AUGUST 6, by Paula Schumann
There were more upsets at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic on Friday in the quarter final round played during the day session. After Thursday night’s ousting of Andy Roddick, it seemed like anything could happen, and so it went. First up was Tomas Berdych (CZE) vs Xavier Malisse (BEL), winner of Thursday night’s match against John Isner. They split sets, Malisse taking the first 6-4, and Berdych taking the second 3-6.
In the third set, Berdych showed some signs of coming unglued when he
challenged an in call on a shot by Malisse, which was confirmed in by shot spot.
He continued to argue that the shot spot was clearly wrong. I heard others from
the crowd voicing the same opinion. But shot spot rules, so play continued. He
then regained his composure to serve a 129 mph ace. Malisse seemed the
calmer of the two despite the occasional double fault and unforced error. He
wasn’t letting it get under his skin or at least he wasn’t showing it. He went on
to get an early break and then held his serve. At 4-1, Berdych held his serve
when the game ended by Malisse mishitting a ball that flew into the upper stands.
Malisse still remained stoic, head down and onto the next game. Berdych lost
another challenge on his serve, which just seemed to further unravel him. On
match point he came to the net but his volley went long and Malisse took the set,
6-2, and the match.
A slight breeze took the edge off the intense gaze of the sun as Fernando
Verdasco (ESP) and Marcos Bagdatis (CYP) walked onto the court next to play
their quarter final match. They both played well and stayed on serve, taking the
first set to a tie break. But Verdasco went from hitting knock your socks off down
the line winners, to double faulting three times, and Baghdatis won the tie break
The second set was full of breaks. Baghdatis got the first one when Verdasco
went for too much on a crucial point. Baghdatis served at 2-1, but Verdasco
broke back for 2-2. Verdasco held his serve and then broke again taking the
games to 4-2. Baghdatis broke Verdasco’s serve, then held for 4-4. It seemed
anything could happen, and on Verdasco’s next serve, Baghdatis rushed the net
and forced an error, once again securing a break and taking the lead at 5-4. It
was great to watch the two different styles of play, Verdasco with his ballet like
leaps in the air when hitting a winner, and Baghdatis’ flair for the dramatic with an
almost pantomime like gesturing between points.
Verdasco continued to follow double faults with aces, but his inconsistency was
his undoing in the end and Baghdatis secured his place in the semi final with a
beautiful backhand volley. As always, after shaking hands with the umpire, he
knelt down and kissed the court. The final score was 7-6 (3) 6-4.
The day ended with the Bryan brothers losing to the very talented duo of Rohan
Bopanna (IND)/Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi (PAK). The first set went to a tie break
and it could have gone either way, but Bopanna/ Qureshi just seemed a bit
hungrier for the win. Likewise in the second set when the Bryans struggled with
the return of serves and began to make errors. Their opponents just remained
steady and were a force at the net. As good as the Bryans are, they
couldn’t rattle the opposing duo. It seemed a tie break was coming but the
Bryans’ essentially allowed their serve to be broken at 5-6, ending the match in a
less than dramatic way. The final score was 7-6 7-5.
Results of the night matches:
David Nalbandian (ARG) d Giles Simon (FRA) 3-6 6-2 6-3
Marin Cilic (CRO) d Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) 7-6(4) 6-4
Julian Knowle (AUT)/Andy Ram(ISR) d Marcos Baghdatis (CYP)/Stanislas
Wawrinka (SUI) 6-3 7-6(6)
Mardy Fish (USA)/Mark Knowles (BAH) d Simon Aspelin (SWE)/Paul Hanley
(AUS) 6-4 7-5
Saturday’s fist semi final match X Malisse vs M Baghdatis, is played at 1pm and
is followed by T Berdych/R Stepaneck vs L Knowle/A Ram.
Next matches are played at or after 7 pm, and are M Cilic vs D Nalbandian
followed by MFish/ M Knowles vs R Bopanna/A Qureshi.