Barcelona Open BancoSabadell (6)
Coverage from the ATP 500 tournament in Barcelona, Spain, April 20-26, 2009.
Rafael Nadal didn’t look very satisfied or completely healthy on his unexpected day off. While practicing today, notably during the match between his potential semifinal opponents Nikolay Davydenko and Radek Stepanek, Rafa was frustrated by the amount of mistakes he was making. Moreover, Nadal was out of breath after several rallies and had to sit down for a break. Still, the Spaniard’s practice lasted well over an hour.
Perhaps Nadal’s troubles were caused by thoughts of having to leave the practice courts and make his way back to the players’ lounge. The process is almost as long and physically tiring as practice must be, since fans by the dozens are waiting to surround the World’s No. 1 on every step he takes in public. Watching Nadal walk out of practice was not unlike watching a pack of wolves attack a baby lamb. Adoring wolves, of course.
What do David Nalbandian and Nikolay Davydenko have in common, besides initials and (lack of) hair pigmentation? Much like members of the feline family, the two players are prone to self-cleaning. Next time you watch a match featuring either of them, note how neither asks for the towel between points, but prefers to wipe off sweat with a wrist band, or, in David’s case, his shirtsleeves.
Before withdrawing with a right hip injury, Nalbandian attended an interview with the press after defeating Nicolás Almagro. In the interview, he expressed no intentions of withdrawing and promised that the match with Rafael Nadal would be “beautiful.” Nalbandian called Nadal “a friend, a great player and a great competitior,” and claimed that he likes playing the Spaniard. The quarterfinal would have been their first meeting on clay.
Wednesday’s “O, Brother, Where Art Thou?”
Just as he did last week in Monte Carlo, Nikolay Davydenko forgot to bring an accessory he rarely parts with when he travelled to Barcelona – his brother and coach Eduard. Life is not kinless for Davydenko, however, as his wife Irina is duly in the stands, cheering her husband on.
Wednesday’s Blame Game
Exemplifying the general human tendency to scapegoat, Nikolay Davydenko continuously blamed his racquet for missing forehands in his match against Arnaud Clément. On Central Court, Tommy Robredo kept looking up angrily at the sun after missing first serves while playing Gastón Gaudio. The sun responded to Robredo’s allegations by blinding him on an easy overhead during the first set tiebreak.
Why do players insist on not wearing their credentials like the rest of us mortals? Most of the time, you can find the ID tied to their racquet bag. This is understandable, as they change their clothes and not the bag, but even when they don street clothes and are forced to put the credential around their neck, it somehow always ends up hanging around their backs. Do they just want to go unnoticed, or do they simply revel in being recognized without anyone seeing the word “Player” on their chests?
Tuesday’s Hot Wheels
As a junior, Tommy Robredo befriended a fellow promising tennis player, Santi Silvas. But when Silvas was around fifteen, he had an accident that permanently paralyzed him. Unwilling to give up the sport he loved, Silvas continued to play tennis in a wheelchair, and worked on organizing tournaments. Last year, Santi Silvas died and his friend Tommy Robredo was unwilling to let his memory go. Tommy raised money through his charity foundation, and, with the help of the ITF and Catalan and Spanish Tennis Federations, organized an annual wheelchair tournament that will be played for the first time this June. The Memorial Santi Silvas will belong to the highest category of ITF Wheelchair tournaments and will be the highest-profile event of its kind in Spain.
Saturday’s Cruel Intentions
Doubles players often complain that doubles’ popularity is decreased by tournaments scheduling doubles matches after singles matches, when much of the audience leaves.
Successfully, the stands were packed as this high-quality match between the two top teams started. However, the players made the mistake of competing for over an hour. Predictably, Court 1 emptied out as soon as Nadal’s match was called, and the doubles semifinal, which Nestor and Zimonjic won behind the Serb’s strong serve and net play, had to finish with an audience of around a dozen. Tomorrow’s doubles final is also scheduled before the singles match – three and a half hours earlier, to be precise.
Sunday’s “Who’ll Stop the Rain?” Today’s play started only fifteen minutes behind schedule at 12:45, as courts had somewhat dried off after heavy morning showers, and ended roughly twenty minutes before rain returned. In fact, Rafael Nadal, the last player to walk into the interview room this week, entered in dry weather, and exited facing a jog through muddy waters to get back to the locker room. The sun must have wanted an unobstructed view for today’s finals.Sunday’s Predestination
In what was either a weird coincidence or prophetic talent on the part of the organizers, the trophy table that was placed on court during both matches in order to speed up the presentation ceremony was located behind the eventual winners in both of today’s finals.
Sunday’s Two Plus Two
All of today’s winners can say that they are undefeated on clay this year, as, like Nadal, Doubles Champions Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic also won the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters last week. Today, Nestor and Zimonjic beat Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles 6-3, 7-6(9). While earlier in the week, it was Nenad Zimonjic that was the stronghold of the team, today it was Nestor’s turn to shine. The Canadian was strong from everywhere on the court, but particularly at net, delivering strong volleys and skillfully placed drop-shots to hold off Bhupathi and Knowles.
This is the second Barcelona title for Zimonjic and the third for Nestor. The Serb won here in 2005 with Leander Paes, and Nestor in 2004 and 2006 with… Mark Knowles.