TSF op-er Michael Shaw graciously gave us his thoughts going into this historic Wimbledon’s second week. Unfortunately for him (and maybe for us, since we probably pissed him off for slacking), it took until today for this post to go up.
Read on about serve-and-volleying as a kiss of death, the grass court major’s coverage on TV, and his pick for this year’s men’s titleist (he picked right!).
Without question the most exciting match of the first week — at least of those that were broadcast — was the Tommy Haas-Marin Cilic five-set nailbiter. Not only did it have heavy momentum swings up until darkness pushed it into a sleepover (aww, just like a baby!), it also featured noteworthy stretches of serve-and-volley tennis from Haas. And there’s nothing quite as nerve-wracking as seeing a player up at net in the tight moments. Think Stefan Edberg’s attacks facing off with Jim Courier’s passes in the finals of the Aussie Open. Or McEnroe v. Borg at Wimbledon.
Taylor Dent, my one hope of displaying consistent S&V, went out in the first — though we give him props for getting through from the qualies — so who’s left? Ivo Karlovic is much more serve (ace?) than volley (he approached 71 times in his tight 4-set win over Tsonga). In his 5-setter over David Ferrer, Radek Stepanek came in 109 times. Haas only came in 74 times, but a lot of those serve-volleys were later in the match, so it felt like a higher number.
As aggressive as this style may be, the way in which it sets today’s players up for failure is overwhelming, and the frequency with which Hewitt will likely pass Stepanek will illustrate this perception nicely. (Yep: Lleyton took out the Czech 4-6, 2-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.) Haas vs. Igor Andreev? That’s a tough call, but it’s safe to say that if Haas approaches with any frequency, it will be when he’s comfortably ahead (and if he serve-volleys if it’s close, so much the better for more nail-biting).
Meanwhile, a great-sounding match we didn’t get to see was Juan Carlos Ferrero over Fernando Gonzalez in five. Played on Court 1 but covered by neither ESPN2 nor NBC, I’m happy to see Ferrero back in the thick of things (if Tennis Channel caught it, feel free to fill us in).
Of course, neither is American, nor Scottish nor Swiss; but a great match is a great match. Write your local congressperson, or ESPN/NBC/T.C. affiliate: “I want access to all the matches!” Oh, and ESPN360? It never has the matches I’m looking for.)
Finally: as solid as Murray looks, Fed still looks unbeatable. Have to bet they’ll meet next Sunday. (Edit: and we all know how it ended…)