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ATP World Tour Finals 2012 Day 3: Berdych v Tsonga

From the start of the match, this was more a contest of who could smack the fluff from the balls first.

Berdych was swinging hard and flat, and there was not much variation from Jo.
Tsonga managed to dig out an ace in a sticky game at 3-3 and just hadn’t quite found his range, and an unlucky netcord for him gave Berdych a bit more time to put Jo under pressure again.
It was a gritty hold to just stay ahead on serve.
The fact that Berdych hadn’t been able to capitalise on Tsonga not settling into his game seemed to be playing on his mind, but managed to tough it out for a hold, to 4-4.

Tsonga seemed to be settling down now and by the end of the set, was forcing Berdych into a lot of defending, but again has seemed to detach a little.

He was in need of dialling back into the match again, and as such gave Berdych the break, and eventually the set
Tsonga did look a bit more up for things breaking Berdych to take the lead 3-1 and going on to consolidate.

Even though he was getting the better of Berdych, Tsonga was still very frustrating to watch with a lot of inconsistency.
That being said – he finished off the second set with an ace, but the whole set had a bit of a feel of more luck than judgement!
And sure enough at the start of the third set, Tsonga squandered chances to break right at the start, allowing Berdych to claw his way back to deuce, and to hold.
By this point it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that his inconsistency was give Berdych the edge, and sure enough the break came to put him ahead 3-1.

At the change of ends at 1-4, Tsonga’s UE stats made for shocking reading, with an almost audible gasp from those reading them on the screens overhead.
Jo looked step-slow and was broken to love to trail 1-5.
The final game, Berdych ran Tsonga ragged all around the place and Jo just looked totally fed up (not surprisingly!), and thankfully the end came!

ATP World Tour Finals 2012 Day 3: Marray/Nielsen v Nestor/Mirnyi

The last live tennis of my season came at the ATP World Tour was a bit of a gamble.
Surely, the organisers would put the 2012 Olympic Gold medallist and US Open Champion on in an early evening session.
Surely if I bought two evening sessions for me and one of my best tennis watching buddies we would be lucky?
Something would have to cheer up my mate, who was struggling from a note, and will henceforth be referred to as “Sicknote”
And if we could also see Wimbledon Men’s Doubles Champions Jonny Marray and Frederik Nielsen, that would be an added bonus.
Well, one of those happened.

Marray/Nielsen v Nestor/Mirnyi

A lot had been made about the fact that Frederik Nielsen had chosen to continue pursuing his singles career, leaving Marray to look for a partner in the annual doubles player partner shuffle in the off-season.

But that did not stop the pair from starting positively, and going toe-to-toe with the former World Number One pairing of Nestor and Mirnyi.

Although Nielsen’s volleys could be a little suspect, the British/Danish duo broke in the 7th game, prompting Sicknote to wheeze: Boom, shake the room”!

A consolidated break made it look as though their confident run would continue.
Unfortunately a wayward shot saw Nestor and Mirnyi break back to level thinks up 5-5.
Into a first set Tiebreak and the Wimbledon champions took the first set.
However, at the start of the second set, Marray and Nielsen squandred the first game, care of a missed volley and a couple of double faults, allowing Nestor/Mirnyi to keep their noses in front and to take the second set.

That brought us to the lottery that is the Match Tie Break.
Nielsen started well with a back hit shot that miraculously landed in but some edgy stuff and a miss cost them a slim lead.
The marks were nip and tuck with Marray and Nielsen beginning to lose ground at 7-7, but Nielsen dug deep with a cross-court forehand to level things at 8-8.

A much needed ace by Marray took the Wimbledon champtions to match point, only for Marray to net a backhand, and for Nielsen to send a ball long, giving matchpoint now to Nestor/Mirnyi.
Nielsen nailed a put-away to level things again, and when Mirnyi hit wide – match point went back to the Brit and the Dane.
The wonder-journey continued for Marray and Nielsen, taking the deciding set 12-10.

London 2012 Olympic Tennis 3rd Round: Sharapova v Lisicki

Sharapova (Russia) v Lisicki (Germany)
It seemed ironic that the last time both of us were at Wimbledon, it was on court 1, on a windy and sometimes rainy day, watching Sharapova and Lisicki.
On that occasion, Lisicki dominated Sharapova and went into the Quarterfinals.

The game started with holds all round, and Lisicki was having to dig deep to hold.

She finally got the break at 4/3 which saw Maria slamming her racquet to the ground.
But Sabine, serving for the first set, threw in a costly DF, and was subsequently broken to love.
What was noticeable was how low Sabine was getting down to shots and between them they took the first set to a tiebreak.
The tiebreak had it all, unforced errors, and then blistering serving from Lisicki, Sharapova forgetting to change ends and a daring squash-shot slap from Sabine to draw level at 8/8.
Sabine eventually took the tiebreak 10/8.

My friend had to leave to watch Beach Volleyball, so I met up with another friend who was a Games Maker at Wimbledon, so she joined me to watch the final set, as we got to the court just as Maria took the second set.

The light was beginning to fade, and started with trading breaks.
It would depend very much on who would blink first, and that was Sharapova who took the lead t 5/3, serving out to advance.

London 2012 Olympic Tennis 3rd Round: Azarenka v Petrova

Azarenka (Belarus) v Petrova (Russia)
With the weather improving all the time, my friend had to resort to buying some sun-cream!
It was nice to see Petrova again – it’s been a while – but the baseline slugging and warming weather made this match a little soporific.

Games went with serve, although occasionally out of nowhere, Petrova threw in a huge kick serve.

It didn’t take long for Nadia to be complaining to her team but kept things close to take the frst set to a tiebreak (with the umpire starting the scoring at 15/0 before correcting herself).

It took Vika a while to get herself going, but she finally started to step up a gear and took thhe first set.
Nadia was needled and there was a lot of racquet throwing around by Nadia, but somehow the momentum shifted back as she broke Vika.

In fact it wasn’t clear if Nadia was playing better, or Vika just started playing badly again.
Racquets were being tossed about by both girls now and both were fighting hard.

A forlorn challenge from Nadia on matchpoint but it was Azarenka to go through.

London 2012 Olympic Tennis 3rd Round: Federer v Istomin

Day 3 (and my second day) dawned to grey skies and humid conditions.  It actually started spitting with rain as we came into the grounds, and remained a little soggy – even as they brought the players out.
Federer actually did look very reluctant as they came out, almost dragging his feet, and almost immediately the rain got heavier and they were taken straight off.
The delay was about 45 minutes and out they came again.

Federer started with a comfortable hold, and broke Istomin in the next game, consolidating with a hold.
Both were taking a bit of time to find their range, and not surprisingly the court was a little bit slippery,
Istomin got to grips with his surroundings, getting himself on the board and then breaking Federer In the next game.

Another Istomin hold got things back on serve until Federer’s serve with the scores at 5-5.  A heavy rain shower suspended play for a short while.

I took advantage of this to go find another friend there for the day and give her a ticket for the Handball we would be seeing on Friday.
Play started back again and Federer started the better, holding and despite taking some time to close it out, got the decisive break and took the first set 7-5.

At the start of the second set, Istomin took another tumble and this time took a bit longer to hobble around.
There were still some inconsistencies on Federer’s forehand and backhand but this set started in exactly the same way as the first, with Federer taking an early lead with an immediate break.

A ball that was stuck into he crowd, was thrown back.  Badly!
It bounced off the heads of the people In the front.

Istomin launched his comeback and there could have been a chance as Federer did not look as convincing as he usually does in early tournament rounds.
But it was shortlived, even with launching his racquet skywards to reach an overhead, and Federer went through.

Wimbledon 2012 Day 7: Murray v Cilic

What we needed was warmth and a quick start by Andy.  Well we had a flask of coffee with us, so one out of two wasn't bad.
It was a typically slow start from Andy who was broken in the first game, followed by a look up at the box!
Cilic consolidated the break

Even though he held his next service game, Andy was tugging at something (maybe tape?) and just seemed to be a little step-slow at the start

However Cilic's costly DF after the change of ends gave Murray a break back and brought them back on serve.

The weather was proving to be a nemesis - Andy tangling his feet and having a bit of a slip.
It looked as though he was going to talk to the umpire about the conditions, but play continued on serve.

Cilic was settling into his game and despite some loose hitting by Murray - he kept things on serve,

The next couple of games saw Murray waste chances to break Cilic again, and a great rally (held by Murray) to leave Cilic having to serve to stay in the set

A miscalculated BH volley at 0/30 saw Cilic broken in the next point, to love - First set Andy but the weather was really closing in now.

The second set started with comfortable holds for both men who seemed to be handling the swirling winds and occasional fine mist of drizzle well.

Murray got caught a little flat footed in the next game, missing a chance to convert a BP.
There were some great rallies in this game, with amazing effort from Murray to push a dropshot but Cilic was moving well

Murray got the break to go 3-1 ahead despite a challenge from Cilic.

The match was suspended for rain with Murray about to break Cilic to love.

Sadly the rain just stayed constant so we headed off to get some food.... along with pretty much everyone around the courts (except Centre) so we figured we would be better off eating back under cover at least in Court 1, even if the wind was whipping around up there.
We stuck it out until a little before 7pm, as the chances of play were slim, and it was pretty overcast.

Thus endeth a shorter set of trips than usual to Wimbledon this year - but I have tickets for the Olympic Tennis for the Third Round (not to mention a whole load of other tickets).

Wimbledon 2012 Day 7: Sharapova v Lisicki

Other that the first couple of rounds, the next worst day to be affected by rain is Manic Monday - where all Fourth Round matches are scheduled.

And the weather was NOT going to be our friend.

First up was Maria Sharapova and Sabine Lisicki.  Lisicki won hearts here last year with her smiling and cheerfull demeanour, and of course Sharapova reached the final after successive injuries had threatened to curtail her career altogether.

As if both women were mindful of the weather they went off at a cracking pace, Sharapove breaking Lisicki in the first game.

The wind was playing havoc with their serves and already early on there were UEs all over the place.
Lisicki broke straight back and then held.

Lisicki was punching back everything coming at her with pace, nice and flat and broke again

Sharapova was continuing to struggle - either being drawn and stranded at the net, or just swinging too much.
It wasn't until she was serving to stay in the set that she seemed to have found her range on target, holding to stay in the set, and then breaking the German and looking as though she had finally settled into the match.
However - it was shortlived as Lisicki broke her again to take the first set.

At the start of the second set fine drizzle was falling and swirling about - Lisicki was feeling the grass and called the umpire down, who agreed and called them off.

When the women returned, Lisicki was not hanging about, breaking Sharapova in the second game.
Sharapova's time taking between points can be distracting enough.  They are a nightmare when you are sitting in a freezing Court 1!  I had packed in a fleecy pullover for the evening (if we got that far) and had to resort to it as we were shivering.

Maria did get herself on the board but this match was slipping away from her fast

Sabine took the match with an ace, sending last year's runner up off in the fourth round.