2009 COPA Telmex (3)

Coverage from the ATP World Tour 250 Tournament in Buenos Aires, Argentina, February 14-22, 2009.

Saturday, 21 February 2009 03:00


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Juan MonicoStrange things wishes are. Sometimes, we are exultant after getting what we wished for; but other times, when our wish comes true, we end up regretting it, big time. Like many things in life, wishes are a tricky double-edged sword. No wonder the famous "Be careful what you wish for." The universe has a twisted sense of humor and sometimes grants you your desire, only to watch you repent ever having it.

The tournament organizers got their wish. Three Argentines in the semis with a good chance of an all-Argentine final.

First, Acasuso vanquished Oscar Hernández, 6-1, 6-2, in what you could hardly call a contest. That was quick. Next up for Acasuso, in their third meeting in a row in three consecutive tournaments, lies Tommy Robredo, who got through his match against Ferreiro with a scoreline of 6-4, 7-6(4). As for the rest of the wish, one match was a given, as Juan Mónaco beat fellow Argentine Máximo González 6-2, 6-3.

The last match of the day had a some of that cosmic twist I mentioned above. The most interesting match-up on the schedule, Juan Carlos Ferrero against David Nalbandian, ended with Juan Carlos leaving the court with a cramp in his right leg after trailing 6-3, 3-0. The crowd and the tournament got their wish, but with a cost. David dominated and broke Ferrero in the third and fifth games of the first set - when Juan Carlos was already showing signs of physical problems.

Friday, 20 February 2009 03:00

Argies Succeed Under Heat

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Copa TelmexIf I thought yesterday was hot, well, today was hell. The temperature reached forty degrees Celsius. Then it cooled down... to thirty degrees at eleven at night.

The first singles match is Brian Dabul against Máximo González, both from Argentina. I had predicted Dabul to win. Ja! Máximo never even lets Dabul in. He dominates and wins in two easy sets, 6-3, 6-1.

Next match features two more homegrown players, Juan Mónaco and Martín Vassallo Argüello. Both hold their serves until they reach 4-4 in the first set. It turns out to be a long game. At deuce, Vassallo Argüello, who is serving, executes a nice drop-shot to gain the advantage. It doesn't last long as he double-faults it away. The next point features a long rally during which Mónaco trips but manages to recover and stay in play. He wins the point for the advantage and gets the break in the next point. “Pico,” as he is often called, then serves it out for a 6-4 win.

The second set features a stronger Vassallo Argüello and a weaker Mónaco. Without having to do much, Martín breaks Pico's serve twice by just staying in play. Mónaco gives away two error-filled service games, letting Vassallo Argüello take the set 6-2, to tie the match at one set-all.
Thursday, 19 February 2009 03:00

First Impressions

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Juan Carlo FerreroAs I get to the tournament venue, I find the trailer where I can get my credential. They sit me in a chair to take my photo. I look like a victim in a horror movie. At least they´ll let me in anywhere since they will not look at the credential too closely (at the risk of turning into stone). Still, I am relieved the photo is the only mishap. When in Argentina, expect the unexpected.

I go into the site and walk by a few sponsor stands. I feel tempted to drive a car or play some Wii... but I´m melting. Instead, I proceed to the first singles match of the day, featuring Franco Ferreiro against Pablo Cuevas. I take a seat up close. The sun is merciless. I retreat to the press seats up above that are the only ones with some shade. Many spectators have done the same, and will do it for the rest of the afternoon. A member of staff comes up and tries to evict those who are sitting in the press area without credentials. No one budges. "When the press comes, we´ll move," they say. One jokes about bribing the staffer with a fifty. Argentina in a nutshell.

Back to the match. The fans support Cuevas, an Argentine that plays for neighboring Uruguay. As Cuevas fails to convert a single breakpoint in six tries, the Brazilian Ferreiro wins. “Bring on the real one: Ferrero,” I think. Juan Carlos Ferrero and opponent Marcel Granollers grant my wish, entering promptly. I descend to the spot nearest the court for some better photos. I endure a game or so, but the sun again has the last word and chases me to the shade.