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Of Wolves and Lambs 12/02/2010 - 2:08 PM

Gilles

by Pete Bodo

I must admit, I'm still perplexed by France's decision to play Gilles Simon in the second singles slot in tomorrow's Davis Cup opener against Serbia's Novak Djokovic. In my eyes, this has given the Serbs an enormous advantage, but who knows—it may turn out to be one of the more cagey tactical decisions we've seen in the Davis Cup. But I have my reservations, for a couple of reasons.

Since winning the first match he ever played against Djokovic (Marseille, 2008), Simon lost their next four meetings. In two of those, including their most recent clash in Beijing a few weeks ago, Djokovic laid down the hammer, winning in straights. The Beijing score, 6-3, 6-2, was the most lopsided in their head-to-head career. I dunno, maybe Simon has scorched the lines and destroyed his teammates in the practice sessions arlier this week?

I've also always felt that is Simon is—how do you say this diplomatically?—a little soft (there is no way, I guess). He's a nice guy, a happy-go-lucky, lovin' life kind of guy, which is just the kind of guy who is likely to find himself in way, way over his head when the the playground turns into a battlefield. The Serbian attitude, that this Davis Cup final is a critical, life and history shaping moment, may be a bit excessive, but it signaled Serbia's deadly serious intent. Of course, that could work against them—there's no pressure worse than the demands you place on yourself—but it can also be intimidating.

Of course, not too many men have a positive head-to-head record against Djokovic. But Llodra is 1-1, and he won their last meeting. To me, that's serious psychological ammo, even though Llodra is a mere 3-3 in Davis Cup singles. But guess what? Simon has won only two Davis Cup matches, both of them dead rubbers.

Llodra, by contrast, beat Juan Monaco of Argentina and Fernando Verdasco of Spain in live rubbers in 2010, although both matches were on French soil—and indoor hard courts. Llodra also played winning doubles in those ties, and he's 6-1 overall in his last seven matches.

Also, unless that indoor surface is extremely slow, Llodra can seriously hurt you with his attacking game, and have you wondering just what degree of aggression he's going to bring to the match. Djokovic would still be a big favorite against Llodra, but the match-up would give him much more to think about and fret over.

And let's remember, Llodra is just outside the Top 20 in singles, and coming off a great week at the Masters 1000 in Paris, while Simon languishes at almost double that ranking number (42). Simon lost the last set he played in a singles tournament this  year, 6-0, and won just one match in Paris. Here's how French captain Guy Forget explained his choice: "I expect Gilles to play a great match against Novak. I expect Michael to play great doubles with Arnaud [Clement]. They’ve done so many times in the past. In my opinion, that was the best choice for the French team. The Sunday matches probably will count. That leaves me probably some more options doing it this way.”

I guess the reasoning is that if Llodra had played singles, he'd be less fresh for the crucial "swing" match, the doubles in which he'll team with Arnaud Clement to battle Nenad Zimonjic and Viktor Troicki. But while doubles certainly is more important in Davis Cup than tournament tennis, and Davis Cup singles matches are best-of-five, I would think that a guy could bounce back after a tough singles to play pretty good doubles the following day. I just don't know if the "freshness" factor warrants keeping your doubles star out of the singles.

Of course, if you're a fan of "secret weapon" strategies, Forget could always insert Llodra to play a potentially decisive fifth rubber. But then Llodra will have the opposite problem—he may have to face Tipsarevic in singles 24 hours after a potentially tough doubles match. Given that a Llodra-Tipsarevic match is a toss-up (Tipsarevic is 1-0 against Llodra, but 0-1 against Simon, which qualifies as "insufficient data"), would you want to concede the fitness/fatigue issue to your opponent?

Well, if Forget pulls this off, he'll be called a genius. And I have to confess, I asked former U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe about this and he thinks Forget made the right call—keep Llodra fresh for the doubles. I still think it's unnecessarily risky, and most of all it suggests that the French may be less confident—or is it more cavalier?—than they hope or have a right to be. On paper, the tie ought to be 1-1 after the first day of play, so why view the doubles as a must-win?

So much for that. Much of the commentary leading up to the tie has focused on Serbia's opportunity to  join the elite teams that have won the Davis Cup, and on how important the tie is to Djokovic. He's certainly done nothing to downplay the stakes or the potential significance (personal, national and even international) of the tie. But the guy who's been forgotten in this Cinderella story is Gael Monfils, whom you ignore at your peril.

Opening the tie with Monfils vs. Tipsarevic gives both teams hope. The French must be pleased because on paper, Monfils ought to win that match. If he does, it might to some degree take the crowd out of play, and it certainly would put Djokovic under a fair amount of pressure when he meets Simon in the second rubber. But if you're a Serb partisan, you have to like that Tipsarevic can go out there and swing from the heels. He's the underdog, and he's got Djokovic to back him up should things turn out badly. Tipsarevic is lucky he doesn't have to hang around, watching the first match, feeling the pressure build. . . and build. Monfils is less lucky, because the crowd will be all over him, and if he doesn't get off to a good start he'll make his own life very difficult.

Monfils has only played four Davis Cup singles matches, but he's won the last three. He sometimes seeems to thrive on emotional energy, and not always the best kind—during his win over the unexpectedly tough Robert Kendrick at the U.S. Open, he busted out a sneer as he mocked the fans chanting Kendrick's name. This penchant for getting sucked into the gestalt could get him in big, big trouble in Serbia, where they probably will play a little rougher than the spectators at Flushing Meadows. Almost any acccomplished Davis Cup player will tell you that Rule No. 1 is to avoid getting into it with the crowd; stay focused, ignore the noise and hubbub. That might be hard to do in the Belgrade Arena.

Take a look at the photo of Monfils and Tipsarevic atop the news stories at the Davis Cup website (it's presently in their rotating carousel), and tell me: Does Tipsarevic, who will meet Monfils in the first match of the tie, look like he's nervous, or like he's the big, bad wolf licking his chops as he eyes the baby lamb?

For more on this tie, tune in to our latest podcast (it ought to be up not long after this post). Easy Ed McGrogan asked for our predictions. Steve Tignor and Ed called it 3-1 for Serbia. Off-line, Pat McEnroe called the same score, 3-1 and whatever happens in the meaningless match.

I'm going whole hog for Djokovic and company and calling it a sweep, 3-0. I can think of many positive ways to describe the players on the French team, and the squad in general, but "tough" isn't high on the list, and on this occasion toughness will count more than talent, strategy, or technique. And I think the decision to play Simon will hurt the French.

I see wolves and lambs in this one.


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Posted by gauloises 12/03/2010 at 09:54 AM

Until very recently I thought a honey badger was a mythical creature that Snoo Foo had invented in order to capture Ferru's particular qualities of tanned, snuffly adorableness. But then until I was 20 I didn't realise leprosy was a real disease either.

Great pass from La Monf. He's so up for it.

Posted by yello fuzzy 12/03/2010 at 09:56 AM

Tipsy hits a wonderful stab BH drop volley winner game point
Monfils slips and regains his balance and hits the DTL winner deuce
powerful shot by Tipsy forces an error game point
BH DTL winner on the return deuce
FH long by Tipsy break point
DF
game to France 1-0

Posted by Holds2Love 12/03/2010 at 09:56 AM

ouch. DF to give France the break at the start of the 3rd set.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 12/03/2010 at 09:58 AM

I'm feeling badly for Tipsy now..

Posted by yello fuzzy 12/03/2010 at 09:58 AM

no prob Master Ace

Posted by yello fuzzy 12/03/2010 at 09:58 AM

Monfils stalling, waiting for the crowd to settle, gets booed

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 12/03/2010 at 09:58 AM

MA: we've got some folk on the french bench dressed up in full chicken costume. Not sure what it means but it's funny.

Posted by yello fuzzy 12/03/2010 at 10:00 AM

Monfils serving 1-0
big serve 15-0
ace 30-0
ace 40-0
ace
game to Bambi 2-0

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 12/03/2010 at 10:00 AM

commie making a good point that this doesn't change the complexion of the tie too much. one would expect the countries to split today's matches anyway..

Posted by Master Ace 12/03/2010 at 10:01 AM

Annie,
That is the French being unique as usual. See Monfils is going to give France the lead unless Tipsarevic comes up with a miracle. Djokovic will be under the spotlight to draw Serbia even going to the doubles.

Posted by Holds2Love 12/03/2010 at 10:01 AM

Annie, I was wondering that myself -- le coq gaulois? and do they have mud on their feathers?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gallic_rooster

Posted by Master Ace 12/03/2010 at 10:02 AM

Yello Fuzzy,
How is the court playing? Is it a slow hardcourt?

Posted by yello fuzzy 12/03/2010 at 10:04 AM

T serving
winner by Tipsy 15-0
2nd serve Tipsy goes DTL misses wide 15-15
2nd serve Tipsys FH CC goes into the net 15-30
2nd serve inside out FH goes wide 15-40
2nd serve big FH by Monfils draws an error
game to France 3-0

Posted by Holds2Love 12/03/2010 at 10:07 AM

either that or it's some promotional stunt for a Belgrade fast food restaurant.

Tipsarevich is really playing best of times/worst of times tennis.

Posted by yello fuzzy 12/03/2010 at 10:07 AM

Master Ace
earlier the commies were saying the court was playing a bit quicker than it was during the practice sessions, with the extra heat in the stadium caused by all the bodies in the stands, but it seems like a medium to fast court to me

Posted by yello fuzzy 12/03/2010 at 10:08 AM

Monfils is still serving well wins that game easily

Posted by sokol 12/03/2010 at 10:09 AM

"I'm feeling badly for Tipsy now.."

+1
maybe Serbia should have went with Viktor after all...

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) 12/03/2010 at 10:10 AM

I'm slightly deflated - but this always seemed the most frazzle-making match.

The French stream referred to the first break point in this 3rd set as the "balle de match". Premature, sure, but perhaps correct. :(

Posted by nicothekou 12/03/2010 at 10:12 AM

looking good for France right now ! Monfils can sometimes be irritating when he just push the ball over the net, but Tipsarevic looks really tense !

It will soon be 1 point for France !

Posted by zenggi 12/03/2010 at 10:13 AM

This match is so over!

Holds2Love,
Indeed "le coq gaulois."

Posted by yello fuzzy 12/03/2010 at 10:14 AM

0-4
Tipsy serving, unlucky netcord for Monfils sends his sure winner on the pass out 15-0
nice volley by Tipsy 30-0
error by Tipsy 30-15
2nd serve Tipsy misses another fairly easy volley 30-30
2nd serve a wild FH way out by Tipsy break point
short return, Tipsy is in, gets the forced error from Monfils deuce
2nd serve a lazy FH by Tipsy goes long break point
2nd serve BH DTL winner on the pass by Monfils
game to France 5-0

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 12/03/2010 at 10:16 AM

H2L: I've had Rossignol skis and their symbol is a rooster, but these guys are chickens! big difference, no? maybe they couldn't find rooster costumes and this is the best they could come up with?

Gael is having a great end of year. happy for him. maybe he's going to mature as a player and finally fulfill all that amazing potential.

Posted by Master Ace 12/03/2010 at 10:17 AM

Davis Cup Final - LIVE on Tennis Channel

France leads tie 1-0 over Serbia (9 AM Sat - 7 AM Sun)
Gael Monfils defeated Janko Tipsarevic 6-1,7-6(4),6-0
Novak Djokovic vs Gilles Simon
Viktor Troicki and Nenad Zimonjic vs Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra
Novak Djokovic vs Gael Monfils
Janko Tipsarevic vs Gilles Simon

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 12/03/2010 at 10:18 AM

Congrats Gael. Beautiful match. Now I want Nole to win his...let's keep this interesting.

Posted by yello fuzzy 12/03/2010 at 10:18 AM

France serving for the match 5-0
ace 15-0
2nd serve Tipsy gambles on the angled BH CC, it goes wide 30-0
Monfils scrambling, makes Tipsy go for too much 40-0
2nd serve volley winner by Monfils
match to France 6-1,7-6,6-0

great composure and focus by Monfils

Posted by gauloises 12/03/2010 at 10:18 AM

Great performance by Monfils under pressure. I always seem to be either wildly overestimating or desperately underestimating him.

Poor Tipsy. That can't feel good.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 12/03/2010 at 10:18 AM

Drat ... a bagel. Congrats to Gael and France.

Commies to Tipsy and Serbia.

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) 12/03/2010 at 10:19 AM

Okay, one point for France. I can handle that. Hopefully Janko can win a live fifth rubber again, to be the biggest hero of all.

Posted by zenggi 12/03/2010 at 10:22 AM

Congrats to Gael and commisserations to Tipsy. Ouch that last set.

I really hope next match lives up to its potential.

Posted by yello fuzzy 12/03/2010 at 10:22 AM

Djoker has to come out and get the crowd back in it...that was a painful drubbing
the commies kept saying it would be hard for Tipsy to play solid tennis after not playing for the past month

Posted by Holds2Love 12/03/2010 at 10:22 AM

hi sokol, my commies discussed that earlier. one said in his opinion Troicki wouldn't have brought anything different and that the real problem, in his view, is not playing for a month before.

Think Djokovich is going to want to make a big statement here?

Posted by Holds2Love 12/03/2010 at 10:24 AM

lol, yellow fuzzy, I guess there's an echo in here. :)

Posted by yello fuzzy 12/03/2010 at 10:25 AM

love to see the bromance between teammates after a nice win

Posted by yello fuzzy 12/03/2010 at 10:26 AM

Holds2Love
I prefer to see it as great minds thinking alike lol

Posted by sokol 12/03/2010 at 10:28 AM

"one said in his opinion Troicki wouldn't have brought anything different and that the real problem, in his view, is not playing for a month before."

Holds2Love, maybe that's true, but Troicki have been playing pretty good lately, and Janko had some injury not long ago, but I guess the Serbian captain have seen both guys in practice and made his choice. It's going to be interesting who'll he play on Sunday.

"Think Djokovich is going to want to make a big statement here?"

oh yes, he is and I hope he does. Gael made a pretty big statement himself by giving breadstick and a bagel, Novak needs to answer it...


btw, it's going to be heartbreaking for Novak if they lose in front of the home crowd. I hope it won't happen tough...
Ajde!

Posted by Holds2Love 12/03/2010 at 10:29 AM

yes, yello fuzzy, that's it. :)

Posted by sokol 12/03/2010 at 10:29 AM

"tough"="though"

Posted by Ruth 12/03/2010 at 10:29 AM

Is anyone else as surprised as I am by the large number of French supporters in the stands and their loud support? I hope that this means that the Serbian hotel industry, at least, is having an excellent few days. I woke at 8:15, turned on the TV in my bedroom, and went to the kitchen to get some coffee etc. And the cheers etc coming from the TV had me thinking that the home team was winning the first set. But when I finally looked at the TV, France was up 5-1!

OK, now it's up to Nole against Jackie's guy! :-)

Posted by Holds2Love 12/03/2010 at 10:44 AM

sokol: "Gael made a pretty big statement himself by giving breadstick and a bagel, Novak needs to answer it..." do you suppose French baked goods taste any better? I doubt Tipsarevich would say he enjoyed those patisseries.

Djokovich in an earlier interview: "we are all in good shape physically and mentally... this is not about the individual effort...it's a team effort...he's always a tricky opponent to play against, on any surface... whoever you play in the finals you can't underestimate the opponent..." But I would be shocked if he doesn't take this.

Posted by beth 12/03/2010 at 10:45 AM

though I only saw a bit of the third set , I am totally impressed with Monfils' play. Seems he found the right balance of offense /defense today. I wish he could play as well for himself as he does for his country. He certainly brings all the right things to the Davis cup competition. He looked totally focused and "on" today.

sorry for Tipsarevic to lose so badly in front of the home crowd. To be honest , the score in the third set surprised me. I guess I have only seen Tipsy when he is playing out of his mind , like that great match against Federer , and the defeats of Roddick at Wimby and US Open. I have never seen him just lose so meekly. I realize that Monfils had a lot to do with it - but there at the end , he just seemed to run out of gas and accept the inevitable. And I did not expect that at all . Hope he can play better in his next match .

although I still want the French to win
Allez, Gilles !

Posted by nicothekou 12/03/2010 at 10:45 AM

I Love the challenge during the tiebreak ! It turned the tide for Monfils who was struggling until then.
I'm sad i won't be able to see Simon vs Djokovic.

And good job by the french supporters in Belgrade, they really were behind our guy !

Posted by Holds2Love 12/03/2010 at 10:46 AM

Enric Molina the chair umpire. Simon won the toss, but couldn't hear his choice.

Posted by Arun 12/03/2010 at 10:47 AM

Hi beth! Any updates about Gasquet's coaching situation in 2011?
Or is he gonna work again with Eric Deblicker on a permanent basis?

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) 12/03/2010 at 10:47 AM

My friend Zvonko tweeted that he's just arrived at the Arena, straight from the airport. Hope he brought a big bag of good luck and good cheer.

Serbia is really inexpensive for people who use Euros and dollars, so no, I'm not surprised, Ruth, at the number of French supporters who took a weekend break there. It's ideal for Xmas shopping!

Posted by Sherlock 12/03/2010 at 10:50 AM

"I always seem to be either wildly overestimating or desperately underestimating him."

He he. Well said, G. Might be a common issue among fans. :)

Feel bad for Tipsy, getting smoked at home. But well done, Gael, in a tough environment. Now come on, Nole, do this!!

Posted by Arun 12/03/2010 at 10:53 AM

"But well done, Gael, in a tough environment."
+1.
Very unexpected. Gael-Novak could be very good, if it turns out to be a live rubber.

Posted by beth 12/03/2010 at 10:53 AM

Hi, Arun !
Nope , have not heard anything other than the group is looking for someone
but Deblicker does seem to be ever present in his camp
much like a loving grandpa - Richard always seems to gravitate back to him

Posted by Arun 12/03/2010 at 10:55 AM

Thanks, beth.

Posted by zenggi 12/03/2010 at 10:57 AM

Back again. Allez, Gilles 1-0. Where is Jackie?

Novak looking good.

Posted by Jackie 12/03/2010 at 10:59 AM

Here. :)

ALLEZ!

Posted by zenggi 12/03/2010 at 11:01 AM

Good girl, Jackie. I though you had to babysit Timothée. It would have been very stressing for you, I guess.

Posted by Holds2Love 12/03/2010 at 11:02 AM

Simon hitting well from the baseline in that game. Great anticipation on the 30-15 point. He holds, 2-1 on serve.

Posted by zenggi 12/03/2010 at 11:03 AM

2-1 France. Novak to serve.

Posted by Ross (FOE, even Gael) 12/03/2010 at 11:03 AM

Is it new this year to use Hawkeye in DC?

Posted by Jackie 12/03/2010 at 11:04 AM

Not sure I could babysit Timmy. Would just be a painful reminder of all I could've had with Gilles. ;)

He doesn't *really* have a chance here, does he? Just hoping he doesn't get blown out. Fortunately I like Nole, so I'll be okay with the end result...

Posted by Sherlock 12/03/2010 at 11:06 AM

Aw, I'm rooting against Jackie's man. That's painful. :(

I hope Gilles plays well, Jax. How's that? :)

Arun!!! Best day of the week, my friend. At least when it gets closer to late afternoon. :) Hope you are well.

Posted by Sherlock 12/03/2010 at 11:07 AM

Ross, your nick is even more humorous today. :)

Posted by Jackie 12/03/2010 at 11:09 AM

Works for me, Sherlockheed Martin. :)

I'll be proud of him for just hanging tough. And I don't envy Nole, what with all that pressure. Hoping they both play their guts out.

Posted by sokol 12/03/2010 at 11:09 AM

Ajde, Novak!!!

Posted by crazyone 12/03/2010 at 11:11 AM

I don't understand why all the commentators thought this would be a Serb blowout. I'd be shocked if Djokovic lost either of his matches (though it's DC, so anything can happen), but that doesn't preclude the possibility of the French winning 3-2.

Posted by Jay 12/03/2010 at 11:12 AM

Allez-y mon fils, Monfils!

Posted by Ross (FOE, even Gael) 12/03/2010 at 11:13 AM

No clear answer online, except that they didn't have it for US-France in 2008.

Posted by Ross (FOE, even Gael) 12/03/2010 at 11:14 AM

They keep slipping these things by me.

Posted by Arun 12/03/2010 at 11:14 AM

Hey, Sherlock! How are you? I bet you were not a happy man watching the Heat being too hot for the Cavaliers. :)
Yep, nothing beats Friday.

Posted by gauloises 12/03/2010 at 11:16 AM

Mystery to me too, c1. It's plain to me that France have far greater strength in depth. Serbia are the underdogs as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by zenggi 12/03/2010 at 11:18 AM

Oh, Jackie. You deserve soooo much better. Think of all those escargots...

Interesting match.

4-3. On serve still.

Posted by Jackie 12/03/2010 at 11:18 AM

Look at this crew we have gathered here. Just like old times. :)

g and c1, don't get my hopes up!

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) 12/03/2010 at 11:19 AM

crazyone - I didn't understand the predictions, either. I think it's just down to the fact that sports commentators like a heartwarming story - you know, the Cinderella story. Even American commentators got emotional when France won in 1992 over the US.

Posted by CL 12/03/2010 at 11:19 AM

Annie - you are so right about the TC commies...I don't recognize them either.

Nervous play from Novak might let Gilles of the hook.

Posted by CL 12/03/2010 at 11:20 AM

Or not.

Posted by Jackie 12/03/2010 at 11:20 AM

zenggi, totally. I've moved on to greener pastures.

Still want him to win, though. ;)

Posted by zenggi 12/03/2010 at 11:22 AM

I'm on your (and Gilles) side, Jackie. I want for France to win the DC for the 10th time. Why not?

Posted by Sherlock 12/03/2010 at 11:23 AM

" I bet you were not a happy man watching the Heat being too hot for the Cavaliers."

I'm already trying to forget it happened, Arun. :) But at least I didn't have to spend all evening watching, it was over so early.

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) 12/03/2010 at 11:25 AM

BET365 is taking wagers on "Troicki v. Clement" on Sunday. huh?

Posted by Holds2Love 12/03/2010 at 11:27 AM

4th (?) BP for Djokovich

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) 12/03/2010 at 11:28 AM

okay, now the "receive first" tactic finally worked.

TOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

Posted by Arun 12/03/2010 at 11:28 AM

"BET365 is taking wagers on "Troicki v. Clement" on Sunday. huh?"
Looking at Forget's decision-making skill, I wouldn't completely rule it out, even if it's a live rubber.

Posted by zenggi 12/03/2010 at 11:29 AM

It's like watching themselves in a mirror, isn't it?

And Novaks break at last. Allez, Gilles.

Posted by beth 12/03/2010 at 11:30 AM

what a long game !
and Djokovic finally wins it
pulling Gilles into the net clearly is a tactic that is gonna work for Nole

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 12/03/2010 at 11:32 AM

crazyone: long time no see! lovely to see you here. how have you been?

Posted by Holds2Love 12/03/2010 at 11:33 AM


Now Gilles with the BP

Posted by mick1303 12/03/2010 at 11:33 AM

For Fed AND Nadal fans:
http://tinyurl.com/2eqp9fo

Posted by Holds2Love 12/03/2010 at 11:34 AM

but not to be... Djokovich converts. 3-5 on Simon's serve.

Posted by CL 12/03/2010 at 11:35 AM

beth - agree about the net play- not sure why Novak hasn't used it more. Lots of UFEs from Novak- nervous, and who can blame him, what with the weight of national as well as personal expectations, on him.

That put away that Gilles failed to put away on game pt. really came back to bite him.

Posted by Jackie 12/03/2010 at 11:36 AM

Ahhh, I wish I could watch! And my SB is so. slow.

Good tennis so far? Or nervy?

Posted by zenggi 12/03/2010 at 11:39 AM

And Gilles' first serve and set is gone. 21 - 15 Winners-UFE's Djokovic, 6 - 9 for Simon.

Kudos to Novak so far.

Posted by beth 12/03/2010 at 11:40 AM

jackie - it was pretty nervy tennis until Nole got the break
Now he is firing on all cylinders , (sadly for Gilles)

Hopefully he can regroup

Posted by zenggi 12/03/2010 at 11:41 AM

Jackie,
Time to arrange that cupboard you wanted to do for ages. I hope Guy gives Gilles a plan B for the rest of the match.

Posted by CL 12/03/2010 at 11:42 AM

Jackie - agree with beth. I think if Gilles could have held in that long game, the pressure would have really been on Novak,,,but now he seems to be playing a lot less tentatively and has cut back on UFEs. Still, only second set...will have to see how the match goes as it gets later.

Posted by zenggi 12/03/2010 at 11:45 AM

And Gilles holds to love. Jackie, hope. 1-1.

Posted by jb (chocolate FTW!!!) 12/03/2010 at 11:47 AM

nole seems to be flowing much better now. we'll see if gilles regroups in the second set.

funny, one great player on a team doesn't mean they're the favourite, just means there's extra pressure on that one player.

i'd prefer a team of solid lower ranked players.

Posted by Jackie 12/03/2010 at 11:50 AM

Thanks, beth, zenggi, CL. :)

zenggi, fortunately I'm at work so distractions are aplenty. And more painful than watching Gilles lose, sadly.

At least we know the boy will never give up.

Posted by beth 12/03/2010 at 11:51 AM

does look like Gilles has regrouped
so on we go

He is a little retriever , isn't he ?
I know if Tim were here , he would be making remarks about moonpies

Posted by Holds2Love 12/03/2010 at 11:55 AM

Djokovich with the break, he is serving lights out atm. 3-1

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) 12/03/2010 at 11:57 AM

jb: I think the other factor playing into "favourite" predictions is the "home court advantage" - which can either also translate into extra pressure, or elevate a tie into the mythic: France winning in Paris, Croatia winning in Zagreb, etc.....

teams of solid lower ranked players - CZE comes to mind - do well in DC, but rarely win it, it seems. Except maybe Croatia, Ljubicic wasn't very highly ranked until the year afterwards.

Posted by beth 12/03/2010 at 11:57 AM

uh-oh
early break for Nole
not looking good for the scrappy little visitor right now

still not sure that anyone the French put on the court today , short of Tsonga , could keep up with this on form version of Djokovic

but , as they say , it ain' t over til it's over - so Gilles has got to keep trying

Posted by yello fuzzy 12/03/2010 at 11:58 AM

geez I step out for a minute and Novak is almost up 2 sets....

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) 12/03/2010 at 11:59 AM

beth, it's true - especially in DC, where anything, including miracles, can happen.

Posted by Ruth 12/03/2010 at 12:02 PM

About 45 minutes for the first set? Is that enough over 3 or even 5 sets for the tire-Nole-out-for-Sunday theory to take hold -- 2 days from today? Probably not -- not if what we've been learning about tiredness vis a vis professional tennis players is accurate.

Sorry, couldn't resist that! (Well, not really sorry.) ;-)

Posted by Jackie 12/03/2010 at 12:03 PM

HA, Ruth. Well played. :)

Well, that was fun while it lasted.

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