Old Style Serve-and-Volley Captures the Day in Paris
November 09, 2011It wasn't a 3 setter, and it didn't feature seeds. What the 1st round match between #19 Lopez and #43 Llodra did feature was the kind of tennis which thrilled generations until the modern era: two lefties, both net attackers whose serves and volleys are their major weapons. To survive in today's game, both men have had to develop a groundstroke which can hurt an opponent (Llodra's BH, Lopez' FH) and both can slice a BH with the best of them, but both men look for ways to get to the net. Once there, the wonderful stuff begins: deft drops and stops, angles and slices, lunges and leaps, punches and smashes, sometimes all in the same point and with both men at the the net simultaneously - imaginez cela!
Today (and most of this year) the 31 year old Frenchman Llodra has not been at his best in singles as he was a year ago when his rank was #23 and the 30 year old Spaniard Lopez was #31 (in doubles, Llodra, teamed with specialist Zimonjic, is at all all time high, #6 in the world, seeded 2nd in Paris). It was Lopez who ruled today; after squeaking out a 9-7 tie-breaker in the 1st set, he went on to take the 2nd 6-3. But, there was nothing routine about the points between these two. Lopez earned his match point after a rally of about 20 shots, half of which were hit when both men earned the net following a dazzling slice exchange. His winning shot: an improbably, flat BH passing shot winner down-the-alley, hit running backwards at the baseline to retrieve a perfect lob volley Llodra had hit over the Spaniard. Lopez' ball landed on the sideline. If you'd like to see a good account of the match, visit tennis.com.
Pity is that these two have met only 5 times during their long careers (both have been top 100 players for over 9 years). Lopez now has a 3-2 advantage in their matches. Had they played their kind and level of tennis 50 years ago, Jack Kramer might not have featured them in his nation-wide pro tour along with Laver and Rosewall, where in one year they'd have played each other 50 times in 50 cities, but on the very fast surfaces used in earlier times, their lack of depth and accuracy on groundstrokes would not have limited them to nearly the same degree as today.
Enough nostalgia - on to the other results of the day and to tomorrow when we may - or may not - see Joker take the court for his first match after Murray's earlier debut (Federer follows them both).
TUESDAY RESULTS (1st/2nd Round Highlights):
- Roddick (#13 seed) defeated Benneteau 6-4, 6-4
- Isner defeated Wawrinka 6-7 (3), 7-5, 7-6 (5) in the 1st round
- Tsonga (#6 seed) defeated Garcia-Lopez 6-3, 6-4 and is now one more win from qualifying for London
- Berdych (5 seed) defeated Verdasco 6-3, 7-5 and is also one win from London
- Gasquet (#16 seed) defeated Anderson 6-4, 7-6 (4)
WEDNESDAY, 9 NOVEMBER, 2011
CENTRAL COURT start 10:30 am
 D Ferrer (ESP) vs [Q] N Mahut (FRA)
[WC] J Chardy (FRA) vs  A Murray (GBR)
 N Djokovic (SRB) vs I Dodig (CRO)
Not Before 4:00 PM
[WC] A Mannarino (FRA) vs  R Federer (SUI)
Not Before 7:30 PM
F Lopez (ESP) vs  G Monfils (FRA)
Not Before 8:30 PM
J Monaco (ARG) or [Q] D Young (USA) vs  G Simon (FRA)
COURT 1 start 11:00 am
A Bogomolov Jr. (USA) vs  J Tipsarevic (SRB)
[Q] S Stakhovsky (UKR) vs  V Troicki (SRB)
[Q] P Kohlschreiber (GER) vs  A Dolgopolov (UKR)
I Kunitsyn (RUS) vs J Isner (USA)
 N Almagro (ESP) vs [Q] A Seppi (ITA)
Not Before 5:00 PM
 M Fish (USA) vs F Mayer (GER)