain started.

This is the earliest I've gotten out of there all week. Big day tomorrow.
 

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Discussion Starter #66 (Edited)
Saturday, August 6th:

I arrived around 12:30, had lunch, & walked around. Only the women players were on the practice courts. (There was some sort of band set-up in the autograph signing area). When my guest arrived we walked around a bit & settled in the stadium for the main attraction: Andy Roddick v. Paradorn.

The Scrichaphans were out in full force (but not as many as during the Goldstein match), but they couldn't pull their man through. Roddick served & returned well & as he had all week, showed some wheels & some touch. The first set tiebreak was rather exciting as Roddick was up a mini-break & Paradorn got a lucky netcord to get back on serve. Roddick worked hard on the next point running down several good returns & finally putting away the winner. In the second it just seemed inevitable that a break was coming; it was only a matter of time. When Roddick went up a second break, the Scrichaphans were silenced & Roddick served it out for the win. Andy & Paradorn acknowledged each other warmly at the net (& several times during the match).

An interesting moment occured when Brad Gilbert (who today was serving as ESPN's roving reporter) came on the court to interview Andy. He had been lurking behind the players chairs for majority of the last set & everyone was watching to see any visible tension. The crowd acknowledged Paradorn as he left the court (he's definitely the third most popular player in Washington each year--behind Roddick & Agassi. His fans really add a lot to the tournament sometimes they even stay & cheer for the next match; this year they were supporting Roddick during the Chela match.). Roddick signed a few autographs for the kiddies & Wayne Bryan got on the court (again) for another sponsor game (again it was exactly the same thing he had done during the kids clinics earlier in the week.)

Afterwards we walked around a bit (it's weird when nothing is happening on the outer courts). We did return to the stadium for the women's doubles, but it wasn't a very exciting match in the least. The only drama came when Hopkins's partner had 5 MPs before she could close it out (floating a return long each time). That guest left for the day & before the next one arrived, I got dinner. I ended up talking to the driver that picked up Brad Gilbert & Cliff Drysdale for the Friday ESPN match & he couldn't believe how much BG talked during the ride from the hotel to the tournament (he said the driver that took them back after the match said the same thing.)

I went down to the South gate to wait for my friends that were going to one of the suites. Not a second later, Patrick McEnroe walks right past me, looks me in the eye & says hello (I think he thought I was someone else). When they arrived, we stopped by the suite for a while, but it seemed clear that the people in there were more interested in talking than watching the match, so I eventually left & went back to my regular seat. (One of them came out in about 15 minutes to sit with me & was also irate that the people in there wouldn't shut up & watch the match.) The James Blake v. Thomas Berdych match was pretty good. (I saw PMac in the players' box, so that's where he was headed when he passed me.) Both players were painting the lines with every return, but Blake served amazing & Berdych was barely winning a point on his serve. Berdych got down 0-40 several times on his serve, but was able to hold on by throwing in some bomb aces. When Blake finally broke for the set, Berdych seemed to really go off the rails & Blake never looked back. When Jimmy Arias came on court to interview Blake, you could hear some of it. He's really happy to be in his first final in two years, loves coming to Washington, & will have to try & get some returns back against Roddick to have a chance to win.

I went to meet the other suite people after the match just to walk around & catch up. After I left them again, I immediately passed Thomas Berdych smiling & posing for pictures with fans. He didn't seem too distraught about his loss. The Bryans v. Bhupathi/Paes was fairly entertaining as well (particularly since the people in front of me were huge Bhupathi fans.) There wasn't much between these two teams at all. In the second set, Bob Bryan got down three breaks points & saved them with three aces: 138 mph, 137 mph, & one that didn't register on the gun, but was of a similar speed. Everyone around me was in awe & wondered why Bob doesn't play singles if he can come up with clutch serves like that. When the Bryans finally won the 2nd really exciting tiebreak, the crowd was exuberant.

When I was leaving to meet my other friends for a ride home, I ran into Patrick McEnroe (who was in the players's box again--this time with Arias & Mr. Bryan) leaving the stadium (we were in nearby sections) & he said hello to me again (either he says hello to everyone he sees or he really does think I'm someone else).

Tomorrow: the finals!
 

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thanks as always :)

So, any predictions for the finals? ;)
 

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Thanks again for the great report smucav! :D

smucav said:
Saturday, August 6th:
An interesting moment occured when Brad Gilbert (who today was serving as ESPN's roving reporter) came on the court to interview Andy. He had been lurking behind the players chairs for majority of the last set & everyone was watching to see any visible tension. The crowd acknowledged Paradorn as he left the court (he's definitely the third most popular player in Washington each year--behind Roddick & Agassi. His fans really add a lot to the tournament sometimes they even stay & cheer for the next match; this year they were supporting Roddick during the Chela match.). Roddick signed a few autographs for the kiddies & Wayne Bryan got on the court (again) for another sponsor game (again it was exactly the same thing he had done during the kids clinics earlier in the week.)
So did Andy and Brad seem friendly with each other? I was so surprised to see Brad interviewing him, let alone Andy laughing and seeming not to mind at all. I wonder if they worked out all of their problems because for a while it seemed that ESPN was making a concerted effort to keep them apart. Especially during the AO and Wimbledon, whenever Andy would come into the studio for an interview Brad would suddenly disappear. :shrug:
 

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I thought he looked a bit shifty and uncomfortable. But Andy's like total ADD so it may have just been his fidgety nature...

But I mean they're grown men and it's been what, 8 months or more? Time to grow up, boys ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #70
Sunday, August 7th:

Arrived just in time for the doubles final. Poor Ullyett was having problems serving from the beginning & the crowd tried to cheer them on to have a longer match. The Bryans were too strong & were on cruise control the whole match. (Patrick McEnroe was in the players' box again & he looked like he was even rooting for Black/Ullyett to make some sort of a comeback.) During the trophy ceremony, Ullyett talked about their rivalry & said "Bob & Mike, see you next week" inspiring lots of applause from the crowd. The Bryans both went on a rant about everyone trying to get rid of doubles & thanked the tournament director for being one of the good guys who didn't support the doubles changes. They drew some snickers from the crowd for thanking SFX for getting them lots of cash from Adidas. They also thanked their new coach & said they hope it's not all downhill from here. After the photo session, the Bryans went all around the whole stadium until every single person who wanted an autograph or a photo got one.

Since the doubles was so short, there was an hour and a half to kill before the singles. We went to the Courtside Club for the first time this week. After a week of abstaining, I had just what may have been the best margarita in the world (the air-conditioning certainly helped the taste). After a while, it got way too crowded in there, so we sat in the shade near one of the outer courts until it was time to go back in the stadium.

The stadium was packed (another sold out session) for the singles final. Once the match began & Andy Roddick broke James Blake in the first set of the match, the crowd sensed another one-sided match & tried to cheer Blake on. Blake did his best to hang in there & keep it close, but Roddick was just too strong. Everytime Roddick served an ace, some guy in the crowd would yell out "Andy, give a brother a chance!" The first set point (on Blake's serve) was quite an exciting rally, but the point of the match was in the final game when Blake hit a smash overhead that caused Roddick to duck, but still get back from a crouching position. (Roddick's chair was on the other side today, so Brad Gilbert's courtside seat was even closer than it was yesterday; he was basically right behind his chair, only a few feet away.)

After the tournament director & sponsors made their speeches, Blake made quite a long speech. He thanked the crowd who came out to support him when he was at his lowest point (the Washington tournament last year) & were still here today when he's trying to come back. He thanked his coach for putting up with him when he was a brat, his friends for driving down from Connecticut, & his girlfriend Janet for make him more fulfilled (another snicker from the crowd). He got quite serious & said he was proud of Roddick for all he's accomplished & thanked him for being such a good friend & sticking by him when others gave up hope that he would be able to come back. He said he that watching Roddick week in, week out do what he does makes him proud to be an American & proud to be Roddick's friend. Then he asked the crowd to do him a favor: his mother's birthday is tomorrow & he is bad at picking out presents so could everyone stand & sang happy birthday to his mother Betty. He started it off with the microphone & even Roddick stood up & helped get it going.

After they gave Roddick his trophy (one of the sponsors make a comment about something Roddick said the first time he won Washington & how much he's accomplished since then), he warned everyone that his speech wouldn't be as good as Blake's that normally he [Roddick] thought he was good at making speeches, but Blake "threw him under a bus today." He said he was proud to be a part of a final that helped break the all time weekly attendance record in Washington & considered it a great accomplishment considering what an old tournament it is. (Somewhere in the middle of this, the microphone got a little shaky, & Roddick said " I would like to supersize that please.") He thanked his friends from Washington for entertaining him this week & his buddy from NYC for leaving his job in the "real world" to come down. He will always come back every year since they supported him when he was first starting out (a wild card in 2000 when he was 17 that took him all the way to the QFs) & continue to do such a good job promoting & running the tournament. He also got quite serious when he started talking about Blake saying that he was really worried when Blake was missing, but he knew if anybody could come back from the lowest of the lows, it was Blake. Then he said since he wasn't going to sing, that was all.

They did a longer photo session than the doubles & partway through a section of the crowd started yelling for the ballkids to get a picture. They finally took one of them with both players & these kids who've looked so serious all week were all smiles after that. Both players went around for awhile & signed autographs (the Geico woman was even helping get the kids' items to the players). After they left the court, we decided to take off (sorry women's finalists).

All in all it was a great week of tennis. Perfect weather (no rain delays), lots of great matches, friendly fans & staff. I doubt I'll ever get to do such a total immersion again (even if I get a credential & free tickets again next year, I'll be back at work & not able to get much use out of it), so I'm glad I got to do it at least once (& twice as glad that the tournament & final ended up the way it did.)
 

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Thanks for all the reports :) The stuff with James's speech sounds just "awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww"-worthy. Can't believe ESPN didn't show it :eek:
 

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SMUCAV - I've really enjoyed reading your posts this week. You must have been exhausted after the tournament and still sat down to write those novellas.

Thanks so much!
 

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wow, I'm a bit verklempt reading that. Always touching when two friends play each other, but considering that its those two, and the year that James has had, its must have been very special to be there. Thanks for all of your reports this week.
 

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Very cool reports. What is it like in the Courtside Club - worth going into? It seems like they make a big deal about it over nothing in the brochures I got.
 

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smucav said:
After the photo session, the Bryans went all around the whole stadium until every single person who wanted an autograph or a photo got one.
I love them.


Thanks for all your reports this week smucav :D :hug: James's speech sounds awesome and I would have loved to see those two during the presentation ceremony. ESPN :mad:
 

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Thanks for the reports smucav :hug:
 

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Discussion Starter #79 (Edited)
Andy's speech was great too. (Maybe my description didn't do it justice.) Someone sitting near me said, "I can't believe he's only 22" in the middle of it, because he was so well-spoken.

DJ dropshot said:
SMUCAV - I've really enjoyed reading your posts this week. You must have been exhausted after the tournament and still sat down to write those novellas.

Thanks so much!
I was tired, but also too wound up to sleep right away. I wanted to write them while everything was still fresh in my mind. (I've since realized even by doing that I forgot a few things.)
SwissMister1 said:
Very cool reports. What is it like in the Courtside Club - worth going into? It seems like they make a big deal about it over nothing in the brochures I got.
Someone told me that all of the food at the tournament (suites, hospitality tent, players lounge, Courtside Club, outside concessions) are all provided by the same catering company. The selling point for the Courtside Club is that if you don't have access to the suites or the lounge inside the building, it's the only option if you're looking for air-conditioning. Also it isn't as crowded as the outside concessions & I believe it's the only place where you can get a real drink (other than the Singha beer that's sold outside).
 

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Discussion Starter #80
http://www.peterbodostennisworld.com/
I suppose the downside is balanced by the good news out of Washington—make that by two pieces of good news out of the nation’s capital. Andy Roddick beat James Blake in the Legg Mason final. It’s great to see Blake back in the saddle again, and I’m also glad Andy won—somebody has to stay within shouting distance of Roger Federer on hard courts. What about Rafael Nadal, you ask? Well, it will be interesting to see how he holds up during the last, brutal leg of the Grand Slam season. We saw in Miami that he can play on hard courts, but let’s face it—Europeans have a long, rich tradition of packing it in at this stage of the season, when the heat, humidity, and distinctly American flavor of the tour can combine to overwhelm the sensitive Continental soul and psyche.

Americans have traditionally fared very well at the Washington tournament, before and during the Legg Mason phase of sponsorship. It’s been a staple on the calendar for some years now, and it’s played at one of the nicer, more intimate venues on the circuit—right in the heart of Rock Creek Park.

I bet the sponsors would have been a lot happier if I’d written these words a few weeks before rather than after the event, but there it is. Buy tickets for next year now, and make it part of your vacation; Washington D.C. may be the most beautiful city in America, and you’ll have plenty of other things to do there.
 
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