After two days of bad weather, Thursday was wonderful for tennis, and the tennis was amazing. Good matches, good young players, epic struggles, an amazing day.
I decided to be somewhat monogamous for Court 10, which has nice seating and was having three straight matches featuring seeded players for the qualifying.
The first was the #9 seed Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania, just turned 20, against a 24-year-old Columbian Juan Sebastian Cabal. This was good, solid play, but Berankis, who is up and coming and around #120 in the rankings, clearly deserved his 7-5 6-3 victory. The second match also had some good tennis, but no real takeaway moments. The 25-year old #7 seed Adrian Ungur of Romania is at his career high rank of #122, but lost in straight sets to a 27-year-old Italian, Simone Vagnozzi, who is ranked something like 40 spots lower and has never gotten into the top 150. Bad tennis, no. But Vagnozzi's 6-3 6-4 victory seemed to be as much about Ungur not taking it as of Vagnozzi really earning it. In both cases, these were good matches, and I would say Berankis has some potential, but I also don't come out of either with any strong lasting memories.
That started to change with the third match. This one featured the #1 qualifying seed, a Turkish player Marsel Ilhan. 23, so can still have his best years ahead of him, and this summer he moved as high as #103, currently #108. His 7-10 career record in tour matches is not bad by qualifying player standards, not bad at all. He is playing one of the youngest players in the draw, a German-born Australian player named Bernard Tomic; and I hate to admit I'm happy to see he's German born because I was a bit puzzled to see the "Aus" after a player named Bernard Tomic! Tomic is still eight weeks shy of this 18th birthday, low 200s in the rankings, but worth noting that his 5-8 record is similar to his opponent's, and for the year 4-5 vs 5-7 for Ilhan.
Since I can't bring my iPad into the USTA grounds I can't look up all this stuff beforehand, so going into the match all I know is the names and countries and Ilhan's seeding. Maybe if I'd known more I'd have been less stunned that the #1 seed just gets blown away absolutely and completely in the first set, 6-0. And then when Ilhan takes the 2nd set by an equally lopsided 6-2 score there's this expectation that it was just one of those things and that Ilhan will assert in the third. Doesn't happen, not at all. But unlike two days ago when an anticipated third set became a complete fizzle, this third set is the best I've seen so far in the tournament. Neither player gives it away, they're both playing some good and exciting tennis and making their shots. I recall Tomic as trying successfully to really paint the lines and the corners in the third set, which is good when you're game is on and you make everything, not so good if you start missing. But he's making his shots, takes the third set and the match 6-3. The write-up on the Day 3 Qualifying calls this an upset. Well, yes and no. Ilhan might be the #1 seed, but he had the bad luck to come up against a very young player who might start to make some noise. And that being said, Tomic is still ranked down in the 200s, and there are no guarantees he'll even make it through the next two rounds.
Then it was off to the conclusion of the Begemann Farah match from the day before. Which became a completely different match overnight. Simply put, Farah was in the zone today. He was hammering service returns left and right, half a dozen more. He was making everything. He was seeing the ball like it was the size of a watermelon. It meant that the conclusion of the match was lopsided. The score had been knotted in the second set, Begemann loses the next four games of that set to go down 6-1. There isn't much Begemann can do in the third set, and final score Farah 3-6 6-1 6-2. But even though it was lopsided it was good to watch, because again it wasn't that Begemann wasn't playing well, he wasn't giving the match to Farah. It was that Farah was in the zone, taking it, having one of those days you dream of having as a player every day. I don't know if Farah will be in the zone every day!
This was just the first half of the day's excitement. But I'll have to talk about that later... I'm getting ready to go on a big trip, have to prepare for today, so I'll end and publish this post, but believe me, the best is yet to come!
- The Brillig Blogger
- A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.