US Men's Clay Court Championships, Day 1

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by lemons, Apr 12, 2004.

  1. lemons

    lemons Rookie

    Feb 18, 2004
    It was a cold and blustery day at the US Men's Clay Court Championships in Houston - one of those days when you wonder is it really worth braving a 55 degree cold snap to watch Brian Vahaly get pummeled. Well, 55 degrees may seem like heaven to you folks up north, but its mighty cold us weenies down in Texas.

    Anyway, the weather kept the crowds away from the matches today, which made for lots of easy access to the players.

    The best match of the day was Taylor Dent versus Franco Squillari, the one-time French Open semi-finalist. Squillari and Dent styles contrast nicely, which made for a fun match. Squillari is a bonified dirt-baller. He hits the heaviest topspin off the ground I've seen, but his serve is...well, let's say its accelerates more like a pinto than a porsche. Dent ,of course, is a chip and charger. He hits a flat ball, with very little room for error. His backhand slice stays really low to the court, so he can follow it in.

    Dent is a lot smaller than I thought. There's no way he's 6'2 - he barely looked like he was 6'.

    The court was slow and damp, as it had drizzled most of the day. So, the conditions favored Squillari. Yet, Dent took the first set 6-0. Squillari won the second by a break. And the third set ended up in a tie-breaker. The third set was very tight. The tie-breaker could have easily gone to Dent, had he not missed an easy overhead to go down a mini-break at 3-4.

    This match did feature the oldest looking ball boy, I've ever seen. Actually, I think it was a ball man, as the fellow was sporting a mustache. It was like that Seinfeld episode where Kramer works as a ball boy at the US Open. That was a bit of a shocker - really, there should be some sort of ball boy cut off age - if you're old enough to shave, you're too old to be fetching balls.

    The grounds of the West Side Tennis Club are decorated with banners depicting of various players. Each of the American players have their own banner. However, Paul Goldstein, the journey-man American pro, must not be accustomed to being a featured pro at tournaments. On his way to the practice courts, Goldstein spotted his banner. Well, he turned around, walked right up to the banner and checked himself out.

    Plenty of players were out practicing. I caught Robbie Ginepri, Marty Fish, Nicolas Lapenti, and Thomas Enquist hitting. I know Enquist has a faction of devoted followers on this board, but gosh, I don't know what you all see in him. His forehand is peculiar. I did stop gawking at Enquist's weird strokes long enough to dare my wife to go up to Enquist and tell him how much she admires all things Swedish, like the Swedish chef, Swedish fish, Swedish meatballs, IKEA, etc...Sadly, she was not amused, and declined. I doubt Thomas would have been, either.
  2. david aames

    david aames Professional

    Feb 20, 2004
    Who would send his wife say hi to Enquist... Are you crazy?
  3. guernica1

    guernica1 Semi-Pro

    Feb 21, 2004
    John I was there to.

    Horna just plain outclassed Vahaly. I can't believe I didn't notice this before but Vahaly just has a weird looking backhand.. hard struck by low margin. Horna's strokes look a lot stronger today than I remember from the last couple years. Maybe he's a sleeper for the semi's here.

    I also saw the Dent match. Dent has definitely improved on clay. I like how he came OVER his backhand a lot more today but again, outclassed by a better dirtballer.

    Blake-Odesnik.. don't know if you caught this one. I didn't think this one was that great. Lots of errors, Odesnik looked nervous, Blake played like a potential 1st round casualty at Roland Garros.

    General observations on my part:

    1. Compared to Americans the Europeans and South Americans just move sooo much better on red clay it is not funny. I know Roddick has owned this event recently but seeing a native clay-courter play on his favorite stuff is like poetry in motion.

    2. Best match I saw today was the last Qualie's match: Peya vs. de Chaunac. Some very nice rallies, and if any of you guys get a chance to see him Alexander Peya has a beautiful nearly automatic slice backhand.

    3. Stood right behind Ivo Karlovic serving... man that thing is near unreturnable. His practice sessions aren't much to look at its mostly just shanked returns by his opponent but wow, what a serve.
  4. Matt H.

    Matt H. Professional

    Feb 19, 2004
    some interesting match ups in the draw. Tommy Haas vs. Robby Ginepri looks good. :D

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