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Blue Velvet in the O2 11/21/2010 - 7:42 PM

Andy

by Hannah Wilks, TennisWorld Contributing Writer

Two weeks ago, I saw the Paris Meridian, also known as the Rose Line. For many years, it was considered the prime meridian; the line of 0 degrees longtitude which divides the eastern and western hemispheres. But in 1884, a conference of scientists decreed that the Greenwich meridian - which now runs right past the western edge of the 02 Arena - was the Prime Meridian; that London was the alpha and omega of the world. One unintended consequence of this instance of punching above one’s weight on a global scale is that this week’s tennis takes place at 0 degrees longtitude. As the signs insist, it’s the final showdown. Zero hour.

The ATP likes to play up the Britishness of this event; London, as anyone watching the World Tour Finals is repeatedly reminded, is calling. The players pose with the Prime Minister or a red London bus, as if there’s nothing more to being British than a suit and a stiff upper lip. Personally, next year I want to see the eight finalists come out of a TARDIS dressed as various cultural heroes from the UK. Harry Potter. Robin Hood. Shakespeare, complete with tights and Elizabethan ruff. Mr. Darcy and King Arthur. Labyrinth-era David Bowie. Braveheart. Speaking of whom, the stars just might be aligning for Andy Murray, who recorded the first singles victory of the championships today in a 6-2 6-4 defeat of Robin Soderling.

Murray, well-rested, set loose on a slow, low-bouncing indoor court, has as good a chance as anyone of ending his turbulent year on a high note. Better, if you believe in the power of home-court advantage. But I’m wondering if, The Clash notwithstanding, there is anything quintessentially British about this event that makes playing here a better experience for the Scot than what he might find at any other anonymous indoor venue.

A tide of people made its way to the arena, braving the icy rain hanging in the air and the biting wind blowing off the Thames. Tennis is calling, and London is answering. It’s not like a Wimbledon crowd, either; scattered throughout are the sort of middle-ageds you’d expect to see in SW19, who pack for a day’s spectating as if it’s a hiking expedition, but there are plenty of groups of young people, too. It’s not a lawn tennis crowd; it’s a London crowd, and that means that there are all sorts of people here. This is the newly gentrified Docklands (it’s not too far from Deptford, where the street my mother grew up on was condemned for slums and demolished to make way for a high-rise), not leafy Wimbledon. This is the heart of a city that continuously reinvents itself.

The 02 arena itself started out as the Millennium Dome, built by the New Labour government at a cost of 789 million pounds to celebrate what it meant to be British at the year 2000. Five years later, a colossal white elephant, it was sold as an empty shell to Orange to be rebranded; a bloated failure to define our national identity, repackaged as a slick, corporate entertainment facility.

Last time I was here, it was for Kings of Leon; last week, it was the Gorillaz; next week, something else. Everywhere you look this week, though, you see ATP World Tour Finals branding and signage. The big screens carry vignettes on the sponsors’ support for sporting opportunity for children, or remind the crowd that Sky carries over 100 hours of live tennis a year. Volunteers shoot ATP -branded T-shirts into the crowd during breaks; the fans are asked to call the toss at the beginning of the match. Tennis, tennis, everywhere, and plenty of Corona to drink. But this venue was made to be a blank canvas, and the blanket of tennis promotion that covers it this week will be whipped off next.

Unlike the Parisian hip-hop and house of Bercy, the London DJ favours classic rock and pop during changeovers, with a fondness for Britpop, Bowie and Lady Gaga. Raised on the silence of Wimbledon, there’s an expectant hush during points, and a minimum of polite applause between. Invited to show their appreciation for the slick play of the Bryans, the crowd dutifully complies, but it’s about to get a lot louder in the arena. Because Andy Murray is about to play.

There’s no shortage of hyperbole preceding the British no. 1 on to the court. On the pre-match VT, Justin Gimelstob informs us that Andy Murray is the master of when to use the drop shot (a bold statement that Murray will later seem intent on disproving). The announcer describes him, apparently without irony, as “an amazingly gifted and talented athlete who reads the game like a wily veteran”. Robin Soderling is introduced as … Robin Soderling.

They still haven’t got the hang of the son et lumiere in the stadium, missing audio-visual cues all over the place. Soderling, too, looks out of step with events; the choruses of “c’mon Andy” from the crowd are restrained, partly because Murray rapidly establishes dominance. The pace and power of Soderling’s forehand is more impressive, and less ungainly than it looks on TV. For a shot more utilitarian than beautiful, the length of the backswing makes it seem almost impractical.

This one is the fifth Murray match I’ve been lucky enough to watch in 2010, and I’m nowhere near getting sick of it. He’s amazing when he wants to be - smooth, aggressive, clever. I love watching his feet, and the exceptional balance that enables him hit forward while going backwards, which creates good depth on even defensive shots.

I like Soderling, too, but the experience is a bit like watching a Hollywood action hero taking on a gang of foreign terrorists. You know Soderling is going to attack, pummel the ball, press forward until he misses. The formulaic elements don’t vary, but you still want to see it unfold. Watching Murray, on the other hand, is more like viewing a David Lynch movie. It's  incomprehensible at times, full of twists and turns, sequences of unexpected and hypnotic beauty, and permanently on the verge of straying into the surreal.

I’m also aware of how often Murray aces his way out of trouble. One has to wonder, can he - will he - ever serve big for seven matches in a row? Without that ace, you’ve pretty much got a hole where a grand slam should be - and a crowd that still finds more entertainment in ironically cheering for the retired Tim Henman, the paradigm of the plucky over-achiever, than it does in taking the often rocky path of being a full-on Murray fan. Errors are greeted with a peculiarly British mumble of disappointment, a dispirited acknowledgement of the inevitable, and even Murray’s exceptional first set doesn’t satisfy the punters - a young woman near me shyly says “he’s playing well, isn’t he?”, only for her boyfriend to snap “he’s world no. 4 [sic], he should be playing well.” Tough crowd.

But Murray’s a tough player. He isn’t Monfils, looking outside himself, drawing energy from the cheers; I don’t know if he hears the crowd, if it means anything to him. He’s introverted, inwardly focused. It’s not a coincidence that he yells his own name when he commits an error he finds particularly egregious. He does like to complain, looking down at his legs, the court, his racquet when he makes an error, searching for something to blame. That’s British. I think about all of his disappointments this year - Melbourne, the lost months when he seemed sick of it all, his crushing defeat at Wimbledon and the disaster that was the US Open - and what it must take to pick up and carry on.

That’s rather British, too.

[[I'm pleased to say that once again this week,  during the Barclay's ATP World Tour Finals, we have Gauloises covering the action for TennisWorld. Only now, shortly after posting, I've changed her avatar to her proper name. Hannah will be filing regulary, at least during the early going, and don't forget to look for Racquet Reaction posts as well - Pete]]


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Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/21/2010 at 07:57 PM

Gauloises So happy you are reporting again in London.

Thank you again for setting the scene in London you make me feel I am right there.

I was impressed with Murray today.Hopefully he can keep up this level of play during the whole tournament he has the ability to win here.

Thanks again I love reading your posts.

Posted by Joe Samuel Starnes 11/21/2010 at 08:09 PM

Occurred to me today watching the Barclays on Tennis Channel and the final NASCAR event on ESPN how much in common tennis and stock cars share. Simultaneous seasons, high speeds, solo attitudes, dominant dudes, and more. All tennis lacks is the hundreds of thousands of fans in the stands. But not sure I'd want the NASCAR crowd at Flushing Meadows, or vice versa at Pocono Downs. http://www.topspinblog.com/2010/11/fast-cars-and-fast-serves-atp-and-nascar/

Posted by AmyLu 11/21/2010 at 08:21 PM

Gauloises, thank you for this wonderful piece of writing. So vivid -- it feels like I was there. Very happy you will continue to share your thoughts and impressions with us all week!

Posted by Carol 11/21/2010 at 08:23 PM

Gauloises, I hope tomorrow to read a good report of Rafa from you.......

Posted by Master Ace 11/21/2010 at 08:26 PM

London Order of Play:

Monday
Mahesh Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi vs Lukas Kubot and Oliver Marach at 7:15 AM
Novak Djokovic(57-16; 2-6) vs Tomas Berdych(44-24; 5-8) at 9 AM
Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic vs Wesley Moodie and Dick Norman at 1:15 PM
Rafael Nadal(67-9; 7-4) vs Andy Roddick(48-15; 4-2) at 3 PM

Tuesday
Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes vs Jurgen Melzer and Philipp Petzschner at 7:15 AM
Roger Federer(61-13; 12-6) vs Andy Murray(45-16; 6-3) at 9 AM
Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan vs Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski at 1:15 PM
Robin Soderling(56-21; 5-8) vs David Ferrer(60-22; 7-12) at 3 PM

Posted by Tari 11/21/2010 at 08:38 PM

You captured exactly how I feel watching Andy Murray play. I watch him at every opportunity. I couldn't dream of being able to articulated it better, though. So nicely done.

I was torn today, because I love Robin too, but the match had an inevitable feel.

Posted by Tari 11/21/2010 at 08:41 PM

Or, articulate it, even.

Posted by BrooklynNY 11/21/2010 at 08:48 PM

I don't think he was smooth as much as he was smooth.

He was just really fast and Soderling shot 49%, so he lost.

Posted by chicklet 11/21/2010 at 08:55 PM

Gauloises, it's always a pleasure to read your reports. Keep up the great work.

"Personally, next year I want to see the eight finalists come out of a TARDIS dressed as various cultural heroes from the UK."
Hee! Can I come dressed as a Dalek and take out Justin Gimelstob? Ex-ter-min-ate.

Posted by Angel of the Surf (Flavia and Gisela YEC Doubles Champion and Winner of 7 Titles in 2010) 11/21/2010 at 09:07 PM

Hi everyone

It looks like I will have to read today's post afterall, it will have to be when I get home from work.

Mmm not impressed that Robin lost to Murray so easily. Can't be bothered saying congrats and all that. Moving on...

Posted by naughty T...urbane gentleman 11/21/2010 at 09:35 PM

nicely done again G... I do feel there is a certain schizophrenia about the English and their embracing or not embracing of the notion of Britishness. No doubt in my mind that the English would always prefer a lovely English boy to support, but the Muzzard and his general unlikeability is all that is left to that Sceptered Isle. Always going to be a tough ask to go full throttle whole hog for the Muzzard I reckon.

Posted by patzin 11/21/2010 at 10:03 PM

Love the blog - great writing and inspiration. Also love Chicklet's comments - funny.

Posted by Joe 11/21/2010 at 10:34 PM

Sod needs to practice more the volley

Posted by jb (chocolate FTW!!!) 11/21/2010 at 10:49 PM

Thanks for the write-up Gauly! Lovely to have you there writing for us.

i saw bits and pieces, thought that Andy was moving awfully well, and Robin showed more of the up / down play he's been prone to this fall. Bercy was the first time I saw him playing consistently well, not sure if he'll be able to recapture that later this week.

Andy on the other hand, looks like he's on a mission. :)

Posted by CL 11/21/2010 at 11:02 PM

Pfft- well jeeze just THANKS gauloises...as if I didn't already find The Muzzter slightly creepy, now you have forever linked him in my mind w/Blue Velvet. ***sputters***

More damn fine writing though.

Posted by roadrunnerz 11/21/2010 at 11:35 PM

Thanks for posting the match times for tomorrow, Master Ace. I came here hoping someone would know!

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/21/2010 at 11:40 PM

Rafa news from his website,22nd November,2010.

Rafa will be in action in the last match of the day on Monday.The World no 1 will be trying to improve on last years performance World Tour Finals after losing all 3 group matches in straight sets.

Rafa will meet Andy Roddick.Rafa has a head to head 5-3

On the hard court Roddick has a 3-2 over Rafa.

Posted by freddy 11/21/2010 at 11:51 PM

Oh - I was just wondering who Hannah Wilks was :) Well done, again - gauloises.

Posted by NP 11/21/2010 at 11:58 PM

Hey, freddy, I never got to finish the answer to your question the other day, but it looked like you already got the gist of it. Yeah, it has to do with commercialization, and the assembly line of tennis pros it's been producing over the last decade or so.

Posted by LNCollier 11/22/2010 at 12:55 AM

f

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 01:14 AM

Just reading from a article from Carlos Moya on his thoughts regarding Rafa after his recent retirement.

"You know,knowing him for so long makes it special for me because first time I met him,he was just 11,12 years old">

"S he was a good prospect of being a good player but you never know what can happen.I realised he had something special,but could never think that he could be that good,to be honest"

"He's one of the greatest ever.But he's on his way to become,who knows maybe the greatest"

Read the full article.

http://ca.reuters.com/article/sportsNews/idCATRE6AK1JH2010/21?pageNumbe.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 11/22/2010 at 01:59 AM

Morning, everyone. :)

Hey Gauly, good read. :) Although, I agree with naughty's comment at 9.35; and I'm not sure Murray's ability to pick himself up after the difficult first five or six months is the year is quintessentially British - plenty of other players manage to do the same.

"One has to wonder, can he - will he - ever serve big for seven matches in a row?"

Even yesterday, I thought his serve faltered after the first set; could've been a different match if Robin had been able to take an opportunity in that eight-minute game.

Posted by mick1303 11/22/2010 at 02:48 AM

I was watching a stream that kept buffering, so I've missed a lot of points. But I've got an impression that only serve allowed Federer to close out. In the second set Ferrer was having an upper hand in baseline rallies. It spells a very difficult time for Federer against Murray. With superior reach Murray will receive Federer's serve more effectively than Ferrer. If Federer will not fix his forehand, he'll lose. His backhand was more reliable, but lacked pace.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 02:59 AM

Morning Jewell

Just woke up after my "siesta" which kind of went over time

I thought Murray dictated from the baseline and though his 1st serve percentage did dip in the 2nd set to me played a good match.He was mixing up his shots nicley and used his slice well.Bringing Robin forward he often got the error.Robins serve let him down all match and he cannot volley and was breathing heavy at times in the match.

Posted by dallas flooring 11/22/2010 at 03:00 AM

Murray is boring, he's miserable and the ultimate pessimist.

Yet despite this, I want him to do well, not for any other reason but to reward him for his hard work he's put in. This tournament will be a somewhat consolation if he wins it considering his Grand Slam disappointment this year.

Until he starts being more positive on court, he'll never win a Grand Slam. When he gets down, not only does his body language stoop and his audible verbal grievances get progressively louder, but he plays way too defensively.

All these factors spur his opponents on which explains why he loses matches at GS's he simply shouldn't.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 11/22/2010 at 03:04 AM

Hey AM. :) (and mick1303 and dallas flooring.)

I agree, Murray played a decent match. Soderling's net play really was pretty awful yesterday. I think he said something about not being there in the first set and Murray being too good, which seems about right to me - his serve was mediocre and he made a fair few UFEs. But he did start to play better in the second and he did have real chances, that he didn't take.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 03:54 AM

Jewell Sorry.I had to give their cats their medicine.Hmmm they were spitting their tablets out.Finally got them to take it.Worse than kids.

Will you be able to watch Rafa's match at all?

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 11/22/2010 at 04:02 AM

How are the cats going on?

I think I will be able to watch, although it will be on at the same time as University Challenge. *frowns at TV scheduling gods*

I haven't seen Rafa play since Tokyo SF - feeling a bit deprived, LOL. Hope he plays better than last year!

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 04:04 AM

Jewell Much better thanks.

Can you tape the tv show at all?

Well he can only improve on last year? lol!

I will get up earlier and watch Novak v Tomas.I hope Tomas remembers to being his "brain" to London after Bercy.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 11/22/2010 at 04:08 AM

I'll catch up on the BBC Iplayer, but it's not really the same. Still, Rafa beats out most things. :)

Annoyingly I'll be at work for Djokovic-Berdych - kind of intriguing after their Wimbledon SF. I'm still surprised that Berdych is in the top eight after his less-than-inspiring performances over the last half of the year - not that he doesn't deserve to be there, he does.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 04:15 AM

Jewell I thought after Wimby Tomas had turned the corner I think the high expectation from him making the final got too much.His game is suited to the hard courts so I hope he can do better at London.

Well I have to feed myself and get the cats their dinner

Bye for Now

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 11/22/2010 at 04:21 AM

So far, it's showing just how impressive Soderling has been over the last year and a half, in backing up that first big performance.

See you later, AM. :)

Posted by zenggi 11/22/2010 at 04:26 AM

Good morning,

Brilliant article again, Gauloises. Thank you. I think you give Murray too much credit comparing him to a Lynch film vieuwing but I'll take your word for it/him. :)

And I like your observation of Soderling's FH "The pace and power of Soderling’s forehand is more impressive, and less ungainly than it looks on TV. For a shot more utilitarian than beautiful, the length of the backswing makes it seem almost impractical." He needs the extreme backswing to generate the power and velocity but I also think that it looks a little extreme in execution on TV.

Had to laugh comparing Robin to Bruce Willis(?) though your conclusion that "You know Soderling is going to attack, pummel the ball, press forward until he misses." isn't always true. Most of the times he doesn't miss. Except for those weird net approaches he did yesterday. Thankfully for him!. :)

Hi AM and jewell,
Big day for group A. Maybe the stadium is warmer today and the ball flies through and bounce high. Fingers crossed.

Posted by alex 11/22/2010 at 05:00 AM

“[London] punching above one's weight"?
In 1884, at the height of Queen Victoria's empire, when ‘time’ began, Britain - as you say - was world HQ and London the obvious place for everything. France, the nearly-country of European power play, had had her day, and Paris was never more to London than Athens was to Rome.
And in a few years time, when the Asian tigers of Shanghai and Mumbai rule the international jungle, LA and DC will no doubt still have a heritage to cherish ... and tennis will probably still be played at Flushing Meadows.
Times move on and every empire leaves its legacy. But every so often something happens that harkens back to former glories.
Andy Murray ... !
Nice piece, Hannah.

Posted by alex 11/22/2010 at 05:27 AM

By the way, I'm glad muzz has kept the dropshot in his bag of tricks. Doesn't always work, but more often does, and sometimes spectacularly. The drop-shot that took the first set yesterday had as much improvised elegance as anything I ever saw Lee Trevino craft from a green-side bunker.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 11/22/2010 at 05:40 AM

Hi alex & zenggi. :)

Agree on that shot, alex. I still wonder if he uses it too much at the wrong moments - goes to it too often - but hard to complain too much about a good win, so. :)

Posted by Jason 11/22/2010 at 06:57 AM

As a Murray fan I confess to liking an article on the basis that it finds joy in his game. I have to say your writing is really good, poetic and smooth (like murray when he is on form). You put into words superbly murrays game.

I loved his slice today. The trajectory better resembled federers in that it stayed low to the ground and tied soderling down. His variety was on full display mixing powerful serves with precision backhands, the occasional strong forehand put away and the delicate slice.

The drop shot to win the first set was breathtaking as was his defense. The first set demoed perfectly what all court tennis looks like. He stepped away from it a bit in the second.
I someday hope that he recognises the blueprint to winning a slam is modelled on how he played that first set.

Posted by wilson75 11/22/2010 at 07:09 AM

I'm yet to find excitement in watching Murray play. He was too defensive and if it was on a faster court against a better player he would not have appeared to look as good as he did yesterday.

Posted by Holds 2 Love 11/22/2010 at 07:20 AM

Here we go with Mahesh Bhupahi and Max Mirnyi v Lukasz Kubot and Oliver Marach...

Posted by sisu 11/22/2010 at 07:25 AM

Morning all. I had to google TARDIS and Dalek to understand but I’ll do anything if Chicklet’s 8.55pm came true and JG would be gone forever. (Don’t want to even spell his full name; the revulsion I feel is strong.)

Need to know - Hannah or gauloises? I’m going with Hannah when I address you as the contributing writer you’ve taken to like fish to water and gauloises when you’re posting as a TWibe member. Your preference? Should you have one I’ll follow your lead. And Pete, an overdue thank you for bringing Hannah into the fore to participate along with you and your other contributing writers. Much appreciated.

Random thoughts -
“Volunteers shoot ATP -branded T-shirts into the crowd during breaks…” - Was wondering what was being shot into the crowd, thought it was confetti.
“…and the blanket of tennis promotion that covers it this week will be whipped off next.” - Examples of a disposable society or imagination and innovation on display? I believe the latter.
“He’s amazing when he wants to be - smooth, aggressive, clever. I love watching his feet, and the exceptional balance…” - THIS is the Murray I love.
“He does like to complain, looking down at his legs, the court, his racquet when he makes an error, searching for something to blame.” - THIS is the Murray I don’t enjoy watching. But I do love the British and do admire Andy‘s picking himself up and starting all over again after a difficult beginning of the year.


Players on court. Think I’m pulling for Bhupathi/Mirnyi and must say I’m admiring the beautiful cheekbones on Lukasz Kubot!

Posted by alex 11/22/2010 at 07:36 AM

"if it was on a faster court against a better player he would not have appeared to look as good as he did yesterday."

If it was on a faster court against a better player he would not have played as he did yesterday ... as demonstrated last month in the shanghai masters final.

Posted by alex 11/22/2010 at 07:37 AM

supreme tactician :)

Posted by Holds 2 Love 11/22/2010 at 07:37 AM

Hi, sisu. Yes, Pete revealing Gauloises's true identity is a bit like finding out Superman = Clark Kent. ;-) I might have preferred the mystique to remain, but I think this recognizes the transition from random internet posting, which any nut can do (witness yours truly), to professional writing. well-deserved.

Posted by Holds 2 Love 11/22/2010 at 07:39 AM

Kubot/Marach up a break, 3-2

Posted by eclipse22 (rafagirl VAMOS RAFA WINNER OF ALL FOUR GRAND SLAMS) 11/22/2010 at 07:44 AM

morningggg twibers! say rafa are u playing first or second, i need my morning nap,lol...

Posted by wilson75 11/22/2010 at 07:44 AM

alex: Shanghai is a slow court too.

Posted by Colette 11/22/2010 at 07:46 AM

So glad you're *back*, Gauloises ... of the lovely palindromic name. Loved your "contrast" of the players' introductions. And I could picture Murray's feet as you described them. Also glad to know (maybe "duh" on my part) why the name "02" (not O2).

This doubles match is Men in Black!

Posted by Holds 2 Love 11/22/2010 at 07:48 AM

eclipse22, Djokovich/Berdych is the afternoon match. Nadal and Roddick play this evening. sweet dreams...

Posted by @work 11/22/2010 at 07:49 AM

Hello everyone!
For once, and even though it's raining cats and dogs outside, I'm very cheerful first thing on a Monday morning.
I'm looking forward to following the action at 02 (as much as I can manage from work anyway)
Glad my adopted favorite (Murray) won easily yesterday! :)
Of course if my dear Rafa manages to play well and has to meet Andy then well... you know ;-)

Sisu,
I truly enjoy your posts and I'm with you on Kubot. There is something about him.

And last but certainly not least, thanks Hannah/Gauloises for a very enjoyable write up from London! I picked Murray as my favorite because I really don't think Rafa can win this (or maybe I'm just trying to anti-jinx him unintentionally) and I must confess he winning the whole thing and you capping it all off with one of your nice reports sounds pretty good right now (Rafa notwithstanding) :)

Posted by wilson75 11/22/2010 at 07:50 AM

Next year I want to volunteer for the DJ job @ WTF, the music is terrible.

Posted by @work 11/22/2010 at 07:52 AM

Wilson,
I was thinking the same yesterday (about how horrible the music was!)
Let me know if you need signatures to go along with your application and if you will take requests from your TW friends ;-)

Posted by wilson75 11/22/2010 at 07:53 AM

@work: I will:)

Posted by Holds 2 Love 11/22/2010 at 07:53 AM

Bhupathi/Mirnyi break back to level it, 4-4

Posted by Holds 2 Love 11/22/2010 at 07:58 AM

momentum shifting to Bhupathi/Mirnyi as they hold easily, 5-4.
Cheekbones to serve.

Posted by Heather 11/22/2010 at 08:01 AM

Good Morning! Can't believe I'll miss Andy and Rafa this afternoon, hopefully livescore won't let me down!

Posted by temes 11/22/2010 at 08:01 AM

I like the broken blue stripe in Mirnyi/Bhupathi shirts...lol not much to comment on in men's tennis fashion.

Posted by temes 11/22/2010 at 08:04 AM

I could imagine Federer going Navratilova and playing doubles till 50. He really seems to love tennis. I think he would be good.

Posted by temes 11/22/2010 at 08:12 AM

Bhupa has a funny service motion like some kind of war ceremony.

Posted by Holds 2 Love 11/22/2010 at 08:15 AM

Bhupathi/Mirnyi take the first set TB,7-2. Bhupathi the MVP of the TB, including a sweet BH volley at 2-1. Physio working on Kubot's shoulder.

Posted by Holds 2 Love 11/22/2010 at 08:17 AM

actually probably the back... temes, lol on Bhupa's service motion. will watch for that.

Posted by alex 11/22/2010 at 08:22 AM

hi wilson, yep but not half as slow as yesterday's and a far better opponent beaten with different style and by an even more impressive scoreline. anyway, don't want to argue, you're entitled to your taste and if muzz isn't your cup of tea, fair enough - soderling isn't mine, even though I think some are cruel to him.

Posted by Master Ace 11/22/2010 at 08:27 AM

Serena will not play Hopman Cup and may not play Australian Open:

http://tinyurl.com/23ef9rn

Posted by wilson75 11/22/2010 at 08:28 AM

alex: No arguments from this side. The fact is the slower the court the better it is for Murray to play his defensive style and to win matches. I'm not a fan of either player but I agree that the Soderling hate can go overboard sometimes.

Posted by Holds 2 Love 11/22/2010 at 08:30 AM

disappointing news, Master Ace. best wishes for Serena's recovery.

Posted by temes 11/22/2010 at 08:30 AM

MA, nooooooo...Serena should just stay in bed now lol. Her foot injury is reaching absurd heights.

Posted by wilson75 11/22/2010 at 08:31 AM

MA: Thanks for the info. I'm not surprised Serena is out of the Hopman Cup and think it's very likely she will not be at AO next year.

Posted by tina (ajde, Novak: handsome and talented Balkans #1, world #3, Davis Cup hero, AO 2008 titleist, reigning USO finalist, cutest butt in tennis, rapper, the face of Belgrade t-shirts, Novak water and Restaurant - don't u wish your polyglot was hott like me) 11/22/2010 at 08:34 AM

30 minutes to Novak, guess I have to get out of bed. Couldn't find a stream to save my life yesterday, and the only TV with TTC is downstairs. I just wanted to lie in my cave, though.

Wow, Serena might not play in Melbourne? Very worrisome.

Posted by alex 11/22/2010 at 08:35 AM

I hear what you're saying but the new-improved-muzz isn't all defence any more. On the slow court note, I think it will make a muzz-rafa match-up even more exciting - I'm sure even you will enjoy that one if it happens:)

Posted by alex 11/22/2010 at 08:37 AM

djoker shouldn't have any more difficulty with this one than fed or muzz had yesterday.

Posted by Holds 2 Love 11/22/2010 at 08:39 AM

Bhupathi's serve... it's a bit odd, isn't it? He starts almost like an archer. Perhaps the stiffness and the deep stacatto sound he makes are what evoke the war ceremony...?

temes wrote: "I could imagine Federer going Navratilova and playing doubles till 50. He really seems to love tennis. I think he would be good."

yes, if Beijing 08 is any indication. :-)

Posted by wilson75 11/22/2010 at 08:42 AM

alex: It will only be exciting if Rafa's winning that match-up:). I'm still not convinced that Murray's being more aggressive, I'll have to watch him so more.

Posted by temes 11/22/2010 at 08:42 AM

Holds 2 Love, yes that must be it about Bhupathi's serve lol.

Roger yes he's not too shabby in doubles is he...I think he could be in the top 10 even in an advanced age in doubles. Atleast I would like to see it.

Posted by Colette 11/22/2010 at 08:45 AM

Bad news, MA. I've said this before, but I worry that a tendon injury could be career ending for Serena.(Please, nooo)

Posted by sisu 11/22/2010 at 08:47 AM

Breakfast and phone calls completed. Back to tennis.

Hi H2L. I wondered whether G/H had any choice in that decision. I too would have chosen the mystique to remain. Must disagree on the self-imposed “nut” label. If you’re a nut then I think I’m in the same cluster. ;))

Thanks @work. Love your moniker.

I’m not familiar with Oliver Marach but I’m reminded of Lleyton Hewitt whenever there’s a close-up of Oliver. Loving the net play.

Posted by Colette 11/22/2010 at 08:48 AM

Temes/H2L, I would love to Roger team up with Patty Schnyder or even Martina Hingis for mixed dubs.

Sisu, thought the same thing about Marach reminding me of Lleyton Hewitt.

Posted by temes 11/22/2010 at 08:49 AM

Colette, don't say that it breaks my heart. Serena's career is too amazing to end in a restaurant.

Posted by Colette 11/22/2010 at 08:55 AM

I know, temes, it's probably a bit "extreme" and I sure hope I'm wrong. The crazy way it happened - plus the WAY she was playing before it happened - make it all the more devastating.

Posted by wilson75 11/22/2010 at 08:56 AM

Colette: I'm with you, I hope this injury doesn't end Serena's career. It will be a real disappoint if it ends like that.

Posted by wilson75 11/22/2010 at 08:56 AM

I mean disappointment not disappoint.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 11/22/2010 at 09:00 AM

Morning all :

I wondered who Hannah Wilks was when I opened up this page and after reading a few lines, I realized that it was none other than Gauly.

Gauly : You are always such a pleasure to read, so glad that you are in London. Hope that you will be writing many more articles for us.

Posted by Holds 2 Love 11/22/2010 at 09:00 AM

Bhupathi/Mirnyi take it 7-6, 6-4.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 09:02 AM

Good Morning Everyone

I hope this match is worth getting up early for and competitive

Tomas dont let me down ok

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 11/22/2010 at 09:06 AM

Reading back a bit and I see it is bad news of Serena. So hope that she gets fit and well soon.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 09:08 AM

Master Ace I had a feeling that Serena may not play in Australia.I hope at least she may play at the AO and defend her title.

Posted by Holds 2 Love 11/22/2010 at 09:09 AM

thanks, sisu, interesting ideas on the doubles pairings, Colette. the only thing is, would Mirka want to take the family on the road indefinitely? especially once the girls are in school. and perhaps there will be other mighty babies. Berdych and Djokovich making their entrance...

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 09:10 AM

Is there a replacement for her at Hopman Cup?

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 09:11 AM

Carlos Bernades is the umpire

Posted by Master Ace 11/22/2010 at 09:12 AM

Aussiemarg,
Good question about a replacement for Serena. Venus and Melanie will be in Hong Kong that week. Also, if I recall, USA may w/d and another country will take that spot.

Posted by wilson75 11/22/2010 at 09:21 AM

Looks like Berdych has started off where he left off in Paris.

Posted by tina (ajde, Novak: handsome and talented Balkans #1, world #3, Davis Cup hero, AO 2008 titleist, reigning USO finalist, cutest butt in tennis, rapper, the face of Belgrade t-shirts, Novak water and Restaurant - don't u wish your polyglot was hott like me) 11/22/2010 at 09:22 AM

Maybe "Scandinavia" can play in Hopman Cup, LOL.

Posted by Heather 11/22/2010 at 09:24 AM

Could Coco play Hopman Cup with Isner? Are there requirements that need to be met in order to be able to play?

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 09:26 AM

Master Ace Thanks

Posted by temes 11/22/2010 at 09:26 AM

Berdy atleast try to look like you're among the 8 best of the season...atleast try.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 09:29 AM

Well neither player serve is good.Both have made d/faults

Of course Tomas service game was the worst

Novak finally holds serve

Come on Tomas at least get on the board

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 09:31 AM

Hell that f/hand didnt even make the court Tomas

Come on

I see Maradona is here.With his 2 diamond studded earings to boot

Tomas this court should suit you? your shots are flat

Posted by Master Ace 11/22/2010 at 09:32 AM

Heather,
Yes, Coco can play with Isner if USA selects her. Remember, Laura played with Murray this year and France will have a youngster, Kristina, play with Monfils in 2011.

Posted by Master Ace 11/22/2010 at 09:33 AM

Tina,
Scandinavia's top female player will be in Hong Kong during HC week.

Posted by Ausiemarg,Madame President,Rafa London Is Calling! 11/22/2010 at 09:34 AM

I might go back to bed this match isnt worth getting up at 1.00am for

Honestly Tomas you are looking at a double break

Posted by Master Ace 11/22/2010 at 09:34 AM

Aussiemarg,
After all the 3 set drama in 2009, I have a feeling that there will be a lot of straight set action this year.

Posted by temes 11/22/2010 at 09:35 AM

Well this match is going worse than the worst expectations at the moment.

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