Tuesday, April 28, 2009

UPDATED: Safin plummets in Rome

Steve Tignor posted on his blog, Concret Elbow, yesterday that after Nadal's 5th straight win in Barcelona, he "began to wonder whether it was finally time to add a third item to the brief list of life’s absolutes: Can we now say, Death, taxes, and Nadal on clay?". After today's first round match in Rome between Marat Safin and Tommy Robredo, I am beginning to wonder myself whether we can add to that list of absolute items: Safin squandering a match on any given surface.

Safin was absolutely in control of his delayed and rain-interrupted match against Robredo today, as he swept to a 6-2, 4-1 lead with a double break in that second set, which he served for at 5-3 but he somehow allowed the Spaniard back into the match.

Robredo, who was suddenly revived towards the end of the second set, broke back twice to force a tie-break, which he rightfully earned before he raced to take the deciding set 6-2, to further solidify the painful truth that Marat is no longer capable of closing out matches.

Before the Safin-meltdown, and actually from time to time during the meltdown, there were plenty of sublime safinesque shots. You know those inch-perfect down-the-line winners?!?! He was doing so well, and while I must say Robredo seemed practically asleep up until 4-1 in the second set before he decided to grace us with his aggressive form, Safin still had the match in his grasp and was hitting back with some crazy shots, but converting 4 out of 10 break point opportunities just couldn't cut it for the Russian, who besides squandering those breakpoints, had only 50% of his first serves in, and he double-faulted 4 times including one when he was serving for the match. Safin actually hit 9 more winners than Robredo throughout the match and only committed 1 additional unforced error but the Spaniard hit his winners when it mattered the most.
So I guess that pretty much says it all, except I forgot to say that on the Robredo match point in the decider, Safin didn't even budge an inch to try and return Robredo's serve as he instantly walked to the net to shake hands and leave. So basically when Safin was serving for the match, Robredo was fighting and hitting back with everything he had, but when Robredo had a match point, Safin was probably already thinking about booking a flight out of Rome. It's just sad!

It's raining again so there's absolutely no chance of seeing Andy Murray or Novak Djokovic in action today.

Only 3 matches were completed today, besides the one mentioned above, as Mikhail Youzhny wrapped up his suspended match from the day before, Kohlschreiber upset local hope Simone Bolleli 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 (what a blow) and Robin Soderling won in straights against Marcel Granollers.

UPDATED: The rain has subsided and several matches have been completed. Murray hasn't played but Djokovic vs Albert Montanes is taking place at the moment. Some matches have been suspended for darkness. Upset of the day is Tomas Berdych crashing out to qualifier Mischa Zverev in 3 sets.

Check here for complete results.


The Fan Child said...

Loved your commentary here.

Who knows, Marat may dig down for that extra gear (mentally) that he found last year in Wimby and we may yet get to send him off properly with heartfelt applause!

As far as getting your money's worth for a first-rounder, it's hard to to better than these two...

Reem said...

Thank you Fan Child :)

The truth is every time I decide to write off Safin, deep down inside I never really do, and I constantly wait for him to surprise me.

Wimbledon last year was like a breath of fresh air for any Safin fan, but then he never followed it up with anything worth mentioning.

I just hope he does something special before he retires end of this season.