July 26, 2009

A Perfect Record -- Where It Counts

Robby Ginepri is one of those also-ran American tennis players. He's been around for the better part of the decade, but never really reached the top tiers. Though he's made his was as high as #15 in the world, he's usually overshadowed by more prominent players like Andy Roddick and James Blake, and for the last few years he's slipped a few times into triple digits.

This year hasn't been that kind to him either. Before this week he'd only won a handful of games -- four to be exact -- and the best player he beat was #71 Andrey Golubev in Eastbourne. He came down with appendicitis, which kept him hospitalized for over a week, dropped thirty pounds and was sidelined for three months. When he came back in May, he lost all three of his World Team Championship matches in Dusseldorf, including one to #657 Andreas Vinciguerra.

But when he stepped on the courts in Indianapolis, something must've taken over him. It was here, four years ago, that Ginepri won his last title, defeating Andy Roddick on his way to the finals. It put him on the road to a great second half of the year -- he made the semis in Cincinnati, getting past Marat Safin, and Madrid, passing Nikolay Davydenko on the way. Most impressively, though, was his U.S. Open showing, where he played four consecutive five-set matches, eventually losing to Andre Agassi in yet another semi.

But potential opponents should know that, if Robby Ginepri makes it past that penultimate round, he's probably going to win. He did it in 2005 and he did it earlier today, when he was nothing short of spectacular in his win over third seeded Sam Querrey. In fact, he's never lost a championship match -- he's played in three during his career -- and if you watched him in action this afternoon, you can understand why. He kept his cool against the higher ranked favorite, controlled his shots and, surprisingly, out-aced the big serving Querrey. He was run all over the court, but played some really smart shots to break Sam not once, but twice in the opening set. And he stayed with him through the second, finally breaking Querrey late and winning his last service game, holding Sam at love.

Like Sam, Robby has a full summer schedule ahead of him, and he's scheduled to play Marat Safin in the first round in Los Angeles next week. It might be premature to say he's heading for the same run he had in 2005, but if he continues to play at the level he did this week, Ginepri is certainly off in the right direction. And maybe, with a little more luck, he'll be giving us all something to talk about this summer!

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