Contributed by Paula Schumann
Qualifying rounds at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic whet my appetite for what promises to be an exciting tournament. Lots of big names are attending this year, among them Lleyton Hewitt, John Isner, Tommy Robredo, Tommy Haas, Robin Solderling, and of course, Andy Roddick, a Legg Mason favorite. Andy is having an exceptional summer, coming off the astonishing final match with Roger Federer at Wimbledon.
The Legg Mason Classic is known for the extreme heat factor and on Saturday, the first day of qualifying rounds, saw the high temperature already taking its toll on the players. I watched as Scott Oudsema (usa), who has played two seasons for the Washington Kastles, came out strong and rolled over his opponent Alejandro Falla (Col) taking the first set 6-1. Thinking the second set was sure to go the same way, I took the opportunity to go check out some of the other matches. The Carter Baron facility is small, and in the early days of the tournament when it is a bit less crowded, you can get up close and personal with the pros. Circling the grounds, I got to see some of the players warming up on the side courts. Ivo Karlovic (Croatia) at 6’10″ was among them. I then headed back to the Oudsema-Falla match and while waiting for the change over to reenter the court, I looked up and found myself standing next to a very sweaty Robin Soderling, who had just come from his warm up and was checking out the match. Thinking that it would be over, I was surprised to see that the two players were on serve and it wasn’t looking like anyone was going to break. I was told that early in the second set, Oudsema asked for a medic, but the match continued. The second set went to a tie break, and went to Falla 7-6. In the third set, it seemed the heat was too much for him and Oudsema retired after the first game.
Sunday brought rain and a bit of bad news. Apart from some of the matches being delayed due to the storms, news came that the Bryan brothers have pulled out due to a hip injury suffered by Mike in Los Angeles. Well, maybe we will see some more competitive doubles matches as a result of their no show.
Andy Roddick’s first match that was scheduled for Tuesday, will now be played on Wednesday. His opponent will be the winner of the Becker-Ginepri match that was planned for Monday, but because Becker played in yesterday’s doubles final in LA, ATP rules give him a day off. Those of you who have tickets for Tuesday and were hoping to see Andy play are out of luck. But there will still be plenty of good tennis to take in.
So come out, and don’t forget your sunscreen.