August 9, 2009

Misplaced Attention

I wasn't planning on writing a post today.

I mean, after last night's fantastic semifinal, I felt like I'd already watched the match of the tournament in D.C. I figured Andy Roddick would roll to his twenty-eighth career title easily this afternoon and decided I'd rather get back home early than stay for a relative non-event.

Apparently I was concentrating on the wrong match.

While Roddick played and won an easy first set at the Legg Mason final, his opponent, defending champion Juan Martin Del Potro, got his game back in sync in the second. He broke Roddick's serve to take a 5-3 lead, but was unable to close out and let Andy level the set. But DelPo was able to refocus and broke Roddick again in the twelfth game to even the match at a set apiece.

The two traded breaks early in the deciding set, eventually forcing a tiebreak in which the tall Argentine took a 4-1 lead. He quickly earned himself three match points, but again Roddick was able to get even -- but he didn't stay that way for long. Juan Martin fired off an ace, his ninteenth of the match, followed by a forehand winner to repeat as champion and claim his sixth career title.

It was an amazing match, and one which frankly took me a bit by surprise. Of course Del Potro is a great player, but he's been pretty quiet lately, slugging away under the radar without making much of a fuss. He hasn't had a bad year by any means, but he also hasn't garnered the attention or the following he had last year -- I was shocked at the first semifinal yesterday how pro-Gonzalez the crowd seemed to be. Andy, on the other hand, always has the media and the crowd behind him, and I thought for sure he would parlay that into victory today.

I guess I was wrong.

Incidentally I miscalled the LA women's final just as badly. In similar fashion, so much attention has been paid to the rapid and consistent ascent of Austalia's Sam Stosur this summer, I don't think anyone even noticed Italian Flavia Pennetta, who beat the Russian trifecta of Nadia Petrova, Vera Zvonareva and Maria Sharapova on her way to the final.

But Pennetta was in top form today, winning four and three in less than ninety minutes. It was her eighth career title, and easily the most important -- the win could get her pretty darn close to the top ten and make her a real force as we inch closer to the U.S. Open.

While I congratulate both Juan Martin and Flavia on their wins this week, I hope both Andy and Sam were able to learn something from their performances and their losses. I know I've certainly learned something.

I will never dismiss a final again!

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