Contributed by Paula Schumann
Last night at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic, the weather was perfect for the first round of the tournament. The crowds are definitely growing and the matches are getting more interesting.
Somdev Devvarman (IND), who played for UVA, took on Yuichi Sugita (JPN) inside the stadium. What started out looking like a one sided match with Devvarman winning the first set 6-0, became a neck and neck battle about midway through the second set. Sugita suddenly came alive and won a game to make it 3-1. He found his groove and got back on serve, eventually taking the set to a tiebreak. It looked like it could go either way, but Devvarman stayed focused and took the tiebreak to win the match. Throughout the match, Sugita seemed to be the more aggressive player, setting up shots and then going for the winner. Too bad he kept making so many unforced errors at the crucial moments. Devvarman on the other hand, seemed patient, getting to every ball and playing higher-percentage tennis. Well, it worked for him in the end. In his post match interview he said he’s been working on hitting the ball deeper and picking spots on his serve better and feels like a better player with a year of ATP experience under his belt and looks forward to his next match against Marin Cilic (CRO), who he lost to in January in the Chennai Open finals. It will be his fourth match in four days. On playing in DC he says it “feels like coming home.”
Next up was Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) vs Donald Young (USA) a young lefty from Chicago Illinois. Hewitt has come back after having hip surgery after Wimbledon 2008 and says he’s feeling confident about the way he is playing. He proved this on the court as he got the first break midway through the first set, taking the lead, but Young was feisty and broke back in the next game. Hewitt found a way to get another break reclaiming his lead, but Young came back with a break of his own. It looked like a tie break was coming, but Young choked a couple of times on his serve and Hewitt took the set 7-5. The crowd got behind Young and cheered him on throughout the match.
The second set started out with each player breaking the others serve. Young started coming up to the net more as Hewitt stayed strong, playing from the base line. He picked up the pace and got the first break, then held his serve to take a 4-2 lead. This was when we started to hear the familiar ”come on” and the energy level rose on the court and in the stands. The crowd continued to root for Young but he choked on his serve at 5-2 and Hewitt won the match 6-2.
People, take a seat! I noticed that during the match, people moving around in the stands distracted the players, especially Hewitt. He often had to wait for fans to take their seats after the changeovers, and the offenders seemed completely oblivious to their tennis etiquette faux pas. Other distractions came from camera flashes and helicopters flying over the stadium.
The crowds thinned out but there was still a lot of good tennis being played on the side courts. It’s always fun to watch these matches because you can get very close to the action. I stood by the gate watching a very tall Jerzy Janowicz (POL) serving to his opponent, Marc Gicquel (FRA), and could feel the whooshing as the 6’ 6” player’s arm whipped through the air.
On Tuesday, it looks like there will be some interesting doubles matches with line ups like Gonzalez/Erlich vs Isner/Querry, and Soares/Ullyett vs Guccione/Hewitt. It’s a code orange day today so good luck to all the singles players.
On Wednesday the awaited Andy Roddick match will be played against the winner of the Becker vs Ginepri match. Roddick is the top seed and three-time Legg Mason Classic champion. In his press conference yesterday, when asked about his injuries of the last six months, Andy said he feels great and has been focusing on his nutrition and fitness to help him improve his movement on the court. He said he was heartbroken after losing the final at Wimbledon but is looking forward to getting off to a good start in his first match here at the Legg Mason. When asked if it is exciting to come to DC with the new administration, he said that it is above him intellectually. Uhhhh, OK Andy…… way to take stand. He went on to say that there is definitely a different vibe.