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View Full Version : Observations from Dubai (Day 1 Spoiler)


illkhiboy
02-26-2007, 10:45 PM
I just came back from the Dubai Tennis Stadium. My pockets are empty, thanks to the ridiculously high priced food & beverages at the arena, but I had a pretty good time.

Some random musings:

1) The courts over here play very very fast. It's a slick smooth surface and the ball doesn't lose much speed after bouncing. I think the courts (at least the Centre) are playing faster than last year. Lots of serving today, not a whole lot of rallies. Most rallies would last upto 3-5 shots. Lots of slicing and dicing. And more than a few balls that went into the net after bouncing. That's something I have rarely seen on TV.

I joined the Berdych match at in the second set, with the Kuwaiti Al-Ghareeb up a set but down 3-1 in the next. They were missing a few first serves at the time so I got to see a bit of shotmaking. My impression of the match was that, Berdych was going for too much too early in the rally.
Even though Al-Ghareeb was teeing-off on less-pacy balls, he was also making a few errors. The nature of the courts is such that there are plenty of flat winners, but also a high number of balls that are missed by huge margins. Ghareeb broke back to level the set, but ....my memory's kind of hazy here. Berdych played some good agressive tennis at 4-3 and won the set. I didnt expect the match to stay close anymore and went to the outside courts.

I saw a bit of the Lee-Rochus match. Not much to say about that. There was some nice steady tennis being played. Pretty precise shot-making. The court seemed to be a bit slower than the Centre Court. I was chatting with my girlfriend throughout the time I saw them play so I didnt notice much of what was really going on.
On the court next to this one, I noticed an old guy in a track suit holding a raquet and some balls. I walked over from the stands of this court to the other one. I saw a couple players getting ready to practice sitting on the changeover chairs. I was like, this guy looks familiar...it was Youzhny! I asked the old guy - who I guess is Youzhny's coach - if that was Mikhail and he joked it was Federer. I asked him to get me an autograph and he complied. I waved a thank you to Youzhny which he may or may not have acknowledged.
I went back to the centre court after a bit of strolling around even though Berdych had finished and it was still an hour or so to go before Federer started. But since I had a free ticket which was only to be used for the day session I went back and got seated in the Stadium court to make sure I saw the Fed under lights.

Federer-Pless was a very competitive game. Just two service breaks the whole match. Lots of big serving. Pless is not really a big server, but he hits his spots well, or at least did so today. He seems to be fine mentally, he played well when down break-points and went for the right shots at the right time most of the match.
He does most things well. Slices and volleys Ok, has a solid forehand which he can really hammer at times. Can play it with spin and hits a very flat ball as well. His backhand is pretty flat, but is pretty consistent. In fact, I just realized what a clean match I saw today. They were both dictating play on their serves and were generally forced into errors. Federer made a few more unforced errors than he normally does but IMO it's because it was his first match in a while, and he is still adjusting to the court surface. He served pretty well though.
Federer had plenty of opportunities to break early but as I said Pless played well to stay competitive. In the tie-break though, Pless' inexperience at the top level showed and he made a couple mistakes which he shouldn't have. But instead of folding, he kept fighting and broke Fed at 1-2 in the second. Played steady on his serve and made it to 5-3, the moment of truth.
I thought he played a great game there to win the set. He has a pretty good kick, which Federer would normally slice back within inches from the baseline. First point at 5-3, he hit a pretty nasty kick to Fed's backhand on a second serve and rushed in to knock off a high backhand volley behind the Swiss. I liked that play. On other occasions, he hit some nice volleys as well.
There was one point that the crowd enjoyed a lot. I think it was in the tie-breaker at 4-2. Federer hit a let-cord, Pless sliced it back to his forehand and came in. Federer hit a crosscourt forehand...ok I have forgotten what exactly happened..but..what I do remember is that Pless hit a drop volley on the stretch, which was very close to the net, to my dismay Federer raced to it in plenty of time and would have surely hit a winner had the ball not gone back to Pless' side! Hehe. Pless waved an apology indicating it wasn't intentional but I am sure plenty of the crowd thought he was a genius. They will look out for Pless the magician in Dubai.

Ok I know all that isn't really very exciting, but I just got back and thought I would write all that down before I forget it. It was a pretty nice day and now I can say I saw Federer play during his prime, and he lost a set! And broke serve just once! Now how many can say THAT?
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rafan
02-27-2007, 10:13 AM
Many thanks for your bulletin. Although I managed to watch it on TV it is still not the same as being there. You described the game really well.

illkhiboy
02-27-2007, 12:15 PM
Thanks. I am hoping I can go there again on Thursday and catch some action on the outside courts (no tickets needed). The Centre Court seats are sold out. Will post more if I get the chance to see more tennis.