Monday, June 1, 2009

Plenty in the 'tank' (A 'love' story)

There were a couple of interesting matches scattered about the grounds of the tournament today, huh? The biggest ones in my mind were the almost-upset and the definite-upset, and both had 6-0 sets involved that I think had a major impact on the outcome.

First, how about that Roger Federer-Tommy Haas match? It looked like we were in store for another major upset after yesterday's mind-blowing Rafael Nadal loss. Man, Haas was thisclose to pulling it off, and it looked like Fed came out feeling some of the pressure of winning the whole thing. Once Haas lost that third set, though, I kind of figured he was done. But one thing he did really kind of threw me for a loop.

In the last couple of games of the fourth set, it seemed like his effort level really dropped (and I know John McEnroe was advocating this in his commentating). Now, I don't mind seeing players conserve energy for the final set when it looks like things are going against them, but DUDE: This is Roger Federer we're talking about!!! What in the world was a past-his-prime Haas thinking? That he was going to be able to beat Federer in a winner-take-all final set after he's won the prior two? Come on!!! I think the only player out there that could afford to think like that would be Nadal, and then it would have to be a match on clay, where Nadal has the edge. You give Federer a chance to get on even ground, he's going to take it and run with it, as he did today.

The other match where a love set seemed to make a big difference was in the Jelena Jankovic-Sorana Cirstea fourth-rounder. How does it happen that a contender for the title wins the first set and gets bageled in the second to the 40th-ranked player in the world? In this instance, I can see where Jankovic's thought process might be to let the set go and then smoke the kid in the final frame. But what happens, too, is that kids can take a little bit of confidence from that situation and hang tough — and even fight off match points, like Cirstea did to come away with a great win.

So, does the old tank job really work? I guess it depends on the player. Haas and Jankovic sure didn't get any love with the move!

(Photo: Getty Images)