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September 21 03:17
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"It was like a great feeling."

US Open Day 4 Highlight

September 02, 2011 | 11:28 AM

These words - uttered after his match yesterday by the French player known more for antics and you tube highlight than for title wins - seem to suggest that even in losing, #7 seed Gael Monfils was having a very good time on Armstrong playing what was the match of the day to a 31 year old coming back from hip surgery (1983 French Open champ and #1 Juan Carlos Ferrero). For almost 5 hours the two entertained the near capacity crowd with shot-making and angles. Enough can't be said about Ferrero: it was his second 5 setter of the week: the first was against #45 Pablo Andujar, who like Monfils held a 2 sets to one lead. Ferrero had controlled the last two sets in his first round, winning them 6-1, 6-3. Against Monfils, maintaining control is difficult, at best, given his unpredictability and the energy he derives as an entertainer from the crowd. The final yesterday: 7-6, 5-7, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4. The non-emotive Ferrero's future in the draw wouldn't be easy for any other player in the draw. After fellow Spaniard #31 seed Marcel Granollers, he would probably see Berdych and then Joker.

The two extremes represented by the temperaments of Ferrero and Monfils raise an interesting question:

Are those players like Monfils, who seem to be born entertainers, limited by the joy they get and receive from a crowd?

Their coaches may answer this question affirmatively, and try to help their players contain or channel their emotions on court. I think Connors was a rare exception who seemed to be able to do it. Nastase never mastered the art, and I suspect many others have been unable to become someone they are not.

This suggests that among the current crop of promising younger players, those like Dogopolov who play with such obvious joy and are wonderfully entertaining to watch, will fall short of their potential while occassionally scoring dramatic wins.

The Dogman won such an encounter yesterday, suggested by his scores: 6-0, 7-5, 2-6, 5-7, 6-4, over Italy's Flavio Cippolla (#1-4). The Ukrainian's next opponent will be larger lumber to fell: Karlovic. Were he to survive an encounter with the Croatian giant, Joker would await. So this won't be his breakthrough.



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