ATP Cup Day 4 Notes
The tennis scoring system is one of the best in sport, not limited by time and only limited by a player’s skills and appetite for the fight, and Denis Novak showed us why it pays to stay in a match despite all the mental baggage that must come with losing the first set to love. Guido Pella is one of the most solid players on tour, but he was not able to maintain his initial level in the match- very few players follow up a love set with an equally dominating second set as levels fluctuate so much on both sides of the net. Novak took charge of both the second and third sets at the business ends to win 0-6, 6-4, 6-4.
Herbert Hurkacz did manage to dominate both sets he won versus Borna Coric, 6-2, 6-2. The Pole was always a contender to beat Coric but to defeat him in such commanding fashion came as a surprise. Coric did spend a lot of emotional and physical energy beating Thiem, so there could have been some element of a let down, and he was never able to reproduce those heightened emotions versus the ever methodical and focused Hurkacz. The Pole had a terrific serving day- 9 aces, 84% of first serves won and 73 of 2nd, and did not face a break point. He had a fine returning day, too, breaking 4 times.
Benoit Paire got into a tussle with Dusan Lajovic, winning in three sets. The Frenchman blew a set and a break lead then a couple of mini breaks and match points in the tiebreak and did not hide his self disgust as he spat on the court and smashed his rackets. I don’t usually care for racket breakers, or Paire, but there is no denying such emotional outbursts create atmosphere and can give a match an edge.
Other points of interest of the day:
Thiem and Schwartzman got into it in their match, one of those straight setters with the tone and urgency of a match going the distance. Great rallies. You would be happy with this match in the second week of a Major.
Of the 12 singles matches today, only 3 went the distance. Of those 18 sets from 9 straight setters, only two sets went past 6-4. There will always be some predictable and bad match ups- Novak Djokovic and Gael Monfils an example with Djokovic winning 6-3, 6-2 and getting his 16th win of 16 matches- but this tournament also throws up some big mismatches- Marin Cilic Vs 448th Kacper Zuk (Zuk did really well considering, losing 6-7, 4-6) and Roberto Bautista Agut versus unranked Franco Roncadelli. I am not sure how I would feel if I, someone who is not interested in doubles, paid to watch Spain vs Uruguay and got delivered Bautista Agut rout an unranked player in 57 minutes and then Nadal routine Pablo Cuevas in 73 minutes, losing three games and facing a single break point the whole match.
Gaston Gaudio looks incredible.
Grade: B-. For me, personally, while some of the tennis was entertaining, none of the matches really gripped me. There was enough for this to be a satisfactory day at the tennis with some interesting examples of what makes tennis such a great sport, but this was balanced out by the inherent flaws of this format with some very unbalanced match ups.
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