Tuesday’s “Don’t Count Your Chickens…”
Rainer Schuettler picked a convenient location for his morning practice – next to the match of his potential Second Round opponents, Teimuraz Gabashvili and Fabio Fognini. After the practice, Schuettler and his coach stuck around to scout the players, watching as Gabashvili impressively overpowered and outmaneuvered the Italian. Schuettler is seeded second in Casablanca.
Tuesday’s Chill Out
Signs of a relaxed tournament: tournament officials smoke courtside as they watch a match, ballboys nap in the shade, line judges’ cell phones go off in between points, and players stop during practice – sometimes during the match – to pose for the press.
Tuesday’s Spit It Out
Clay is, apparently, for spitting. Spitting on the ground and wiping it off with your shoe is, apparently, a great outlet of emotional turmoil. Just ask, or watch, any player between points. Christophe Rochus took it further today, spitting on the ball at 0-30 and 0-40 on his serve during a game in his match against Juan Carlos Ferrero. The good luck charm – or perhaps it was a practical attempt to make the ball bounce lower – worked for two points, but the Belgian was broken nonetheless.
Tuesday’s Closing Time
Answering my long-time question of whether or not bagels can spoil, Mischa Zverev failed to achieve a 6-0 score in the third set of his match against qualifier Flavio Cipolla. Easily broken when serving for the match, Zverev would win at an equally effective, but highly less exciting 6-3.
Tuesday’s Here Today
Igor Andreev was lucky to survive his first round match today, beating Moroccan Rabie Chaki 3-6, 6-3, 7-5. Andreev did not play poorly, but was met with an opponent who had prepared to neutralize the Russian’s power and pace with smart play. While he could not match the velocity of Andreev’s shots, Chaki won points by lobbing the tournament’s top seed and playing short balls and drop shots. The Moroccan also played to Andreev’s weaker backhand side. He had the right strategy, but unfortunately for him the backhand actually worked better than usual for Andreev today.
As he served to stay in the match at 3-5 in the third set, Chaki stayed calm and served well, easily winning the game. Andreev went down 0-30 when serving for the match, and the crowd went wild. On the next point, Andreev dumped a forehand into the net, giving Chaki triple breakpoint. Andreev fought back to 30-40 with great serves, but another ball into the net leveled the match at 5-all, again teasing the spectators with the possibility of a huge upset by a local. The next game ended with disappointment for Chaki and most of the audience (and a sigh of relief from the Russian), as Andreev combined power with precision to break serve. This time, Andreev easily served out the match, moving into the Second Round, where he will meet Frenchman Nicolas Devilder.
The top seed was much more nonchalant about his close call with defeat in the post-match interview than he had been on court, noting that today was his first match on clay in 2009, and that it was just one of those matches “you have to win somehow.”
Tuesday’s It’s a Hard Knock Life
When asked what has prevented him from moving into “the next level” of tennis, the talented Rabie Chaki, ranked 482 in the world, seemed annoyed and agitated, explaining that it would be impossible for him to meet the expense of consistently playing at a high level. From coaching to travel expenses, lack of money has prevented him from breaking through.
More photos from the 2009 Grand Prix Hassan II Tennis Tournament.
Photos: Mariya Konovalova