Hey there, TWibe. Looks like the Deuce Club fared just fine without me last week, thanks to Jenni and Carrie (and the Hott List). As promised, we'll do the WTA version in a couple of weeks, probably after Roland Garros; it's not as if you guys will be hurting for conversation topics 'til then. Jenni will be at the helm of this Hott List again, but I'm on a mission to find a TW guy or two to provide some input as well - it's only fair, right? If you're clamoring to be a part of it, send me an e-mail here.
If anyone's wondering, I had a lovely time in NYC last weekend. Somehow I have to make that place my home! I was fortunate enough to catch up with several friends in the area, including TWibe poster Tanya (formerly "knownaim&" and presently "tan" or "t"). That's us in the photo to your right at the chichi Cafe Du Soleil. Guess it was our way of readying ourselves for Roland Garros ...
As Pete mentioned yesterday, I have your official Roland Garros Suicide Pool announcement. Jon Wertheim will be giving prizes to the overall winners of the men's and women's pools, so make sure you take part! (That's incentive enough for me. Time to come out of SP retirement and give it another shot.)
Here are all of the details, from Mariya at TalkAboutTennis.com:
The French Open '10 Suicide Pool is on at TalkAboutTennis.com. If you've played it before, you know what to do. Click here to play. You should find the instructions and the thread for the first day (after the OOP is announced) at that link. REMEMBER, the first day for the French Open is this SUNDAY, May 23rd.Thanks for the info, Mariya! And good luck to all TWibe participants.
If you don't know how to play the Suicide Pool, read on.
The basic idea of the Suicide Pool is to pick, for each day of the tournament (in this case the French Open), one player from the OOP who you think is going to win his/her match. If he/she wins his/her match you get to pick a fresh player from the next day's OOP. The end goal, of course, is to progress to the final and pick the eventual winner. There is a catch, in that you can only pick a player once for the entire tournament (so, for instance, you might want to save Federer for a later round).There are separate games for the ATP and WTA singles draws and you can play one or both of them.
You have to be a registered member of TAT, which you can easily become by registering here for free.
We will be keeping track of the fortunes of the TWibe. If you want your name to be tracked, please indicate this with the text "TW" in your first day's (and ONLY your first day's) pick. Only include your TW name if it’s different from your username on TAT. Check out the example below:
There will be a fresh thread open every day of the tournament, for both the ATP and WTA. You'll also see a thread which tracks updated results once the tournament begins.
You have to get your picks for each day, not round, before play starts for the day. The entry deadline into the contest is the scheduled start of play on Day 1 of the French Open. Don't forget the Sunday start!
Now on to this week's DC topic. TWiber (and good friend) lpb (Susan) and her husband Alex made their way to both the Estoril and Madrid tournaments and were kind enough to write up a report about their adventures. lpb is in the process of getting her photos together, so when that happens, I'll post a link to the album or upload them to our TennisWorld > Real World Facebook group. 'Til then, we'll just have to revel in the report! Here it is:
I coaxed my husband into believing that our ten day jaunt to the Iberian peninsula was in celebration of our wedding anniversary. Now it is true that our anniversary is coming up, but it’s also true that the ten days just happened to bridge the Estoril Open and the Madrid Open. What a coincidence! Anyway, by now Alex is used to my tennis-driven travel machinations so he was probably dimly aware that our trip would serve a more important purpose – namely that of shadowing Roger Federer from tournament to tournament.Thanks beaucoup for sharing, lpb. I always love hearing about your tennis travels!
It was lovely to meet up with naughtyT in his Lisbon outpost and plant the American TW flag on Lisbon/Estoril soil for the first time. [JR: That's them in the photo to your right. Precious!] We had a fabulous time - sharing drinks and pastel de nata, having lunch at the phenomenal local restaurant of Ponte Final, and taking in his dynamic one man show, Local Geographic. naughtyT in person quite lives up to his posts - bursting with energy, wit, and vivacity. He showed us a side of Lisbon most folks don’t get to see and introduced us to quite a few of his compadres in the arts world.
Yes, there was a tennis tournament but I can’t say we saw much of it, at least as far as Roger was concerned. Instead of what we assumed would be a Roger final, we had to settle for a disappointing semi loss. Another one of his late match collapses against the able Montanes, blowing the second set tiebreak after being up 5-2! Five straight points lost with the usual assortment of errant forehands and backhand shanks.
We did stick around for the final which was actually a very entertaining 3-set affair between Montanes and Gil, the local hero ranked 100-something. Gil pushed Montanes to three sets and was actually up 4-0 in the third before Montanes’s powerful backhand and steady play won the day.
Estoril is a fun, well-run tournament, and really for the Portuguese. It’s like a state fair, expo, and tennis tournament rolled into one. We didn’t hear another American voice the entire time we were there. The actual main stadium is a temporary structure only used for the tournament and sits on the grounds of Lisbon’s national tennis center.
Then it was off to Spain …
The Madrid Open is held in the Caja Magica which is all steel and concrete. A far cry from Estoril, it feels more industrial with its steel rails and exposed metal structure - think convention center. Ticket prices were pretty pricey by European standards.
Some nervous moments in the Fed/Gulbis match. After getting broken in the first game and down a set, things didn’t look very promising for Roger. I was in ultra frazzle/headdesk mode much to the amusement of two young Spanish girls seated in front of me. Thank goodness, Alex and I couldn’t get seats together for that match; as jb later stated, “I was worried about Alex’s health during the Ernie match, if he was blathering on about ‘competitive matches.’ Good thing he was out of arm’s reach.” But Fed actually won the close points, go figure. Mirka looked lovely in her cream-colored ensemble and sparkly jewelry (ooh, how they sparkled all the way to the upper section!). Someone in my row caught one of the balls that Roger hit after the match … so close, yet so far.
We hadn’t planned on seeing the finals since it didn’t seem likely Roger would still be around by then. Plus I still had to maintain the loose fiction that this wasn’t just a tennis excursion! We managed to get tickets through our hotel concierge who matched us up with another guest who was trying to sell his tickets.
After spending the first part of the day in Segovia - a can’t-miss city if you come to the Madrid area - we just made it in time for the Fedal final. We sort of assumed Venus would easily get through Rezai - oops. Would have been nice to see the match, but there was still Alex to keep in good humor. The stadium was completely sold out. The Madrillenos (Madrid natives) were out in full force sporting “Vamos Rafa” signs and flags. There were a few Roger fans among the sea of Rafa fanatics but not enough to make a difference. Rafa was relentless as usual, but Roger stood his ground, unleashing a barrage of hard hit backhands and especially forehands. Funny how it seemed a much more competitive and high level match to us than it was to various commentators. You could really hear and feel the effort being exerted by both men, something you don’t get the full flavor of from the TV.
Truth be told, there were other folks playing in Madrid not named Roger. We kicked off quarterfinal day with Venus against that stubborn Aussie, Sam Stosur. She’s a tough out and played Venus close using aggressive strokes and moving her around, but she faltered at some key moments, including two ill-timed double faults in the second set to give it away. Pretty thinly attended match but it was in the early afternoon and the match-up on paper didn’t really excite.
The day session headline match quickly filled up the stadium and the Spanish fans were in full throat when Rafa and Monfils took the court. Rafa’s a rock star at home - no doubt about it. Once the match began you could tell that Monfils just wasn’t well-oiled; coming back from an injury and playing your first clay court match of the year undoubtedly had something to do with it. Bambi made his trademark lunging saves but didn’t have the consistency to trouble Nadal. His seven double faults didn’t help, and Rafa was quickly through 6-1, 6-3. Not the match we hoped for, but seeing Nadal in his element was worth the price of admission.
The second match of the night, Ferrer vs. Murray, was probably the best QF match. Murray started out shaky as Ferrer went up 5-2. We were waiting for the Scot to smash his racquet and he came oh-so-close a number of times, but he held it together and made a fight of it. They played two intense back to back games in the second set that lasted about half an hour! It was tennis drama of the highest order and everybody was on the edge of their seats. We didn’t stay until the end; we had no idea how long the match would go and the Madrid Metro subway system shuts down around 1 am or so, so we flew the coop at 4-3.
What a difference a week makes, at least when it comes to Roger - from the depths of Estoril to the mini peak of Madrid. He gave me hope again, that maybe, just maybe he could defend his title in Paris. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.
That's all for now. TWibe, feel free to discuss whatever's on your mind here, and enjoy the start of RG!