Foot Fault!

Calling all the lines of professional tennis

RAMBLE (and bad title) ALERT: Bastards flail in Bastad.

This morning I caught a glimpse of the Bastad semi-final draw and immediately thought that, with Robin Soderling, David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych ranked between 5 and 8 and 11-ranked Almagro rounding off the semi-final lineup, things could get pretty interesting down at the 250 event.

Of course, that was completely delusional of me, and I apologize. Instead, Mr Berdych put in a truly appalling peformance, managing to win only one game in the entire match and was essentially two points away from being double bageled by the top-seeded Soderling. Almagro didn’t fare much better, picking up only three more games than Berdych in his semi against Ferrer, with his defeat actually six minutes shorter than the Czech number one’s.

For both players, it’s yet another failure to add to their list of letdowns against top players in 2011. Almagro, infamous among players and fans alike for his constant use of gamesmanship on tour was in full flow earlier this week - glaring down at opponents, attempting to influence umpires and, in the words of Jonas Bjorkman “walking”. Generally I don’t have as much of a problem with his behaviour as most do, as long as the gamesmanship doesn’t fade into cheating. However, what I do have a problem with is that without fail, whenever it is time for him to play someone of actual prominence, he immediately lays down on the ground and invites his opponent to walk all over him. This was the Ferrer match in a nutshell, illustrated by the fact that even though Ferrer loves to play with his food even at the best of times, the match was over in a flash. The resulting effect is that talented as he is, it makes Almagro look even more gutless - with him essentially bullying the lesser players before handing the match to the higher ranked ones.

As for Berdych, he yet again finds himself easily dispatched by the first in-form player he meets. It’s easy to wonder how he has managed to keep hold of his top ten ranking after disappointing in the defence of all three of his massive results from 2010, but the Czech number one has actually made the quarters/fourth round or better at twelve of his fourteen events so far this year. The problem is that he has become a model of mediocrity, and every time he has found himself in those quarterfinals and semifinals, he has been inevitably brushed aside with ease. These results would be understandable for a player lacking the firepower to really compete against the very best, but for someone with as talented and capable as Berdych? It’s just disappointing.

Looking on to tomorrows final, this time I don’t think it would be delusional to expect an interesting match. Two excellent claycourters with completely contrasting styles of play and also contrasting attitudes on-court. Should be a good ‘un.

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