Getting Hairy

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Incredible! Nothing short of INCREDIBLE! Marcos Baghdatis, of Cyprus, has pulled off an amazing and beautiful upset of Andy Roddick, 6-4 1-6 6-3 6-4, sending him into the Quarterfinals against Ivan Ljubicic. Ljubicic himself is playing at a phenomenal level, completely destroying Thomas Johansson, the 2002 Aussie Open Champion, with pinpoint winners and killer serves. The match between these two is going to be a real dinger. Ljubicic hit a "purple patch" at one point, winning over 12 consecutive points against Johansson, who's no slouch himself.

But, it's Baghdatis who's the big story tonight. The 20-year old 2003 Junior Australian Open Champion knocked out Roddick with untouchable cross-court forehands, and sweet down-the-line backhands off Roddick forehands. Perhaps his over-reliance on the forehand will prove to be his undoing but, for now, it's working like a charm. Roddick, who hadn't dropped a set up till now, found himself with few answers to Baghdatis's thunderous returns. Thrilling! This new generation of players is making men's tennis very exciting and promises to give Federer a reason to sweat.

But Federer has quite a match on his hands tomorrow as well. He's going up against Tommy Haas, a once very promising junior who fell out of the rankings after suffering long-term injuries. He sat out for 18 months after breaking both his ankles, and also took time off after his parents were involved in a serious motorcycle accident. In the last couple of months, Haas has started to jump back in the rankings. Something to take note of: Haas has already beaten Federer in 2006, knocking him out at the Kooyong Exhibition Classic.

Finally, Frenchman Fabrice Santoro, who's 33 years old, has made the Quarterfinals in a Grand Slam Singles Competition for the first time in his life! The Magician scored a delicious upset over Tommy Robredo setting up a match with David Nalbandian. I like both these guys but, being almost French, I guess I'll root for my hometown boy. Plus, this is probably one of the last times will see him at this competition and maybe this eccentric player also has his way with age.

Despite all this, I think it would be difficult to predict that anyone other than Federer will win the title. Federer is that good, and he only loses when he has a bad day... and the other player has an exceptional day. Scary? Remember Pete Sampras.

*addendum... You know, Andy Roddick is really a nice guy and classy player. Look at his interview immediately after the match. Completely generous and without malice, unlike Hewitt's comments after his embarassing loss against Chela.


In personal news, besides my obvious tennis mania, I'm currently overworked with three major work projects, one upcoming exposition. But I'm so happy... and I haven't gone to any parties in a while!?! Oh, except last night's neighbour's party... but that doesn't count... not when you drink pineapple juice for two hours, talk to pregnant ladies about swelling breasts, and then leave to go back to work. But, maybe work is my party right now. That's the loveliest surprise in 2006.