Cool head Luke
Lukas Rosol’s five set victory against Rafael Nadal was one of those matches that leaves you frantically searching for superlatives.
As far as upsets go, it’s arguably the biggest of the Open Era with only George Bastl’s victory over Pete Sampras at the same stage at the same event in 2002 coming close in the last decade.
Pre-match prices on the Czech peaked as high as 79, which implies a 1.26% chance of victory.
It was a victory that he had to earn the hard way. Nadal finished with a winner to unforced error ratio of 42:16 which is completely unprecedented in a losing performance.
In the fifth set there just wasn’t a whole lot the Spaniard could do in the face of a barrage of power hitting from the Czech. Rosol fired a ludicrous 20 winners, which included three aces and a stunning off forehand in closing out the victory to love.
This wasn’t your standard, journeyman’s day in the sun. Rosol was hitting regularly hitting winners in the 100mph range on both the forehand and backhand side. There are very few players capable of doing that, even during a once in a lifetime performance.
It was ball-bashing as an art form.
There were no signs of nerves whatsoever and the Czech’s ability to keep a cool head in the face of some rather dubious tactics from his opponent was even more impressive than his level of play.
Nadal bumped him at a change of ends (it wasn’t exactly GBH) and complained to the umpire about his movement and the noise of his breathing while waiting to return serve. The usual go-slow on big points was there too.
It was all to no avail as Rosol remained completely unfazed. It was a truly phenomenal performance by a talented but unheralded player.
Just over a year ago he reached the last 32 at the French Open, beating Jurgen Melzer in an absurd performance of mindless hitting that saw him reach triple figures in unforced errors.
The last 32 of a recent slam is a significant milestone worth remembering so this isn’t a case of me getting on some sort of tennis hipster “I liked him before he was famous” high horse.
If we accept that he was a complete unknown, then he really shouldn’t have been. Rather than disparaging them, the tennis media should be able to do a better job of increasing awareness of lower ranked players, especially those with the raw (if hitherto misdirected) talent of Lukas Rosol.
You can be assured that the 65th best basketball player, cricketer or footballer (of both the American and Association varieties) is much more widely recognised among fans of those particular sports.
It isn’t all down to the traditional media or indeed the ATP. Players now have the means to interact directly with fans if they want to with Amer Delic and Sergiy Stakhovsky probably the best examples of those that are more widely recognised than their results might otherwise merit thanks to fully embracing Twitter.
Misguided Murray mania
Within minutes of Nadal biting the dust, Andy Murray started trending worldwide on Twitter (proper trending – I have that “tailored” shit switched off).
The reason being that Nadal was in Murray’s half of the draw and therefore the Scot’s path to the final got that bit easier.
People just can’t help themselves. Much was written of Murray’s “nightmare” draw before the tournament and for the time being little has changed.
Next up he faces Marcos Baghdatis, a perennial disappointment but a player who brings his best on the biggest stage, gave Novak Djokovic his toughest match here last year and who generally enjoys the match-up with Murray.
Milos Raonic, Juan Martin Del Potro and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are still alive and well too. Try and keep a lid on the hype for now. For Murray’s sake more than anything.
Going the distance with Viktor Troicki
The Serb’s second round victory against Martin Klizan was his seventh consecutive slam match that has gone the distance.
I haven’t seen it confirmed but I’m almost certain that it obliterates whatever the previous record was. (The best my half-arsed research could turn up was a four-match streak for all-time five-set king Nicolas Lapentti).
Troicki’s third round encounter with Juan Monaco has five-setter written all over it as well.
The equal pay endgame
The equal pay debate bores me so I thought I might as well come up with a way of settling it forever.
If the WTA wants to increase the standard of play and see its revenue levels go through the roof then there is one simple step it can take: have the entire tour played on indoor grass.
Admittedly I’m basing this theory on a sample size of two matches but Tamira Paszek’s victory over Caroline Wozniacki was the best ladies’ match I’ve seen since Sabine Lisicki edged out Na Li in that thriller under the Centre Court roof last year.
When all matches are played to this standard (and by using the mathematically sound method of extrapolation, I can prove they certainly would be), criticism of equal pay will vanish.
Try as I might, I can’t think of a single logistical obstacle to this proposition. I just hope someone in the organisation has the vision and guts to run with it.