Giving tennis more than a shot

Important Milestone In Houston

It’s a bit of a slower week for most of us after the emotions of another great Davis Cup weekend (about which you can read my series of summaries here: part 1 (Spain and USA), part 2 (Argentina), and part 3 (Czech Republic)). Nevertheless, there are still good tournaments to follow in the ATP250 events of Houston and Casablanca, as well as four ATP Challenger events and quite a few Futures.

 

Monday, it’s in Houston that my focus was turned, as a player reached an important milestone. Facing crowd favourite James Blake, again on the comeback trail after a series of knee issues, Argentine Carlos Berlocq took the court in search of his 50th career win.

 

It was not an easy match for either player, as Blake was clearly lacking court feel after a lengthy absence and Berlocq is still recovering from some knee issues of his own, which he sustained in Miami.

 

Nevertheless, it was a great match to follow, as the Chascomus native logged this important win, 6-4 2-6 6-1. Blake fought a might fight, as we know he always does, but in the end, his serve gave up on him and Berlocq’s aggressive play did the rest.

 

Today, Berlocq reached the quarter-finals of the Men’s Clay Court Championships by taking Bjorn Phau to the woodshed, to paraphrase Brad Gilbert, 6-1 6-0 in just an hour.

 

Congratulations on the milestone, Charly! Let’s go for 50 more!

 

Carlos Berlocq celebrates his 50th career win in Houston (Photo: Aaron M. Sprecher/ROCC)

 

Garra

This is a Spanish word that I really like. It means, basically, fighting spirit. And that’s often a trait you’ll find in the players I like most, and in most players I like and/or admire. That’s the trait I admire in Rafael Nadal, for instance, but that’s also the trait that makes me like players like Charly Berlocq, indeed, but also others like Marco Trungelliti, Agustín Velotti, and many others, as well as in some of my personal favourites, like Juan Mónaco, David Nalbandian, and David Ferrer, to name only these three.

 

Today, another one of them showed this incredible fighting spirit that characterizes him so well on court. Despite the heartbreaking loss in a long and excruciating tiebreak, I could not help but admire once more the incredible resilience of Guido Pella, who never gave up and fought until the very end on the clay of Pereira, Colombia, only to lose to local Robert Farah, 6-4 7-6(14). Pella saved no less than six match points in the process, often on winners. He would definitely have deserved a better fate. Then again, we know that he will get back even stronger.

 

I admitted it after the match, and will do here again tonight: if I could only have a little, but even just a little bit, of Pella’s fighting spirit, I’d be happy.

 

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11 Comments

  1. 12 April, 2012    

    Здравствуйте! Прошу прощения, что пишу не совсем в тему. Я тоже использую Вордпресс для своего блога и у меня возник вопрос, как настроить новую тему. Поиск на официальном сайте ничего не дал, там только пользовательские настройки рассматривают, а мне нужно, видимо, шаблоны править. Не подскажете, где почитать?

  2. 12 April, 2012    

    Hi! Sorry, I don’t speak a word of Russian, but you can always check in the theme bank of WordPress.org, where you can find many themes that you may like, and if you’re familiar with CSS, you can also edit templates. As well, you can check in the suggested themes and buy yourself one that is of interest to you.

    Hope this helped.

  3. mat4 mat4
    12 April, 2012    

    Caroline,

    nice article, with some nice insights about a journeyman of the Tour.

    But I wonder why you seem to neglect a bit your excellent French blog.

    (The message above, btw, was quite strange.)

  4. 12 April, 2012    

    Hello Mat,

    Thanks for your comment. Sadly, right now, it’s all a matter of time and writing a post and translating it for the other blog is the issue I’m having and have been having for quite some time now. Some of the posts were so long to write that often, I had no time at all to translate. The coverage from Argentina, though, I knew ahead of time I would not have a moment to do in both languages, which is why I warned.

    I’m also trying to find time (yes, that again!) to migrate the French blog either to this platform or have a domain of its own.

    But I’ll work something out at some point, don’t worry.

    Yeah, it was a bit strange but the question was genuine and not spam, for once. 😉

  5. mat4 mat4
    13 April, 2012    

    You don’t have to translate, nor to have the same articles on both sites. Most of your readers are bilingual, as I could notice, so why not have two different blogs?

    BTW, did you foresee the excellent edition of Pico Monaco in Miami? I was quite impressed by his tennis and courage.

  6. 13 April, 2012    

    +1 к предыдущему комменту

  7. 13 April, 2012    

    Again, all is a matter of time. But don’t worry, things will at some point get back to normal. I like your suggestion, really. And if I can move the French blog to this platform, it will also have a translator. :)

    Did I forsee Pico’s great run? Not in Miami, but I’ve been saying since the end of last summer that he has improved a lot. People don’t listen to me. :( LOL (Kidding) His serve, particularly, is now more of a weapon than it was in the past and his forehand is much improved. Add this to his great backhand and his fighting spirit and you have the last 6 months. :)

  8. mat4 mat4
    13 April, 2012    

    I read your posts about him and it is the reason I asked if you were expecting something like his result in Miami. Roddick commented that he was out of shape after his loss, but it seemed to me that, the moment his serve wasn’t winning him enough free points, he had nothing to oppose to Monaco’s all round game, and then he just faded mentaly. Then, Pico looked good in the second set of the semi too, against Djokovic.

    I believe you’re not a big fan of Djokovic, but what do you think about the recent evolution of his game? I have the impression that there are mutual influences between him and Roger Federer: his serve, his transition game, his willingness to attack in the first sets of the quarter and semi seemed Federesque. Roger, for his part, added some spin and seems more prepared to play “one more ball” (to quote Rafa) to open the court and get his chance.

  9. 13 April, 2012    

    Similitudes bewtween Djokovic’s game and Federer’s? No. Djokovic is a counter-puncher, with great defence, whereas Federer is a pure offensive player. Even though his defence is pretty good, he’ll never be known for it the way the Nadals, Djokovics and Murrays of the Tour are known.

    As for Pico, I agree with you about his match against Roddick. I did expect the win against Roddick, but not as much that against Fish. It came as a nice and happy surprise for me. I know that Fish is slumping and all, but I thought he would at least take it to 3.

    This said, Pico is really one of the most underestimated players at the moment. That’s pretty sad because he’s such a hard-working guy!

    Talking about underestimated and hard-working players, I’m watching Berlocq play now against Feli. I fancy his chances to make semis, where Isner awaits…

  10. mat4 mat4
    14 April, 2012    

    Unfortunately, since we are on different continents, the time difference makes watching the same matches a bit difficult. But I see that Lopez made the semi, and last night, amidst my work, I saw that Berlocq lost the first set.

    Unfortunately too, most of us watch only the matches of the top dogs, especially their favs, and seldom have the opportunity to see some different tennis. Before Miami, I watched Monaco perhaps only once, in Rome a few years ago, when he went to win against Murray. I was impressed then, and thought that Monaco set a pattern to win against Murray, discovering the limits of his attentive and passive game. And yes, I saw him last year against Federer, at the USO. You were very optimistic in a post beforehand so I watched the first set. Monaco was crushed by the stage, the opportunity, and, of course, by Roger’s fine play.

    I do not really agree with your conception that Roger is an offensive player and Novak a counter-puncher. It is a bit oversimplified.

    First, Roger’s defensive skills are exceptional. Then, I believe that his game has changed in the last two years. I recently compared his performances against Rafa at the AO 2009 and at IW 2012. Roger is much more patient now. And the IW match reminded me of Djokovic: Roger is not trying to hit through the court any more: he has added some spin to his shots for consistency and systematically works on opening the court. He plays with more angles than ever, he bids his time, and when he approaches the net, most of the time he has to face an easy defensive slice. Finally, he has improved his BH strike zone.

    Watching the first sets in the the matches Ferrer-Djokovic and Monaco-Djokovic, you could see a Federesque approach to the game by Djokovic.

    I do honestly think that, although coming from different directions, with a different technical background, they converge, defining modern tennis in the same manner right now, with patience, angles, and net approaches. Of course, differences remain: Roger has a better transition game and makes a better use of the slice, Novak has a steadier backhand and is more efficient hitting down the line, but the underlying conception could be the same.

    Finally, I hope that with a post a day I don’t disturb you. But you write good, refreshing articles, and I believe they should be commented. Hoping there soon will be another one.

  11. 14 April, 2012    

    I’ve been watching and following Pico Mónaco since 2006 so I’m aware of all the changes he brought to his game over time, and how he evolved. It’s quite how he gradually became my favourite player, along with Delpo.

    Last year, with the coaching team he had (Zabaleta and Clavet), he made many improvements to his game, which continued with his actual coach, Gustavo Marcaccio. His serve, particularly, is more of a weapon than in the past, which helps him get away with a few free points during matches.

    Also, as he said in a recent interview, he learned to stop fearing hard courts now, which shows a lot and was very visible in Miami. Of course, his best surface remains clay, but he cannot be tagged of only being a clay-courter anymore.

    On top of his tennis skills, he’s also a very, really great guy, and one of the classiest players on Tour.

    I did go simplistic in the comparison between Djokovic and Federer, but to me, the two cannot be compared as far as their game is concerned. Federer is the most complete player on Tour, still, and although defensively very strong, he’ll always remain more of an offensive player than Djokovic, who really is, let’s face it, a counter-puncher, although not in the same lines as Murray.

    It doesn’t mean he doesn’t go offensive at times, but to me, the essence of his game resides in his defence.

    No, you don’t disturb me at all. I like the discussion and the possibility to exchange with readers now and then.

    There should be a new post today, maybe even two. I’ve just been quite too sick the last couple of days to write the post I had in mind, but I will, and will also talk about Monte Carlo’s draw.

    Also, as for Charly Berlocq, he was sadly forced to withdraw due to the knee injury I mentioned in this post. After the first set, he could hardly walk. I hope he’ll be OK for Monaco.

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