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


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 Master Ace 12/02/2010 at 02:15 PM

Davis Cup Final - LIVE on Tennis Channel

Serbia vs France (8 AM Fri - 9 AM Sat - 7 AM Sun)
Janko Tipsarevic vs Gael Monfils
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 Master Ace 12/02/2010 at 02:20 PM

Serbia 3-2

Posted by CL 12/02/2010 at 02:38 PM

I pretty much agree about Gilles...but for slightly different reasons. Can you be relentless and 'soft' at the same time? I'm trying to remember how Andrew described Gilles a couple of years ago when he had that great run. And failing. But soft wasn't part of the description.

But in any case, I think part of Gilles' problem is that the rest of the tour has sort of figured him out. As often happens when someone starts putting together a really good run. it may take awhile, but the tour almost always catches up.

Is Gael really that much taller than Gilles? Or has Gilles turned from a baby owl into a turtle?

Posted by JB (FOOPs unite!!!) 12/02/2010 at 03:06 PM

While I was incredibly disappointed that Llodra's not playing singles, at least on Friday, I figured that they're keeping him fresh for the dubs, because that will be critical. And then they can put him in on Sunday for Gillou, if necessary, and he could play still relatively fresh.

I know the surface is going to be slow, but I still think if Llodra is playing and serving well, his game can be very effective.

Still, am very sad panda that llodra and benny won't be playing dubs... :(

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) 12/02/2010 at 03:38 PM

As gung-ho as I am about this tie, I don't really think putting Gillou into that second slot was such a bad idea, regardless of records and perceived "softness" - it wasn't long ago that Simon was considered dangerous. (Though I suppose it is indeed a bit odd given current singles rankings.) Given the fact that Forget was a Davis Cup hero himself, he might have some insight we can't know.

The Davis Cup site also has an article describing the Arena itself the fifth Serbian team member. I expect the home crowd to be respectful, but ear-splitting, with leftover vuvuzelas, those BNP thunder sticks, and all manner of instruments brought from home. If I had the scratch, I'd be there. Instead, I am bemoaning the fact that in the US, we can't access the official web stream. At 8:00 am, I'd rather stay in bad with my laptop than descend to watch on TTC.

Janko looks neither nervous nor like a wolf to me. He's definitely a guy who knows how to rise to the occasion.

Posted by Colette 12/02/2010 at 03:46 PM

CL, if you look at the group photo on the home page, Simon is taller than Tipsarevic and Clement. I never realized Clement was so small.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 12/02/2010 at 03:49 PM

Pete, I said the exact same thing earlier today when I saw the OOP. MA thought the decision was probably surface-related.

I'm bemoaning the lack of streams for us, too, tina. Oh well, we've got live TV coverage and the U.S. isn't even playing so that's a big big improvement over previous years.

Posted by CL 12/02/2010 at 03:49 PM

Collette - I was looking at the same picture. I knew Clement was not a big guy...just surprised that Gael is so much taller than Gilles. I guess just because Gilles is so thin, bordering on mal-nourished, that it somehow makes him seem tall and skinny, as opposed to just skinny.

Posted by Andrew 12/02/2010 at 03:57 PM

CL: Maybe you're thinking of this

"Agotado in Spanish means "exhausted." ATP tennis fans certainly are after two cracking matches, the second between Nadal and Gilles "that which does not kill me makes me stronger" Simon for my money the best three set match of the year."

Gilles "I only start running when the trap door opens" Simon had a fantastic 2008, and has gone off the map since then - a pity for Jackie and his other fans.

I dunno - I'm not a DC strategist, but Forget's decision (with no inside information whatsoever) makes some sense to me. If it's 3-0 Serbia after Day 2, game over: so you have to look (from France's PoV) at how France might stand at the end of day 2 with open ties, and with Llodra having either played day 1 or not.

If it's 2-1 France, then they're in the catbird seat - if Llodra hasn't played, he's available for Tipsarevic or Troicki to provide the final killing point. And Monfils is rested and ready for Djokovic.

If it's 1-2 France, and Llodra has played both singles and doubles, on clay, then you've put all your eggs into that one basket. On a fast court, OK; on clay, oof, tough, particularly as the Serbs have Troicki available for the third day. But if Llodra has played just the doubles, he has more in the tank, and then it's up to Gael to bring it all back home.

So Forget's decision isn't obviously silly. If France loses, he'll be told he made the wrong decision. If he wins, then he's a genius. Neither might be true, but that's how the world works.

Posted by Jackie 12/02/2010 at 03:59 PM


I had to do it.

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) 12/02/2010 at 04:06 PM

I'm listening to the podcast. I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the fact that Zimonjic and Llodra will be doubles partners on tour at the start of next season. That's another interesting plotline.

note to all the podcast guys: could you please learn to pronounce Zeemohnyitch? You've had plenty of difficult names over the years, is this one that much more difficult?

Posted by CL 12/02/2010 at 04:11 PM

Andrew- thanks! :-) That was one of the ones...but wasn't there also some comparison w/ Mr. Montoya of Princess Bride?

BTW- did you see my message the other night? I am sorry I did not recognize an olive branch when I see at least part of one. (Though still a few thorns ***ouch**) My excuse this time was I was reading, posting and running. Always a bad combo. And, you of all people are never condescending. That was 100% my bad. That 'bled over' from another conversation. tsk on me.

Posted by CL 12/02/2010 at 04:14 PM

tina - other than just their 'general mostly terribleness' are you 'boycotting' TC for anything specific?

WOW - news flash - there is a Law and Order on TV now that is so old that BOTH Jerry Orbach and Chris Noth are on! Not the paleolithic L&O, but not Neolithic either.

Posted by Master Ace 12/02/2010 at 04:18 PM

Are you listening to today's podcast or the one that talked about the WTF on Monday b/w Federer and Nadal?

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) 12/02/2010 at 04:18 PM

Annie, I know it's a huge improvement and I'm moaning over nothing - I actually have TTC, but only on one downstairs TV, and somehow I feel guiltier watching that TV during the day than I do lying in bed. Once upon a time, I couldn't get any streams at all to work on my Mac; the struggles I go through to watch live tennis when I'm overseas are ridiculous. Back here I am clearly spoiled, and should simply thank my lucky stars.

Hey, m'dear, glad you enjoyed your London trip, sorry you brought back a cold. Did you grab any Lemsips while you were there? It's like Theraflu and works wonders. There's also an OTC painkiller that contains a small amount of an opium derivative, a friend with migraines always has me bring some back for her. I also find that a proper hot whiskey with a clove-spiked lemon wedge helps a lot.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 12/02/2010 at 04:19 PM

CL: Linz and I ran into Gilles outside the grandstand at the Open. You will be pleased to know that he didn't look at all malnourished. He looked divine! But he doesn't look uber skinny on tv for some reason. whereas the other players are all skinnier in person than on tv! The Bryan's look way thinner on tv.

Posted by Tic 12/02/2010 at 04:21 PM

Both Tipsarevic and Monfils used to be at the very top as juniors. They still are quite high up, but the majority of excellent juniors never make it.

For instance, did you know that Jamie Murray (24) was much better prospect than Andy (23) while they were juniors? There used to be a bitter rivalry between bros back then, but Andy soon rocketed up.

This from Mirror article:

"I began playing tennis when I was four," recalls Jamie, who until his teens was the second-best junior player in the world.
So, is there any rivalry between the two brothers? "Nah, not now," he laughs.
"But I do remember when we played in an under-12s tournament at Solihull and Andy beat me.
After the tournament we were returning home with Mum driving the minibus and Andy was teasing me about having beaten me.
"He was sat behind me and had his hand over the seat and I turned round and hit his hand with my fist. He ended up losing the nail and it hasn't grown back since."

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 12/02/2010 at 04:23 PM

tina, I do know about the tylenol with a wee bit of codeine and I bought some at the heathrow Boots. The last time I was in London I brought 3 boxes home with me. Now, 7 years later, it's behind the counter and only one box per customer. So my sister said, within earshot, I'll buy a box for you, and the pharmacist said "No, not if you're together." -- getting very strict now.

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) 12/02/2010 at 04:25 PM

Today's podcast, MA.

I don't have any reason to boycott TTC, just laziness. Once I go downstairs to the only TV in the house that has it, I feel guilty and get more distracted - also that room is too far from the Wifi router.

CL: I saw that you, too, are a fan of Boardwalk Empire. When I was younger, I was obsessed with Rome circa 1959; but a couple of years back, working on a screenplay project, the Prohibition era became the era that interests me above all. Plus, I can't get over the Production Design.

Posted by Jackie 12/02/2010 at 04:26 PM

Ah, Andrew. That link brings back memories. I still bear a grudge against Hanescu for RUINING GILLES'S CAREER. (Or Hanescu was just his opponent in the RG '09 match where Gilles tweaked his knee. Never seemed to fully recover.)

Can I hope that Gilles is still in redemption mode, following that dismal '09 DC performance?

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) 12/02/2010 at 04:27 PM

(when I said "descend" I meant "go downstairs")

Posted by Jackie 12/02/2010 at 04:39 PM

Wait, where's the podcast? I only see Monday's...

Posted by CWATC 12/02/2010 at 04:39 PM

Terrific article by NYT Chris Clarey about Djokovic today:

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 12/02/2010 at 04:41 PM

tina, it's funny how we all have our favorite places to watch matches. I prefer the chair by the fire but then the tv is too far I usually stream the matches on to my laptop and don't even watch the tv! I think we had a DC topic about this once. right, Jax?

Posted by Or 12/02/2010 at 04:42 PM

I said in the earlier thread, that I thought it was a sound desicion. We know Gilles has it in him to be as tough as nails. Who can forget that nail biter against Rafa, where both of them broke and held, broke and held, broke and held. Every time you thought this was it to baby owl, he went and broke Rafa again, then won this in a TB, if I'm not mistaken?

Anything but mentally soft. And Djoko can have his moments, and I think Gilles can exploit them.

This tie can make or break next year for Djoko, if anyone is gonna falter, it will be him.

Posted by Kombo 12/02/2010 at 04:48 PM

When does Roger play?

Posted by Jackie 12/02/2010 at 04:49 PM

Good memory, Annie. :)

Posted by Or 12/02/2010 at 04:59 PM

Sigh. I wish I could call some of the snow falling in London and Europe to us.

The biggest fire in Israel since forever is running loose and wild, 40 people already died when a bus of prison guards who went to evecuate a prison was caught in the flames. High ranked police officers who went to help are critically injured as well, including the first women in Israel to head a police station. She probably won't make it.

And 4 days ago I was telling Annie and the rest of the Twibe members I've met in London that we haven't had one drop of rain through the entire winter. Bloody draught, the land is so dry everything is spreading so much quickler. And we're currently tweedling our thumbs waiting for forgien aid with more anti-burn stuff and unique helicopters, because apperantly we've run out of the anti-burn unit (??!!).

10,000 Acers of wood is gone, and it isn't like we have much wood to begin with.

Posted by CL 12/02/2010 at 05:06 PM

Kombo - heehee. Fed said in an interview after WTF that during vacation he doesn't/won't/can't be made to pick up a racket. Then there was a 'slight pause' and he added, "Unless Mirka want's to hit..she is the only one who can get me out on the court." Mirka Rules!

And if you are asking when Fed is gonna play DC, well maybe the Mirka answer rules there as well...mayb Switz should just eschew DC all together and switch to Hopman Cup. Mirka, Fed, Stan and Martina H.

Posted by CL 12/02/2010 at 05:08 PM

Or - oh that is AWFUL! Sounds like what was happening in Russia this past summer...drought, heat, fires. I am afraid that shifting weather patterns, no matter who or what anyone thinks cause them, is going to have all of us confronting some truly usual weather and the kind of problems truly unusual weather can bring.

Posted by Master Ace 12/02/2010 at 05:09 PM

December 21 against Nadal in Zurich followed by a Dec. 22 match in Madrid.

Posted by CL 12/02/2010 at 05:11 PM

tina - I know...some of the critics were moaning and groaning about how the production design was 'distracting.' !!!??!! We find it to be amazingly good in that it totally does what production design is supposed to do..ground you in the period.

I can't believe I am liking Steve Buscemi this much. lol.

gotta run for awhile.

What a day...fires, snow, new life forms and sharks...

Posted by CL 12/02/2010 at 05:13 PM

Uh-hem, MA- we DON'T count Exos...

at least I don't - any match where Fed wears schilling for Rolex by wearing his watch is, by definition, not a real tennis match. Against anyone.

really off...

Posted by Master Ace 12/02/2010 at 05:17 PM

Question was when Federer play his next match. Did not specify exo or regular season match. LOL

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 12/02/2010 at 05:20 PM

Or, oh that is so terrible about the fires. I'm so sorry :'(

Posted by Colette 12/02/2010 at 05:22 PM

Or, sorry to hear that. Drought and the resulting wild fire can wreak such havoc. Southern California knows too well. Wish I could send you some of the rain we had yesterday in western NC. So much that you couldn't get out of our road unless you had a pick-up or jeep-type vehicle.

Posted by Or 12/02/2010 at 05:35 PM

CL -

Yeah. It's not just the weather itself. It wasn't hot in Israel today (just, you know, dry land from all the previous months when it was hot), it was either an illegal garbage burning which caught fire, or arson.

But most of all its that we apperantly didn't have the equipment, even thought the head of the fire department been warning in the past years that we aren't sufficiently ready for an emergency. So now we're sitting and waiting for forgien aid to get here. Peachy.

I mean, sometimes you are hit with a natural disaster so huge, one can't help but ask for help, no matter how big or powerful you are. Like earthquakes which take out half the country.

But this? Really, we should have been prepared to handle it ourselves.

Someone better pay with their head for that. There's no way we can't allocate the funds to be able to help ourselves in a case of a fire, even a big one.

Posted by Or 12/02/2010 at 05:38 PM

CL -

Pity Mirka retired all those years ago, I always entertain myself with the thought of Roger and her playing mixed doubles...though net play wasn't exactly her forte from what I've seen of her game.

Posted by Or 12/02/2010 at 05:44 PM

Colette - Yeah, I remember the south CA fires, it took ages to control those.

Posted by Kristy 12/02/2010 at 05:48 PM

CL (though I know you're gone), you ever didn't like Steve Buscemi? I think he's always brilliant, no matter what he's in. He has a cameo at the beginning of The Wedding Singer that's one of the funniest things I've ever seen.

About Gilles Simon -- he looks surprisingly hot in this little clip with him and Nole:

(from linz's blog)

Posted by Jackie 12/02/2010 at 05:51 PM

Oof, Or. That's terrible. Hope things improve stat.

I take it you've seen the old Fed/Mirka Hopman Cup vids? I'll link you if you haven't. :)

Posted by Kristy 12/02/2010 at 05:52 PM

Jackie, sorry to slight Simon who I know you like! He's growing on me.

Posted by Or 12/02/2010 at 05:52 PM

BTW, it's worth checking out Roddick's twitter. He's pretty pissed about the 'no exos' idea (I don't think it's a rule just yet) - he's saying his charities would take a major hit if that happens, directors can't run his off-season, etc etc.

Posted by Jackie 12/02/2010 at 05:54 PM

LOL Kristy. I was just about to question the "surprisingly" part. ;)

There's a reason I wanted to bear his love child. Carine beat me to it.

Posted by Jackie 12/02/2010 at 05:57 PM

Erm, and his tennis ain't bad either. (I keep forgetting I'm not in the Deuce Club. ;))

Posted by CL 12/02/2010 at 06:24 PM

Kristy - oh, I think he is an excellent actor! But creepy...he reminds me of a more creepy John Waters, who I actually like a lot.

I think I have stopped making again...dinner and Mr. CL is promising cosmos!

Posted by CWATC 12/02/2010 at 06:27 PM

What is funny about the Fed/Mirka tennis combo is that her strength was the double-handed backhand, complete opposite of his game.

I remember back when Mirka was "non-coaching" Fed, Fed said he wouldn't specifically ask her how he should play against a certain player, he would say "how would you play against player X?" which I thought was hilarious given their completely different styles. Somehow I suspect she let him know how HE should play :)

Wonder if the fedtwins will play double-handed backhand like mom or single-handed like dad. According to Roger when he gives them rackets now they bang them into the walls and break them. Ah well, there's time . . . .

Posted by CWATC 12/02/2010 at 06:31 PM

BTW Or, I'm also sad to hear about the fires and the lack of proper preparation. Israel certainly deserves the foreign aid tho', they are usually first in line when other countries have natural disasters.

The ban on exo's didn't go through I don't think.

Hate, hate, hate the idea of the Fedal exo coming up, but I've ranted enough about that one.

Posted by Or 12/02/2010 at 06:54 PM

I'd love to see a single match of Mirka, but she never quite got this far in majors. I think her best result was a third round match vs. henin, before Henin was Henin, so no youtube or anything of that.

Posted by Amit 12/02/2010 at 07:01 PM


Thanks for the NYT link about Djokovic. Terrific read. I feel that Djokovic's consistency is greatly overlooked in our Federer-Nadal lovefest. He's been in the top 3 for 4 years in a row and has been far more consistent than many of his peers who glide in and out of the top 10.

Very admirable for a young man to overcome the adversity that he did, handle the pressure he must've been under and be this good at his craft.

Posted by BrooklynNY 12/02/2010 at 07:25 PM

This is only dependent on the surface and court speed.

If its as fast as the USO,(clearly will be no where near Bercy), he can beat anyone on any day.

If the court is like Indian Wells Llodra would get double bageled by Nole.

Posted by CWATC 12/02/2010 at 07:26 PM

I think one of Mirka's better matches was a 6-4 6-4 loss to Monica Seles at the 2000 Princess Cup.

Here's a description from the time:

"Seles, the Olympic bronze medalist in Sydney, beat her Swiss opponent, a qualifier, 6-4, 6-4.

Seles had trouble with her serve, and the 22-year-old Vavrinec bothered the world's former No. 1 player with some good angled serves, forehand corners and crosscourts, breaking the top seed once - in the third game of the second set. Seles is left-handed.

"I had difficulty moving. I was slow to react," said Seles of the angular serve. "I had a lot of opportunities to break her but didn't capitalize on them. Her serve became more of a weapon."

In the first set alone, Seles couldn't convert four break points in the first game and had three break points slip away in the third.

In their only previous match in the 1999 Toyota Princess, Seles beat Vavrinec 6-1, 6-0 in the round of 16 players.

"I don't remember the match from last year. Today I played better on key points. Otherwise it was a very close match," Seles said."

Posted by CWATC 12/02/2010 at 07:34 PM

I found a website where the founder claims they have Seles' defeat of Mirka at the 2001 AO 2nd round, if you want to trade for a different women's match. Sounds a bit complicated, lol.

Posted by beth 12/02/2010 at 07:38 PM

I am a bit surprised by the choice to play Simon over Llodra on Friday . I figured he would be a Sunday replacement , should things go to live action that day , and Llodra would be tired. Maybe they just hope he can keep Djokovic out there a long time and wear him down. Simon is a good runner / retriever . Could be the surface is slow and Llodra's game just did not work as well there as on the fast Bercy court.

Monfils is extremely tall - at least 6'4 . I doubt that Gilles is over 6 feet . Clement is only about 5'8 on a good day and in heels :)
since we were discussing height earlier .

Posted by beth 12/02/2010 at 07:40 PM

Jax - darn that Carine :)

Posted by Holds2Love 12/02/2010 at 07:42 PM

out for a while and missed a lot, but first must say to Or, what a terrible tragedy the fire is.

Posted by Jackie 12/02/2010 at 07:46 PM

beth, I know, right? The nerve. :)

Clement fits in my pocket.

Posted by Holds2Love 12/02/2010 at 07:50 PM

so many OT things to comment upon, but I will say that I am ridiculously excited about the DC final. While all of you parse Guy Forget's decision-making I will sit back and observe and, hopefully, learn. It's really Davis Cup that brings this coaching/strategizing to the fore, so it's truly something to appreciate in this context.

Posted by Holds2Love 12/02/2010 at 07:57 PM

Lol, Jackie. Reminds me of a line from Jane Austen's Emma... 'you know who I adore? who I just want to wrap up and put in my pocket'? doubt Jane Austen had Clement in mind...

and now from Jane Austen to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Sherlock, ever the gentleman @4:36pm, "Apologies to all the LeBron fans, but I hope Cleveland wins..." moi aussi.

Posted by Holds2Love 12/02/2010 at 08:07 PM

Tic, thank you very much for all the great photos you share... I loved Andy and Maggie in the snow. The one of Novak and Gilles -- are you sure they're looking at baby photos? I think Novak has Hannah's mobile...

Posted by CL 12/02/2010 at 08:13 PM

***totally dies to see Clement in heels***

But only WITH headband and cool shades.

Posted by beth 12/02/2010 at 08:14 PM

Jackie - I know that girl had some nerve - giving Gilles a lovechild before you had the chance - she stole your idea
Having seen a few photos of him holding the baby , he does make the cutest babydaddy
kind of a look of - wow , I made this , now what do I do ?

While Clement might fit in your pocket - or under the seat of your car - or in a carry on bag
I am not sure I would want him. He is , by all reports , somewhat of a sourpuss .

Posted by beth 12/02/2010 at 08:15 PM

CL - absolutely - Clement must always wear headband and shades
He is french therefore he must accessorize

Posted by Holds2Love 12/02/2010 at 08:15 PM

thanks for that dixie chicks link, CL. not what I was expecting... ok, I'll shut up now...

Posted by CL 12/02/2010 at 08:19 PM

Am I miss-remembering this..entirely possible...but when Clement and Llodra won the Wimbles dubs a few years ago, didn't they get, like, totally snockered celebrating their semi win - so badly that they could hardly play the final?

Posted by john smith 12/02/2010 at 08:21 PM

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?

That's not so hard to tell, isn't it?

Posted by CL 12/02/2010 at 08:26 PM

Holds2Love - did you check out the Steve Earle, "I aint' Ever Sastisfied" link? A day or so ago. This for Fed fans who are, you know, never satisfied. ;-)

I do think Fed bears a permanent, small but steady, grudge against Mats. You know how sensitive men are!

Posted by beth 12/02/2010 at 08:28 PM

CL - not sure about that , what I vividly remember is that they stripped down to their underwear to celebrate their win . Or maybe that was the semi , that they did the striptease :)
But,they did win a Wimbledon trophy once , didn't they?
And they are always talking about wine - or having a great bottle to celebrate when they win .
Wonder if they brought any good stuff with them to Serbia ?

Posted by CL 12/02/2010 at 08:35 PM

beth - yes, I am not sure of the exact sequence of inebriated events either. But I do remember snoo foo that it was all hilarious.

Posted by beth 12/02/2010 at 08:40 PM

I miss Snoo Foo - and her Llodra love
He is quite a character . And I have seen him inebriated .
And then play a match the next day quite hungover . It was not a pretty sight

He stayed up and partied with the coaches at IW (the french coaches are a social bunch ) and
They were in the lobby when we left for an evening match, and still there when we returned hours later. Llodra right among them . Only he had to play at 11 am the next day - against Richard
It did not go well for Llodra .

Posted by CL 12/02/2010 at 08:51 PM

beth - I miss snoo so much as well.**le sigh**

I am sure a hung over Llodra is not even close to being a pretty sight. For zee Frenchies sake, let's hope Forget packed the short leashes.

Any word from the basketball watchers how the return of LeBron is going? My husband has control of the remote and therefore we are watching the early 1930 something version of a Midsummers Nights Dream with Mickey Rooney, Jimmy Cagney and Joe E. Brown. Good thing there were cocktails before dinner. (Pretty cool visually though.)

Posted by Holds2Love 12/02/2010 at 08:53 PM

speaking of infamous tennis hangovers... Stepanek defeated Federer in the quarterfinals of Rome (08) then retired against Djokovich due to "heat exhaustion." am I making this up? I kind of remember that there was speculation that Stepanek had celebrated his defeat of Federer rather enthusiastically and paid for it the next day.

Miami on a 16-0 run now up 33-26

Posted by CL 12/02/2010 at 08:58 PM

Holds2Love - Oh, I remember that too...and I think it was more than speculation..Steps sorta owned up to it.

OMG - Dick Powell, batting his eyelashes too!

Has anyone booed and/or laughed at LeBron?

Posted by CL 12/02/2010 at 09:01 PM

Looks like there were:;_ylt=At6ME9aJpG4ayoien7h0Ca68vLYF?slug=ap-lebronshomecoming

What the hail is a "powder toss"? Sounds like a competition for Avon ladies.

Posted by Holds2Love 12/02/2010 at 09:02 PM

CL, yes, I saw Steve Earl, I ain't ever satisfied. couple that with the Stones, (I can't get no) Satisfaction and you have a lot of dissatisfied customers, kind of like the Cleveland fans right now. didn't I say I was going to shut up? ;-) lots of booing, not so much with the laughter... LeBron coming back in to boos... 43-34 Heat

Posted by Holds2Love 12/02/2010 at 09:08 PM


this is the chalk powder toss, CL.

Posted by Holds2Love 12/02/2010 at 09:09 PM

don't you hate when your husband seizes the remote to watch Shakespeare movies and you can't watch NBA basketball?!?!

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 12/02/2010 at 09:49 PM

CWATC: why do you hate the idea of the fedal exos? The proceeds go to charity. It should be a fun low key couple of nights, no?

Posted by CWATC 12/02/2010 at 10:45 PM

Hi Annie :)

I just think it's an unneccesary waste of physical and mental energy for Roger. Even if it's just an exo, it will always be mentally stressful for him to play Rafa. Moreover, the matches are in late December, exactly at the time when he should be preparing seriously for the new season. This just eats up a couple days for no reason and will tire him. Last, I felt it worked to Roger's advantage a little at the WTF that it's been so long since Nadal played him on HC, Nadal seemed a little intimidated and unsure. Why give him to free practice sessions to reaquaint himself w/ Roger's game and experiment with what shots to play?

I just don't see what's in it for Roger at all beyond obviously raising money for and publicizing his foundation. I mean I'm all for charity, but couldn't he just write a bigger check?

Hopefully I'm wrong and it'll all be fine. Guess I'm still a bit traumatized by the Sampras exo's which IMO may have lead to the mono and were a bit embarrassing for him w/ Sampy winning a match. I feel Roger pushes himself just a bit too far sometimes and it comes back to bite him.

Posted by Oy vey 12/02/2010 at 10:51 PM

I stood right next to Clement. He's 5'6 tops.

Posted by JimF 12/02/2010 at 11:16 PM

>> felt that is Simon is—how do you say this diplomatically?—a little soft (there is no way, I guess <<

Machine translation from -- Klingon?

Posted by Joe 12/02/2010 at 11:18 PM

CWATC, I don't think you have to worry about the fedal exos
First at all it's not a *competive matches", just a charity show and something fun for them and for us. Guess both of them will win one match and I don't think that could be so stressful for Federer or Nadal intimidated and unsure (he never seemed that way playing to Fedex at the WFT)

Posted by Aube,I feel for Lebron tonight plus I'm not sure about their dream team no more!!! 12/02/2010 at 11:26 PM

No Holds2Love,I don't hate it because I will snatch it back,lol!

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 12/03/2010 at 12:13 AM

CWATC: well, how's this for crazy? I just read that Nole and Rafa are playing an exo in Bogota, yes, Bogota, on the Monday following the Sunday final at IW. Which, happens to also be the first day of the Miami masters. So both men are using a valuable "bye" day meant for travel, rest and practice to travel to another continent for one night. How completely nuts is that?

Posted by CWATC 12/03/2010 at 12:24 AM

Joe, we shall see.

To prove me wrong Fed needs to win the AO, so hopefully he hops to it. :) (otherwise I'm blaming any loss on the exo, ha ha)

Posted by CWATC 12/03/2010 at 12:30 AM


What the heck? What's wrong w/ these folks lately?

Have to say stuff like that makes complaints about the long season pretty tough to swallow.

Posted by CWATC 12/03/2010 at 12:42 AM

Just read about the Colombia exo. I guess to be fair it's not all that far from the US and is kinda in between IW and Miami geographically.

Apparantly they tried to get Fed to play Rafa but had to settle for Djoker.

So yeay Feddy for at least resisting the allure of Bogata :)

Posted by GB 12/03/2010 at 01:29 AM

Really, really hope this is a great weekend for Nole!

I'm with CWATC on being concerned about the Fedal exos. Not only do I think a run of loses wouldn't be great for Rafa, I think he needs to be working on his fitness instead of wasting energy.

And WTF is with this new exo, Rafa?? I guess deciding only to play DC in Feb used up all the sensible scheduling brain space you had for the rest of the h/court run, huh? And, I will kill Rafole if they somehow make it into a crazy marathon, as really only they can *still scared of Rafole curse*

Posted by GB 12/03/2010 at 01:44 AM

Wait, did someone say there's going to be a problem with streams?:((

The fact that Gilles' isn't really considered to have any chance just shows how quickly the tennis world turns. I don't think he's 'soft' - you don't beat Fed and Rafa in a crazy ass match if you are. His game hasn't really been the same since the injuries:(

Listening to the podcast and hearing that Nole called it 'the best important weekend of our lives'. Frazzle.

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

*anti jinx, anti jinx* - I'm not saying he doesn't have a chance. Always there is a chance, no?

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/03/2010 at 04:20 AM

Morning, everyone. :)

I don't mind a couple of exhibitions in the off-season, like the Fedal ones - but I don't understand the reasoning behind playing one in the middle of IW-Miami stretch. I suppose, even if they both go far in IW, to the SFs or better, they won't be playing on the first day of Miami; it'll be three or four days in before they have to play a match. Still, seens like extra un-needed travelling and pressure in a busy part of the season.

Posted by zenggi 12/03/2010 at 04:31 AM

Good morning,

"If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can't Gilles?"

I'd love for Jackie's ex-prospect husband to win this one match. One for little Timothée and Jakx!
On the other hand I think Novak is carrying the weight of his nation's expectations on his toned shoulders. Therefore he should win carried by the crowd.


Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/03/2010 at 04:41 AM

Hi zenggi! How's your weather today - still cold?

I think I'd like Nole to win (sorry Jax), and then Gael, although a Tipsy win would make me just as happy. :) Think I would prefer Serbia overall, but for Gael to play well for the French. Nice to watch with no frazzle anyway.

Posted by zenggi 12/03/2010 at 04:47 AM

Hi jewell!

If it were Novak against Gael and Gilles against Tipsy, I wouldn't have a dilemma! :)

Gael says today in L'Equipe that he is very panicked but that he likes it.
He's probably shout Allez from the second point on if he wins it and if he carries him to win the match. Lots of interesting pictures in the pess tomorrow I'm sure.

I wouldn't frazzle about that exhibition in Bogotá. It will probably not be played by the top-guns.

Posted by zenggi 12/03/2010 at 04:49 AM

What happened to my spelling? I apologize.

Lots of snow and more to come, jewell. It isn't funny any more. The children cannot use their sleighs because it's bitter cold.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/03/2010 at 04:56 AM

That will be good, regarding Bogota! Are they not confirmed yet? I haven't read that much about it, to be fair.

This is my third day at home...nothing urgent & I don't dare drive. It must have been nearly -10 last night and the frost has silvered all the trees across the valley into astonishing beauty, along with making all the roads even skiddier. :) Hope you can stay safe and warm.

There are good things about it though. Only 4WDs are getting out of my track, and the tree surgeon lad along the way has volunteered his Toyota and himself to drive around the village delivering medicines and shopping for those who can't get out, since he can't do any of his own work. Nice.

And then are there funny (in a sort of a way) stories like this one:

Posted by Seb 12/03/2010 at 05:05 AM

Simon isn't soft! He's won of the main fighters on the ATP tour, one of those guys you can pretty much rely on to not choke and not give up...

Simon is about as hard as they come mentally.

Posted by zenggi 12/03/2010 at 05:05 AM

LOL, jewell!

They don't say how old this lady is but it's quite candid to put coins as eyes.

Nice story about the tree surgeon lad. He'll get new clients for sure.

I agree that this time of the year makes for breathtaking beautiful scenes. We are starting to skate on natural ice. Very tricky if you fall in the iced water.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 12/03/2010 at 05:12 AM

The Guardian has a "Snow Disruption Liveblog" which made me giggle a bit yesterday, too, and the political manouevrings (sp?) are funny. We are going to have a "snow-readiness audit" which seems a bit pointless really, plus I don't see how they can afford to a) do it, or b) implement any proposals it might come up with. There were even suggestions that the government's emergency COBRA committee should be meeting. Some of the reporting is ridiculously overblown too.

Lovely picture! I haven't seen anyone skating here so far but then we rarely can so no-one really does...don't think it's cold enough to freeze rivers.

Posted by zenggi 12/03/2010 at 05:20 AM

Hi Seb. Welcome to TW if you are new. I don't think I've seen your moniker before.

I agree that Gilles is a tough guy. He's been plagued by injuries though. Let's see what he can do today.

The roads here are very clean. Only in the small streets they don't clean the snow. I have to skate-drive about 250 m. until I touch solid ground again. Very tricky for me. My son loves to try my patience and his car endurance though.

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